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                       "THE HARDENING OF PHARAOH"

                             Exodus 4:21-23


1. When God sent Moses to free the Israelites from Egyptian bondage...
   a. He said that He would harden the heart of Pharaoh - Exo 4:21
   b. Even though it would result in the death of Pharaoh's son - Exo 4:

2. Because this sounds unjust, some explain it as hardening
   a. "God does not harden men by infusing malice into them, but by not
      imparting mercy to them."
   b. "God does not work this hardness of heart in man; but he may be
      said to harden him whom he refuses to soften, to blind him whom he
      refuses to enlighten, and to repel him whom he refuses to call."
      -- As quoted by Adam Clarke

3. If God hardened the heart of Pharaoh directly, the evidence shows it
   was still done...
   a. Without violating his free will
   b. Without impugning the justice of God

[The hardening of Pharaoh also provides insights as to how and why God
hardens people today.  So let's take a closer look at the evidence
involved in...]


      1. chazaq (Heb.) - Exo 4:21; 7:13,22; 8:19; 9:12,35; 10:20,27;
         11:10; 14:4,8,17
         a. "to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong,
            be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore"
            - BDB
         b. "literally signifies to strengthen, confirm, make bold or
            courageous;"  - Clarke
      2. qashah (Heb.) - Exo 7:3
         a. "to make hard, make stiff, make stubborn" - BDB
         b. "harden, stiffen" - Strong
      3. kabed (Heb.) - Exo 7:14; 8:15; 8:32; 9:7,34; 10:1
         a. "hard, difficult, burdensome" - BDB
         b. "heavy; figuratively...in a bad sense, severe, difficult...
            grievous, hardened" - Strong
      -- So Pharaoh's heart was made strong, stiff, stubborn; even if
         God did so 'directly', consider what else we learn as we
         examine the scriptural evidence below

      1. And Pharaoh's heart grew hard (chazaq), and he did not heed
         them, as the Lord had said. - Exo 7:13
      2. So the Lord said to Moses: "Pharaoh's heart is hard (kabed); he
         refuses to let the people go." - Exo 7:14
      3. Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and
         Pharaoh's heart grew hard (chazaq), and he did not heed them,
         as the Lord had said. - Exo 7:22
      4. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened (kabed)
         his heart and did not heed them, as the Lord had said. - Exo 8:15
      5. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of
         God." But Pharaoh's heart grew hard (chazaq), and he did not
         heed them, just as the Lord had said. - Exo 8:19
      6. But Pharaoh hardened (kabed) his heart at this time also;
         neither would he let the people go.   - Exo 8:32
      7. Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of
         the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard
         (kabed), and he did not let the people go. - Exo 9:7
      8. And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder
         had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened (kabed) his
         heart, he and his servants. - Exo 9:34
      9  So the heart of Pharaoh was hard (chazaq); neither would he let
         the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Moses.
         - Exo 9:35
      -- In the first five plagues, and in the seventh, Pharaoh hardened
         his own heart

      1. And I will harden (qashah) Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My
         signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. - Exo 7:3
      2. But the Lord hardened (chazaq) the heart of Pharaoh; and he did
         not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses. - Exo 9:12
      3. Now the Lord said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh; for I have
         hardened (kabed) his heart and the hearts of his servants, that
         I may show these signs of Mine before him," - Exo 10:1
      4. But the Lord hardened (chazaq) Pharaoh's heart, and he did not
         let the children of Israel go.- Exo 10:20
      5. But the Lord hardened (chazaq) Pharaoh's heart, and he would
         not let them go.- Exo 10:27
      6. So Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and
         the Lord hardened (chazaq) Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let
         the children of Israel go out of his land. - Exo 11:10
      7. Then I will harden (chazaq) Pharaoh's heart, so that he will
         pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all
         his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.
         - Exo 14:4
      8. And the Lord hardened (chazaq) the heart of Pharaoh king of
         Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children
         of Israel went out with boldness. - Exo 14:8
      9. And I indeed will harden (chazaq) the hearts of the Egyptians,
         and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh
         and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. - Exo
      -- Not until the sixth plague did God begin to harden Pharaoh's

