Do you know how many plagues it took to get Pharaoh to let God’s people go?
There were 8 of them before the major, end-all, catastrophic climax when the death angel passed over and killed every first-born Egyptian child throughout the land. There was:
- The Nile River turned into blood – Exodus 7:14-25
- Frogs invading the land – Exodus 8:1-15
- Flies everywhere – Exodus 8:16-32
- All the cattle dies – Exodus 9:1-7
- Boils and sores – Exodus 9:8-17
- Hail and fire – Exodus 9:18-35
- Locusts eat everything – Exodus 10:1-20
- Darkness covers the land – Exodus 10:21-29
All these plagues which God inflicted upon Egypt had one thing in common. After each one, Pharaoh hardened his heart. What is a hard heart?
- A hard heart is a stubborn heart – “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgement of God.” (Romans 2:5)
- A hard heart is insensitive – “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:10)
- A hard heart is cold and disobedient – “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not listen to them as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 7:13)
A good question to ask yourself in the middle of a plague is, “Is my heart hard, or am I listening and doing what God says?”
Pharaoh certainly failed at that point for which he suffered greatly in the end, “Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again.” (Exodus 11:4:6)
Bad things happen when people harden their heart.
Here’s what God said to Moses and the people of Israel. Don’t miss this! “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.” (Exodus 12 23)
This was how God chose to spare His people from the devastation of death. They “Sheltered-at-home” with their families around the dinner table eating a good meal and keeping each other safe until the angel of death passed by. That’s not a bad idea. Neither is wearing a face covering, nor is it an infringement of individual freedom to wash your hands and practice the 6’ rule.
God sparred the people of Israel because they didn’t harden their hearts like Pharaoh did. They obediently followed the instructions they were given, and it only took the angel of death 6 hours to do his work.
I wonder if the reason we are now in the 7th month of this immediate crisis with the numbers of infections still rising and the death toll growing every day is not more about our hard hearts than it is about following the good instructions we all have been given to keep us safe.
Keep your heart these days from becoming like the one Pharaoh had.