Repent & Believe

Repent & Believe

Friday, March 16, 2012

What does it mean "LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh"?

  • God can never Sin and God can never initiate Sin - God is NOT the author of sin. The Bible says that when God created the Universe and the first man and woman (Adam and Eve), He commanded them not to eat of one tree in the Garden of Eden. He told them that if they did, they would die. They were tempted by Satan, the Devil, and did disobey and ate of the fruit of that tree. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12). Their disobedience brought forth death [physical and spiritual] for the whole human race. James 1:13-15 informs us man is enticed by his own lust, and it is lust that “bringeth forthsin, and sinbringeth forthdeath, which means, that in the final analysis, one has to pay for one’s sins in Hell. In Jam 1:18, it is indeed interesting that this same word bringeth forth, or begat, is the only hope that the human race has of being rescued from an inevitable rendezvous with the Judge of this universe. This of course is speaking about the will of God in causing us to be born from above. The bottom line of all sin results in destruction and ultimately, everlasting death in Hell. “Man's will or freewill” brings forth sin and everlasting death, where as “God's will” brings forth life everlasting. The Bible is crystal-clear: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”, as we are reminded of in Rom 6:23.

Jam 1:13-15 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

  • Men by nature have Hardened Hearts and Unbelieving Hearts - Blindness to their own sinfulness and hard-heartedness is evidenced in many places in the Bible and is a characteristic of everyone who is not saved, as we learn in Eph 2:1, “And you hath he quickened [or made alive] who were dead in trespasses and sins…”. The Bible also makes reference to a dead heart as a “hard heart”, or a “hardened heart”. And the thrust of these words has to do with rebellion or stubbornness against God and His Word, the Bible. Rom 2:5 describes man’s awful spiritual condition: “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”. Heb 3:10-13, 18-19 and 4:1-2 are directed to those who are identified externally or corporately as the people of God. Lord Jesus expressed his grief many times over the hard-heartedness of many of the leaders and people found within the Old Testament temple, the forerunner of the New Testament congregations. God softens the hearts of those whom he saves. Eze 36:26-27 is such a magnificent portrait of what happens in salvation: God raises us from the dead spiritually, and puts His spirit within us, in accordance with Rom 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Another example of this is seen in the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16:13-14: “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul”. All these examples highlight God’s plan to redeem His elect from sin and Hell, as 2 Cor 4:6 so beautifully affirms: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”.

Jer 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Mark 7:21-23 “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

Heb 3:10-13, 18-19 “Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin … And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

Zec 7:11-12 “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.”

Neh 9:16-17 “But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.”

Rom 2:4-5 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;”

Eze 36:26-27A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”

  • God Restrains Mankind Sin - Once mankind fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, the whole human race became infected with a terrible disease – a sin nature – causing every individual to be by nature and practice wickedness. That is why Jer 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”. The Bible indicates that out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies (Matt 15:19). God works in the lives of the unsaved through giving them a conscience by writing His Law in the hearts of men. So as long as man has a conscience, even though it can be “seared,” he still has some element of the conscience that God gave him and restrains himself from some sin. But only because man experiences God's restraint is he able to live a reasonable life and manifest some virtues such as love between parents and children, kindness and loyalty between friends, and compassion for the underprivileged. We can see God's hand at work in restraining Abimelech from sinning against Sarah. God can restrain sin (in saved or unsaved individuals) or let go sin loose but can never initiate sin. Man is accountable for his own sin. If God did not restrain sin, mankind would destroy themselves. God can withhold His hand of restraint, and that person’s heart will be hardened. Being Omniscient, God uses man's sinful intentions for His purpose. Thus, when God speaks in 2 The 2 of “a falling away first” before the last events of the end come, with the man of sin taking his seat “in the temple”, taking Him [Holy Spirit-the restraining activity of the Holy Spirit in the churches was also to restrain Satan from being able to frustrate God's plan to save, as the Gospel is preached] who restrains out of the way (out of the midst), He is indicating that He will remove His hand of restraint to permit apostasy in corporate Church. Matt 24 speaks of wickedness being multiplied. Rev 20 speaks of Satan being loosed. All these passages teach one and the same thing: In the end time God will allow the world to become desperately sinful. He will accomplish this by removing His restraint on unsaved man and on Satan and his angels.

Gen 20:3-6 “But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. 4But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, LORD, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. 6And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.”

Rom 1:23-26 “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:”

2 Thes 2:10-12 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

  • The Purpose of God according to Election might Stand - Exo 14:17 describes the fate of the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Thutmosis III, who historians call the “Napoleon of Egypt” because of his military prowess and conquests: “And I, behold, I [God] will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen”. God accomplished that in Exo 14:28-30: “And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore”. The Israelites typifying the elect of God, were physicallysaved”, or “delivered”, out of slavery in Egypt; and, of course, symbolically this is a marvelous illustration of the nature of salvation. However, those over the age of twenty died in unbelief and ultimately had to pay for their sins in Hell. God had simply allowed them to escape from their oppressors. So we can say that even though the Israelites did obtain political freedom, they did not necessarily obtain spiritual freedom. That is, they saved their physical lives, but many lost their souls in the process. Spiritually speaking, God delivers His Elect by opening their eyes and ears and softening their hearts. God withholds His hand from softening the hearts of non-elect, and that person’s heart will be hardened or rather remains hardened. The Word of God-The Bible, either Softens or Hardens Hearts. God’s Word penetrates people’s dead hearts or souls in order to either bestow eternal life or to confer eternal damnation. Notice how the “hearts” of the men now “burned” as a result of hearing the words of Scripture as explained by its Divine Author in Luke 24:32. Previously, the Lord had classified them in verse 25 as “fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken…”. These two individuals were being “cut” by the mighty “Sword of the Spirit” – the Bible – in the same manner as were those people 50 days later on the day of Pentecost. That momentous event is described in Acts 2:37: “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The second example reveals how the Word cuts to perdition. Acts 7:54, speaking of the testimony of Stephen to the Sanhedrin before they killed him by stoning, states: “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth”. Rom 9:11-18 reveals that God’s purpose in election is His prerogative. It fulfills His divine will and ultimately sustains His everlasting glory.

John 12:37-41 “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40He [God] hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”

Matt 11:25 “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”

Luke 24:32, 44-45 “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?… And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”

Matt 16:15-17 “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

Rom 9:10-23 “And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13As it is written, Jacob [typifying the elect] have I loved, but Esau [typifying the non-elect] have I hated. 14What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. 17For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. 18Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. 19Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? 21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? 22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”

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