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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. Terri Baldwin says:

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.