As the plagues progress, so does the surety that they are from the Lord. We should remember from chapter 8 that the plague of the flies was kept from the Israelites. We see the same thing with the disease plague that begins chapter 8. Also recall how God has been identifying when the plagues would come and when they would depart. Being able to accurately predict the plague timings as well as preventing one group or geographic area from experiencing it are both proofs that a divine hand is at work.
The sequence of events for each plague has established a familiar pattern. Not every step listed below is represented in every plague, but each plague follows this general outline:
- God tells Moses/Aaron to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go
- Pharaoh is warned that if he refuses, a plague will commence
- A plague comes and decimates the region, sometimes sparing the Israelites
- Pharaoh indicates that he will let the people go if the plague subsides
- The plague ends
- Pharaoh’s heart hardens against the people and he does not let them go
In chapter 9, a disease that kills livestock comes and follows the pattern. Like the plague of the flies, not one of the Israelites’ livestock is killed. Then the sixth plague of boils comes. The Egyptian magicians could not even attempt to replicate the plague of the boils, such was the severity of this plague: “And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.”
Then the plague of Hail comes. With the hail plague comes exposition from God on why He is orchestrating these plagues. Through Moses, God tells Pharaoh that He has increased Egypt and made them prosperous so that they could be in the position they are in now – to be greatly affected by the work of the Lord and be on display as those affected when they do not follow the word of the Lord. God is doing this “that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.” To this end, God is also hardening Pharaoh’s heart.
The hail was devastating to the Egyptians that neglected to stay indoors or to keep their livestock indoors (those that had not perished from the disease plague). The land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was once again spared from plague as the hail did not fall in Goshen.
Pharaoh’s attitude after the hail was the most repentant we have yet seen: “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the Lord, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”
Yet, we see that by the end of this chapter, Pharaoh changes his mind again, and by this time, we are beginning to expect it. For the application tonight, I encourage you to think about how God specified that Egypt was made great right for this moment – to glorify God and spread knowledge of His might and power over all of the earth. If God did this then, let us have faith when we are troubled in the midst of alarming current events. God is in control and we need to have faith that the outcome will be right regardless of how difficult that can be to visualize. Practicing this belief will help to increase our faith.