“But I will harden his (Pharaoh’s) heart so that he will not let the people go.” (Exodus 4:21)
In God’s first conversation with Moses, He identified Himself as the God of his fathers, assuring Moses that His covenant with His people was still in effect. God saw their oppression in Egypt, knew their sorrows and heard their cry. Now the time had come to release them from their bondage and head towards the land flowing with milk and honey that He had promised Abram centuries earlier (Genesis 12:7; 15:12-21).
Among all the wonderful promises of deliverance that God gave Moses, there was a warning that wasn’t so encouraging; in fact, it was discouraging! …yet it was part of God’s plan. God said “But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go…I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go…and I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…Pharaoh will not heed you…” (Exodus 3:19; 4:21; 7:3,4) Just as God warned, when Pharaoh was presented with the request to let God’s people go, his heart was hardened. He increased the workload of the already-suffering Hebrew slaves and they were savagely beaten. When the officials went in to Pharaoh and he didn’t let up, they met with Moses and Aaron to vent. Moses, in turn, went straight to the Lord with his complaint: “Why…why?…You didn’t make good on Your promise. You didn’t deliver Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23) Caught up in this difficult situation, it was hard for Moses to remember a few truths. Here are some truths that Moses did not remember.
1. God had a plan. His plan was to deliver His people.
2. God would keep His promise (Genesis 12:7)
3. God warned Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart.
While all that was true, at this point God assured Moses: “Now you shall see what I do to Pharaoh…I AM THE LORD” (6:1,2) God proceeded to reassure Moses with a series of “I WILL” promises:
• I WILL bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
• I WILL rescue you from their bondage.
• I WILL redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
• I WILL take you as My people.
• I WILL be your God.
• I WILL bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
• I WILL give it to you as a heritage.
God started and ended the conversation with “I AM THE LORD.” (Exodus 6:6-8) Things would get worse before they got better, but GOD was still the “I AM”, and He nestled a series of “I WILL!” promises between two “I AM” declarations to remind Moses Who the Promise Giver was.
God has a plan for our lives, too that He will fulfill. That plan is to take us to that place He’s preparing for us. (John 14:2) We also have a warning we must not forget. Jesus said that it would get worse before it gets better: “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) Unfortunately, when things get tough for us, like Moses, we forget that warning; we get discouraged and whine “Why?…why?…” That is when we need to hold on to the “I WILL” promises of the Great I AM who assured us that He will be with us every day until our final breath. One day we’ll look back and say, “Yes, it did get worse before it got better…but God – the Great “I AM” – was with me even in the worst situation, and He kept every “I WILL” that he promised!”