And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart. (Ex. 14:4)

I must confess, I never fully understood the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. My belief in human freedom, subject to divine sovereignty, is strong, and I observe it throughout the Bible. Didn’t Joshua tell the people, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:14)? Presumably it was a real choice. When Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me” (Matt. 4:19), he could have said no. So I found the notion of God overruling personal autonomy a bit . . . odd.

Then I planted a garden. I used a second-hand rototiller that shook every bone in my body. And I had to clean the spark plug after every run. It was nearly useless. Still, I used it to turn the sod and eventually harvested plenty of fresh sweet corn.

In the right hands, even the worst tool can do great good. That was certainly true of Pharaoh. I don’t understand the transaction by which God “hardened” the man’s heart. But I’ve owned enough clunky machines to realize that sometimes you have to bang on them a little to make them run right, and it seems like that’s what God did with Pharaoh. Whatever he did, it worked. The people were delivered, and God was glorified.

I treasure the notion that my choices matter. Still, if God ever needs to tune me up so I’ll run right, I hope he will.

Look at the stars tonight and realize that God controls each one.

Lawrence W. Wilson lives in rural Indiana where he enjoys cycling, yardwork, and reading a wide assortment of books.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.