Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. … He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil
Pharaoh and the Exodus is a test-tube to show the world what happens in the days preceding the return of Messiah, but also of what happens when we harden our heart. Whereas as the plagues unfold the text mentions that God Himself hardens Pharaoh’s heart, it’s his own idea to challenge Moses and his God ((Exodus 7). It’s like the little boy who receives a scolding from his Mom, “Johnny, why did you punch your brother and then kick him? Don’t you know the devil made you do that?” “Oh no Mom," Johnny answered, "The devil may have made me punch him, but kicking him was my own idea!”
In a sense also, God is like a parent who after warning us teaches us by allowing us our mind frame, and even setting before us the fruits of our thinking. He then allows us to go the full length that we may learn by experience that He was right in the first place. It’s a scary thought but there was no other choice for Pharaoh. One may say that he was victim of his own environment and ignorant of the facts, but Joseph and the whole famine was not so far in the annals of Egypt. This Pharaoh though belonged to another dynasty, a dynasty who did not recognize the works of Joseph in saving Egypt (Exodus 1:8).
Rashi notes that for the first five plagues God did not harden Pharaoh’s heart; the biblical text tells us that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. What Pharaoh was, is a victim of his pride. He thought he was God. Spiritual pride, the notion that we are something special is the worst of all prides. It causes us to have a narrow worldview where the world revolves solely around what’s happening in our realm. As a result we step on everybody’s toes and then wonder why in the world they should be hurting. Pride makes a person very vulnerable to the devil’s weapons. There is a saying in whaling, “Don’t harpoon until she blows!”
Sad to say, spiritual pride is a very rampant and contagious disease in the body of Messiah. Even though Peter, the very disciple of Messiah strongly advised against autocratic oppressive leadership in the congregations in favor of team-works of co-workers (1 Peter 5:3; Acts 6:2-3), people naturally fall back on their past habits and training. In his pride, man is naturally wickedly ambitious always desiring to establish himself in a position of power and authority over others, which is forbidden. It is all the more sickly when spirituality is used as a vehicle to establish oneself as something.
Soon Messiah will return and help us establish leaders who are meek, not victims of the devil’s pride in being desirous of authority and leadership. He himself chose meek working man from Israel’s populace not from the proud religious circles, and told them that they will sit upon thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. May we take notice and live by their example.