In our study of Exodus chapter nine, we look at the fact that God gives each of us a chance to believe His words.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Go to Pharaoh and say to him, "This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews says: 'Let my people go, so that they may worship me.' If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field - on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die."'
Pharaoh is warned again and reminded that the plague will not affect the people of God. The Egyptians used many types of animals in their pagan worship including a black bull named Apis and, once again, Pharaoh is being given the chance to surrender to the one true God.
The Lord set a time and said, 'Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.' And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.
Even after seeing the fact that there was a difference between God's people and the Egyptians, Pharaoh still would not surrender. That reminds us that a Christian testimony is powerful but it is only the power of God that can change a heart.
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.'
With Pharaoh's refusal, the next plague is executed without further warning. Up to this point, the judgments had to do with external possessions and, although they had a cost, nothing gets your attention like physical affliction.
So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
The boils were a burning abscess that affected the entire body and affected the knees and legs to where the magicians could not even stand. Even though the plagues had started to affect the people directly, Pharaoh was still too proud to accept the will of God.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to Him, "This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth."'
Pharaoh is given another warning but this one is much stronger. With all that they had seen, it is hard to imagine what the "full force" would have meant to them. God says that the purpose of these plagues is so that Pharaoh and all the others could see that there was no one like Him. They were used to having all sorts of gods but were being put on notice that there was none other than God.
'"For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."'
Pharaoh is reminded of the fact that God could have destroyed him and his people with a single act. Instead, He has used them as a demonstration of His power to glorify His name. The same thing is true for us before we accept Jesus Christ. God would have been just to wipe us off the earth but He demonstrates His mercy to Glorify His name.
'"You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded until now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die."'
The warning to Pharaoh continues and we see that he and all of the people of Egypt are given a choice. They can either believe God and bring in their livestock or they can choose to doubt and let them die. There is no middle ground and each one had to make their own decision. The Israelites would have been seen bringing their livestock in for shelter and the Egyptians had the same choice. This was a picture of the fact that God was going to deal with people on an individual basis for salvation. We also see that this salvation was going to be extended to Gentiles as well as to the Jewish people. It is an individual decision to accept the fact that Jesus is the Son of God and the payment for our sins. If we do not enter into the shelter of that faith, we will all face death (separation from God) and everlasting torture in the depths of hell.
Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.
We see from this passage that some of the Egyptians believed the word of God and brought in their slaves and livestock while others refused. We are reminded that this was not an uninformed decision as they had the examples of the plagues that had already passed. This is a picture of what will happen in the last days. There will be all kinds of plagues and they will be visible to all. Each person will have to decide if they believe the word of God or not. Those that do can take shelter in Jesus while those that do not will be judged and the sentence will be death.
Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt - on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.' When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, The Lord sent thunder and hail , and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields - both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
So, the Lord used Moses to bring about the worst storm in the history of Egypt. It affected the entire country except for the land where the Israelites lived. This is a reminder that God makes a clear distinction between His people and the world at large.
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. 'This time I have sinned,' he said to them. 'The Lord is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you do not have to stay any longer.
It appears that Pharaoh has "seen the light" and is repenting as he calls Moses and Aaron. Many will call out to the Lord or have someone else pray for them when they are in the middle of a tough situation.
Moses replied, 'When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord's. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.'
Pharaoh wanted to be saved and even confessed that he was wrong but was not willing to repent. Moses recognized that as he agreed to pray for him and we see that repentance only comes from godly fear.
(The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom.) The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)
The plague of hail was severe but it did not completely ruin all of the crops. This is a picture of God's divine mercy as He could have destroyed all of the plants and animals but He did not. We will see this pattern again as described by John in the Book of Revelation at chapter 8. We are also reminded that this, in fact, is a limited period of mercy on this earth. There is a final judgment where all will stand and answer but, as we see here, it is when the time is ripe.
Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land.
Once again, Moses prayed for the Lord to extend His mercy to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt. Once again, the Lord answered the prayers of Moses and the plague came to an end. In Revelation, we see a reversal of this prayer as the martyred saints plead for God's judgment upon the earth.
When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. So Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord said through Moses.
Yet again, Pharaoh's true heart was revealed when the plague ended. There had not been a change of mind and so there would be no change in the course of action which is a sign of true repentance.