Did God Override Pharaoh’s Free Will By Hardening His Heart And Then Punish Him For It?

The events in Exodus chapter 8 revolving around the Pharaoh of Egypt and his interaction with God through Moses have roused many a Bible skeptic to revulsion and anger at the thought of such a seemingly unjust and cruel God. Truthfully, it’s not only Bible skeptics that take issue with this story. Former Christian Kendall Hobbs cites the story of Pharaoh in a list of alleged “atrocities committed by God” in the article, “Why I Am No Longer a Christian.” Hobbs writes, “…the Exodus story when the Egyptian Pharaoh was repeatedly ready and willing to let Moses and his people go, until God hardened his heart, and then God punished him for his hardened heart by sending plagues or killing children throughout all of Egypt.” Some self-professed Christians share Hobbs view, leading them to see a stark contrast between the “wrathful God of the Old Testament” and the “loving God of the New Testament.”

This is a blatantly unbiblical view as there are many verses throughout the Bible proclaiming that God does not change. Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” I believe asking ourselves a series of questions can be helpful in reconciling these events.

Is differing verb usage between the Hebrew and Greek languages and modern English important to this story?

As readers of the Bible, we should be aware that not all words and figures of speech recorded in the Bible come across perfectly as expressed in our modern usage. Bible translators usually do a good job of taking care of this when translating our modern Bibles. E.W. Bullinger was a biblical scholar and theologian of the late 1800’s/early 1900’s who engaged in in- depth studies of biblical figures of speech. Dave Miller and Kyle Butts discuss his work in their article for Apologetics Press, “Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?.” Miller and Butts include the following example from Bullinger’s work,“To illustrate, in discussing the Israelites, Deuteronomy 28:68 states: ‘Ye shall be sold (ie, put up for sale) unto your enemies…and no man shall buy you.’ The translators of the New King James Version recognized the idiom and rendered the verse, ‘you shall be offered for sale.’ The text clearly indicated that they would not be sold, because their would be no buyer, yet the Hebrew active verb for ‘sold’ was used.”(There are multiple examples of this figure of speech. To read about more visit the link above to the article written by Dave Miller and Kyle Butts.)

Miller and Butts continue,“…Bullinger’s fourth list of idiomatic verbs deals with active verbs that ‘were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent said to do.’ (p. 823, emp in orig.)” Bullinger actually uses the example of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart to illustrate the biblical application of an active verb being used to express permission being given. Miller and Butts write, “When the text says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it means that God would permit or allow Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.”

Did God change Pharaoh’s heart?

An important question to ask is this, “Did God change Pharaoh’s inherent nature in order to set this series of events in motion?” The answer is, absolutely not. There is nothing in the recorded history that would reflect that Pharaoh was sympathetic toward the Hebrews at any point prior to his interaction with Moses. In fact, the situation is just the opposite. David Guzik does an excellent job of putting this into perspective in his Exodus sermon series. He reminds us that Pharaoh was not sitting on his thrown all day thinking of ways he could improve the lives of the Israelites. Instead, he oppressed them terribly. They were forced to perform hard labor as slaves, were mistreated, and beaten.

The fact is, the Hebrews had become so numerous that the Egyptian Pharaohs had perceived them as a potential threat for years. A threat they had already unsuccessfully attempted to diminish by (a) enslaving them (Exodus 1:11-14); (b) demanding that Hebrew midwives kill all Hebrew male babies as they were born (Exodus 1:15-21); and (c) commanding all of his people to kill Hebrew baby boys by throwing them into the Nile River (Exodus 1:22- 2:10).

The Pharaoh that Moses interacted with was no different. Exodus chapter 5 explains that, calling them “lazy,” Pharaoh increased the Israelites’ work load by requiring them to collect the straw used to make bricks (their overseers had formerly provided this to the Israelites) without lowering their daily brick quotas in an attempt to overwork them to the point that they would be too exhausted to listen to what Moses and Aaron had to say.

Pharaoh’s heart was hard before Moses ever darkened his palace door. Loren gives the perfect analogy, writing for Answers From the Book, “When wet concrete is poured into a mold to form a sidewalk, it remains concrete both before and after it hardens. It doesn’t change into something entirely different.”

What does the Bible say about who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?

Now that we have established that Pharaoh had a “heart problem” long before Moses entered the scene, let’s discuss what the Bible actually says about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Walter Kaiser, President Emeritus and Colman M. Mockler Distinguished Professor of Old Testament of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary writes, “In all there are ten places where ‘hardening’ of Pharaoh is ascribed to God (4:21; 7:3, 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17). But it must be stated just as firmly that Pharaoh hardened his own heart in another ten passages (7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34, 35; 13:15). […] Even more significant is the fact that Pharaoh alone was the agent of the hardening in the first sign and in all the first five plagues. Not until the sixth plague was it stated that God actually moved in and hardened Pharaoh’s heart (9:12), as He had warned Moses in Midian that He would have to do (4:21).”

