And 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. — Exodus 9:34
Madalyn Murray O’Hair gained fame after her lawsuits, Murray v. Curlett, and Schempp v. School District of Abington Township, were heard by the United States Supreme Court in 1963. She declared that her son, William, had been mistreated for not participating in the required daily opening exercises, which included Bible reading. The Court ruled that compulsory Bible reading and prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional. Following that decision, Madalyn Murray O’Hair became a spokesperson for atheism, and created a nonprofit organization called American Atheists. She sought for the removal of “In God We Trust” from the United States currency and wanted the phrase “under God” taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance. She was vocal, forceful, and zealous in her causes, which prompted many people to hate her. In 1995 she disappeared, and in time it was discovered that she had been gruesomely murdered.
In contrast, Murray O’Hair’s son, William, whose rights she sought to defend in her lawsuit, converted to Christianity in 1980 and became a Baptist preacher. He is active in Christian causes today. However, his conversion prompted a breach between him and his mother that was never resolved.
Every individual has a free choice of whether or not to serve God. Madalyn Murray O’Hair chose, her son William chose, and Pharaoh in Egypt chose. The focus verse states that Pharaoh hardened his heart. When he saw God’s workings and power, he repeatedly refused to submit himself. Some of the synonyms for hard-hearted include “unfeeling,” “unmerciful,” and “pitiless.” What a description of the type of man Pharaoh must have been! Though the Egyptians were being devastated and were suffering great distress because of his choices, Pharaoh still would not yield. He continued to resist the Lord and His servants, and each act of disobedience only hardened his heart more.
This should be a lesson to us. Each rejection of God results in a weakened conscience and lessens the ability of an individual to respond correctly the next time. When a person repeatedly chooses to ignore the Voice of God, the day may come when he no longer hears God’s call.
Christians must also be cautious to respond quickly to the Spirit. When God directs a particular course of action or instructs us in any way, let us be quick to yield and obey!
In this text, God continued to demonstrate His power as He sent three more plagues upon Egypt.
The fifth plague (verses 1-7) was a pestilence on the Egyptians’ livestock which were in the fields. The murrain was some type of highly contagious and fatal disease. Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh when this plague would begin, so some Egyptians heeded and took their animals out of the fields. The cattle of the Hebrews were protected from this plague, and confirmation of that fact contributed to the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart. The Egyptians worshipped many animals and animal-headed gods, and thus once again God showed His sovereignty over their false religious deities.
Pharaoh was given no warning of the sixth plague (verses 8-12), which was boils upon man and beasts. God turned ashes into small dust that went throughout Egypt, causing sores. The “furnace” where Moses obtained the ashes was likely a brick kiln used by the Hebrews in their slave labor. The magicians, who had been able to imitate earlier plagues, were also smitten and unable to produce a cure. There is no further reference to the magicians as the account of plagues continues.
The seventh plague (verses 13-35) was preceded with a warning. In the original language, “Now I will stretch out my hand” (verse 15) indicated something God could have done in the past, but chose not to. God was letting Pharaoh know that he could have been destroyed because of his willful determination not to yield. Instead God had chosen to let him live, and sent the plagues as evidence of His supremacy (verse 14) to the people of the whole earth (verse 16). Some in Egypt had come to respect God, and they heeded the warning, fleeing into their houses. Others ignored the warning and lost servants and cattle (verses 20-21).
Rain was not common in Egypt, and the storm God sent was fierce. The hail was large enough to destroy agriculture, trees, animals, and people. Based on the reference to the crops (verses 31-32), it is possible that this storm took place between January and March. The flax, which had been budding (bolled), was ruined. It was used to make linen, which was a choice fabric in Egypt.
The violent storm caused Pharaoh to fear and admit that he was wrong. But he demonstrated no repentance, and his heart was not changed. Once the storm was over, he still would not let the Israelites go.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The oppression of Israel in Egypt
C. The struggles with Pharaoh
3. The judgments on Egypt
b. The plagues on Egypt
(5) Pestilence upon the livestock (9:1-7)
(6) Boils (9:8-12)
(7) Hail (9:13-35)
We want to choose to yield to God’s plan. May we always have a soft heart toward the Lord and His will!