When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.

It’s been said that the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things

    and beyond cure.

    Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Alec Motyer writes helpfully on the subject of Pharaoh hardening his heart in his book on ‘Exodus’, in ‘The Bible speaks today’ series:

‘Humans are so created that the choices they make contribute to forming character, and character thus formed promotes the making of similar choices in the future. Sometimes it takes a very long series of choices to produce a fixed habit, sometimes one choice is enough, sometimes a prolonged series of choices still leaves the issue in question open. Choosing and habit forming are things we all know about. What none of us knows is when the ‘point of no return’ will be reached. None of us can say, ‘I can risk one more choice and still retain freedom to give up this habit.’ Sadly, we can pass the point where freedom to change has been lost and still retain the illusion that ‘I can give it up any time I want!’ Thus the situation in which Pharaoh found himself was not peculiar to him but is intrinsic to the human condition. Only God foresees the decisive, freedom-destroying choice, and only he knows at once when the choice that kills freedom has been made. Indeed, the Bible goes further and claims that because he is God, it is he that fixes that point.’ (Pages 121, 122).

Jeremiah was right to say that the heart is “beyond cure.” That is, it is beyond human help. No psychiatrist or psychoanalyst, no doctor, will be able to fully deal with its impenetrable depths. But there is a heart specialist who can heal. Indeed, He can perform a heart transplant. His Name is Jesus.