A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – Day THIRTY-THREE

The storm is comin’, can you see it?

Exodus 9:13-35, The Message

God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me. This time I am going to strike you and your servants and your people with the full force of my power so you’ll get it into your head that there’s no one like me anywhere in all the Earth. You know that by now I could have struck you and your people with deadly disease and there would be nothing left of you, not a trace. But for one reason only I’ve kept you on your feet: To make you recognize my power so that my reputation spreads in all the Earth. You are still building yourself up at my people’s expense. You are not letting them go. So here’s what’s going to happen: At this time tomorrow I’m sending a terrific hailstorm—there’s never been a storm like this in Egypt from the day of its founding until now. So get your livestock under roof—everything exposed in the open fields, people and animals, will die when the hail comes down.'”
All of Pharaoh’s servants who had respect for God‘s word got their workers and animals under cover as fast as they could, but those who didn’t take God‘s word seriously left their workers and animals out in the field.
God said to Moses: “Stretch your hands to the skies. Signal the hail to fall all over Egypt on people and animals and crops exposed in the fields of Egypt.”
Moses lifted his staff to the skies and God sent peals of thunder and hail shot through with lightning strikes. God rained hail down on the land of Egypt. The hail came, hail and lightning—a fierce hailstorm. There had been nothing like it in Egypt in its entire history. The hail hit hard all over Egypt. Everything exposed out in the fields, people and animals and crops, was smashed. Even the trees in the fields were shattered. Except for Goshen where the Israelites lived; there was no hail in Goshen.
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. He said, “I’ve sinned for sure this time—God is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to God. We’ve had enough of God‘s thunder and hail. I’ll let you go. The sooner you’re out of here the better.”
Moses said, “As soon as I’m out of the city, I’ll stretch out my arms to God. The thunder will stop and the hail end so you’ll know that the land is God‘s land. Still, I know that you and your servants have no respect for God.”
(The flax and the barley were ruined, for they were just ripening, but the wheat and spelt weren’t hurt—they ripen later.)

Moses left Pharaoh and the city and stretched out his arms to God. The thunder and hail stopped; the storm cleared.

But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he kept right on sinning, stubborn as ever, both he and his servants. Pharaoh’s heart turned rock-hard. He refused to release the Israelites, as God had ordered through Moses. 

The battle of wills between God and Pharaoh is positively epic. 

And we know who wins.

But, man alive – that Egyptian big shot is one tough cookie. With his stubborn refusal to acknowledge the God of Moses, he has already brought down sorrows untold for his own people:
     water turned to blood,
          frogs up the yin-yang,
               gnats in every crevice,
                    flies beyond belief,
               livestock laid waste by disease,
          boils by the bucketload on the skin of humans and animals,
     and now…a ginormous hail storm is promised/threatened.

Will he never learn?

… You know, I’d like to go on and on, railing against the stupidity and stubbornness of the guy, but I just can’t get there today.

Because I am too often a pharaoh (small ‘p’) all on my own, too often resisting the word of the Lord – even when I know it might get me in a heap of trouble.

     I too often say one thing – and do the opposite.

     I too often nod my head in agreement and at the same time determine in my spirit not to agree, not at all.

     I too often put my need to be the one in charge, the one ‘to whom attention must be paid’ ahead of my stated belief that God is God and not me myself.

     I can only imagine the amount of thunder/lightening/hail I’ve brought down on myself and innocent bystanders because I have gotten in the way of my own best interests and defied the call of God.

Not that I believe God sends all of that as particular punishment for my lack of faith and shortsightedness. But I do believe (and know) that the consequences of my own thoughtlessness and selfishness do rain down on me, all on their own. Oh my, yes.

So, I see myself in this reading today, brought up short and made painfully aware of my penchant for willfulness. 

And all I can do is fall on the mercy of God and cry out for forgiveness. 

And beg for a serious course correction!

How about you? Need a little time for confession as this day begins?


Mighty God, Author of Life and Redeemer of our souls, I confess to you my own pharaoh-like willful streak. I acknowledge my bent for choosing too often to go my own way rather than to seek the way of grace and freedom. As a result, I deal with storms of all kinds, storms that could have been avoided. I rely on your forgiveness, on your kindness and the work of your transformational Spirit to become a softer,  more pliable child of yours, willing to submit, willing to admit dependence. In my own strength, I’m going nowhere fast. But centered in your goodness – there is freedom, there is release, there is a way through the messes I create. Thank you, thank you.

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  1. bradleyjmoore says

    Oh,  do I ever. It’s sobering to step back and look in the mirror at all those shortcomings. But cleansing, too. Thanks for turning a highfalutin’ spiritual finger-pointing exercise into a reflective spiritual examination. There is freedom and release!

  2. Thank you, Bradley, for coming by, for commenting and for being so kind. And thank God for that freedom and release!

  3. Oh that stubborn willfulness, it’s ugly isnt’ it? That was a lovely prayer at the end, one that I take as my own. I don’t want to miss Him for my own blindness in my ways. Thanks Diana!

  4. Thank you for stopping by, Shelly. Nice to see you here! And – you’re welcome.