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The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

The Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

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By: Pastor R W Glenn
February 22, 2004
Exodus 7:8-10:29

More messages in this series:
http://www.solidfoodmedia.com/messages/seriesview.php?id=11
By: Pastor R W Glenn
February 22, 2004
Exodus 7:8-10:29

More messages in this series:
http://www.solidfoodmedia.com/messages/seriesview.php?id=11

More info:

Published by: Redeemer Bible Church/Solid Food Media on Jan 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Exod 7:8-10:29: The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart © 2004 by R W Glenn
1
 
Redeemer Bible Church
Unreserved Accountability to Christ.
Undeserved Acceptance from Christ 
.
The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart
Exodus 7:8-10:29
Introduction
Jonathan Edwards, the great 18
th
century American theologian, has said,“Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.”
1
He has said that the doctrine ofGod’s absolute sovereignty was something that had “very often appeared exceedingpleasant, bright and sweet.”
2
 Now for many of us, we feel the same way. The sovereignty of God gives usgreat comfort. We rejoice at the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28, when hesays that “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those wholove God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Though we are oftenperplexed by the difficulties and apparent uncertainties of life, one thing we know: weknow that God causes all things to work together for good to us who love him.And we sing the lyrics of William Cowper (1731-1800):
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.
We believe that behind a frowning providence he does hide a smiling face. Inthis way, this doctrine
is 
“exceeding pleasant, bright and sweet.” It
is 
something that welove to ascribe to God.Yet having said that, I’m not sure we quite understand what Edwards meanswhen he says that
absolute 
sovereignty is what he loves to ascribe to God. He finds theBible’s teaching of God’s
absolute 
sovereignty to be “exceeding pleasant, bring andsweet.” In other words, Edwards rejoiced in the fact that God’s sovereignty is notlimited in any sphere, that it is not restricted in any way, that it is unconditional.
1
Quoted in Iain H Murray,
Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography 
(Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth,1987), 103.
2
Ibid.
 
 
Exod 7:8-10:29: The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart © 2004 by R W Glenn
2
 
That which brought him joy is summed up in the language of the WestminsterConfession: “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His ownwill freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby [isnot] the author of sin.”
3
Edwards loved to ascribe to God that the Lord “by the mostwise and holy counsel of his own will freely, and unchangeably ordains
whatsoever 
 comes to pass.” And by whatsoever is meant
whatsoever 
. Edwards loved the truth thateverything that happens, happens because God has willed it to happen. And heunderstood this everything to include
everything 
. Thus it includes bad things. This iswhy the Confession goes on to say that though God ordains whatsoever comes to pass,he is not thereby the author of sin.To love to ascribe to God absolute sovereignty something much more profoundthan “God takes care of me in my difficulties”; or that “God will make something goodout of the bad things that have happened.” It is saying, “God has willed everything thathas happened, everything that is happening, and everything that will happen. And Ilove it!”Perhaps this is difficult for some of you to hear. Perhaps you are thinking thatthis claim cannot be true. Perhaps it even makes you angry to hear it said. I do notdoubt any of this. Even the people living in the 18
th
century had difficulty with thedoctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty. Listen again to Edwards: “The sovereignty ofGod is the stumbling block on which thousands fall and perish.”
4
It seems safe to saythat this difficulty persists to the present day.Few pulpits even address the absolute sovereignty of God. Oh, they may speakof the sovereignty of God in some relative sense, but not of the
absolute 
sovereignty ofGod, that he has decreed from eternity past everything that would ever take place. Andthey certainly do not reckon properly with the clear example of this set forth in the textfor this morning’s meditation.While Exodus 7:8-10:29 is rife with theological emphases, with theological andpractical lessons for us, we begin our study with one: God is absolutely sovereign.
His Sovereignty Rules over All
Let us begin with 9:15-16. Here, the Lord tells Pharaoh that his continuation inkingly office is solely the product of the Lord’s sovereign action:
For if by now I had putforth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would thenhave been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed youto remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My namethrough all the earth
.It is plain that the Lord could have utterly destroyed Pharaoh and his nation. Tothis point in the narrative they have experienced God’s judgment in the form of blood,frogs, gnats, swarms of insects or flies, pestilence on their livestock, and painful boils on
3
 
WCF 
3.1-2.
4
Jonathan Edwards quoted at www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/sovereignty.html.
 
 
Exod 7:8-10:29: The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart © 2004 by R W Glenn
3
 
man and beast. God has clearly demonstrated his capacity to
cut off
Egypt
from
theface of
the earth
.
But
, says the Lord,
I have allowed you to remain
.Now behind the phrase
I have allowed you to remain
is one Hebrew word thatmeans “to maintain” (as opposed to overthrow). In 1 Kings 15:4 it is translated“establish.” The
NASB
’s rendering is a bit weak. The
NIV
and
ESV
translate it in a waythat’s more fitting: “For this purpose (or reason [
NIV
]) I have raised you up.” The idea isthat the Lord is responsible for the establishment and continuance of Pharaoh’sgovernance.In other words, the Lord is saying that the only reason Pharaoh isn’t dead isbecause the Lord has raised him up for the Lord’s sovereign purpose:
in order toshow you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth
. Godhas complete control over Pharaoh’s existence. Pharaoh’s life is in Yahweh’s hands.Earlier in Exodus you will remember that Pharaoh speaks derisively of Yahwehsaying, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not knowthe LORD” (5:2). Now Pharaoh is learning that God’s sovereignty extends to the king ofEgypt. Pharaoh continues to reign at the Lord’s pleasure.In fact, every ruler rules at the Lord’s pleasure. In Daniel 4, whileNebuchadnezzar is busy congratulating himself for (in his mind) having been solelyresponsible for establishing Babylon to his own glory,
...a voice came from heaven, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it isdeclared: sovereignty has been removed from you,
32
and you will be driven awayfrom mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You willbe given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over youuntil you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind andbestows it on
whomever He wishes 
” (Daniel 4:31-32, italics added).
This is something that Nebuchadnezzar finally learned:
34
But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes towardheaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praisedand honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35
All the inhabitants ofthe earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the hostof heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His handOr say to Him, “What have You done?”
5
 But perhaps Jehoshaphat summed it up best when he said, “O LORD, the God ofour fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all thekingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can standagainst You” (2 Chronicles 20:6).
5
For similar teaching see Isaiah 40:15-23.

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