“So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.’” Exodus 4:23 [NASB]
In earlier studies of God’s “I am” (anoki/ani) statements in the Old Testament, we learned God told Abram He is his shield (his Protector and King). He told Abimelech, a non-Hebrew, He knew and restrained him (all-knowing and all-powerful). God told Isaac and Jacob He is faithful to His covenant with their ancestor Abraham; He is loving, Blesser, Protector, Keeper, all-knowing, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, transcendent, Provider, and Restorer. He told Moses He would always be with Him, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is faithful, and deserves worship. In Exodus 3:14-15, God revealed His name for the first time. God told Moses His name is “I AM WHO I AM” (ehyeh asher ehyeh or Hayah or Yahweh). He said He is the self-existent One. God is the eternal God who was, is, and forevermore will be. He is the unchanging, eternal, self-existent One. God continued to speak to Moses in Exodus 4:11-15 by calling him to be His mouthpiece, though Moses felt and expressed his fear of being unable to be His spokesman. He doubted his ability, forgetting God prepares those whom He calls for His service. He reminded Moses He is the all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator who gives people their mouths and makes one able to speak or not. God commanded Moses to go and speak, and He would guide His mouth; He would be His Teacher. Still Moses feared his inability, then God provided a mouthpiece for Moses through his brother Aaron.
The next time God said I AM using anoki or ani was in Exodus 4:23, immediately after He told Moses he would be His mouth and speak to the Israelites. In Exodus 4:21-23, the LORD, Yahweh, told Moses he would perform His wonders before Pharaoh, but He would cause Pharaoh’s heart to harden and not let the Hebrews go. It seems odd that God would cause Pharaoh’s heart to harden against His command to let His people go. Why would God do that? We need to notice, when Moses would speak with Pharaoh, it would be the second time recorded in the Old Testament that God said “I am” to a non-Hebrew. Why is this significant? It shows God is God over all people, not just the Hebrews. He is over all other gods, those that humans create. It shows His care and love for every person. Because God is Creator of all people and things, God cares about everyone and wants them to know (yada) Him and be in a loving, saving relationship with Him. Most importantly, we learn from this passage, God can cause or allow things to happen that seem negative to show His might. He might cause or allow a person to have a hardened heart against Him to show His might over a situation, like the Hebrews’ release when He convinced Pharaoh through the many plagues that He is stronger than him so let His people go. God is greater than any person and created thing.
When a person hardens his/her heart against God that person chooses to be his/her lord over his/her own life. He/she effectively states, “I will do what I want to do no matter what You say, God. Though I hear You, I will ignore You.” Pharaoh considered himself, as his ancestors did, a god of the Egyptians. He felt his word was final, and he was almighty, nothing could go against him. Isn’t that the way we each feel when we choose to do what we want even though we know or sense God prompting us to do something else? In this passage, even before Moses confronted Pharaoh, God told him Pharaoh would say no each time he told him God says, “Let My people go.”
God knew Pharaoh’s heart. He foretold to Moses what would happen. God prepared Moses for Pharaoh’s stubbornness even though He realized it might cause Moses to balk again at speaking to Pharaoh. In this passage, God showed He is all-knowing, faithful, covenant-keeper, all-mighty, and Yahweh. God knows when each of us will be stubborn. He knows us and is prepared to show us Who is Yahweh. God allows us to make our own decisions; that’s free will. Still He doesn’t give up on us but keeps showing Himself to us.
God wants each of us to know and love Him, to be in a saving relationship with Him. He wants us to turn back to Him, to accept His gift of salvation from our sins, and have eternal life with Him. Without God’s saving us from our sins, we would receive the judgment of eternal separation from Him our sins deserve. Every one of us do wrong things in our lives. We each deserve judgment for those sins. God offers us grace from our sins through the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, who died on the cross.
God knows you. He knows about your hardened heart against Him. Still He calls to you telling you He loves you, wants to forgive you, and wants to have an eternal relationship with you. Will you harden your heart to Him and keep being your own god? There’s no future in that path.
Solomon said in Proverbs 28:13-14:
“The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy. Happy is the one who is always reverent (to Yahweh), but the one who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” [HCSB]
The writer of Hebrews implored people in Hebrews 4:7:
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” [HCSB]
Lord God, I know You are real, though I try to ignore that knowledge at times. I choose to do what I want so many times and often those go against Your moral laws. That makes me my own god. Lord, please forgive me for turning my back on You and ignoring You. Forgive me my stubbornness. Lead me to desire a relationship with You and make me aware of Your glory so that I am overwhelmed and realize you truly are Yahweh. Help me to realize I am just a finite, feeble, created human, but You are Almighty Creator and Savior. Amen.