Why Pharoah said, “NO!”
Torah Portion: Va’era (And I Appeared) Ex. (Sh’mot) 6:2-9:35
Today we read about a huge change in the world’s concept of G-d, or at least for those of us who have a faith in the L-rd. It begins with our Jewish brothers and sisters and later through Yeshua was made available to all who believe.
In Exodus 6:2 we read, “And G-d spoke to Moshe and said to him, I am the L-rd. “ This word L-rd, in Hebrew, is the Holy Name of G-d, which encompasses the entire nature of G-d. Here in Exodus we see G-d instruct Moshe to go to the people and tell them that, “The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,” Exodus 3:13-15. Moshe asked, when I go to them and they ask what is His name what shall I say? The L-rd replied, “I Am who I Am sent me.” Further on in these verses the L-rd went on to say, “This is My Name forever.”
To these slaves this was a new revelation and for sure it was a Name that Pharaoh had never heard. This should move us as well in our world today. Our G-d is “The L-rd” not some sleepy old man who lets us skate by but speaks to us, guides us and expects us to impact the world.
Now, to the three words used in our portion to describe Pharaoh’s reaction to the plagues that the L-rd brought on Egypt. Let me interject here that I believe these words and reactions of Pharaoh were caused in part at least by his limited knowledge of who he was confronting.
To refresh us, the three words used to describe Pharaoh’s heart condition were, heavy or Kaved, strong or hazak, and hard or Kasha. My question was to ask each of us to explore these words and what each has to do without own understanding of the word and how it relates to our walk with the Father.
Now on to Pharaoh. At the time of Moshe there was no ruler in the world who possessed the power and authority of Pharaoh. His subjects looked at him as half divine and half human. His word was unchallenged. Apparently he would have had some knowledge of the Hebrew G-d. However, his limited knowledge would have given him no worry. Every tribe or small group of people had their own god. However, none would have been a cause for concern by Pharaoh. How would this have affected his heart when Moshe came to him and demanded he set the people free? As I thought about this this week I came to the conclusion Pharaoh would have had no fear of this potential Hebrew G-d. His heart would have been strong in this idea. He was not moved by Moshe’s request.
Now, in our life, does our own heart ever become strong in our own thoughts or actions? Are there times when we plow ahead with some behavior even though we might hear that small voice telling us that what we are doing, saying or acting out is wrong. We are strong in our desire and that over rules everything else. Our heart is strong in our actions no matter what G-d is trying to tell us.
Likewise, what comes to mind when we hear a word like heavy used to describe Pharaoh’s heart. Something that is heavy is hard to move. Sometimes it seems not worth the effort. Pharaoh had to guard his position of power. To change that or appear to give in to a people small and weak, would ruin his reputation with his people as well as his enemies. This was a bridge too far and not worth the effort. In each of our lives we come up against those things that challenge our faith and challenge the way we have been living. To change or accept that there is a different choice or a different way to live would damage how our friends and family see us. All of us, at some time, are tempted to continue on with some destructive path because change would be too heavy. After all, what we are doing seems to be the way everyone we know is acting or believing. My point here is sometimes our heart is heavy and hard to move in the right direction. We rationalize what we are doing. We may even see other believers involved in similar activity so we continue on our way rather than repent and change our life.
Lastly, we come to hard, the third word to describe Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh’s heart was strong in that nothing moved him. He was the king of Egypt and by definition that gave him the complete control over his subjects. He did as he pleased and no one questioned his actions. Even when his own magicians realized and told him this was the one true G-d he continued on in his hardness. What does this word bring to mind? Have you ever continued to do something wrong even though you knew it was not how a believer should live? It might cause you to make some profound decision that would change your actions and beliefs, so we again rationalize it by continuing on. To change would cause us to maybe have to also change some of our friends. We may have to change things that we have fallen into without even realizing it was happening.
However, are any of these worth the cost of spiritually heavy, hard or strong hearts that’s taking us further and further away from our foundations of faith. When we read the Messianic scriptures and the Hebrew scriptures we see people who changed everything when they came into a right relationship with the Father. My prayer for us all is that we do not follow Pharaoh’s example but allow the Father to change our hearts.