One of the more difficult Biblical themes to understand is the concept of God hardening the hearts and minds of certain human beings. The most memorable case is that of Pharaoh wherein, before sending Moses to him God said he would “harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex 4:21). But there are other instances where biblical texts speak of God as hardening the hearts of sinners, even from among his own people.

What are we to make of texts like these? How can God, who does no evil, be the source of a sinful mind or heart? Why would God do such a thing since he has said elsewhere:

  1. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ez 33:11)
  2. God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4)

To be sure, these questions involve very deep mysteries, mysteries about God’s sovereignty and how it interacts with our freedom, mysteries of time, and mysteries of causality. As a mystery within mysteries, the question of God hardening hearts cannot simply be resolved. Greater minds than I have pondered these things,  and it would be foolish to think that a easy resolution is to be found in a blog post.

But some distinctions can and should be made, and some context supplied. We do not want to understand the “hardening texts” in simplistic ways, or in ways that use one truth to cancel out other important truths that balance it. So please permit only a modest summary of the ancient discussion.

I propose we examine these sorts of texts along four lines:

  1. The Context of Connivance.
  2. The Mystery of Time
  3. The Mystery of Primary Causality
  4. The Necessity of Humility

To begin it is important simply to list a selection of the hardening texts. The following are not the only ones, but they sample them widely enough:

  1. The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. (Ex 4:21)
  2. Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country. (Ex 11:10)
  3. Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. (Is 63:17)
  4. He [God] has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them. (Jesus quoting Isaiah Isaiah 6:9-10, at John 12:40)
  5. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie (2 Thess 2:11)
  6. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another…..Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. (Rom 1:24, 28)

Point I. -  THE CONTEXT OF CONNIVANCE – In properly assessing texts like these we ought first to consider the contexts in which they were made and written. Generally speaking, most all of these declarations that God hardens the heart, come after a significant period of disobedience on the part of those hardened. In a way, God “cements” the deal and gives them fully what they really want. For having hardened their own hearts to God, God determines that their disposition is a permanent one, and in a sovereign exercise of his will, (for nothing can happen without God’s allowance), declares and permits their heart to be hardened in a definitive kind of way. In this sense, there is a judgement of God upon the individual that recognizes their definitive decision against him. Hence, this hardening can be understood as voluntary, on the part of the one hardened, for God hardens in such a way that he uses their own will, whom he hardens, for the executing of his judgment and his acceptance that their will against him is definitive.

A. For example, in the case of Pharaoh, it is true, as the Exodus 4:21 text says above, God indicated to Moses that he would harden Pharaoh’s heart. But the actual working out of this is a bit more complicated than that. We see in the first five plagues, it is Pharaoh who hardens his own heart (Ex. 7:13; 7:22; 8:11; 8:28; & 9:7). It is only after this repeated hardening of his own heart, that the Exodus text shifts, and speaks of God as the one who hardens (Ex 9:12; 9:34; 10:1; 10:20; 10:27). Hence the hardening here is not without Pharaoh’s repeated demonstration of his own hardness, and God, if you will, “cements the deal” as a kind of sovereign judgment on Pharaoh.

B. The Isaiah texts, many in number, that speak of a hardening being visited upon Israel by God, (e.g. #s 3 and 4 above),  are  also the culmination of a long testimony, by the prophet, of Israel’s hardness. At the beginning of the Isaiah’s ministry, Israel’s hardness was described as of their own doing by God who said through Isaiah: For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. (Is 1:2-4). There follows a long list of their crimes, their hardness and their refusal to repent.

1. St. John Chrysostom – of the numerous texts Later in Isaiah (and also referenced by Jesus (e.g. Jn 12:40), that speak of Israel as being hardened by God, and having him shut their eyes, St John Chrysostom says, That the saying of Isaiah might be fulfilled: that here is expressive not of the cause, but of the event. They did not disbelieve because Isaias said they would; but because they would disbelieve, Isaias said they would…. For He does not leave us, except we wish Him….Whereby it is plain that we begin to forsake first, and are the cause of our own perdition. For as it is not the fault of the sun, that it hurts weak eyes, so neither is God to blame for punishing those who do not attend to His words. (on a gloss of Is. 6:9-10 at Jn 12:40, quoted in the Catena Aurea).

