Hard Hearts

My church is reading Exodus together. Daily we read the selected passage and one of us writes a short response. Today’s portion details the plague of hail.

I’ve noticed a progression in the plagues, from inconvenient and annoying to dangerous and deadly.

Hail might not sound like one of the deadly plagues but it was, because the hailstones were apparently large and could kill anyone who was not in a covered space. Essentially that meant farm workers and others who did manual labor.

There was more. The hail also destroyed the crops, which meant a famine was around the corner.

You’d think for sure that by this time Pharaoh would see that he couldn’t continue standing against God. Up til now he and his people had dealt with a three-day water shortage brought on by the water-to-blood plague, an inundation of frogs, gnats, flies, disease on the animals, and boils on people. Now hail.

And still Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then the incredible. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. In essence there came a point that God simply gave Pharaoh what he wanted—to say no to God. God seems to have said, You want to say no to me? Fine! Then that’s what I’ll make sure you do.

The point is simple. Pharaoh couldn’t control God. He couldn’t stand against Him, refuse to go His way or do what He wanted. Time and again, at great expense to his people he proclaimed independence from God. He was not about to free those slaves because, who was the LORD?

God answered that question. He is the God who is greater than all the Egyptians’ gods. They worshiped the Nile, so God had Moses and Aaron turn the water to blood. They worshiped the cow goddess, and God brought pestilence to the cattle. They worshiped the sun god, and God brought a period of darkness over their land. They worshiped the god of the dead or the underworld, and God sent His avenging angel to take every Egyptian firstborn son.

Did Pharaoh get the message? Nope. Sure, he relented a couple times, but as soon as God removed the plague, he reverted to his old position. The Israelites were under his control, and he wasn’t about to let them go.

One thing that I’ve hardly ever heard addressed is that Moses wasn’t even asking if the people of Israel could be set free. He was asking if they could go on a three-day journey away from Egypt so that they could hold a worship celebration to the LORD.

Pharaoh tried saying yes-but. Yes, they can go but only the men. Yes, they can have their worship celebration, but they have to do it here. Yes, they can go but not their animals.

In the end, the people of Israel just left.

Pharaoh never agreed, never liberated them. In fact he realized after they’d been gone for a few hours that his land was in a sorry state—plants thrashed by the hail and later by locusts, most of the animals dead, their carcasses rotting. Families deprived of the son who should have carried on their legacy. And a good percentage of his work force had just walked off the job.

What to do but try to get them back. That’s what a hard heart does.

There’s no consideration that yes, the LORD is indeed the Almighty, the Creator of the ends of the earth. There’s no consideration that perhaps the wise thing here would be to obey, to listen, to relinquish his own will.

Pharaoh’s own advisors were begging him to let the Israelites go. They saw what he could not see. Perhaps they got out of the palace more and knew how desperate things were throughout the land—everywhere except in Goshen where the people of Israel lived.

But the thing about a hard heart, it resists reason, good advice, what logic says. It was all right there in front of Pharaoh—the Lord said to let His people go or A, B, C and so forth would happen. He didn’t let them go, and all of those warnings, or threatens, or promises, happened. Did Pharaoh finally admit, Maybe I can’t hold out against this God.

No, he was impervious to such clear thinking. He saw things the way he wanted to see them: all those people are on foot and unarmed. I can catch them with my horsemen and my chariots. They’ll come back if it’s the last thing I do.

He didn’t actually say that, but chasing down the people of Israel was, in fact, the last thing he did. He couldn’t defeat God and that’s actually who he was trying to resist.

He learned the hard way that God is in control, but that’s precisely what everyone who hardens his or her heart will learn. And I think that’s what Pharaoh and people like him can’t stand. They want to be master of their own fate, captain of their own soul, even if it means denying they have a soul.

But God is God. He will not give His place to another.

And He should not.

The one in control should not abdicate. That leads to confusion and chaos. The one who knows what’s right and good and best, should not give way to the one who only does evil.

The thing is, when people resist God and He sends them warnings and difficulties and affliction, He’s giving them a chance to stop and turn around, to yield to Him, to submit to Him. That’s a receipt for disaster because hard hearts like Pharaoh’s will ultimately face God’s judgment.

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Published in: on February 22, 2018 at 5:40 pm  Comments (6)  
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  1. Reblogged this on emotionalpeace.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “They worshiped the god of the dead or the underworld, and God sent His avenging angel to take every Egyptian firstborn son.”

    If it were remotely true, this would obviously mean that God gave an order to a deranged person to carry out the psychopathic act of mass murdering a heap of various aged adults, children and babies.

    How can Christians argue with a woman who wants to abort when the Christian God has also killed babies?

    You give this advice Becky. “The thing is, when people resist God and He sends them warnings and difficulties and affliction, He’s giving them a chance to stop and turn around, to yield to Him, to submit to Him. That’s a receipt for disaster because hard hearts like Pharaoh’s will ultimately face God’s judgment.”

    I do not worship any gods and I have not had any more warnings, difficulties or afflictions than any average Christians. Your God has also not send a plague of locusts or killer hail to convince me, so how do you account for this?

    Like

    • No, Steve, God didn’t “give an order to a deranged person.” This was His judgment on that particular people at that time. A physical event in which God entered into the world for the purpose of judgment. Here’s one verse (there are others) that states what was to happen: “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.”

      The word “destroyer” is used by most English translations, but one says “destruction” and another says “death angel.” In other words, this was a work of God which He brought upon this people.

      It was not some random killing. God knows our hearts, and His judgment is righteous. He didn’t accidentally strike down someone who really wanted to worship Him.

      That certainly isn’t true with abortion! There’s a huge difference between God’s righteous judgment and man’s selfish act of destruction.

      As far as today is concerned, Steve, God is not working through nations, as He did in the Old Testament times. Now the Church is “a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession”—the Church, made up of believers from every tribe and nation and tongue throughout the world. Consequently, we see God sending rain on the just and the unjust. His warnings are more likely to be through His Word, preached, proclaimed, taught. So don’t worry, Steve. God hasn’t left you out. You received His warning in this post, and in any number of others you might have read at Wally’s blog or InsanityBytes’s or others you visit.

      I personally think that every disaster that hits . . . pretty much anywhere since we have this global information, is also warning to all of us. An earthquake in Peru? That’s a warning to Americans and Australians alike. Same with drought and famine in Africa, war in the middle east, Tsunamis in Japan, hurricanes in Texas.

      God speaks through the events of this world, just as He speaks through creation. Oh, sure, we can say this thing or that thing was the cause of natural disasters or man-originated disasters, but in all these things, God is warning of His ultimate judgment on those who do not fear Him.

      At the same time, those who love the Lord understand that Jesus is our “Passover Lamb.” It is His blood that God sees—just as He saw the blood of the perfect lamb each Israelite sacrificed the night of the first Passover—and consequently, we, like they, go free.

      Becky

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  3. Good stuff, Becky. Pharaoh is a fascinating study, and one some should pay close attention to I think. God reached out to him, showed Himself to Pharaoh and gave him more than sufficient chances to believe and obey. Rather like He still does today. He may not be sending Hail to fall or our head, but He speaks. He still speaks through His Word, and his messengers. He even speaks through bloggers. Some should consider this, and move before they further harden their hearts and God finally lets them have exactly what they want. I especially love your addressing of God’s sovereignty here, Becky. We seem to forget that God is God and we are not. To be cliche: We don’t judge Him; He judges us. Further food for thought for the skeptics and scoffers.

    Liked by 1 person


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