Monday, June 18, 2007

Consequences Of A Hardened Heart

Over at my message board, a common question was once again raised regarding the portion of Scripture in the book of Exodus concerning the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh. A skeptic named GMpilot wrote:

Yet we still have that story of poor Pharaoh, who finally opened the door of his heart only to have the Israelite God slam it shut again.

I have read similar words from non-believers time and time again. It is a comical error that skeptics like to present as "meanness" on the part of the LORD God.

A fellow Christian member at my board named Sothenes had a great post that pointed out the error of the skeptic's thinking:

According to one of my pastors, the word "hardened" means to "twist or to wring out". So when God applied the Ten Plagues to Pharaoh, God was twisting or wringing out what was already there in Pharaoh's heart. Instead of three strikes and you're out, God was giving Pharaoh ten chances with the Ten Plagues.

When people look at the English word "hardened" we think of permanence or that Pharaoh couldn't believe or perform differently because God hardened Pharaoh's heart. I look at it as God enabling Pharaoh to choose, believe and repent but that Pharaoh was blind to what God was doing even though the God of the slaves (the Jewish people) beat the gods of the Pharaoh through the Ten Plagues: (Osiris, Heka, Geb, Beelzebub, Apis, Isis, Insect gods and Ra)

How do we apply this to Calvinism? We can't use the permanence of the word "hardened" to say that God predestined Pharaoh to choose which way Pharaoh was going to act but that God enabled Pharaoh to see that Jehovah (Yahweh) was better than Pharaoh's gods. In a sense, a Calvinist would use Pharaoh to say that Pharaoh was spiritually dead but the plagues helped Pharaoh see that God was the true God.

I've been working on getting people out of Calvinism which I may finish eventually, Lord willing. It requires a lot of research and a lot of time because all of Calvinism is not Biblical doctrine but I will finish Calvin off eventually.

I hope this helps but the current teaching of Pharaoh's heart being hardened is Calvinistic doctrine and is not Biblical doctrine.

It isn't my purpose here to "turn off" anyone who studies under Calvinistic doctrine. It appears that Sothenes disagrees with some, if not all, of Calvinistic doctrine. Any Calvinist out there that would like to respond, please do. But let's try to keep it civil!

My purpose here was to share Sothenes' comment and then include my response.

I added the following:

Good points Sothenes!

We can look at the NIV Bible verse in Exodus 7:22 and see that it was stubbornness, on the part of Pharaoh, that caused him to harden his heart:

Exodus 7:22 - But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharoah's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.

Back in verse 7:14, we see evidence of Pharaoh's stubbornness again:

Exodus 7:14a - Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go."

Pharaoh's heart was hardened against the LORD God, Moses, the Israelite slaves, and the suffering of his own people. He obviously hated the fact that the God of Abraham was superior to his pagan gods. Even though he had ten chances to come to this realization, his own stubbornness would not allow it. Pharaoh hardened his own heart (remember, in verse 14a the LORD said Pharaoh's heart was unyielding which means that he still had the opportunity to turn his heart towards the LORD if he wanted to).

It finally took the death of his own son (brought about by Pharaoh's own words!) for him to relent. But even then, he got on his horse and commanded his soldiers to follow the Israelites in order to get them back as slaves in Egypt. He followed them into the Red Sea and ended up drowning along with his soldiers. It was his own stubbornness that led to all the plagues, tragedies, suffering, and ultimately, the deaths of his son, many of his people, soldiers, and himself.

What does this historical biblical story tell us?

Pharaoh's stubborn disobedience brought suffering upon himself and his entire country. While persistence is good in certain circumstances, stubbornness is usually self-centered. Stubbornness towards God is always disobedience. This would logically include stubbornness towards God's Word, as well.

Stubbornness against God and His Word often, inevitably, leads to disobedience. We are to avoid disobedience because the consequences may spill onto others.

This story may be ancient, but it is as timely now as it was back then. The objects of stubbornness may be totally different from the desire to keep slaves in Egypt, but people are falling into their own kind of stubborn slavery to terrible sin right here, right now.

The awful realization that a pedophile ring could have 700 members operating via the internet is appalling! The good news is that 700 have been identified and busted in this despicable International Internet Child Porn Ring.

Only totally depraved, reprobate minds and hardened hearts could possibly subject children to such horrific sexual abuse. These men should be locked up for life. The immense physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual harm done to these children is often irreversible.

This serves as an example of how such stubbornness and disobedience towards God's Word leads depraved minds towards evil actions which inevitably cause huge negative consequences for the innocents that were horribly used by these disgusting predators. Those children were illegally taken and caught up in sexual abuse slavery at the hands of evil, abhorent sexual abusers. There ought to be a death penalty law for sexual predators who abuse children.

We need to pray for these children. We need to pray for their ultimate healing and redemption through Jesus Christ.


Christinewjc said...

Jesus believed in the death penalty for child abusers:

Mat 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Mar 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of [these] little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.

Luk 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Christinewjc said...

The "hardening of Pharaoh's heart" thread is continuing over at my message board. Scroll down to comment #18 on this page in this thread.