Twice now, God says to Moses, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 4:21; 7:3). Seriously, what choice then does Pharaoh have? God said it. Can Pharaoh thwart God?
Why would God want Pharaoh to resist stubbornly against Moses, and against God? Fifteen hundred years later, the apostle Paul asks and answers the same question, sort of. Paul writes, “You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:19-21). In other words, God is God and you are not, and he does what he wants for his purposes. Not a terribly satisfying answer, but then, God does not have to satisfy me.
Going back to the plagues, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in four of them. In six, Pharaoh hardened his own heart. God is in charge, but Pharaoh cooperates. He is no innocent; he cannot point to God and claim, “You made me do it.” He did it and God did it.
But why ten times? Why ten plagues? The answer is in the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” At the time, everybody had gods. Lots of them. So, the one and only true God desired to demonstrate that he is God like no other. The first couple plagues, the Egyptian magicians were able to mimic the work of God, as if he wasn’t unique. But they couldn’t keep up. By the third plague, they admitted, “This is the finger of God,” and God hammered it home again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Ten times, ten plagues. The Egyptians would never forget the Hebrew God, the God of gods, the only true God; and the Israelites would always remember their God, the only true God, who delivered them from bondage.
My God, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the One and Only Creator of the heavens and the earth, You alone I worship and adore. Your ways are good and there is none like You. Why would I ever seek good from another source?
May Your Name be known always in my house. May You always be God of my family–we seek no other. May my children and my children’s children (someday!) follow You and worship You. You are my Lord and Savior. I will always remember.