From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 7 – Some more of the ways in which we must become faithful
he Egyptian Pharoah, with whom Moses dealt, chose to harden his heart repeatedly. He refused to do what he knew to be the will of God. We know this because there was a previous contest between Moses and Pharoah’s magicians, Jannes and Jambres. Each time that Moses produced a miracle these occult practitioners did the same, using demonic power. However, there came a point when they could no longer match Moses. When that point came, the magicians, Jannes and Jambres, told Pharoah that what Moses had was from God:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.'” 17 And they did so; Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, and there came gnats on man and beast; all the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried by their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. 19 And the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them; as the LORD had said.Exodus 8:16-19 (RSV)
So, although he knew that Moses was representing God, Pharoah still chose to ‘harden his heart’ and to refuse to obey God’s instructions. If you read the whole account in Exodus you will see that Pharoah does this repeatedly, at least seven times. After that the position altered. Instead of Pharoah hardening his own heart, we see that God actually began to harden Pharoah’s heart for him:
8And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of ashes from the kiln, and let Moses throw them toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9And it shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” 10So they took ashes from the kiln, and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses threw them toward heaven, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. 12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them; as the LORD had spoken to Moses.Exodus 9:8-12 (RSV)
After this, we see that when God sent a plague of hail, Pharoah again chose to harden his own heart, but then, with the next plagues of locusts and the three days of total darkness, it was God who, again, hardened Pharoah’s heart for him. We are actually told this directly:
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them,Exodus 10:1 (RSV)
The relevance of these passages to us is that there comes a point in our dealings with God where He will, eventually, stop speaking to our conscience and stop trying to get us to listen to Him. This will only come after we have repeatedly and deliberately ignored God’s voice, in the form of His written Word, or our conscience, or even the advice of godly people. If so, then at some point, God will ‘switch off the transmitter’ and stop trying to speak to us. He will then leave us to keep going in the wrong direction that we have chosen, until it ends in disaster.
Therefore do not ever allow that stage to be reached. Who knows how many times, or for how long, God will be patient with you? Perhaps His patience will not run out for several weeks or months, or even years. Or, perhaps today is your final chance to listen to His voice or to obey your conscience before God begins to harden your heart for you, as He did with Pharoah?
Never put God to the test. Never go anywhere near that ‘cliff edge’. Obey your conscience today and every day. Obey God’s Word today, without delay or argument, and without fudging or compromise. It is not just with Pharoah that God acts in this way. He also did it with the people of Israel:
11“But my people did not listen to my voice;Psalm 81:11-13 (RSV)
Israel would have none of me.
12So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
13O that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
If God is willing to let the Jewish people go their own way and “give them over to their stubborn hearts” then what basis is there to assume that He is not willing to do the same with you? Therefore fear Him and do not be presumptuous.