Pharaoh's Folly

Monday, October 16, 2017
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Exodus 7:3-4 – But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. (NIV)

There are some parts of the Bible that both intrigue and disturb me. Take, for instance, today's passage. Moses is being told by God what to do in order to free His people. It requires a face-to-face meeting with Pharaoh. Moses is scared about the encounter, but God promises him two things: that the Egyptian ruler will receive him, but that God will also harden Pharaoh's heart so that he will not listen to what Moses has to say.

I can understand God allowing Moses being permitted to see Pharaoh; what I have difficulty with is that Pharaoh does not appear to have any free choice in discussing the matter, and that because the Egyptian ruler hardens his heart and will not listen to what Moses has to say, the Egyptian people will suffer the consequences of several devastating plagues. From what the Bible is teaching, it seems to be that whatever the choices ancient rulers made, whether voluntary or involuntary, it was the nation that ended up suffering.

For one of my own ancestors, this was tragically true. In the seventeenth century, when King Charles I of Great Britain surrounded himself with sycophants and ignored the appeals and requests that came from his own parliamentary leaders, a civil war ensued, and Charles ended up being executed by his own people for treachery. Ever since then, British sovereigns have never again been given an absolute monarchy. In that civil war, too many people died for their right to be a free and democratic people, which is something that their American descendants also fought for in 1776.

So, what can we learn for today from the Bible and history? This: there are always consequences to our choices, which may be good or bad, depending on whether we listen to sound advice from others, or just do things our own way.

Points to ponder: What mistakes have I made in my life by rejecting good counsel? What have I learned from those mistakes?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, not one of us is perfect, and we are sometimes too stubborn for our own good. Help us to listen to those around us who lovingly offer us wise and sound advice, so that we may avoid the pitfalls of making bad and uninformed decisions. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.

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John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Amen John!

    Good points. Thanks.

    Amen and Amen, John. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

    Good historical lesson for this morning. Amen to your prayer.

    Moses was one of your ancestors too! We’re all children of Abraham.
    One big family!
    Thanks for your message. God bless.

    John, this is a very thought-provoking message. So apropos to recent news reports today. Thanks for sharing.

    I have always found that passage baffling too. Perhaps He was testing Moses’ willingness to be obedient even though I am sure he was baffled by God’s strategy.
    As we often are. When I ignore my intuition, I find myself in difficulties I could have avoided.
    Thanks for this.

    We are daily readers, and thank you for your past devotionals You need to be sensitive, however, and realize that you are not just addressing an American readership (especially in a Canadian devotional). Many readers outside the US, and especially those of us in Canada, don’t relate well to attempts to tie in American history and politics to the biblical narrative, particularly in light of the present instability and chaos in the US.
    Many in Canada would argue that the US continues to “reap what it has sowed “, having been formed in violent revolution against proper authority.
    Accept this with respect – just wanted you to know that there are Christians who oppose the “American world view.”

    Thanks for facing up to the question of free will. I think that Pharaoh still had freedom to choose. Exodus 7:3-4 – But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my…. people the Israelites. (NIV) The KJV and RSV also say harden but The New American Bible (St. Joseph) says obstinate and the Good News bible says stubborn. He had time to think during each miracle and plague, became somewhat willing when Moses again said, “Let my People go”, if God to removed the frogs or plagues, but after that took place, he always hardened his heart again and changed his mind. Pharaoh’s various manipulations and partial softening of his heart make interesting, beneficial reading. I think you will agree that he was alternately softening and hardening his will.

    Good Morning John, thank you for your intriguing Devotional which everyone should read and Take very careful note of! We are now in the same situation as you have outlined in your message. Both your country and mine, we are in very unfortunate and dangerous days! In both cases, who will ultimately pay the price? We, the people will of course! How long will Jehovah allow this to continue? I can only guess. Let us pray that our loving God, Jehovah will be merciful, and allay our fear! Amen.

    Self-centered decision making, are causing chaos, suffering, and tribulation for their constituents. Your prayer becomes my prayer. May we ALL listen to our advisors, and think about the consequences before acting.
    (Ontario, Canada)

    Because I did not listen to my chiropractor’s advice I sustained major injury to my knee. It could probably have been avoided if I had walked shorter distances, as advised.
    But in my pride, I chose to ignore his recommendations.
    What have I learned? That God has chosen your devotional to remain me that my pride is my downfall. That I need to repent, which I did. O now need to forgive myself for my sin.
    I humbly write this to you, a stranger but yet my brother in Christ.
    Thank you, John, for giving me the opportunity to share with someone my sin and my sorrow.
    I am a very active person and this comes as a great hardship. I ask the Lord to forgive me for not respecting my body and to keep me on the path of righteousness. I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
    God bless you dear brother.

    Hello John, I have appreciated your devotionals over the years. Thanks very much.
    While I get your point today about paying attention to wise and sound, I also know how stubborn I can be.
    My struggle today is not that Pharaoh hardened HIS heart, but that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, as the scripture states. The Egyptians were forced to suffer the consequences of decisions made by Pharaoh that were not really his choice but God’s since God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. I have heard it explained that this was how the Israelites, with hindsight, viewed what happened to the Egyptians under Pharaoh. They understood that it must have been God who hardened the heart of Pharaoh because God was all powerful and mighty and in control of what was happening. However, this does not seem to be in keeping with the nature of God to wipe out thousands of innocent people. Of course, we see that happening over and over again as the Israelites travel through the wilderness, and each time, the credit is given to God for the massacres. As a now retired minister, I have yet to find a satisfactory explanation to this quandry.
    Thanks again for your writings.
    May God continue to bless your ministry.

    Thanks for the good word, John.

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