When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: he and his officials hardened their hearts. So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.
Exodus 9:34-35 (NIV)
Read: Exodus 9
Consider: The story of the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt is well articulated in the book of Exodus. If you have the opportunity, it is worth reading through the whole of the Exodus story to get a picture of God’s dealings with his people. Although the story focuses on the people of Israel, there are a number of sub-stories within the narrative. One of the sub-stories within the Book of Exodus is about God’s dealings with Pharaoh.
God was very patient with Pharaoh and time after time he gave Pharaoh the opportunity to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt. Pharaoh’s problem may have been that he foresaw the economic loss Egypt would suffer when the Israelites left, but ultimately his problem was that each time he was asked to release the Israelites, he either said a categoric ‘No’, or initially agreed then changed his mind. In every case we are told that Pharaoh hardened his heart. Nothing that God did could convince Pharaoh that he was wrong. When the firstborn sons of Egypt died on the Passover night, Pharaoh reluctantly permitted the Israelites to leave, only to change his mind and follow then to the Red Sea where disaster struck.
The main lesson to learn from the story of Pharaoh in Exodus is not to resist God’s will. While God is enormously patient with those who rebel against him, ultimately they will run out of time and opportunity to repent.
Notice in the verses quoted above that not only did Pharaoh harden his heart, so did his officials (9:34). Compare this with Exodus 14:5 and you will see that this is a recurring theme in the book of Exodus. If the person (man or woman) at the top has a hard heart, it is likely that those under them will adopt the same stance. Hard hearts can lead individuals and even nations into disastrous situations.
Pray: Father, we pray for those who hear your offer of forgiveness, that they will not harden their hearts. Protect us also from being adversely influenced by those who have hardened their hearts. Amen