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February 5 I Tuesday

Exodus 36-38

Matthew 23:1-22

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do.  But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.’”    —Exodus 4:21

 

The real issue in the plagues God brought upon Egypt is not the plagues themselves, but the disposition of Pharaoh’s heart. For many people, Scripture makes a very troubling statement when it says that God was the one to harden Pharaoh’s heart.

Does this mean that God arbitrarily chooses to harden or soften someone’s heart? Was it the will of Pharaoh or the will of God that Pharaoh not let the Israelites go? With careful reading, we see that Pharaoh’s heart is described as being hardened 14 times throughout the plagues. In the first six plagues, Pharaoh hardens his own heart and that of his officials. In the last four plagues, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart for him by sending more plagues, but only after Pharaoh had deliberately and repeatedly hardened his own heart.

It is the attitudes and dispositions of our hearts that define us. In Pharaoh’s case, the growing intensity of the plagues is matched with a growing resistance, and the outcome is totally predictable. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart with additional plagues because Pharaoh’s attitude and disposition towards God had already become set in stone. By the end of the sixth plague, God hands him over to his greed, pride and foolishness. In the New Testament, Paul speaks of this same arrogance and foolishness when he writes, “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…” (Romans 1:22-24).

We do not remain static in our walk with God. We can easily be lured away by the influences of a secular world and choose to enjoy things contrary to the will of God. If we persist in sin, we can be sure it will seep into other areas of our lives. Our hearts may then become hardened toward God. A hardened heart becomes a bitter heart, and a bitter heart becomes a destructive heart. If we reject God’s attempts to bring us back to Him, He will hand us over to our sinful ways, which lead not only to discontentment but ultimately to destruction and despair.

We can also choose to move forward. If our hearts are soft and pliable, we give God room to work, moulding, building and strengthening us into who He wants us to be. God has given us free will, but He does not twist our arms. When we go with God, we are on a path of His choosing and we cannot be more secure than that.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me with a humbled, submissive heart. I want Your will in my life and to enjoy it in a deeply intimate relationship with You. Thank You, Lord.


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