“Exposing the Exodus”
The Lord’s Hardening – (Chapter 14 Verses 1-14)
The acts of judgment upon Pharaoh and his regime appear to have had no lasting effect upon them. Maybe like many today just a temporary effect. When God in his displeasure brings his rod across people it brings a measure of fear and perhaps even some reform. But then the fear wears off and chastisement is forgotten and they are back to their same old ways. So it seems to be with Pharaoh, back to his old materialistic mindset and doubtless very confident that he can redress the situation. But there is one thin that he always forgets. The same one thing that the enemies of God always forget. Who it is they are dealing with, God! “The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). This is their folly. One could mistakenly think that Pharaoh repented when he decided to let Israel go, but there is no repentance with this man whatever. The consequences of his actions have not sunk in. All he is thinking about now is that he has lost his labour force. Who will build his monstrous monuments, pyramids? With no slave labour, the Egyptian people will have to graft themselves and this would be very hard for them, they have become soft, flabby. For a long time, they have sat and watched the Hebrew slaves do all the graft. It’s a bit like our own society today. The many years of prosperity and the increase in technology have left us in a similar state, soft and flabby. Now we find ourselves dependent on immigrant labour to do the manual work, the hard graft. Our own people have become soft, flabby like the Egyptians. But it goes deeper than just the social structuring. This God’s people, Israel. We must not forget this is the world’s expression of enmity against God and his people. Jesus tells us not to be surprised at their hatred (John 15:17-21). But God is in all this, and in all our circumstances too. “Fear not, stand firm” (v14).
This (v7) is the effect of the Lord’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (v8). He was told to let Israel go, he refused, then he negotiated, then he asked for prayer, then he changed his mind. He cannot defy, rise above his sin-nature no more than he can defy the law of gravity. It just pulls him down and back to what he really is. Only regeneration can alter that and that has not happened in this man’s heart. It is only by the sovereign, saving grace of God that a person can be led to true gospel obedience. Like many in our Western society today Pharaoh is in a big hurry, he cannot get to hell quick enough (v8-9). He is rushing to his destruction. This is the irrationality of unbelief in any age, it will self-destruct before it will yield, submit to God. Israel, on the other hand, were animated, inspired, they are a free people now, heading for the promised land. Until that is they are faced with a seemingly impassable barrier, the Red Sea, and an implacable foe behind them, the Egyptian army. Pharaoh’s assessment of Israel’s situation was correct, from a human point of view at least, utterly hopeless, defeated. Except for one thing, the one thing the enemies of God always forget. God! “Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).