The children of Israel loved to hear the powerful preaching of Ezekiel but they never obeyed it. "They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice . . . for they hear thy words, but they do them not" (Ezekiel 33:31-32).
Many people have approached me after a service, hugged me, and said, "Pastor, that was a powerful word you preached." But as they have walked away, the Holy Spirit has whispered to me, "They didn't hear a word you said!"
The book of Hebrews gives us a powerful warning: "As the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness" (Hebrews 3:7-8). "For some, when they had heard, did provoke [rebel]" (verse 16). These passages clearly show that hardness is not connected to atheism, communism or any other "ism" but, rather, to hearing and then not doing God's Word.
Israel gladly listened to the powerful preaching of the prophet Isaiah yet they continually justified their sins, calling evil good and good evil. So God instructed Isaiah: "Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed" (Isaiah 6:9-10).
God knew the Israelites were not willing to lay down their besetting sins. They loved their fleshly pleasures and ungodly companions too much. So the Lord told Isaiah, "These people are never going to change their hearts and from now on, I will not speak a word to them. Instead, I want you to hurry them into their hardness, Isaiah. That way, perhaps some will listen before it's too late!"
Simply put, God was calling for a full surrender from His people. I thank God for the multitudes of Christians who started their walk with Jesus the right way, loving truth and obeying His Word. When they forsook the ways of their flesh, they fell in love with the Lord, and His Word became to them a guiding lamp.