The Gospel According to Moses


Week V


Day 29: Power Encounters

So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.

Exodus 7:10,11

The presence of miracles and supernatural power doesn't necessarily mean the presence of God. Pharaoh's magicians were able to duplicate the first few miracles of Moses with ease—it was several miracles later before they turned to Pharaoh and said, "This is the finger of God—we can't do it."

You see, God specializes in miracles because He is a supernatural being. Miracles are nothing to Him—they are His natural (or supernatural) element. But sometimes we forget that Satan also is a supernatural being, and can do supernatural works very similar to the ones done by the power of the Lord. In one place (2 Thess.2:9) the Bible calls these works of the devil "lying wonders" – not because they're not truly supernatural, but because they're done by the father of lies in order to deceive people and lead them astray.

The followers of the enemy are often much more liberal with supernatural works than the church of Jesus Christ, in fact. Hindu holy men really do walk on burning coals, levitate while meditating, and even do things like stabbing themselves with a knife, then smoothing the wound over with their hands until it actually disappears. The people of India, and other lands where shamans and holy men do supernatural works, are often very unimpressed with the powerless gospel that evangelical Christians bring to them, and no wonder. The western missionary brings a rationalistic, philosophical message that makes little sense to a more experience-orientated people, when he should be practicing "power evangelism," that is, preaching the Word with supernatural signs following, as they did in the Bible.

Jesus practiced power evangelism. Peter and Paul did, too, at the command of Jesus. Patrick and other giants of the church age sometimes challenged the local magicians to showdowns known today as "power encounters," much like Elijah did on Mt. Carmel with the priests of Baal. These miracle-working men of God met with great success, too. The church of Jesus Christ, if she is to truly win the hearts of some 1500 unreached people groups, as many are talking about, has to return to biblical methodology—power evangelism instead of intellectual reasoning alone.

Moses would never have seen Israel delivered if the Lord had not brought them out with miraculous signs. We likewise, will see little fruit until we follow his (or rather, God's) example and really start believing for "signs following."


#30: The Secret Arts of Egypt

So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.

Exodus 7:10,11

Moses and Aaron did literal miracles, and the magicians did likewise—this is not symbolic speech the Bible is using here, and we need to take it literally and learn how to do miracles ourselves. But there is a secondary, symbolic message here, too, that I would like to look at today.

Egypt was not just a literal nation in biblical days, it was also a symbolic nation to Moses and the prophets. It symbolized the bondage of living in this present world, among worldly people, and the ever-present temptation for the people of God to return to the world for its carnal treats, the leeks and onions. Egypt is a prophetic "type" or "shadow" in biblical literature, something we will talk about quite a bit in our study of Moses and the Law. It symbolizes the world system we have been delivered from, of which God said, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world."

Sins are not the only temptations that the world offers. In subsequent years, the Israelites often turned to Egypt for help, especially military assistance, and God soundly rebuked them whenever they did—they were supposed to look to God, not to Egypt's might. And that's the illustration I see in the showdown with the magicians of Egypt here in Exodus chapter seven.

Moses and Aaron did a work by the power of the Spirit of God. The magicians were able to do it as well, but not by the Spirit of God, but by their own "secret arts." The world has a whole bagful of secret arts that the church is sometimes tempted to use. Artful public relations people can sometimes seem like "magicians" as they polish up an image to present to the public. "Madison Avenue" advertising techniques have been proven to promote the church as well, and seemingly better, than the old-fashioned way. "Seeker-sensitive" churches have made a fine art out of attracting people to their doors. Magnetic human personalities can draw as many people to church as the power of God, especially if, for some reason, the power of God seems to be strangely absent. Positive, ego-building messages that cash in on the present pop-psychology fad seem to attract more people and build the church of God faster than God's own method of preaching about sin and repentance.

But all of the above are the magic arts of Egypt, not the works of God. And though they appear to produce results, in the final analysis the works of Egypt will prove to be without much substance or value. If you read the next verse, you'll notice it says that Aaron's staff swallowed the magicians' staffs. I think it's even significant that the Holy Spirit chose to say "staff" instead of "serpent" in this instance, because the staff also represents the strength and authority of the one holding it—God will one day swallow up in judgment all that is not built on His own foundation, all that is not truly of Him and His kingdom. When Madison Avenue finally burns, so will all of her works.

