Exodus: Journey to Freedom – Plague #7: The Worst Hailstorm Ever (Exo. 9:13-35)
The Worst Hailstorm Ever
For the third time, God has told Moses to get up early in the morning and present himself before Pharaoh: 7:15; 8:20; 9:13. This plague is recorded with the most details of any of the plagues so far, as we move toward the final plague. Of course, Pharaoh does not know when the final plague will be nor does he know what the final plague will be.
Let’s read 9:13-17.
Notice here that God tells Pharaoh that He could have erased the existence of the entire nation of Egypt if He had wanted to do that! In other words, God is telling Pharaoh: “You haven’t seen nothing yet!” God is being merciful to Pharaoh and the Egyptians be slowly increasing the destructive effects of the plagues.
THE PLAGUES SERVED A PURPOSE:
On one hand, the plagues are punishing Pharaoh and Egypt for their slavery of God’s people.
Also, God is separating His people so that they can serve God in the wilderness.
Again, we see in our text, verse 14, that God wants to show His power. The text literally reads, “on your heart.” Of course, the Egyptians considered Pharaoh to be their god and the source of their blessings. Notice in verse 17, God says Pharaoh has exalted himself against God’s people. To set himself against God’s people was to set himself against God. That’s a bad place to be!
Back in 5:2, Pharaoh had said that He did not know Jehovah God. Now, he has had a class in true theology and He knows more about God than he thought he would. There is no God like Jehovah God in all the earth.
Yet another purpose of the plagues was to show that God deserves universal praise. Again, notice in verse 16: “I will proclaim my name through all the earth.” While God did not give His law - through Moses - to any other nation except Israel, it is also true that God did not want the pagan nations to worship any other God except Him. The prophets are full of denunciations of the pagan nations for their idolatry. These specific plagues were designed to show to the world God’s unique power.
In fact, the Israelites rehearsed the plagues to their children for generations (Deut. 6:21-22). And, we are still talking about the plagues Jehovah God brought on the nation of Egypt! The Israelites also sang about the plague of hail (Psalm 78:47-48).
Moses sang in Exodus 15:14-15 that the nations would hear about God’s plagues on Egypt. The Gibeonites tell Joshua (9:9) that they heard about what God did in Egypt. The Philistines heard about what God had done against the Egyptians (1 Samuel 4:7-8). Yes, the plagues made God famous.
When the apostle Paul was looking for an illustration of the sovereignty of God, in Romans 9:16-17, Paul quoted Exodus 9:16. So if you preach Christ, at some point, you will preach about the plagues God brought on Egypt!
Again, another purpose of the plagues is given in verse 29. “…there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.” Again, the word translated “earth” is also translated “land” in 8:22. Both times, the word could refer to Egypt itself, the land of Egypt, or it could refer to the whole planet earth. Both statements are true. God is God over every square inch of land on this planet! His plagues proved to Pharaoh that Jehovah God was God over the land of Egypt!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ has proven yet again the same three points we see in this text. God is all-powerful. God deserves universal praise. And God has authority over every thing in our lives from birth to death.
GOD EXTENDS GRACE TO PHARAOH - 9:18-21:
There are two responses to God, and only two: You either believe what He says and obey what He says - all He says - or you trust in your own wisdom and do what you want to do.
God tested Pharaoh’s and the Egyptians’ willingness to trust and obey, in verse 19. Now, this is not the first time God had warned Pharaoh before He brought the plague, but it is the first time God gave Pharaoh opportunity to avoid the impact of the plague! Never believe anyone who says the God of the OT was not a God of grace!
Pharaoh refused to believe God and he and many other Egyptians lost livestock through the plague of hail.
Many of Pharaoh’s gods and goddesses were symbolized by aspects of nature. Shu was the god of the sky; he held up the heavens. Nut was the goddess of the sky. Tefnut was the goddess of precipitation. Seth was the god present in the wind and storm. Could any of these gods save Egypt?
But, some of the Egyptians were beginning to understand that their theology was wrong! They would not have to suffer all ten plagues before they came to trust in Jehovah God! They obeyed the words of God’s prophet, Moses: verse 20.
Of course, this took some time to develop. Again, the magicians recognized in the plague of the gnats the “finger of God” (Exo. 8:19). Eventually, some of the Egyptians will leave Egypt with Israel after the last plague: 12:38.
It is interesting that God, through Isaiah, predicted that some Egyptians would eventually join the people of God (19:19-25). When the kingdom was established in Acts 2:10, there were Jews there from Egypt. Later, a large number of Christians are found in Egypt.
