Summary: Pharaoh’s four responses to God when he is commanded to let the Children of God go, illustrate the consequences of a hard heart.
A Study of the Life of Moses
Sermon # 7
“The Consequences of a Hard Heart”
Dr. John R. Hamby
Proverbs 29:1 states the biblical principle, “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
This morning we are going to examine the consequences of a hard heart. The next three chapters (7-9) are given to a telling of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart and how God works out the deliverance of his people. Pharaoh hardened his heart and resisted the authority of God over his life. Pharaoh blinded himself and refused to recognize God, and in so doing he incurred the wrath and judgment of God. Some are quick to point out that it says that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” but the truth is that we are told numerous times that “Pharaoh hardened his heart” before we are told that finally “God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” If you decide to reject God long enough he will enviably grant you your wish. Only after Pharaoh had proceeded to harden his own heart; knowingly, willfully and sinfully, did God oblige him.
This morning I want you to see with me four responses of a hard heart.
The First Response of AHard Heart: Blatant Disobedience
You will remember that Pharaoh’s initial response was blatant disobedience. Moses and Aaron had stood before Pharaoh and delivered the message of God, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Let My people go…” (5:1). Pharaoh’s response was, “Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice?”
Or to put it another way he was saying, “Who does Jehovah think He is to tell Pharaoh what he must do?”
Pharaoh only increased the burden of the children of Israel, from now on they would make the same number of bricks but they would have to gather their own straw. Moses left the presence of Pharaoh dejected and depressed, the people even blamed Moses and Aaron for the increase in there work load. Moses took his burden to the LORD (5:22), there God reassured him of his unchanging purpose. He told Moses “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh….” (6:1).
God tells Moses that he is to go back to Pharaoh and
tell him “he must let my people go.” (Ex 6:10). God explains to Moses what he can expect to happen in Exodus 7: 1-5, “So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. (2) You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. (3) And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (4) But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. (5) And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”
Pharaoh does indeed ignore the signs done at the hands of Moses. In Exodus 7:10 we read, “So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the LORD commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.”
Pharaoh was not convinced that the miracle that he had just witnessed possessed any uniqueness to that which the magicians in his court could duplicate. The magicians were summoned and they did indeed seem to able to turn their rods into serpents. Just how the magicians were able to do this is a matter of conjecture. Whether they were able to perform some kind of optical illusion, used sleight of hand or a actually worked a genuine miracle through Satanic power is argued by Biblical scholars. But the one thing we do know is that whatever they did seemed to satisfy the heart of this wicked king.
Exodus 7:14, tells us “So the LORD said to Moses: “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go.”
Pharaoh had resisted all efforts of Moses to get the children of Israel released. The issue now has to be forced. It would take ten plagues before Pharaoh would give the command let Israel go. Now the plagues begin. As the plagues progress, Pharaoh’s heart becomes increasingly hardened. Even when the Pharaoh seems to relent he inevitably fails to keep his promise.
The first of God’s judgments was against the waters of Egypt. The Plague of the Nile turned into blood (7:14-25). In verse 25 we are told that “And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.” The plague lasted seven days. It was a severe judgment, but the Bible says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he refused to let the people go (7:22).