Tuesday in the First Week of Lent

Exodus 6:28-7:25

The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart

In this chapter we find some of the most frightening words in all of Holy Scripture: “But [the LORD] will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (7:3).  That Pharaoh’s heart is hardened is repeated three times in this same chapter (7:13, 14, 22).  Indeed, after speaking of the miserable plight of the Egyptians because of the water turned to blood, verse twenty-three declares pitifully, “Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.”

How are we to understand God hardening Pharaoh’s heart?  Should we pity Pharaoh?  The Bible certainly doesn’t.  Some pity is recorded for the poor Egyptians who must endure hardship for Pharaoh’s stubbornness, but none for Pharaoh.  But why?  Because Pharaoh was a wicked man whose heart was already in the dregs of sin and whose soul was fully courting hell.  God hardened what was already stone and merely confirmed the direction that sin-sick soul desired.  God hardens no heart that hardens not itself.  Then again, can we find a heart that is not so hardened before the gracious breaking and softening of the Spirit’s work upon the soul?

The New Testament passage that shines light on this Old Testament passage is Romans 1:18-32.  There lies the account of how men and women (without Christ) know the truth about God from creation but suppress the truth because of sin.  Rather than glorifying the Creator, man glorifies the creation, which is to say he glorifies himself.  The verse that is repeated three times in this passage, and is just as horrifying as the one above, and is God’s righteous response to such blatant and manifest sin is, “God gave them up” (1:24, 26, 28).  God gave them up to what?  To the lusts of their hearts, to dishonorable passions, to a debased mind.  It was this they coveted, so it was this to which God gave them up.

The greatest punishment God ever delivers to those who refuse Him is to give them up, thus allowing wicked hearts to grow ever harder.  It is not for us to judge when this happens to a person, but to tremble at the severity of God towards unrepentant sinners.  May God in His mercy ever make our hearts soft and pliable before Him, make us uncomfortable with sin, discipline us when we disobey, and bring us back onto the path when we stray.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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