Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart–Do I Love Because I Must, or I Want to?

Day 12 in the “Wild Kids, Wild God- 31 Days Looking into God’s Heart” Series.

Whether you’re religious, Christian, Jewish, atheist… you’ve probably heard of Moses, renegade prince turned humble shepherd. His story is written in the book of Exodus  (Bible and Torah), and portrayed in many movies. In addition to receiving the 10 commandments (don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie…)* he was chosen to lead the Jewish nation out of slavery and oppression in Egypt into freedom.

The Jews still celebrate the amazing events that took place those thousands of years ago today (Passover) .

The story is pretty straightforward, but one passage often troubled me:moses parting sea

God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart. This results in Pharaoh’s refusal to let the people go free, and brings unrighteousness and greater trouble, which I normally don’t associate with God.

Also the simple statement that God will intervene on a man’s heart–call me naive but I only know God as One Who knocks on the “door” (our hearts) though He made it and holds the key. (Revelation 3:20).

This “hardening heart” thing got me thinking:

I love my children dearly and desire they act kindly towards others. I can encourage this with my words and model the behavior myself, but when it comes down to it, the real choice is theirs. Sure, I can force a child to share with the other, but if their heart isn’t changed, the behavior will persist.

God shows repeatedly He is more concerned with the condition of our hearts than anything outward.

So look deeper Exodus: The text shows Pharaoh had hardened his own heart throughout seven of the ten mighty plagues/wonders. This is despifire-hail-10 plagues-moseste God’s plea- through the man Moses- to set the people free, AND despite seeing God’s Hand through those miraculous signs and wonders (e.g. water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, disease on livestock, boils on people, hail mixed with fire). Each time a plague came, Pharaoh asked for relief, and  when it came he was defiant as usual.

“…when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Moses.” (see e.g. Exodus 8:19, 8:32, 9:7..)

The implications of God’s heart intervention are serious, and I wondered: What do I do jesus-stands-at-doorwith the nudgings on my own heart? How often do I hear a small voice or get an impression and ignore it?  If God is trying to advise me of something am I taking note? To call that friend, or help that lady, or write that letter, or hold my tongue… Or in the example of my kids: to share that toy.

If we have an honest fear of God we may do what He says, but then our action may be motivated by a fearful heart, and we weren’t made for that.

Conversely, we may have such a close relationship with God that there is no fear and we take His Presence or “suggestions” for granted. We may casually sidestep His nudgings or pleas even because it’s not convenient for us. Yikes.

Conviction may hit and it may be possible to try again. But the truth remains: we miss the mark (aka sin) daily. So glad for Grace!

Despite our failings, we would do well to try to keep our hearts warm. Pharaoh repeatedly hardened his and set himself on a destructive, no-return path.

Keep up the fight to love (the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love). It’s our ultimate destination and it will be worth it!

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

*Note from the 10 commandments: Jesus said all the laws were summed up as this: “Love” (e.g. Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, short list here)

Want to read more about God’s Heart, Law, Love and Grace? Check: Pearl and Mother of Pearl.Heart-in-Formation-Wild-Kids-Wild-God_Write31DaysSeries

This is part of the “Wild Kids, Wild God- 31 Days Looking into God’s Heart” series.
Note: This article speaks a lot about God and for ease I’m using “He” as the Pronoun. However, I recognize God with both Male and Female ‘identity’ (for lack of a better word), evidenced by the human race and through the Bible, e.g. Genesis 1:27 (2-part post on that here).

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