I'm intend to continue to trust the Lord, and do things His way, and with Him helping me, I'll resist the temptation to turn to the arm of Egypt for help, no matter how much that help may seem to be needed at the time. I'd advise every serious minister of Christ to do the same.


#31: Taking Away the Staff

For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.

Exodus 7:12

Each of the miracles and plagues executed by the Lord at the expense of Pharaoh and Egypt is filled with significance. Some are directed at humiliating the various false gods of the land, others at demonstrating Egypt’s weakness before God in some other way. Even this miracle of the staffs and snakes is filled with meaning. And the symbolism was probably not lost on Pharaoh and the magicians, for they thought in terms of signs and symbols—that’s why it's all the more remarkable that Pharaoh continued to harden his proud heart.

The staff represented the authority and power of the one who held it. With his staff a shepherd could correct a stray sheep or beat off a jackal. A king had merely to point his staff, or scepter, at someone to have him executed, or perhaps exalted to a higher rank. God underlines the symbolism of the staff by doing His supernatural works through the agency of one, alternately held by Moses or Aaron. When Aaron's staff swallowed up the staffs of Pharaoh's magicians God was saying, "I'm taking the staff out of your hand, Pharaoh. I'm taking away your authority. You've been in absolute power for a long time here, even over my people Israel, but now I'm going to show you who holds real authority, who it is who raises up kings and puts them down; it's Me, the Lord; I'm the guy with the staff; my staff eats up all the other staffs of the world, even if they belong to the court of the highest kings. I'm the highest. I'm the Lord!"

When Aaron's staff consumed the others, he outdid the magicians quite neatly and decisively. God was saying, "I'm outdoing you, Pharaoh. My power is greater than yours, though I choose to house it in humble vessels like these Hebrew shepherds." The serpent is also symbolic of wisdom in the scripture—remember when Jesus told his disciples to be "wise as serpents, harmless as doves?" God is also saying, "My wisdom swallows up yours, Pharaoh. I'm smarter than you. You can plan and plot, but it won't get you anywhere. You can't beat Me. I'm the Lord God."

By taking the staffs out of Pharaoh's servants' hands, especially in such an unredeemable way, the Lord was also illustrating His power to take the Egyptians' authority over their own lives completely out of their hands... "Pharaoh, you once decided what you wanted to do, and when, and who should do it for you; from now on you won't be able to drink water—it’ll be blood; you won't be able to take a bath without frogs or gnats; you won't be able to do anything in your accustomed way, because I'm going to disrupt your life completely until you let My people go. You've taken the staff out of everybody else’s' hands; now someone's taking it out of yours."

God ultimately holds all the staffs of this world in His hand, no matter how powerful. influential or wise someone may seem to be. We'd all do well to remember that, and do our best to walk in a manner pleasing to Him, for He can disrupt our lives at any time in an effort to get us to see things His way.


Day 32: Let My People Go

The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness..."

Exodus 7:16

"Let My people go!" Such powerful words. Most of us have heard them in connection with this story many times. They marked the beginning of the end for an arrogant king who would not bend his knee before the God of the Universe. They signaled the beginning of ten devastating plagues that would reduce the nation of Egypt into a second-rate power for years to come. They are the "Declaration of Independence" for the nation of Israel, and they’ve been repeated a few times over the years that have intervened since Egypt. God's Hebrew people were called out of Babylon in Sixth Century BC, out of Europe after Hitler's persecution in the Twentieth Century, and more recently, a mass exodus has taken place from the former Soviet Union.

The Lord is calling out a people for Himself from among all the nations today. His dealings with the Hebrews are not over, but since the time of Christ He has included the Gentiles in the cry, "Let My people go!" He's started a spiritual nation this time. Instead of settling us all in a physical land as a physical nation, He is establishing us as a spiritual nation, scattered among the physical nations of the world—east and west, north and south.

