In Exodus 10, for the first time, Scripture tells us that the Lord Himself is hardening Pharaoh’s heart. (Exodus 10:1) In Exodus, there are 19 references to Pharaoh’s heart being hardened – either by himself or by the Lord. It is a dangerous thing to have a hardened heart. If you wonder why the Lord is hardening Pharaoh’s heart, let me suggest a few things for you to consider:
- God is sovereign. So, nothing comes as a surprise to the Lord, and nothing happens to anyone that the Lord couldn’t stop if He wanted to. The interesting thing about divine sovereignty is that it is a hard truth to some and a very comforting truth to others. Whether it is a hard truth or a comforting truth depends on how much we trust God’s character and His grace, mercy, love and justice.
- It is also important to note that Pharaoh hardened his own heart before the Lord hardened it (Exodus 7:13, 7:14, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19, 8:32, 9:7, 9:34-35). In Exodus 9:34-35, Scripture rightfully asserts that Pharaoh “sinned” by hardening his heart to the Lord. It is a sin to harden your heart to the Lord. Sometimes, those who have hardened their hearts to the Lord for too long become a warning for others. Pharaoh first hardened his own heart, and now the Lord is hardening it for His purposes.
- God does reveal a purpose in Pharaoh’s heart being hardened: “…that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” (Exodus 10:2) These last plagues are not for Pharaoh’s benefit. They are for the benefit of the Israelites.
The plague of the locusts is a direct affront to the Egyptian god Serapia (who supposedly protected from locusts), as well as Nepri (the god of grain), Ermutet (the goddess of childbirth and crops),Thermuthis (a goddess of fertility and the harvest), and Seth (the god of the earth and protector of the crops).
The plague of darkness takes on the Egyptian sun gods (of which there were many, the primary one was Ra), and the Egyptian mood god Thoth.
I could tell lots of stories of ways that I believe, looking back, the Lord has systematically destroyed idols or things that could become idols in my life. While painful, I have learned a lot from those experiences and have found a deeper relationship with the Lord each time.
I’d invite you to look into your heart as you read this blog. Has your heart become hardened to God? What is there that is not of God? What is there that separates you from God? What is there that you depend upon to give you what only God can give?