Exodus Devotional Day 5 | Counterfeit Joy
The Book of Exodus
The Greatness of God to His People in Need
Exodus Chapter 7, Day 5
“10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Still Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 7:8-13)
No one likes a fake, right? Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, I would hear about friends of my parents who’d visited New York City and came back wearing Rolex watches they’d gotten for a great deal on the street. Because my family didn’t have a whole lot of money when I was young--even though my mom and dad worked their tails off--we had to be frugal. That meant my mom, in the attempt to help me stay cool and stylish, would purchase the knock-off brands of Nike, BK’s (British Knights), and Starter brand jackets--faux versions of the fashion that all of my peers could see through at a glance...and then mock me for. Not my mom’s fault. She was trying!
Here in Exodus, chapter 7, God performs a miracle which Pharaoh and his magicians seem to duplicate--staffs turned to serpents. Later on in the chapter (verse 22), the magicians of Egypt seem to be able to turn water blood-red by their “secret arts.” In chapter 8, God’s going to send a plague of frogs upon Egypt...but the magicians, apparently, knew how to lure frogs out, as well. By the time we get to the third plague (gnats, chapter 8), the magicians finally reach the ceiling of their abilities…
“Listen, Pharaoh...we could do a pretty good copy of the staff-to-serpent illusion. We also know how to drop some red food coloring into water. And, of course, growing up by the Nile, we all know how to lure frogs out of the water. But...gnats...swarms of gnats...storms of gnats….we don’t know where to begin!” You see, a close reading of these texts show that the magicians couldn’t actually replicate the powerful workings of God...they could only mimic it--up to a certain point. Like a toddler challenging Usain Bolt to a foot race, they kept up for about .025 seconds.
Satan, the world of sin, and our own sinful flesh and idols--they all offer counterfeit powers. Counterfeit pleasure. Counterfeit safety. Counterfeit joy. Fake, fake, fake. Though we give in to their lies and false advertising, they can only seem to meet expectations for a time. Sooner or later, however, God’s superior truth shows just how threadbare their promises and powers are. Pharaoh hardens his heart in disbelief and disobedience, justifying himself with his magicians’ worldly mimicry. Sadly, even once they’re outed as having no real power, he doubles down and sticks to his rejection of God.
Pharaoh needs to turn away from his false gods and his false idols and their false miracles--he needs to turn, repent, and relent to the one, true, living God. He doesn’t though. He’s holding onto the lie, directly in the face of the truth. We need to learn from Pharaoh--to disbelieve the lies of Satan, the world, and our own flesh; to toss out the magicians’ power of what wealth, power, and influence can bring us; to see that the only source of true security, acceptance, and joy is found in God.
Jesus is the greater Moses; his cross is the greater plague, born on his own shoulders; the resurrection is the greater life that can’t be enslaved or killed; and the eternal Kingdom of Heaven is the greater Promised Land that’s already been taken and cultivated on our behalf. What the world says to love and trust in, we need to reject as a fake--a powerful, and often convincing fake--and we need to trust in Jesus, whose power is real and unmatched.
1. What lies--what fake powers--have you believed in before, thinking that power, freedom, security, and more could be gotten?
2. How has Jesus shown, even in the face of copy-cat religions and superstitions, that he is the greater power in your life?
3. Spend time in prayer today, asking the Lord to a) remind you of his power of salvation in your life and b) show you his ongoing power to supply your need, show you goodness, and keep you with him in faith.