Scripture: 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.” Exodus 9:27-28 ESV
Observation: The seventh plague marks the first of the last cycle. As with the first and fourth plagues, Moses rises early to confront Pharaoh. This time, though, Moses’ foreboding message warns Pharaoh that:
- God would vent the full force of his plagues on Egypt so that no one would doubt anyone is like him on all the earth (9:14).
- The previous pestilences and plagues would have eradicated the Egyptians had not God deliberately spared them to uphold his mighty name for all creation (9:5–16).
- By denying the release of Israel, Pharaoh has acted as an obstructionist against almighty God himself (9:17).
- Egypt will experience the worst hailstorm it has ever seen in its history (9:18).
- Still, merciful Yahweh will show grace toward those Egyptians who will humble their hearts and heed the warning, thereby escaping the lethal storm (9:19).
Indeed, those Egyptians who accordingly obeyed Moses and sought shelter likely became the “mixed multitude” of Gentile believers who left Egypt with Israel (12:38). But for the rest who scoffed at the idea of a severe lightning and hail storm (which was unheard of for this upper region of the Nile delta in early spring), there would be a massive loss of lives—both humans and animals (9:25). Still, as in the previous plague, Goshen would remain unharmed (9:26).
Meanwhile, under the full force of the seventh plague, Pharaoh responds with seeming contrition for sinning against the Hebrew God and promises to release Israel (above verses). Nevertheless, once the storm ceases, he hardens his heart again and refuses to let Israel go (9:35).
Takeaway: In this segment of the plague narrative, we see two responses: those who believe and heed and those who deny and ignore. The God-fearing Egyptians would choose to ignore their arrogating ruler and submit to the command of the Hebrew God, and it will go well for them from this point forward. In contrast, after witnessing the veracity and power of Yahweh’s words, Pharaoh would seemingly repent. However, once Moses prayed to Yahweh to still the storm on Pharaoh’s behalf, Pharaoh would again renege on his promise and hardened his heart, invoking escalating collateral suffering from the remaining plagues.
The calming of the storm points us to the Son of God who, unlike the mediator Moses, himself spoke a word and stilled a tempest that threatened his disciples’ lives. And unlike Pharaoh, Jesus’ disciples feared and believed and would become part of the “mixed multitude” of New Covenant believers who would embark on the exodus from slavery under the Mosaic law to freedom in Christ. Indeed, those who join the exodus share one thing in common: sincere repentance. Not fleeting, foxhole contrition when life feels tenuous, but heartfelt repentance over our sinful, hardened hearts that have cost the Son of God his life. And the result? He gives us a new, sincere “heart of flesh.” Hallelujah!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for liberating us from the burden of the law by grace through faith in your Son. Would you please help us not to take our freedom lightly but sincerely repent when your Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, that we might bring you glory and avoid the unnecessary and prolonged suffering of a hardened heart? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling