That The Lord’s Name Might Be Proclaimed
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. Romans 9:17-18
Well, it only seems logical that we take a look at the next Old Testament citation by the apostle Paul in the book of Romans that follows on the heels of last week’s text, since this passage too deals with the topic of God’s sovereign will being executed in the light of His foreknowledge and omniscience.
Pharaoh raised up for a purpose
Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16 when the LORD had commanded Moses to stand before Pharaoh and what to say to him. “For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go.” (Ex. 9:14-17)
If you follow the progress of Moses being sent to Pharaoh on the mission to free the nation of Israel from slavery, which includes the miraculous signs, the plagues that the LORD levied upon Egypt, and their crossing the Red Sea, you’ll note the text speaks seventeen different times of Pharaoh’s heart being hardened. Interestingly, it is not the same Hebrew word used every time, but two different words. Here they are and the passages in which some form of the word is used. Strong’s 3513 Kabad (kaw-bad) or Kabed (Kaw-bade). A primitive root meaning “to be heavy, i. e. in a bad sense, severe or dull.” The idea conveyed is a stubborn, rebellious heart. The word and its derivatives are Found in Exodus 7:14, 8:15, 32; 9:7, 34; 10:1; and Strong’s 2388 chazaq (khaw-zak). This too is a primitive root meaning “to fasten upon; hence to seize, be strong.” This word is found in Exodus 4:21; 7:13, 22; 8:19; 9:12, 35; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:4 & 8.
Eight times in these chapters (Ex. 4-14) it states either that the “LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart” or “I have hardened his heart” or “I will harden Pharaoh’s (or his) heart.” In all but one passage, when the LORD is the agent in hardening Pharaoh’s heart, the Hebrew word we see translated harden(ed) is chazaq (#2388). Six times where it speaks of Pharaoh hardening his own heart, it’s the Hebrew word kabad (3513); three times chazaq. Curiously, with chazaq, it’s used when speaking of Pharaoh hardening his own heart after witnessing his magicians duplicating Moses turning his rod into a snake, (Ex. 7:13) turning the Nile into blood (Ex 7:22)and after the third plague of the frogs (Ex. 8:19).
So, it seems Pharaoh’s heart was heavy or “dull” (read stubborn) towards the messengers of Yahweh, was hardened (made stronger) in his hubris by seizing upon the fact that his magicians could duplicate Moses’ signs, and wasn’t softened much by the first plague they couldn’t duplicate (the gnats), even though they recognized this plague was from He who had sovereign control over that which they did not.
Up through the fifth plague, Pharaoh was the one who was hardening his own heart in the face of the LORD’s mercy being displayed by continued lifting of the effects of the plagues. The omniscient LORD, recognizing the condition and character of Pharaoh’s heart was not going to be changed, further hardening his heart in order to bring about His purpose-to show His power and sovereignty over even the disobedient among the most powerful of men. In delivering Israel from slavery to Egypt, He insured His name would be proclaimed throughout the earth. And so it was, as the Scriptural record bears out, as the nations cowered in the face of the approaching Israelite horde and their God, as they marched toward, and made conquest of, the Promised Land.
Allowed to remain, in order to proclaim.
Paul, to the Romans, has proven that both those who receive mercy, and those whom are hardened lie under the sovereign control of the true God in the execution of His eternal plan. Both make their choice in whether they will be chosen by God to be an honorable vessel, one that receives mercy, or a dishonorable vessel, those that have chosen to harden themselves against Him and His will. The litmus test is how you respond to the truth. Remember, even Pharaoh’s magicians recognized in the third plague that “this is the finger of God.” Pharaoh’s stubborn and hard heart refused to accept he was accountable to someone greater than him, someone who had allowed him to remain. The questions is, will you fall upon the Rock and be broken, or will the Rock have to fall upon you and scatter you like dust? The Bible is proven to be the true word of God. You can accept its truth or harden yourself and resist His will. He’ll give those what they want if they choose to resist. He’ll send a deluding influence their way to further harden their hearts so that they’ll believe what is false. Why? Because they took pleasure in wickedness and did not believe the truth.
Brethren, He would rather “make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.” Honorable vessel or dishonorable vessel, His power will be demonstrated through both. He allows the dishonorable to remain among us so that in that last day His name will be proclaimed when every knee bows.