Sermon: The Seventh Plague: Hail

 

13 And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Beholden, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19 Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21 And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. (Exodus 9:13–25)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

God often works to get people’s attention. And once they turn to look at him, and what he has to say, they immediately have a choice: belief or rejection.

 

The plague of hail is unique in that God gives people a choice to save themselves from the hail. We will see people make that choice, but before we see them do that, let’s review…

 

I. THE REASONS FOR THE PLAGUES

 

A. God Wanted To Save His People

 

Exodus 9:13 And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 

 

The Lord repeats his primary demand to Pharaoh:

 

1) The phrase, “Let my people go,” is the “salvation” statement of Exodus. In Exodus, it refers to freeing the Israelites from bondage. 

 

But it’s also a picture of our own spiritual condition—we are in bondage to sin and Jesus died to break the bonds of the curse so that we might be set free.

 

2) The next part of God’s primary demand is “That they may serve me.” Serving God means to worship him, but not only worshipping him in terms of prayer and sacrifices, but in living our lives for him. 

 

There is a long-term aspect to this, not just a brief weekend retreat for worship.

 

Christians are also freed to worship and serve the Lord, and not just on Sunday either—

 

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1–2)

 

Aside from setting his people free to worship and serve him, the Lord has another reason that is tied in with freeing his people—

 

B. God Wanted All People To Worship Him

 

Exodus 9:14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 

 

Notice that it says that the plagues would come first “upon thine heart.” Other translations besides the KJV and NKJV obscure this, but I think it’s an important insight into the Lord’s mind: 

 

The Lord was concerned about Pharaoh’s heart—his inner self, his soul. Each plague was an opportunity for Pharaoh to repent! Each plague was an opportunity for Pharaoh and his people to “know that there is none like” the Lord God “in all the earth.”

 

The Lord repeats this desire for all people to know him:

 

Exodus 9:15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 

Exodus 9:16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 

 

Later in the chapter, we see again the Lord’s desire to be known:

 

Exodus 9:29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’s. 

 

The Lord intended that Pharaoh “mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’s.” The Lord has complete authority and power over all creation. The plagues demonstrated that he could, at will, call insects, disease, and even weather like hail into being.

 

History is proof that the plagues achieved God’s purpose in making his name “declared throughout all the earth.” That’s why there had to be several plagues. After all, do you think history would have remembered just one plague? 

 

Probably not—but the ten plagues are known worldwide. Even today, people all over the world gape at the power of God displayed in these plagues.

 

II. THE RESPONSE TO THE WORD

 

What has been the response to the plagues, and the response to God’s warnings so far? Well, Pharaoh has temporarily given in on occasion, but his heart has remained hard. The Lord says to him…

 

Exodus 9:17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 

 

Since his response has been only an hardened heart, the Lord sends another plague.

 

Exodus 9:18 Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 

 

The Lord had given warnings about the plagues before, but this was the first time he had given advice on how to handle the coming plague, namely…

 

Exodus 9:19 Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 

 

Did the Egyptians listen to God’s Word?

 

A. Some Listened To The Word

 

Exodus 9:20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 

 

Some of the Egyptians “feared the word of the LORD” and took shelter.

 

The idea of “feared” has here a sense of being afraid, as that is obvious by the situation. We might experience the same fear when we hear a report of terrible weather coming.

 

We also understand that the word “feared” in the Bible means “to have respect for,” or even “to believe.” That is certainly true in this verse also. These Egyptians respected and believed the report of the Lord.

 

Did this mean that those Egyptians were converted to faith in the Lord? Not necessarily, but when the Israelites did finally leave Egypt, there were others that went with them—

 

38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. (Exodus 12:38)

 

We aren’t told precisely who the “mixed multitude” were that went with them, but it very likely included at least a few Egyptians who had seen enough to be convinced that the Lord was indeed real. Some Egyptians did indeed listen to the Lord’s word!

 

B. Others Did Not Listen To The Word

 

Exodus 9:21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field. 

 

Other Egyptians “regarded not” God’s advice to protect their cattle. In other words, they simply ignored it. Perhaps they figured that the prior plagues were coincidental or perhaps they believed that one of their gods could protect them. 

 

Tefnut (perhaps she was a “tough nut”) was the goddess of moisture, perhaps she would do something. Seth was a god who was present in the wind and rain. 

 

C. Do We Listen To The Lord’s Word?

 

How are we at responding to the Lord’s “advice” in living our lives? The Bible has a lot to say about the right way we should live, if we want to avoid unpleasant consequences.

 

For example, children are told to obey their parents—it’s the right thing to do and it can lead to a long life (Ephesians 6:1-3). 

 

Or, how about Jesus’ interpretation of the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”?

 

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21–22)

 

Are we listening when Philippians tells us:

 

6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

 

There are many other commands, or “bits of advice,” that the Lord gives us throughout the Bible. 

 

Many Christians are not ignorant of those things in God’s Word—we’ve read them, heard them, and even memorized them. The question is how are we going to respond to them?

 

We can be like those Egyptians who “regarded not the word of the LORD.” Maybe we believe that secular man has figured out the best way for us to live, and deep down, we’re half-way sure that the Bible is an ancient book that has a few good things to say, but we ought to be careful not to take everything it says as the gospel truth.

 

Or, we can be like those Egyptians who “feared the word of the LORD,” and live our lives in accordance to what he commands and advises. As Psalm 1 tells us—

 

1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1–3)

 

III. THE REFUSAL OF PHARAOH

 

In the remainder of the chapter we see the word of the Lord fulfilled. Hail comes on Egypt like never before…

 

Exodus 9:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 

Exodus 9:23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 

Exodus 9:24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 

Exodus 9:25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

 

It would have been a hail storm that no one forgot; one that old guys on front porches would talk about decades later. It included “thunder and hail, and the fire [that] ran along upon the ground.” Lightning (“the fire”) crashed down everywhere, frightening young and old, man and beast alike. 

 

I’ve read that the different Pharaohs often enjoyed bragging, saying something to the effect, “I’ve done more for this nation than since it was founded.” 

 

That’s how God describes his handiwork also. This hailstorm was “such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.”

 

Did God’s people have to endure this hail storm?

 

Exodus 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 

 

Once again, Israel found itself separated from the Egyptians. It would have been further proof to Pharaoh that it was the God of Israel doing this to Egypt. Reluctantly, I am sure, Pharaoh sent for Moses…

 

Exodus 9:27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 

Exodus 9:28 Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 

Exodus 9:29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’s. 

Exodus 9:30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God. 

Exodus 9:31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. 

Exodus 9:32 But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 

Exodus 9:33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 

Exodus 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 

Exodus 9:35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

 

Pharaoh continued to bring destruction upon himself and his nation because of his hardened heart. 

 

This is a warning to us all. There are basically two ways to respond to God—to fear and respect his Word. Or we can ignore it. 

 

Those who ignore God’s Word will one day find themselves in the hailstorm of his judgment. Even the sins that they covered will be made manifest in that day. They will not receive mercy.

 

Those who fear the Lord will believe the good news about Jesus Christ and receive as their Savior. In Christ is found God’s forgiveness and mercy.

 

13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

 

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