Pharaoh’s Resistance to God

Open Your Bible

Exodus 9:13-35, Exodus 10:1-20, Romans 9:14-24

One of the biggest fights my husband and I have ever had was over a bug. 

Not just any bug, but a big fat bumblebee. We were driving the Blue Ridge Parkway outside of Asheville, North Carolina, after a day of hiking waterfalls with his brother. Mountains all around, crisp air, blue skies. It was nearly perfect—until a bumblebee flew up from under my seat, and I started shrieking. “Pull over right now!” I shouted, as he kept driving. 

Realistically, there was nowhere to pull over. We were driving winding mountain roads with no shoulder. I was panicking, and there was nothing he could do (except match my pitch and yell at me to calm down). Finally, a scenic overlook saved us. But my nerves were shot, and my brother-in-law had witnessed a “real marriage moment.” 

I can’t read Exodus 7 and 8 without cringing. Frogs, gnats, flies, and a river of blood just sound gross. This is one of those passages that I try to skim over without putting myself in the scene: piles of dead frogs that filled the land with stench, and then “all the dust of the earth became gnats” (Exodus 8:17). Is your skin crawling? Mine is. 

The panic I felt driving down that mountain road, while feeling hunted by a hungry bumblebee, was probably nothing compared to the terror of being swarmed by flies, gnats, and frogs. In these pages from Exodus, Pharaoh goes back and forth in his response to God, who pulls back the plagues, hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and then sends an even worse plague. Sometimes the plagues are universal, affecting the Israelites in tandem with the Egyptians. Others, like the swarms of flies, are directed only at the Egyptians, while sparing the Israelites as only God can do. 

The Egyptians believed that their gods controlled the very things that God commanded in the plagues. During the first three plagues, the magicians of Egypt call upon their gods to mimic what Moses and Aaron were doing. During the plague of the gnats, the magicians could not replicate the work of God. “For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3). There is none like Him (Psalm 86:8). 

The meta-narrative of Exodus reveals God’s character to His people: He “is compassionate and gracious…slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth” (Exodus 34:6–7). The plagues serve to pull back and reveal another aspect of God’s character. He demonstrates His authority over the earth, over the plants and animals, over His people, over all things. 

Eventually, the plagues work; Pharaoh relents, and the Israelites are freed. God has rescued His people, but He has also shown them that He can be trusted, that He is in their corner, and that He has all authority in heaven and earth. 

Hundreds of years later, God would come to earth as a man and again reveal His authority through a series of miracles—calming the sea, healing the sick, raising the dead—that showed His people and the watching world that He alone is God. We can still sit in awe of His power today.

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53 thoughts on "Pharaoh’s Resistance to God"

  1. Jeanna Vance says:

    My life is hidden in Christ my King. Amen let it be.

  2. belle ingersoll says:

    exodus 3 4 : 6 – 7 < i love this verse , such a beautiful reminder of His faithfulness to us ! ✞

  3. Anita J says:

    Exodus 9:16 – Even the wicked are sustained by God and sometimes God will preserve and even bless those who oppose me and wish me harm in order to make them witnesses of His glory at work in my life. Praise be to Jesus Christ

  4. Brandy Deruso says:

    Lord you are good!

  5. Lauren Murphy says:

    YES!!!! This! ❤️❤️❤️

  6. Cynthia Lamon says:


  7. Emilee Dickman says:

    Yes,Amy, I have struggled with this concept in the past— why did his heart need to be hardened? This time reading though I stopped where it says God told the people of Egypt to get out of the way of the hail— giving all a chance to believe and trust Him, as He continues to do today. I’ve realized the bigger plan is the reason for hardening hearts of people like pharaoh (and others referred to in the NT). Because these hearts were hardened God was able to do what was necessary to gain the Israelites trust, and ultimately, bring salvation to the world. I’m so thankful we serve a God that is able to see the full picture and we can trust has our needs in mind, even when we can’t see or understand it.

  8. Amy EB says:

    The podcast had a great segment about how God does not actively harden a persons heart but that when people experience God they can either accept or reject his authority. Clearly, pharaoh rejected God’s authority and therefore his heart was hardened. But then in Exodus 10:1, the Lord says he hardened pharaoh’s heart so that he could do signs and wonders. This doesn’t sound like pharaoh’s heart just hardened in response to God but that God actually hardened it. But then the scripture from Romans 9 helped clarify the meaning. God placed pharaoh in his position at that time knowing his heart. So he knew his heart would harden when he experienced the work of God. He knew that pharaoh’s hardened heart would give Him opportunity to show wonders to the people and demonstrate his power.

