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, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”
So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country, and they shall cover the face of the land, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you after the hail, and they shall eat every tree of yours that grows in the field, and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants and of all the Egyptians, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’” Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh.
Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the LORD your God. But which ones are to go?” Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the LORD.” But he said to them, “The LORD be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. No! Go, the men among you, and serve the LORD, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.” So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts. The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again. They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.” So he went out from Pharaoh and pleaded with the LORD. And the LORD turned the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go. (Exodus 10:1-20 ESV)
Up to this point the emphasis has been on Pharaoh coming to know who Yahweh is. But now Yahweh tells Moses that He has hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that the full expression of His power and rescue might be known to Israel and the next generations of Israel. Pharaoh is still in sight, of course, and Moses challenges him to humble himself before Yahweh. Even Pharaoh’s advisors are urging him to let the “men” go and worship Yahweh, and Pharaoh seizes on this to try to limit Moses’ request for all the people to go into the wilderness to worship.
But when the locust plague comes, like God using a giant leaf-blower, wrangling all the locusts into one location, Egypt, Pharaoh’s tune changes and he begs Moses to end the plague with a promise of letting the people go. But once the danger is gone, he recants his promise. God has hardened his heart. And God is surely also preventing Pharaoh from doing what we might expect such a powerful ruler to do, command his servants to slay Moses and Aaron. Perhaps it is just enough fear of Moses as a holy man whose death could incur the wrath of his god that keeps Pharaoh from ridding himself of this snare of a man.
God does not always protect His servants in this way, as the martyrdom of many of His children can attest, even that of His own Son. But as Jesus taught us, we are not to fear him who is able to destroy the body, but Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28).
My lawn in Texas was true to the Texas tradition in that it had the biggest weeds in the country. One, which had grown to over 4 ft. tall, was sure to be a tough one to uproot. To my surprise, the root was extremely small, just barely dug in to the earth. There are many whose appearance, good or bad, betray but a shallow root, whose outward show is due to reveal no solidarity.
Not so God’s showiness. His showiness is the Alps, Yosemite, the ocean, and the surest foundation of His judgment, which shows off His justice.