This is the fourth post in the series, “Searching the Scriptures in Vain.”
Heart of Stone
I can’t neglect to talk about spiritual hardening of the arteries. For a long time, I was troubled by the account of Pharaoh and Moses because the passage seemed to indicate that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and left him no choice. God told 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.” Exodus 7:3-4
Nowadays, this account doesn’t trouble me anymore because I understand that God knows the human heart, and God knows when a heart is dedicated to evil. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Pharaoh’s heart was entirely evil. Pharaoh was arguably the most educated man of his day. According to the British Museum, Pharaoh had these titles: ‘Lord of the Two Lands’ and ‘High Priest of Every Temple.’ So Pharaoh was both the political and religious leader of Upper and Lower Egypt.
But Pharaoh’s knowledge and high position couldn’t save him in the end. Pharaoh received messages from God, delivered by personal messenger with signs and wonders, yet he set his heart against God’s will and determined that God was a liar. Even after Pharaoh’s magicians told him, ‘This is the finger of God,’ he hardened his heart against God. Exodus 8:19
“Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.” Exodus 7:23
Finally, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, according to Exodus 9:12, after Pharaoh had hardened his heart so many times himself. We can gather two pieces of information from this account: God doesn’t force belief, and God’s judgment is just.
Deaf Ears Lead to a Hard Heart
Deaf ears lead to a hard heart. I chose the picture for this post because it reminded me of Lot’s wife. She, like Pharaoh, discounted God’s words. Several years ago, I had a boss who often said, “Behavior is driven by belief.” Lot’s wife directly disobeyed God, and her beliefs about God were revealed. Like Pharaoh, she turned a deaf ear to God’s commands and paid the just penalty.
God doesn’t force faith or belief or obedience on any person, but his judgments are just because we have his Word. Tune into God’s Word, not for the sake of knowledge, but to learn what the Spirit says. His words are the words of life, and our choices lead to life or death.
This was a difficult post to write because it touches on God’s justice. I’ve strayed far from the passage in Ephesians 3 where this series started.
Scripture is not a collection of disconnected stories; it’s all one story. As you study, learn to follow “rabbit trails” wherever they lead you through God’s word. In this way, the Spirit helps you hear God’s Word and gain new understanding.
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