Hail; Part 1
We come now to the seventh sign and wonder. This is the longest section in the plague section of Exodus. In this particular sign and wonder we see to main things, along with the major themes of God’s power, preservation, punishment and purpose we see the answer to the question of why this continues to happen. God has shown his power over the last 6 signs and wonders, bringing death and destruction to the land of Egypt. However long this has been going on this has had devastating effects to the nation that might have called itself strong and able to withstand great drought and famine. Why does every passage end with refrain or something similar, Pharaoh hardened his heart? The Lord has told Pharaoh through Moses, “For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth.” The Lord mentions that he could of sent a great disease upon the people of the land of Egypt and they would of all dropped off the face of the earth silently. A lethal disease that would put an end to all the Egyptians. However, the Lord did not seek to do it this way. The Lord chose things that we visible and powerful. Phenomena that have never been seen ever before. Most of the time explaining to Pharaoh through Moses what exactly was going to happen. Not small signs that cannot be seen but great signs and wonders of grandeur and scale. Water to blood, frogs found in kneading bowls, flies and gnats, death of livestock, boils over the people of Egypt and their animals. The Lord is doing something through these signs and wonders, and in this passage, we find out exactly what he is doing.
Making himself Known
Pharaoh is told that he is sent all the plagues so that he would know that there is none like the Lord in all the earth. Particularly Pharaoh is told that the Lord will send all his plagues on Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh when he first heard from Moses that he was to let the Lord’s people go his response was, who is the LORD? (Ex 5:2). Pharaoh who worships a plethora of false gods thinking these false idols are the ones that provides life, protection, and prosperous nation. However, each time Pharaoh’s false gods are unable to save him, protect him or his nation. There is no god like the one true living God. Particularly, the God of the Hebrews, the LORD. We should not be surprised then when the Ten commandments are given to the People of God at Saini that the Lord says, “You should have no other gods before me” 9Ex 20:3). The Westminster Shorter Catechism explains what is required in the first commandment, we often think of the ten commandments as thou shalt nots but in the command is a requirement not only a prohibition. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the holy true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.” The first aspect is that we need to know and acknowledge God to be the holy true God. We will speak more of this when we get to Exodus 20, yet we see God has done all of these plagues and brought them upon the Land of Egypt so that Pharaoh will know there is none like the Lord in all the earth.
Making his power known
Secondly, we see these signs and wonders done so that Pharaoh will know of God’s power. We are told this is the reason that God has raised up Pharaoh, to show God’s power. Not only do we see God’s power in the signs and wonders but here we see something that is hard for us to be able to wrap our finite brains around, but Pharaoh sits on this throne because God has placed him there. He sits his throne because God has raised him up. We often think that God responds to the world as it spins and reacts and makes the best of the worst situations. Now this might be easier for us to fathom, however we should be very worries if this is the case. We would have no hope of tomorrow. Because God cannot promise or even know what is going to happen tomorrow. It is much easier for us to say God will use bad situations to help us out, or turn them to good in the end. Read the headlines, or scroll through your social media feed. Although it might sound good hoping that God will be able to make this bad thing into a good thing, that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us that God is sovereign over everything. God ordains everything that comes to pass. The wicked evil Pharaoh with his hard heart sits on his throne because God placed him there. The people of God were enslaved for 400 years because God ordained that to happen. Now we start to ask questions. I will argue that this is the only way we can have comfort, salvation, and also a powerful God. But before we get to speak of God, we need to see that God is not the author of sin. Who sinned in the book of Exodus, God is not guilty, it is Pharaoh. He is the agent God uses to carry out his plan, you see that in this passage. God raised Pharaoh up. Now the Pharaoh had a different plan and purpose. Pharaoh is exalting himself against God’s people (vs 17). However, God’s purpose and plan is to save his people, but also make his name known among all the nations (we will get there shortly).
Does this mean God’s acts unjustly? Is there injustice on God’s part? How can God judge sinners for sinning when God uses their sin to carry out his purpose and plan? How can anyone resist God’s will? These are great questions and you are in good company because these are the exact question Paul asks in Romans chapter 9. Paul uses Pharaoh as the example, and he quotes from Exodus chapter 9:16. In Romans chapter Paul is explaining that God’s word has not failed but God’s word does what God intended his word to do. In the case of Pharaoh, God shows mercy to those whom he shows mercy. God also hardened whom he desires to harden (Romans 9:18). Paul then uses the great illustration of a clay pot that argues with the potter. The image is the potter throws the clay upon the wheel and starts to spin the vessel, but the vessel turns back and starts arguing. How true is this in today’s world? Everybody is told be who you want to be. Mold yourself into whatever you want. The potter has made you but the doctor can change you. Not even on a physical level, but in reality, we all do this. Made to glorify God and enjoy him forever, yet we seek mold what we are made for to glorify ourselves and enjoy the desires of this world.
