Chapter 9:22-35 (ESV) - Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.
Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God's thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the LORD's. But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.” (The flax and the barley were struck down, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the emmer were not struck down, for they are late in coming up.) So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the LORD, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.
Question to consider: Why do you think Moses pointed out the late harvest of the wheat and emmer?
There is a tendency, especially for those with logical, science-oriented minds to try and provide a natural explanation for supernatural events. There are some that attribute this plague to the Leonid meteor shower which took place about 1226 BC. I suppose it’s possible in the same way I supposed that the plague of gnats, flies, and cattle deaths could be attributed to the maturation and destructive habits of the “biting midge.” It’s also possible Noah’s flood could have been the result of a giant asteroid hitting the earth. God created the asteroid and the biting midge so it would not be all that surprising if He used them for His purposes. Does it make these events any less glorious or miraculous? There is still no getting around the fact that Moses raised his staff into the air at the direction of the LORD, and a heavy, fiery hail rained down and struck down anyone and anything that didn’t heed Moses’ advice to take shelter. There is no getting around the fact that while Egypt felt the full force of this plague, the Israelites and their flocks remained safe in Goshen. There is no getting around the fact that powerful gods of the sky like Nut, Seth, or Ra could not stop these plagues from above.
Suddenly, Pharaoh admitted that he and the people of Egypt had sinned against the LORD, and that the LORD had acted righteously against them. As I wrote yesterday, everyone has a moment when they come face to face with the living God, but Moses recognized that even though Pharaoh had a moment of clarity, he and the people of Egypt still did not fear the LORD. Moses noted that even though everything else was struck down, they still had the hope of a wheat and emmer harvest so when the LORD again relented from His judgment on Pharaoh and the land of Egypt, Pharaoh once again hardened his heart toward God.
The most hopeful part of this plague was that Moses wrote in yesterday’s passage that those who “...feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses.” Not everyone hardened their heart against God!
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for allowing things to happen in our lives that keep our focus on eternity. May we continue to depend upon You and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Amen.