“I have sinned!” Pharaoh’s anguished cry rang through the palace. “Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go…” (Exodus 9:27-28)
It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. The hail had struck everything in the fields – both man and beast; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree (Exodus 9:24-25). IT was the seventh plague; a storm of hail sent by God in judgment of the nation that held His people captive.
Surveying the trail of destruction left in the storm’s wake, Pharaoh swallowed his pride and begged the God of Moses for relief. God heeded Moses’ plea, bringing a halt to the thunder and hail. But “when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts…and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses.” (Exodus 9:34-35)
God knew what Pharaoh’s response would be, and still He answered Moses’ prayer to stop the rain. Why?
Surely it was to display His sovereignty – to prove that God alone could initiate and end the storm at will. But to whom was God demonstrating His power? Not the Israelites – v 26 says that “the only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.” And not Pharaoh – God already knew it would take three more plagues to break his will. Who then? I think v 20 holds the key – once Moses announced the next plague of hail, “those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.”
Okay, so maybe these officials and their families were just being sensible – they’d taken a hint from the first six plagues. But then Exodus 12:37-38 tells us that when Pharaoh finally released them, “the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth…[and] a mixed multitude went up with them also…”
This mixed multitude refers to non-Israelites who decided to follow Israel’s God after witnessing His display of power and judgment of Egypt’s false gods. It is at the seventh plague of hail that we first see Egyptians responding directly to God’s word through Moses. Do you think God noticed these ones? I’ll bet He did. His actions demonstrate compassion in the midst of judgment.
That’s our God – seeking to save those who will come even in the midst of the storm. Just like He spared faithful Noah from the greatest storm Earth ever has and possibly ever will experience. Are you in the midst of a storm? Take heart, and be “persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities or powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing [storms included], shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Amen! You’re always in His hands.