Summary: The last plagues before Passover prove Yahweh’s power over Pharaoh and Egypt and give hope to believers under the New Covenant.
Before we move on to the next plague in our study in the Exodus I want to remember, first of all, the context of the promise as a whole. If you'll remember, Adam and Eve fell in the garden and it was then that God promised to send a seed through the woman that would redeem them and crush the head of the serpent. That promise resurfaces all throughout the book of Genesis, and we see a great deal more of it in the story of Abraham who was called out of an idolatrous land and promised a land of his own and descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky.
Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob, and Jacob had twelve sons who would be the fathers of the nation of Israel. During the course of time this family came to reside in the land of Egypt, and there they stayed until they grew powerful, and the Egyptians feared them and subjected them to slavery. 400 years passed, and the people cried out to God until he finally sent a man named Moses to deliver them out and lead them into the Promised Land.
Moses commanded freedom from Pharaoh, but God had supernaturally hardened his heart so that he wouldn’t listen: “Who is Yahweh?” he demanded to know, “and why should I obey him?” (5:2) The answer comes from Yahweh himself in the form of ten plagues “that ye may know,” says Yahweh, “that there is none like me in all the earth” (9:14). The Exodus is a showdown between the God of the Hebrews and the gods of Egypt, and it’s a fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham and his descendants.
There’s a second thing we need to remember before we get into this next plague, and that is the spiritual significance behind the story. This is more than just a lesson in ancient Israelite and Egyptian history; we’ll read in the New Testament that these things are all “examples and shadows” (Heb. 8:5) representing bigger and/or better truths. The tabernacle, the sacrifices, and the priests all represent something in the New Covenant. Even the nation of Israel itself foreshadows God’s people who are called out and brought into a Promised Land.
These are those who are circumcised in their hearts and share in Abraham’s faith. They are the heirs of the promise, and when we read of the Exodus we have to see it from that New Covenant perspective; it’s a model or a shadow of what God has done for us spiritually. He sent a Savior better than Moses, freed us from spiritual bondage to a spiritual Pharaoh, and promised us a spiritual city where he will dwell with us and wipe out all the effects of the curse. The Exodus for us is a revelation of Christ and the gospel and is a source of hope and comfort!
So far the water has turned to blood, frogs have invaded the land, lice and swarms of insects have bitten and devoured the people, disease has killed the cattle, and the people have broken out with boils. Despite all this, and despite the fact that Israel has suffered none of it, Pharaoh refuses to comply, so the Lord promises hail for the next plague. This is where we left off last time, and it’s where we pick back up again today:
17As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now. 19Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses: 21And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.
Pharaoh still refused to let the people go, so the Lord promises to send hail like Egypt has never seen. It’s interesting that he gives fair warning so that those who believe won’t suffer consequences, but it’s astounding that some still did not regard the word of the Lord! This attitude persists today in those who see God’s glory in the heavens and yet deny his existence; they would rather believe a lie than the truth, and this is the case with the Egyptians.
22And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the LORD is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the LORD’s. 30But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the LORD God. 31And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. 32But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the LORD: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.