Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them…

Exodus tells us three things about Pharaoh’s heart: that the Lord hardened it; that Pharaoh hardened his heart (8:15), and that his heart “became hard” (7:13). It is important to keep these statements together in our thinking.

‘In other words, it is possible to tell two stories about Pharaoh’s heart…One is the story of Pharaoh’s moral choices, whereby his heart became increasingly ‘set in its ways’, committed more and more irretrievably to a course of genocide regarding Israel. The other is a mere statement that from the perspective of the Lord as moral ruler of his world, the point of no return had been reached and the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart must now be judgmentally imposed on him as the justly due consequence of what his own choices had made him.’ Alec Motyer, p.122.

Motyer points out that all three elements are brought together in 9:34 – 10:1:

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

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh for I have hardened his heart…”

He then adds:

‘With these words we are forcefully reminded that choices are the privilege and price of being human. Our privilege is that of being responsible beings, recognising our moral values, called to make responsible choices, and given the opportunity and obligation to live in the light of the foreseeable consequences of our actions. The price we pay is that every choice, for good or ill, goes to fashioning our characters, and whether in the long or short term – or both – makes us answerable to the Judge of all the earth.’

Someone said, ‘Sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.’