God brought a series of 10 plagues upon ancient Egypt and the pharaoh, each gaining in intensity as Pharaoh’s heart got harder. And the Bible says multiple times that Pharaoh hardened his heart.
But then we read in Exodus 10:1, “Now the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him’” (NLT).
So which was it? Did Pharaoh harden his heart, or did God harden his heart? Actually, it was both.
We can translate the word harden in this verse to read “strengthen” or “stiffen.” The Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s heart. In other words, Pharaoh made his decision, and then the Lord strengthened him in it. Pharaoh was culpable. He was responsible.
God has given each of us a free will, the ability to choose, and God honors the privilege that we have.
For instance, He said to the Israelites, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV). God told them the best choice to make.
But God will not force us to do His will. Sometimes it seems as though He ought to, but He won’t.
The Bible says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:17 NKJV). Every time you hear the gospel, every time you hear God’s offer of forgiveness for you and you reject it and say no to it, your heart gets a little harder.
If your heart becomes hard, it’s because you’ve chosen to hardened it yourself. You harden your heart, and then God will strengthen you in that decision.
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