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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Challenging Theology.

I'm in an interesting place in my life. I'm enjoying trying to really figure out what I believe. But I think what I am really trying to do is figure out God. I've got to get over the fact that I can not figure him out. But I still relish tough questions and the conversations that happen because of them.

I have yet to propose any of my questions online because I don't know who is reading this, and I don't want to mess with anyone's head. Mine is messy enough as it is. But I started reading Exodus again today. Inspired by the fact that 'The Prince of Egypt' was on tv today and Haley was asking me all kinds of questions. (P.S....try explaining the plagues to a 4 year old...not the easiest thing to do.)

But in my reading I was reminded of a question that a new believer asked me years ago... "Why did God harden Pharoah's heart?"
He (God) says that 10 times...here is one of the references:

But I will harden Pharoah's heart and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Exodus 7:3-4

Okay Bible Scholars...new believers...seekers...whoever you are. Weigh in on this and let me know what you think.

18 comments:

Jon in HB said...

I think God wanted the Egyptians to know that it was God that would release them from bondage not Pharaoh. If Pharaoh would have said, "sure, whatever, you guys can get out of here now." He would have been the one to let them go and it would of been because of his power. The Israelites could have began to worship Pharaoh and not God. I think 7:5 explains his intentions.

Diane Davis said...

Yeah, there is a TON i don't get but this is one of the biggies for me that i often come back to. Since God is the one who hardened his heart pride set in and a lot of people lost their lives. I don't get it.

VikingMom said...

I'm in Jon's camp on this one. The Israelites were easily misled people. God had to show them that it was his power and not Pharoah's.

I'm glad you're having deep thoughts right now Kristi. My only thoughts are of getting some Zzzzz. Shallow, I know.

kidminkurt said...

Here's something to think about...
The literal translation of Exodus 7:2-3 reads "Thou dost speak all I command thee, and Aaron thy brother doth speak unto Pharaoh and he hath sent the sons of Israel out of his land.
And I harden the heart of Pharaoh (present infinitive tense)
and have multiplied my signs and wonders (past tense).
The present infinitive tense of the phrase "I harden the heart of Pharaoh" could be understood to mean "This is the effect that my signs and wonders have on Pharaoh. They don't sway him. They just harden him."
Imagine that I am trying to make Heidi laugh and have fun when she is in a bad mood. Then I say, "I made funny faces and brilliant jokes, but I annoy Heidi". Later I say, "I have annoyed Heidi." You would understand that my intention was not to annoy Heidi, but that was the end result. In the same way Pharaoh's hardened heart was his own reaction to God's signs and wonders. If you look at Young's Literal Translation you will see this recurring each time Pharaoh's heart is hardened. It is a reaction to God's wondrous signs. This also reconciles the fact that Exodus also says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Who is doing the hardening? God or Pharaoh? These ideas only jive when it is understood that this Hardening was Pharaoh's response to God's actions.
This is an example of how non-literal translations that are designed to make God's word more palatable to our language can end up confusing us in the long run.
anyways - that's my take

Heidi said...

I taught him to say all that.

Jon in HB said...

Dude, I thought Kurt just ran around with a guitar and sang Veggie Tale songs. That was deep man.

All kidding aside. I always wonder about literal translations when people get hung up on the semantics of a particular passage. What resource and/or translation do you use to look up literal translations?

discomommy said...

You guys are clearly way beyond me! I am still trying to figure out how wee little Zaccheaus could climb that big tree.

I have reconciled that I will NEVER understand God. It is a gift I get in Heaven to have my questions answered. If I cannot understand something like the mechanical operations of my car, which can be explained in details and undisputable facts, How can I ever understand what God has intended with everything. I am Ok with the fact that I was designed to understand some things, and not others. I believe that our individual designs allow us to stimulate each other and help each other understand some of it. I cannot however ever understand it all. Can't wait to get there so I can have all my answers.

kidminkurt said...

