Heading for Checkmate
Almighty Lord God, may everyone in all the earth recognize You as the Lord and honor Your holy name.
Read Exodus 9:13-35
 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me,  or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.  For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.  But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.  You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go.  Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.  Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.'”  Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.  But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field.  Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt-on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.”  When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt;  hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.  Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields-both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree.  The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.  Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.  Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.”  Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the LORD’s.  But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the LORD God.”  (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom.  The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)  Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the LORD; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land.  When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts.  So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the LORD had said through Moses. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat did God say was the purpose of this plague?
Pharaoh plays a game with God: he begs for the plagues to end, but hardens his heart as soon as they have (8:15,32). Perhaps Pharaoh believes that the Lord’s power is limited and that, if he can simply outlast God, he’ll win. Even when his own magicians have admitted defeat and his officials tell him that he has ruined Egypt, Pharaoh will not concede (8:18,19; 9:11; 10:7). He wants to negotiate concessions when he should be surrendering (10:8-11). God will show Pharaoh that “I, the Lord, am in this land” (8:22). He does so by preserving the Israelites from the plagues (8:23; 9:6,7,26). Pharaoh might have retreated into his palace from the bloody Nile, but God’s plagues pursue him even there (8:3,24). He won’t accept that the Lord is God even in Egypt, or that God’s authority is greater than his. Pharaoh has reached a point of no return. Locusts are coming, and there’s no way of preventing that devastation. Pharaoh will not relent in his stubbornness and pride, so his power must be broken. Pharaoh is playing a game with God, and checkmate is coming.
Ask the Lord this question: “Is there any area in my life where my heart is hard and unresponsive?”
Lord God, I gladly acknowledge You as my God and King. May I never foolishly play games with You!