The Plague of a Hard Heart

Whitney Capps

Day: 9 | Plan: Exodus

Today's Reading: Exodus 9

Exodus 9:12 (NIV) “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said to Moses.”

Blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. Pharaoh has witnessed four miraculous, devastating plagues on his people and land. Now God would kill their livestock and send plagues of boils and hail. The gnats and flies were annoyances. But the blood in the Nile and the frogs covering the land were devastating and in part, a judgment on the fake gods of Egypt.

The Nile was worshipped as a life-giving deity. Frogs were viewed as symbols of fruitfulness and life. In fact they were not to be killed! One of Egypt’s chief gods Osiris was believed to live in livestock. Yet this fake god could not save them.

Egypt was a pagan nation. God was judging this country, their oppression of His people and their rejection of Him as the one, true God. And their rebellion is not new.

They had not lived as an unreached people group ignorant of the power of Yahweh. Remember that in Genesis 41 Pharaoh had been so impressed with Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams that he acknowledged that the Spirit of God was on Joseph. He credited God with enabling Joseph and saving Egypt. 

Now some 400 years later, they have forgotten God’s mercy and rejected His authority. 

Why is this important? Well today’s key verse is a difficult passage. But let’s allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Other passages reveal that Egypt and Pharaoh had rejected God. In fact during previous plagues, Pharaoh had asked Moses for relief and promised to let the people go. But, as Exodus 8:30 records, “Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go” once the plagues stopped. His heart was deceitful, selfish, manipulative and wicked. 

He had rejected God’s previous, gracious protection for Egypt and forgotten the lessons of Egypt’s historic famine. More recently Pharaoh had seen with his own eyes the ways Yahweh had protected His people, brought plagues on Egypt and manipulated nature to His perfect will. 

Yet Pharaoh rejected God. You and I reject God too. In Psalm 14, David laments that there is no one who does good, we all say in our hearts that there is no God. This is the worst plague, the plague of a hard heart. We want to be in control of our own lives. We resist surrender. Unless God intervenes, we are lost. 

When I read this passage I don’t wrestle so much with God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. I wrestle with the shocking, worship-inducing, amazing grace that He softened mine. Don’t be a rebel like Pharaoh, giving lip-service to the power of God. Instead, respond in faith and surrender. Lay down the fake gods of control and independence. Acknowledge that He alone is God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are the ultimate Authority over earth, people and hearts. I want to surrender everything to Your authority, to Your control. I don’t want to offer superficial, temporary, emotional responses. I want to offer my heart to You completely. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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