When YHVH hardened Pharaoh’s heart, did YHVH cause sin to take place? Since we know that defying what YHVH has commanded, decreed, or sanctioned, we have to assume that Pharaoh’s refusal to let Israel go was nothing short of sin. Yet, YHVH cannot be associated with sin. So, how do we reconcile these ideas?
We see in Scripture that the idea of a hard heart is one which the Word and/or the Ruach is not present. Moshe implores Israel to have circumcised hearts, hearts that are set apart for YHVH and filled with the Ruach for the purpose of living properly for YHVH based on a love for Him, not a zeal for doing the rules or out of a sense of perverse obligation. Ezekiel tells us that the same Ruach will remove the hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Seems like a heart of stone is a very hard heart—one that cannot receive the Ruach and has to be chiseled for inscription.
This is in contrast to a heart of flesh that is malleable and ready for the Ruach’s indelible inscription. Like becoming a bondservant receiving an earring, the inscribing of Torah as the Spirit of the Law can be discomforting. Yet, it is this process of revealing YHVH’s desires for us as His counterparts that removes the hardness and readies us for use for Himself. It is this process that replaces stone and replaces it with His Breath and will for His service. or, in this case, is removed.
In the case of Pharaoh, YHVH could not cause sin to take place. He could not be associated with sin, therefore, hardening his heart was not forcing Pharaoh to say “No!” YHVH is a perfect gentleman. He doesn’t force His way upon anyone. He always gives His creation a choice to do right or wrong, to choose life or death.
Without the presence of YHVH, in some way, shape, or form, man is left to his own devices and own understanding. He is completely void of the proper perspective to do right and able to be completely self-serving in every capacity. Man is left in his corruption and able to be consumed by that very same corruption. We see this being revealed to us at Noach’s time.
The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is nothing less than YHVH removing all of himself from Pharaoh’s life so that he would do exactly what corruption does: breed more corruption. Pharaoh was devoid of any aspect of YHVH’s presence. Since we know that YHVH is able to pour out His Ruach upon all flesh (see Joel and Acts) and He did so with Saul when searching for Samuel, then we should understand YHVH had some aspect of His Ruach upon Pharaoh. Israel had been taken in by Egypt, protected and allowed to grow. While did suffer under slavery, it was planned and ordained by YHVH in order to build a nation, for that nation to cry out to their Creator for deliverance, and for deliverance to be granted in the sight of all the nations of the earth. Moreover, YHVH used this to bring about the giving of Truth, not only to Israel but a revelation and gospel foretold to the entire world.
To be hard of heart is to be missing the presence of YHVH. His withdrawal and our rejection accomplish the same thing—we are without Him and working against Him until we repent and yield to His way and His Truth and His Life. We must have His Ruach to have hearts to see and receive His Truth, and all that it shows us, in our lives.