The Pharaoh role is played by the devil and the ruling principalities of every area the Gospel is presented to. Since the fall of man at Eden, the enemy of our souls has been consolidating his power and tightening his grip on men's hearts. He has people bound in false religions: kept in the chains of a caste system and the endless reincarnation cycle of the Hindu, for example; or in the vengeful justice system of Islam; or the hopeless atheism of Communism. Evil demonic princes guard their domains jealously against the Lord and His servants. Some of them, like the Prince of Persia and the Prince of Greece, still hold the same lands they did in Bible times, and are still powerful entities capable of stirring up the whole world (Persia is modern-day Iran). The people in these lands are under as severe a bondage as the Israelites were in the days of Moses.

And the Lord is still looking for deliverers like Moses. He needs men and women with enough spirituality, enough Holy Ghost clout, to go in and tell the demonic Pharaohs, "Let my people go!" They've got to be called and sent by the Lord Himself. They've got to be dead to self, humbled after years in the wilderness, holy and sanctified unto God alone, so when they stand before the devil they don't get laughed out of court. There are thousands of unreached peoples, or I should say, undelivered peoples—ethnic nations of men, women, and children still living in total spiritual darkness, still serving false gods and false ideologies, unaware that a Savior came nearly two thousand years ago to set them free. No one has yet made it to their land to say, "Let My people go!"

Maybe you will?


Day 33: Plague #1, The Nile Turns to Blood

So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. And the fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt.

Exodus 7:20,21

After the initial signs Moses performed before Pharaoh, the Lord sent ten plagues upon Egypt in an effort to make Pharaoh change his mind about letting the Israelites go. The first was the defiling of the River Nile, and of all the standing water in Egypt. When the rod of God struck the river all the water of the land became red as blood. It may not have become literal blood—Joel’s prophecy that the moon would turn to blood isn't literal—but the water at least had the appearance of blood.

Some have sought to explain the blood-red water by suggesting it was from red earth brought down from upstream, or even a certain kind of algae or plant life, but neither of these explanations would account for all the water of Egypt being turned red, or the precise timing at the striking of the staff. Neither would account for the fish dying, either.

It's not just happenstance that the Nile was the first target of God's wrath. Life in Egypt was very much dependant upon the waters of the Nile, and over the years the river itself had taken on the status of a god. Some of the fish were also deified and honored as gods. When Moses and Aaron struck the Nile, turning it red, killing the fish, they demonstrated the true God’s power over all the gods of Egypt. This is the same God who said, "I will have no other gods before Me," and here He deliberately begins to put the other so-called gods in their place, beginning with the Nile, the very source of life to the Egyptians.

What a lesson in theology! You can argue comparative religions with someone until both of you are red-faced and angry... and get exactly nowhere! You haven't been convinced to change your mind, and neither have you brought the other person to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Each religion is true to its own little value system, and progression of logic, philosophy, and cause-and-effect, whether you're talking Christianity or reincarnation. You both start with your presuppositions and argue from there. But what if the person with the truth was able, by the power of the true God, to demonstrate the superiority of His God? Elijah called down fire from heaven. Dagon fell before the ark of the Lord as the Philistines were struck with hemorrhoids. Moses defied—and defiled—a major god of the Egyptians, the Nile River.

The lesson served to strengthen the resolve of Moses and Aaron, help convince the Israelites that theirs was not a losing cause, and also opened the eyes of any Egyptians who may have been sensitive to the truth.


Day 34: Plague #2, The Frogs

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

Exodus 8:6

The second plague was frog infestation. Frogs covered the land of Egypt. They were found in the houses and bedrooms, in the ovens and the kneading bowls. Everywhere you looked you uncovered more frogs. I can remember a few good frog years when I was younger, when multitudes of frogs would cross the county roads out in the countryside, and cars would actually slip and slide on them, just like on ice. That was a natural phenomenon, Egypt experienced a supernatural frog year that was much worse.

All the plagues of Egypt were supernatural. Most involved natural disasters, like frogs, gnats, or locusts; and some years these very plagues still hit Egypt in the winter months; but never to the degree that they did in the days of Moses—and never at the precise timing and control of a man: announced the day before, and unleashed the minute the rod of God was extended or struck. No one at the time—not Pharaoh, not even the magicians who duplicated the first miracles—doubted that it was supernatural, the very hand of God.

