Could God have been to blame for the destruction and carnage which brought Egypt to her knees during the Israelite captivity? The Bible says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and sent the ten plagues upon the nation of Egypt. Critics of Christianity point to this as support for their cynicism. If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as the Bible says, and then He punished him for this, then God would be guilty of cruel injustice because Pharaoh and his people had no say in the matter — they suffered great losses without a cause.

Some Calvinist Christians have attempted to answer these critics by saying, “Man has no right to question God, for God can do whatever He chooses.” This statement is true, but it is the wrong answer to the question because it offers an excuse rather than an explanation. The fact is, when the Bible says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it uses a common figure of speech. This figure of speech attributes the outcome of an action to a person who influenced it, even though the person did not perform the action. (i.e. – John 4:1 says Jesus baptized people. Verse 2 explains it was not Jesus who performed the baptisms, but His disciples.) Therefore, the best explanation for God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is He provided the circumstances which revealed what was already in Pharaoh’s heart. God saw his stubbornness and anticipated his response, using it to accomplish His plan — and He did this without tampering with Pharaoh’s free will. In the final analysis, God is vindicated of any injustice, and the Bible is clear of contradiction.

So who is really behind our choices? We are. God knows beforehand and may influence our decisions, but we have complete freedom to choose as we please. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the consequences of our poor choices. For this reason, a wise Christian will pray about each decision he or she makes. Because God knows our hearts, it is best to involve Him in our choices — before we make them.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.