1. THE KING WHO REFUSED TO LISTEN
a. How did God talk to the king of Egypt? Exodus 5:1; 6:10, 11.
“God spoke to the Egyptian king by the mouth of Moses, giving him the most striking evidences of divine power; but the monarch stubbornly refused the light which would have brought him to repentance. God did not send a supernatural power to harden the heart of the rebellious king, but as Pharaoh resisted the truth, the Holy Spirit was withdrawn, and he was left to the darkness and unbelief which he had chosen.”—The Review and Herald, June 20, 1882.
b. Did God expect Pharaoh to listen? Exodus 3:19.
“God speaks to men through His servants, giving cautions and warnings, and rebuking sin. He gives to each an opportunity to correct his errors before they become fixed in the character; but if one refuses to be corrected, divine power does not interpose to counteract the tendency of his own action. He finds it more easy to repeat the same course. He is hardening the heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit. A further rejection of light places him where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding impression.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 268.
2. THE PRICE OF REBELLION
a. What was Pharaoh’s initial response to God? Exodus 5:2.
“The seeds of rebellion that [Pharaoh] sowed when he rejected the first miracle produced their harvest. As he continued to venture on in his own course, going from one degree of stubbornness to another, his heart became more and more hardened, until he was called to look upon the cold, dead faces of the firstborn.”— Ibid., p. 268.
b. How persistent was God in talking to Pharaoh? Exodus 7:15–18; 8:1, 2, 20, 21; 9:1–3; 13; 10:3, 4. Who encouraged Pharaoh to listen to God? Exodus 8:19; 10:7.
“The Lord gave [Pharaoh] evidence of His power by working signs and miracles before him. The great I AM acquainted Pharaoh with His mighty works, showing him that He was the ruler of heaven and earth, but the king chose to defy the God of heaven. He would not consent to break his proud, stubborn heart even before the King of kings, that he might receive the light; for he was determined to have his own way and work out his rebellion. He chose to do his own will and set aside the command of God, and the very evidence given him that Jehovah was above all the gods of the nations, above all the wise men and magicians, only served to blind his mind and harden his heart.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 89.
c. What would God have done if Pharaoh had repented? 2 Peter 3:9.
“Had Pharaoh accepted the evidence of God’s power given in the first plague, he would have been spared all the judgments that followed. But his determined stubbornness called for still greater manifestations of the power of God, and plague followed plague, until at last he was called to look upon the dead face of his own firstborn, and those of his kindred; while the children of Israel, whom he had regarded as slaves, were unharmed by the plagues, untouched by the destroying angel. God made it evident upon whom rested His favor, who were His people.”—Ibid.
3. A WARNING FOR US
a. What warning should we take from Pharaoh’s refusal to listen to God? Hebrews 3:12, 13.
“He who has once yielded to temptation will yield more readily the second time. Every repetition of the sin lessens his power of resistance, blinds his eyes, and stifles conviction. Every seed of indulgence sown will bear fruit. God works no miracle to prevent the harvest. ‘Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Galatians 6:7). He who manifests an infidel hardihood, a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown. It is thus that multitudes come to listen with stoical indifference to the truths that once stirred their very souls. They sowed neglect and resistance to the truth, and such is the harvest which they reap.
“Those who are quieting a guilty conscience with the thought that they can change a course of evil when they choose, that they can trifle with the invitations of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed, take this course at their peril. They think that after casting all their influence on the side of the great rebel, in a moment of utmost extremity, when danger compasses them about, they will change leaders. But this is not so easily done. The experience the education, the discipline of a life of sinful indulgence, has so thoroughly molded the character that they cannot then receive the image of Jesus. . . . Mercy might interpose and give them an opportunity to accept her overtures; but after light has been long rejected and despised, it will be finally withdrawn.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 268, 269.
“One cherished sin will, little by little, debase the character, bringing all its nobler powers into subjection to the evil desire. The removal of one safeguard from the conscience, the indulgence of one evil habit, one neglect of the high claims of duty, breaks down the defenses of the soul and opens the way for Satan to come in and lead us astray.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 114.
b. If we realize we have the spirit of Pharaoh, what must we do? Isaiah 27:5.
“Every provision has been made for our infirmities, every encouragement offered us to come to Christ.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 156.
4. THE RESULTS OF REFUSING TO LISTEN
a. In the end, why did Pharaoh do what God had asked? Exodus 12:30–32.
b. Whom did God intend to benefit by His messages to Pharaoh? Exodus 3:19, 20.
“ ‘For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee My power’ (Exodus 9:16). Not that God had given [Pharaoh] an existence for this purpose, but His providence had overruled events to place him upon the throne at the very time appointed for Israel’s deliverance. Though this haughty tyrant had by his crimes forfeited the mercy of God, yet his life had been preserved that through his stubbornness the Lord might manifest His wonders in the land of Egypt. The disposing of events is of God’s providence. He could have placed upon the throne a more merciful king, who would not have dared to withstand the mighty manifestations of divine power. But in that case the Lord’s purposes would not have been accomplished. His people were permitted to experience the grinding cruelty of the Egyptians, that they might not be deceived concerning the debasing influence of idolatry. In His dealing with Pharaoh, the Lord manifested His hatred of idolatry and His determination to punish cruelty and oppression.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 267, 268.
c. If we are unwilling to listen to God, what can we learn from Pharaoh’s example? Proverbs 1:24–28; Zechariah 7:11, 12; Hebrews 12:25.
“God sent [Pharaoh] a message of warning and mercy, but he refused to acknowledge the God of heaven and would not render obedience to His commands. He asked, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?’ (Exodus 5:2). . . .
“Every additional evidence of the power of God that the Egyptian monarch resisted, carried him on to a stronger and more persistent defiance of God. . . . This case is a clear illustration of the sin against the Holy Ghost. . . . Gradually the Lord withdrew His Spirit. Removing His restraining power, He gave the king into the hands of the worst of all tyrants—self.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 89.
5. THE PROPHET WHO WOULD NOT LISTEN
a. How many times did God try to get Balaam’s attention? Numbers 22:22–27.
b. What prevented Balaam from recognizing God’s message sooner? 2 Peter 2:20, 21. When we are frustrated and believe things aren’t going our way, is God, perhaps, trying to get our attention?
“Balaam was blinded to the heavenly interposition and knew not that God was obstructing his path.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 441, 442.
“A single cherished sin poisoned the entire character [of Balaam] and caused [his] destruction.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 114.
“When one clearly sees a duty, let him not presume to go to God with the prayer that he may be excused from performing it. He should rather, with a humble, submissive spirit, ask for divine strength and wisdom to meet its claims.”—Ibid., p. 113.
“We are apt to look upon men of experience as safe from the allurements of sinful pleasure. But still we often see those whose early life has been exemplary being led away by the fascinations of sin, and sacrificing their God-given manhood for self-gratification. For a time they vacillate between the promptings of principle and their inclination to pursue a forbidden course; but the current of evil finally proves too strong for their good resolutions, as in the case of the once wise and righteous king, Solomon.”—The Health Reformer, June 1, 1878.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How many people does God talk to who are unlikely to listen to Him?
2. In what ways do we defy God like Pharaoh did?
3. What must we do if we have ignored God?
4. How do we harden our heart today against God?
5. What are the similarities and differences between Pharaoh and Balaam?