Before we look at the first miracle which leads to the ten plagues, the last verse of this section is very encouraging to look at as well. Exodus 7:7 says, Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

Moses and Aaron, were truly very old to begin such a work. The usual argument is that then, people lived longer. That is true for the times of Noah and Abraham, but not for Moses. In Psalm 90, attributed to the penmanship of Moses, he wrote, As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years (vs.10a). So, one is given 70 years to live and if strong enough, 80 years, but here, Moses began the most exciting and challenging part of his life’s work at the age of 80. See, it is never too late to do a work for the Lord!

Even in the secular realm, many people did great things in their old age. Michelangelo was still composing poetry and designing structures in his 89th year. He even painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while lying on a scaffold at nearly 90 years of age. Socrates gave the world his wisest philosophy at 70, and at a very old age learned to play musical instruments. At 50, Plato became a student and did his best after reaching 60 years old.

And when it comes to doing the work of the Lord, He provides health and strength. Someone said that if you do the work of the Lord, you will be healthy and live for a long time. This turned out to be true for many believers of the past and today as well. We also see how in the Hebrew tells us how old the person is; it says that Moses was the son of 80 years בֶּן־שְׁמֹנִ֣ים (ben sh’monim) and Aaron was the son of 83 years (ben Shalosh Ou-sh’monim). It is as if to say that they are the product of so many years of preparation and grooming. It puts old age under a great light of hope. So be encouraged to begin a ministry, a work for the LORD, because you are not old at all!

Let us now see the first miracle. Reading the text, we understand that something big is about to happen. This is when God asked Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh. See what vs. 9 says, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’ ”

Now, how do we know to expect a big show of force from Moses and Aaron? The word serpent is far from being the same in chapter 4 when Moses’ rod became a serpent. In Exodus 4:3 the word is nahash, נתשׁ which is a regular snake, not too scary and this is how Satan appeared to Eve, in the form or a nahash.

However here in chapter 7 the word is different. It is tanin, which is elsewhere translated as sea-monster or dragon, and it’s the same word describing that which is pierced at the end before the Messiah comes back (Isa. 51:9). Some even believe that this was not a serpent but a crocodile (Cassuto).

Furthermore, see that it is Pharaoh who is asking for a miracle, but then again, he is asking for much, for the word is not merely a sign, ot in Hebrew, the one used by God previously, but the word here is mophet, which describes a marvelous and supernatural event, and Pharaoh is going to be well served, in fact 11 times over. We have the 10 plagues plus this coming one with the tanin. So, fasten your seat belt, the spectacle is just beginning.

And so, after Pharaoh asked for a miracle, Aaron threw his rod down and it became a scary serpent. However, see what happens in vs.11, 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.

Each of them threw his rod and there must have been many but something extraordinary happened, Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs vs.12b. The word for swallowed is devoured, Balar, בָּלַע, that is with the idea of eagerness, greediness (Gesenius). What a spectacle it must have been! But what is more significant is that these wise men, sorcerers and magicians had to leave the presence of Pharaoh without their staffs in hand; their powers had vanished away for they were clearly inferior. That is the point of the story.

And see that they somehow succeeded in turning their staffs into snakes through their secret arts or secret spells.  This is one word in Hebrew lehatim from the word lahat which describes a flame of fire or something that is burning.  This fire is opposed to ones attributed to angelic beings in heaven, the seraphim who are around the throne of God. Their name also means to burn, but the seraphim were burning with desire to learn, to be like God, however those in Egypt, lehatim, those related to the secret arts, were burning to cause evil. This same word is found in Psalm 106:18 which says that this flame consumes the wicked. Pharoah certainly did not have good people around him, did he?!

Now, how is it that Pharaoh’s magicians could perform such miracles? Should we be surprised?

Not at all, for Satan and demons can perform miracles as well, but they are limited in their powers. This teaches us that when we witness a miracle, let us first test the spirits if they are from God and especially in our present days. One prophecy is that these false miracles will abound in the end times.  The Spirit says in 2 Thess. 2:9, The coming of the lawless one- that is the antichrist –  is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders. This verse tells us that the antichrist will need to resort to some magical tricks in order to convince the people, as Pharaoh’s sorcerers did when their stick also turned into snakes.

He will use powers and signs. We learn in Revelation 13 that these signs and powers are mainly reserved for the false prophet who will be accompanying the antichrist. The antichrist is more of a political figure as John describes him in the first 10 verses of Revelation 13. And see where his expertise lies; the last words of vs.9 we read lying wonders. Lies, are among the wonders he will perform. He will be such a good liar that he himself will believe his own lies, for he ends up clearly stating and believing that he is God and will accept it as fact. And so, we ought to expect all kinds of magic tricks and deceptive miracles and lies to increase over this world before the Second Coming.


Click here for the Message on the Book of Exodus, Sermon 8:  “The Battle of the Rods”