Deep, Deep Waters
Exodus 7:1 & 3-4a
And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. … But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.”
And so it begins. Not just a battle between the little Egyptian god, Pharaoh, and the transcendent, Creator God, Jehovah, but the mystifying paradox between two fundamental truths: man’s freewill and God’s Providence. It’s written here in Exodus as a sort of tug-of-war between God and Pharaoh, where, in one instance, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and in another Pharaoh hardens his own heart, but this has led theologians like Aquinas and G.K. Chesterton and John Calvin into a philosophical tug-of-war of their own. Because no one with a finite understanding can satisfactorily explain the questions begged here in Exodus 7:3-4. On the one hand, if God can harden a man’s heart against His will, then man’s God-given ability to choose is just an illusion. But, on the other hand, if God doesn’t override man’s freewill at times, how can He insure that all His purposes are fulfilled according to His plan? It’s as if Moses has just led us into the Red Sea of divine understanding, and He hasn’t parted the waters this time, and we can either stay in the shallows without taking the plunge, or we can swim for our whole lives till we run out of air.
Let’s start with what we know, friend. The Bible teaches us that the devil blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4), that our own lusts cripple our souls from seeking God (Romans 1), and it becomes apparent the further we go through Exodus that Pharaoh’s hardened heart is a direct result of his own obstinate pride. So whatever invisible work God is accomplishing throughout this story, what is visible is that God gives Pharaoh countless opportunities to repent and obey, but Pharaoh just won’t bow the knee.
The application: trust God today! Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will exalt you! That’s always been the only way out of the pit and into the Promised Land.