Before we explore this we need to cover some important background. First of all the nation of Egypt was founded by Ham's grandson so they knew God. Secondly we have to remember that not that long before this "tug of war" or "battle of the wills" happened Egypt had been run by Joseph who while 2nd in command was in every practical way in charge of the nation. This was a difficult fact to forget because the descendents of Jacob w...ouldn't even be living in the land if not for the historical events involving Joseph.
On top of these two facts, a pharaoh was responsible for knowing the history of the nation which means that the Pharaoh who butted heads with Moses knew all about Joseph, the history of his relatives and how they came to be living in Egypt and about the God they served.
The new pharaoh that came along after Joseph died used fear and manipulation to convince the nation that these foreigners among them were a threat to national security and made them slaves. Then he went a step further and started having their male babies killed to prevent the rapid growth of their numbers again using fear based manipulation.
Now we come to the famous story of Moses and Pharaoh. The Bible says that Pharaoh said when faced with Moses' request to allow his people (Israel) to leave:
Exodus 5:2 "And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
This is a complete lie. He knows exactly who the Lord is. The reason he won't let them leave is purely economical. They are the workforce of the nation. Free labour that can't be replaced. Were they a threat to national security he should have been happy to be rid of them. However he was only concerned with money and power.
Now Romans 9 seems to imply that God created Pharaoh to be against Him and Israel and that essentially Pharaoh was a puppet devoid of free choice. This is impossible. There are many examples in the Bible of people who didn't do what God wanted them to do. Over and over in the Bible people are called to make choices. So what did happen with Pharaoh? Did he have choice? Was he a puppet. Did God manipulate him? And more importantly for our study why did Paul mention him in Romans 9? What does pharaoh have to do with the nation of Israel rejecting Jesus as their Messiah?
See you tomorrow...