You recall the story of Pharaoh in the time of Moses when God was preparing to bring the Israelites out of Egypt after 430 years of bondage. If not, let me encourage you to read Exodus 3-14. It is that story that is the basis of our Victory Call today.
As the Scriptures go, Moses, called by God to represent Him to Pharaoh, goes into the Ruler to demand that he release the Israelites that they may go into the wilderness to worship their Lord God. Pharaoh rejects his request, so God brings the plagues.
1. He turns water into blood – “So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened” (Ex 7:22)
2. Frogs – “But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them” (Ex 8:15)
3. Gnats – “But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them…” (Ex 8:19)
4. Flies – “But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go” (Ex 8:32)
5. Livestock die – “But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.” (Ex 9:7)
6. Boils – “But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them…” (Ex 9:12)
7. Hail – “Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘This time I have sinned: The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.’….But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.”(Ex 9:27)
8. Locusts – “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.” (Ex 10:20)
9. Darkness – “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.” (Ex 10:27)
10. Death of the first born -(Ex 12)
I would like to focus for a moment on #9, the seventh plague. Pharaoh indicates that he finally gets it. He finally understands. He even seems to acknowledge his sin. This is an important observation about human behavior. In the midst of his suffering, he “repents.” He appears to understand and acknowledge his own fault and sin. He admits he is wrong. From Moses’ seat it seems like it is finally happening. So he prays that the hail stop, and God stops the hail. When the source of Pharaoh’s suffering is removed, he has yet again a change of heart. “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased…he hardened his heart.”
What’s my point? Two-fold:
1. Our inclination is to be very motivated to change in the midst of suffering, but when that suffering is removed, we revert to our old ways. Our repentance and desire for change is situational, not genuine.
2. When loved ones seem to repent of attitudes or actions in the midst of their suffering, the only way we can know if that brokenness is genuine is if they follow through on their word. If the immediate suffering is removed and they return to their old ways, their repentance was not from the heart.
The counsel we often give family members of prodigal children, addicted family or friends when they are wringing their hands because they just don’t know what to do is this: You will know that their repentance is real when they follow through with their promises. People caught in the bondage of addiction often make promises they do not keep. The only way to know when genuine change has taken place is not through their words (though you would really like to believe them and have made that mistake many, many, many times), it is through persistence to keep their word over a significant period of time that gives evidence of genuine change.
We are all like Pharaoh in some ways. Let’s be people of our word in suffering and out.
Written By Diane Hunt: Diane Hunt serves on the board of America’s Keswick and provides ministry support from her home in North Carolina. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at email@example.com.