2. St Augustine also says, This is not said to be the devil’s doing, but God’s. Yet if any ask why they could not believe, I answer, because they would not…But the Prophet, you say, mentions another cause, not their will; but that God had blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. But I answer, that they well deserved this. For God hardens and blinds a man, by forsaking and not supporting him; and this He makes by a secret sentence, for by an unjust one He cannot (Quoted in the Catena Aurea at Jn 12:40).

C. Of the text of 2 ThessaloniansGod sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie quoted in # 5 above, while the text speaks of God as having sent the delusion, the verse before and after make clear the sinful role of the punished saying: They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved….so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness ( 2 Thess 2:10,12).

1. Of this text, St. Augustine says, From a hidden judgment of God comes perversity of heart, so that the refusal to hear the truth leads to the commission of sin, and this sin is itself a punishment for the preceding sin [of refusing to hear the truth]. (Against Julian 5.3.12).

2. St John Damascus says, [God does this] so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (The Orthodox Faith 4.26).

D. The texts from Romans 1 speak  of God handing them over only after they have suppressed the truth (1:18), persevered in their wickedness (1:18) and preferred lust and idolatry (1:23-24), hence, as a just judgement, he hands them over to sexual confusion (homosexuality) and to countless other destructive drives. So here too, though it is said God hands them over, it is really not that simple. God has, in effect, cemented the deal. They do not want to serve them and so He, knowing their definitive decision, gives them what they want.

E. Thus, our first point of distinction in understanding the “hardening” texts is that the context of connivance is important in assessing them. It is not asserted by Scripture that God takes a reasonably righteous man and, out of the blue, hardens his heart, confuses his mind or causes him, against his will, to become obstinate. The texts are usually presented as a kind of prevenient judgement by God, that the state of the person’s hardness has now become permanent. They refuse and so God cements the deal and “causes” them to walk in their own sinful ways since they have insisted so.

Point II.  – THE MYSTERY OF TIME – In understanding these hardening texts, which we have seen, are akin to judgment texts, we must strive to recall that God does not live in time in the same we do. Scripture speaks often of God’s knowledge and vision of time as being comprehensive, rather than speculative or serial (e.g. Ex 3:14; Ps 90:2-4; Ps 93:2; Is 43:13; Ps 139; 2 Peter 3:8; James 1:17; inter al.).

A. To say that God is eternal and that he lives in eternity is to say that he lives in the fullness of time. For God, past, present and future are all the same. God is not wondering what I will do tomorrow, neither is he waiting for it to happen. For Him, my tomorrow has always been present to Him. All of my days were written in His book before one of them ever came to be (Ps 139:16). Whether, and how long I live, has always been known to him. Before he ever formed me in my mother’s womb he knew me (Jer 1:4). My final destiny is already known and present to him.

B. Hence, when we strive to understand God’s judgments in the form of hardening the hearts of certain people, we must be careful not to think he lives in time like we do. It is not as though God is watching my life like a movie. He already knows the choice I will make. Thus, when God hardens the hearts of some, it is not as though he were merely trying to negatively influence the outcome, and trip certain people up. He already knows the outcome and has always known it, he knows the destiny they have chosen.

C. Now be very careful with this insight, for it is a mystery to us. We cannot really know what it is like to live in eternity, in the fullness of time, where the future is just is present as the past. If you think you know, you really don’t. What is essential for us is that we realize that God does not live in time like we do. If we try too hard to solve the mystery (rather than merely accept and respect it) we risk falling into the denial of human freedom, or double predestination, or other wrong-headed notions that sacrifice one truth for another, rather than to hold them in balance. That God knows what I will do tomorrow, does not destroy my freedom to actually do it. How this all works out is mysterious. But we are free, Scripture teaches this, and God holds us accountable for our choices. Further, even though God knows my destiny already, and yours as well, does not mean that He is revealing anything about that to us, as though we should look for signs and seek to call ourselves saved or lost. We ought to work out our salvation in a reverential fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).

