I’ve been reading this morning through all the plagues that happen in Exodus 7-11. God showing time and time again his power and displaying himself for Pharaoh to acknowledge. God revealing that he does indeed control all of creation. It becomes frustrating to me to see the back and forth of Pharaoh and his heart. To witness him say again and again, “Okay, you can go to the wilderness to worship your God” only to have him change his mind again as soon as whatever plague he was enduring is lifted.
I found myself incredulous at his desire to bargain with God, to make deals, and then go back on his part when God did whatever Pharaoh wanted. In all the suffering and horror that the whole nation of Egypt was facing Pharaoh was only interested in himself and how it affected him personally.
“All right, go ahead,” Pharaoh replied. “I will let you go into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God. But don’t go too far away. Now hurry and pray for me.” Exodus 8:28
But the more I read the more I realized how much like all of us this is. Certainly not on this scale (if for no other reason than we simply are not in Pharaoh’s position). But we do this too, don’t we? We want to bargain with God. We want to agree to his calling, but with added “if” statements.
Oh God, if you would just give me this promotion I would be in a better place financially to give like I should.
Father, if you could help us get through this then we would just know for certain that you hear us when we pray.
What a great testimony this would be for others if God were to work this out for us!
I know that God comes through for me time and time again, but do I always do the things I’ve committed to do? I want to paint Pharaoh as this intentionally evil guy who purposefully snubbed God and delighted in the suffering of the people. Maybe he was, I don’t know. But maybe he was more like me.
I often harden my heart, not because I don’t care about God or because I delight in seeing others struggle, but because I’m afraid. Because I doubt. Because I don’t understand. Sometimes I’m just not paying attention and living God’s way has not been set as a priority for me. Sometimes I just forget because the moment brings more entertaining events than whatever God was trying to say to me.
But even so, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn and he still refused to let the people go. Exodus 9:7
I am stubborn too. I get bent on doing things a certain way, on seeing things a certain way. And sometimes I wonder, even for all the “plagues” I witness, even for all the ways in which God seeks to get my attention, how often do I just not see? How often do I just go back to my old ways as soon as the crisis is over? My heart can be so stubborn too.
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Romans 7:15, 21