Exodus 10 When faced with a hardened generation, exercise divine patience and power to save them
Exodus 10 When faced with a hardened generation, exercise divine patience and power to save them
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped—what is left to you from the hail—and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field. Then your houses shall be filled and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh.
Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones that are going?” Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” Then he said to them, “Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.” So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice them to the Lord our God. Therefore, our livestock too shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the Lord.” But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!” Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!”
As the Pharaoh continued to resist God, Moses brought on more plagues that even the Pharaoh’s servants were starting to relent. Indeed, the mercies and the power of God have started to bear fruit. This episode details the 8th and the 9th plague that brought Egypt to the brink of destruction. Moses did not petition to God to change Pharaoh’s mind. He confronted the Pharaoh with divine patience and worked the power of God. When faced with a hardened generation, do not petition to God to turn them around. But rather be a vessel to bring about God’s acts of mercy and discipline over the generation. Today’s devotion teaches us: When faced with a hardened generation, exercise divine patience and power to save them.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants,…
What does it mean to harden one’s heart?
“To harden” in the Lord’s term is to gradually withhold divine influence to one’s heart. It is to pare heavenly inputs by way of the prophets and angels. In essence, to harden is to gradually give one up to his own devices. Indeed, those whom God has hardened will be left alone to operate by their fleshly instincts in an unfettered manner. Divine hardening is not an Old Testament phenomenon. The apostle Paul mentioned in Romans 1:24, “Therefore God gave them over in the lust of their hearts…” And in verse 26, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions…” And in verse 28, “God gave them over to a depraved mind…” For God, in His infinite wisdom has perceived certain individuals as having passed the point of no return. Thus, He decided to reduce His righteous influence over them. Jesus Himself instructed His disciples, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” – Matthew 7:6. Jesus said to Judas who was irreparably hardened, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
The Lord informed Moses that He had hardened the Pharaoh and his servants; which is to leave them to their base instincts to do evil. Indeed, their hardened state has occasioned the revelation of God’s power and mercies to the world and in particular to Israel’s future generations.
Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How Long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”
Moses and Aaron were again called to appear before the Pharaoh. The latest plague had brought a sea of locust that ate everything that escaped from the hail. So unbearable was the plague that the servants of Pharaoh started to relent and urged Pharaoh to let the people go. Pharaoh made some concessions but stopped short of releasing the little ones.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts,
At a wave of Moses’s hand, a sea of locust descended upon Egypt covering the surface of the land eating every vegetation such that nothing green was left. The Pharaoh again appeared to relent and called on Moses to stop the plague. But as expected, the Pharaoh reneged the moment the plague was lifted.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt
Another plague immediately followed. This time, impenetrable darkness that psychologically isolated every person from another. The darkness prevented the daily mundane tasks from being done thus putting to a stop all aspects of life. Pharaoh called on Moses after three days offering to let the people go but withheld the flocks and herds. The meeting broke down with Moses announcing the final plague that would take the life of every first born in Egypt.
When faced with a hardened generation, exercise divine patience and power to save them
God is merciful and patient to the hardened
When God hardens a person’s heart, he becomes hardened in the process. That said, God remains merciful to the hardened desiring none to perish but all to be saved. Despite Pharaoh and his servants being hardened, God continued to display His mercies and power from the very first plague to the last. For God desires that all repent to find salvation. For what it was worth, the Pharaoh’s servants having witnessed the devastations, relented after the 7th plague and suggested to let the people go. The Egyptians displayed some level of remorse by acceding to Israel’s requests for articles of silver and gold (see Exodus 12:36). This shows that all people even the hardened ones are rational and capable of repentance. Moses has taught us not to give up on the seemingly intransigent but continue to correct and reproof while exercising divine discipline over them. Indeed, hardened people can still respond to God’s eternal mercies and power.
The hardening of the church
The modern church is going through a degree of hardening. In seeking to be popular the church has aligned itself to the appetite of the world. The world seeks salvation devoid of righteousness. Humanity looks for blessing without repentance. Pastors and ministers in order to stay “relevant” have adopted the culture where the individual’s desire must come before the kingdom. The church has painted a picture of a God who is pleased whenever believers are enthralled in the feeling of being loved by Him. This is a false gospel that caters to a hardened generation. If Jesus were to come to our churches today, how many will forsake their lust for the world to follow Him? Unfortunately, hardened people cannot respond to the preaching of the truth but only to corrective discipline. Jesus, while en route to the cross proclaimed divine discipline over the people,
“Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” – Luke 23:28-31
God is raising up men and women as His prophets
Without divine power to discipline, it is not possible for this hardened generation to be saved. Thus, God is raising up prophets that will preach the true gospel while exercising divine power over the nations. As God used Moses as His prophet to implement divine discipline over the Egyptians and over Israel in the wilderness, God can use you to do the same.
Every person must be taught the truth early in life while their hearts are still pliable.
When a person’s heart is hardened, he closes his heart to the truth refusing to consider suggestions that are righteous and true. This in turn causes God to curb divine influence that is able to save him. The below figure illustrates two kinds of people. The man on the right makes decisions by weighing his options from a variety of inputs: His inherent values, desires and culture while being open to all suggestions, both righteous and evil. Youths by nature are impressionable and without bias, being open to all influences and suggestions. Hence, it is important to teach the truth while a person is young and impressionable. For this will predispose him to a life of godliness.
But as for the man on the left, because he was not taught the truth, he closes himself to the truth in agreement to the evil within him. Because he is cut off from righteous suggestions, being continually open to evil suggestions, he goes from bad to worse. Consequently, he was left to his own devices to do as he pleases. The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy who was taught the truth from his childhood,
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:13-15
Therefore, it is important that we educate a person in the truth early in life while his heart is pliable. When a person’s heart is hardened, the only way to catch his attention is through corrective discipline and hardship. The book of Proverbs says
Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Commit yourself to the mission of bringing salvation to this hardened generation. Train yourself in the gifts of discernment, so that you may know the mind of God. In knowing His mind, you may know what actions to take to turn this generation around. As God showed Moses what he should do, God will likewise show you.
When praying for a hardened generation, do not petition to God to turn the generation around. But rather seek to understand God’s will and to receive grace to do His will. Indeed, it is meaningless to ask God to do something that He has already decided to do! Instead, be the vessel to bring about God’s acts of mercy and power over the generation. Moses did not petition to God to change the Pharaoh’s mind. He confronted the Pharaoh and by the power invested in him brought on the plagues. Moses never ask God to transform the mentality of the Israelites in the wilderness. But seeking to know God’s will, he disciplined them with divine authority. Most believers are too afraid to confront this hardened generation and their leaders preferring to petition to God in secret. God has not called us just to petition, but more so to confront and to exercise divine power.
Dear Lord, create in me a heart of love for this hardened generation. Put your wisdom within me so that I may know your wondrous ways… Your ways of turning sinners towards the light. When I am ready, use me as your prophet to confront and to discipline this generation. In so doing, they may know you through your miracles and mercies. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.