The same sun that melts wax, hardens clay (Origen On First Principles 3.1.11)
Have you ever dealt with a difficult person and have had to finally come to the realization that no matter what you did or said to them, they would always be difficult? Some hearts are like big boulders, impossible to move. They would sooner roll over you than listen to something contrary to their way of thinking.
This morning I got up and read some posts from some of my blogging friends. I am so thankful to have met some wonderful people who ask God questions when they read the Word. It seems that Moses was always asking God questions. This could not be said about Pharaoh, even after he saw miracle after miracle in his interactions with Moses when Israel needed to leave Egypt.
In front of Pharaoh, Moses threw down his rod and it became a serpent. What was Pharaoh’s response? He called the magicians and they threw down their rods and they became serpents. Then Moses’ rod gobbled up their rods! Moses then turned their precious Nile into blood and the magicians did their enchantments in response. Several days later Moses multiplied frogs and so did the magicians. The next day Moses removed the frogs:
Exodus 8:9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?10 And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God.
Pharaoh got quite an education, was he thankful for it? Several times in Exodus, the text reads that it was God who hardened Pharaoh’s heart against letting the children of Israel go back to the country that God had promised them. In other places, it reads that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. It seems to me that God was giving Pharaoh and all who looked on an opportunity to see God, but Pharaoh was having none of it. Instead he decided for himself how he reacted. That is his problem, not God’s.
In the next episode, when lice poured in all over the land of Israel, even the magicians threw up their hands:
Exodus 8:19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.
The magicians recognized that God was involved. God is love. God doesn’t cause men to reject Him. People reject Him. Pharaoh was responsible for his own heart. There are three Hebrew words used for ‘to harden’ in this record. Putting them together it can be seen that he allowed his heart to tighten up and become severe and heavy (Link).
By our own choice, the sinews of our heart can remain tender to God because we are strengthened by the work of Jesus Christ and the presence of the holy spirit and the knowledge of His Word that has been provided. With thankfulness, we can ask God questions and expect answers knowing that with all that we have today he loves us and certainly does not cause hardening of the heart. In today’s world, this is a great aerobic-like lesson of grace when we allow the fresh air of God to bless our lives.