The Egyptian Pharaoh had it all. He had wealth beyond measure and power beyond compare as he ruled over the most renowned and prosperous nation in the world. And yet, he overlooked his greatest potential blessing. Although Pharaoh “had it all,” he had not known the Lord (Exo. 5:2). As Solomon, a man of probably even greater wealth, influence, and power, came to realize, life without the Lord is “vanity”; a “striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes). Pharaoh received a great opportunity to come to know the Lord when Moses and Aaron, the spokesmen for the Lord (cf. Exo. 4:12, 15-16), would teach him about the Lord and demonstrate proof of the Lord’s power.
But Pharaoh repeatedly “hardened his heart” (Exo. 8:15, 32; et al.). God had known that Pharaoh would harden his heart, and God knew that He Himself would be the cause of Pharaoh’s hardened heart (Exo. 4:21; 7:3; et al.). But because Pharaoh chose to harden his heart, he received not blessings, but plagues, humiliation, defeat, and death.
All men and women have the choice whether to “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21), or to “refuse to have God in their knowledge” (Rom. 1:28, ASV). We can allow God to cause us to do what is right: “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Rom. 1:4). We can also allow God to cause us to do what is wrong: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (3 Thess. 2:11). Regarding this verse, it has been well said, “It is God’s spiritual law that those who do not love truth will receive error” (cf. Gal. 6:7-8). Such people will have their “conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2), and they will become “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18). It was not until he was on the wrong side of the Hadean realm, being in torments, that the rich man finally “lifted up his eyes” and realized the dire situation he was in (Luke 16:23).
As we study the word of God, we thus have the same privilege afforded Pharaoh—to learn about the Lord and to see the proof of His power. But being forewarned about the hazard of a hardened heart, let us not approach the word with resistance as did Pharaoh, thus only worsening the hardening of his heart. Let us “receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”