And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.” So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses. Exodus 9:8-12 ESV
“And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:10-11 ESV
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. I Timothy 2:3-4 ESV
When the Ingalls family was leaving their home in Indian Territory, they came upon a man and a woman sitting by their covered wagon. Their horses had been stolen, and everything they owned was in the wagon. Pa offered them a ride to the nearest city, but they wouldn’t go with him. He urged them, and told them they couldn’t stay with their wagon. No one else might be along for days or weeks, and they might end up lost forever on the prairie. But they wouldn’t come with the Ingalls family. Even though the family didn’t want to, they left them sitting on the prairie with their wagon.
Up until this plague, the Bible says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. But now the Bible starts to say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This is scary to think about. Did God enjoy punishing Pharaoh? Did he want to send Pharaoh to hell? No, God tells us clearly in his Word that he does not enjoy punishing wicked people and that he wants all people to be saved. But Pharaoh was like the man and woman the Ingalls family met in the story. He didn’t want to turn away from his sins and turn to God. He saw God’s power, but he kept hardening his heart until God had to leave him to go his own way. God wouldn’t try to work with him anymore.
When we are afraid of our own sinful and stubborn hearts, and worry that we might turn away from God forever, we can remember how much God loves us. He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to bring us to faith in him, and the Holy Spirit helps us keep looking to Jesus. It’s good to remember how important it is not to turn away from God’s love, but even better to remember that God’s strong love holds us close to him.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and wanting to save us. Please keep us close to you forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls Little House on the Prairie New York: Harper and Brothers, 1935.