D. The Key point here is mystery. Striving to understand how, why and when God hardens the heart of anyone is caught up in the mysterious fact that he lives outside of time and knows all things before they happen. Thus he acts with comprehensive knowledge of all outcomes.

Point III. – THE MYSTERY OF CAUSALITY - One of the major differences between the ancient and the modern world is that the ancient world was much more comfortable in dealing with something known as primary causality.

A. Up until the Renaissance God was at the center of all things and people instinctively saw the hand of God in everything, even terrible things. Job of old said, The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised….if we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil?” (Job 1:21; 2:10). Thus the ancients would commonly attribute everything as coming from the hand of God, for he was the “first cause” of everything that happened. This is what we mean by primary causality. The ancients were thus more comfortable attributing things to God that we are not. In speaking like this, they were not engaged in a form of superstitious or primitive thinking, but they emphasized that God was sovereign, omnipotent and omnipresent and that nothing happened apart from his sovereign will,  He is the Primary Cause of all that is.

1. Of this ancient and scriptural way of thinking the Catechism says, And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes [e.g. human or natural]. This is not a “primitive mode of speech”, but a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. (CCC # 304)

2. The Key point here is understanding that the ancient Biblical texts while often speaking of God as hardening the hearts of sinners, did not, as we saw above, mean that man had no role, or no responsibility. Neither did it mean that God acted in a merely arbitrary way. Rather, the emphasis was on God’s sovereign power as the first cause of all that is and hence he is often called the cause of all things and his hand is seen in everything.  We moderns are uncomfortable in speaking this way as we shall see.

B. After the Renaissance man moved to the center and God was gradually “escorted” to the periphery. Thus our manner of thinking and speaking began to shift to secondary causes (causes related to man and nature). If something happens we look to natural causes, or in human situations, to the humans who caused it. These are secondary causes however, since I cannot cause something to happen unless God causes me. Yet increasingly the modern mind struggles to maintain a balance between the two mysteries of our freedom, and responsibility and God’s Sovereignty and omnipotence.

C. In effect we have largely thrown primary causality overboard as a category. Even modern believers unconsciously do this and thus exhibit three issues related to this.

1. We fail to maintain the proper balance between two mysteries: God’s Sovereignty and our freedom.

2. We exhibit shock at things like the “hardening texts” of the Bible because we understand them poorly.

3. We try to resolve the shock by favoring one truth over the other. Maybe we just brush aside the ancient biblical texts as a “primitive mode of speech” and say, inappropriately, “God didn’t have anything to do with this or that.” Or we go to the other extreme and become fatalistic, deny human freedom, deny secondary causality (our part)  and accuse God of everything; as if he were the only cause and had the sole blame for everything. Thus, we either read the hardening texts with a clumsy literalism, or dismiss them as misguided notions from an immature, primitive, and pre-scientific age.

D. The point here is that we have to balance the mysteries of primary and secondary causality. We cannot fully understand how they interrelate, but they do. Both mysteries need to be held. The ancients were more sophisticated in holding these mysteries in the proper balance. We are not. We handle causality very clumsily and do not appreciate the distinctions of primary causality (God’s part) and secondary causality (our part, and nature’s too). We try to resolve the mystery rather than hold it in balance and speak to both realities. As such, we are poor interpreters of the “hardening texts.”

Point IV – THE NECESSITY OF HUMILITY - By now it will be seen that we are dealing with a mysterious interrelationship of God and Man, between our freedom and God’s sovereignty, between primary and secondary causality. In the face of such mysteries we have to be very humble. We ought not think more of the details than is proper for us, for, frankly they are largely hidden from us. Too many moderns either dismiss the hardening texts or accept them and sit in harsh judgment over God, as if we could do such a thing. Neither approach bespeaks humility. Consider a shocking but very humbling text where Paul warns us in this very matter:

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” (Romans 9:14-20)

In effect, none of can demand an absolute account of God for what he does. Even if he were to tell us, could our small and worldly minds ever really comprehend it? My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways, says the Lord (Is 55:8).

