“So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.” Exodus 8:30-32.
We have a choice to have a receptive heart to the work of God or to harden our heart. One of the most graphic demonstrations of this is found in the confrontation of Moses with Pharaoh. Moses confronted Pharaoh with God’s command and Pharaoh was extremely stubborn and pushed back on any threat of releasing the people of Israel. Pharaoh measured the threat based on two people standing in front of him, not based on any belief in the power of God. Pharaoh was not intimidated by two really old guys that would never be able to back up this threat.
God often places His fingerprints on the circumstances of life. In any other terms, God manifests His invisible power through the circumstances and trials of life. These “plagues” that we are told God was responsible for were natural phenomenon, extreme for sure, but could easily be considered as the freakish “100 year natural events” that one might postulate could happen with or without God. Now I know this gets complex when we start trying to figure out how God is working; much of that depends on how you see God’s sovereignty and imminence in our world and your own life.
God’s people can harden their heat to God because of their circumstances. We are told the sons of Israel “… did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:8-9). You might be protesting that we are not told that they “hardened their heart” but the end result is virtually identical to Pharaoh. They did not listen (as Pharaoh) and they would not accept God’s promise / command (like Pharaoh). Israel would finally come around but it was not without its struggles. There was a danger at the core of their response that they were resisting God’s work because of their extremely difficult circumstances.
If you have trouble hearing God speak, you are in trouble at the heart of your Christian experience (Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby, pg. 43). God speaks in various ways but certainly Israel struggled with hearing God’s voice (through Moses) and accepting it. Pharaoh heard God’s voice but obviously had no interest to welcome or embrace it. Sometimes our struggle to hear God is the distraction of our circumstances; sometimes it is the hardness of our heart. The danger (of course) is that a person (like Pharaoh) can harden their heart so much that it becomes self-destructive. Fortunately for Israel, they came around and moved from being hostile to Moses to sacrificing a lamb and spreading the blood on the doorposts of their homes in order to be protected from God’s wrath.
The key to these thoughts is not as much to see if we have a “hard heart” towards God as much as it is to encourage us to be listening to His voice. We need to hear God’s voice in the Scriptures; we need to hear His voice through His indwelling Spirit; we need to hear Him whisper to us in our prayer time; we need to hear His wisdom through other believers; we need to see His fingerprints guiding our journey in everyday circumstances; we need to know the mind of Christ.
I want to encourage you to keep your heart receptive to the voice of our heavenly Father. Make time to listen and not just talk at Him. Too many people want to be heard but they don’t want to listen. They want to tell God their problems they face but do not want to trust him for the power of His presence. We do have a choice to be receptive to listen and obey Him or to harden our heart.
In His grace,