5. All about hard hearts

‘Hidden Hand’ Meditations No.5: All about hard hearts

Ex 7:3,4  I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you.

We must pursue this idea of the way the Lord plays on sinful hearts (or allows Satan to do it) that we saw in two illustrations yesterday. It is also the only way to make sense of what takes place between the Lord, Moses, and Pharaoh in the run up to the Exodus deliverance.

The account of God’s dealings with Pharaoh in the early part of the book of Exodus would not, perhaps, be one of the first instances to come to mind when we are considering the subject of Providence for God is very obvious in it – but only to Moses and not to Pharaoh. Pharaoh only hears indirectly from God – through Moses – and he doesn’t believe in Him. He believes in his river god or his gods of fertility or whatever other facet of life you can dream up, but they all have superstitious if not occultic foundations. He doesn’t believe in a Supreme communicating God which is why he why he so easily dismisses Moses’ words.

But it doesn’t really matter what puny man thinks – and puny includes ‘great’ and powerful men such as Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar who would appear later in history, or Hitler or Stalin from last century, or the Putin’s or Kim Jong-un’s of this century, all of whom have or will end their lives and find they are on their knees accountable to the One they denied. And when they say, “But I didn’t know!” He will reply, “But I spoke to you hundreds of times and you in your pride ignored me.” That is the sobering truth.

So it doesn’t matter whether God speaks so quietly as a still small voice, a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12), or whether he speaks through one of His servants – apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher etc. – the voice is still of One who comes with purpose and in this case He has told Moses how it will work out – I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you,  and so it is that as the story unfolds and temporary repentance is followed by relief followed by obstinate arrogance, we find such words as, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.” (Ex 8:15)

There is throughout the chapters a real mix between God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh hardened his heart. How does that work? God brings a word – as we’ve suggested above – and dependent on the state of the heart that hears that word there will be a response. In a receptive heart, the word is welcomed; in a heart that is ALREADY hard, it will simply be hardened even more against God. Now bear in mind where we’ve already been – God speaks or acts, more often out of sight, but the heart WILL respond, change WILL take place, and God’s plans will be furthered.

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