Exodus 10:1-2"I have hardened his heart". We don't like hearing that. We like God being in a little box where he can do what we want and be all loving and all merciful without being just, without being pure and without using all things to glorify himself. Sure, if we believe the bible then we "believe" that God is just and in control, but do we truly know it? Or do we subconsciously just ignore those parts of the bible.
Image sourceThen the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”
The Bible clearly says here that God hardens Pharaoh's heart. It seems clear to me from God's word that God is in control of everything. There are so many passages that establish that (I know many people disagree on that point, whatever you think about it, have a slid biblical basis for it and be ready to discuss it lovingly with those who disagree). Yet at the same time, we are completely responsible for our actions. I don't know exactly how that works out, but I know that God is God, his word is true and therefore bith of those things are true.
In the case of Pharaoh, God hardens his heart, but Pharaoh also chooses to harden his own heart. I don't know how that works - God does, ad I'll trust him with that knowledge. But the point of it is that by it God is able to show forth his mighty power, his just wrath against those who reject him and his infinite mercy, faithfulness and grace toward his people Israel.
God is glorified even by those who reject him. In them he shows his perfection, justice, holiness and righteousness. Yet he is merciful - he wants all to turn to him and be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4)
We see a similar situation with Jesus. It was always God's purpose for Jesus to die and for the Jews, especially the Pharisees, to reject him. Yet at the same time those who crucified him are responsible and it was entirely their choice to do so. God was complete in control of events and those who did it were completely responsible for it, choosing to do it themselves.
In that situation a similar thing occurs: Gods justice and wrath against sin is shown, since Jesus takes it in our place (if we are Christians), and God's infinite mercy, grace and faithfulness are shown because by it we are saved. His power is also shown because Jesus rose again.
So what do we learn from this?
- We are completely responsible for our actions
- God is in control, so we can trust him. He will keep all his promises because he can. For example, he can and will keep his promise to work everything for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
- All situations are controlled by God to bring glory to himself. Therefore we need to trust him and give him the praise even if we don't understand why he is allowing things to happen as they are.
I hope that was helpful! It's one of those topics that is hard to think about and extremely confusing, but extremely comforting and encouraging as well.
Soli Deo Gloria!