The Lord God said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:1-3)
I can’t see a loving God hardening someone’s heart! What does this passage mean to you?
It seems that God is playing the two sides against each other—ordering Moses to demand the Israelites’ release and at the same time “harden[ing] Pharaoh’s heart” so that he won’t agree to the demand. (This passage is the first of many references to Pharaoh’s hard heart.)
What it metaphysically suggests to me is that the creative Power we call God is not on one side or another, but in the interplay between the two. God calls us forward on a path of spiritual transformation, leaving behind our enslavement to the distractions of the world. But creation requires an interplay of forces. A little-discussed aspect of the Law of Creation is that whenever we make a creative choice, we first experience the shadow of that which we choose to create. If we are choosing prosperity, for example, we will first experience its opposite, so that the prosperity can be clearly seen in contrast. Our job is to hold firm to our choice through the shadow, so that it can emerge fully expressive. In this case, the Israelites are experiencing an intensification of their slavery—through the hard-heartedness of the Pharaoh—so that the urge to freedom will be all the stronger. Likewise, it’s important for us to know that God is present even in the obstacles that seem to get in our spiritual way. It’s through engaging the obstacles that we create the Good that is our spiritual birthright.