The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses;Exodus 9:20(NASB)
The theme of Exodus is redemption and the founding of Israel. Half of the book details the birth and commissioning of Moses and his return to Egypt, following His 40 years' sojourn as a shepherd in Midian. It describes his confrontations with Pharaoh; the ten terrible plagues that challenged the ten gods of Egypt; Israel's first Passover meal; their exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea.
Pharaoh's repeated refusal to let God's people go resulted in 10 terrible plagues that severely affected every Egyptian life. Each plague was designed to show the supremacy of God over Egypt's pagan deities, and the seventh pestilence was terrifying hail, with thunderous lightning flashing through it. The hailstorm was so severe that nothing like it had occurred in the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.
The Lord is a just God and rebellion must be judged... but by God's grace Moses was told to inform the Egyptians of the coming hailstorm and advised them bring their livestock, and all they had in the field, into shelters. He warned them that any people and animal left outside in the field would die when the hail fell.
As with all God's wonderful works, His purpose is to show that He is the Lord and there is no power in heaven or earth that is able to withstand His awesome presence. The severity of the previous six judgements caused many in Pharaoh's court to recognise the almighty power of God; respond to the warning they received and honour His holy name, for "there were those among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD."
Having witnessed the devastating results of the six, previous plagues, certain Egyptians determined not to be harmed by the hailstones. They had already experienced Egypt's water turning to blood - together with the infestation of frogs; lice; flies; the pestilence on the livestock and the festering boils that affected both man and animals. And so we read that "whoever feared the message from the LORD among Pharaoh's officials made his servants and livestock flee into shelters" - before the hail fell.
God had determined that no hail would fall on the land of Goshan, where the children of Israel lived. However, men and animals remaining in Egyptian fields were affected and crops, that were ready for harvest, were destroyed. Perhaps it was the extreme severity of this seventh plage that caused Pharoah to temporarily repent of his sin against the Lord - but it was soon replaced by a heart that was hardened against Him.
There are many that condemn the judgements of God. They accuse Him of careless disregard for human life and portray Him as angry and uncaring. However sin must always be punished and when God's plan of redemption is traced from Genesis to Revelation, it is the long-suffering and merciful nature of God that is clearly identified in all His wonderful works... and His goodness and grace towards the rebellious heart of man is clearly seen.
It is not God's will that any should perish and over and again God gave Pharaoh the opportunity to repent of His sin and the people of Egypt were given many opportunities to trust in the Lord and respond to His Word - as did those among the servants of Pharaoh during the plague of hail - for those who feared the word of the LORD instructed their servants and livestock to flee into the houses, so they might receive His gift of life.
Heavenly Father, it is most wonderful to realise that through the ten terrible plagues of Egypt, which caused such hardship for so many, we can trace Your long-suffering mercy towards fallen man and Your perfect plan of redemption for those that will listen to Your voice; obey Your instructions; turn from their wicked ways and believe on You. Thank You that in the past, as well as in this present time, it is not Your will that any should perish but that all should come to repentance - turn from their sin and trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin. Praise Your holy name, AMEN