Mark 10:5 says “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote this
law but at the beginning of the creation ….” what does it mean because
your hearts were hard ? It’s not logical that God changes his commandments
because our hearts are hard. There’s nothing else that God has changed
because of their hard hearts, right? What do you think about this

Mark 10:5 makes it clear that the hardness of our hearts has affected the
laws which God has laid out for us. I would say that there are other laws
which God either did or did not give to the Jews which reflect this as
well. For example, he never specifically condemned plural marriage in the
Old Testament (although he never specifically allowed it either). It is my
opinion that this was due to the hardness of their hearts. Clearly, God
never would have wanted anyone to have more than one wife. Also, God made
provisions for slavery in the OT, again due to the hardness of the hearts,
not only of the Jews, but of the surrounding nations. I do not believe God
would have wanted slavery to exist! To summarize, it appears that God was
so determined to have a relationship with his people and God was so
concerned to create a people through whom to send the Messiah, that he was
willing to allow for a certain level of activity amongst the Israelites
which he clearly would hate.

Part of the difference between the Old Covenant and the New is that in the
New Covenant, God is making a covenant with individuals rather than a
nation. The nation of Israel was bound to include persons whose heart was
only partially committed to him, whereas the Kingdom of God, in theory,
contains only people whose hearts are fully committed to him. God did not
need to make such compromises with those under the New Covenant because he
can expect a higher level of commitment and love from the members of this
spiritual nation than he could of the physical nation of Israel. So it
would appear that God made provision in the Old Covenant for individuals
in Israel who were nominally under his authority but who would be tempted
to outright rebel if he did not make at least some reasonable allowances
for worldly behavior of those who were Israelites but whose hearts were
not totally dedicated to him. I disagree with your statement that “it is
not logical for God to change his commandments because our hearts are
hard.” In Israel, God was not preparing a nation of totally dedicated
disciples, but he was preparing a people through whom to send the Messiah.

Let me put it another way. In Israel, there was bound to be a range of
people, all the way from those totally dedicated to God to those who at
least accepted the Law as applying to them and who were willing to observe
the outward form of Judaism. Of course, there were also those who totally
rejected God and worshipped idols. These were to be rejected and not
considered Jews. God made provisions for the whole range of those who were
to be considered as Jews. In the New Covenant, there is not a range of
those in the Kingdom which includes the nominally “Christian” so God did
not have to make allowances in the Law of Christ for the hard-hearted.

Which brings one to another question. Are there some remnant provisions in
the New Covenant in which God is providing for the hardness of hearts,
even of disciples of Jesus? Personally, I have a hard time answering this
question. In Jesus, the fullness of deity dwelt in bodily form (Coll 2:9).
If we see the fullness of deity as our example and if we have as a goal to
imitate that example, I am not sure I see how God is still allowing for a
limited amount of sin in his laws in the New Testament. However, please
note that the New Testament still does not specifically condemn plural
marriages or the owning of slaves. Could it be that even though these are
very simple applications of NT teaching, God left these out on purpose
because of the hardness of heart of some people? This is one I will have
to think about….

John Oakes, PhD

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