Friday, March 30, 2007

God hardens Pharaoh's heart then threatens to kill his son

Exodus 4:21-23 The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.' "


Should Pharaoh be held accountable for something God is forcing him to do?


Jason said...

With a bit of legwork, you'll find the answer in the NT:

Romans 9:14-22 "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction?"

Roopster said...


This scripture supports Calvinism. We're in essence predestined for evil or good.

Do you support Calvinistic theology?


Jason said...

I support the Bible. The Bible says we have free will. The Bible also says there are instances when God shows His power by controlling events and people to achieve a specific outcome.

lenny said...


you listed a scripture that shows man doesn't have free will. then you say the bible says he does. what you are saying is that bible says both and somehow you believe them both to be true. correct?

Jason said...

The Bible says we have free will. The Bible also says there are instances when God shows His power by controlling events and people to achieve a specific outcome.

Anonymous said...

Hello... I'm not a theologian but I don't think Jason is committing any contradiction when he notes that we have free will but also that there are times when God intervenes and “hardens” a nonbeliever’s heart.

The “seeming” contradiction can easily be resolved if we just take the time to carefully read the verses in question and apply a little common sense. For example, let’s look at the original verse which began this thread… Exodus 4:21-23.

If we re-read this verse, you will see that no where does it say WHEN God will harden Paraoh’s heart. And indeed, the importance of this distinction can be readily seen if you compare Exodus 5:6-9 with Exodus 6:1. In Exodus 5:6-9, Paraoh (in response to Moses demand that Paraoh release the Jews) makes the work only that much more difficult and harder for the Jews by withholding straw to make the bricks with.

But in Exodus 6:1, we see that it is only THEN when God says to Moses, “NOW you shall see what I will do to Paraoh”.

Obviously Paraoh had already began hardening his own heart to the plight of the Jews, BEFORE God did anything to him. In fact, if we go back even further to Exodus 3:7 we see that God has heard the cry of His people because of the sufferings and sorrows they are enduring under their oppressors… the Egyptians… under Paraoh .

This clearly shows that Paraoh, using his God given free will, has already hardened his own heart towards the Jews long before Moses even comes onto the scene. So to me, what is happening is what Jason said the Bible teaches… that both free will exists, as well as God’s direct intervention thru hardening a person’s heart.

The free will decisions to harden one's own heart exists and has accumalated long before God steps in… and then in those cases when God does step in (like with Paraoh), God is only hardening further, a heart that has already been hardened thru the free will decisions made by the person.

Now… if we read Romans 9:14-22… once again we see that no where in those verses does it say WHEN God hardens the heart of whom He wants to harden… only that God has the choice to do so.

Without reading INTO those verses… and yet if we use the methodology of explaining scriptures by using other scriptures… my guess is that God allows free will to exist first, to allow a person to journey well along the path of hardening their own heart, before He decides to harden the non-believers heart even further.

But I’m not a theologian so I may be completely off base. It's just an observation.

Another Jason said...

The other Jason's comments have nothing to do with Calvinism. Paul basically raises the question, "what if?" He does not give an answer.

But it is true, God does not have the right to do as he pleases with his creation. I don't have the answer you are looking for with this passage. We don't even know how specifically God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Was it the Vader death grip or a situation? We don't know. But we do know that God is right and that His ways are not our ways.

Anonymous said...

Er...if Pharaoh's heart was already hardened, why would God need to harden it further? Either Pharaoh's heart is hardened enough that he deserves what he gets, or it's not. If it's not, then isn't God guilty of manipulating free will? And if he's capable of that, then how can he be trusted not to do that to anyone else? And if we can't trust that, then how can we trust that any of us actually has free will?

According to 2 Thessalonians 2:11 ("That's why God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe a lie") and Ezekiel 14:9 ("If a prophet is tricked into giving a prophecy, it is I, the LORD, who tricked the prophet") God is indeed capable of deceiving people (regardless of whether or not they deserve it).

That doesn't creep anyone out?

hkeric said...

Can the so-called all knowing, all powerful, all merciful God do one simple thing to convince Paraoh that God does exist, without killing anybody?

For example, turn Paraoh into a 100-year-old man, turn Paraoh into a woman, turn Paraoh into an Israel slave, etc.

I'm sure there are plenty of methods.

Anonymous said...

I guess this is just one of the many contradictions you can see in the Bible if taken literally

Anonymous said...


His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are above ours. God has a reason for allowing things to happen. It may not make sense to you but that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense.

One of the two sinners said to Jesus "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" He did not see deeper into what was going on. He did not understand God's ways. He did not see that Jesus was already in the process of saving us...just in a different way than what the sinner saw as "saving".