The exact role God played in Pharaoh’s eventual destruction had always been one of those troublesome questions niggling at the spine of my subconscious. Why did God seemingly not give Pharaoh a chance? It did not seem consistent with the character of God that most of the other parts of the Bible painted about God.
Well, the wonderful thing about the Bible is that it gives you questions, but it also provides you with the answers you seek. Many times, we’re quick to chalk the things we don’t understand in God’s Word down to some mystery of God we were never meant to understand. Or hold it up as a contradiction, and thus, a proof that the Bible is perhaps not as accurate as it is claimed to be.
But you see, God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). The soul is the seat of our emotions, intellect and will. God doesn’t expect us to suspend every atom of our reasoning in our walk with Him- He expects us to heavily involve our minds as much as we can.
As we apply our minds to the transforming power of the Word, we’re able to understand with our minds why God did some things, and how He did them. We may not always have all the answers, but we eventually will have all the answers that matter.
But back to Pharaoh’s heart. What the average Christian carries around in their mind (as I used to, for most of my life so far) was that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and that was all there was to it- Pharaoh did not have a choice; he was doomed to destruction. While this may not be exactly incorrect, careful study reveals there’s more to the story.
So when God first talks about the heart of Pharaoh to Moses in Exodus 4:21, He talks about hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but in a predictive sense. Something He has not yet done but will do. The same way we know what’s going to happen to people who do not accept the gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It is predictive. The next time this subject matter is mentioned in Exodus 7:3, it’s also in a predictive sense.
The first time it was mentioned that God actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart was in Exodus 7:13. But note that between the first mention and Exodus 7:13, Moses and Aaron had spoken to Pharaoh two or three times, but with no positive outcomes. In fact, Pharaoh increased the burdens and hardship of the people of Israel. This tells you a lot about the state of his heart before Exodus 7:13.
But from that point till chapter 10 when it begins to be consistently recorded that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, there’s something that keeps popping up; “he (i.e. Pharaoh) hardened his heart” or “Pharaoh hardened his heart”. Is it now clear that Pharaoh actually had a chance to repent, but when he refused to, he was helped along this path of perdition?
“Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’(Ezekiel 33:11, MSG)
“Why die?!” God is asking this question of many people today. But a large amount of humanity is bent on going the way of Pharaoh, though the end result of this way is already declared. If you’re reading this, and you’re yet to make that choice, choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). It’s pretty easy (Romans 10:9-10).
P. S.: Big shout out to “The Bible Project” Team. They were very much instrumental in the writing of this piece. They’ve got great videos on YouTube, and awesome plans on the Bible app “YouVersion”. Kindly check them out. Thank you for reading!
3 thoughts on “The Prince of Egypt (V) – The Heart of Pharaoh”
How about Judas? Did he had the choice to repent? Or it was also destined for him to sink into severe depression with suicidal intents?
It was written that someone has got to betray the master but it would have been better if that person was not born.
Pharaoh, on the other hand, was said to have been designed for this purpose:
Romans 9: 17-18. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Sometimes, we have a foresight of things that will happen and we’re able to change them towards the favorable. Some other times, it’s hard if not impossible to change such matters as they’ve been settled. I will sight an example in this regards.
When Jesus spoke about Peter and Judas future actions in his last days, he added a clause. For Peter, I read “but I have prayed for you”. I didn’t read if he – Judas- also had that privilege of someone interceding for him. If you would remember even when the Israelites built a calf idol to worship while Moses delayed in coming from the mountain, God described them as being obstinate and intended to destroy them too but Moses interceded.
“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”
Exodus 32:9-10 NIV
However, when Moses had his own issues with God, there was no one to intercede for him. God told him not to raise that matter of getting to the promised land with him again.
Conclusively, I just want to emphasize that God is God. He is unquestionable and does has He pleases. He raises one, and debases another. He saves, He destroys. It was by His mercies that we are saved. Notwithstanding, genuine prayers can change the heart of God.
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Interesting points you make there. Thank you so much for the feedback. Maybe one of these days, I will attempt an analysis of these things. You made great points. Looking forward to more of your insightful comments.
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Thank you sooo much Tee for this. God bless you.
Romans 9:17 was quoting from Exodus 9:16.
But for this purpose I have caused you to stand: to show you my strength, and so that my name may be declared in all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against my people by not releasing them.
Exodus 9:16-17 NET
God’s intent was to “show His power in Pharaoh”, so that His name would be proclaimed. But in v17 we see that God says Pharaoh has made a choice to exalt himself against God. And the events that followed were because Pharaoh made that choice to go against God’s intent.
For prophecies to be fulfilled, I think a man has to position himself to fulfill such a prophecy, whether good or bad. I believe Pharaoh (and Judas) made choices that put them in a place to bring “negative” prophecies to pass through them. The same way disobedience to God now positions us in a place to bring forth not so palatable prophecies.
At the end of the day, these records in the Bible were written for our learning.
In this day and age, God has willed to show mercy on everyone (Titus 2:11, Romans 9:25-26). It is those who choose to reject God’s mercy at this time that posterity (in the eternal sense) will declare to have had hardened hearts.
I agree with you on the place of intercession.
Thank you so much Tee ❤. I’m indeed looking forward to more insightful comments from you.