  9. Kimmie says:

    This has definitely been a “God please help me” day…..

  10. Portia Strange says:

    Today’s reading also makes me reflect on how God has shown me that He can be trusted, that He is in my corner, and that He has all authority in heaven and earth?!

  11. Portia Strange says:

    Amen Kaity! This crossed my mind during reading also! Help us Lord!

  12. Kaity Meade says:

    I don’t want to be like Pharaoh, saying I repent, promising to change, when things get hard and I’m feeling the consequences of my sin. And then changing my mind and going back to my old ways when things get easier/better. I choose to serve and repent and follow regardless of my circumstances.

  13. Nancy says:

    Hello all!

    Thank you for taking time to answer my question regarding Pharoah’s heart and God’s response.
    I truly value your feedback! ❤️

  14. Annelyn P says:

    Praying for you during this difficult time, Kerry Rowley.

  15. Kimberly Ziehl says:

    @GramsieSue so glad to hear this! In a dark world little wins like you’ve seen with your grandson are such an awesome moment.

  16. Pam S says:

    So thrilled for you, GramieSue. Praying to make the family whole!

  17. Marilyn Jones says:

    Just my opinion, but everything was destroyed. The wheat and spelt were not destroyed. I believe that’s because God knew they would need them for Passover.

  18. Jennifer Prutch says:

    That is so great! ❤️❤️❤️

  19. Rhonda J. says:

    @JLJ- I love that, such a good word. Our choices matter and lead down one road or another. I feel we are losing our kids to the roads of the world, and it saddens me, and more, for my own child makes me riddled with worry.

    I agree, we cry out for God to stop the plagues of life that come our way, then quickly forget when things are well. We literally have to be slapped on the head over and over through our walk with the Lord, But God- if we are turned to Him, He is patient, then it will work out for us. Otherwise, we are lost to the world with hardened hearts. I pray for those loved ones with hardened hearts, or even wondering hearts. Thank you for your mercy Heavenly Father, let us never forget. Let us keep preaching to our kids and grandkids, showing love to all that are lost, and pray for these.

    @Heidi- Good to see you! Missed your comments.

  20. Mercy says:

    @Angie Mills, thank you for your detailed observation. It sheds light and wisdom for me to reflect on certain relationships today. Reading what you wrote brought to my mind this verse, “How can two walk together unless they are agreed”. Appreciate what you shared!

  21. Mercy says:

    With the pure You will show Yourself pure; And with the froward (difficult to deal with) You will show Yourself froward (Psalm 18:26). This demonstrates very well in Pharaoh’s case, to those who harden their own heart, God also does the same. God is really infinite, though He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow, He is always doing something new (Isaiah 43:19). Throughout the extent of human lives, God will not exhaust the something new He is showing. I believe God’s characters are more than we could ever know, which explains many people have different understanding of God’s manifestations. They are also a reflection of us how He shows Himself. May we learn to walk in humility to become vessels of mercy in God’s sight (what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8). Those who walk humbly and take heed to God’s words are spared, even the Egyptians (Exodus 9:20). I am so thankful we can learn the lessons at the cost of Pharaoh, and not my own cost. May we take heed and be careful of what we do. These lessons cost lives. Be blessed dear sisters. Wishing everyone a great start to your week.

  22. GramsieSue . says:

    Sisters, I know it’s late so not all will see this…I am spending 10 days in Oregon with my daughter and family. She has two boys age 10 and 6. They do not attend church although she was raised in church and both she and her husband are Christians. I brought my Exodus study book with me and out of curiosity the 10 year old wanted to know what I was reading. So I started reading to him and he is caught up in the account of the plagues and can’t wait for each days reading. So I bought him a graphic Bible for children and he is devouring it! It makes this Gramsie’s heart so happy. Please pray that this would draw the whole family back to God. ❤️

    1. Laura Hernandez says:

      I will keep you and yours in my prayers.

  23. Denise RICHIE says:

    I believe the answer is in Romans 9:17. God raised Pharaoh specifically for the purpose of displaying his power and for his name to be proclaimed in the whole earth. To me, that means he made Pharaoh exactly who he was. Hardened heart, prideful and selfish etc…. Someone who was compliant would have completely debunked the whole orchestrated event (the plagues). I would love to hear other’s thought on this, because I am walking away from today’s reading completely mind blown. The plagues take on an entirely different meaning now that I see God’s intention for Pharoah. He truly is a powerful God!

