Book Look · Church · Eschatology · Hell · Kingdom of God

Book Look – Heaven’s Doors – Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

In oversimplified terms, universal reconciliation speaks of the eventual redemption of every soul ever created through the work of the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. This teaching does not remove the existence of hell, or the suffering associated with it, but it does challenge it’s never ending duration, and the purpose of the flames.

This series of posts, on the book “Heaven’s Doors” will be my last on the topic of universal reconciliation (not universalism). I am thankful to my Calvinist friend for directing me to this “heresy”. The teaching of universal reconciliation has more Scriptural support than I imagined and is worth considering if you are of an open mind and willing to consider alternate views to expand your understanding of the Word.

Of course if you are convinced you are completely right, without error, and doctrinally pure, this topic would be a waste of your time. Please move on!

This post will address Pharaoh’s Hardened Heart

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” – Romans 9:17

What purpose? Why was Pharaoh raised up? In order to show His power in the King of Egypt, and that God’s name would be exalted in all the earth.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. – Exodus 14:4 ESV

God states His purpose in Exodus 14:14, stating He will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host. What is this glory that God is referring to? Is it that Pharaoh and his entire host of Egypt burns in hell? I suppose, if you are looking for this passage to say that, you might find it, but I am not recognizing anything in the verse regarding an afterlife experience. Yup – I just not seeing where this passage would require Pharaoh to be eternally condemned to conscious torment in hell for ever.

Let me suggest an alternative view for my readers to consider. Per Mr. Sarris’ notes, Pharaoh was hardened in order to allow God to exhibit all the plagues, in order that all might see the varied powers of the King of all Kings.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, – Exodus 10:1

God hardened Pharaohs heart in order to show signs and wonders to the Egyptians. The Egyptians had a multitude of gods and each plague exhibited God’s dominance over the Egyptians gods. He was declaring His power to the Egyptians, and to fully display His power, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to create the conditions for the plagues. Early on, in Exodus 5:2, Pharoah stated

…“Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

The issue is “knowing the Lord”. That is the intent of the plagues, and the plagues were completed due to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. In reality, both the children of Israel and the Egyptians needed to “know the Lord”. The plagues provided an opportunity for the deliverance of God’s people, and for the spreading of the glory of God to all peoples.

But may I ask – Is Pharaoh condemned to hell forever because of the hardening of his heart? The scriptures are clear that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (by both Pharaoh and the Lord), and the implication is two fold.

  • Pharaoh remained in the hardened condition continually.
  • He is going to burn in hell forever.

It seems there may be some assumptions with the first implication. I have not found any place in the Scripture that clearly states the Pharaoh remained in hardness. Of course this argument is one of silence, but consider.

And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.
And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” – Exodus 14:17-18 ESV

Does not the Scripture state that the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD. Could Pharaoh be considered an Egyptian? Might he have recognized the power and glory of the Lord, since this was God’s purpose, and we know that all things that God purposes is accomplished in His good time.

At the very least, the passage in Romans does not define Pharaoh’s afterlife or the extent of any suffering that he may experience.

Hardening

But, let’s think about this hardening. What does that mean?

You may find it curious that Moses used this same term “harden” for another character during his life. He was a young man, a servant to Moses, by the name of Joshua.

Moses commanded Joshua to…

Be strong (same word as “harden” when referring to Pharaoh) and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
Only be strong (same word as “harden” when referring to Pharaoh) and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. – Joshua 1:6-7

Of course I am not implying that Moses was telling Joshua to have a hardened heart towards the Master, but to be resolute, have a backbone, stand up to resistance, and to be firm.

God made Pharaoh resolute in refusing to release the Children of Israel, in order to show His glory to the nations. The length of the hardening of Pharaohs heart is not given to us, and to state that Pharaoh has no chance at redemption by the hand of the Messiah seems to be a stretch too far!

In conclusion, I would like to provide a quote from Mr. Sarris’ book

“God made Pharaohs heart firm so he would not buckle under the immense pressure that would come on him when God’s power was being demonstrated”

What are your thoughts? Do you consider Pharaoh unredeemable? Is there scripture that clearly states Pharaohs after life condition?

It is true that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by his own decisions and by the Lord. Might the Lord also have the power to soften Pharaohs heart, by the exhibition of His power and glory? You be the judge.

Thanks for reading along with my post and if you have a comment, please provide below.


For other books on this same topic, I would refer you to Jesus Undefeated – a 10 part series, and The Inescapable Love of God. One additional book that I have not posted on is by David Artman, Grace Saves All.


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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Follow Considering the Bible on WordPress.com

Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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