The Word for today:
Yesterday, Pastor Joe wrote about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. It was a clear and forceful explanation of “the classic conundrum between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.”
Today, I’m going to talk about the hardening of different hearts. We’ll leave Pharaoh in Egypt, while we talk about the hardening (and softening) of hearts that are nearer and dearer — my heart and yours…
Throughout his life, Pharaoh had been told he was a god. So God set out to re-educate him:
Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. (Exodus 14:1-4)
Today’s culture suggests that we are gods — that we can take it upon ourselves to define right and wrong; that we can take issues of life and death into our own hands. God is no respecter of persons, so the lessons he taught Pharaoh will be taught to us. Stay tuned.
In order to reveal what was in Pharaoh’s heart, God forced Pharaoh’s hand. Pharaoh wanted to appear benevolent, but God made Pharaoh’s heart firm enough to reveal what was in it. God solidified the decision that Pharaoh had already made.
We are experts at fooling ourselves, but God hardens our hearts so we can’t fool ourselves any more. Every person will be forced to reveal — at judgment — what is really in his heart. When we come into His presence there will be no camouflage and no double dealing.
A close reading reveals that Pharaoh started out with a hard heart (Exodus 5:2), so the plagues “hardened” the heart of Pharaoh like the sun hardens clay, while at the same time the plagues caused multitudes to soften their attitudes towards God, like the sun melts wax.
God hardened the heart of Jesus Christ, who set his face like flint for Jerusalem (1). In the same way, those of us who have decided to follow Jesus are undergoing solidification — hearts hardening into the heart of the Lion of Judah.
The Word of God is continuously hardening hearts, for better or for worse. Those who will not be saved are getting ‘dead-er’ each day (from death to death–2 Cor. 2:16). Those who are being saved are becoming more steadfast in the faith, day by day, as the Word of God hardens their resolve to live like Christ.
The Christian should desire, even pray, that his heart is increasingly “hardened” in the same sense that Daniel purposed in his heart (Dan. 1:8) to live a life which pleased God.
(1) see Isaiah 50:7 and Luke 9:51