God Hardened Pharaoh's Heart
I told a Baptist yesterday that my theology is influenced largely by Genesis and Exodus. I have managed to pick up again on Exodus, a book I've read several times the first third and actually have never completed entirely. I get a feeling of redundancy when it does the, "The LORD said Go to Pharaoh and say _____. Moses goes to Pharaoh and says ____. Pharaoh challenges Moses. Plagues fall. Pharaoh apologizes. Then Pharaoh takes it back."
Repeat ten times.
Then I get to the point where they cross the sea and I just can never go any further.
So among the things that Exodus says that cause trouble for some folks is how God hardened Pharaoh's heart. If you're like me, you find this to be a really mean thing to do. To force someone to do something they do not want to do and then to punish them for doing it. That just seems really mean and I know that even though God is higher than our ways, I know He has to agree. So the verses that read this way are really indicative of something else. I will write here what these verses really mean.
What it means in one phrase is: It implies divine responsibility.
Now Pharaoh, as per Roman 1, is enticed of his own volition. God hands him over to his depraved volition. God isn't in any way forcing Pharaoh to do anything. But because God makes the case that He is the creator behind all things, that He has set the world in motion, and that everything following is contingent, then He is responsible for everything. I do not mean He is criminally responsible, because that would be like saying He is responsible for child molestation. But that's not what is meant here. What is meant, is that as the Precipitating Precipitator, He acknowledges that all future events that He either causes or neglects to prevent, He has precipitated. Because if He has neglected to exert a more persuasive role on Pharaoh, then it is that He has allowed the king to be enticed of his own volition.
Responsibility, though not Culpable
So if He does not prevent a thing, then as the Motionless Motioner, as the Unmoved Mover, the Uncaused Cause and the eternally existing I AM, it is even in his non-motion that motion arises. How is He not culpable? He is not culpable because suits are brought namely by parties with standing. Do we have standing to question God? That is a very good question and the answer though straightforward is No, many people every day forget this simple truth.
God is not responsible for the active occasion that Pharaoh's heart is hardened, but He is accepting the responsibility of being an all-powerful Creator, Who has endless means at His disposal and nevertheless He seeks this one mysterious way. And I continually read it and am always confused.
Why didn't He just kill Pharaoh and have him replaced by a puppet government? That's what the American nation does. Seems very straightforward. Or why instead of sending what was it, nine or ten plagues, why didn't He send two or three? It seems He could have been far more efficient.
Yet He said, "That they will know there is none like me in all the earth."
Very good point.
But like I said, if we are to take Exodus at its word, it is completely awesome, but also just really