  24. Miriam says:

    I’m like Pharaoh so many times. I think I’m more in control and have more power than God. God clearly demonstrates His power, authority and sovereignty over creation, boundaries, and people’s hearts (even people in positions of high power) throughout these passages. We are all at God’s mercy. So thankful He’s a merciful and good God-even in times of judgment!

  25. Terri Baldwin says:

    Who are you a human being, to talk back to God? Being disobedient to God’s word is like talking back at God in disregard/disrespect

  26. Terri Baldwin says:

    Who are you a human being, to talk back to God?

  27. Molly R says:

    I often have to remind myself, when I read this account, that, culturally, Pharaoh was a deity to his people. He was a god, and he had to maintain that position of power and authority to keep the balance of how their civilization operated. He then used the Israelites to erect statues and buildings that honored this very position. Of course he doesn’t want to relent and admit there is a True God that is more powerful. It would undermine their whole civilization and way of life. Even after many others began to see the truth, the Pharaoh, the god of Egypt was digging in his heels!
    If that’s not a perfect example, albeit a much exaggerated and bigger example, of what we are each capable of in our own hearts! I behave and make decisions counting on my own wisdom before God’s sometimes, even when I see my error I can harden my heart to the truth and try to wait it out, hoping I will emerge right in the end. But God. He could smite me all day everyday with plagues to prove his presence and authority. But in His mercy and grace He lovingly softens me in His hand and keeps molding me into a vessel worthy of the Sculptor! I am then reminded to lay down my idols I have tried to erect, the foolishness and pride I tried to hang on to, and then I find the freedom and hope He has for me!

  28. Stacey Hamilton says:

    I’m so sorry about your loss, Kerry. May the God of all comfort provide comfort, grace & peace to you during this time.

  29. Stacey Hamilton says:

    So beautiful. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer!

  30. Heidi says:

    NANCY- I always wondered that as well and have since learned the semantics of how that phrase is written out in our English language definitely causes confusion in understanding it. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened because of pride- he was face to face with the true authority and power of God and he didn’t want to submit to someone or something having an ounce of power greater than his own. When shown God’s power he could submit or reject and in his rejection his heart was hardened further. So it’s not that God reached down and physically did something to cause his heart to be hard. It was God was being God and that simple reality caused his heart to harden out of his own pride and refusal to accept that he was not the most powerful being. Hope that helps some… :)

  31. Sarah Ritchie says:

    Love this Kenya, so true.

  32. Sharon, Jersey Girl says:

    How much like Pharaoh we are sometimes! God ramps up the pressure on us – either by testing us or chastising us, and we immediately surrender everything to Him. We are willing to do anything He asks or requires of us – showing His mercy, grace and compassion, He removes the test or finishes His chastising…and then we forget all the promises we made to Him. (Exodus 9:34-35)

    Father God, help me to always trust and obey, no matter what the circumstances. And if I vow to do something, give me the strength and discipline to follow through.

    Have a blessed Monday my sisters! Praying for all your requests as I read them!

  33. Nancy says:

    Hello all,
    Can you please explain why God hardened Pharoah’s heart if He was wanting him to change his ways?

  34. Karen Y says:

    I was curious about how to understand God’s hardening of Pharoahs heart and found this from John Piper to be helpful.

  35. Jennifer Loves Jesus says:

    Prayers lifted. God hear our cries. Answer us in Your Holy Name.

  36. Jennifer Loves Jesus says:

    Sometimes we look at the consequences of a life turned away from God too long. The focus is on what we see. Remember how we got here. Pharoah and the Egyptians had no regard for Joseph or his people (the Israelites). The history of Yahweh’s salvation through Joseph was forgotten or purposely ignored. The very land they are living on was purchased by him and given back to them. The new king that took over after his death chose to oppress God’s people by enslaving them. His own daughter was used by God to save Moses. And as time went on, the Egyptian rulers laid heavy hands upon God’s people, their way of life sustained by oppression continued. But the strong hand of our righteous God was moving. And His salvation would be epic. The battle of good vs evil came with intention. God wanted His name to be known and shouted for generations to come. And here I am, reading the accounts of the exodus in Norwood, La. Mission accomplished I’d say. It is not for me to question God’s ways. Some things are beyond my comprehension. But what I know is that God is my Creator. His Name is above every other name. Above every question, above every doubt, above anything I don’t understand. Choose this day whom you will serve. Life or death. Heaven or hell. My choices matter, they lead down one road or another. I choose to follow Jesus. In my thoughts I follow Him. In my actions I follow Him. In my mistakes, missteps, and sin I repent, and keep following Him. His mercy is enough. I am clay in the Potter’s hands, Lord make me who You intended. Your love sustains and covers me. I am here for You alone. I am making my way home to You, in Your eternal Kingdom. Selah. Maranatha. Amen.