      1. To convince the Egyptians that the LORD is truly God - Exo 7:
         3-5; 14:4
         a. By multiplying the signs and wonders in the land
         b. By delivering Israel through great judgments
      2. To convince the Israelites that the LORD is truly God - Exo 10:
         a. By His signs done in the land of Egypt
         b. That generations to come might be told
      3. To convince the world that the LORD is truly God - Exo 9:13-17
         a. God could have easily overwhelmed Pharaoh with His signs
         b. But God "raised" Pharaoh up, even as Pharaoh was "exalting"
            1) "God kept Pharaoh 'standing', i. e. permitted him to live
               and hold out until His own purpose was accomplished."
               - Barnes
            2) "God had preserved him for this very purpose, that he
               might have a farther opportunity of manifesting that he,
               Jehovah, was the only true God for the full conviction
               both of the Hebrews and Egyptians." - Clarke
            3) Thus God hardened, or strengthened, one who was
               determined to resist
         c. That God might show His power and proclaim His name in all
            the earth!
      -- God never forced Pharaoh to resist against his will; having
         demonstrated his own obstinacy and desire to resist, God simply
         strengthened him that he might continue his resistance until
         God's own purposes were fulfilled

[Such 'hardening' was not unique to Pharaoh.  It happened in Jesus' day
(e.g. Jn 12:37-41), and it is not limited to the past...]


      1. A 'partial hardening' (NASB) or blindness of Israel has
         occurred - Ro 11:25
      2. Was this hardening or blindness against their will?  No!
         a. It was only after they had ample opportunity to hear God's
            Word - Ro 10:16-19
         b. It was only after they had repeatedly rebelled against God
            - Ro 10:21
      3. Was this a hardening of 'all' Israel?  No!
         a. It is a 'partial' hardening
         b. God has always preserved the faithful remnant - cf. Ro 11:
         c. Many Jews have accepted Jesus, both then and now
      4. What was the extent of this 'hardening'?
         a. As with Pharaoh, it gave them strength of heart to continue
            in their resistance
         b. With Israel, it enabled them to resist against the Word of
            God - cf. Ro 11:7-10
      5. What was the purpose of this 'hardening'?
         a. It was an act of mercy!
            1) Their unbelief justified God terminating His covenant
               with Israel and making a new covenant that involved both
               Jews and Gentiles - cf. Jer 31:31-32; Ep 2:11-19
            2) By allowing Gentiles in this new covenant, God hopes to
               make unbelieving Jews jealous enough to come back - Ro
         b. Thus the ultimate purpose was to save both Jew and Gentile!
            - cf. Ro 11:30-32
      -- Until the "fulness of the Gentiles has come in", the nation of
         Israel (as a whole) has been hardened

      1. Paul writes of another 'hardening' (though the word is not
         a. In connection with the apostasy preceding the return of
            Christ - 2Th 2:1-10
         b. In which God will send a strong delusion upon some, to
            believe a lie - 2Th 2:11-12
      2. Is this being done against their will?  No!
         a. It involves people who did not receive the love of the truth
            - cf. 2Th 2:10
         b. It involves people who did not believe the truth, but took
            pleasure in sin - cf. 2Th 2:12
      3. Why is God doing this?
         a. That they might be condemned (judged) - cf. 2Th 2:12
         b. Just as hardening Pharaoh made his obstinacy more evident,
            so the delusion to believe a lie will reveal one's pleasure
            in sin
      4. How can we be sure that we will not experience this strong
         a. Have a love for the truth! - cf. 2Th 2:10
         b. Do not take pleasure in unrighteousness! - cf. 2Th 2:12
      -- The choice is ours as to whether we will experience this


1. We have seen that God hardened the hearts of the wicked, and is
   willing to send a strong delusion for them to believe a lie...
   a. Not in violation of their free will, but in conjunction with it
   b. "The 'hardening' of men's hearts by God is in the way of
      punishment, but it is always a consequence of their own self-
      hardening." - ISBE
   c. Strengthening the resolve of the wicked if it somehow serves God's

2. How much better for us to have God strengthen our hearts in doing
   good, not evil...
   a. As Paul prayed for the Thessalonians - 2Th 2:16-17
   b. As Peter prayed for those in Asia - 1Pe 5:10

This God will gladly do...if we love the truth, believe the truth,
receive the truth by obeying the gospel, and remain firm in holding to
it.  In what way will God 'strengthen' your heart today...?
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