“Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.” — Exodus 7:11&12 (NIV84)
As the Lord commanded Moses, he performed the same miracle with his staff that took place when he was with God on Mt. Sinai. His wooden staff became a snake. Pharaoh had his magicians come in and, before everyone’s eyes, they did the same thing. Their staffs became snakes, too. When I was a young Christian reading the Bible, it really bugged my that these magicians were able to perform the same miracles that Moses did, up to the first few plagues. Come on, how can it be a legitimate miracle if some unbeliever is able to copy it? Have you ever thought the same thing? As I have studied more, a couple things have come into my interpretation of these events.
First, we must always remember that Satan is a liar and a deceiver. Jesus said in John 8 that “there is no truth in him.” He may attempt to copy that which is godly, but he will never reproduce it. You see, the magicians did not take pieces of dead wood and turn them into snakes, as God did through Moses. They took charmed snakes, which looked as dead as wood, and threw them on the ground as what they were, snakes. Note what happened: Moses’ staff/snake swallowed the magicians’ snakes. Similar acts occurred during the first few plagues that Egypt faced. Pharaoh’s magicians would appear to do the same thing that Moses did, but they weren’t really doing it! They were only poor copycats.
Another thing you will notice: In the few miracles and plagues that the magicians were also able to do, please recognize that they could never shut them off. They could provide the appearance that they could make them happen, but they could never make them stop. Pharaoh had to call for Moses and Aaron to ask for God to stop the plagues. The magicians could make it look like they turned water into blood, but they could not stop the plague of the Nile and make the water safe to drink again. Even they needed the God of the Israelites to put things back the way they were supposed to be.
Our takeaway from all this should be that at times, the world may seem to copy the godly or divine, but it is not real. We must be skeptical of its truthfulness. Satan uses the things of this world to lead us astray. He desires to pull us away from the truth of God’s Word. Just look at Pharaoh! He saw that his magicians could copy what Moses did, so he hardened his heart and refused to listen to God. He was duped by the falsehood of what is only a copy, and it ended up becoming the source of Pharaoh’s destruction. Jesus says in John 10:10 that “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; but I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” Pharaoh bought the lie and was led to destruction. Satan attempts to do the same to you and me.
May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus! May we be Firmly Rooted in God’s Word. May we avoid the persuasive draw of this world’s copycats by being so tightly united to the God, who alone is true and genuine. Our God is the real thing!