God Hardened Pharaoh's Heart
Exodus 7:3-4 NIV But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.
Exodus 9:12 NIV But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
Exodus 10:1, 20-20, 27 NIV 1’Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go. 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.
Exodus 11:10 NIV Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
Exodus 14:4, 8 NIV 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord .” So the Israelites did this. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.
Romans 9:17 NIV For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
Pharaoh Hardened His Own Heart
Exodus 8:15, 32 NIV 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
Exodus 9:34 NIV When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts.
These verses of scripture have for hundreds perhaps thousands of years perplexed many, and caused debate in the Christian Church. If God hardened Pharaoh's heart did He make it impossible for him to change his mind, and then punish him for it? If He hardened Pharaoh's heart what happened to Pharaoh's freewill? Did God actually cause Pharaoh to sin by not allowing Him to obey?
If the answers are that God caused Pharaoh to sin by disobedience and then didn't allow him to repent does that conflict with God not encouraging evil;
James 1:13 NIV When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
or allowing mankind to exercise free will;
Genesis 2:16-17 NIV And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
God is sovereign
Many say that God is sovereign and can do anything He wants. That is certainly true but it is also true that God is good, merciful, forgiving, love, and unchanging. It is against His nature to initiate evil and refuse to forgive.
Numbers 23:19 NIV God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Psalm 100:5 NIV For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
In Bible Study a few weeks ago somebody mentioned that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that He could exhibit His glory. I said that I wasn't sure that we are to take that scripture literally because it doesn't fit our belief that God gave us free will to make our own decisions. It also doesn't match with God’s nature to not cause man to sin. On of the participants then said that is God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants to do without question. My response was yes He is sovereign but He can't go against His nature.
Since this discussion had nothing to do with our study at the time I told them that I would do some study and have something for them to consider. Here are the results of my study. You may or may not agree with my conclusions but that doesn't matter because neither my conclusions or your agreement or disagreement has any effect on our salvation.
John 3:3 NIV Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. ”
John 3:16 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 10:9-10 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
What I do hope is that the post causes you to consider the condition of your own heart.
Who Really Hardened Pharaoh's Heart?
What we know about Pharaoh is that he was an arrogant and cruel man. He had two reasons for not wanting to release the Israelites: his pride and the fact that he had perhaps as many as two million slaves. Two million people who had no rights. Two million people working for the nation that were not being paid. To release them would have a devastating effect on the economy.
Pharaoh considered himself a god and the gods of Egypt as all powerful so a lowly shepherd (Moses) saying that Jehovah was ordering him to free two million people would have infuriated him. In addition, in the beginning Pharaoh's magicians duplicate the miracles, performed through Moses, giving them some credibility in encouraging the hardening on his heart.
Exodus 7:11-13 NIV Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
Exodus 7:22-23 NIV But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.
Exodus 8:6-7 NIV So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
Every time there was relief Pharaoh hardened his heart.
Pharaoh had already hardened his heart against the nation of Israel. When God directed Moses to demand that he release the Israelites it was a challenge to Pharaoh who considered himself a god. God simply pressed the matter and forced Pharaoh to make a decision. When God commanded Pharaoh to do something, he had the free will to obey or disobey. Because God is all knowing He knew how Pharaoh would respond however He did not predetermine Pharaoh's response. He is omniscient,mand His acts and actions are in accordance with His word, the Bible; and His attributes. What God did was make Pharaoh openly declare his refusal to obey God's command.
In the case of Pharaoh, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply. Of course, God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude. If God had not sent Moses, Pharaoh would not have been faced with the dilemma of whether to release the Israelites. So God was certainly the instigator and initiator. But He was not the author of Pharaoh’s defiance. - Apologetics Press - Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart
Many commentators propose that when the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, what it really means is that God simply facilitated a process that Pharaoh himself initiated. After all, the Bible repeatedly also states that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, i.e. Exodus 8:15 and 32 (see above).
Dr. Norman Geisler, holds that God did not directly harden Pharaoh's heart (or anyone else's heart for that matter) contrary to their own free choice, but only indirectly, through their own choice. In the book When Critics Ask Dr. Geisler says;
“God in His omniscience foreknew exactly how Pharaoh would respond, and He used it to accomplish His purposes. God ordained the means of Pharaoh's free but stubborn action…”
Hard Hearts Today
God hardens the hearts of men today the same way He did then. Some will never listen because of pride.
1 John 2:15-16 NIV Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
John 12:42-43 NIV Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
When a person repeatedly hears the truth of the Word of God, and continues to disobey his conscience becomes "seared" and his heart hardened.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
With a hard heart you will never enter God's rest.
Hebrews 3:7-13 NIV So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.