21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'” Exodus 4:21-23
If you’ve read through this passage before, then you’ve probably asked the question, “Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart?” Scholars have been asking that question from the beginning of time. There’s no simple answer to it. Even in the upcoming passages of the various plagues, the original Hebrew is sometimes ambiguous, sometimes God did it, or sometimes Pharaoh hardened his own heart. The Bible Project has more to say about this.
It’s clear that Pharaoh was not a humble man. Anyone who enslaves people against their will is arrogant and condescening by the very act of enslavement. They don’t care who they hurt or abuse. That has been the case throughout history.
A missionary once told me, humble yourself before God or God will humble you. So noted.
Moses had his work cut out for him. Not only was he to go speak but Pharaoh’s answer would be “No!” But he still had to go.
I knew a Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter pilot many years ago. Oh the stories he could tell! They had a saying in their field, “We may not return, but we have to go!”
Moses had to go even though the Lord already told him that Pharaoh would reject his request. That’s the missionary’s life in a nutshell, especially in unreached lands. There may be no converts but the Holy Spirit does that work. The missionary just has to be obedient to the call.