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            The manifestation of Moses, Prince of Egypt, as the Deliverer must have been a shock to all Egyptians. Moses, the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, was now turning against Egypt and was demanding the liberation of millions of slaves. As the biblical narrative reveals, the new Pharaoh reacted with absolute refusal and continued to do so even though the God of Moses manifested His undeniable superiority over all the gods of Egypt.

            The book of Exodus reveals that Pharaoh’s irrational, self-destructive attitude was not totally his own but was, in large part, God inspired: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7: 3-4).  Thus, great destruction befell the mighty Egyptian nation, until the people of Egypt begged Israel to leave.

            But what if God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart? What if He had allowed Pharaoh to witness the first plagues and had become quickly convinced that it would have been futile, and suicidal, to resist such mighty Being? Or why not simply give Israel favor by “softening” Pharaoh’s heart, and thus making the departure much easier to occur?

            The answer to these valid questions is that, had God made Israel’s liberation easy and uneventful, several critical and necessary aspects in God’s plan would have been left unaccomplished.

            First of all, the great judgment of God would not have befallen a terribly sinful nation.  Egypt was a very idolatrous and degenerate nation. In fact, in Leviticus 18:3 God commands Israel not to emulate the Egyptians: “After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt, shall ye not do.”  The rest of the chapter lists heinous sins that were quite common among the pagan nations of the time and that, invariably, invite God’s mighty judgment. The Egyptians, like the Canaanites, had reached their fill of sin, and God was ready to judge them with horrific punishments.

                 Secondly, the Egyptians had treated the Israelites harshly and cruelly. They had turned all of Israel into a nation of slaves and had, on certain occasions, such as the killing of the baby boys of Israel, shown callous cruelty. God remembered, and gave Egypt a just recompense.

            Thirdly, Israel was being reintroduced to its great God after four hundred years of separation. Because they were slaves, and because they lacked religious leadership, they had lost most, if not all remembrance of God’s ways. God needed to make it abundantly clear to them that He was their God and the supreme God of all as well. He also had to give undeniable evidence that He was superior to all the Gods of Egypt and that He, and only He, was the ruler of all the earth.

                 Furthermore, God had to show Israel that He was Lord and Savior; that He delivers the weak from the strong; and that great salvation belongs to Him only. This great truth was especially reinforced by protecting Israel from the great plagues, by sparing the Firstborn of Israel and by snatching Israel from the previously invincible Egyptian army.

            Lastly, the great wonders God performed in Egypt were to remain as signs of His great power for all generations -- including our own.

If God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart, all of these critical factors would not have been addressed. But all were addressed within a short period of time, simply because God, in His great wisdom, made the heart of one man impenetrable.

            By hardening Pharaoh’s heart, God punished Egypt as it well deserved; He manifested Himself as the supreme ruler of Heaven, and Earth and as the Savior and protector of Israel; His great works were recorded so that Israelites and Christians would be reminded perennially of His mighty acts and His mighty judgment over evil.


                                                   IS GOD CRUEL?  MAIN LIST

© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2005

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