Exodus 5:3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”
Look at how Pharaoh was approached by God, Moses, and Aaron. They were respectful. God introduced Himself and was formal. He used His proper name, YHWH. He is known as Yahweh or Jehovah.
Moses and Aaron used their manners and petitioned Pharaoh. They acknowledged his authority and position. The term translated is “Please”. This is the Hebrew word “na”. This is a sincere, humble request. The word “na” is defined as: we pray, we beseech. The majority of time “na” is translated as “please”.
Pharaoh, in his free will, responds to reverence and respect in the following manner. Nobody made or influenced him to act this way. He was rude and crude all by himself. Pharaoh is the one imposing his will on his servants in the Egyptian government and the Hebrew slaves. Look at Pharaoh’s actions in Exodus 5:6-17.
- Pharaoh indicated to taskmasters to stop providing straw to Israel for brick production.
- Pharaoh now required to Hebrews to go get the straw.
- Pharaoh required more work and expected the same production.
- He viewed the Hebrews as “lazy”.
- Pharaoh re-emphasized his will to increase the labor demands.
- Pharaoh considered the idea of the LORD a lie.
- The conditions of finding straw and brick production were restated.
- Pharaoh and Egyptian officials continually hounded the Hebrews about brick production.
- Israeli leaders were physically beaten for not meeting production quotas.
- Egyptians continued to harass the Israeli work force for sustained production.
- Pharaoh repeatedly told the Hebrews they were “slackers”.
- He blamed their lack of production on God.
- Pharaoh closed with restating his expectations and labor demands.
This is how Pharaoh responded to decency and manners. Pharaoh was an unrealistic, rigid, and inflexible task master. He made things harder for the Israeli people. Pharaoh did all of this without God’s influence. This is who Pharaoh was all by himself.
At this point, the LORD God had not responded to or influenced Pharaoh. But things were about the change…
Exodus 7:3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.
God is promising to harden Pharaoh’s heart. God has yet to do anything to him. Exodus 7:3 is a prophecy of what God will do. The LORD is about to exert His will.
Exodus 7:4 When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.
Exodus 7:4 is a prophecy of Pharaoh’s lack of response. Notice, God gives Pharaoh a chance to respond positively. He allows Pharaoh to fail before He executes judgment. But, God knows the end result before it happens.
Pharaoh is going to have many opportunities to align his heart and his will with God. The LORD did not make Pharaoh do anything. God appealed to Pharaoh’s heart. We all know how this ends for Egypt.
There are at least 14 examples of Pharaoh’s heart being hardened in the book of Exodus. Every time Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, he responded negatively with actions and attitude. God did not make him respond negatively. That was Pharaoh’s active choice. Pharaoh was the captain of his actions and decisions.
Exodus 7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19, 8:32, 9:7, 9:12, 9:34, 9:35, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:8.
God closes with hardening the heart of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea in Exodus 14:17. The Egyptians were all in as they pursued Israel.
How many times have we had the opportunity to align our hearts and our wills with God? How many times have we not responded to God’s plea for good works and deeds? How many times will a person refuse God’s will before He hardens the individual’s heart?