Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who hardened Pharaoh's heart? (Continued)

In my previous post I brought up the hard word of God's hardening Pharaoh's heart. The question I wanted to ask students is what they thought of the aspect of the story in which God is said to harden Pharaoh's heart and inflict devastation on the Egyptians for the express purpose of creating a reputation for himself among the nations as one to be feared.  I asked my students to comment on the post, and those who have have been rewarded. 

I just wanted to follow up on some of the comments.  Most of the comments had to do with God's justice.  Whenever Christians read a hard text, especially about God, the knee jerk reaction I think is to try and justify God, make it OK.  That is all great, and many of my students did this.  They spoke about how God was inflicting devastation upon the Egyptians as a means of carrying out justice upon them for their enslavement of Israel. 

While there is certainly a degree to which one can read this into the text, I think it is just that, reading it into the text.  The express purpose of God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart is so that God can "multiply signs and wonders in the land of Egypt" (Ex. 7:3).

I try and teach my students to pay close attention to a text, to a story, to see what it is telling them about God, Israel, the church etc.  Try to read the story as it stands, listen to what it wants to tell you, not what you want it to tell you.  It is usually in the hard and difficult words of the Bible, the ones that go against the grain of our own preconceptions, that some profound truth lies.

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