Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? (Exodus 10-12)

All Giza Pyramids in one shot. Русский: Все пи...

All Giza Pyramids in one shot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does this passage say about God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit?

I always wondered why God bothered to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Wouldn’t it have been easier if he’d softened it instead and let the people go free without all the frogs, locusts, and death of the firstborn? I think sometimes we wrongly assume that because God is involved, things should be easy. I can imagine God chuckling at that thought. When were we ever promised that life would be easy? In fact, sometimes He complicates matters to make a point, like in this case.

In Exodus 10:1-2, God provides an explanation as to why He hardened Pharaoh’s heart (thank you! I like to know why.): (1) So He could display miraculous signs among the Egyptians, and (2) “…so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them–and so you will know that I am the LORD.” (10:2)

If you were an Egyptian living at that time, what would you have thought about the Israelite’s God? I don’t know about you, but He would have made a large impression on me. Indeed, in Exodus 12:38, we see that some non-Israelites left Egypt along with the Israelites, perhaps due to the miracles God performed.

I love that the 10 plagues were partly to show up the Egyptian gods (Exodus 12:12). In Egypt, they worshiped a bazillion gods: Hapi, god of the Nile River, Hathor, the cow goddess, Amon-Re, the sun god, to name a few. If you’re interested in which of the Egyptian gods God was  denouncing, here is a useful chart:  http://biblecharts.org/oldtestament/thetenplagues.pdf.

What does this passage tell us about people, life or faith?

When things get difficult, it might be because God is working. I have learned that when I’m facing obstacles to ask God, “What are you trying to teach me?” Sometimes it’s not about me, but God is using those events to make a point for someone else. I am learning to have faith in God no matter my circumstances, and I take my questions to God. He is faithful and He will answer me. ❤

Why did God put this passage in the Bible?

God was nice enough to explain exactly why this passage was in the Bible: He wanted people to know that He is LORD. He wanted to produce mighty signs and miracles so that Israel would remember that HE was the one who freed them from Egypt. If Pharaoh had just let the people go after Moses and Aaron first approached Him, would Israel have given credit to God? When we find ourselves in impossible situations and can’t get out of them, then we look for a miracle. When the situation is resolved and we know that it could only have been God, it increases our faith.

I’m sure the 10 plagues made a big  impression on the Israelites and Egyptians. Remember, these events took place prior to God giving Israel His laws and establishing His Temple. He wanted them to know and remember who He was and what He could do.

How does this passage relate to my life?

The thing that jumps out at me today is that God performed the plagues so we can tell our children and grandchildren about them. This story is for His glory, and our job is to teach it to our children. Your take on this passage might be something completely different than mine. It might be about your faith, God’s provisions, God’s timing, God’s sovereignty, or something else.

How can I put this truth into practice?

I am challenged/convicted to set up a time to read Bible stories with my girls. I would like to start tonight. We originally were reading Bible stories together, but it degenerated into just reading stories before bed. Time to get back on track. 🙂

The wonderful thing about the Bible is that these passages can speak to us in different ways each time we read them. I’d love to know how this passage relates to your life–please share in the comments below!

 

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3 thoughts on “Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? (Exodus 10-12)

  1. That’s a neat chart. I don’t think I ever realized before that some of the plagues hit the Jews, too. Or that some non-Israelites left Egypt with them. I really like how, not only were the plagues a testimony and witness, but they were a confirmation to the Israelites that God was really there. Since I am sure many of them had been doubting or questioning after all the years of slavery and baby slaughter.

    • Not to mention, they were about to go through quite a lot but they could always look back and remember what God did for them. Isn’t that what we always do when we doubt? I know I do…I remember the times that God has been present in my life to remind myself that HE really is. 🙂

      • lol – and considering how much whining they did later – like when they got tired of Mana every day – imagine how much worse it would have been. 😉 Yes, those times when God had really shown Himself really help me get through the hard times, too.

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