  37. Oluseyi A says:

    Thank you for sharing. I totally agree. ❤️

  38. Angie Mills says:

    Even the unredeemed will have times when they realize their sinfulness and ask for forgiveness. However, be careful! Just because someone acknowledges her sinfulness and asks to be forgiven does not mean she is redeemed. Also, just because a person acknowledges God as a righteous and holy God does not mean that she is redeemed. A redeemed person will do these things but will also confess Jesus is Lord and will believe in her heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. A redeemed person realizes the truth that Jesus is living and alive right now and is Lord over all, including each one of us. A redeemed person will trust that Jesus is her Lord, the Master of her life, and the Savior who saved her from each sin she has committed. As believers, we must ask God for wisdom and discernment in our relationships with others so that we are not deceived and place our trust in people who know the right things to say but whose hearts are far from the Lord. We cannot always take people at the words they say. People can lie. Jesus says that it is by a person’s fruit that we know her. We must watch people and see if their consistent actions line up with what they claim to believe.

  39. Janna Jackson says:

    God gave the Egyptians chance after chance even though Pharaoh kept changing his mind. God is a merciful God but also the king of kings.

  40. Melanie says:

    I love exodus!! Growing up it was a favorite but this time it feels different. Still a favorite just more rich. What’s stands out is that God hardened pharaoh heart. Why? So I have been praying for soft hearts for the people who need Jesus. Would you please pray for my healing and pain?

  41. Kenya Rafferty says:

    The persistence of God seems frustrating, but He knows where Pharaoh’s heart still lies – and it isn’t with God. God will test us and break us and make us weep sometimes before He gives us reprieve but He is waiting for the moment when our hearts are truly His. When we know His glory and fully submit ourselves to His plan and not our own.

  42. Aimee D-R says:

    Amen. Our God is amazing

  43. Lynne from Alabama says:

    Thank you so much for your prayers, my precious sisters in Christ! It means so much to know that we have people praying who have never even met us! Love to all of you! I will update you this afternoon or tomorrow morning!

  44. Krystyn Carey says:

    20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? – Romans 9:20
    I sometimes start to have this argument with the Lord, and then realize that He is the potter and has rights over me and my life.

  45. Krystyn Carey says:

    20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? – Romans 9:20

  46. Jeanna Powell says:


  47. Katie Martin says:

    For this reason I raised you up…. God not only allowed a wicked ruler, but intentionally placed him there for the purpose of revealing His glory to the nations. The same could be said for Moses. God not only placed a flawed and scared man in that position, but intentionally raised him up, for the purpose of revealing His glory to the people of Israel and all of the nations.

  48. Searching says:

    I’m slowly catching up on the devos and jumped ahead to see the prayer requests.
    LYNNE FROM AL – praying for Jack’s surgery, and am so sorry to hear of the passing of your nephew. Praying for his caregiver sister.
    FOSTER MAMA – I think the meeting happened already, praying for you.
    CHURCHMOUSE – praying as you await the results
    TINA – praying you recover quickly from covid. My hubby is fighting it also.
    DONNA W – praying for those with covid and that no one else tests positive.

  49. Danielle B says:

    Pharaoh’s response reminds me of deals we make with God. If you this … God then I’ll … onLy for the person to turnaround and stop doing what they bargained with God. God doesn’t bargain. He’s a gracious and loving God who seeks our obedience.

  50. Kelly (NEO) says:

    The gnats were enough for magicians to acknowledge the power of God. With the threat of the hail, some of the officials took the Lord seriously and moved their servants and livestock out of harm’s way.

    Pharaoh was now putting his pride above the welfare of his people. How much suffering today is felt because the person in power cares nothing for others?

    LYNNE FROM AL – praying for peace of heart and mind for you and your husband

  51. Arina says:

    I’m often so quick to forget who God is and what He has done for me, just like Pharaoh. When the consequences of my sin have disappeared or my problems are solved, I return back to normal and when the next problem comes, I react as God has never saved me before. We so desperately need God’s patience, His grace and love, because we just keep messing up. May that be what God shows through us, His mercy and patience, rather than His power and wrath.

    Lynne – Praying for Jack’s surgery today

  52. TIna says:

    BUT GOD..

    I WILL sit in awe of His power today.


    Happy Monday beautiful Shes!❤