READING: Review of Exodus 5-28, Exodus 9
“I have sinned this time.”
Pharaoh had had enough, or so it seemed. His people had already suffered several plagues, and now hail was destroying everything in the field. Egypt had never seen such hail, in fact. This time, Pharaoh confessed his own heart as he pleaded with Moses to appeal to the Lord: “I have sinned this time. The Lord is the righteous one, and I and my people are the guilty ones. Make an appeal to the Lord. There has been enough of God’s thunder and hail” (Exo. 9:27-28).
What is not clear, though, is that Pharaoh meant genuine repentance when he said, “I have sinned.” His words, “this time,” probably imply that his repentance was short-lived and shallow, and Moses’ later words reflected that same suspicion: “But as for you and your officials, I know that you still do not fear the Lord God” (Exo. 9:30). Indeed, Pharaoh hardened his heart again as soon as Moses’ prayers ended the hailstorm. God’s people remained in Egypt as the king withdrew his offer to let them go.
It’s easy to condemn Pharaoh, but I fear my sinful heart can be equally deceived, too. Here’s the pattern I fear we too often follow:
- we sin,
- we sense God’s judgment (at least in the form of conviction),
- we confess our sin,
- we sense God’s mercy,
- but we then return to our sin once the sense of conviction and judgment has passed.
This story of Pharaoh forces me to ask whether my confession and repentance are genuine if I can so easily return to my sin when all returns to normal. In those times, my words, “forgive me this time, God,” may not mean much at all.
- Confess your sin today, agreeing with God about its wrongness and turning fully from it.
- Pray for someone else who is struggling to let go of his or her sin.
PRAYER: “God, make my confession real. I do not want to return to my sin.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Exodus 29-32