Reconciling God’s wrath with his love has always proven a most strenuous theological exercise for me. It is so hard, for example, to understand God in the midst of something like a monstrous tsunami or a devastating tornado. In his book, The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis assures us that God is obviously far wiser than we are, and therefore, operates out of a much deeper understanding of love and judgment. A comforting thought, no doubt, but I still find myself at times wrestling with the destruction that the storms of life often inflict. In today’s passage, God uses a storm to show both his might and his tender care.
- Has God ever used a storm in your life to teach you more about him? To draw you closer to him in your desperation?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 9:13-26 (ESV)
13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 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. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.”’” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” 23 Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- The hail inaugurated the last and most severe cycle of plagues issued to Pharaoh and Egypt. In verse 14, what did God say was the purpose behind the plagues?
- What did God tell Pharaoh about his power and place in history in verses 15 and 16? What does this show us about God’s sovereignty in both good times and bad?
- Even in the face of Pharaoh’s arrogant rebellion, God showed mercy through a warning (vs. 19). What does this tell us about the character of God?
- The plague of hail was God’s direct dismantling of the perceived power of three Egyptian gods: Nut, the sky goddess, who could not foresee the storm; Osiris, the god of crop fertility, who could not protect the agriculture from being destroyed; and Set, the storm god, who could not hold back the storm. What does the passage say about the amount of destruction caused by the hail, and what would this have done to the economic and religious structure of Egypt (vss. 22-26)? How could this dismantling be used to give God glory and point the Egyptians to faith in him?
- What storms are raging in your life? Is it possible that God is seeking to get your attention by dismantling your own system of idolatry?
RESPOND TO GOD
In today’s story we see three sections of people affected by the storm. Those first impacted were Pharaoh and the people who did not heed God’s warning. Second were the Egyptians who believed God and took shelter, and finally, there were the Israelites whom God sheltered because of their relationship with him. This presents a strong depiction of our experiences in this fractured world. Sometimes, we face storms due to our direct rebellion. Other times, we are caught up in the destruction caused by the rebellion of those around us. There are also those times when we are protected from the devastation altogether. Whatever the circumstance, God can use it for our good and his glory.
- Ask God to illuminate for you what role you might be playing in the storms of your life.
- Take time to pray for those around you who are facing storms. Encourage them to take shelter in God’s peace and sovereignty.