“So Moses left Pharaoh’s court and went out of the city. When he lifted his hands to the Lord, the thunder and hail stopped, and the downpour ceased. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again became stubborn. Because his heart was hard, Pharaoh refused to let the people leave, just as the Lord had predicted through Moses.” – Exodus 9:33-35. 

The showdown between God and Pharaoh over the fate of the enslaved Israelites is an intense story. Pharaoh is a man with a closed mind and a hard heart. It starts with God explaining the mission to Moses: You are going back to Egypt and do all these wonders and Pharaoh’s heart is going to be hardened.

The wonders begin: The Nile turned to blood, frogs covering the land, gnats covering everyone, and then biting flies; the livestock in the field died. One plague after another and Pharaoh hardens his heart each time. Pharaoh will not yield to God. He may be forced to give in to His demands, but he will never yield his heart.

The next plague is boils, sores breaking out on man and beast. The plagues are now very personal. Every Egyptian individual and animal was afflicted. More plagues ensued. Yet, Pharaoh refused the command of God again and again. Plague number seven was hail like they had never seen. The eighth plague is a locust swarm that will devour everything not destroyed by the hail. Once again, Pharaoh pleaded for mercy and promised to let the people go. Once again he went back on his word. His heart was too hard. He relents for a moment and then his pride kicks in and he goes back on his word. What will it take?

What does this mean to us today? Have you ever found yourself in a position where you don’t sense God’s presence. If you can’t hear the voice of God, or if you can’t experience Him, it could because we have hardened our heart. We shut down our heart to the still small voice. Remember that the heart is the place where God lives. It is the place where you meet. It is the place where you make all of your decisions, where all of your thoughts and emotions originate.

Ask yourself a question: Does God seem distant because there are parts of your heart that you have hardened? Pray and ask God to open up every part of your heart to Him. Pray that your heart will be fully open and alive.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think Pharaoh was so stubborn? 
  2. Read Isaiah 42:18-25: Notice in verse 20 God says, “You see and recognize what is right but refuse to act on it. You hear with your ears, but you don’t really listen.” In what ways can we be guilty of hearing God, but really not paying attention to him?
  3. What can we do this week to open up the parts of our hearts closed off to God?