God Hardened Pharaoh's Heart

In the Exodus story there are a series of plagues and after the first five plagues scripture says that Pharaoh hardened his heart. However, the next several plagues scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh'‘s heart. It has always bothered me that God do such a thing. Part of the reason there are plagues to begin with is because of Pharaoh’s hard heart and here it seems God is participating in an act that not only leads to a harder heart but more plagues.

Origen of Alexandria wrote the following in the third book of De Principiis "...the sun, by one and the same power of its heat, melts wax indeed, but dries up and hardens mud not that its power operates one way upon mud, and in another way upon wax; but that the qualities of mud and wax are different, although according to nature they are one thing, both being from the earth" 

All hearts are made from the earth and through out actions that earthen heart is changed. It is changed to be more like mud or more like wax. Pharaoh acted in such a way that his earthen heart became more mud than wax.

Photo by  Samantha Lynch  on  Unsplash

Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash

When the grace of God shines down on the earth, some hearts melt. Others harden. It is not because the grace of God is different for one heart to the next, but that each heart responds to this amazing grace differently. Some, like Moses, experience the Grace of God and their heart melts. These hearts can hear the people cry out for liberation and salvation. These hearts are moved to action to work on behalf of the oppressed and forgotten.

Some, like Pharaoh, experience the Grace of God and their heart hardens. These hearts can hear the cry of the people and then justify why the status quo should remain. These hearts are moved, more often than not, to inaction toward the oppressed and forgotten.

God does not harden or melt hearts. Hearts and both harden and melt when the God’s grace shines over them.