Cardiac Arrest

Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country. (Exodus 11:10)

Talk about your heart problems. What do you call this one—Theosclerosis? Coronary malediction? How about an induced myocardial infraction? But for the sake of discussion, let’s overlook the uncomfortable fact that this whole thing is God’s fault. Instead, let’s presume his innocence as we look at the evidence and before we ultimately and inevitably convict him of complicity in the abject destruction of a good share of the natural resources, innocent livestock, and vulnerable citizens of Egypt. Sounds fair to me.

First, for the prosecution:

  • FACT: God’s gripe was not with Egypt but with his pain in the divine neck chosen people, Israel.
  • FACT: God predicted to Abraham, long before Egypt even heard about the Semites, that he would send the children of Israel to Egypt to get their butts whipped. Pharoah did not apply for the job; he was drafted.
  • FACT: God intervened to insure that his beloved people were mistreated by deliberately tinkering with Pharoah’s internal mechanisms. Pharoah didn’t have a prayer.
  • FACT: By his own admission, God used Pharoah for personal gain (ie: glory) even though it meant great loss and humiliation for Pharoah and Egypt.
  • FACT: According to one of his own employees, “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” This is an admission that it is God himself who is responsible for Pharoah’s rejection of Moses’ appeals for Israel’s freedom. Pharoah was only a tool for divine purposes, a beast of burden.
  • POINT: Being God, God can, by definition, do whatever he wants to do. However, he should not hold someone else responsible who cannot do but what God ordains.
  • POINT: According to God’s written testimony, nobody can resist God’s will (unless, of course, it’s his will that he will resist it).
  • The prosecution rests.

Now, for the defense:

  • POINT: God can do whatever he wants to do precisely because he is God.
  • POINT: As the maker of humans, God asserts the right to do whatever he wants with them, whether to reserve them for glory or for destruction—no explanations required.
  • The defense rests.

A rebuttal from the prosecution:

  • If this is so, then any judgment upon humans for their actions is categorically unjust because nobody, including Pharoah, can resist God’s will.
  • If this is so, then God is capricious and, no matter how finessed his divine machinations, he is guilty of the very crimes he punishes others for.
  • Not only does Israel’s deliverance at the expense of Pharoah’s Egypt reveal a God with serious ego issues, it also demolishes the claim that God does not show favoritism.

A response from the defense:

  • Who are you to talk back to God? You who are merely mortal, pathetically finite, and woefully ignorant?
  • As God himself declares: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
  • Besides, since God is good, you must assume that what he did to Pharoah is good, even for Pharaoh.

A final comment from the prosecution:

  • You beg the question. We might ask: Is good “good” because God does it or does God do it because it’s good? You rob Peter to pay Paul. We are not convinced.
  • The clear testimony is that God himself hardened Pharoah’s heart, something God does not deny. This case is decidedly not an exercise of free will, at least not on Pharoah’s part.
  • As much as we are grieved to say it, what Lord Acton writes seems to be true: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
  • Apparently omnipotence, too, has its drawbacks.

A last word from the defense:

  • Tell me about it.
  • Wanna do lunch?
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