Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart?

Photo Credits: JOEL C. ROSENBERG'S BLOG (http://flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/isaiah-19-bible-prophecy-and-the-future-of-egypt-where-are-we-headed/)

   This was the topic I chose for my Theology Paper regarding the Catholic’s 12 Major Social Teachings, mainly 1) Link of Love and Justice and 2) Dignity of the Human Person. I used to have a hard time in choosing a topic for my papers, especially if it concerns Catholic teachings. Their doctrine and practices are different from mine. However, God always reminded me religion shouldn't hinder me from sharing His grace. I always started with a prayer before working on my papers. I wanted to make sure that it is God who is speaking through me, and that my writings wouldn't sound like I'm arguing with other religions.

For some weird yet awesome reason, my papers have somehow become my Devotions. It’s like instead of seeing them as Reflection Papers, I take them as extra Quiet Time-Journal writing, which I’m quite happy about. What I'm about to share is one of the devotions I had, which I felt the Holy Spirit  leading me to choose as my topic: Why Did God Harden Pharaoh's Heart.

  • Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake (Exodus 7:13): “Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Blood (Exodus 7:22): “…and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Frogs (Exodus 8:15): “…he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Gnats (Exodus 8:19): “But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.”
  • The Plague of Flies (Exodus 8:32): “But this time also Pharaoh hardened his hear and would not let the people go.”
  • The Plague of Livestock (Exodus 9:7): “Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.”
  • The Plague of Boils (Exodus 9:12): “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.”
  • The Plague of Hail (Exodus 9:35): “So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.”
  • The Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10:20): “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.”
  • The Plague of Darkness (Exodus 10:27): “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go…”

And after the last plague, The Plague on the First Born, Pharaoh finally released the Israelites. However…… ‘And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.” (Exodus 14:4)


The story of Moses is one of the most famous Sunday School lessons. It’s about the Egyptians’ persecution on the Israelites, the calling of Moses, the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea up until the journey towards Canaan. Throughout the story, we have seen how the Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to God's commands. Despite the 10 plagues the Lord had sent, he still chose to harden his heart and do things his own way. As kids in Sunday School, we perceived Pharaoh as “The Bad Guy” who deserves to be punished. The question is, in just a blink of an eye, God could have swept the whole Egypt away. Why didn’t He? I never thought of that during my Sunday School days. I just knew that the Pharaoh deserved to die for his wickedness. It took me 16 years to understand why God even had to do the 10 plagues, when He could have just wiped out Egypt, bring out the Israelites from Goshen and deliver them to Canaan. If you have gone through Exodus Chapter 1-15, have you even tried to ask yourself that question? Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Just as much as the Bible mentioned that God will harden Pharaoh’s heart, the answer was mentioned that much too. Haha! Get what I mean?

  • “And the Egyptians will know that I Am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” (Exodus 7:5)
  • “…so that you will know that I, the Lord, Am in this land.” (Exodus 8:22)
  • “…so you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For by now, I could have stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you My power and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:14-16
  • “…so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” (Exodus 9:29)
  • “…and that you may know that I Am the Lord.” (Exodus 10:2)
  • “All these officials of yours will come to Me, bow down before Me…” (Exodus 11:8)
  • “…and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I Am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)
  • “But I will gain glory for Myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I Am the Lord.” (Exodus 14:4)
  • “The Egyptians will know that I Am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:18)
Therefore, why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? So that He could show that He is the One and only God, and there is no one like Him in all the earth. He loves the Israelites too much that He is willing to give them so many chances to run back to Him. But have you ever thought of the Egyptians' side? Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? MAYBE it's God's way of allowing them to believe in Him too. I learned that the Egyptians used to worship frogs and the sun. The Plague of Frogs and The Plague of Darkness was sent to put an end to that one. MAYBE God wanted them to let go of their idols and to accept His invitation.

God loves both the believers and the unbelievers. He wants all of us to run back to Him. We, believers? Our hearts are hard too, you know? We declare that we love and trust Him, yet we often get distracted by our own idols (our families, our friends, our desires etc). My greatest idol is myself. I always tend to get all the glory from God. I've been doing it for 21 years! But God never stopped loving me. He continually gave me the chance to rebuild my relationship with Him. Yes, my sins are now forgiven, but salvation from God is more than than! It continually 1) delivers me from sin, 2) helps me grow in His love and holiness 3) transforms me into the Christian I am called to be. God didn't love me because I surrendered my life to Him. For while I was still a sinner, He already loved me that He gave Christ to die for my sins. If we were to talk about love and justice, we should all look to the Cross. It is a clear picture of the One and only Son of God, who was rejected, betrayed, persecuted, and crucified. He died and rose again, to save the sinners of the past, present, and future.

Now, that's love and justice. AGAPE.

2 comments:

  1. great reflections and insights! very well articulated too. keep it going and the lord will sink your thoughts in the souls of many, even globally.

    would you like to know the rock bottom reason why he hardened pharaoh's heart? ..."so they will know that he is the Lord." every fundamental reason begins here, (and you got it right). the rest are practical theology.

    read ezekiel 36:11,23,36,38 & 37:6,13 and you will see why he did what he did.

    miss you, love you. dad

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