Hardness of Heart
Scripture reading for January 21st: Exodus 7-10
The story of the ten plagues is an interesting study in human reaction to the miraculous. We often think that if unbelievers could just see a miracle, then they would believe. If God would do something spectacular, then the unbeliever would take notice and start to follow God. However, miracles done in front of the willfully blind have the effect of hardening them even further!
To most people, Pharaoh was the most powerful man on earth during the time of Moses. He was the head of the most powerful nation and had a large army with many chariots. He, himself, was worshiped as a god. When Moses came before him with just his staff and Aaron his brother to demand that Pharaoh let the Israelites go, Pharaoh was less than impressed. When Moses threw his staff down before Pharaoh and it became a snake, he summoned his wise men and magicians and they did the same thing with their magic arts. (Exodus 7:10-13) Moses’ snake swallowed all their snakes, however. This miracle only hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to them as the Lord had predicted.
Hardness of heart comes from hearing truth and rejecting it. Refusing to listen to God’s word and warning is the root cause of this fatal disease. The more truth we hear and know, the more responsible we are to respond in faith to that truth. If we reject the truth God is bringing us, our hearts harden by our own choice and attitude. We see Pharaoh repeatedly rejecting Moses’ appeal to let God’s people go to worship. Every time for the first five plagues, Scripture states that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. (Exodus 7:22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7) After the sixth plague, the Scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. (Exodus 9:12) This tells us we can cross a line with God when we reject His truth.
The ultimate result of hardness of heart is deception and finally destruction. Proverbs 29:1 speaks of the person who is stiff-necked after many rebukes. This person will suddenly be destroyed without remedy. That is exactly what happened to Pharaoh. It is wise to give heed to God’s word and His correction. He will not judge without warning. He would rather show mercy than wrath. Don’t let hardness of heart afflict you!