Read Exodus 8, Job 25-26, and Hebrews 12. This devotional is about Exodus 8.
In Exodus 7, we read yesterday that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened after Moses did two incredible miracles. Part of his hardening was due to the ability of his sorcerers to do similar miracles to the ones Moses performed. Pharaoh concluded that they had access to as much supernatural power as Moses did.
Something changed in today’s chapter, Exodus 8. Although Pharaoh’s sorcerers were able to make frogs just as Moses and Aaron did (v. 7) there was something about the plague of frogs that affected Pharaoh differently than the previous plagues. We see this in verses 7 and 8 because, even though “the magicians did the same things by their secret arts” (v. 7), yet “Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away….’” (v. 8).
Maybe the plagues were having a cumulative affect but, regardless of why, for the first time in these plagues, Pharaoh looked to the Lord for relief.
He received that relief, too, but to emphasize to Pharaoh that removing the frogs really was an act of God and not a mere coincidence, Moses allowed Pharaoh to choose the time when the frogs would go away (v. 10b).
I don’t know why he said, “tomorrow” (v. 10a); I would have said, “Immediately! ASAP!” But, just as he asked, the frogs all… um… croaked the next day (v. 13). Before the sun went down, however, Pharaoh “hardened his heart” (v. 15b) and would not let God’s people go.
Why exactly did he harden his heart? Verse 15 says it happened, “when Pharaoh saw that there was relief.” In other words, when the pain and consequences of his unbelief subsided, Pharaoh’s desire for God’s mercy subsided as well.
We do this sometimes, too. We suffer because of our sin or just because of foolish choices we make, so we get really serious about our faith. We cry out to God for help earnestly, with tears, maybe.
But, as soon as there is relief, we return to our unbelieving ways. I’ve seen this too many times to count in the lives of people I’ve tried to help. They come to me in pain and in fear, admitting that they’ve neglected the Lord and sinned against him. I pray with them and for them and try to encourage them but as soon as the pressure is off, they return to their routines and show no more interest in walking with God than they did before.
This is a symptom of unbelief. Pharaoh was an unbeliever which is why he responded to God’s work as he did. Unbelievers around us respond to God this way, too. We believers, however, are capable of nearly every sin that unbelievers do, including this one. We treat God like a spare tire, riding unseen and unthought around in the trunk of our lives until we find ourselves in an emergency. We turn to God when we need him, then return him to the trunk when life is back on track again.
Does that describe your walk with God? If so, learn from Pharaoh the difference between true repentance, which makes you want to know and glorify God, and the kind that only looks to God in emergencies. Ask God to give you true repentance and faith and learn to cultivate your faith in bad times and good times.