The patient method of God is manifest in that, notwithstanding the fact that Pharaoh had again broken faith, God again warned him. There being no evidence of repentance, the fifth plague fell upon the nation. The fact of the struggle going on in the heart of Pharaoh is seen in that he investigated the condition of Israel and found that they were exempt from the visitation. Nevertheless, he still maintained the attitude of stubborn resistance.
Now the divine method changed. Without warning came the plague of boils, and here it is said that Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh. It is important to notice the word made use of. And "Jehovah made strong the heart of Pharaoh." This is a significant statement, revealing that God strengthened the courage of the man in order that now, when he had stubbornly resisted, he might persist in the conflict to bring the complete victory of Jehovah.
The third cycle of three plagues began with hail. The warning was more explicit than on any previous occasion and an opportunity to escape was given. Some of the Egyptians availed themselves it. Out of the midst of the desolation Pharaoh cried, "I have sinned." The sequence shows that this was not a cry of genuine repentance, but an expression of desire to escape from the plague. The absolute justice and the patience of God are seen in that even though the cry was not a cry of genuine repentance, the plague was withdrawn. When it was withdrawn, we are again told that Pharaoh made heavy his heart, and his heart was made strong. The first word described his own act; the second the act of God, confirming his choice.