Exodus 7:3-4 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. (NIV)
There are some parts of the Bible that both intrigue and disturb me. Take, for instance, today’s passage from Exodus 7. Moses is being told by God what to do in order to free his people. It requires a face-to-face meeting with Pharaoh. Moses is scared about the encounter, but God promises him two things: that the Egyptian ruler will receive him, but God will also harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will not listen to what Moses has to say.
I can understand God allowing Moses being permitted to see Pharaoh; what I have difficulty with is that Pharaoh does not appear to have any free choice in discussing the matter. And, because the Egyptian ruler hardens his heart and will not listen to what Moses has to say, the Egyptian people will suffer the consequences of several devastating plagues. From what the Bible is teaching, it seems to be that whatever the choices ancient rulers made, whether voluntary or involuntary, it was the nation that ended up suffering.
For one of my own ancestors, this was tragically true. In the seventeenth century, when King Charles the First surrounded himself with sycophants and ignored the appeals and requests that came from his own Parliamentary leaders. A Civil War ensued and Charles ended up being executed by his own people for treachery. Ever since then, British sovereigns have never again been given an absolute monarchy. Too many people died in that Civil War for their rights to be a free and democratic people – which is something that their American descendants also fought for in 1776.
So, what can we learn from the Bible and history today? This: there are always consequences to our choices, which may be good or bad, depending on whether we listen to sound advice from others, or just do things our own way.
Point to ponder
What mistakes have I made in my life by rejecting good counsel? What have I learned from those mistakes?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, not one of us is perfect and we are sometimes too stubborn for our own good. Help us to listen to those around us who lovingly offer us wise and sound advice, so that we may avoid the pitfalls of making bad and uninformed decisions. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. You can view the church website online at www.erinpresbyterian.org.
Today’s image is one of John’s cat drawings called ‘Queen of the Nile.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: Queen.