Jon - biblegaeway.com has lots of translations. you pick a verse, then you can choose a translation. Young's Literal is one of my favorites. Gotta go! Larry the Cucumber is on TV!

Jon in HB said...

Kurt, I love biblegateway.com. I've just never checked out Young's. Thanks for the tip. Can you work 'His Cheeseburger' in to your next set? It's one of my favs.

Don said...

Wow. I just flashbacked to the cafeteria at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where all these Divinity Students would sit around and talk deep theology between mouthfuls of beanie-weenies and nacho chips.

Don said...

I always liked beanie-weenies. Seriously.

I also liked those discussions at SBTS. Bravo! May it continue here!

Kurt said...

now you gotta bring beanie-weenies to the potluck

Heidi said...

For the love of all that is holy would you all please STOP using the word wee-nee!

Diane Davis said...

I laughed out loud at Gina's comment. How did that little man get up the tree? Love it.

Good stuff on here from Kurt (via Heidi) and others. I still struggle with how one man hardened his heart and generations of people were killed in the process. Was it the people's fault that they lived under an oppressive ruler and a by-product was their sons died? Where is justice in God's power when the end result is so much death and destruction? The same holds true today. Yesterday in church they prayed for many places in the world and I did have the thought... where is God in genocide? I know there are no easy answers to this, but the passage Krisi mentions is one I've always been confused about. Sorry to hijack this (hopefully I didn't) but I have similar questions.

The Craftypigs said...

I agree with kidminkurt - which by the way, if you don't really look at it and say it fast it will come out "kid in a mini skirt" but I digress.

My first thought KT is God is pleased that you are trying to figure Him out. It's just another way of "getting to know Him" and it is his desire, for us to "know" Him.

My second thought is, the we are just like the Israelites. We are stubborn, boastful, needy, pathetic, easily led astray, impatient, and when we're not flat on our back, illusory self-reliant. If God had not gone to the lengths He did to get them out of Egypt, they would've quickly forgotten and given credit to Moses or even Pharoah. Instead, Moses suffered great complaints as he took the mass of titty-babies across the desert. God had to remind them 8 times that He is God and they are not. This included Moses. And like good kids, they finally get it, and create the tradition of Passover to remember the time when God reminded them of His ultimate Power and Providence over their lives.

The lesson here to remember is that we too have hardened hearts at times no matter what God does to get our attention. It is a lesson in "what not to do". For the lesson for Pharoah in the end, is you don't mess with God....EVER! But that's just my thoughts.

Chris said...

Ok, ready? Here's the answer:

I don't know.

Just like I don't know why God allowed Satan to rebel, and just like I don't know why God killed that couple in Acts. No clue. Just keeping it real here.

This story, however, is a good example of why it took me so long to come to the conclusions I have come to, theologically speaking. If I truly believe that God is sovereign, with nothing falling outside his government, then I must believe that he causes seemingly bad things to happen. And I don't want to believe that. In fact, my desire not to believe that is at times stronger than my desire for the truth.

Kristi said...

16 comments. I'm impressed. Not that I thought any of my friends were shallow...I just assumed we'd rather discuss potlucks and the correct terminology one should use when passing gas. :o)

Thanks for your thoughts. I don't have an answer either, but i like listening to what you all had to say...Not sure that there are answers to be had. But isn't it interesting how so many of interpret things differently.

I don't think I get hung up on semantics. I am just want to understand everything to the best of my knowledge so that I have answers to give when my friends ask me these tough questions. Saying stuff like "you can't figure out God and you just have to believe" doesn't work for everyone. Having faith for me was easy. For others, it is much more difficult.

Don said...

Believe it or not, I think last night's episode of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES really dovetails with this post and comments. (I apologize if you didn't see the show.) Especially your last comment, Kristi. There may not always be 100% satisfactory answers to the tough questions about God, but it's imperative that we ask the questions. Besides, He wants us to.