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Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

A Portion of a Bible Study


E J Waggoner

(Emphasis added by us)

Originally published in the Signs of the Times

between October 1895 and September 1896

Romans chapter Nine


God's Foreknowledge

When the children were not yet born, and had done neither good nor evil, it was said of them, "The elder shall serve the younger." [Genesis 25:23; Romans 9:12] God knows the end from the beginning, and could tell what each one would do.

The choice was in accordance with what is said of God, "who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works [Note this very important point], but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." 2 Timothy 1:9.


"Esau Have I Hated "

This was not written until many years after the death of both Jacob and Esau. "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the Lord; yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness." Malachi 1:2, 3.

Of his descendants it is said that they shall be called, "The people against whom the Lord hath indignation forever." Vs. 4.

And why?

"Thus saith the Lord, For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear [himself] perpetually, and he kept his wrath [disregard for God] forever." Amos 1:11.

Jacob, on the other hand, while no better by nature than Esau, believed the promises of God, and was by them made partaker of the divine nature and thus an heir of God and a joint heir of Jesus Christ.

No Unrighteousness with God

Mark well verses 14-17 for evidence that there is no arbitrariness in God's choice. It is all of mercy.

"He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."

So it is all of "God that sheweth mercy." The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord (Ps. 119:64), and "his mercy endureth forever."

God's Purpose for Pharaoh

The case of Pharaoh is cited by the apostle as an illustration of the statement that "it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."

"For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."

It is immaterial whether this refers to the bringing of Pharaoh to the throne, or to the preserving of him up to that time.

One thing is certain: it does not teach us, as is commonly supposed, that God brought Pharaoh to the throne for the purpose of wreaking his vengeance upon him. It is astonishing that any professed Christian could ever have dishonored God by such a charge against him.

The purpose of God in raising Pharaoh up, or causing him to stand, was that he might show to him and in him his power, and that his name might be declared throughout all the earth.

This purpose was accomplished in the destruction of Pharaoh because of his stubborn resistance. But it would have been accomplished just as well, and much better for Pharaoh if he had listened to the word of God.

Pharaoh saw God's power, but would not believe. If he had believed, he would have been saved, because the power of God is salvation to every one that believeth.

Pharaoh had an imperious will. His one great characteristic was steadfastness, pertinacity degenerating into stubbornness. But who can estimate the power for good that Pharaoh would have been if his will had been yielded to the Lord? To yield to the Lord would have meant a great sacrifice, as men count sacrifices, but no greater than that which Moses had made.

Moses had given up the same throne, to cast in his lot with God's people.

A wonderful and honorable position was offered to Pharaoh, but he knew not the day of his visitation. It involved humiliation, and he rejected it. As a consequence he lost everything; while Moses, who chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, and to share the reproach of Christ, has a name and a place that will endure throughout eternity.

The mercies of God rejected turn into curses. "For the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein." Hosea 14:9.

We have learned that although God did make choice of certain ones, specially named, who afterwards attained great eminence as children of God, the choice was not arbitrary.

Jacob was chosen before he was born, but no more than all others are.

God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ, "according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:4-6.

"So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."

As proof of this, the apostle cited the case of Pharaoh, who was chosen in Christ just as much as Jacob was, and just as much as we are. He was chosen to the praise of the glory of the grace of God, that he might show forth the excellencies of the Lord; but he obstinately refused to submit.

But God will be praised even by the wrath of men, if they are not willing to praise him voluntarily, and so God's name and power were made known through Pharaoh's stubbornness.

It would have been better if the proud king had yielded himself to the design of God, instead of having that design worked out in spite of him.

But the lesson that we are to learn is that every man in every nation under heaven has been chosen, and that this choice is that they should be adopted as sons.

In this choice the Jews have no advantage over others, but are on an equality with them, as is further shown by the remainder of the chapter:



EGW on Hardening Pharaoh's heart


See also Waggoner's "Predestination"

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