Friday, August 20, 2010

The Hardening of a Heart: Was Pharoh Dealt from a Stacked Deck?

Recently, on a profesisonal web page I visit from time to time, a question was placed in the discussion area that caught my interest.

I was reading Exodus 7-8 again this morning and was wondering why God decided to harden Pharaoh's heart prior to Moses going to him to request the release of the children of Israel. Exodus 7:3 says " And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt". Was this done to prove that He is God? I know in latter verses it was said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart and did not allow the children of Israel go. E.g Exodus 8:15 "But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said." But why did God initially harden Pharaoh's heart?”

Let me try to answer this question.

Perhaps part of the reasoning behind the hardness of heart was to help better develop the faith of Moses, as well as the children of Israel.

I have to disagree with the concept, that some have, that God just made an already evil man, just a bit more evil. This removes the gift of choice/agency/dealing with right from wrong that all the Lords' children are given. Using that theory, God must have made the Hitlers of the world just a little crazier, for some devine reason.

I don't find anything in recorded scripture that lends credence to that notion.

Pharaoh had the agency to let the children of Joseph go, but, because of pride, as well as a refusal to accept the word of the Lord from a Prophet of God, events went the way that they did.

Passover came as a by-product of this refusal, which was in turn brought about by the very words of Pharaoh, when he condemned the first born of every house of the children of Israel to be slain. His own words condemned him.

The by-product of this final horrific plague, that was turned on the first born of Egypt, was that we now have an event that is comparable to the sacrifice of God's First Born for the children of the Lord. The prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving that accompanied that first "Passover" are now echoed all over the world for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all people. The burden of sin that was heavy upon our own shoulders, has now Passed Over us, due to the atonement of Christ.

The Lord worked through Moses, and Pharaoh, on different levels, in order to prepare a nation of Spiritual of illiterates, a.k.a. the Children of Israel, for a transition from idol worship, and a secular perspective, towards that of a higher eternal form of worship.

On one level both the Children of Israel AND Pharaoh, had to see with their own eyes that the power of God was far, far greater than that of Pharaoh.

Consider that most of the plagues that the Lord called down, could either be duplicated by the "magicians" who were in the service of Pharaoh, or explained away. However, the final miracle could not be explained nor duplicated, by man, that of the parting of the Red Sea.
On another level, Moses, through these experiences learned to trust in the arm of the Lord more, and less on the arm of man. And even then the lesson wasn't fully learned, as we know from his later experiences in the desert.

I don't believe, and I would suggest that the Bible doesn't teach us, that we are used from time to time as puppets of God.

We have our agency, we can choose to turn right or turn left, to stand, or to sit. We can choose to commit sin, or to walk away from it

Some are born with that ability limited due to mental illness etc., however, I don't think that God will dictate who will have that limitation and who will not. Things happen naturally, and in accordance with the devine nature of the creative process.

Sometimes however the Lord will use a particular circumstance to further His work and His will. It's in these circumstances that we end up working with Him, even if we're not aware of it at the time
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