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.” 23 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; 24 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. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.
27 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. 28 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.”
Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of behaviour. It is a turning – to God and away from sin. Pharaoh did not repent. He used repentant sounding language. But as the rest of the story unfolds we will again see that his heart and conduct remained unchanged. He was still the same Pharaoh. He regretted the consequences of his sin. He didn’t like it hailing and thundering, and wanted it to stop. But he didn’t want to stop sinning. Not really. He just wanted to stop suffering. Pharaoh had regret, but he did not repent.
I’ve started to re-read a book I first worked through many years ago: ‘Revolution of Character’, by Dallas Willard and Don Simpson. It was published in 2006. Today I came across these words, and thought them relevant to our passage:
“In our present thought world, the horror of our ruin is hidden from polite and enlightened conversation. Sin as a condition of the human self is not available philosophically or ethically to explain why life proceeds as it does. For example, why do around half of American marriages fail, or why do we have massive problems with substance addiction and with the “moral failures” of public leaders? The thinkers who are supposed to know such things are lost in speculation about “causes.” Meanwhile, the real source of our failures lies in our choices and the factors at work in them. Choice is where the potential for sin dwells.”
The weather is going to change, and then Pharaoh is going to continue with choosing badly. It will be his ruin. You can’t resist God and win!