At the ladies' bible study I attend every other Monday night, we are studying Exodus. We just finished going through the plagues, the Passover, and the flight from Egypt. We're at the point where the Israelites are being fed manna.
Over the past couple of weeks, the reality that Pharaoh's heart was hardened has come up frequently. There are about thirty of us there, and the reactions are many and varied. The overwhelming majority are uncomfortable with the words "the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart." All through the plagues and then even after he let the people go, God hardens Pharoh's heart. As we read along, we know that the reason God does this is to reveal who He is both to the Egyptians and to the Israelites. Despite the hard-heartedness of Pharaoh, God still delivers. We learn that God is sovereign, even in the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh. He made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and He intends to keep it.
There have been a lot of voices raised in our discussion about how it isn't "fair." Even after we looked at a cross-reference in the New Testament, in Romans 9, there were some who were clearly uncomfortable with the idea that God hardens hearts. One woman even objected to the use of Romans 9 because, she said quite disdainfully that, "People use that to support the idea of predestination." I remained quiet.
I have thought about that evening quite a bit lately, about how we are uncomfortable with God's hardening of the heart of Pharaoh. We want God to be sovereign over everything, but there are some things we are not too certain about. I was thinking that I don't want to worship a God who is more concerned with what is fair than what is "just." The idea of fairness is not fixed on anything. What one sees as fair may differ from what I see as fair. But justice is anchored in the Word of God and in the person of God. There are a lot of lessons we are learning from the example of Moses, but I am learning far more about who God is, and that is really exciting.