13The Lord told Moses to get up early the next morning and say to the king:
The Lord God of the Hebrews commands you to let his people go, so they can worship him! 14If you don't, he will send his worst plagues to strike you, your officials, and everyone else in your country. Then you will find out that no one can oppose the Lord. 15In fact, he could already have sent a terrible disease and wiped you from the face of the earth. 16 But he has kept you alive, just to show you his power and to bring honor to himself everywhere in the world.
17You are still determined not to let the Lord's people go. 18All right. At this time tomorrow, he will bring on Egypt the worst hailstorm in its history. 19You had better give orders for every person and every animal in Egypt to take shelter. If they don't, they will die.
20Some of the king's officials were frightened by what the Lord had said, and they hurried off to make sure their slaves and animals were safe. 21But others paid no attention to his threats and left their slaves and animals out in the open.
22Then the Lord told Moses, “Stretch your arm toward the sky, so that hailstones will fall on people, animals, and crops in the land of Egypt.” 23-24 Moses pointed his walking stick toward the sky, and hailstones started falling everywhere. Thunder roared, and lightning flashed back and forth, striking the ground. This was the worst storm in the history of Egypt. 25People, animals, and crops were pounded by the hailstones, and bark was stripped from trees. 26Only Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was safe from the storm.
27The king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, “Now I have really sinned! My people and I are guilty, and the Lord is right. 28We can't stand any more of this thunder and hail. Please ask the Lord to make it stop. Your people can go—you don't have to stay in Egypt any longer.”
29Moses answered, “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my arms in prayer. When the thunder and hail stop, you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord. 30But I am certain that neither you nor your officials really fear the Lord God.”
31Meanwhile, the flax and barley crops had been destroyed by the storm because they were ready to ripen. 32But the wheat crops ripen later, and they were not damaged.
33After Moses left the royal palace and the city, he lifted his arms in prayer to the Lord, and the thunder, hail, and drenching rain stopped. 34When the king realized that the storm was over, he disobeyed once more. He and his officials were so stubborn 35that he refused to let the Israelites go. This was exactly what the Lord had said would happen.
In the desert land of Egypt, God sends a wildly destructive hailstorm. The Egyptians worshipped fire and water so it seemed like their gods were judging them from the sky. The Lord takes the time here to expound a lesson. His purpose is clear, “…just to show you his power and to bring honor to himself everywhere in the world.” The Lord tells Pharaoh that he could have wiped the people out completely but he wants them to know who he is (vv 14-16). His goal is to save not destroy. The apostle Paul repeats this lesson in Romans 9:10 to emphasize God’s power, justice and mercy.
The Gentiles are now beginning to fear the God of Israel and obey him. The Egyptians who believed Moses’ message sheltered their servants and livestock and were spared their destruction. The purpose of God’s story is being realized in this passage. Those who did not know him and saw his character displayed in acts of power over their lives chose to turn and believe. God’s justice is married to his mercy and their divine partnership is displayed here.
I visited a Jewish woman several years ago who did not believe in Jesus. I offered to pray for her and she said that if God answered her request for a job in Jesus’ name, she would have to be open to faith. The story has a happy ending. God responded miraculously to her prayer, she explored the Bible and put her trust in the Messiah of Israel. Often in the midst of suffering and uncomfortable circumstances, God’s purpose is to bring us closer to him. Well-known 20th century author, C.S. Lewis writes, “Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” When life’s hailstorms threaten to overwhelm us, we can take shelter in our Lord.
Saving God, you have made your name known throughout the earth. In your power you made yourself personal. Help us to see your purpose in our lives in every situation. May we be faithful to display your story in our lives so others will obey you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.