Why Harden Their Hearts?

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As I continue on my path to remain in God, His word, His plans and the gifts He has given, God is giving me sweet confirmations of my return to a more discovery based (instead of research) study plan.

A dear friend of mine, from years ago, recently came back into my life. It was such a blessing to reconnect with her after losing touch when I left the workforce 10 years ago. About a month after we reconnected she had a scare and ended up in the ER where she discovered she has a brain tumor. It is operable, but was a very long and tricky surgery. I have no doubt God orchestrated our reconnection at this exact time so that I could be in her life during this time. As we sat in her living room a few weeks ago discussing all she has to do and prepare for before surgery she said, “I have to do end of life preparation too. I was thinking you could lead my service if need be.” She explained that not only did I know her, but I know the Bible with my heart not just my mind. I realized that what I was beginning to see as a weakness in myself and my Biblical study wasn’t at all. It’s a gift to feel the scriptures. Yes, we need to understand it, not misrepresent it. We need to uncover the context, but DO NOT have to go to divinity school to study, understand, and breathe it in. We just need to dig in . . .  we can’t be afraid of it . . . we need to ask questions and pray for God to open our eyes to His message for us. Please hear me when I say, “You can open the Bible and study God’s word on your own. He hopes you will seek Him there. He will show you His amazing ways and reveal Himself to you in unmistakable ways.”

This is one of the most recent questions that burdened my heart as I was going along in my yearly reading plan. When God called Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt and Pharaoh’s control why did God keep hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that he wouldn’t comply with Moses? God could have made this easy on His people by just letting them go or easier on Moses by having Pharaoh comply much sooner. This “hardening of heart” theme followed throughout the story.

The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” Exodus 4:21-23

and it doesn’t stop there. . . even later in Exodus 14:3-4 after Pharaoh finally succumbs to all the plagues and deaths of firstborn sons and lets Moses take his people – God tells Moses

Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.

Even after His people finally get released, God continues to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Why did God keep doing this? He could have made it so easy for Moses to free the Israelites and instead He says over and over “I’ll harden his heart so he won’t grant your request.” Do you think Moses was thinking (as we sometimes do), “Thanks, a lot God. You are all powerful so why can’t this be a little easier?” The answer is there if we keep reading to verse 4 and it’s glorious.

But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

and again in Exodus 14:31 after the parting of the Red Sea and final escape from Pharaoh:

And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

When God makes the impossible happen you can’t mistake His hand is in it. There is no way we can take credit when the miraculous happens and then God receives all the glory. Yes, sometimes it is hard – – – really hard. All the pruning, shaping, crushing and molding from what seems like an impossible situation comes fruit when God’s hand is in it. When we see God work and know there is NO POSSIBLE way we could have overcome the obstacle or trial on our own our trust grows, our faith is made stronger and our determination to stay the course God has set before us more obtainable.

If it’s all easy, then what do we gain?

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