Gleanings of Wheat: A Blog dedicated to cooking, kids, and Christ

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Supremacy of God in Pharaoh

When I was in a AoG church, and even for a couple years after I left I struggled a lot with the supremacy of God, specifically in regards to salvation. I used to think that God held out this invitation and that it was up to me to accept or reject that invitation. That the only way someone's heart was hardened towards God was if they hardened it themselves. I'm currently reading my way through Exodus, and what has stuck out quite a bit is God's supremacy in the state of Pharaoh's heart.

On eight separate occasions of the first 14 chapters it specifically says that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, at other times the text simply says that his heart was hardened. Lest someone come along and insist that this hardening on God's part was figurative, suggesting the writer of Exodus didn't have language to convey that the Pharaoh had hardened his own heart, let me also point out that in three verses it says that very thing. The Pharaoh hardened his own heart AND the Lord hardened it.

Still others will suggest that God's portion of the hardening came in response to Pharaoh's. But if we will look at the very first use of the word hardened we will find this:

And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. (Exodus 7:13)

The "he" refers to God. God did the hardening first. Is Pharaoh responsible for his own actions? Absolutely, he knew he was sinning (9:27) but make no mistake, God had ordained that it would happen this way. Why?

And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. (Exodus 14:17-18)

God makes it clear over and over, He has done this so that He might display His glory, so that there will be no question in anyone's mind about who God really is. And it is in this strength that I find great comfort now.