Today’s reading has one of my favourite stories. Moses and Aaron are visiting Pharaoh and to show they are from God, Aaron throws his staff down and it turns into a snake. The magicians of Egypt came and also turned their staffs into snakes.
These guys had real power. Through their spells and incantations, stuff that the Bible associates with the demonic, they were able to perform this miraculous feat. But as soon as the staffs had been turned into snakes, Aaron’s snake ate them all up.
I believe this story has a lot to teach us about the demonic today. As Christians, we can fall into two different traps when it comes to the demonic. The first is we can believe it’s not real or that big a deal. But just as these magicians had very real power, demons and demonic forces are very real. By ignoring them or pretending like they don’t exist, we risk leaving our defences down when we need to have them up.
The second trap we can fall into is believing that the demonic is too powerful for us and that we should be afraid. While the demonic is real, its power is nothing compared to what we have through the Holy Spirit as Christians.
In the same way that Aaron’s snake was able to eat the magician’s snakes no problem, we can have confidence that the Holy Spirit in us is stronger than any demonic forces that come against us. We don’t have to wrestle or fight against them. We merely stand in the truth of who we are in God.
We then have the first few waves of plagues. What’s interesting is that each of the ten plagues addresses a different Egyptian god. The Egyptians gods were in charge of different areas, but the plagues were there to show that God is more powerful that the Egyptian gods in every area.
1) Water turned into blood - Hapi (god of the Nile)
2) Frogs come from the river - Heket (goddess of fertility and water. Had the head of a frog)
3) Gnats from the dust of the earth - Geb (god of the earth)
4) Swarms of flies - Khepri (god of creation and rebirth. Had the head of a fly)
5) Death of cattle and livestock - Hathor (goddess of love and protection. Her animal form was a cow)
6) Boils and sores - Isis (goddess of medicine)
7) Hail fell from the sky - Nut (goddess of the sky)
8) Locusts from the sky - Seth (god of storms and disorder)
9) Three days of darkness - Ra (god of the sun)
10) Death of the firstborn - Pharoah (‘god’ over life and death of his subjects)
We see God harden Pharaoh’s heart. We might think that’s unfair, that God forces Pharaoh to disobey him and then punishes him for it. But for the first five plagues Pharaoh hardened his own heart, so God had given him plenty of chance.
While they magicians of Egypt were able to mimic the first two plagues, by the third their magic was no longer powerful enough. Even they realise that these plagues are from God (Exodus 8:18-19). Then by the sixth plague they can’t even stand before Moses because of the boils they had received (Exodus 9:11).
It’s also interesting that to begin with Aaron is the main guy who’s actually doing the plagues. God tells Moses, then Moses tells Aaron and Aaron does it. But as we read through the plagues God does a few himself and then Moses starts to become the main guy. Almost as though God is easing Moses in to taking full leadership of what he has commanded.
This psalm is attributed to King David and falls into the category of wisdom psalm (see also Psalms 25; 34; 37; 49; 73; 111; 112; 128). These psalms focus primarily on sharing wisdom with the reader and often preference the Torah or God’s law (the scriptures).
Psalm 19:1-2 - Nature declares God’s glory
Psalm 19:7-11 - Scripture declares God’s goodness
Psalm 19:12-14 - The psalmist ponders how they life declares God’s praise
The psalmist opens with a powerful truth. All creation declares God’s glory. It is constantly calling out as an example of his handiwork.
While this creation may not have words to speak, its message is clear. There is a creator, God. Perhaps the pinnacle of God’s creation is the sun, as it provides life and light to all.
As the psalmist moves into the next section of the psalm, they focus on God’s law. The scriptures. While the first half of the psalm talks about God (el) the second half uses God’s name Yahweh (often translated as LORD). Nature declares that there is a god, but scripture tells you his name and his nature.
And so the psalmist goes on to list all the characteristics of God’s law;
Having observed nature and scripture, the psalmist now looks inwardly at how their own life declares Yahweh’s goodness. They ask the Lord to search them and point out their faults. They don’t want to be guilty of anything unknowingly and dishonour God’s name.
The psalmist ends asking that the state of their words and hearts be acceptable before God. As we look to the awesomeness of nature and the goodness of scripture, like the psalmist, we are led to look inward, to ask God to help us better declare his glory in our lives.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.
This Bible study devotional covers Exodus chapters 7-10. Here we see God inflicting Egypt and hard-hearted Pharaoh with miraculous plagues.
As always, we are committed to showing you how Jesus fulfills these specific passages. In Exodus 7-10, we see that Jesus performed miracles greater than the plagues, yet we are still hard hearted. The greatest miracle of all is how the resurrected Christ softens our hearts to make us believe.
The Naked Bible Podcast is for those that want intense Bible study. Be warned, many will find these podcasts go too deep for them. There are three episodes, averaging an hour each, covering these three chapters. But for those that persevere this will be a rich source of teaching for you.Check the podcast out here
Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.
BibleProject have done an animated recap of Exodus 1-18 to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Exodus.
Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Exous and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.