Summary – In this post, rather too long, we have considered the “hardening texts” where it seems that God is said to harden the hearts of certain people and groups. And so he does. But texts like these must be carefully approached with proper distinctions, appeal to the scriptural and historical context, and deep humility. There are profound mysteries at work here: mysteries of God’s sovereignty, our freedom, his mercy and also his justice.

We ought to careful to admit the limits of our knowledge when it comes to such texts. As the Catechism so beautifully stated, when it comes to texts like these, they are to appreciated as a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. (CCC # 304)

This video says a lot of how many of us in Western Culture hold views of God that are out of balance. Most of the views are partially true, but they end up being false because they are partial and out of balance.

31 Responses

  1. Jason says:

    great article
    we Catholics have the great gift of the Magistarium
    to help us understand revelation and avoid confusion.

    Praised be Jesus Christ now and forever.

  2. sam says:

    You have broached the topics of free-will and grace at least twice now. Why haven’t you mentioned the classical Thomistic argument and explanation for these issues?

    • I am not all knowing and all remembering of everything I was taught. As a pastor more than a theologian I tend to think out of the Biblical text since that is what I work with day in and day out, and those are the resources I have most at hand and in memory. Likewise, most of the people I deal with would have a hard time with all the terminology and premises that the scholastic method often requires. That said, I harbor no problem with the Thomistic school and would be happy if you or others would like to add that argument, which frankly I forget. The brethren over at the New Theological Movement http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/ do a great job in setting forth the Thomistic Tradition and their blog is highly theological, which I suspect may enhance your reading if you have not already discovered it.

      Your question implies some intentional omission or refusal on my part to include the Thomistic argument. If so that would be an incorrect presumption. I would enjoy if you might summarize that argument here. Every blog post I write is the beginning of a discussion. As such I set the table and encourage pot luck additions to complete and round out the discussion.

  3. Matt says:

    I think that God knew the heart of Pharaoh so intimately (as He does with all of us) that he knew Pharaoh would not let the Jews go. Therefore, He could “harden his heart” without contravening Pharaoh’s free will… because they both agreed on that point. I think that if Pharaoh had ever intended to change his mind, God would have let him do that. However, since Pharaoh wasn’t going to change his mind, God used it as an opportunity to demonstrate His glory, for he “works everything to the good for those who love Him.” (Romans 8:28)

  4. d.v. andrews says:

    Would it be outside of a justifiable interpretation to suggest that God hardening hearts makes for a greater hardening than when we as with, some of our older Judeo-Christian brothers from antiquity, are stubborn and stiff-necked as to harden our own hearts? Surely a God hardened heart can serve the purpose to soften any human hardened hearts in the event of a collision. I’m thinking both of the flight from egypt, Jonah and the Ninevites, the Judas and the High Priests and Pontius Pilate, the debate over the Judaizer controversy, And most imprtanpolishing each other’s hearts in the tumbler of a stubborn Peter and an unrelenting Paul.

    Am I beyond context with those thoughts?

    • Well, if I follow you I think there is room for what you say. Namely, that God has other parties in mind too when he hardens the hearts of some. Exodus 11:9 says, The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you–so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” Thus Pharaoh’s hardness leads to God’s glory and God’s glory summons many to faith. Paul also develops this when he says Israel’s hardness means faith for the Gentiles.

  5. Steve says:

    MSGR Pope –
    I have been following your posts for years and have been greatly enriched by them. Thank you for your vocation and your ministry and may God continually bless you and those whom you touch, through you.

  6. Nguyen Thuong Minh says:

    Epistle 228
    My some thoughts about “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope spoke of God and us.
    Msgr. Charles Pope gave us a question “Does God firm human hearts?”.
    Thus, theme of the homily is God, to speak of God and us.
    Secondly, now permit me to discuss some matters to relate to the theme of the homily hereafter:
    First of all, I quite agree with Msgr. Charles Pope on the homily. This is a great homily.
    Priests and Bishops of the Catholic Church dare to speak of God. But I am an ordinary Catholic. I don’t dare to speak of God except to speak to God by my praying to God.

