Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time; the LORD is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones. Make supplication to the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” (Exodus 9:27-28, NASB emphasis added)
Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication the LORD your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the LORD. So the LORD shifted a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go. (Exodus 10:16-20, NASB emphasis added)
“But I said I was sorry,” is a phrase often repeated by a child when he or she was caught doing something wrong. Pharaoh acts just like a toddler, and believes he has said the magic words that lead to lifting the finger of God from himself and his nation. Pharaoh, as so often many Christians do, failed to understand what repentance means. Repentance includes a change in mind and the reversal of actions towards another direction. Saying I am sorry is not repentance. Asking for forgiveness is not repentance. Both saying you are sorry and asking for forgiveness are Biblical principles, but repentance is seen in changed thinking and a change of direction.
I have sinned this time; the LORD is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones. Pharaoh acknowledges his sin and the sin of the people. Pharaoh also declares the LORD to be the righteous One. These are true statements of fact. Proclaiming the truth has some value it is not repentance. Even if Pharaoh meant what he said, he did not repent because he did not prove it by his actions; he did not let the children of Israel go.
I have sinned against the LORD your God. Once again Pharaoh confesses his sin to Moses, and once again Pharaoh wants the LORD to come through for him without having true repentance. We see Pharaoh is not committed to the LORD for he states the LORD is Moses’ God not his own. True repentance comes when we are under the protection of the Heavenly Father who wants to forgive us and set us upon His path for our lives. This new path is the will of God, where all true repentance leads. Pharaoh was not following the LORD’s will because he did not let the children of Israel go once again.
With the correct understanding of what repentance is prayerfully meditate upon the following passages of Scripture:
Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:7; Luke 3:8; Luke 15:7; Acts 20:21; Acts 26:19-20; Romans 2:2-4; 2 Corinthians 7:9-11; Hebrews 12:14-17; and 2 Peter 3:9