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Who hardened Pharaoh's heart?
And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not to them; as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
As the heart of Pharaoh grew harder the Lord sent another message to him, declaring,
I will at this time send all My plagues upon your heart, and upon your servants, and upon your people; that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. . . . And in very deed for this cause have I raised you up, for to show in you My power.
Not that God had given him an existence for this purpose, but His providence had overruled events to place him upon the throne at the very time appointed for Israel's deliverance. Though this haughty tyrant had by his crimes forfeited the mercy of God, yet his life had been preserved that through his stubbornness the Lord might manifest His wonders in the land of Egypt. The disposing of events is of God's providence or choosing. See Daniels prayer. He could have placed upon the throne a more merciful king, who would not have dared to withstand the mighty manifestations of divine power. But in that case the Lord's purpose would not have been accomplished, and in every event He has a multitude of purposes. His people were permitted to experience the grinding cruelty of the Egyptians, that they might not be deceived concerning the debasing influence of idolatry. In His dealing with Pharaoh, the Lord manifested His hatred of idolatry and His determination to punish cruelty and oppression.
God had declared concerning Pharaoh,
I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
But there was no exercise of supernatural power to harden the heart of the king. Just a natural outworking of a principle which God had created.
God gave to Pharaoh the most striking evidence of divine power, but the monarch stubbornly refused to heed the light. He was free to accept or reject. Being a very proud man he chose the latter. And every display of infinite power rejected by him, rendered him the more determined in his rebellion. The seeds of rebellion that he sowed when he rejected the first miracle, produced their harvest. As he continued to venture on in his own course, going from one degree of stubbornness to another, his heart became more and more hardened, until he was called to look upon the cold, dead faces of the first-born.
The terrible danger of rejection
God speaks to men and women through His servants, giving cautions and warnings, and rebuking sin. He gives to each an opportunity to correct their errors before they become fixed in their character; but if one refuses to be corrected, divine power does not interpose to counteract the tendency of their own action. Such a one finds it more easy to repeat the same course. He or she is hardening their heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit. A further rejection of light places them where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding impression.
Anyone who has once yielded to temptation will yield more readily the second time. Every repetition of the sin lessens the power of resistance, blinds the eyes, and stifles conviction. Every seed of indulgence sown will bear fruit. God works no miracle to prevent the harvest.
Galatians 6:7 The principle
Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
Those who manifest an infidel hardihood, a stolid indifference to divine truth, are but reaping the harvest of that which they have themselves sown. It is thus that multitudes come to listen with stoical indifference to the truths that once stirred their very souls. They sowed neglect and resistance to the truth, and such is the harvest which they reap.
I'll decide tomorrow!
Those who are quieting a guilty conscience with the thought that they can change a course of evil when they choose, that they can trifle with the invitations of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed, take this course at their peril. They think that after casting all their influence on the side of the great rebel, in a moment of utmost extremity, when danger compasses them about, they will change leaders.
But this is not so easily done.
The experience, the education, the discipline of a life of sinful indulgence, has so thoroughly moulded the character that they cannot then receive the image of Jesus. Had no light shone upon their pathway, the case would have been different. Mercy might interpose, and give them an opportunity to accept her overtures; but after light has been long rejected and despised, it will be finally withdrawn.
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