Monthly Archives: August 2013

Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart?

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.bible_plagues

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.

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God’s Word is So Simple, It is Not Rocket Science-It Doesn’t have to Be!

God’s Word is God! John 1:1 states this beautifully and simply!:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

If you go type in this verse in an internet search, this verse becomes one of the most complicated verses in the Bible.  It is incredibly discouraging to read man’s multiple interpretations of this verse. Man is the culprit when it comes to complicating God’s Word. Man has invented the ‘contradictions’ that some talk about. It causes so much division among Christians.

God is God- period! He created the heavens and the earth! Have you ever looked at things that God has made like the moon, the sun, trees, fish, humans and blue sky? It is amazing to consider the creation and how magnificent it is. Why would his Word be any different?

As I slowly worked through Genesis and now moving on into Exodus, it is even more apparent to me how faithful and loving God is. He hasn’t changed. I’ve spent so much time in the New Testament for most of my life.  The context of the Word of God extends from Genesis to Revelation so even though we live after the ascension of Jesus Christ and before his return, the Old Testament has meaning for us.

Context is very important. So often people take one verse and spin a whole theological doctrine out of it. I love context. The Word has context. Once we have the context, a  single verse will mean so much more.  Last night before I went to sleep, I read a verse in Colossians about how God has delivered us from the power of darkness and as I read the context around it, I thought of the children of Israel in Exodus and their rescue. It is not rocket science and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel! It is gorgeous!

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He Prayed for You!

Great verse! I stumbled upon this yesterday while reading about how Christ prayed, what he prayed for and what he did not pray for in John 17. Verse 20 just totally caught my breath!

John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Jesus Christ was praying for his people and those who believe their words. Since we are reading John’s words in the gospel we have to realize that Jesus Christ actually prayed for us! Hey, the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16b)! If there ever was a righteous man, it was Jesus Christ! and He prayed for us!

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God and Moses

After Joseph, things really went downhill for the Israelites. Moses, by a miracle of God, had survived and like Joseph, was involved somewhat in the court of Pharaoh. It was not however, an exact comparison, but it gave Moses reason to think he could help his Israelite brothers and sisters.

In Acts 7, there is a record of his venturing out to check on his brethren.

23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.26 And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? Acts 7:23-28

The incident that ensued, resulting in trouble with Pharaoh and the failure of the Israelites involved to see anything but intrusion on Moses part, became discouragement to Moses and what he thought his calling was all about. He was alone and on the run. God had not appeared to Moses yet from the burning bush, so he had not received the detailed plans of God as to how he was to help his brothers and sisters.  That would come another 40 years later when the Israelites cried for help. In the meantime, Moses found life and family in Midian that kept him busy and learning.

It is important to understand and realize that people don’t ‘call’ people to do God’s work. God does and He is the one who provides the timing, strength, learning and support to carry His plan out!  People who love God and “have it in their heart” to help can enter into the rest and ease of God’s peace knowing that God will provide the right timing, place, people and details that guarantee success. It’s a matter of  listening to the still small voice ( check out Elijah in I Kings 19:9-18 which is a similar predicament) not the ‘naysayers’. It helps to ignore them! Focusing in on our relationship with God is not dependent on what others think and provides some very rich moments in life.

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Moses – His Background

bible_moses_reedsIn Genesis, the lives of many people are recorded, starting from the first man and woman in the beginning and ending with the formation of a nation of God’s people. Exodus focuses primarily on one man in a relationship with God, leading his people out from bondage in a land controlled by others, toward a life of freedom and establishment.

Moses life scheme is interesting*.  He was raised in the court of a pharaoh with his mom as a nanny. He had privilege, wealth and education. His mom would have taught him about God and the people he came from. He lived 40 years in that environment. When he saw an Egyptian abusing one of his own people he got involved and killed the Egyptian. His own people did not consider his intervention heroic and Moses ended up alone and in trouble. He fled Egypt to Midian (Arabia). There he spent another 40 years as a shepherd, in an entirely different environment than his first 40 years. He worked in an rough, rugged country entirely different that what he was used to.

Who were the people of Midian? In Genesis 25:1-6, we can find out where they came from:

Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

God is the great weaver of His word.  The history of the Old Testament people is interwoven and great learning for us. I don’t have to understand everything or speculate why God did some things. As we continue reading things become clearer. We humanoids love to speculate and make judgements. We can even go so far as to go off the rails on God’s Word at times, but thankfully if we develop meekness along the way, our loving God has some nice little gems awaiting for us throughout His Word. God never changes in faithfulness and love for His people.

*Interesting link to Josephus: Chapter 9:3:  http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/josephus/ant-2.htm

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