Devotional Thought for Today
“A Great Mystery of God”
Exodus 7:1-7 (ESV)
And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” 6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 7 Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.
When I first became a Christian, this passage gave me a lot of trouble because it seemed on the surface as if God took away Pharaoh’s freedom of choice by hardening his heart. How was it possible to blame Pharaoh for his wrongdoing if God was actively making him resistant to making the right choice? I looked into classic Calvinism which taught that God predestined both who would be saved and those that would reject Him. Clearly, Pharaoh had not been elected to salvation. Initially, that seemed to solve this problem but it also seemed to paint a very stark view of God. Cognitively this made sense but my heart was still unsettled.
In the end, I came to the conclusion that the intersection of man’s freedom and God’s sovereignty is one of life’s great mysteries. It is hard to avoid the theological truth that God creates individuals with the foreknowledge that some will be saved and others will harden their hearts towards him. However, to say that God does not love those who will ultimately reject him is contrary to the witness of Scripture. On the way to the cross, Jesus pleaded for the Father to forgive the ignorance of those who were rejecting Him. I can’t imagine this being an empty gesture by the Son of God.
Over the years, what has given me comfort in accepting difficult passages like this is knowing the heart and character of our God who does not want any to perish but all to have everlasting life. Knowing that this is God’s desire is sufficient enough for me.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that there are certain things that are too weighty for me to understand. Indeed, the secret things belong to the Lord our God but the things that are revealed belong to us forever. Help me to trust in your goodness and love and to share that with both believer and non-believers. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 15
Lunch Break Study
Romans 9:14-24 (ESV): What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
Questions to Consider
- For what purpose was Pharaoh created?
- What gives God the right to create people for different purposes?
- What is God’s attitude towards the objects of His wrath?
- We are told that the purpose of Pharaoh’s life was to display God’s power in the life of Moses so that His name would be proclaimed throughout the world. God took the wickedness of Pharaoh and turned it into an opportunity for his glory to be revealed.
- God is likened to a potter who has the right to shape clay into whatever he chooses. There will be some vessels that are used for common things while other vessels that will be used for noble purposes. As believers, we are encouraged by the fact that we have been for a noble reason.
- We read that God endures with great patience the objects of wrath. This is clearly because of his grace and compassion towards them. As we read in Ezekiel 33:11 – “As I live, says 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 you evil ways; for why will you die.
A positive spin on the doctrine of election is that we can be sure that people can be saved because God has already chosen them. This should give us the confidence to share our faith with the lost because we know that God is already working for their salvation. Pray for the unbelievers around you so that God would give you an opportunity to share the gospel.