Graciously, God has given us free will. God has free will, and thus we also have free will for we are made in God’s image.
[Genesis 1:26] Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”
God blessed humanity with free will. Those who stand against Christianity on the other hand, deny God’s gracious gift of free will even existing, thereby love to point out how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in the Book of Exodus in his decisions, forced him to besiege Israel, even though he was not going to do so himself. Based on this, they conclude there is no free will. Inside the Holy Bible, the following verse are what give rise to such charges against God.
[Exodus 10:16-20] Pharaoh urgently sent for Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against Yahweh your God and against you. Please forgive my sin once more and make an appeal to Yahweh your God, so that He will take this death away from me.” Moses left Pharaoh’s presence and appealed to the Lord. Then the Lord changed the wind to a strong west wind, and it carried off the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the Israelites go.
Truly, can one not see? Pharaoh wanted to repent to the Lord, Yahweh, but the Lord ended up hardening his heart, forcing him to continue his pursuit of the Israelite’s. Do such verses cast doubt on free will? Some say so. For how can there be free will if God forces humans to do things they otherwise would not have done? In fact, God does this more than once to Pharaoh…
Exodus 14:8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out triumphantly.
Verily, in order to understand this, we must investigate the Book of Exodus in its entirety and not only a few verses, because I tell you, the charges are false. Let us all bear witness to the following verse from the Holy Bible…
Exodus 7:22: But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their occult practices. So Pharaoh’s heart hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Interesting, is it not? “Pharaoh’s heart hardened”, Pharaoh hardens his own heart in this passage because this time God has nothing to do with it. The solution became clear to me from here on out during my investigation and study of these passages, and it has to do with a pattern in the Biblical narrative of the Book of Exodus, involving Pharaoh and his pursuit of Moses and the Israelite’s. The discovery of this pattern makes it clear to understand how this is not a problem with free will at all, and I will now show it for you all. It is important to note something. The verses where Pharaoh hardens his own heart include Exodus 7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19, 8:32, 9:7, 9:34, 9:35. On the other hand, the verses in the Holy Bible where Pharaoh hardens his own heart include Exodus 9:12, 10:1, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, 14:8. Do you notice something? Entirely, with the exception of Exodus 9:12, the narrative of when Pharaoh hardens his own heart COMPLETELY PREDATES when God starts hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Somewhere in Exodus 9, the narrative suddenly shifts from who is doing the hardening. What does this mean?
Very simple. Pastor Greg Laurie has recently pointed out that a better translation of the word ‘hardened’ could be ‘strengthened’, so in these verses God would be strengthening Pharaoh’s heart, in other words, he would be strengthening the decisions that Pharaoh has chosen to make. When Pharaoh was hardening his heart, he was of himself denying God. This is why very soon after Pharaoh continued doing this, God starts to begin hardening his heart instead of Pharaoh hardening his own heart, deciding that He shall make Pharaoh go through with his own decisions. Never did God make Pharaoh do something he otherwise would not have, God knew that Pharaoh was going to continue denying Him and besieging the Israelite’s, and so God strengthened Pharaoh’s heart and his decisions to do what he was already going to do. Thus, God did not take away Pharaoh’s free will, for Pharaoh was never going to stop besieging the Israelite’s in the first place. In fact, we see that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart after Pharaoh already has decided to persecute and besiege the Israelite’s and Moses.
Exodus 14:5-8: When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about the people and said: “What have we done? We have released Israel from serving us.” So he got his chariot ready and took his troops with him; he took 600 of the best chariots and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, with officers in each one. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out triumphantly.
In Exodus 10:16-20, Pharaoh had already decided not to let Israel go and continue besieging and persecuting Israel, even before God hardened his heart. God then strengthens Pharaoh’s decision to besiege Israel. Thus, God never took away Pharaoh’s free will, God simply strengthened Pharaoh’s decision in what he was already going to do. God has graciously given us free will.