Why is your heart hard?

23 01 2007

Scripture:
Exodus 7:
1-5 (NIV) 1Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Observations:
There is no clearer proclamation of God granting authority to one of His leaders than the text above. God is telling Moses that he is acting on behalf of God — and that Moses has his brother to do his bidding. This is why Miriam and Aaron were disciplined for discrediting Moses behind his back. We, as God’s people, have no right to discredit God — nor His agents.

The other thing I see in the text above is quite powerful. When I first read these passages several years ago, I thought to myself that “God would never harden Pharaoh’s heart. That must be naive thinking on Moses’ part.” But now, knowing the story better, I can see God’s wisdom in hardening Pharaoh’s heart.

First, it steels the resolve of the Israelites to leave Egypt. Second, it perfects the separation between the Israelites and Egypt. Third, it leaves Pharaoh with a hatred for God and the Israelites and then he actually wants them to leave – in fact demands that they leave.

If Pharaoh had acquiesced from the beginning, it would have been a lot easier for him to change his mind and go after them. Then the Israelites wouldn’t have been prepared for the life and death battle that was about to occur at the Red Sea. Indeed, the whole affair left the Israelites in a better financial state, as they received all the silver and gold from the Egyptians.

Mostly though, this struggle helped the Israelites to prepare for the struggles they would endure in the desert. Although they complained, they whined, and they wanted to go back, to me it is clear that this struggle with Pharaoh made them less weak and more resolved to move on. Although this doesn’t show through clearly in the written text, Moses was able to lead them deeper into the desert and they didn’t return to Egypt.

Application:
Sometimes the struggles of our lives are for our own good. We get angry when our leaders don’t leap at our suggestions. We get frustrated when other churches don’t cooperate. We are ticked when our denomination isn’t doing the right thing. And it really fries us when our spouses aren’t on our side. Sometimes it seems as if the whole world is against us and we’re the only one who understands God’s plan. It would help if we had an Aaron at our side!!

I think God has a plan for this obstinance that we face. It focuses our attention on two possible options. First, we could lay down in discouragement and lament the terrible situation we are in (usually my first choice). Or, second, we could commit ourselves to a more determined prayer life. Yes, there is a third option — that is to dive in with more energy, more hard work, and even more vociferous determination to change the situation so that everyone will do the right thing. (This is usually my second choice)

Yikes. Spelling it out this clearly — in writing — really convicts my heart. I see how absolutely absurd this all is. My only really choice is to pray more. I have to become a man of prayer — I have no other choice (no matter what I do at the time).

Quite possibly it has been God who has hardened the hearts of the leadership at TC. Quite possibly it has been God who has hardened the hearts of the denominational leaders. Quite possibly it has been God who has hardened the hearts of my leaders (the ones who don’t get it).

So, here I am, in this time of uncertainty. The world has gone all squishy postmodern where there is no absolute truth. The church has gotten all comfortable and clubby/cliquey. The denomination is caught in a morass of bureaucratic status quo. The big questions are looming large. How can I grow a church that doesn’t turn into a club of already converted, lukewarm consumers? How can I operate under a bureaucratic structure that doesn’t provide the resources, time, support, and opportunities to do what God is calling me to do? How can I reach out to a world craving spiritual connectedness when they don’t want anything to do with “a church?

Pray.

Prayer:
Father God, just for today, make me an instrument of your will. Teach me to pray. Teach me to be courageous. Teach me to walk your walk and talk your talk. Teach me to look into the future and not at the present. Teach me to be in the world, but not of the world. Teach me to look at the victories and not the obstacles. Teach me to see the obstacles as opportunities to grow — times of discipline as evidence of your love.

Thanks God for helping me to see this more clearly.

I love you too!

gw

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