  7. Larry says:

    Great topic. I always thought that the pharaoh believed in some form of God. Knowing this, God had to harden his heart or he would have converted him on the spot ( who wouldn’t be ). Thus god delivered his people from Egypt not the Pharaoh.

    • There is some thought of this in Exodus 11:9 The LORD had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you–so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.”

      Paul also takes up something of this theme in Romans 9:22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory

      It is surely a hard saying though.

  8. Larry says:

    For us mere common men, since God knows all about us as you speak. He knows what we will do before we do it. this way he can help us somehow and influence us toward the right direction, without him having to make the decision for us. I would imagine if he hardened our heart it would be to merely stop influencing us toward the correct things. Since all his previous help was there from the past it is still our decision if we fall/fail. The temptation to do right would still be there.

  9. Richard A says:

    Being social creatures, humans have a natural tendency to conform their own attitudes to that of the prevailing society’s. It’s that thing that is usually given the derisive name of “groupthink”. This is an innate tendency, and is part of the way God made us. In fact, had Adam not fallen, this God-given tendency would be wholly good, since human society would still be totally God-oriented and we would all support each other naturally in knowing and loving God. Perverted by disobedience and sin, we encourage each other, as Pharaoh’s court would have, in doing what is contrary to God and preferring our own wills to His. Add to that other God-given gifts that would help Pharaoh be a natural leader, like a confidence on one’s own judgment, likewise perverted by sin, and you have a perfect recipe for hardness of heart.

    Every time I encounter one of these “hardness of heart” passages, I almost hear an implicit rebuke of God to Adam: “I made you this way, what did you think would happen if you disobey me?”

  10. Father Ryan Erlenbush, NTM says:

    Msgr.,
    I love the reference to primary and secondary causality! This is surely key in understanding the issue (and is very Thomistic as well).

    Fr. Charles Morerod, op (who is the rector of the Angelicum University in Rome and the secretary of the International Theological Commission which is the principal theological advisory board to the Vatican) has written some great stuff about the relation between primary and secondary causality.
    His argument is that almost all the problems which Calvin (and even Luther) had with the relation of Grace and Free Will, and Predestination/Reprobation, came from the fact that they did not understand the Thomistic notion of primary/secondary causality.
    So, I’m very happy to see you include it here in this explanation!

    Fr. Morerod’s book “Ecumenism and Philosophy” would be fairly easy for most of your readers here … pretty much anyone with an interest in philosophy and theology will be enriched by this simple, rather short (only 200 pages), and most delightful book.

    Peace and blessings to you! +

    • Thanks for this reference. I am always trying to learn more about the causality question since it is so important in Scripture. Thanks too, for your good work over at New Theological Movement: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/

      I often think we Catholic Bloggers compliment each other in that we help complete the fuller picture of Catholic teaching. Above I was able to refer a reader to your fine blog who thirsts for more pieces to the picture of Catholic teaching. I am not that well skilled any longer in the finer points of theology but am glad others are.

  11. Chris says:

    I wonder if God “hardening” a persons heart might mean that giving a person strength to hold to their convictions, whatever those might be, rather than forcing decisions on them…?

  12. Regine says:

    God said, he would “harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex 4:21). I do not possess any sophisticated intellectual and scholastic education, but doesn’t this statement, if taken from the culture and mode of expression during Moses’ time, suggest to mean that God will not take away the free will that he has bestowed on man, and that Pharaoh, already had that deep conviction that he would refuse to recognize the God of Moses, and therefore, God had no choice but to allow him to go on with his non-belief? I thought the whole passage was meant for God to give Pharaoh a chance to have a change of heart through the miracles he would perform through Moses. Yet, he already recognizes the obstinacy of Pharaoh’s heart, and knew that he would reject the grace given him. Hence, this presents us an example by which God becomes “limited” by not interfering with man’s free will. So, does God “harden Pharaoh’s heart?” No, God allows us up to this day to choose: heaven or hell?

  13. matt says:

    Fantastic post! Very well explained. Interesting seeing the different lines of thought that have attempted to delve the mystery of God in this aspect. The hardening of the heart by God has always been a difficult phrase for me to comprehend. I loved the explanations. Keep up the excellent job and don’t shy away from the difficult stuff. :-)

    God bless Father.

