A Hardened Heart

April 19, 2011 - 5:00 am

“But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.”—Exodus 7:22

One of the key players in the drama of the Exodus story is Pharaoh, the Egyptian king. Even before Moses and Aaron appeared before him, they were well aware of the difficult task ahead of them. God had forewarned them that Pharaoh would not easily let the Israelites leave.

In fact, God told Moses and Aaron that Pharaoh would “harden his heart” and refuse to let God’s people go despite the plagues and disasters that would be brought upon the land and the people. Initially, the Bible records that Pharaoh was the one who hardened his own heart (7:13, “became hard”; v.14, “unyielding”; v. 22, “became hard). Pharaoh hardened his own heart five times by refusing Moses’ requests. Then, after the sixth plague, God is said to have hardened Pharaoh’s heart — and by doing so, confirmed the Egyptian king’s willful disobedience and stubbornness.

Since Pharaoh’s heart would remain callous and stubborn, it was ultimately necessary for the tenth and final plague, the death of all firstborns throughout the land of Egypt. Incredibly, Moses had warned Pharaoh that this would happen if he did not obey God. (See Exodus 4:21-23.) And in that first Pesach, meaning Passover, God proved to Pharaoh and all Egypt who was supreme and all-powerful.

While it is easy to judge Pharaoh for his hard and stubborn heart, we must be careful to attend to the condition of our own hearts. A hardened heart doesn’t happen all at once. It results from stubbornly and consistently setting ourselves against God, just as Pharaoh did. In choosing to disregard God’s will and command, we can become so hardened that we no longer are able to listen to Him and we will no longer turn to Him for forgiveness.

Certainly, many will experience times of rebellion and stubbornness. But we can keep our hearts soft and open to God through prayer and worship. In Hebrew, “to pray” means “to judge oneself.” True prayer always must involve introspection, meditation, and self-scrutiny. As we do this and continually bring our confession and sins before God, we will lessen our chances of becoming hard-hearted.

Take a few moments this week for a spiritual heart-check. What areas in your life do you find yourself resisting God’s call? Where is He prompting you to turn toward Him? God is there to soften your heart today.


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