But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses (Exodus 9:12)
The story is familiar. God commands Moses to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt but Pharaoh repeatedly refuses to let them go. And almost inexplicably God himself “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” so that he resists Moses’ request.
Two weeks ago, I visited the nonprofit law firm which is assisting PAK7 US and joined in the firm’s devotional time. The attorney who led the devotion used the story of Moses’ leading Israel out of slavery in Egypt through the Red Sea as the basis for a discussion about how God’s people are to deal with various seemingly unsolvable problems. The example that easily came to the Washington lawyer’s mind was the bitter political impasse that now plagues American politics. In politics these days, it seems there is scarcely any civility much less finding common ground to address many problems.
I found the discussion thought-provoking. Why did God ask Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt, but simultaneously “harden the heart” of the one who could let them go?
We could easily ask the obvious questions. Why does God put us into seemingly impossible situations?
Why does he ask us to do things that are humanly impossible?
Why does he have a faithful servant on a difficult foreign field face incarceration on false charges, much like the Apostle Paul, and then seem to not answer many prayers for his release?
Why does he give his Church a Great Commission that is not just difficult, but humanly impossible?
God’s ways are so much higher than ours (Is. 55:9). When God asks us to do the impossible, it’s never just about the task. It’s always about the ultimate purpose, to magnify the glory of God.
If we ask these questions with an unbelieving heart, we may mistakenly think God is acting like Pharaoh, who asks Israel to make bricks without straw. But if we fix our eyes on the glorious, loving, sovereign Father, who is working out his great redemptive purposes through his Church in this world, impossible situations begin looking like glorious opportunities. We can see the situation as Moses did –through eyes of faith.