This Pharaoh was the king of Egypt at the time of Moses, and he was a very wicked man. At that time God’s people, called the Israelites, lived as slaves in Egypt. However, it was God’s plan to make them free, and to bring them to the country that he had promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-21).
So, God sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh, to ask him to free the Israelites. However, Pharaoh did not want to obey God’s message to him, so he refused. Then God permitted a series of judgements to begin against Egypt, to urge Pharaoh to change his mind. However, Pharaoh would not change his mind.
The Bible calls the kind of attitudes that Pharaoh had: ‘a hard heart’. In Exodus 8:15 and 8:32, we read that Pharaoh made his own heart hard. In Exodus 9:12, however, God made Pharaoh’s heart hard. In other words, Pharaoh’s wrong attitudes had become so bad that God allowed those attitudes to take control of Pharaoh’s life.
Paul repeats from Exodus 9:16 the words that God used to explain his decision against Pharaoh. Of course God could have ended Pharaoh’s rule, or permitted him to die, at once. However, God knew that it would bring greater honour to him (to God) to act differently on this occasion. He would let Pharaoh continue in his own wrong attitudes, so that the judgements against Egypt would also continue. Then people everywhere would hear about the power of the true and living God. They would hear how he acted against that great and powerful country and its false gods. So, they would learn to respect the only real God, who made both heaven and earth. God would use Pharaoh’s wrong attitudes to help people in many different countries to know him (God).
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© 2017, Keith Simons.