In Exodus 7:3-4, we read (KJV):
3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Yes, He did.
However, verse 4 alludes to the fact that it is not in a manner understood by some, namely, that God violated free will and He was therefore unjust in punishing Pharaoh and Egypt. Indeed, verse 3 means entirely the opposite of this faulty understanding.
Reading the entire chapter 7 and chapter 8, we realize that it was Pharaoh himself who hardened his heart. God knew Pharaoh would harden his heart. God would allow this to happen, just as He allows those who wants only to do evil continue their sinful ways (Romans 1: 24 – 32). God’s pronouncement in verse 3 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” does not negate at all, or contradict, God’s intention to allow Pharaoh to continue with his wish; but rather it actually magnifies God’s intention, as we can conclude from Exodus 7:14, which does not make sense if God had actually hardened Pharaoh’s heart:
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.
Biblical Mathematics unequivocally supports this view point. To determine God’s true intention when he proclaimed “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” in Exodus 7:3, we look at the proclamation’s numerical equivalence. It is 1261.
But the value 1261 refers to only two other verses in the Bible; Numbers 10:23 and Job 34:16. Of these, Job 34:16 (underlined below), stunningly, in context, refers the true nature of God. He does no evil and does no wrong (Job 34:10) and does not pervert justice (Job 34:12). He is not unjust! Moreover, Job 34 reveals the true intention of God, namely, He will not destroy for its own sake (Job 34: 14-15) but He will “repay everyone for what they have done; He brings on them what their conduct deserves” (Job 34: 11), implying He will not interfere with free will:
10 “So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.
11 He repays everyone for what they have done;
he brings on them what their conduct deserves.
12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.
13 Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?
14 If it were his intention
and he withdrew his spirit and breath,
15 all humanity would perish together
and mankind would return to the dust.
16 “If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.
17 Can someone who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn the just and mighty One?
18 Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’
and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’
19 who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?