When it was time for the children of Israel to leave Egypt, God told Moses that it would happen, with difficulty, through words and signs. “Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt,” (Exo. 7:2-3).
The Egyptian king did not want to lose his slave labor, so when Moses spoke God’s words about freeing the Israelite captives, those words stiffened Pharaoh’s resolve to keep them in captivity.
It took several appeals to Pharaoh, along with 10 plagues, for him to finally relent. Each time, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. Sometimes the Bible says Pharaoh hardened his own heart, other times it says God hardened Pharaoh.
That’s because God provided the material—words and signs—but the recipient was Pharaoh. Both were involved in the hardening process. God said and did things Pharaoh did not like, and in response, Pharaoh became more determined not to do what God wanted.
The same process is repeated each time any of you learn God’s will about something, then decide you don’t like it and become more determined not to obey.
For instance, drinking alcohol. The Bible says drunkenness will cost you your soul (Gal. 5:19-21), but many of you want to drink alcohol, so you harden your heart a little bit more each time you hear God’s will on the subject.
Same goes for the truth about Christ’s church. The word of God says nothing about the body of Christ being made up of denominations or community churches. And if someone presents that information to you, along with the truth about what the church of Christ really is, if you don’t want to hear it, your heart becomes a little more hardened to the truth.
Most of you think forgiveness comes by just believing, or by praying for Jesus to save you, but it does not. You have to obey the Gospel in faith, repentance, confession and baptism to be saved. But you may not like hearing that since it’s not what your parents or your preacher told you. So, you turn away from the New Testament evidence with your heart hardened a little more.
Pharaoh did not want to hear what God had to say. God’s words, and the signs He wrought—boils, hail, turning water into blood, darkness, and all the rest—only served to anger Egypt’s leader. God’s will was not Pharaoh’s will, so hearing God’s will just made Pharaoh mad.
What about you? Does hearing God’s word make you want to do His will, or does it make you even more determined to live in rebellion to the Creator? Beware. Pharaoh lost his life while chasing the Israelites through the Red Sea. A hardened, rebellious heart toward God today will cost you your soul.