Does the fact that God knows the end from the beginning mean that He manipulates free will?

An innate characteristic of God is that He is all-knowing and His will is sovereign. This fact in no way constrains an individual’s free will or negates that individual’s responsibility nor the consequences that result. This is important: God is not “winging” it as He goes, rolling with the punches as history unravels. God has had a plan in place for mankind since before creation. He didn’t have to improvise His plan by directing Pharaoh to act because He knew what Pharaoh was going to do long before Pharaoh did. Romans 9:17 says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’”

God used Pharaoh, acting of his own accord by the direction of his own free will, to carry out His sovereign will. Loren writes in the Answers From the Book article, “Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart,” “That God knew beforehand how Pharaoh would respond is certain. God is all-knowing. Yet in this encounter between a proud and hard-hearted man and a merciful but holy God, we have the mysterious tension between man’s free will and God’s sovereign will. In a perfect God’s dealings with sinful man, neither is ever frustrated or tampered with. God accomplishes His will and man reaps what he sows; freely deciding at every juncture his own course of action. That God knows the end from the beginning should never be interpreted to mean that He in any way affects that outcome by manipulating the free will that He Himself has placed within every man. Just because He knew what was already in the heart of Pharaoh, as He surely knows what is in the heart of every man, does not mean that He moved the hand of Pharaoh nor tempted him to commit evil (James 1:13).”

Does the fact that God created the circumstances that caused Pharaoh’s heart to harden mean that Pharaoh wasn’t responsible for his actions?

When Moses appeared before Pharaoh to relay God’s message to him in Exodus 5:2, “Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” Pharaoh basically says, “I know a lot of gods, but yours isn’t one of them. Why should I obey him?” In Exodus 7:4-5, God makes clear how He intends to reveal Himself to Pharaoh , “…Then I will lay My hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgement I will bring out My divisions, My people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

In essence, God provided the circumstances in which Pharaoh was forced to make a decision by revealing His power. Erik Raymond writes in his article for the Gospel Coalition, “God simply revealed Himself. He revealed His power, supremacy, love for His people, hatred of sin, etc…through the signs and wonders of the plagues. It was this revelation of God that hardened his heart.”

Paul Baxter uses an ancient Jewish Midrash, or “interpretation/illustration,” to illustrate the difference that the same set of circumstances can have on different individuals. This particular midrash revolves around two farmers, “The first farmer cultivates his land with great care. The rains come. The sun shines. The crops grow. The second farmer refuses to work his land. The rains come and the ground turns to mud. Then the sun shines and the ground becomes hard as clay. In a very real sense God hardened the second farmer’s land by sending the rain and then making the sun shine; but, he the farmer also ruined his land by not working the land.” Baxter also references fifth century Christian commentator Theodoret, “The sun by force of its heat moistens the wax and dries the clay, softening the one and hardening the other.”

God created the circumstances, but Pharaoh responded to them using his own free will. It is important to note, that God’s revelation of Himself was not lost on all the Egyptians. As David Guzik points out in his commentary regarding Exodus 12:38, “Not all of the 600,000 [who left Egypt] were Israelites. Many Egyptians (and perhaps other foreigners) went with them, because the God of Israel demonstrated that He was more powerful that the gods of the Egyptians.”

In Conclusion

I’ll close with this all-encompassing quote from the Miller/Butts article, “Notice that in a very real sense all four of the following statements are true: (1) God hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (2) Moses hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (3) the words that Moses spoke hardened Pharaoh’s heart; (4) Pharaoh hardened his own heart. All four of these observations are accurate, depicting the same truth from different perspectives. In this sense, God is responsible for everything in the Universe, ie, He has provided the occasion, the circumstances, and the environment in which all things (including people) operate. But He is not guilty of wrong in so doing. From a quick look at a simple Hebrew idiom, it is clear that God did not unjustly or directly harden Pharaoh’s heart. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), He does not act unjustly (Psalms 33:5), and He has always allowed humans to exercise their free moral agency (Deuteronomy 30:19). God, however, does use the wrong stubborn decisions committed by rebellious sinners to further His causes (Isaiah 10:5-11). In the case of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, God can be charged with no injustice, and the Bible can be charged with no contradiction. Humans were created with free moral agency and are culpable for their own actions.”

Do Vaccines Contain Aborted Fetal Cells?

Do vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?

