Exodus 9-11, Matthew 7
14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:14
Hey Sarah! I completely agree that when taken on its own, this concept of hardening Pharaoh’s heart is kind of difficult. The Hebrew does say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, pretty clearly in 9:12, but in 8:32, it’s pharaoh hardening his own heart. But, I also think that it needs to be interpreted with what we know of God and his character. There is the ultimate sovereignty of God, and his goodness and steadfast love and kindness, and his slowness to anger. And there is Pharaoh, who has free will as any human does, who is really trying to assert himself as the most powerful God of Egypt and any of the people/slaves that are a part of that kingdom. So what we’re seeing here is really a showdown between the true God and a fake. God is sovereign and the agent that changes hearts, but there is allowed free will to humans as that’s what maintains a relationship of love between God and his people rather than a relationship of compulsion. God’s sovereignty and human free will interact in a way that allows for both, but we kind of stand in the tension of not really knowing exactly where one begins and the other ends. Just the faith and knowledge that God is good, God is love, and God is all-powerful to make his plan of ultimate redemption come to pass. And as a result of the interplay of God’s sovereign will of hardening pharaoh’s heart and pharaoh hardening his own heart, more people know who God is and are convinced of his power. If there were some Egyptians who feared the word of the Lord as a result of this then already some were saved, not to mention the far reaching power this story and event has for today.
Thank you AJ, so much insight here! I have copied your post into my notes. The concept of the one true God pitting himself against the fake who tried to set himself up as a god, plus the fact that people past and present have seen God’s power and had the potential for salvation through this helped my understanding of this passage.
……Also I appreciate your comment of interpreting all of this with what we know of God’s character – His love, mercy, compassion etc.
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