Manuscript for Exod 7:8-10:29: The Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart, Part 4 © 2004 by R W Glenn
Of course, Scripture also makes clear that though God somehow stands behindboth evil and good, he does not stand behind them symmetrically; he does not standbehind them with equal ultimacy. God is not evil, nor is he the author of it. Neither is hecruel, ordaining awful circumstances as some kind of divine sadist reveling in the miseryof his creatures. May it never be!Since the Bible expresses with equal force that God ordains, uses, and bringsabout evil circumstances in the world
that God is in no way to be construed as theauthor of evil, we must never emphasize one to circumvent the other. In other words, itwould be biblically indefensible for us to say that
God is neither evil nor cruel, Godis therefore
sovereign over evil. Nor would it be correct to assert that since God issovereign over evil that he is a harsh and cruel, evil being.We need to hold these two truths, these mysterious though rationally compatibletruths in tension: God is the absolute sovereign who causes well-being and createscalamity
who does not take pleasure in afflicting the sons of men. I do not purportto be able to reconcile these two difficult truths because such reconciliation isunnecessary. If I may borrow the language of Spurgeon from a similar context—I don’thave to reconcile friends.
God’s Sovereignty and Benignity
The friendship of these two truths is consistently represented throughout thebook of Exodus.Israel’s cruel bondage is said to have reached the compassionate ears of theirGod as early as
Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egyptdied. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; andtheir cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.
So God heard theirgroaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Godsaw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.
Though the people of God do not yet know that God has heard their cries, theaudience of Exodus knows that God is compassionate.Later, in chapter 3, when God calls Moses to be his servant for the liberation ofthe sons of Israel, the Lord tells Moses essentially what the narrator has already told us.Look over to
The LORD said, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt,and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of theirsufferings.
So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, andto bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milkand honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and thePerizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.
Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel hascome to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians areoppressing them...
Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'TheLORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to