Sometimes, at first glance, the Bible doesn’t seem to make total sense… but then when it’s explained, I think “how did I not see that?” This happened to me (recently) with the part, in Exodus, where Moses and Aaron pay a visit to Pharaoh.
Moses and Aaron were to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to set the Israelites free, but in Exodus 7:3-4 God says to Moses:
But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you…
You know what it’s like when you read the same verse over and over but then suddenly, one day, you just stop and think “wait, what?”
It seems kind of counter productive to harden Pharaohs heart when what God wants is His people to be set free. But it was a message by Mark Driscoll that was the real “aha” moment for me.
God sends Moses to Pharaoh over, and over, and over again, telling him to let the people go, telling him that they are not his people but God’s people.
Moses warns him of the consequences of his refusal to listen and surrender.
Pharaoh had magicians who also performed ‘signs and wonders’, and even though Moses and Aaron’s signs were greater, still, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.
So, how did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Mark Driscoll put it this way:
“God hardened Pharaoh’s heart with love, grace, mercy, kindness, patience and compassion. God could have just crushed Pharaoh! But He kept sending Moses, giving him more and more opportunity to repent, to see that God really is God, to see that people are suffering because of his sin.
God is a wonderful God, and He repeatedly gives to the Pharaoh an opportunity to repent, and every single time the Pharaoh’s heart becomes increasingly hard, because God is ‘heaping burning coals on the head of His enemy’ (Prov 25:21-22) …
God did harden His heart, but He hardened His heart by being unlike Pharaoh.”
Pharaoh didn’t want a God, Pharaoh wanted to be a god. He wanted the people and wouldn’t let them go, he wouldn’t surrender, he wouldn’t submit to God’s instruction. His heart became calloused by ignoring God’s word to him, and the more God spoke, the harder it got. He wanted to be king of his own existence.
Isn’t this exactly how you and I used to be, and what we see in people today?
We speak the Word of God but people choose to ignore it. They don’t want to have to give up the things they posses. They refuse God, argue his laws, blame Him although they often deny Him and seek to serve themselves, their emotions, money, success or power.
The Puritans used to say: “The same sun that melts the ice, hardens the clay”.
In the presence of the Light of the world, your heart will either melt or bake like clay in the sun.
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Apart from God changing our hearts, we are all just like the Pharaoh.
God’s kindness is supposed to lead us to repentance (Rom 2:4)
May we learn to obey no matter the cost. May we let go of things that are keeping us from Godly obedience, and may we never take His grace for granted as we live it out in faith.