Read Exodus 9
Focus on verse 20-21
I will admit that I have always liked to play with fire…literally! Fire fascinates me, but not the way it fascinates psychopathic pyromaniacs…fortunately. Growing up on the farm provided plenty of opportunities to indulge this fascination, particularly in spring and fall when the the grass was tall and dry, but the ground was still wet. We didn’t often burn off stubble fields the way some of our neighbors did, but we did on occasion do some controlled burning of long grass to prevent buildings from being damaged should there ever be an uncontrolled burn in the area.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that fire was hot. Oh, I had plenty of warnings, but being the inquisitive type of person I am, I had to confirm these theories of just how hot it really was. After all how could I be sure without first hand experience? As you can guess, I discovered that the theories were accurate, and that the lesson was painful. Fortunately, it was never a serious burn, and the blisters always healed after a few days.
In today’s reading the Egyptians are given a choice: they can choose to heed the warning about the deadly hail, or they can ignore it to their peril. Apparently there were some many who heeded the warning and some who did not. It turned out to be a destructive choice for those who chose not to listen.
Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field. (v. 20-21)
With the plague of the hail, the Lord begins to differentiate even amongst the Egyptians between those who fear Him and those who do not. The Egyptians are specifically warned to take cover or take the consequences. It makes me wonder if Pharaoh noticed how many Egyptians were listening to Moses? Perhaps this is in part why he pleads for Moses to stop the hail, could it be that he is beginning to see that he is beginning to lose the hearts of his people? The question is left unanswered since the text does not reveal it, but it does inform us that there are at least some Egyptians who are beginning to respect and fear the God of Moses, even if Pharaoh is not. The other significant thing we are reminded of by God’s dealing with the Egyptians is His grace and mercy in giving those Egyptians who choose to heed Him the opportunity to escape this plague.