Thursday, April 9, 2015

Who hardened Pharaoh's heart?


The question of whether Pharaoh hardened his own heart or if God was the one who hardened it has been discussed for centuries in the Christian world. The answer to this question is simple, but it calls for a thorough review of the scriptures which address it. In scripture we find places where it tells us "Pharaoh  hardened his heart" and other places where it tells us "God hardened Pharaoh's heart." So the simple answer to this question is, "both Pharaoh and God played a role in the process." In this article I will seek to unravel the way that this process happened and how it testifies to God's patience and sovereignty as well as the free will that He has given to us as human beings.

Let's begin with looking Chronologically at the hardening of Pharaoh's heart:

1.) Exodus 7:13- "Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said."

2.) Exodus 8:15- "But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said."

3.) Exodus 8:32- "But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go."

4.) Exodus 9:12- "But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses."

5.) Exodus 9:34- "When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts."

6.) Exodus 10:1- Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them."

7.) Exodus 10:20- "But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go."

8.) Exodus 10:27- "But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go."

9.) Exodus 11:10- "Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country."

10.) Exodus 14:4- "And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this."

11.) Exodus 14:8- "The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly."

12.) Exodus 14:17- "I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen."


So we see 3 distinct instances (2. 3. & 5.) where the Bible clearly indicates that Pharaoh hardened his own heart out of his own autonomous choice. We also see 6 distinct instances (4. 6. 7. 8. 9. & 11.) where the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, one of which correlates to the #5 occurrence which says Pharaoh and his officials hardened their own hearts.  So which is it? Did God harden Pharaoh or did Pharaoh harden his own heart? I think the correlation between occurrence #5 & #6 gives us some insight.

5.) Exodus 9:34- "When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts."

Here we see that after the plague of hail Pharaoh and his officials hardened their own hearts. This was written from an intentional perspective of the writer indicating that Pharaoh and his officials did in fact make this choice on their own. Now take a look at how God addresses this occurrence in the next chapter:

6.) Exodus 10:1- Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them."

So although from a technical aspect we understand from occurrence #4 that Pharaoh and his officials decided to rebel, God in occurrence #5 admits that His sovereignty played a part in the process. Now we know from scripture that God does not cause sin or evil to happen (James 1:13), so how is it that He played a role in hardening these men so that they sinned? The answer is that God "indirectly hardened them." That is, God foreknew that because of their sinful disposition they would respond to His righteous judgments with hardness. So the phrase "God hardened them" refers to God sending judgment with the knowledge of how they would respond, yet sending it anyway. Even the prophet Samuel admits that Pharaoh was the one who ultimately hardened his own heart:

1 Samuel 6:6-"Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?"

Does this mean that God was wrong to send judgement upon Pharaoh in such a way that he knew Pharaoh would respond with hardness of heart? Absolutely not. If you notice that Pharaoh initially set into motion the process of hardening by doing so of his own accord in occurrence #1, #2 & #3 we can realize that judgement was appropriate for this man who willfully disobeyed God. Thus the subsequent hardenings  in occurrences #3-#11 were the snowball effect (spiritual consequences) of Pharaoh's initial prideful disposition (Proverbs 16:18). Although God knew this all in advance Pharaoh was capable of repentance from the beginning (see Ezekiel 18:23). The unfathomable wisdom in this entire ordeal is that God was able to take the righteous judgement of a willfully sinful man and use it to display His glory and power to all who lived in Egypt (Exodus 14:4).

We see Paul explaining this process of spiritual consequence and the "snowball effect" of rebellion in Romans chapter 1:

Romans 1:21-24- "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.


Pharaoh initially chose to rebel against God. After a window of time to repent God decided to give Pharaoh over to his hardness as a spiritual consequence to his actions. God has worked this way throughout the whole of scripture. He is "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love (Psalm 103:8). He "strived with men" in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:3), being patient with them as the Ark was being built, even using Noah to preach to them (2 Peter 2:5). But after they had reached a point of "no return" (Genesis 6:5) He sent the flood as righteous judgement for their actions. 

God does not directly harden anybody so as to cause them to sin (James 1:13). But He does hand people who are already willfully rebellious over to their sin as a spiritual judgement for their actions (Romans 1). This was the case with Pharaoh, and it is also the case with many today. God is long suffering toward us, calling us all to repent. But once we reach the breaking point demonstrating no willingness to respond to God when He calls, He hands us over to our wickedness and allows for us to be tangled in our own mess.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

photo credit: http://www.eborg2.com/BibleOT/02-Exodus/Exodus-002.jpg


Friday, April 3, 2015

Does Acts 2:38 teach that baptism is required for salvation?


Acts 2:37-38- "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

So the first question that comes to my mind is which component provides the remission of sins "repentance" or "baptism" or "both?" In order to avoid conjecturing I begin to research other parts of God's Word that my shed some light because Peter doesn't take time to specify the full meaning in his discourse. I want the Biblical answer not the personally formulated answer. So I begin to study the word regarding the phrase "remission of sins" and find many scriptures:

Matt. 26:28- For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Acts 10:43- To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Acts 13:39- And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Acts 15:9- And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Hebrews 6:1- not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

Ephesians 1:7- In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace

Romans 3:25- Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;


From this study I see a pattern emerging. Repentance is described as "getting rid of dead works and having faith toward God (Hebrew 6:1)." The blood of Christ provides remission for our sins (Matt 26.28 etc.) And we receive this "propitiation through faith in His blood (Romans 3:25 etc.). We also see that faith in Christ's blood gives us remission of sins (Acts 10:43). So I can now see the Biblical answer to my question emerging as "repentance (faith toward God) provides remission of sins through the blood of Christ."

