How did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart?

Question from a Site Viewer
I have just read the article, Why Does God Harden Hearts, and believe that one might have looked at the issue too grammatically.

If Pharaoh was upset with the Israelites due to their numbers and actions – then it makes sense that should they continue to increase in population and action then he would be more upset (his heart would be hardened). And if the increase in numbers is believed by the Israelites to be through the grace and blessing of GOD then it also would be true that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God.

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for your thoughts. We simply are not told the mechanism God used to harden Pharaoh’s heart, or for that matter Sihon’s heart (Deuteronomy 2:30) or Israel’s heart (Isaiah 63:17), or the Jews’ hearts in Christ’s day (John 12:40-41). It is possible that God simply continued to carry out His plan of redemption and this action hardened the hearts. The language of the various passages, however, seem to indicate a more direct intervention of God in the heart to harden the heart in the path the person already desired to go. When reading the passages back in Exodus, God does not link the hardening to the multiplication of the people or to the judgments on Egypt. Rather, Scripture seems to make the point that after God sent a plague, God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart, as if this was a separate, distinct action on the heart. Nevertheless, since Scripture does not give us the mechanism, I think we can only affirm with confidence that which Scripture affirms; that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let Israel go; and that God did so to show His might to Israel through His judgments on Egypt. However we may see the mechanism of the hardening, the point is that Scripture tells us repeatedly that God took an action to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Scripture also tells us repeatedly that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Accordingly, we can deduce that it is not against the nature of God to harden the hearts of those who wish to deny the truth.

May the Lord Jesus and His Holy Spirit guide you in your journey.

a pilgrim,


3 thoughts on “How did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart?”

  1. Everyone who believes that the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is true has a heart that is just as hard as Pharaoh’s.

    1. Do you find anywhere in the Bible that God equates a belief in the substitutionary atonement theory with a hard heart? If not, what is the basis for your statement. Do you want me to believe it simply because you state it as fact?

      When theologians speak of substitutionary atonement, the first problem they have is defining what that means. As you may know, not all theologians agree on the meaning of that term. So until you define what you mean by the term “substitutionary atonement,” I am not sure whether I will agree or disagree with your position on whether the theory you oppose is supported by Scripture.

      Are you opposing the concept that Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8)? Are you opposing the concept that Christ became sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21)? Are you opposing the concept that Christ died as our sin offering (Hebrews 13:11-12)? Are you opposing the concept that Christ was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our inequities, chastised for our peace, or that God laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6)? Are you opposing the idea that He bore our iniquities and sin (Isaiah 53:11-12)? Are you opposing the concept that His soul was an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10)? Or is your concern with Christ enduring the Father’s anger, a position about which there is some debate among those who follow some form of the substitutionary atonement theory?

      What was purpose of the Old Testament sacrificial system if it was not to show us what Christ would do for us? Is not that the argument of the author of Hebrews in Hebrews 9-10. Certainly, as Hebrews 8-10 point out, the sacrifices could not remove sins. Hebrews 9 argues that they were a type of the true, what Christ did for us. Or do you not see the Jewish sacrificial system God laid out in Leviticus as a system where animals were substituted for those who sinned?

      I do not know if you know that at least some form of substitutionary atonement was taught within the church within about 40 years of the death of Apostle John, making this theory perhaps the first theory set forth by the church to whom the apostles had delivered the faith. See Epistle to Diognetus, ch. 9 (“He Himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities, He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteousness, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be his in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!”)

      From your statement I understand that you are not a fan of substitutionary atonement, but I do not know from your statement why that is or what your view of the atonement is.

  2. I just read John 12:40 and it says the people did not believe in Jesus even though He did miracles right before their eyes because “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts (made their minds dull) to keep from seeing and understanding and repenting and turning to Him to heal them. Why would God do that? I’ve seen the two comments posted that address hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but this scripture is not about that.

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