The beginning of their salvation is seen in verse 20: they “fear the word of the Lord.” They feared God enough to do what His prophet said to do!
Faith and obedience. These are always the two principles through which God deals and interacts with mankind. Faith and obedience bring salvation.
THE WORST HAILSTORM EVER:
It comes as no surprise that most Egyptians chose not to obey God. They clung to their false theology and it cost them. Instead of “fearing” the word of the Lord, they “paid no regard for” the word of the Lord (9:21). They ignored the word of the Lord because, verse 30 says, they did not fear Jehovah God. In fact, in verse 34, Moses writes that Pharaoh and his servants hardened their hearts. Our response to God always starts in our hearts.
So, the storm came, just a God had predicted: 9:22-25.
There was thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. Verse 23 says there was hail and fire, probably caused by the lightning. It was everywhere. A supernatural storm. The weather is “voice activated” if the voice is Jehovah God’s voice.
Notice the effects of the land of Egypt: 9:31-32. Based on the timing of crops suggested in these verses, Egyptologists would suggest that this plague hit at the beginning of the year, around February.
The seventh plague is the first plague to bring death on human beings. God told Pharaoh in verse 19 that Egyptians will die in the storm if they do not listen to Him. They did not listen. Therefore, many Egyptians died.
Presidents of the United States like to brag that they have created more jobs than any president in the history of the country, or things like that. Pharaohs also liked to brag that they had accomplished things not seen since the beginning of the country. Well, God uses that same boast out of the mouth of Pharaohs and turned it against them, twice, in verses 18 and 24. Of course, this could easily be a hyperbole, but probably not. The nation of Egypt was started about 2,500 years before Moses came along, but this was the worst storm in their history! Why? Because it was God’s judgment on Israel.
We will not study in detail the seven bowls of wrath from Revelation 16 in our study of the book of Revelation. However, these bowls are metaphors, emojis, from the OT of God’s wrath being poured out on the Roman Empire. And one of those metaphors is a plague of hail (16:17-18).
The only way to be safe in the plague of hail on Egypt, the only way for the Christians in the first century to be safe from the “hail” God would symbolically bring over the Roman Empire was to trust God - or Jesus Christ - and do what He says to do.
Once again, God discriminated between His people and the people of Pharaoh (9:26). Because Israel was God’s people, they were safe from God’s wrath.
PHARAOH “SOFTENS” HIS HEART AGAIN:
You know, just because someone acknowledges he or she is sinful, does not mean that he or she will be saved. Even repentance itself does not guarantee salvation in the NT times. After the destruction of the hail, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron, and notice what he confessed: 9:27-28.
Notice also in verse 27 that Pharaoh admitted, maybe for the first time in his life: “I have sinned.” Additionally, observe that Pharaoh acknowledged that Jehovah God was righteous and Pharaoh and his people were the wicked ones.
Also, for the third time (8:8, 28), Pharaoh asks Moses to pray for him. These are all good, spiritual disciplines: acknowledging his sins, confessing the righteousness of God, and praying.
However, Moses was still skeptical of Pharaoh’s conversion: verse 30. Moses could see that there still was not fear of God in Pharaoh’s eyes, or in his heart. There is no true repentance without the fear of God in our hearts. Sin offends the holy nature of God and it brings the just wrath of God on us. That should scare us away from sin.
Did Pharaoh acknowledge the sin of abusing the Israelites? Did Pharaoh confess the sin of drowning Hebrew boys in the Nile River? Did Pharaoh confess to changing his mind about letting Israel go free the other six times? Just what exactly was Pharaoh confessing? We will give credit where credit is due. Pharaoh confessed that he had sinned against God, but we are left to wander just how deep his repentance went.
He said in verse 28: “I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” But after God stopped the hail storm, we hear Pharaoh singing the same song; now it is the seventh verse: 33-35. Pharaoh hated the results of his sinful choices, but he did not hate his sinful choices. There is a big difference.
If we truly repent, John says that man needs to bring forth “fruit worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8), then there is a noticeable difference in our behavior. Repentance begins in the mind, and then it leads to changed behavior. We have to repent as well, before we can become Christians and before we can glorify God in our lives. The word “repent” or “repentance” is found 52 times in the NT. Now, we might, and probably will, sin after we become Christians. But the change of mind about living a sinful life has to at least come before we are immersed into Christ. We have to give our minds to Christ before we are forgiven of our sins.
The lesson we need to draw from this particular is plague is that repentance involves more than just saying, “I’m a sinner,” and asking for prayer. It involves a change of mind and a change of behavior.
Take home message: Repentance involves a change of mind and a change of behavior.