This immediately causes me to wonder what component baptism plays in the process that Peter is describing. So I begin to search out what the Bible teaches regarding the role of Baptism:

1 Peter 3:21- The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Hebrew 9:14- How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Colossians 2:11-12- 11and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Romans 4:11- And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised:


From this study I see another pattern emerging. Baptism is described as a "figure" which operates as "an answer of a good conscience toward God." Our conscience is purged by faith in Jesus' blood (repentance, Hebrew 9:14) and baptism declares that this purging has taken place. Baptism is compared to circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12) which was a " a seal of the righteousness of the faith which Abraham had yet being uncircumcised." So I can conclude that baptism "saves us (Greek- sozo "Completes us, makes us whole in a temporal sense") (1 Peter 3:21) " in the sense of operating as a sign /seal of the righteousness that we already received by repenting of dead works and having faith toward God.

The Bible does not indicate the Baptism washes away sin but that it operates as "the answer of a good conscience toward God." And it circumcises the "old self" by burying Him with Christ leaving only the "new self" in place thereafter (a new self that came through repentance and faith). So I see baptism playing a "sealing" role (which Peter calls "figurative salvation") and repentance playing a "saving" role. 1 Peter 3:21 tells us that Baptism only "saves us" figuratively (seals the righteousness we already have by faith) through the answer of a good conscience toward God. 

Remission= repentance (Hebrews 6:1) (Hebrews 9:14) (Acts 10:43)
Calling on the Lord= declaring "Jesus is Lord" (Romans 10:9)
Baptism= the answer of a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21), which is by immersion.

The statement "answer of a good conscience toward God" assumes that a good conscience is already present. This good conscience comes through the purging of Jesus' blood through faith (Hebrews 9:14 and Romans 3:25). Scripture teaches Baptism as an "answer/ response" of a good conscience toward God, which means salvation takes place prior to baptism making a good conscience already present in the individual who is getting baptized.

Based upon how the whole of scripture addresses baptism I can conclude that it is absolutely crucial to a Christian's effectiveness in the kingdom, but I cannot conclude that it is the means by which God bestows eternal life upon an individual. Scripture repeatedly teaches that faith in Christ is how one receives eternal life, baptism is repeatedly taught as a "first act of obedience by those who are saved through faith."

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

photo credit: http://www.crosswaybible.org/believers-baptism/

Thursday, April 2, 2015

On what day was Jesus crucified?

Every year as we make our way toward Easter many people wonder what day of the week Jesus actually died on. The reason being is that Jesus said that He would spend three days & three nights in the grave before rising (Matt. 12:40) but we celebrate His crucifixion on Friday and His resurrection on Sunday, which adds up to only 1 and 1/2 days.

People who support the view that says Jesus was crucified on Friday cite Mark 15:42 which says that Jesus was crucified on "the day before the Sabbath," and the Jewish Sabbath has always been on Saturday. But this still leaves the problem of Jesus saying He would spend 3 days and 3 nights in the grave. The key to understanding what day Jesus was crucified on is to understand that "High Holy Days" were considered Sabbath days also.

John 19:31 tells us that Jesus was crucified on the day leading up to Passover which was a "High Holy Day (Sabbath)." Based on the 3 days and 3 nights time table that Jesus gave us we can calculate that Jesus died on Wednesday evening leading into Passover which fell on Thursday that year. This would mean that Jesus was crucified the day before the Sabbath of that year's Passover. He spent Wednesday night Thursday day- Thursday night Friday day- Friday night and Saturday day- in the grave rising on Saturday evening (3 days and 3 nights). Thus, the women who visited the tomb on Sunday morning found the tomb empty.

Scripture further substantiates this timeline in Mark 16:1 which tells us that Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices for Jesus body after the "Sabbath" and then in Luke 23:56 it says that after they returned from preparing the spices they rested on the Sabbath. Therefore, the only way for it to be possible for the women to purchase spices after the Sabbath AND rest on the Sabbath afterward is if there were two Sabbaths that week. The first being the Passover Sabbath on Thursday, the second being the weekly Sabbath on Saturday. So the women would have most likely purchased the spices on Friday.

As you can see this timeline fits very well with the Biblical events which are mentioned surrounding the days during which Jesus was crucified, buried, and risen from the dead. Tradition has dictated that we celebrate the 3 day timeline from Friday to Sunday instead of Wednesday to Sunday. This does not mean that we should disengage in celebrating Easter the way our modern culture does. In the grand scheme of things it makes little difference as to which timeline you subscribe to. I hope this article has shed some light on this perplexing question that many have wondered about. God bless and happy resurrection day!(see below for a chart that illustrates this timeline)



Photo credit: http://www.rapturechrist.com/twosabbaths.htm

Written by: Kyle Bailey, M.Th.

For more inspirational content SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel.

How did Christians respond to Plagues throughout History?

For the video version of this article click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqJevPWIxGU The recent COVID-19 outbreak has br...