Pharaoh hardened his own heart (1 Samuel 6:6; Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34). Scripture also tells us that God hardened his heart (Exodus 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:8). I believe this should tell us that God let Pharaoh pursue what was in his obstinate heart.
EXACTLY! God left Pharaoh TO HIMSELF without showing him any mercy as he did Moses and some of the children of Israel. When God leaves sinners to themselves their heart grows harder and harder to the degree God leaves them. God DOES NOT work inwardly in sinners to make them harden against him they are ALREADY hardened by nature...It is the MERCY of God that gives us another heart to believe, love and follow him.
I do not believe God makes a person do something that is against his disposition to already do.
Well, he does in some cases, (Genesis 12:14-17
) but that within itself is a different topic, unrelated to God hardened Pharaoh's heart. God often times works in men's heart to turn them from their purposes.
Job 33:13-30~"Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.
This he does toward his people, not of the reprobates~he leaves them to their own depraved hearts without intervening for them for he owes NO MAN anything.
Romans 9:17~"For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth."
This verse stands connected, not with the 15th and 16th, which immediately precede it, but with the 13th and 14th. In the 13th verse, God’s love to Jacob and His hatred to Esau are declared. In respect to both, it is demanded in the 14th verse, if there be injustice with God. In the 15th and 16th verses following, the answer is given regarding the preference and love of God to Jacob. In this 17th verse, the Apostle replies to the question as it refers to God’s hatred of Esau. And the answer here is precisely similar to that given respecting Jacob. God’s love to Jacob before he had done any good was according to His usual plan of procedure; and on the same ground, His hatred of Esau before he had done any evil is also vindicated. Paul here proves his doctrine from the example of one to whom, in Divine sovereignty, God acted according to justice without mercy
. The Scripture said that God raised up Pharaoh for the very purpose of manifesting His own glory in his punishment
."For the Scripture saith"
~ By the manner in which the Apostle begins this verse, we are taught that whatever the Scriptures declare on any subject is to be considered as decisive on the point
. "What saith the Scripture?" This is the proof to which the Apostle appeals. It should further be observed, that Paul ascribes to the Scriptures what was said by God Himself, Exodus 9:16
. This expressly teaches us that the words of Scripture are the words of God
The Scripture saith unto Pharaoh~ that is, the Scripture showeth how Moses was commanded to say unto Pharaoh, Exodus 9:16
~ Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up. Here is the destination of Pharaoh to his destruction. That I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth.
This is the end and design intended by it. It was not, then, by any concurrence of fortuitous circumstances that Pharaoh was seated on the throne of Egypt, and invested with the power he possessed when Moses was appointed to conduct Israel out of Egypt. He was raised up, or made to stand in that place, in order that, by his opposition, from the perversity of his heart, in him God might show His own power and exalt His own name.
It is not merely alleged that God had not shown mercy to this king of Egypt, or that He had suffered him to go on in his wicked ways; but, in language which the unrenewed heart of man will never relish, it is declared, "Even
for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show My power in thee, and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth."
For this very end, the birth, the life, and the situation of Pharaoh were all of Divine appointment. This is language so clear that it cannot be guiltlessly misinterpreted, even though men will try to fit their system. The unbelieving heart of man will revolt, and his ingenuity may invent expedients to soften this explicit declaration; but it never can
be successfully evaded
. All the shifts of sophistry will never be able fairly, or even plausibly, to explain this language in a sense that will not testify the sovereignty of God.
The above truth respecting Pharaoh is what the Scriptures declare; and we ought never to pretend to go further into the deep things of God than they go before us, but submissively to bow to every Divine declaration
. We know that all sin will be found with man
; but here we are taught that even the sin of man will turn out for the glory of God, and for this very purpose the wicked are raised up
. If we cannot fathom this depth in the Divine counsels, still let us be certain that what God says is true, and must be received by us. We are assured that the Judge of all the earth will in all things act righteously, although we may not be able to comprehend His ways. We can accept them and should do so. We are not
we required to comprehend them. We are required to believe His word, and to believe that it is consistent with the eternal righteousness of His character.
‘Let us treasure,’ says Calvin, ‘the following observation in our minds, never to feel the least desire to attain any other knowledge concerning this doctrine save what is taught us in Scripture. When the Lord shuts His sacred mouth, let us also stop our thoughts from advancing one step further in our inquiries."
Consistently with the vain attempts that have been made to reconcile the truth above affirmed with philosophy falsely so called, the whole subject of this chapter might be rejected, equally with that of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. It has accordingly been perverted by many who have explained it in such a way as to remove all the difficulties which it presents. Our Lord in one short sentence has declared the true reason of their finding it so hard to understand this chapter. "Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word."
It is also written for our warning. Many, therefore, of His disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?’ There is no part of Scripture, the meaning of which is more obvious than that of this chapter. But if men will yield to the natural opposition of their minds to the truth it declares, and, wresting the plainest expressions, affirm that hatred signifies love, is it surprising that they are bewildered in following their own devices?
