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God Hardens Hearts


In Romans 9:17 Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16.  "I (God) raised you (Pharaoh) up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth".  It's clear from this passage that God placed this particular Pharaoh into a position of international prominence to demonstrate His power on earth.  If you were an Egyptian, you would have suffered by experiencing God's power in judgment.  If you were an Israeli, you would have been blessed by the same power.  God's power can be experienced in both a positive or negative way.     


Paul continues in verse 18 by saying, "God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden".  God can harden anyone's heart if He so chooses, but the heart that He hardened in this context was Pharaoh's heart. 


Many struggle over the idea of God hardening someone's heart.  We should thus ask, did God override Pharaoh's freedom of choice by hardening his heart against his will?  In answering this question we should know that Pharaoh had a hard heart long before His encounter with God. (Exodus 5:2, 7:14)  God didn't make a soft heart hard.  He made a hard heart harder.  How did He do that?


Pharaoh was infuriated after God sent a plague of frogs across the Egyptian landscape as a demonstration of His power in judgment.  In an angry fit of rage, the text states that  "Pharaoh hardened his heart". (Exodus 8:15)  Note that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, which he did after each subsequent plague.  So, when Exodus 9:12 says that "God hardened Pharaoh's heart", it was an indirect hardening.  God didn't step into Pharaoh's life, reach into his heart, and make it hard against his will.  God didn't violate Pharaoh's freedom of choice.  The plagues provided Pharaoh the opportunity to choose to submit to God or be angry with Him.  Pharaoh chose to harden his heart in anger.   


From this we learn that God can place individuals into positions of authority, even if they are arrogantly hostile towards Him, as Pharaoh was.  We learn that God can judge arrogant and ungodly nations with natural calamities and other catastrophic events as was seen in Egypt.  We also learn that God can, does, and will, maneuver people and events into place to accomplish His plan for a nation. 


If you think the situation with Pharaoh was an isolated event, read Isaiah 3:4.  God warned Israel that He would "make boys their officials, mere children to govern them".  In other words, God would step into Israel's political arena and install childish, immature, and unqualified, men into national leadership positions.  Without quality leaders Israelis would beg men to lead them, only to hear these men say, "I have no remedy do not make me your leader". (Isaiah 3:7)  God can, and will, place ungodly, unqualified, intellectually and morally deficient, individuals without a remedy, into places of national leadership.  He does this to demonstrate His power in judgment.  In so doing He doesn't violate anyone's free will.  He only gives a nation the leadership their actions show Him they want.  


God can also cause a whole nation to fall into a state of  drunken like stupor.  In Romans 11:9 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10. "God gave Israel a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so they could not hear".  Again, God didn't make Israel a nation of stupefied individuals.  He didn't violate anyone's free will.  He simply handed them over to their sins of choice, as Paul says God can do. (Romans 1:24)  God just stood back, washed His hands clean of Israel, and withdrew Himself from their nation.  Then, by their own volition, Israelis became intoxicated, addicted to their sins of choice.  Not knowing good from evil, right from wrong, wise choices from foolish choices, Israel would adopt ungodly policies that eventually did them in.    


In 2 Thessalonians 2:10 and 11 Paul says a similar state of stupor will overcome man in the last days.  Because man refuses to love truth, "God will send him a powerful delusion so they will believe the lie".  Paul could well be speaking of our post modern day where their is no appetite to seriously search for truth.  We prefer a brief synopsis, the 10 second sound bite, and nothing more that would interfere with our hedonistic lifestyle.  So, like Pharaoh, like Israel, men and women in these last days will be overwhelmed by a powerful delusion sent from God .  They will believe any lie fed to them by arrogant and ungodly leaders.  In sending this spirit of delusion, God doesn't override anyone's freedom of choice.  He simply gives people what they want.  The bliss of a drunken stupor is more desirable than the hard reality of truth. 


I think I can safely say that God is placing modern day Pharaoh's into positions of leadership, whether it's in Canada, America, North Korea, or wherever.   These are leaders who arrogantly defy all things godly; leaders who are like unqualified children; leaders who have no real remedy; leaders voted into office by an uninformed, uneducated, post modern, constituent who are overwhelmed by a delusional spirit.  So, as God dealt with Egypt in times past, be assured, He will deal with the nations of the world today. 



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