  14. Nonoy says:

    I see here priest debating with anti-catholic.I say they will not believe the catholic because if they believe they will become a Catholic.I firmerly believed the Catholic Church teaching and interpretation.Keep it up and we pray for you Msgr.also to all our priest.

  15. JB says:

    Msgr. Pope,

    I am very confused. The bible states:

    As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ez 33:11)

    God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4)

    Yet, if God lives in the past, present and future all at the same time, why then would he create human beings that he knows will go to hell? He knows our choices (though garnered through free will of my own being), but he allows my creation anyway? Doesn’t that seem somewhat malevolent? I am going to create a being, know that he is going to make poor decisions and not believe in me and then he is going to die and be forever separated from me. However, I’m going to allow him to be born anyway. This is akin to me allowing a cancerous tumor to persist on my arm and kill me rather than intervening and removing it.

    Can you please clarify?

    JB

    • There is a mystery at the intersection of God’s providence and man’s freedom. At the end of the day Hell exists because of human freedom wherein man mysteriously rejects God’s offer and the values of the Kingdom of God such as forgiveness, love even of one’s enemy, chastity, and so forth. God does not force anyone to accept this.

      As for your concerns about God creating people he knows “ahead of time” are destined to say no, your question presumes God lives in time in the same way you and I do (despite your acknowledgement of aeon). He does not live or think in this way. He lives in eternity, the comprehensive “now” of that place is mysterious to us and we cannot simply describe things as your question does. Neither can we speak extensively on some sort of reality that we have no experience of. So, no explanation is possible other than to say there are many things related to this whereof we know not. God said, in effect to Job, If you can tell me how I did everything I did in make all this, then I will tell you the answers you seek. But if you cannot even understand these lesser matters, how will you comprehend greater ones.

    • David Nix says:

      This whole “God allows bad things to happen?” “If someone is for sure going to hell then why even create that person?”…they are age old question and I have realized that it is ONLY because God sees the best of us…ALWAYS. He has an intense unwavering faith in us that we obviously can’t understand because we end up questioning Him for that same reason. When we do something outside of His will and we end up on the path to destruction, He stays and watches because He knows we need to feel what death row feels like in order to make the right choice and submit to Him. (Sadly, some of us are still too stubborn and prideful) But God doesn’t just save someone just because they need it (He’s not an insecure codependent) He saves us because we make a choice to want what we need. Our desires finally aligning up with His is the absolute best thing for us…and it is always OUR choice to make, because there would be no victory in it for us without choice, and God is GOOD!

    • David Nix says:

      Ask God how longsuffering feels, then you’ll understand what He goes through every time Jesus isn’t enough for someone

  16. David Nix says:

    This is a great topic so im throwing my two cents in, even tho this was written two years ago. If God can use Satan for good without him even realizing it, then he can definitely harden someone’s heart for a good reason. I understand the hardening of the heart is meant as a way of describing the seduction of sin, but the Pharoah passage is a little different. The hardening of the heart is a natural human response of an arogant (THE MAN THOUGHT HE WAS A GOD) person when faced with the awesome wonders of the true God, and of course God took credit for doing that when He said “i will harden Pharoahs heart so that he will not let my people go” because He designed the heart. He set up those natural responses in our hearts FOR US because He knows that people just flat out ignore Him sometimes. Have you ever in your life just flat out told God “No, I am in charge”? I know i have. Alliteration aside, having a hardened heart HURTS! It is impossible to ignore without slowly self destructing….or coming back to Him with repentance (everybody gets to choose) Besides all that, God can change that phrase however much He wants, He could harden (protect) my heart FROM sin (like the armor in Ephesians) He could harden my heart like I could harden (strengthen) a muscle. The bible is HIS word…never interpret it without Him :)

  17. Anthony Percifull says:

    Why would God create a person whom he knows will choose hell. Perhap to help populate heaven. Who’s to say the person who is in hell doesn’t have children in heaven? Perhaps the person who is in hell actually helped someone to heaven. Only God knows.

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