John T. Willis

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Imagination and the Heart--V

According to the Bible, God is greatly concerned about the "imagination of the heart." Imagination is a mental image, concept, notion, or view. It can come from almost any source. Imagination is a creation of God. The human mind and the human heart are very complicated. Often, the mind and the heart are identical, but in other cases, the mind has to do with intellect while the heart has to do with attitudes and feelings. Here are some relevant biblical texts for one to consider.

1. When humankind multiplied on the earth, the sons of God married the daughters of men, which led to corruption and violence. Genesis 6:5 says:
      "The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth,
       and that every inclination [imagination] of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually."
     After the flood, Noah offered a sacrifice before Yahweh. Genesis 8:21 says:
      "And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart,
        'I will never again curse the ground because of humankind,
         for the inclination [imagination] of the human heart is evil from youth;
         nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done."
Broadly speaking, this obviously has to do with self-centeredness in stark contrast to focusing on God and following the Creator of the universe. Because of this attitude, God sent a flood to destroy almost all human beings in the days of Noah.

2. When Moses renewed the covenant in Moab, he told the people in Deuteronomy 29:19-20:
     "All who hear the words of this oath and bless themselves,
       thinking [literally, walking in the imagination] of their hearts,
       'We are safe even though we go our own stubborn ways'
       (thus bringing disaster on moist and dry alike)--
       the Lord will be unwilling to pardon them,
       for the Lord's anger and passion will smoke against them."
Here again, the problem is God's people desiring to "go their own stubborn ways," i. e., doing what they want to do rather than putting God's will and desires first.

3. Several times, Jeremiah denounced God's sinful people in Judah and Jerusalem using this language:
    "Yet they did not obey or incline their ear,
      but in their stubbornness of their evil will [literally imagination],
      they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward"
This concept appears in Jeremiah 3:17; 7:24; 9:14; 11:8; 13:10; 16:12; 23:17.

4. Moses wrote a lengthy song presented in poetry in Deuteronomy 32. Just before this, Moses said:
    "And when many terrible troubles come upon them,
      this song will confront them as a witness,
      because it will not be lost from the mouths of their descendants.
      For I know WHAT THEY ARE INCLINED TO DO [literally, their imagination] even now,
      before I brought them into the land that I promised them on oath."
It is clear that the imagination of the heart has to do with the thoughts and plans and desires of human beings.

5. When David instructed his son Solomon to build the temple, he said:
    "And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father,
      and serve him with single mind and willing heart,
      for the Lord searches every mind, and understands EVERY PLAN AND THOUGHT
                                 [literally, all the imaginations of the thoughts]."
Again, the imagination of the heart has to do with every idea, notion, desire, and inclination.

When one realizes the importance of the imagination of the heart, he/she reflects and grows spiritually to be transformed into the image of Christ.

Let me hear from YOU.
John Willis


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