May 15, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, “Show a miracle for yourselves,” then you shall say to Aaron, “Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.”’ So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had said.”—Exodus 7:8–13 (NKJV)
The battle of wills between God (via Moses) and Pharaoh is filled with important insights. As the conflict deepens, we’re brought to new levels of spiritual understanding, especially when it comes to the exchange that takes place here involving a rod, a serpent, and a miracle.
Keep in mind God had called Moses and Aaron to a seemingly impossible task: to deliver the Hebrew people from the tyrannical grip of Pharaoh, who had no intention of freeing them. All worldly power was against Moses and Aaron, but they were backed by a power infinitely greater . . . the power of God! This being the case, it was just a matter of time before Pharaoh’s will would bow to the Lord’s. But it would be a process—a slow yet sure deconstruction of Pharaoh’s prestige, pride, and power.
We see this process unfold as Pharaoh demands Moses and Aaron to give a miraculous sign to authenticate themselves. God foresaw this turn of events and prepared His servants, as He always does, on how to respond to Pharaoh’s resistance. Aaron was to throw his rod to the ground and it would be transformed into a serpent. Surely, that would be all Pharaoh would need to see in order to get on board with God’s will for His people. But instead, he digs in deeper and calls his court magicians to reproduce the miraculous manifestation, which (remarkably) they do!
Pharaoh must have felt invincible, while Moses and Aaron must have momentarily questioned, “What did we just get ourselves into?” After all, it seems Pharaoh’s power matched God’s. So, what now? But then, something happened to forecast the way the conflict would ultimately play out: Aaron’s serpent devoured all of the others! Translation from God: “You can try to compete with Me, but you’ll never prevail against Me.”
At this point, we might be tempted to pass judgment on Pharaoh and say, “What a fool! Don’t you understand how futile it is to go against God?” But if we’re totally honest, we have moments where we do the same thing. Our disobedience may not be as blatant, but the principle holds that we resist what God is doing and we even set about to do something intended to absolve us of His authority. But in the end, our “work” gets devoured by what the Lord is doing, and we see once more that His purposes prevail over ours.
But just because we’ve done this doesn’t mean we’re fated to keep on doing it. We can change and grow by learning from Pharaoh’s bad example. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to learn from a bad example than a good one, because it’s easier to relate to and identify. That being the case, beware of the instinct to resist what God is doing and to conjure up counterfeits as a replacement. Rather, receive and rest in what God is up to.
Pause: What is eerily familiar about Pharaoh’s reaction to the miracle God performs here?
Practice: Map out a way you can integrate a more immediate and effective awareness of doing what Pharaoh did in this moment.
Pray: Lord God, I confess that I’m prone to act like Pharaoh by resisting Your work and Your will. Give me a heart that is sensitive to this sinful instinct and show me the way of receiving and resting in what You’re doing. Amen.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.