How Did God “Harden Pharaoh’s Heart”?

Mike Kellogg
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This is a knotty question. Scholars have struggled with this for ages, including Jewish OT teachers. Some suggest that if God had actually hardened the leader of Egypt’s heart, it was certainly His prerogative. God answers to no one. He is God, and He is sovereign. While that is true, I personally don’t think He would treat Pharaoh any differently than He treats us. Second Peter 3:9 says, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Many Bible teachers suggest that Pharaoh hardened his own heart several times, at which point God hardened his heart terminally. Pharaoh’s attitude toward the God of Israel and his refusal to submit to Him are seen in his words to Moses in Exodus 5:2: “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

His words echo the tone and rebellion of the vast majority of this world who blast God. Pharaoh refused Jehovah’s claims, and ultimately his heart was hardened because of his failure to submit to his Creator.

Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. They wouldn’t let Israel go until God had ravaged them with dreadful plagues. The question for us to answer is whether we are living like Pharaoh in our refusal to hear the Word of God and submit to Him. We are exhorted in Hebrews 3:15, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

For Further Reading:

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by Today in the Word

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book cover for Do Angels Really Have Wings?