The short answer is: Yes, some do, but not all. I’ve heard a lot of people actually argue about this. Some people will argue emphatically and call you an idiot if you truly believe the “conspiracy theory” that vaccines contain aborted fetal cells. These people have clearly never bothered to read the list of ingredients printed in the vaccine package inserts. Nor have they visited the CDC website where aborted fetal cells are listed in the ingredients lists of various vaccines.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because they are looking for the words, “aborted fetal cells” which obviously aren’t there. It takes a little reading into the subject to discover that the words you should be looking for are “human diploid fibroblast cell structures” (which come in two strains- WI-38 and MRC-5).

The following vaccines were developed using one of the two aborted fetal strains above and do contain DNA from them:

      • Hepatitis A
      • Rubella (Rubella is a part of the MMR combination vaccine)
      • Varicella (chicken pox)
      • Zoster (shingles)
      • Adenovirus
      • Rabies
      • Polio
      • Enbrel (Rheumatoid Arthritis)

The following vaccines that are in development come from additional aborted fetal strains and contain DNA:

    • Ebola
    • Flu and Avian Flu
    • HIV

Why are aborted babies needed to produce these vaccines?

In order to make a vaccine, scientists must be able to grow the bacteria or virus they wish to create a vaccine for. In order to grow the bacteria or virus, they must have tissue to grow it on. While many vaccines are created using the tissue of various animals (cows, monkeys, chickens to name a few) and animal products (such as eggs), the use of tissue from aborted babies is superior for a number of reasons.

Cowpox found on the udders of infected cows used to manufacture the smallpox vaccine.

*You can thank me later for posting a pic of an artist rendering instead of a photo…

First, vaccines derived from animal sources carry a higher risk of contamination from other bacteria and viruses. For example, the polio vaccines that our parents were vaccinated with in the 50’s and 60’s were later found to be contaminated with a monkey virus referred to as SV40 or Simian Virus 40. (Whoops!) Now, the CDC claims that SV40 didn’t cause any adverse effects. So, it’s very ironic that according to laboratory findings, “ SV40 DNA has been detected in several human tumors, including osteosarcoma, mesothelioma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Similar tumors are induced by the virus in hamsters.” And no…the individuals whose tumors were found to contain SV40 DNA had no possible exposure to SV40 other than the polio vaccine. It’s not exactly something you come across on regular ole’ day in the US of A.

Rhesus Macaque. Monkey used to develop the polio vaccine used in the 50’s and 60’s. Later found to have been contaminated with Simian 40 virus.

Second, some pathogens just don’t grow as well on animal tissue (like chicken pox) because they don’t infect animals. However, the most important advantage to using tissue from aborted babies is that fetal cells can go through many more divisions than other cells before they die. A biologist named Hayflick determined that normal human cells can only reproduce a finite number of times (usually around 50) before they stop reproducing. Fetal cells, however, are capable of going through many more divisions before dying.

Let’s get acquainted with the two aborted babies that the vaccines we inject our children with are grown on. (I sincerely hope that sentence makes you cringe as much I did when I typed it.)Believe it or not, the background information is actually available. WI-38 is a 3 month old female fetus who belonged to two married parents living in Stockholm, Sweden in 1962. Reportedly, her father was a “drunk” who was “gone a lot.” According to Dr. Rene Leive in her “Brief History of Human Diploid Strains,” her parents “felt they already had too many children”, so they decided to abort her. MRC-5 is a fourteen week old male fetus who was murdered inside his 27 year old mother in 1970 for “psychiatric reasons.”

Before we continue, let’s take a minute to see what a 15 week old baby (the average age of the aborted babies used to create these fetal strains) looks like in utero.

15 week old fetus in utero

And here we come to the next misleading argument that is posited to rationalize or justify the use of aborted babies in the production of vaccines. If you’ll notice in the list of vaccine ingredients above, the vaccines that are currently in use today are all derived from two fetal cell strains: WI-38 and MRC-5. Our vaccines come from “only” two aborted babies. Again, Megan over at Whole Living puts it best with her “This Wasn’t Just a One-Night Stand” analogy, “You might have also heard that only two babies were used and it was a really long time ago, which justifies the continued use of shooting up live babies with dead babies.” Sometimes a little perspective goes a long way…

It may seem like common sense to some to realize that to arrive at WI number 38, numbers 1-37 logically preceded. You would be correct in this logical assumption. Hayflick also references WI-44 in his report, so you can be sure, very many more than one aborted baby has gone into the development of the WI-38 cell line that is still used today. The same holds true for the MRC-5 strain. Hayflick also makes mention of the MRC-9 strain which is derived from a 15 week old female fetus in 1974. Her mother was an unwed 14 year old who aborted her baby for “therapeutic” reasons according to the documentation (taken from the history of diploid strains linked above).

