Today’s Daily Lesson comes from Exodus chapter 9 verses 22-30, and 33-34.
22 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand towards heaven so that hail may fall on the whole land of Egypt, on humans and animals and all the plants of the field in the land of Egypt.’ 23Then Moses stretched out his staff towards heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire came down on the earth. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24there was hail with fire flashing continually in the midst of it, such heavy hail as had never fallen in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25The hail struck down everything that was in the open field throughout all the land of Egypt, both human and animal; the hail also struck down all the plants of the field, and shattered every tree in the field. 26Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, there was no hail. 27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28Pray to the Lord! Enough of God’s thunder and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.’29Moses said to him, ‘As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.30But as for you and your officials, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.’ . . . 33So Moses left Pharaoh, went out of the city, and stretched out his hands to the Lord; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down on the earth. 34But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart, he and his officials.
Jesus said the sun rises on the good and the evil and the rain falls on the just and the unjust. But —at least in this case — the hail fell only on the hard-hearted Egyptians.
The hearts were softened by the disaster. But then, they were hardened again.
Which makes hail a perfect metaphor for Pharaoh and his officials. Just as the appearance of H2O can be liquid or solid or vapor and yet still be the same substance, Pharaoh’s hard heart can soften under certain conditions but then harden again once the conditions change.
Moses knows who Pharaoh really is and Moses won’t buy the promises Pharaoh makes in weakness. Pharaoh’s heart is hard and his words are no good. Once the winds change, he’s right back to who he’s always been.
Moses will strike a deal with Pharaoh for today. But Moses also knows that in spite of whatever gestures Pharaoh might make under current political conditions, the Israelites will need to watch out because it’s still the same old Pharaoh in substance.