Romans 9:18~Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth
Here the general conclusion is drawn from all the Apostle had said in the three preceding verses, in denying that God was unrighteous in loving Jacob and hating Esau. It exhibits the ground of God’s dealings both with the elect and the reprobate. It concludes that His own sovereign pleasure is the rule both with respect to those whom He receives, and those whom He rejects
. He pardons one and hardens another, without reference to anything but His own sovereign will
, in accordance with His infinite wisdom, holiness, and justice. "Even so, Father,’ said our blessed Lord, for so it seemed good in Thy sight."~Matthew 11:26
God is not chargeable with any injustice in electing some and not others; for this is an act of mere mercy and compassion, and that can be no violation of justice. "Therefore hath He mercy On whom He will have mercy"~
. Paul here repeats for the third time, that God has mercy on whom He will have mercy, without intimating the least regard to anything IN man
as deserving mercy. The smallest degree of right in the creature would furnish reason for displaying justice, not mercy
. Mercy is that adorable perfection of God by which He pities and relieves the miserable. Under the good and righteous government of God, no one is miserable who does not deserve to be so
. The objects of mercy are persons who are miserable, because they are guilty, and therefore justly deserving of punishment. The exercise of mercy is a particular display of the grace or free favor of God. In no case can it be due to a guilty creature; it necessarily implies the absence of all right. A man can never have a right to mercy; and to talk of deserving mercy is a contradiction in terms. God, it is said, "delighteth in mercy," ~Micah 7:18
; and in the proclamation of His name to Moses, this attribute is particularly signalized. "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,"~Exodus 34:6
. He is "rich and plenteous" in mercy, and His tender mercies are over all His works. Mercy, however, is an attribute, the constant exercise of which is not essential to God, like that of justice, which can never, as has been remarked, for a moment be suspended. Mercy is dispensed according to His sovereign pleasure in regard to persons or times, as to Him seemeth good. Towards the fallen children of men it was gloriously displayed when God sent His Son into the world, which was purely a work of mercy, and not demanded by justice. But to the fallen angels mercy was not
vouchsafed. And is this any impeachment of the mercy of God? If not, is it a just ground for complaint, that in order to manifest His hatred of sin, His mercy is not extended to a certain portion of the human race, who we know for certain shall perish? Thus God has mercy on whom He will have mercy. It is one of the fundamental errors of Socinians, and of many besides, to hold that the mercy of God must be necessarily and constantly exercised; while, reversing the order of Scripture, and all its representations of the character of God, they deny this necessity regarding His justice.
The same act, however, may be both an act of justice and an act of mercy in reference to different objects. The punishment of the enemies of God, the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt, the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host, the discomfiture of kings, and the transfer of their lands for an heritage to Israel, while they were acts of justice towards the enemies of His people, are all ascribed to the mercy of God to them~Psalm 136 Read it
...."To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for His mercy endureth for ever: But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea: for His mercy endureth for ever: To Him which smote great kings: for His mercy endureth for ever: And slew famous kings: for His mercy endureth for ever: And gave their land for an heritage: for His mercy endureth for ever: Even an heritage to Israel His servant: for His mercy endureth for ever."
Mercy, then, which is a particular kind of Divine goodness, is sovereign; and to confer favors freely, consistently with Divine wisdom, does injury to no one.
If God was only just, there would be no place for mercy; if He never acted as a sovereign benefactor, there could be no place for the plan of redemption. God may be considered under two different aspects, either as judging with equity, or as disposing at His will of His benefits; in other words, as a judge, or as a sovereign. Under either of these aspects, in whatever manner He acts, having nothing higher than Himself, He is the supreme God. Sovereignty, when this word is applied to God, signifies the arbitrary will of a benefactor, because that under the other aspects there is no place for the exercise of arbitrary will. In the exercise of His justice, God is sovereign in His judgments and His punishments, but not arbitrary, because He does not judge without demerit in the objects of His judgment
. When, therefore, He acts as Judge and Supreme Ruler, His acts are founded upon equity; but when He acts as Sovereign, His acts are founded upon His free favor, and dispensed with wisdom. Whatever offense the human mind may take at the attribute of Divine justice, and its exercise in punishing the guilty, we should think that all men would eagerly embrace the view given in Scripture of the Divine mercy. Yet, in reality, the peculiar character of the mercy of God is as disagreeable to men as is His justice itself.
The Divine mercy is not only sovereign, but, respecting its object, it is unlimited. Neither of these peculiarities is agreeable to the mind of man. Human wisdom views God as merciful, but that mercy it makes to extend equally to all, and unlimitedly to none. For persons not guilty of glaring sins, God’s mercy is not only expected by the world, but even claimed and demanded. To deny it to those who are sober and regular in their lives, would be looked on as both cruel and unjust. In the passage before us, however, we see that God’s mercy is sovereign, that it extends to one and not to another, while no man can give a reason for the preference of one and the rejection of the other. The only reason God condescends to give is His own pleasure: ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.’ The unlimited character of the Divine mercy is a thing that ought to be most agreeable to every man. Even should any be so blind as not to perceive that they need such mercy for themselves, yet, if they loved mankind, they should rejoice that the Divine mercy is such as to extend to the chief of sinners. Constant experience, however, as well as the history of our Lord’s life, shows us that this is not the case. Instead of rejoicing in the extent of the Divine mercy, the heart of the self-righteous man will swell with indignation when he hears that mercy is extended to the vile and the profligate.
Nothing in the conduct of our Lord gave such offense to the scribes and Pharisees as this peculiarity in His conduct of receiving sinners In the most prominent manner He exhibited this feature of mercy, and publicans and sinners heard Him, and received His doctrine, and turned from their sins unto God; while the proud, self-righteous Pharisees burned with indignation at the conduct of Christ in this instance.
He was constantly upbraided as receiving sinners and eating with them.