Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Thoughts from Exodus 7-8

I'm a little behind in my 'read through the Bible chronologically' plan, but I was reading the early chapters of Exodus yesterday and it kick started a line of meditation that was encouraging to me all day. Here's a few things I noticed:

1. In Moses' confrontation with Pharaoh, Pharaoh's magicians who practice the 'dark arts' are able to copy the miracles of God worked through Moses to a certain point. When God turns Moses' staff into a snake, the magicians turn theirs into snakes as well (though they get eaten by Moses'). Thus, Pharaoh's heart remained hardened. When God turns the water of the Nile to blood, the magicians follow suite. When God sends a plague of frogs, the magicians are able to keep pace. The next plague, the plague of gnats is where the magicians drop out, no longer to match the miracles of God. However, up to that point Satan had used the counterfeit miracles to harden Pharaoh's already hard heart.

Reading this yesterday brought to mind the book of Revelation and how we see in those chapters Satan mimicking God and his miracles, thereby deceiving the world. Even the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet serve as a counterfeit Trinity performing counterfeit miracles, including a fake resurrection (Rev 13:3) even making a statue of the Beast come to life and deceiving people into worshiping it (13:13-17).

Certainly, "This calls for a mind with wisdom" (Rev. 17:9a). If Satan was wielding his power in Moses' day to distract people, deceive people and harden people to the true work of God, and if we see that this activity will be true in the 'last days', doesn't it follow that Satan is doing the same kinds of things today? After all, we are living in the 'last days' (Heb 1:2), Satan is the Father of lies (Jn. 8:44), and the spirit of antichrist is in the world already (1 John 4:3). Let's continue to pray for wisdom.

2) On a more encouraging note, notice that Satan's power is limited. He can't do all that God does even when God's power is mediated through a person, namely Moses. Satan's power working through the magicians is entirely destructive, God's is destructive (in judgment) but also restorative (in mercy). I found this very interesting. While the magicians could copy what God had done in the first two plagues, they couldn't undo what God had done. They could turn water to blood, but they couldn't heal the waters. They could call forth a plague of frogs, but they couldn't make the stinky little buggers go away. Look at Ex. 8:6-8,

"So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the Lord to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”"

Satan can't undo destruction, it's not in his nature/power to truly heal or work restoration. He is a destroyer. Revelation 9:11, "They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon" [Abaddon means destruction; Apollyon means destroyer]. God is good and works judgment in wrath and restoration in mercy.

Finally, I love the fact that the magicians can't undo what God has done because it reminds me of the finality of God's pronouncements - his judgments stand! Satan is our accuser, but he can't reverse God's pronouncement over us. God calls us his children, Satan cannot change that. God calls us Righteous Holy Saints, Satan can't undo it. God's judgments are final, his purposes stand.

Romans 8:31-39, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."


{Comment on picture: Luther, "The best way to get rid of the Devil, if you cannot kill it with the words of Holy Scripture, is to rail at and mock him. Music, too, is very good; music is hateful to him, and drives him far away." Sound exegetical reasoning my friend!}

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