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  • Writer's pictureJason Garcia

Pharaoh's Heart

So Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Instead, Pharaoh turned around, went into his palace, and did not take any of this to heart (Ex. 7:22-23).

Pharaoh's hardened heart is often slapped on a banner and waved around as proof that God forces some people to disobey Him.

Have you not read?

"The LORD said to Moses, 'Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go'" (Ex. 7:14, 22)

Egyptian magicians imitated God's signs and hardened Pharaoh's heart, "just the Lord had said" (Ex. 7:22; 8:19).

"When Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, just as the LORD had said" (Ex. 8:15)

"When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants" (Ex. 9:34) .

God hardened Pharaoh's heart by calling him to obey.

He simply refused to yield, and Scripture is clear that he and his servants sinned. Does God force people to sin? "Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one" (Jas. 1:13).

Here is the reality: truth is hidden from all who willingly close their eyes to truth––"this people’s heart has grown callous; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them" (Matt. 13:15).

To put it another way, wicked people (e.g. Pharaoh) are deceived and perish "because they refused to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thess. 2:10).

God speaks in the future perfect tense––"I will harden Pharaoh's heart" (Ex. 4:21; 7:3)––because He has perfect knowledge. God knew before He created all time, space, and matter exactly how Pharaoh would respond.

He "desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth", and "is not willing that any should perish but that all come to repentance" (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). He has always desired this––He does not change (Heb. 13:8).

Thus, he desired Pharaoh to be spared as well, even though Pharaoh did not desire that for himself. In the final analysis, the one responsible for rejecting God is Pharaoh.

Judgement comes "upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness" (2 Thes. 2:12). Note the marriage of those teachings: disbelief of Truth and pleasure in sin.

By contrast, those who will be saved are "saved by the sanctification of the Spirit and by faith in the truth" (2 Thess. 2:13). Again note the marriage of teachings: belief in Truth and "set apart" from sin (sanctification).

The right attitude is being contrasted with the wrong. Man is not a pawn with no will of his own. God made us capable of choice, then calls us to Him through the Gospel (2 Thess. 2:14) with sufficient evidence to generate faith, so that we give ourselves to God.

God gave Pharaoh all the proof he needed to believe and then some, but Pharaoh, in his pride, refused to submit to the Truth.

Thus Pharaoh bears full responsibility for his unbelieving heart, not God. God knew what choice Pharaoh would make, but God didn't make the choice for Him.

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