This is a passage in which the author is more concerned about showing the power of God than the ethics of the manipulation of free will.
In it we see that Pharaoh's heart will be hardened by God. But then God will also perform signs and wonders that will push back on this stubbornness.
Which will win out?
Well, ultimately, we have to believe that God will. If you were looking at this logically, wouldn't it be simpler if God just softened Pharaoh's heart in the first place?
It is a matter of looking back on the story and telling it from a faithful perspective. For a people emerging from slavery, the most important thing may be to show that God was in control of this entire situation - even the response of Pharaoh who was also seen as divine. This shows that the Israelite God was more powerful than the Egyptian god. This will reoccur many times before the story is over.
|Where would you see God in this picture?|
One of the Wesleyan beliefs is that God walks alongside us in the journey of life (preceding grace). If we really prescribe to this, how would we tell our own stories differently if we inserted God's presence into the telling?
Where in terms of both trials and celebrations would we see God at work in us and through us and around us?
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography from USA (Ninety Degree Summer Day) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons