One of the curious and interesting facts about the Exodus account of Israel’s supernatural deliverance from Egyptian oppression is that God says to Moses (Exodus 7:2-4),
“You shall speak all that I command, you and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of this land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.”
The question I ask myself is why would God find it necessary to harden Pharaoh’s heart? Is that really fair to Pharaoh? He could have accomplished the exodus of Israel from Egypt in perhaps one or two plagues…maybe three. I (as Pharaoh) may have been able to “tough it out” through the first two, water to blood and maybe frogs…but the third plague—-gnats-— would have sent me “over the edge” for sure.
The answers are more complex.
- In previous blogs I outlined how Israel’s deliverance was prophesied to Abraham over 400 years in advance. So the time for mercy was now passed and God’s wrath and judgment on Israel’s oppressor, Egypt, had arrived. Part of that judgment was that God would amplify the pride already resident in Egypt’s king/Pharaoh and turn it against him in judgment.
- He was also judging the Egyptian people and indeed the entire country suffered greatly through each and every plague.
- God is also jealous for His own name. The Egyptians worshiped a pantheon of gods. Every plague targeted one of their gods. In Ex. 7:5 God says… “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” Hardening Pharaoh’s heart had the effect of stiffening Pharaoh’s resistance against letting the Israelites go. He wanted everyone in Egypt to know that the God of Israel alone was God. All others were imposters.
Today I see a similar phenomena happening.
Arab leaders seem to act stubbornly and at times irrationally. They resist any notion of coming to a peace with Israel even if there is great benefit for their nation and even themselves. Abba Eban, a recently deceased and great Jewish historian, once put it this way…
“the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”
Yasir Arafat was a great example.
President Clinton had negotiated a seeming winning formula for peace, although at great price to Israel. He had convinced Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to return well over 90% of the Judea and Samaria to Arafat and the PLO. Incredibly, Arafat turned it down much to the shock of both Barak and Clinton. This despite the fact that had he made the deal he was essentially being granted his own kingdom with him at the head. In addition it would have significantly weakened Israel’s security had there been a convenient “falling out” at some later date. For many reasons he just couldn’t make the deal.
An amazing opportunity missed…thank God!
There are many strategies our Arab brothers could pursue if they wanted to successfully wrest control of Israel from our people but somehow they seem to always do the thing that makes success impossible.
It seems that each and every Arab leader is suffering from a severe case of God inspired “hardness of heart”. I for one am very thankful for this condition.
One word of caution to Arab leaders around the Middle East…
Hardness of heart is a sure sign that God is preparing to pour out his judgment on Israel’s oppressors or enemies. Beware–God is jealous for His name. The God of Israel and the God of Islam cannot both be God and all agree that there is only one God.
~The views contained in The Joel Chernoff Report are not necessarily views held by the MJAA~