Exodus 10: Hardened Heart or Deep Humility?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”

-        Let’s talk a little bit about the statement we see repeatedly where God says, “…for I have hardened his heart…” It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Why God would harden the heart of a man when His will is that no one perishes. I like what Wiersbe says here about this statement:

o   Does this mean that God was unfair and that Pharaoh shouldn’t be held responsible for what he did? No, for the same sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay. It all depends on the nature of the material. To the very end of the contest, Pharaoh was a proud, unrepentant sinner who refused to hear God’s Word, do God’s will, or even keep his own promises to the Jewish people. The Lord gave him more than enough evidence to convince him that the gods of Egypt were false and the God of the Hebrews was the true and living God. Pharaoh sinned against a flood of light, and though God used him to accomplish His own purposes, Pharaoh made his own decisions and hardened his own heart against God.

3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow.5 They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. 6 They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

-        What does the Lord want from Pharaoh? He desires that His beloved be released, but this can only be accomplished by Pharaoh being humble. Hence, Moses saying, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself?” If we desire God to do a mighty work in us, then we must become nothing so He can become all. Andrew Murray’s writes in the book Humility this word on humbleness:

o   God measures our love for Him by the love we show our brothers and sisters in every day fellowship with them. It is a serious thing to realize that our love for God just isn’t genuine if it fails the test of daily life with our fellow human beings. The same thing is true with humility. It is easy to think we humble ourselves before God. But humility before people is the only real proof that our humility before God is more than just a figment of our imagination. It is the only true evidence that humility has made a home in our hearts and become our nature.

7 Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?”

-        When Pharaoh’s officials said that Egypt was ruined, it probably was no understatement. Below is a recap of what’s taken place so far. As you read through the plagues which have occurred up to this point, get a picture in your mind about what the city and people would actually look like!

1.      Water to blood. The fish died and the water was unusable.

2.      Frogs. Frogs infested every area and when they died the decaying bodies produced a horrible stench.

3.      Lice/gnats. The insects caused extreme discomfort for people and animals.

4.      Flies. These buzzing creatures carried annoyance and disease!

5.      Diseased livestock. Not much specifics here, but clearly you wouldn’t want to eat any diseased animal. Additionally, there was no mention of this plague being withdrawn!

6.      Boils. Ouch! No need to explain how this would make humans and cattle absolutely miserable! Read Job to find out more about his bout with boils and how he scraped them off with a shroud of pottery. Ew. (And, also no mention of this plague being withdrawn.)

7.      Hail. Destroyed the flax, barley, trees, and even killed humans and animals.

8 Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the Lord your God,” he said. “But tell me who will be going.”

9 Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.”

10 Pharaoh said, “The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 11 No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

-        Pharaoh wasn’t willing to fully comply with the demand of releasing all the Israelites and the livestock. He wasn’t dumb – I’m sure he suspected an escape. The wonderful thing is, even when the world shuts us down repeatedly, it does not mean defeat for God. As Paul writes in Romans 8:31, if God is for us, who can be against us? What a simple and powerful question!

12 And the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.”

13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; 14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

-        We mentioned last week the tie to these plagues and the end times in Revelation. If you look at Revelation 9:3, it reads, “Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” It’s amazing the parallels in God’s Word. What was written under the Old Covenant is often represented under the New Covenant. I’ll provide the parallel scriptures from Exodus/Revelation once we learn of all the plagues. We serve an awesome God.

16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”

18 Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. 19 And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

-        Pharaoh’s heart was not truly repentant. It isn’t enough to simply confess our sins – we must fully turn from them. When we fail to eradicate the sin from our life, we return to it. That is why the Proverb says, “As a dog returns to his vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” If you find yourself repeating the same sins over and over again, it’s time to pause and consider why sin is ruling your heart.

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

-        This wasn’t just any darkness; it was a darkness which could be felt. Think about that for a moment. It wasn’t the kind of darkness where your eyes have to adjust a bit and then you can manage to shuffle around. It literally crippled the Egyptians and they didn’t move for three days. 1 John 2:11 tells us, “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”  Can you imagine how even the smallest candle flame would be cherished in a house that is in debilitating darkness? Remember, beloved, you are the light of the world. Shine, shine, shine!

24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.”

25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.”

27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”

29 “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you again.”

-        Moses was unwilling to compromise. Even after several confrontations with Pharaoh, he stood his ground in what the Lord instructed and told him that everyone and everything had to go – men, women, children, and all of the flocks and herds. It would’ve been easy for Moses to say, “Close enough – he’s going to let the people go, so let’s just leave the livestock behind and get out of here!” Let this be an encouragement to you. The Lord will not only take care of you, but all which He has entrusted to you within the parameters of His will. Amen.