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God's Hardening of the Human Heart

God's Hardening of the Human Heart

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Published by dlee7067
There are a lot of questions surrounding God's hardening of the human heart. It is an interesting study and one we ought to take a look at.
There are a lot of questions surrounding God's hardening of the human heart. It is an interesting study and one we ought to take a look at.

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Published by: dlee7067 on Jan 20, 2012
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God's Hardening of the Human Heart
Does God ever harden people's hearts? No doubt about it. Every Bible student is awareof God's hardening the heart of Pharaoh back in the book of Exodus. This was God'splan before Moses arrived in Egypt. "
 And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go backto Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go
." (Exod. 4:21NKJV) Why did God do this? He tells us as he told Pharaoh, "
 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may bedeclared in all the earth
." (Exod. 9:16 NKJV) Paul quotes this passage in Rom. 9:17 andthen in the very next verse says, "
Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens
." (Rom. 9:18 NKJV) God willed to harden Pharaoh's heart.Does God harden people's hearts arbitrarily; just pick out people at random to hardentheir hearts? We know he does not for "
God is love
." (1 John 4:8 NKJV) He "
desires all men to be saved 
." (1 Tim. 2:4 NKJV) He is "
not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance
." (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) "
 He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men
." (Lam. 3:33 NKJV) God does not harden a heart willingly since a heart hardened against God represents a lost soul. There must be a reason thenthat God hardens a heart.There are difficult issues involved in understanding this subject. Whose hearts doesGod harden? Why? How does he do it?Many that I have read after are pretty much under the conviction that the way Godhardened Pharaoh's heart and thus the heart of others whom he has hardened isthrough his word. That is to say God gives a command that a man does not want toreceive and obey. He (the man) refuses to do so. The man thus hardens his own heart but there is a sense in which it could be said God hardened the man's heart by giving thecommandment. The idea is that God's word is the tool that God uses to harden theheart. We can see there is truth that words can harden hearts from our everyday conversationsand simple observation. Say the wrong thing to someone, innocent as your intentionsmay have been, and the first thing you know they are angry at you and develop ahardened attitude toward you. Hopefully, in your adult life this has seldom happened to you personally but I think we have all seen or observed the thing.There is no doubt God's word when directed at one's heart can harden a heart already inclined to disbelieve and disobey (belief being against their perceived self-interest as
 
they see it). His word rebukes the sinner who then gets his back up and rebels evenfurther.There is much merit in the argument that God's word does harden some. However, isthat the only means God uses to harden people's hearts whom he hardens? That is a very difficult question to answer. After all of the plagues were over and Pharaoh hadreleased the children of Israel to leave Egypt, God instructs Moses to camp at PiHahiroth by the sea (Exod. 14:2) the reason being, "
Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart,so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army,that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD
." (Exodus 14:4 NKJV) Here it seemsa further hardening was coming. God intended for Pharaoh and his army to enter intothe Red Sea for their destruction.That this is certain we can ascertain from the following passage:"
 And the LORD said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Thenthe Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen
.'" (Exod. 14:15-18 NKJV)This hardening seems to have come when the Egyptians were on the very edge of the bed of the Red Sea. It is hard to see how this hardening was just a function of therejection of God's word for this hardening seems to be in addition to the hardening thathad occurred earlier. On its face it seems to be a hardening separate and apart from the word.In Joshua 11 we find a similar passage along much the same lines. Joshua and thechildren of Israel are at war against the inhabitants of Canaan (the Promised Land). Thepassage reads as follows:"
There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, except the Hivites,the inhabitants of Gibeon. All the others they took in battle. For it was of the LORD toharden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, and that they might receive no mercy, but that He might destroythem, as the LORD had commanded Moses
." (Josh. 11:19-20 NKJV)There were 7 nations in the land of Canaan that God wanted totally destroyed. They  were the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, theHivites, and the Jebusites (Deut. 7:1-2). Why were they to be destroyed? Was it just tomake room for the children of Israel? No, it was because of sin. "
 It is because of thewickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you
." (Deut.
 
9:4 NKJV) How sinful were these nations? "
 Every abomination to the LORD which Hehates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods
." (Deut. 12:31 NKJV) For other passages describing the sins of thesenations in greater detail see Lev. 18 and Deut. 18:9-14. God obviously did not hardenhearts that were not already hard. It takes a hard heart to burn your son or daughter todeath.Both of these cases, that of Pharaoh and the Egyptians and that of the people whoinhabited the land of Canaan, seem to be examples of what some would call a judicialhardening. God had determined to pass judgment on them due to their sins and thushardened their hearts to bring about their destruction. It was judgment day for them.Two points ought to be made here. (1) People seem to be under the impression, and Ihave heard it said most of my life, that one can always repent and obey God as long asthere is life in them--the idea being that we are judged after death. There is just enoughtruth in this line of thought, the truth being that God is longsuffering, to make itexceedingly dangerous to a man.In both the cases above just cited was God not executing judgment on men while they lived by ending their lives? Many other such examples could be given from the OldTestament and then we have Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament (Acts 5). I donot see where the Bible teaches that a man can go on and on and on in sin without any need of fearing God here and now. A person living in sin ought to be scared to deatheveryday. I am not saying what God will do but I do not see how we can say what he won't do.(2) The second point is that God inhabits eternity. He knows what will be tomorrow as well as what was yesterday. "
 I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end  from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done
." (Isa. 46:9-10NKJV) He knows us from beginning to end. While we have free will he knows what we will choose before we make the decision. You say how can this be? It is one of the greatmysteries of God how God can have foreknowledge and yet man have free will. Somethings are beyond man's ability to understand. Some things we must accept by faith.The point to be made is that God does not harden a man for destruction who was goingto repent if given more time to do so for God knew already what the man would choose.There is no evidence in the Bible to support the idea that God ever has or will harden aheart that is not already hard. Whatever means God used to harden Pharaoh's heart, or anyone else's for that matter, isthen in a sense immaterial for the very reason that God does not harden hearts that arenot already hard. It was only after the sixth plague that the Bible says the Lord

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