Have you ever faced someone who is stubborn and resisting your pleas to act according to what God has asked you to do? This is the situation that Moses faced in attempting to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Repeatedly, Moses goes to Pharaoh, as instructed by God, to tell him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me (Exodus 9:1, NASB).” Even though Moses warns Pharaoh of the consequences, he refuses to listen.
Time after time, God inflicts Egypt with terrible plagues, yet Pharaoh continues to be stubborn. When we run into obstacles, we may not understand why God does not remove them for us, especially if we are doing His will. But it is worth considering that obstacles are sometimes used by God to demonstrate His authority, his power. In Exodus 9:16, God told Moses, “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.” Indeed, God’s name was proclaimed throughout the world when Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go.
Some 40 years later, when Joshua sent spies to explore Jericho, Rahab tells them, “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt…(Joshua 2:10).” Word of what God did to Egypt had spread far and wide. Rahab added, “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (2:11).” Word of God’s deeds caused Rahab to join Israel. “However, Rahab the harlot and her father’s household and all she had, Joshua spared; and she has lived in the midst of Israel to this day, for she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho (Joshua 6:25).”
It’s worth considering that Pharaoh’s stubbornness was used by God to display His power, His authority over all things including earthly rulers. Because of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, word of God spread throughout the land. Because of Pharaoh’s resistance to God, decades later a harlot named Rahab joins Israel’s fold and becomes part of Jesus’s lineage (Matthew 1:5). This should prompt us to look at roadblocks in life and consider how God might be using them to bring people into His fold through faith in Jesus.
So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. – Romans 9:16-18 (NASB)