1 Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.
10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
Exodus 11:1, 10 (New International Version)
One More Plague
Before Exodus 11, God inflicted Egypt with nine plagues; each one worse than the one that came before. Yet despite the devastation from these plagues, the king of Egypt refused to obey the command of the Lord and let Israel go free. In the first verse of Exodus 11, God revealed to Moses that He had one more plague to inflict upon Pharaoh and Egypt, and after it had run its course, the king will finally admit defeat and let Israel go.
A Hardened Heart
One would think that after all the disasters that God inflicted upon Egypt, that Pharaoh would finally recognize how foolish it is to go against God. However, as we read in verse 10, the Lord hardened the king’s heart so that he would not submit to His will. Why would the Almighty do this?
A Reason for Everything
Everything that God does is for a reason. While it may seem cruel to us to place a stubborn heart into Pharaoh and let Egypt endure so much suffering, it was to teach the Egyptians (and the Israelites, who were witnessing these things) a very important lesson. The Lord wanted to teach them that the fate of mankind was decided according to His will, and not according to the will of a mere man like Pharaoh. Therefore, since He determines our destiny, it is important that we obey what the Lord commands us to do, lest He becomes displeased with us.
Despite this, the question needs to be asked, if God hadn’t hardened Pharaoh’s heart, would he have obeyed God’s command sooner than later. I believe that it wouldn’t have made much difference. The Lord knew the king’s temperament (after all, He did create him) and knew that he was stubborn by nature. Pharaoh could have easily dismissed the previous plagues as unusual coincidences nothing more.
Close to Home
The Lord knew that the only way Pharaoh would finally recognize His authority was if the afflictions struck closer to home. It would be with the last plague, the killing of the first born, that the king would understand that he was not a god on earth and that the God of Israel was God. Now, the Lord did not take any pleasure in killing the first born. Nevertheless, He knew that sometimes people have to lose everything before they can repent of their sins.
Consequences of Stubbornness
Stubborn refusal to obey the will of God can have devastating consequences. Consider this story with me, a man was blessed by the Lord with abundant wealth and a loving family. Yet despite these many blessings, the man lived a sinful lifestyle; having affairs and treating his wife and son harshly.
Then all of sudden, his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and after a long fight finally went to be with the Lord. The man was heartbroken, but still refused to turn from his sinful ways. Later on, his only son also passed away unexpectedly, and it was then that the man repented of his ways and returned to the Lord. For his repentance, the Lord blessed him with a daughter in his old age.
What About You?
What aspect of your life are you refusing to submit to God? I urge you to not make the same mistake that Pharaoh and the man in my story made. Surrender your sin before the Lord and return to Him before He begins to humble you severely.