"Exodus 4-10"

exodus4-10In these chapters we read of how Pharaoh’s hard heart led to the destruction of Egypt and later Pharaoh’s death. There are places in these chapters where we read that God made Pharaoh’s heart hard. That hardly seems fair to Pharaoh, so what’s up with that? It seems harsh on God’s part.

In these chapters there are actually three Hebrew words translated “harden”. The first one that we will look at is the one used when God says he will harden Pharaoh’s heart. This does not mean that God picked on Pharaoh and just arbitrarily hardened his heart and that Pharaoh had no choice in the matter. What God is saying here is that he has placed within each person the emotional genetics by which we can grow and develop and become stronger. In fact, this Hebrew word translated “hardened” is translated “strong”.

In Joshua 1:6 God tells Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” (NASB) God has given each and every one of us the ability to be strong and we become stronger as we grow and experience life. The end result is from the process.

At the driving range at a local golf course there is a sign that reads, “Practice does not make perfect, practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect. Get lessons from the golf pro.” We know this is true because we have sayings like, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” or “He is set in his ways”. Time and experience will make us strong or hard.

The second Hebrew word translated as “hardened” is used to describe Pharaoh’s reaction, that is, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. He did this by putting his faith in his magicians rather than God. Each time he did this he made his heart harder or stronger against the Lord. When God sent the plagues against Egypt but not against Israel, Pharaoh knew that Israel was not harmed by the plagues, Pharaoh would not change even when his magicians told him that these plagues were from God. The condition of Pharaoh’s heart was hard. The description of Pharaoh’s hard heart is the third Hebrew word. The Hebrew word is also translated “stubborn”.

Newton’s third law of motion states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” I think the same is true with the Hebrew word that is translated “strong” but also “hardened”. If I am strong enough to do something I will also be hard enough to resist the force against my strength. Pharaoh thought he was god so he resisted anything that came against him contrary to his belief. Because he thought he was god he also became prideful. Pride is tough to break.

Now the important thing for us to remember is that we are not immune to these same kinds of forces. We need to be careful that we are on the right path in life for as we walk the path we have chosen we are becoming strong in the beliefs that led us to that path in the first place.

Let me give you a real life example. I was at a memorial service for my brother-in-law who was a Christian. The pastor said in his message that those who were at the service and who were Christians were here to say, “One day we will see you again.” That is our hope based on our beliefs. To those who came and who were not Christians he said, “To you death is the end and you have come to say goodbye knowing that one day you also will die.” Now we can be strong or hard in our beliefs but what we believe puts each of us on a path of life that has not only eternal consequences but also consequences in this life as well.

If we take a deeper look at these scriptures we will see that these plagues affected everyone, not just Pharaoh. Moses became stronger. He started out telling God He was not able to speak but with each encounter with Pharaoh he became a stronger leader. The Hebrews were slaves in the beginning but they grew strong as well and were set free. The Egyptian people were also affected by the things they went through. And so are we. As we face the things in life that come our way we have the choice to allow them to make us stronger or harder. Pharaoh had the same choice. When we have the freedom to make a choice we call that freewill. Freewill lives where there is choice but the consequences of the choice we make come with that choice.

Choose wisely,
Pastor Dave