Apologetics · Bible · Biblical Doctrines

The Story of the Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart

AN EXPOSITION OF

EXODUS   7:1-7

     1 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

In the mind of Joseph Smith and his followers, this, and other passages, have led them to believe in human exaltation to the status of the divine. Mormonism is a religion of god makers. Mormonism is not the only religion of god makers.

Before Joseph Smith, lived the Romans exalted the Emperors to the status of a deity. “…in no part of the world was there such fervent and sincere loyalty to the emperors as in Asia. Augustus had been a saviour to the Asian peoples, and they deified him as the Saviour of mankind, and worshiped him with the most whole-hearted devotion as the ‘present deity’.” (W. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches; New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1909)

Prior to Augustus, Julius Caesar allowed himself to be worshiped as a god. Long before the Romans exalted their emperors, the Egyptians worshipped the Pharaoh as a god. The word pharaoh literally means, “great house”. The concept developed that the Egyptian kingship was based on divine right. The sun-god, Re, created the pharaohs for the purpose of ruling his land, which was viewed as a great house. Because of the natural depravity of the human heart, it is really only a small step from individuals worshipping a god of their own imagination, to individuals imaging that they are god.

While the LORD did not exalt Moses to any level of divinity, the LORD did endow Moses with God-like power in the sight of Pharaoh, who thought of himself in terms of divinity, as a child of the sun.

In context, Moses was placed on an equal with Pharaoh. That was psychologically important, for Moses needed a sense of equality in order to speak with authority, with clarity, and with the aura of a prophet.

This is the second time the word prophet is used in Scripture. In Genesis 20:7 Abraham is called a prophet, and now Aaron is called a prophet. “And Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” Here is the definition of an Old Testament prophet. A prophet is someone who is given divine revelation, and speaks on behalf of God. Divine revelation is something behind which the LORD God stands.

Turning to the New Testament, the word prophet has a different connotation. In 1 Corinthians 14:3 Paul says that a prophet is someone who speaks to men to their edification, exhortation, and comfort. There is something about a true prophet of God, be that person in the Old Testament era, or the New Testament dispensation. The prophet’s exhortation, consolation, and comfort, must be rooted in Divine revelation.

Many people can exhort, counsel, console, and give comfort, but only the Biblical prophet can do these things by revelation. The revelation might be of something that is going to happen in the future, or something God wants by way of an immediate response, but the origin of information must all come from God. The idea of a modern day, self-appointed prophet, is improper.

     2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.

 God Will Harden Pharaoh’s Heart

Exodus 7:3

     3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

 The idea that God deliberately hardens the hearts of individuals, so that they are confirmed in sin, and judgment, is a repulsive idea to many Christians. The concept seems so mean, and unfair. And yet, the Biblical statement is plain, simple, and easy to understand. The LORD is the God who hardens, as well as the One who shows mercy.

It is instructive to note, that the first reference to hardening, is traced to God. The LORD said to Moses, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” Then, the LORD explained why. Through the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, God will magnify Himself, and show His greatness and glory in a variety of different ways.Because of this narrative, there are some important questions each person must ask themselves.

“Has God hardened my heart?”

“Am I an atheist?”

“Am I an agnostic?”

“Do I love God?”

“Am I a rebel against the Most High?”

“Do I call God, ‘Father’?”

“Will Jesus one day say to me, ‘You are of your father, the Devil, and the lusts of your father you will do?’”

These are important inquiries a curious soul should make when concerned about spiritual matters, and the hardening of one’s heart.

What happens when God hardens a person’s heart? First, there is no God consciousness. There is no thought about the Lord. For such a person, life begins the day they were born, and ends the day they die. Thoughts of eternity past, or eternity future are of no relevance.

Second, there is no sensitivity to sin. If a person has any moral values, they are borrowed values, perhaps from the Judeo-Christian religion. Any sense of right and wrong is rooted in what society decrees to be acceptable, or what self deems to be best, without any consideration of God.

Third, there is little to no concern for others. The Pharaoh of the Exodus did not care about the Hebrew people except how they could serve his self needs. They were his slaves. They were his property to buy, sell, starve, or feed according to his own good pleasure.

In contrast, when the Lord softens a heart, it will become God conscious and will appreciate prayers on its behalf.

Because they were God conscious, Paul prayed for the people in Ephesus, that “ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Eph. 1:18-19)

The question comes. “Is your heart hardened, or is it made soft by Divine enlightenment?”

When God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He did so that He might manifest signs and wonders. But notice how these signs and wonders are described.

The LORD said, [I will] “multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.” God is a jealous God, and He will not share His essential glory. Authentic miracles belong to the LORD.

Individuals can do magical tricks, and become known as magicians. “The term magic, comes from the Old Persian magu, a word that applied to a form of religious functionary about which little is known.” (Wikipedia)

Some individuals are better at performing magical tricks than others. Houdini, and David Copperfield come to mind. Satan, and his devotees, can also perform magical tricks, but they are only tricks. These Satanic performances are called in the Bible “lying wonders”, meaning they are not real. They are not authentic. Paul wrote of a person, “whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying [false] wonders.” (2 Thess. 2:9)

So how can a true miracle be distinguished from a lying wonder? First, true miracles can only be performed by God. For example, Satan cannot give life, though he can appear to give life, as he does to the Beast of Revelation 13:14-15.

Second, true miracles glorify God. Miracles which exalt a man, or the Devil, are not legitimate.

Third, true miracles happen by Divine fiat, and they take place on time.

     4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

The purpose of God in hardening the heart of Pharaoh is revealed, for God always has a purpose for what He does. As Albert Einstein once said, “God does not play with dice.” God works all things according to the purpose of His own will. It was the will of God to bring Israel out of the Land, and so the Lord calls Israel, “an army.” The spiritual lesson is clear. Anyone who fights the Lord’s battles is a soldier of the Cross. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

     5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Once more, the reason why God does what He does in a specific matter, is voluntarily revealed by the Divine. The LORD will harden the heart of Phraoah so that He might display His signs and wonders in the Land of Egypt. The LORD will display His signs and wonders in the Land of Egypt for a threefold purpose.

First, that the Egyptians might know that the LORD is the one, and only true God, in heaven and in earth.

Second, that judgment might fall upon a godless people.

Third, that Israel might be delivered. In that deliverance the promise of the LORD to His people would be fulfilled. The Hebrew people would remember that words of the LORD to Abraham. “And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.13 And he [the LORD] said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” (Gen. 15:12-14)

The LORD did not have to reveal why He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, or manifest His signs and wonders, but He did. In fact, many times the LORD does not immediately reveal His will to His children.

Often the children of God can be heard crying to heaven, and asking, “Why LORD?” “Why did my child die?” “Why did you allow people to harm me?” “Why LORD, do I have to suffer so much?”

Sometimes, when the question of why is asked, there is the sound of silence. In that silence the LORD is asking, “Even if I do not tell you my reason for acting, will you trust me? Will you still love me?”

It is at that point, that faith arises to say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 13:15)

Two Men of Gospel Obedience

Exodus 7:6-7

     6 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.

     7 And Moses was fourscore [80] years old, and Aaron fourscore and three [83] years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

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