27Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28Pray to the LORD! Enough of God’s thunder and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.” 29Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30But as for you and your officials, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” 31(Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. 32But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they are late in coming up.) 33So Moses left Pharaoh, went out of the city, and stretched out his hands to the LORD; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down on the earth. 34But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart, he and his officials. 35So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.
Part of what is typically wrong with the ways that we study the Bible is that we put ourselves in the shoes of the “heroes”.
“Oh, I was just like Daniel in the lion’s den”
“I had to have the patience of Job”
“It was me, little ol’ David, versus Goliath”
We rarely, if ever put ourselves in the shoes of the bad guys. Once in awhile, we’ll draw a parallel between ourselves and Jonah, or the boneheaded disciples, or later life David, but we still end up being the person who is doing the will of God. Part of what I have tried to do with my Lenten devotions is to put myself in the shoes of the “bad guys”, the ones who are clearly not doing what God wants because, let’s be honest, how often am I really doing what God wants? That’s math I’d rather not do.
Here, I can totally identify with Pharaoh. Picture this: you’ve been a jerk. You’ve been warned that if you continue to be a jerk, bad things are going to happen; things that are a direct consequence of your being a jerk. Doesn’t matter. You’re still a jerk. Then, the bad stuff happens and you’re like “oh no, bad stuff! I totally shouldn’t have been a jerk!” Then you stop being a jerk. You even apologize for being a jerk and you swear that you will never return to your jerkish ways. Then the consequences disappear and you’re like “you know what was fun? being a jerk” And the jerkiness resumes.
Guys, that’s me in a nutshell. And if you’re honest, that’s probably you too. The scripture says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. I wonder if his skull might have gotten some thickening too. We can be so dense sometimes. We forget the things that got us in our mess in the first place. We swear we’ll never do that again, but then when the coast is clear, we’re right back to being a dumbass. God, forgive me. So often I don’t even have the creativity to make new mistakes. Forgive me for not learning from my past.