Moses, Aaron and the Sorcerers

Exodus 7:8-13

In armed conflict, frequently heads of state oversee from sidelines, often far removed from actual scene of warfare. In some of major wars of 20th century, big names at times get together for negotiations. Yalta Conference 1945 an example – Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin sorting out terms for remainder of war and post-war world. Far more frequent – meetings between foreign ambassadors while military personnel of every rank doing the work of war in heat of action. While terminology particular to military conflict hardly used in this portion of Exodus, don’t miss the point: is a very real war going on, this particular time and place one of more significant battles for territory and resources.

But, you say, not until Exodus chapter 14 that army shows up… what are you talking about? Drama playing out on pages of Exodus not one between Moses and Pharaoh; not Moses or Aaron versus magicians; not Egyptians against Israelites. Back up few steps, look carefully at scene: Moses and Pharaoh not the heads of state, are ambassadors representing two kingdoms – kingdom of God and kingdom of Satan. Battle here is truly between God and Satan, an ongoing conflict that only ends at Second Coming.

The men we see on world stage in Egypt during 15th century BC are agents / servants of their respective kings. Power that is displayed not sourced in those agents; power comes from unseen yet very real rulers – God, sovereign ruler of all things, Satan a ruler with limited yet definite authority and power during this present age. Stark contrast between darkness and light, evil and good definitely on display here. God’s judgment is obviously in view but God’s grace is just as prominent.

Remember theme of this series: Free to Worship. God intended his people to be free to serve him, worship him as God directed. The one true God is moving his eternal work of redemption forward and he will not be frustrated or stopped. God sets the stage for tne next movement which includes a sovereign smackdown, then Pharaoh’s response to the sights and sounds.

A. God sets the stage v. 8-9

some information but not all

big picture from God’s perspective (3-5) – is as much about God as anyone/thing else: yes, people rescued; more than that, Egyptians would know which God is true God… eventually God’s name be “declared in all the earth (Rom.9:17)

Pharaoh’s first response – would ask for some kind of sign demonstrating their authenticity, showing why he should bother to listen/regard Moses and Aaron

but not the next one – God didn’t inform what Pharaoh would do and how would turn out, simply that Pharaoh’s heart be hard

adequately prepared yet dependent

knew God was in charge – if really listening to what God said, heard and should understand was God and his power that would achieve results God intended

had adequate instruction – God never sends his servants to work inadequately prepared; God supplies all needed to serve him well

but not enough to make over-confident – too much knowledge, too many resources encourages going own way, following own ideas… we are redeemed sinners, after all

players on the stage not the real stars

Moses and Aaron knew they were only servants – last week, v.6: “just as the LORD commanded them, so they did.”

did not add to what God had instructed, did not take away either – did exactly what were instructed by the ruler they were representing

Pharaoh was servant, probably would not self-identify that way – he believed, encouraged his people to believe he was a god

acted as though there were no power/authority superior to his, yet wore symbol of his ruler on crown; more in little bit

same true at all levels of society today – vast majority of people including some professing Christians behave as if no transcendent self-existent God over all

B. a Sovereign smackdown v.10-12

simple obedience

followed instructions to the letter – “they did so, just as the LORD commanded”, responding to Pharaoh the way God told them

Moses spoke to Aaron, this time was Aaron’s rod that became serpent, same way as Moses’ rod had earlier

had no control over what followed – did not know in full how Pharaoh would respond to sign from God… that was really a challenge to Pharaoh at highest level

what God expects of all his children – obedience within parameters of what we know and understand of God and his truth… don’t question, don’t over-analyze, don’t second guess, just obey

understated response

Pharaoh summoned his lackeys – at least it wasn’t firing squad… probably thought Aaron using some kind of magic, he would respond to them in kind with his magicians/sorcerers

perhaps unwittingly, Pharaoh playing w/ fire, tapping into source of power and deception beyond his understanding / control

they did the same thing – threw down their rods same as Aaron — up to a point… imitated what Aaron did… not told all details

were they snakes all along, “charmed” to look like rods? did wooden rods really turn into snakes or was it illusion?

surprising outcome

at least looked like bunch of serpents doing their thing – convincing enough Pharaoh satisfied with apparent powerful miracle

not little bitty garden snakes – Egyptian cobra, up to 10 feet, venomous, aggressive when cornered; known as “asp” in Bible, venom can kill in 30 minutes

maybe all were real, know that one was for sure – probably all were, since Aaron’s rod “swallowed up” all the rest

significant details

“their enchantments”

real power to do real stuff – not magicians in sense we think of, skilled in art of illusion; not simply skilled in charms/spells

can look like real thing – remember study of Revelation, counterfeits – to succeed, must escape detection at least under casual / quick observation

demonic power on display – cannot over-emphasize… real power being demonstrated, source in Satan and his demons

serpent symbolism

cobra on front of Pharaoh’s crown – chief goddess of lower Egypt – symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority

symbol Pharaoh assumed for his own – when Pharaoh of Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt, assumed patron goddess in addition to one already worn

throwing down rod, becoming serpent direct challenge to Pharaoh’s power/authority – is amazing Pharaoh didn’t call for Moses and Aaron’s execution on the spot

had they been servants of any other god or king, he probably would have – YHWH protecting his own servants

at same time challenge to Great Serpent

serpent imagery no coincidence

Aaron’s rod swallowing other snakes for more than Pharaoh’s benefit – Pharaoh’s army will be swallowed up by Red Sea

some day death swallowed up in victory… because Christ has finally and completely conquered Satan – he will be eliminated as a threat just like other serpents were

C. sights and sounds further harden v.13

God’s truth does not always convert

proclamation of biblical truth always has effect God intends – often is not what we expect, e.g. Isaiah, lack of fruitful ministry

same proclamation can both soften and harden – which takes place the result of how Holy Spirit works in mind/heart

share Gospel, room with several different people – may be full range of responses; Paul, Athens, Areopagus: Ac 17:32-34 “some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again”… some men joined him and believed”

reminder conversion not result solely of signs, wonders, logical reasoning – if were so, explain Jesus’ lack of converts!

at one point, refused to give sign – Matt. 12:39 “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”

faithful obedience produces result God intends

God did not hold Moses and Aaron responsible for results – in fact, God told them he was directing the results according to his “big purpose” and schedule

their sole task, to follow God’s instructions – is true in every circumstance in life, simply live life as God says, trust him for outcome

do our job, do the next thing, do life in way that pleases God; share Gospel truth whenever possible, expect God to use it… for his glory

God not only does, he must produce results: only God can make hard heart soft – much as we might like, we cannot change someone else… we can change us, to some degree; God must change them

God providentially protects his servants

if Pharaoh followed his gut, Moses and Aaron died on the spot – no ruler, esp. one like Pharaoh would take insult like that

that they survived shows God’s gracious protection – just as he could harden Pharaoh’s heart, so God could restrain from evil

Moses and Aaron modeled for us what we are to do

stepping outside sanctuary doors no less dangerous than Pharaoh’s presence – same enemy awaits us as them

battle raging around us same one as Moses encountered – Eph. 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

can do so in full assurance – Psa. 34:7 “The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.”

nothing comes to child of God except what God permits… on his terms… for his purpose in our lives

Our purpose: to live and speak the Gospel wherever we go. Notice: live and speak – must be credible witnesses!


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