555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

94. What Is Meant by "I Will Harden Pharaoh's Heart"?

This expression in Exodus 7 3 has been a stumbling-block to many. There is a point reached by those who have long persisted in wicked courses which is known as judicial blindness, a point at which—God's restraining spirit being withdrawn—they become unable to distinguish right from wrong or good from evil. They grow hardened and morally incorrigible. (See Mark 3:5; Rom. 11:25; II Cor. 3:14; Eph. 4:18.) Under such circumstances, the offender turns even blessings into sin by abusing them, and unless overtaken by some great adversity, continues in his course, blind to consequences. This was doubtless the case with Pharaoh. Egypt had sinned deeply, and so long as its rulers were unchecked by some stronger power, they would continue to sin. Pharaoh, long accustomed to the abuse of power, steeled himself against all sense of justice arid mercy, and this the "permissive act of providence" allowed, in order that the culminating punishment should be the more severe. In other words, Pharaoh was permitted to go on in his sin, in order that his fate might be made an awful example to the whole world.