Making his patience shown
Paul later in Romans chapter nine asks, “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,” (Rom 9:22). God shows his wrath and make known his power, we see this clearly in all of these signs and wonders. Pharaoh hardened his heart, holding onto his sin. But we cannot say that God is not patient with Pharaoh. The Lord gives warning as he did here in this sign and wonder. We see that Pharaoh is told what is coming, when it is coming and even given the chance to be able to listen to the Lord. That we are told in Exodus 9:20-21 that whoever feared the word of the Lord brought in their animals, but then there are those who did not pay attention to God’s word and their animals died. Paul says in Romans that The Lord endures with much patience. We often thing God’s patience is only displayed to those who are his. However, God’s character is not one of haste and spur of the moment reactions. God is long-suffering, and he shows his patience to even vessels of wrath. Not only patience Paul emphases that it is much patience. As we read through each of these signs and wonders we see God show his long-suffering even towards Pharaoh himself. God is slow to anger (Ex 34:6; Ps 86:15). However, unlike his mercy and grace that never come to an end he is slow to anger but he does have a time when his patience expires. Peter says this clearly in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” His patience has a purpose, that people should repent. Paul makes the same point in Romans 2:4, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
Pharaoh will continually change his mind. He has been warned about what is coming next, but he is not warned when the last chance will be. It is a dangerous way to live, thinking that tomorrow is certain. That we have days ahead of us. Statistics are just that numbers based on data, but statistics have no guarantee. You flip a coin ten times over and each time it lands on heads, does not have any effect on the new time you flip the coin. Just because God was patient with Pharaoh does not mean that Pharaoh will have another chance. Same for us, do not think that tomorrow is the day you will ask the Lord to help you with your sin. Do not think that tomorrow is the day that you will finally repent? Do not think that you don’t need Jesus today, maybe you will tomorrow. God’s mercies are new every morning, we do not have that promise about God’s patience.
Making his name proclaimed
All of this happens so that God’s name would be proclaimed in all the earth. Moses tells Pharaoh, God raised him up to show God’s power so that people all over the earth would hear about the one true living God. This is Paul’s exact argument in Romans 9. The “What if” question Paul starting in verse 22 continues to explain that God patiently endures with vessels of wrath “in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (Rom 9:23–24). He shows his wrath and makes known his power to make known the riches of his glory. Particularly to the vessels he prepared for mercy. The difference is that God shows one vessel his power and wrath but another he shows mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. We were just like the rest of mankind, children of wrath, yet God who is rich in mercy made us alive together with Christ (Eph 2:1-6). We cannot seek to understand God’s sovereign plan of salvation. Paul explains in Romans, that we often ask the wrong question. The question seeks to put God in the stand and interrogate his justice or injustice on his part. However, he asks the question what if God’s plan didn’t fail, but what if exactly what God intended it to do that people would hear about God’s power but also his mercy. This is exactly what happens in the Exodus, in chapter 18 we will meet Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law), and he will exclaim, “”Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods.” Continue to read and you find out about a prostitute names Rahab who had heard about the great things God had done (Josh 2).
This is the main story of the Bible, not only that some would know of who God is, but that they would know him and his wonderful power, but also his mercy and grace. That they would hear and believe. They would hear of God’s power of Salvation shown in the gospel message of the cross. Paul explains in Romans chapter ten then we need preachers to preach this message. We need people to be able to hear about what God has done. We need people to tell of God’s never-ending mercy and his abundant grace. We need to people to go and tell people like Rahab. This is why Christ before he acceded into heaven charged the disciples to be his witnesses not only in the region which they lived but in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth ( Acts 1:8). The first thing they did was to devote themselves in prayer, the next was to preach. These are two of the main ways the church accomplishes her mission, where God shows forth his these means of grace. Preaching and prayer.
So let us all praise God for his mercy he has shown to us, but also let us also pray that more people would hear of God’s grace and mercy. That we would see our part to play in God’s mission to know God but also to make God known. Are we patient with those around us, as Paul explains to Timothy, “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Tim 1:16). Do we seek to tell others about what a great and glorious God we serve? Who is someone in your life you could begin to pray for that they might hear of his mercy and grace? Who is someone you could tell this week?