MOSES: PHARAOH’S HARD HEART



How can God be one ... and three? It’s not logical. The Hebrew “Shema” declares, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lordis one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5, NKJV) and yet at the Jordan River we see the Son of God being baptized, the Spirit of God descending, and we hear the Father’s voice booming from above, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased” (Mark 1:10-11). Our God is one ... and three.


Equally illogical is the idea that God is sovereign while granting to mankind a free will and responsibility to choose. Job declared, “I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). David sang, “Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11). Even the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, recognized the sovereignty of God. “His dominion is an everlasting dominion ... he does what he wants ... There is no one who can block his hand” (Daniel 4:34–35). In the New Testament we read, “He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15–16). God is sovereign, yet He grants to mankind the responsibility to choose. “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15, NASB). “Whosoever will” (Revelation 22:17, KJV), is an invitation open to all. God is sovereign ... and man is responsible! It’s not logical, but it’s true!


The hard heart of Pharoah appears as another illogical contradiction. Did Pharoah harden his own heart, or did God harden Pharoah’s heart? The answer is, yes ... and yes. The Bible records eighteen references to Pharoah’s hard heart. Let’s look closer.


On three occasions, as God was speaking to Moses, He said, “I will harden Pharoah’s heart” (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 14:4). There are six times that the Bible says that God did harden Pharoah’s heart. Following the sixth plague, the plague of boils, “the Lordhardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 9:12). Following the seventh plague, the plague of hail, God told Moses to “go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). Following the eighth plague, the plague of locusts, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 10:20). Following the ninth plague, the plague of darkness, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 10:27). And before and after the tenth plague, the death of the first-born, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 11:10; 14:8).


Did God unilaterally harden Pharoah’s heart? No! Absolutely not! Does God unjustly harden any sinner’s heart? No! God doesn’t condemn anyone to eternal destruction. Rather, sinful man rejects God and His gracious offer of life. Man condemns himself. The Bible says that Pharoah’s heart was hard (Exodus 7:13; 7:14; 7:22; 8:19; 9:7; 9:35) and it clearly discloses Pharoah’s decision to harden his own heart. “Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not listen” (Exodus 8:15). “Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also and did not let the people go” (Exodus 8:32). “Pharaoh ... sinned again and hardened his heart” (Exodus 9:34).


While Moses was still in Midian, “the Lord instructed Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, make sure you do before Pharaoh all the wonders that I have put within your power. But I will harden his heart so that he won’t let the people go. And you will say to Pharaoh: This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I told you: Let my son go so that he may worship me, but you refused to let him go. Look, I am about to kill your firstborn son!’ ” (Exodus 4:21–23). Pharoah chose death.


“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, ESV). “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who rejects the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Have you chosen life?




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