If things weren’t deep and passionate before, there is a whole lot of that going on now! The plagues keep getting more and more intense and powerful, and Pharaoh’s frustration and anger are getting worse and worse.
Pharaoh is doing everything he can to attempt to delay or stop the inevitable, but he just can’t stop YHWH. I kind of feel bad for the guy. But at the same time, i know why this is happening, and his involvement / responsibility in it. It’s kind of like working with troubled youth. Sometimes the only way they learn is to allow them to learn and understand the consequences of their actions. Explaining it to them, processing it with them and protecting them from it can only get you so far. Sometimes you just need to let them see, and until they see they will not understand.
You can see Pharaoh’s will / resolve start to soften in this chapter, but Pharaoh is not a man to change easily or lightly. Nor is he a man likely to accept defeat. God continues to harden an already hard heart. Pharaoh continues to attempt to compromise with God, but the cost of that compromise is much higher than the cost of the original price.
How do you help a man who is so insistent that he wins, that he is willing to destroy himself and everything around him in order to do so? How do you open the eyes of a man so blinded by his own pride and rebellion that he thinks he can stand against God? What drives a man to become what you see before you? Yes, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and yes, God had every right to do that! But the truth is, He didn’t need to. Pharaoh was so intent on doing it to himself that he did not need any real help from God.
How do help a man like that?
You can tell that God has a sense of humor and a thing for irony. You see it throughout the Bible and here especially is no exception. So the magicians and priests have attempted to stand against Moses and God with every new miracle that occurs, but take a look at verse 11; “The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians.” Yeah, good luck trying to oppose Moses and God like that. They can’t even show up because of the very miracle they are trying to oppose. So much for that problem. Talk about irony.
This chapter is the first place that we see God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. After each miracle Pharaoh keeps hardening his own heart, but God hardens his heart after the plague of the boils. There are some that say that this is not right; that this shows that Pharaoh is being unjustly treated. I don’t buy that argument on many levels, and i will probably talk about that more in the coming chapters.
In the meantime, there is proof that Pharaoh was not ready to let the people go whether he hardened his heart or God did. Later in the chapter, during the plague of the hail, Pharaoh tells Moses to stop the plague and that he will let the people go. Moses says “But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” This is later proven when Moses stops the storm, Pharaoh hardens his heart, and he goes back on his word.
Pharaoh rejects God and what He is doing. He rejects his own responsibility and what needs to be done. He even rejects his own word. He as well is rejected by God. Pharaoh is not the only one that does this. We do this as well. There are times when God commands and directs us, but we reject Him by refusing to trust and obey him. It’s not even a question of do we do it. It’s a question of why do we do it. So why do we do it, and what do we need to know / do to change that?
Well now, things just keep getting worse and worse for Pharaoh. We have gone from blood to frogs and gnats and insects. God is showing Pharaoh that not only is He the one true God and that he can create life and take it away, but he can also have creatures distinguish between Egyptian and Israelite lands. Pharaoh’s magicians have gotten to the point where even they acknowledge that these things can only be done by God, and that’s saying something!
Pharaoh’s heart is beginning to change. He’s trying to compromise with God. Unfortunately what he’s finding is that God does not accept compromise. It’s a tough lesson for Pharaoh to learn, and he’s not learning it very well. Then again, do we? So Pharaoh’s trying to save face in the face of watching his land be devastated. He is beginning to understand that this is not such as small matter. So while he is starting to soften in his view, he has made the choice to harden his heart and ignore the truth.
That is such a tough thing to do. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. It’s a tough thing to do for a short time, but when you are trying to wrestle against YHWH for an extended period of time, that will wear you down really quickly. The older i have gotten, the lazier i have gotten, and i have come to the conclusion that that is just too much work. It is so much easier to just say, “OK God. You win. What do you want me to do?”
The nice thing about letting God win is that it is worth it. Life is so much easier, more joyful, and more fulfilling when i step out of the way and just let God. It means going from slave to servant, but the difference between the two is amazing.
Rev. John Camiolo