Monday, September 19, 2011
The Reprobation of Pharaoh and the Comfort of Election
"The LORD said to Moses, 'Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.'"
We all know the story: Israel had taken refuge in Egypt during a time of famine in Palestine. God prospered them there, in spite of their oppression by the Egyptians. At this point in Exodus, it has come time for Moses to lead them to liberation in the promised land, but the Egyptians feared the loss of their labor force.
As we see in the verse above, God gave comfort to His people with a promise that He would overrule the opposition of Pharaoh, such that Pharaoh would actually be glad to set them free. However, He also has an eye to His own glory, and He chooses to harden Pharaoh, so that His hand will be made visible in the liberation.
Notice Exodus 7:3-5, "But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply My miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay My hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out My divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it." We see here the biblical Calvinist doctrine of reprobation, God's choice to reject, in advance, an unbeliever for the purposes of His own justice and glory. The reprobation of Pharaoh is seen again in Exodus 9:12.
Why has God done this to Pharaoh? We do not need to guess, for He gives the explanation Himself. Exodus 9:16 tells us, "for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you My power, so that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth." God's first inspiration in all things is to promote His own glory. That is why Arminians hate the doctrine of reprobation. They want God's purpose to be to serve us. They hate it that He refuses to adopt their agenda! But His response is seen in Isaiah 42:8, "I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other..."