In the previous part, we meditated on the burning bush. Today we will meditate on the first miracle of Moses – miracle of turning a rod into a snake!
Miracle of turning the Rod into a Snake
We read in Exodus chapter 3, that God sends Moses and Aaron to the King of Egypt. So the two witnesses of God (Moses and Aaron), went into the palace of the king of Egypt. There they asked Pharaoh to liberate the people of Israel. But Pharaoh refused. Pharaoh demanded miracles from Moses to prove his divine calling [Exodus 7:9]. Moses asked Aaron to throw the rod in his hand to the ground. The rod immediately turned up into a serpent (Exodus 7:10). Pharaoh being not impressed, asked his magicians to perform a similar trick. His magicians threw their rods on ground and they too became serpents (Exodus 7:11). The serpent of Moses then swallowed up the rest of the serpents (Exodus 7:12).
On the surface level, it appears that God wanted to display his supernatural power before Pharaoh. But, as we have been studying the Old Testament, we can now say with assurance that the bible is more than what it appears to the natural eyes. Its contents are more similar to the parables of Jesus. People read them and yet it appears they have not read it. People hear it but they never hear it. It is like Steganography! A concealed message inside another message – like a picture within a picture! People with natural eyes see the main picture, and yet they don’t see the hidden message of Gospel within it!
He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,Mark 4:11-12
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’[a]”
If a modern cinema director makes a film from the stories of the bible, from the stories of Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph, and Moses, then people will only see stories of these Old Testament people in the film. The Steganography of God in concealing Jesus in Old Testament stories will be completely hidden to the viewers of the film. The point that I want to emphasize is, this was the case of Magicians of Pharaoh.
The Miracle of Moses of converting a rod into a snake was not simply the display of supernatural power of God. It had more to it than what the natural eyes could perceive. Pharaoh and his magicians assumed that God was showcasing them his miraculous ability. So they showed their own miraculous abilities in response. They threw their rods on the ground and they too turned up into serpents. The serpent was a sign of death – even in those days. We Christians can understand it from scriptures now that serpent is a symbol of Satan, sin, sickness and death. But it was not that hard for the Egyptians could not understand it. Allow me to explain it more details with the following words of Jesus.
18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.Mark 16:18
I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.Luke 10:19
Significance of the Miracle
So what do we understand, is that Jesus was actually giving his disciples authority over death and Satan! Jesus was not saying those who believe in my name will do the following miracles! No! He was not saying that those who believe my name will perform the miracle of eating poison before the live audience!
He was giving them victory over death and Satan! Similarly, God had given the same authority to his servants Moses and Aaron, who were believers of Jehovah God. Moses and Aaron were as if speaking in sign language to Pharaoh and his magicians, that if you believe in God, death will have no power over you. They preached Gospel along with the miracle, but magicians could only see the miracle in it.
Therefore, they believed not in the message preached to them, but were in the delusion of the miracles. What do we learn? What does the Bible warn us! Bible warns us that we should not get deluded by miracles. Don’t we know that even the messengers of the devil can perform supernatural miracles (2 Cor 11:14, 2 Thess 2:9)? Even the beast (Antichrist) will be performing lying miracles (Rev 13:13). Were not the Jews of times of Jesus, able to perform an exorcism and drive out demons (Luke 11:18)?
What do we read next? How did God respond? He gave them another sign. Perhaps they could understand, this time. We read that the serpent of Aaron swallowed up the serpents of magicians of Pharaoh. What is the message? Death swallowed up the death. Serpent swallowing serpent! We Christians are aware that Jesus who became sin for us, swallowed death forever upon the cross! In the words of Jonathan Edwards “Death of Death upon the cross!” Apostle Paul writes that.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?1 Cor 15:54-55
To remind this event to Israelites God first sent fiery serpents to Israelites, who disobeyed him! Then Moses lifted a brazen serpent in the wilderness, so that whosoever looks upon it, maybe saved from death. Jesus became a curse for us (Gal 3:13). He who never committed sin, became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21), so that by death he may destroy him who had power over death (Heb 2:14).
Here is short summary of what we have seen.
|Sl No.||Moses' Miracle||New Testament Parallel|
|1||Turning a rod into a snake||Disciples given power and authority over evil spirits and death which is the final enemy (Matt 10:1, Luke 10:19, Mark 16:17-18).|
|2||Egyptian Magicians duplicating the miracle||Ministers of Satan performing miracles like the followers of Jesus (2 Cor 11:14, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Rev 13:11) Jews also cast out demons (displaying authority over demon –see Luke 11:18)|
|3||Aaron’s snake swallowing the magicians snake||Death of death on cross of Jesus. Jesus death on cross, victory swallowed death (I Cor 15:54,55)|
|4||Magicians of Pharaoh were deluded in miracle show and missed the message of God.||God will send a delusion to wicked people so that they believe a lie (2 Thess 2:11).|
This note is to make it clear our stand. We are not asking you to think of miracles as something unimportant, just because even devil’s messengers can perform it! Observe that God had foretold Moses saying, “…..Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you….. (Exodus 7:9).” So God knew that Pharaoh would demand Moses to give evidence that he is not bluffing in the name of God. This is the normal demand for every man. Pharisees also sought signs from Jesus. Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, Teacher, we desire to see a sign from you (Matt 12:38, Matt 12:38, 16:1, 27:42, Luke 11:16, John 2:18, 4:48). Therefore looking at the human tendency to demand supernatural evidence, we observe that God had always sent his messengers along with miracles. In the Old Testament times, he sent Moses and Aaron with signs, and in New Testament times he sent Jesus and his Apostles with signs and wonders (See Mark 16:20, Acts 14:3). Paul confirms this when he says, “Signs of Apostles were seen in me when I came to you (2 Cor 12:12 paraphrased).”
And again in Hebrews, we read “God also bearing witness, with signs wonders and miracles (Heb 2:4).” So miracles are not to be considered as a thing to be neglected just because messengers of the devil can also perform it. We believe that someone who claims to be an apostle of God, must have a divine witnessing of him by miracles signs and wonders, but we are aware that we will not be deluded by miracles. We fundamentally look at the message of one who is claiming to be the messenger of God. Messenger’s message must in sync with messages of messengers from the Old Testament and the New Testament – which is saviour focused or Christ-glorifying (not self-glorifying like TPM Ministers)!
Also be careful of Ministers who claim to be Apostles and cannot even heal a Fly. Beware of such ministers whose claims can be validated during the Corona Crisis.
One more point. Apostle Paul says that there are two kinds of people who demand two kinds of evidence. “Jews,” he says, “seek miracles, and Greeks seek wisdom (I Cor 1:22).” We can find this relevant in our times too. There are some who will believe in miracles and some who seek rationality and logic [Acts 17:2, 18:4].
The most important thing is, therefore, the message. The message which glorifies Jesus, – which is Christ-centred and not man-centred. Many Pentecostals have made Holy Spirit and miracles a mere show of supernatural power! And those who are non-charismatic ignore miracles because they find no real substance in the message of the charismatics. TPM has none – neither the message that is in sync with the bible (Christ-glorifying not self-exalting) nor the miracles as God’s approval of their divine calling (2 Corinthians 12:12).