Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
In Exodus we read about how God told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. That is an extraordinary thing because God, being perfect and holy in every way, could never cause someone to sin. Wouldn’t we define a hard heart a sinful heart? Of course we would. But, God doesn’t sin. So with that premise and understanding we must delve deeper to understand what is meant here, and how it applies to us today.
Take a look at Exodus 4:21. Some translations say “I will harden his heart,” and others say, “I will make his heart strong and he will not send the people away.”
It certainly looks like God is taking a hand in how hard Pharaoh’s heart is toward the supplication, “Let my people go.”
But, if we go back to when Pharaoh first ascended the Egyptian throne (chapter 1), we note his fear that because of the Israelites’ vast numbers that they would join forces with Egypt’s enemies. His solution? Oh, let’s put slavemasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. (1:11) And it was so. Then he ordered the midwives to kill all the boy babies born. Let’s be very clear here what Pharaoh was ordering to happen.
Partial birth abortion was the operation. This was actually murdering the child by pushing a sharp object into the neck when the body of the baby was out and the head was still unborn. The vulnerable neck could be pierced with a sharp object and the cervical cord severed and the midwives could tell the mother that the child was stillborn, and the baby would have never taken its first breath.
We know this because the midwives explained to Pharaoh why the male babies lived that the babies were already born before they could get to the birthing. Even Pharaoh would not have his soldiers murder babies in their mothers arms, he wanted some semblance of stillborn or miscarriage which would be a sign from the gods. This would make the Israelites think it was God taking their boy babies, which would keep them from revolt against Pharaoh.
When the ploy did not work, Pharaoh resorted to open, hostile violence and ordered all his people to kill all the male babies born, but to let the daughters live. He gave no thought that this would cause the Israelites to die out, he only cared about reducing the Israelite population and making it weak with women. This would diminish the possibility of a slave rebellion, and would keep his enemies from desiring an alliance with his slaves.
With all of this in mind, we can see that Pharaoh did not need any help hardening his heart. It was like a granite stone already.
There are two Hebrew words for harden: har´d'n (חזק, ḥāzaḳ, קשׁה, ḳāshāh), to harden the heart or the neck. The first ḥāzaḳ, is attributed to God hardening and man hardening his heart on his own. When God says, “I will make strong,” or “I will harden his heart,” He is saying that He would not exert any influence upon the heart at all. Jeremiah says, Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is incurable; who can know it? We don’t have to have any help from God for hardening of hearts. Acts 7:51 O stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so you do. It is the circumcising of them that we need help with. Note the command, Deuteronomy 10:16 Therefore, circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stiff-necked.
It is okay to do a double-take here. We are commanded to circumcise our hearts, yet, it is God who does this. Deuteronomy 30:6 And Jehovah your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your seed, to love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
The key is being susceptible to the tenderizing.
King Josiah was eight years old when he came to the throne of Judah. This is important to note because Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh worshiped the Asherahs and all the demon idols, including Molech (You know that dog-faced demon that people actually sacrificed their newborn babies to which Manasseh caused his sons, that is plural, to pass through the fire in Molech’s belly). Because of this, God brought the armies of the Assyrians to Jerusalem. They captured Manasseh, dragged him through the thorns (the same kind of three-inch long thorns that were fashioned into a crown and embedded into Jesus’ head), then they took him to Babylon. This was where Manasseh met God and humbled himself greatly before Jehovah, and prayed beseeching Him for forgiveness. Because of his repentance, God brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem where Manasseh tore down all the idols, caused the Temple to be purified and he then offered peace offerings and thank offerings to God.
But his turnabout was too late for his son Amon. When Amon took the throne, he undid everything that his father had done to restore Judah to God. Amon served all the demons that his father had served, and rejected God whom Manasseh had humbled himself before. Amon’s own household servants conspired against him and killed him, thus allowing Josiah to take the throne at the ripe old age of eight years.
When Josiah turned sixteen years old, he began to earnestly seek out God. When he turned twenty, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the idols raised by his father. In 2 Chronicles 34:4, we read that he made dust of the idols and scattered it over the graves of those that had sacrificed to them. That means that he not only broke the demonic idols, he also killed the demonic priests and demon worshipers. That is huge!
This young man understood something so deeply spiritual that the land had to be purged from the unholy elements of people who worshiped the demons that would draw the Jews away from the one true God.
Paul expresses it so well, Romans 1:25 For they changed the truth of God into a lie, and they worshiped and served the created thing more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. He goes on to explain that this leads to God letting them go. God gave them up… God gave them over to their shameful passions… God allowed their reprehensible passions to take control.
This is what happened with Pharaoh. This is what happens to us when we go the way of the world, serving the creation instead of the Creator.
Is it possible for a Christian to grow deaf to the still small voice, but still be saved? Yes. It happens all the time. Unfortunately, we Christians do not understand what our doubt and unbelief does to our children. Too often they turn out like Amon: twenty-two years old and grappling after the idol of money, prestige, or power, never understanding that is it God who bestows these very blessings upon His children as He did with Josiah.
There was also another promise given to Josiah: 2 Chronicles 34:27 Because your heart is tender, and you were humbled before God when you heard His Words concerning this place, and concerning the ones living in it, and were humbled before Me, and have torn your garments and wept before Me; I have even heard also, says Jehovah. 28 Behold I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not look upon all the evil I shall bring upon this place, and on the ones living in it.
God promised that when our heart is circumcised, He will also circumcise the hearts of our seed. Pharaoh never chose to humble himself. Manasseh chose to repent and humbled himself in a mighty way. Amon never chose to humble himself. Josiah did. All were given God’s words and each had a different reaction. As for me and my house, we choose to serve the LORD.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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