Pharaoh's Hardened Heart
"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth."
Calvinists often refer to this verse declaring that is shows God's predestined condemnation for Pharaoh. However, when we look in Exodus, we see that Pharaoh rejected the words of God when confronted with them.
"And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go."
"...and let them not regard vain words." Exodus 5:9b
Pharaoh is used in Romans 9 as an example of how God can use people or nations that reject Him to glorify His name, despite the fact that they rejected Him. God did not raise Pharaoh up to reject Him, He raised Pharaoh up because he rejected Him. God raised him up so He could show His power and His name in all the earth. It was therefore necessary to harden Pharaoh's heart to not let the children of Israel go.
"But I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go."
"And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go." Exodus 7:14
"And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go." Exodus 8:32
"And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go." Exodus 9:7
Any normal person would have let the people go after the first or second plague. However, this would not have been sufficient for God to show His power and His might that His name would be declared throughout the whole earth.
"...and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD." Exodus 12:12b
God said He would execute judgment "...against all the gods of Egypt...". In order for Pharaoh to keep the children of Israel in bondage long enough for God to show His great power and might against all the gods of Egypt, Pharaoh had to have his heart hardened to not let the people go. God will indeed harden the hearts of unbelievers to glorify His name, but not to reject the gospel. The example of Pharaoh is used in Romans while referring to the blindness or hardening that has happened to Israel. Please consider the verses below concerning the blindness that has happened to Israel...
"But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:14-16
We see in the verses above, that blinded people can turn in their hearts to seek God. When they turn (repent) in their hearts and seek the Lord, the blinders come off and they find Jesus. The following precious promises are true for all:
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" Matthew 7:7
"And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"