The frog was also a sacred animal, and, of course, that's why the Lord chose this particular plague. The goddess Hekt was pictured with the head of a frog. The True and Living God calls frogs and they come, and He sends them away and they go. The same is true of all the demons, fallen angels, and false gods, whether they have frog-heads, elephant-heads, or eagle-heads, whether they call themselves Hekt, Ganesh, or Baal. The Lord is in charge; He is the Creator and the Ruler of the Universe, including all the rebellious spirits who work against His cause. They're doing nothing without his knowledge, and in an indirect way, even His permission—for He could speak the word and eliminate them all at once if He chose.

I like the first two chapters of Job in regards to this point. Here we learn that Satan appears, on a somewhat regular basis at least, before God to give a report of himself. "Where have you been?" the Lord asks. "Walking to and fro on the earth," Satan replies. "Have you considered Job?" "Let me at him," the devil says. The implication is that he couldn't have touched him without permission. Satan is very much on a leash, so to speak; he can go just so far before God tightens up the slack, snaps the choke chain a little, and brings him up short. This isn't quite the picture most people have of the devil. They think of him as the Lord of Hell, as posing a serious threat to the existence of God, as though he actually might win the war if all doesn't go well with the good guys. Not so. The Bible shows him to be a serious threat to people, but only allowed by God to operate within certain perimeters, and, in the lives of God's saints, only allowed to operate at all if the end result can be positive and worked to their good.

The demons as well as the angels must come and go when God speaks. There is no competition in this Universe for the God and Creator of it. That's why we call Him God.


Day 35: Plague #3, The Gnats

And Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt.

Exodus 8:17

The next plague was gnats, or lice, as the King James Bible translates it. These were tiny gnats or ticks, hardly visible to the eye, but which got into eyes and ears and nose and delivered a sting with a painful irritation.

They were produced when Aaron struck the dust of the earth. It's reminiscent of God fashioning man from the dust of the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life in Genesis chapter two. Only God can turn dust into a living soul, and the magicians of Egypt soon found that out—they tried and tried but couldn't duplicate this plague, or any of the following plagues; they had reached their limit.

The devil does not have creative powers. His power lies in the ability to pervert things. He didn't create an evil man and woman; he perverted the good man and woman that God had made. He didn't invent alcohol; he merely perverted man into the sort of being that would abuse any substance—or animal or fellow human, for that matter.

The devil didn't invent pain and suffering. Pain is a part of the creation that the Lord looked upon and pronounced good. When you lay your hand on a hot stove, pain alerts you to the fact that you are doing harm to yourself. So even pain itself is good; it's God's warning system. But the devil perverts God's creatures and causes them to inflict unnecessary pain upon each other. He teaches men how to be cold and unfeeling, even while hurting somebody else.

Everything from bloodsucking mosquitoes to viruses and cancer cells can all be traced back to Satan. Ever since the first man allowed him into this world he's been perverting it in an attempt to embarrass God and hurt His creatures. He's done his work well, there's no doubt about it. His handiwork can be seen from the newspaper headlines to the smallest microscopic forms of life. And his perversion will continue—and grow more devastating—until the Lord Jesus finally returns in glory and begins to set things straight.

He has no creative abilities, however. It's even questionable whether he can reverse the effects of his own perversions, for the magicians of Pharaoh could not call off the frogs or turn the bloody water pure again. They also could not keep themselves free of the plagues, and Satan cannot either. His once sterling character is flawed beyond recognition today; his demons and fallen angels no doubt fight and threaten mutiny constantly—it’s got to be immensely difficult to hold such perversion into any semblance of order.

One day it'll all be over, and God will have the last laugh. Like Moses and Aaron outdid the magicians of Egypt, so will the Lord finally put Satan back in his rightful place—under the feet of Jesus.



The Gospel According to Moses, Week I

The Gospel According to Moses, Week II

The Gospel According to Moses, Week III

The Gospel According to Moses, Week IV



All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless marked otherwise.

Copyright © 2005  Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.

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