“But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.” — Exodus 8:15 (NIV84)
Pharaoh “hardened his heart … just as the Lord had said.” God knew. He knew all along. He told Moses that this was exactly what was going to happen. How did he know? Well, I guess the simple answer is that He is God. But the more intimate answer is that God was tuned in to Pharaoh’s heart. God has the ability to see beyond our actions and what we portray ourselves to be; He can see straight into our hearts. For me, this is simultaneously the most frightening and the most amazing thing to know about God.
It is certainly frightening to think about the fact that God knows the thoughts and intentions of my heart, even if I do not speak of them or act on them. It almost takes my breath away to think that God knows me that intimately. No wonder everyone who has ever been in His presence felt undone before Him. Just stop and think about the fact that God knows the intent of your heart. You cannot hide it from him. Thank God that we can find redemption from this piercing perception at the cross of Jesus Christ. On that cross, He bore the sinful intent of our hearts.
On the other hand, what an amazing thing to know that God knows the intent of the heart of the new man within us. He knows about our desire to praise and glorify Him in all that we say and do. He sees us when we quietly pray for others. He sees our acts of mercy and kindness. He sees how hard the new man in us wants to do things the right way. He knows the fears and doubts of our hearts. He hears our souls cry even when there are no external tears. To all these, He provides us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit works in our hearts to spur on more goodwill toward others. He comforts and settles our broken and unsettled hearts.
In the end, it is a good thing that God knows our hearts!