Now the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh really starts to heat up. Behind all of these events is the powerful hand of God. We see this directly as God’s power works through Moses. But we also see the mysterious work of God in the heart of Pharaoh. At times Pharaoh hardens his own heart, and at times (especially as the story progresses) God hardens it. We don’t fully understand this, but we know that a hardened heart is part of God’s judgment. And here, God is working for a bigger purpose. He wants his own identity to be revealed through the events of history. God shows that he has ultimate power over creation by essentially reversing the creation process. For example, frozen precipitation brings destruction and not the normal blessing of rain. Furthermore, the God who spoke light into existence reveals himself as darkness settles over the land. The created world turns against Pharaoh because he has exalted himself over the creator. In all of this, God is working to reveal himself as the only true and living God. Notice the repeated refrain – “The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand…” Some of the miraculous signs of Moses can be repeated by the court magicians (we don’t know how), but very quickly they are shown to be out of their league. There is only one God, and he holds the power of the created world and even life itself in his hands. As we progress through the 10 plagues they get more and more severe and often show an intentional distinction between Egypt and the people of Israel. This move us to the ultimate and definitive action of God in the final plague...
Reflect: This is a warning hear about a hardened heart. On one hand, God’s purposes are mysterious. On the other hand, the end result of resisting God’s entreaties (hardening the heart) is that our hearts become hardened, and we are no longer able to respond appropriately or think rationally. Sometimes, a severe intervention from God can get our attention and help us regain perspective. If that leads to repentance, even a painful event can be a good thing.
Connect: The Bible warns God’s people against hardening their hearts. We can’t assume that our response to God is something that we can do at our leisure. Assuming that we can do what we want and then go back to God’s way when we choose is itself an act of arrogant disregard for God.
Hebrews 3:12-15 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
This blog is part of the ministry of City Reformed Presbyterian Church. Unless otherwise noted, the entries are written by Matt Koerber. This is part of a project that our church is doing as we read through the narrative sections of Scripture between early January and Easter 2020. New entries will be scheduled to drop automatically at 5:00 am on the scheduled day.