AND the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
THEN Peter began to speak: I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
It’s a problem that bothers a lot of people.
Was it fair of God to harden Pharaoh’s heart? Did Pharaoh have no choice in the matter?
Bishop Hierotheos Vlachos passes onto us a very helpful solution from the Orthodox tradition.
GOD said to Moses: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Ex. 33, 19).
The Apostle Paul, citing this Old Testament passage, concludes: “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills, He hardens” (Rom. 9, 18).
It needs to be interpreted in Orthodox terms.
How does God want to have mercy on one and want to harden another? Is there favouritism in God?
According to the interpretation of Theophylactus of Bulgaria, this is connected with the nature of man and not with God’s action.
St. Theophylactus says: “Just as the sun softens the wax candle but hardens clay, not arbitrarily but because of the different materials of the wax candle and the clay: so also God is said to harden the clay heart of the Pharaoh”.
Therefore the grace of God, that is to say His love, which will radiate to all, will work according to a man’s spiritual condition.
From “Life After Death”, Chapter 6 (Source).
WHY hast thou caused us to err, O Lord, from thy way? and has hardened our hearts, that we should not fear thee?
Return for thy servants’ sake, for the sake of the tribes of thine inheritance, that we may inherit a small part of thy holy mountain.
We are become as at the beginning, when thou didst not rule over us, and thy name was not called upon us.
IF thou wouldest open the heaven, trembling will take hold upon the mountains from thee, and they shall melt, as wax melts before the fire; and fire shall burn up the enemies, and thy name shall be manifest among the adversaries: at thy presence the nations shall be troubled, whenever thou shalt work gloriously; trembling from thee shall take hold upon the mountains.
From of old we have not heard, neither have our eyes seen a God beside thee, and thy works which thou wilt perform to them that wait for mercy.
For these blessings shall happen to them that work righteousness, and they shall remember thy ways