Friday, June 12th, 2020
In this blog post, I wish to take you to the Nile delta, where I invite you close your eyes and imagine some extremely severe weather. Picture a severe and intense thunder storm, with lots of rumbling, tremendous explosive cracks, and frequent, intense flashes of lightning. Now add some sustained heavy hail — extremely heavy hail, pummeling your rooftop for a prolonged period of time. The sound of the thunder and the hail terrifies everyone, especially the crying children. The hail is coming down so hard that you wonder if your roof can withstand the intensity of the bombardment, not to mention the weight of the accumulating hailstones. If you briefly consider whether to run outside to bring your animals to shelter, you immediately banish the thought. It is far too dangerous. You realize that you simply cannot go out there, because the bodily risk to yourself is too great. The surprising size and sheer speed of the hailstones could severely injure or even kill you. Sadly, neither the animals nor the maturing crops will survive out there; nor would you, should you foolishly go out there. You have no choice but to cower in fear as you shelter in place, until this ferocious and fearsome storm finally passes.
What you might not know is that your national leaders were actually forewarned about it. They had been told in advance that this destructive storm was going to occur. They had a heads-up. They had been given a very accurate weather forecast. Not only were they told that the storm was coming, they were advised to tell the populace to protect themselves, their families, their animals, and their neighbors. Some of your leaders took heed of the forewarning and spread the word. But many of them scoffed and chose to ignore it. They chose to ignore it because they did not like the messenger. They held him and his unknown god in disdain.
The Book of Exodus says that this historically unprecedented hailstorm actually pummeled the property of the polytheistic Egyptians. This plague was the seventh of the ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians and their obstinate Pharaoh.
Exodus 9:20-21 says this: “Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses; but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field.”
Everything hinged on how the servants of Pharaoh responded to the word of the LORD. Did they fear the word of the LORD or not? Did they consider the word of the LORD credible or not? Were they humble enough to accept what they heard and act upon it? Some of them were, some were not.
Consider that. Put yourself in their sandals. It is sobering.
Enough said? I could end this blog post right here. If I say nothing more, I have given you enough to consider for today. But I want to connect this to my over-arching objective. If you have followed my previous posts, you know I have one over-arching objective, which is to interpret the timely and pertinent Book of Revelation.
Do you remember the character Mr. Miyagi from the movie Karate Kid? The movie came out when I was a teenager. Karate was a popular martial-art back in the 80s. Near the beginning of the movie, a would-be martial arts student played by Ralph Macchio asks Mr. Miyagi to teach him karate. Mr. Miyagi agrees, but first asks his eager teenage student to paint his fence and wax his car. Mr. Miyagi insists that Ralph paint his fence in a very exact and somewhat strange way, using a particular up-down vertical form. Mr. Miyagi also insisted that Ralph wax his car in a very exact and somewhat strange way, using a particular clockwise/counter-clockwise circular form. What Mr. Miyagi did not explain up front was that Ralph would actually be learning karate moves by painting as instructed and by waxing as instructed. Ralph was learning proper karate techniques without even realizing it. Painting a particular way was a karate technique. Waxing a particular way was another karate technique. Ralph nearly gave in to impatience and gave up on Mr. Miyagi before everything was explained. There was a method to Mr. Miyagi’s madness.
There is a method to my historical madness. Through many of the historical accounts I portray, I am walking my readers or listeners through the events that I believe are subtly referenced in the Book of Revelation. Sometimes I talk about other historical events, simply because I enjoy doing so; I was a history major, after all. But more often than not, I focus on the events to which the Book of Revelation refers or alludes. The seventh plague on Egypt is one such allusion. In context of the whole plague-filled chapter, Revelation 8:7 seems to subtly point back to the hailstorm of Exodus chapter nine. If so, why? Why does Revelation 8:7 point back to seventh plague on Egypt? I want to suggest that the answer may have something to do with how someone hears and responds to the word of the LORD. Does that person fear and heed the word of the LORD? Or does that person scoff at the word of the LORD and reject it?
If my reading is right, then the hail represents the judgment of God. Those who heed the word of the LORD are protected when judgment passes through. Those who do not heed the word of the LORD are pummeled and suffer loss.
Take heed to the weather forecast. Take heed to the word of the LORD.