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From Eternity Past

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    Pharaoh Hardens His Heart

    Pharaoh now offered the Israelites permission to sacrifice in Egypt, but they refused. “It is not meet,” said Moses. “Lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?” The animals which the Hebrews would be required to sacrifice were among those regarded as sacred by the Egyptians. To slay one even accidentally was a crime punishable with death.EP 182.4

    Moses again proposed to go three days’ journey into the wilderness. The monarch consented and begged the servants of God to entreat that the plague might be removed. They promised to do this but warned him against dealing deceitfully with them. The plague was stayed, but the king's heart had become hardened by persistent rebellion, and he still refused to yield.EP 182.5

    A more terrible stroke followed—murrain upon all the Egyptian cattle. Both the sacred animals and the beasts of burden—kine and oxen and sheep, horses and camels and asses—were destroyed. It had been distinctly stated that the Hebrews were to be exempt; and Pharaoh, on sending messengers to the home of the Israelites, proved the truth of this. “Of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.” Still the king was obstinate.EP 183.1

    Moses was next directed to take ashes of the furnace and “sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.” The fine particles spread over the land of Egypt, and wherever they settled, produced boils “breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.” The priests and magicians had encouraged Pharaoh in his stubbornness, but now a judgment had reached even them. Smitten with a loathsome and painful disease, they were no longer able to contend against the God of Israel. The magicians were not able to protect even their own persons.EP 183.2

    Still the heart of Pharaoh grew harder. And now the Lord sent a message to him, “I will at this time send all My plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like Me in all the earth... . And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power.” God's providence had overruled events to place him upon the throne at the very time appointed for Israel's deliverance.EP 183.3

    Though this haughty tyrant had forfeited the mercy of God, his life had been preserved that through his stubbornness the Lord might manifest His wonders in Egypt. God's people were permitted to experience the grinding cruelty of the Egyptians, that they might not be deceived concerning the debasing influence of idolatry. In His dealing with Pharaoh, the Lord manifested His hatred of idolatry and His determination to punish cruelty and oppression.EP 183.4

    God had declared concerning Pharaoh, “I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.” Exodus 4:21. There was no exercise of supernatural power to harden the heart of the king, but the seeds of rebellion that he sowed when he rejected the first miracle produced their harvest. As he continued to venture from one degree of stubbornness to another, his heart became more and more hardened, until he was called to look upon the cold, dead faces of the firstborn.EP 184.1

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