While it may be difficult to grasp the reality of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, there is a corresponding clear admonition that we do well to consider.  Read through Ps. 95 and you’ll hear David say this, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.” It is striking that though David refers to events from hundreds of years earlier, he addresses his hearers, and us, as though we were the ones who rebelled in the wilderness.  In fact, the writer of the Hebrews picks up this passage in Hebrews (see 3:12 – 4:13) and makes the same application.  Even though the wilderness events occurred hundreds of years earlier, he challenges his readers not to harden their hearts like their spiritual ancestors had done.  I conclude the possibility of hardening our hearts is always a matter we must wrestle with.  Will we believe God’s word and trust Him, or lapse into unbelief allowing sin to harden us to the reality of what it means to walk by faith?  From the passage in Hebrews I see two strategies that the writer encourages us to practice to avoid a hardened heart.  First, we are to encourage one another daily.  Sin is deceitful.  We tend to believe the lies and become hard toward God.  But other people can help us reverse the tendency.  That requires being open with others regarding where we struggle with sin and being humble enough to receive the encouragement of others.  Secondly, we are to allow the word of God (see 4:12 – 13) to ruthlessly judge our lives; especially when motives and attitudes need to be corrected.  Only the Word of God has the power to shed that kind of light in our darkness.  I’ve recently begun asking that God would give me the gift of self-awareness.  I don’t want to be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.  I know that He will primarily give that gift through careful listening to the Scriptures; often as others speak to me about my life and what it means to be faithfully following God’s word.  So while we ponder the mystery of God’s dealing with Pharaoh, let us not neglect the unambiguous command, “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).

Pastor Mark

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