Through the mouth of Moses, the Lord demanded the release of His people; but Pharaoh stubbornly opposed the idea. The great contest here was over whose word would stand. The plague of flies had been taken away, but the obstinate king still refused to permit his Hebrew slaves to go and worship their God. Therefore, according to the warning of Moses, another plague struck the land. This time, it affected the Egyptians’ cattle, and caused them to die by some sort of sickness or disease. The people of Egypt had impoverished the Hebrews, and now God was making the Egyptians poor as well. They worshiped their cattle; and if we make an idol out of something, it is perfectly just for God to remove it from us. However, the Lord made a clear and visible difference between the Egyptians and the Hebrews, for not one of the Hebrews’ cattle died. But even when Pharaoh heard this news, his heart was still not humbled. This proud tyrant and cruel oppressor deserved to be humiliated by the just Judge of the universe. The Bible refers to his tragic state of mind as the “stony heart,” and it is very different from the “broken and contrite heart” that the Psalmist speaks of.
The Egyptians were not moved by the death of their cattle. Therefore, without any warning, God sent a plague of boils that afflicted their own bodies. If lesser judgments do not work, He will send greater ones. This plague was very grievous. Even the magicians themselves were struck with the boils. Their power had been restrained before; but they continued to withstand Moses, and to confirm Pharaoh in his unbelief, until they themselves were forced to give way to the Lord. Yet Pharaoh still continued to be obstinate! He had hardened his heart; and now God justly gave him up to his own heart’s lusts, and permitted Satan to blind him.
Moses was now ordered to deliver a dreadful message to Pharaoh “early in the morning” on the day after the plague of boils (verse 13). The next judgment that was about to be unleashed was a most significant instance of God’s power to bring down even the proudest of His enemies. However, whenever His justice threatens ruin, His mercy also shows a way of escape from it. Even if Pharaoh would not yield, and prevent the judgment itself; yet any of the Egyptians could still take warning and have time to find shelter for themselves, their families, and their property. Some of the people did believe the things which Moses spoke, and they wisely brought their servants and cattle home. Even among Pharaoh’s servants, there were some who trembled at God’s Word.
This plague of hail was mixed with fire and thunder, and it worked great havoc for the Egyptians. It killed both people and animals; the crops above ground were destroyed, and only those which had not yet sprouted up were preserved. But again, in this plague, the land of Goshen – where the Hebrews lived – was preserved from these judgments. Here we see that the encircling provisions of the Lord’s Covenant is the only spot in which our souls stand safely. The Hebrews remained in Goshen and were unharmed, for God had bound Himself by the most solemn promises to be their Savior and their Deliverer. It was in fulfillment of this promise that He was their pavilion and canopy in this awful hour – catching the hailstones in His wings, and preserving them from hurt. As soon as we trust in Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, He becomes our hiding-place from the storms of judgment and condemnation (Ps. 32:7).
A remarkable result followed this judgment of the Almighty; for we read in verse 27 that for the first time, Pharaoh acknowledged, “I have sinned; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.” We have thus seen this proud monarch humbled, step by step. He had been contesting every inch of ground with the Omnipotent One, and he had always been obliged to recede in defeat. First, he was driven to recognize God’s power, then to feel His wrath, next to yield a constrained and partial-obedience to His commands, and now to acknowledge his own utter inferiority by confessing himself to be a sinner.
Pharaoh’s confession, however, was like the repentance of Judas; it was only another step in the wide path which leads to destruction. It was the transient “sorrow of the world” – of which the Apostle says, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Let us pray that our repentance may be of the Godly kind.
Moses had reason to think that Pharaoh would repent of his repentance, and he told him so; yet he promised to plead with God on his behalf. Moses went out of the city to pray to the Lord, notwithstanding the hail and lightning which kept Pharaoh and his servants indoors. Of course, after the tremendous judgment was over, Pharaoh’s fair promises were forgotten.
Lord, how awful are Your judgments, but how comforting are Your mercies! May we never lose sight of those distinguishing marks of Your love to Your people, even in times of peril. It is a sweet relief to our poor afflicted souls, when we are under trials, that You know how to deliver Your Godly ones out of temptation. Jesus is still our hiding-place from the storm, and our refuge from the tempest. How blessed we are to be able to find our safety in Him! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
original photo by Tineke Ziemer | Lightstock.com