“The Lord strengthened (Hebrew hazaq) the heart of Pharaoh.” EX 15:8 Exodus mentions 15 times that God made Pharaoh’s heart firm hazaq) against letting His people go in today’s first reading! The Old Testament refers to the heart no fewer than 854 times by the Hebrew terms lēḇ and lēḇāḇ. If you add the New Testament use of the heart kordia 157 times, it comes to an impressive 1,009 times. Our Dear Lord is so very interested in our hearts!
God seems to help Pharaoh’s heart to be dead set against letting the Jewish people go. It all seems rather mysterious as God’s will and Providence are working against each other! It always seems so to our little minds and hearts. It would be a lot easier in our opinion if God made Pharaoh’s heart open to letting the Jews leave that land of darkness without all that trouble. But God had a plan.
As the account in Exodus continues the Lord gives us a strong clue of this perplexing mystery of His will. “But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.”
At the crises of being trapped between the Egyptian army on one side and the Sea on the other, God tells them first of all: “No fear”! The Scriptures tell us this 58 times! “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” EX 14: 13 God is the Great Micromanager of all our life. “What do we have to fear if we live in the arms of a loving God?” St Paul of Cross
It is so hard for us to believe that God does nothing but love us. It is true that our sins punish us terribly. But the Scriptures tell us: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save us from our sins!” Mt 1:21 I think God’s plan was to give the Jews of old and ourselves an opportunity to grow in our trust in the Lord’s wonderful love for us! Underestimating His love for us is the biggest mistake of our life!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.