Exodus 9:19: “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 man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die” (NIV).

Observation: We find this passage in the midst of a series of plagues God brought against Pharaoh’s arrogance, that the Hebrews might gain release.  Blood, gnats, and flies had invaded the land; a disease had killed multitudes of livestock; boils had afflicted every Egyptian; and now God warned of a coming hailstorm, “the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.” But then God gives a clear opportunity for escape: if the livestock and slaves would seek shelter, they would be spared. Some feared God and hid; others ignored the word of the Lord and left themselves fully exposed to destruction.

Application: This is a fascinating interregnum in an otherwise inexorable progression toward the ultimate destruction of Egypt and its ruling elite. I am  generally familiar with the story of plagues. One after the other, they increase in severity until ultimately the lives of the firstborn of every house would be taken; no family in Egypt would escape. Wailing and mourning would fill the land. 

Yet, the day before shards of hail would kill all in its path, God provided a way of escape for those who heeded the warning. Of course, every plague had been foretold; none were a surprise to Pharaoh. But this plague’s warning was different; it came with specific instruction as to how life could be preserved even under a federal covering which itself remains obstinate and unbending. In previous and successive plagues the average Egyptian’s safety depended upon their leader’s response, but not this time. God struck at the heart of a “victim” mentality and made clear each individual’s responsibility for his or her heart response to affliction. 

The child of an alcoholic who himself becomes a drinker; the abused child who becomes an abuser, the abandoned child who grows into adulthood devoid of the capacity for enduring emotional commitment—the argument for all these is completely undercut by today’s passage. Yes, God hates those who would harm one of His little ones; yes, they should wish to be thrown into the sea rather than face His wrath. But I  remain without excuse before God for my heart response to whatever hurts have come. While I have indeed been victimized to some extent by life’s oppressions, I cannot nurse a victim mentality and still expect to escape judgment. In His compassion, God gives a way of escape. He is not only my place of refuge, but He is also a healing stream, eager to wash over and cleanse every broken one among His flock.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for freedom from hurts of the past and present. Thank You for being the God who heals.