So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Exodus 7:11-13
If you were a kid growing up in the early 2000’s, you probably saw this scene play out in the movie The Prince of Egypt. There is a song in the movie called “Playing With the Big Boys” where the magicians and sorcerers of Egypt go head to head with Aaron and Moses. In reality, it was a match up between the Egyptian gods and Yahweh, the God of Israel—unholy vs. holy.
Aaron’s staff turning into a serpent was nothing special to these magicians. They were able to do the same thing by appealing to their occult practices. Recently, I have heard similar testimonies from my Thai Christian friends. One friend said that he knew someone who had severely broken his arm in an accident. Instead of going to the hospital, this man visited the local witch doctor. According to my friend’s testimony, the man’s arm was at least visibly, if not completely, healed.
As we read through the 10 plagues in Exodus, we see that the magicians were able to duplicate several miracles that Aaron and Moses did. They were able to turn water into blood and bring frogs up onto the land. However, once the third plague (gnats) came, the magicians were no longer able to recreate the miracles. In Exodus 8:19, they tell Pharaoh that “this is the finger of God.” The magicians realized that they were outmatched. But, they should have realized it when their serpents were swallowed up before.
Satan has some power and lots of tricks. He is able to do some miraculous things, but he never does them with good or holy intentions. So, why does he do them exactly? Because this is what people want to see (Matthew 16:1). They want the miracles without Jesus. They want healing without having to call Jesus, “Lord Luke 17:12-18).” They want power to carry out their own sinful will and desires (Acts 8:18-19); whereas, the Holy Spirit gives us power to do the will of God. Satan will try do whatever he can to deceive people all the way to their destruction. And the miraculous things the devil is doing in the world shouldn’t be thought of as counterfeits. They are so real and believable that even the elect will be led astray by them, according to Jesus (Matthew 24:24).
As pastor David Guzik has said: “Miracles can prove that something is supernatural, but they cannot prove that something is true.” The only thing we can trust is the goodness and truthfulness of God’s Word. Everything he does is holy and righteous (Psalm 145:17). Trust Him in everything. Seek His face more than His hand. Test every miracle against the Word of God because even our senses are affected by our fallen nature. Today as you reflect on the wonder-working power of our holy God, remember the words of the psalmist, Asaph:
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah