This is a guest post by one of the women who attends Chloe’s House after our services this last weekend.  When I got home from our study I was so encouraged and I considered writing something up to share what we had learned but Tonya summed it up so beautifully that I asked if I could share her words. She said yes so here you go . . . 

I hope this blesses you…

This morning I was asked to pick the subject of our bible study. Never in a million years did I know that I would be this fulfilled after. Usually, I have all these things in mind to talk about and when asked I drew a blank. I then started to pray and ask God to lead me to the right subject. He led me to hearts being hardened.

When I was younger the story of Moses and Pharaoh would not make since to me, and I would think why is this God who gives us free will taking it away from Pharaoh and then punishing him for it?

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. God did not take his free will and he did not harden him, rather he strengthened Pharaoh. God gave Pharaoh the strength to do what he was going to do anyway, and in the mist of it all still pushed His own purpose for the situation.

See God will use anything, even a very stubborn man, to bring forth his message. It is up to us to see it. God was showing Pharaoh a different way and was showing him these marvelous miracles and yet Pharaoh was like a horse with blinders on, only willing to see his own agenda.

When God sent a plague and then lifted it, Pharaoh did not awe at God’s marvelous hand, but was upset and was in a power struggle with letting go. He felt like he may not have had power over God with the pledges but he could control the situation by not letting go for His people.

Think about your own life. What in it are you not willing to let go of.

“Let my people go” God said. But Pharaoh could not because he was god, right? He was in control, right? However, God challenged that and more and more was making Pharaoh come to the harsh realization that he was not God and that the true God was indeed almighty.

Pharaoh was angry, stubborn, offended and hard up, he was more focused on how dare you come in my house and disrespect me.

This is just like us, some of us find the truth and fall on our faces, and others find the truth or it is presented, and anger and offence is what they feel. However, just like Pharaoh I too was blind to the real message God is revealing in the story of the exodus. I was being blinded by the over usage of the word “hardened”. That adjective was keeping me from knowing the story for its real truth. I was like a horse with blinders on reading it. I would read the story like he was hardened and hardened oh and let me guess hardened again. When we looked up the meaning and saw that it meant strengthen the story took on a different meaning for me, and my heart became so full this morning, like being in a cold place and then walking out into the sunshine. That feeling your skin gets when it starts to warm up.

I now look at the story of Moses and Pharaoh as the story of Pharaoh and God, and the power struggle Pharaoh went through when he had let go of the lie that he was spoon fed since birth, and even thought God kept giving him the option of a different path, Pharaoh kept choosing the destructive path.

It’s like the family you see going in the wrong direction and even thought their life is full of plagues they continue being destructive. Knowing that hardened meant to give strength I understood the story better. And I started seeing my loving God not a God who hardens on purpose and then punishes.

To my parents out there … have you ever thought to yourself these kids just won’t take a nap, and I need them to! Would you consider it bad advice if I told you to provoke craziness, wear them out and give them things to do to get them to that point of being sleepy when you needed them to be? “No” I do not think that you would. So putting strengthen in the place of harden makes God look like that to me. He knew that Pharaoh would do what he was going to do anyway and gave Pharaoh, in my opinion, the strength he needed to keep going. To follow his timeline and to show Pharaoh His marvelousness. Isn’t that a more loving way of look at this story? He knew his child and did not take away his free will yet he helped him through his decision making.

What if the bible read this way:

Exodus 10:27

But God gave Pharaohs heart strength to make the decision he was already going to make, so that Pharaoh would be able to endure the natural consequence of his actions.

Imagine them translating the story that way. How much would that change the message?

Or what if it read Exodus 8:31-32:

YHVH did according to the word of Moses, and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. There remained not one. Pharaoh then became enraged because of this disrespect to his god and he hardened his own heart this time also, and he didn’t let the people go.

Wouldn’t this give a different message and feel to the story?

For me breaking the myth of a horrible God who would take away free will to make a point really filled my heart and made me want to write down my thoughts and share them…