Our Rubella vaccine comes from another cell line, RA 27/3, which was developed by a man named Plotkin. It is derived from a female fetus whose mother contracted Rubella in 1964. She was aborted for this reason (rubella is only harmful to babies in utero and causes some severe birth defects). According to Plotkin’s documentation, over 40 aborted babies were cultured. RA 27/3 was not the first fetus to test positive for Rubella or the last and he doesn’t specify why he continued with the series. Interestingly, Dr. Leive notes, “It is documented that there were other effective virus strains already made at the time which had been obtained from other non-abortion-related methods.”

Can We Use These Same Cell Lines Forever?

No. They aren’t immortal and they’ll eventually die out. Scientists have never stopped developing new strains and new vaccines. In fact, they already have new human diploid cell strains to back up the current strains. IMR-90 is a 16 week old fetus from a 38 year old mother of six who decided the baby she was carrying in 1975 would be too inconvenient. Cell strain 293 is derived from kidney cells from a baby aborted in 1972. The PER C6 line, which is being used right now to develop the new ebola, flu, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV vaccines, is derived from an 18 week old fetus aborted in 1985. The main researcher for the PER C6 line, Van der Eb, stated that, “the woman wanted to get rid of the fetus and the father was unkown.”

In fact, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is “distressed” that Congress is investigating fetal tissue researchers and procurement companies to make sure they aren’t profiting from the sale of tissue from aborted babies (which is illegal.) They released this statement, “Unfortunately, some state and federal politicians are working hard to obstruct- or even criminalize- fetal tissue research, limiting the ability of America’s leading scientists and researchers to develop new vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat disease. The ACOG warns that if this interference continues, “fetal research bans will stymie US based medical progress, leaving us to rely on other countries to develop medicines for our own patients.”

Apparently, without legal abortion to provide the scientific community with an endless supply of murdered babies, medical progress will virtually cease. Eye opening statement to say the least. There are some powerful players backing the pro-choice movement and their motivation has very little to do with a woman’s “right to choose.”

I’ll end with one last quote from Megan at Whole Living, “If science can’t advance without abortions, we need to go back to the drawing board.”

How To Get A Vaccine Religious Exemption

Contrary to popular belief (some schools will even be dishonest with you until you remind them of the law) your children DO NOT have to be immunized to attend school. Almost every state in the US offers at least two types of exemptions: medical and religious. The only 3 exceptions are California, Mississippi, and West Virginia, which only offer medical exemptions.

Some of us, however, may be unsure exactly how to go about getting this religious exemption. The following link will walk you through everything you’ll need to know in order to obtain your religious exemption. Included in the article below is:

  1. A link to your state’s exemption laws.
  2. Detailed information that you will need to include in the letter you will write to obtain religious exemption as well as information NOT to include in your letter, complete with CDC and other government sources to cite as well as the applicable Bible verses that will also need to be cited.
  3. Short, succinct responses to any questions you may be asked to defend your position (if you are required to do so by your child’s school).

How To Get a Vaccine Religious Exemption

Since I have just gone through this process, I’ll add some extra information for those of you who will be obtaining your religious exemption in the state of Alabama. In Alabama, our right to a religious exemption is protected under Alabama Code Title 16. Education 16-30-3.

The first step is to contact your local health department and schedule an appointment to come in and sign the paperwork to obtain a religious exemption. Here is a link with the contact numbers of the health department in each county in Alabama:


Click on the link, select your county, then click on the “contact us” link to get a phone number.

My appointment was scheduled with the Marshall County Health Department. At this appointment, I was required to watch a video from the Alabama Department of Public Health to inform me of the “risks and benefits of vaccination” and to “discuss the risks of not having my child immunized.”

Be forewarned: this video is nothing short of propaganda and filled with misleading statements, incomplete information (I’ll just call them what they are- “lies of omission”), as well as outright incorrect information. So, do your research BEFORE you go so that you won’t be thrown off by false claims.
If you need to brush up on the basics, you can check out my post, “6 Things You Need to Know When Deciding Whether or Not to Vaccinate.”
Also, in the video, the term “herd immunity” is used as if this concept is fact. If you are unfamiliar with this, you can check out my article, “Do High Rates of Vaccination Make Us Safe? Let’s Talk About Herd Immunity.”

After the video, you’ll sign some forms, then you’ll be given your exemption certificate to give to your child’s school, daycare, etc. You’ll need one for each child.

*Note* While I was not required to submit a “letter” detailing how vaccinations conflict with my religious beliefs, there was a section on the form where I had to document that information. I highly encourage you to include a shortened version of the information that is presented in the Living Whole blog post above, complete with cited Bible verses. Some states are in the process of making it more difficult to obtain a religious exemption, so you might as well have your bases covered. I actually went ahead and wrote a letter that they attached with the forms I filled out so that a more complete explanation would be on file.

Now go get those exemptions!!