Did God set Pharaoh up for failure?


My morning reading turned up an important question about the loving heavenly Father concept (quoting from Exodus 10:16-20, NLT).

Pharaoh quickly sent for Moses and Aaron. “I confess my sin against the LORD your God and against you,” he said to them. “Forgive my sin only this once, and plead with the LORD your God to take away this terrible plague.”

So Moses left Pharaoh and pleaded with the LORD. The LORD responded by sending a strong west wind that blew the locusts out into the Red Sea. Not a single locust remained in all the land of Egypt. Note But the LORD made Pharaoh stubborn once again, and he did not let the people go.

Did God really make it impossible for Pharaoh to change his mind and let the people go? Wouldn’t that be a rather heartless and cruel thing to do–punishing someone (an entire nation, really) for not doing something that you wouldn’t let them do anyway?

This is a narrative that has turned folks away from Faith. I checked half a dozen Bible and Torah commentaries, but they pretty well just skip around the subject. It’s a tough question, one that begs some thought.

The Apologetics Press, an online resource, tackles the problem by proposing solutions centered on the language–idioms and figures of speech. Here is an excerpt from that site:

In the case of Pharaoh, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply.

My own thoughts about the issue took me right back to the Roadturn concept, and back to the beginning of my own set of unusual circumstances (some call them “miracles”), in June of 2007.

It was a pretty tough deal. Like Pharaoh, I was getting hammered by plagues: I had lost (quit) a steady, well-paying job, I was fighting a diagnosis of osteo-arthritis and possible bone cancer, we were on the edge of losing the property that was our primary financial asset, and my relationship with my wife was strained to the edge. One son had broken his arm, we had come way too close to losing our youngest boy from an allergic reaction to cashews, and I was scrambling to replace lost income at a time when layoffs, not hiring, had become the norm.

Near despair, I came across a quote from Paul Potts, who had just won the Britain’s Got Talent contest. Not many words, but just what I needed to hear at the time…

Take risks–amazing things may come from it.

I had taken risks, plenty of them, and the situation I then found myself sitting in the middle of had come from the decisions I had made. Not from your decisions, not from my wife’s decisions… but from my own. It occurred to me that I was focusing on the fear of what could happen and pointing to the bad things (plagues) in my life, but I was closing off my faith and refusing to believe in the amazing possibilities which could be just ahead.

I followed a link to the video of Paul Potts at Britain’s Got Talent, and I was convinced: There was a chance left for me, if I just wouldn’t quit.

It’s been a process–a process that is still in motion–but that was the beginning of a Roadturn that has changed my life. I am on the path to an uncommon success that seemed only a dream in 2007, but is now being lived out daily. God is good, and He is faithful.

So what does this have to do with Pharaoh’s heart being hardened. This is what I think…

Pharaoh was the boss, the main man, the one in control of everything. It was the idea of God that hardened his heart; it was the idea of God that wouldn’t let him give in to Moses’ request. To admit that the God of the Hebrews was greater than himself was the one thing that Pharaoh could not do. He was a man of power, not of humility. He was a leader, not a follower. When Pharaoh thought about the ramifications of giving in to a power greater than himself, he balked. His ego would not allow it.

We had a family meeting on the evening that my Roadturn began, and we decided that we were going to commit ourselves to living out a truth from the Bible: Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, then everything else will work out fine” (paraphrased). A few days later, I received a telephone call about a resume that I had posted online. I had a job. In the mountains. Family housing provided. Amazing grace…

After two years there, we received another offer, one that would move us out West. It proved to be a tremendous experience, one that allowed me to really dig in and work with turnaround theory to establish the principles of the Roadturn system. Over the past year, I have refined the program and have been able to present it to over a hundred students, from jail inmates to college faculty. Right now, I am pitching it at the corporate level, and I am writing for a living. My dreams are coming true. And the same can happen for you.

It all starts with being willing to admit that you have been playing the part of Pharaoh in your own life. It begins with admitting that there is One who is even greater than you, One who has a better plan. It begins with listening instead of resisting. It begins with a measure of humility, something that may require a few plagues to strike.

If you want some help in dealing with the process, or if you simply want to find out more about the Roadturn concept, just use the Contact Form and let me know. I’m on your side.

Wishing you and yours the best new year ever. Wishing you a Roadturn experience that will turn your life towards possibility. Amazing things WILL come from it.

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