Are the Secret Arts of Exodus Good or Evil?
“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. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts.” Exodus 7:10-11
When Moses and Aaron were told by God to cast down their rod in front of Pharaoh and it would become a serpent, one can only imagine that they would have thought surely this sign/miracle would convince Pharaoh easily. At least today it would anyway; if someone was to perform such a “magic trick” I am pretty sure they would be a headliner in Vegas. But to them it didn’t seem to be so much of a big deal when Moses and Aaron’s sign was matched by others performing their “secret arts.” The first question we ask ourselves is how? How could someone possibly perform such a work? In research I find that many scholars believe that in fact these sorcerers and magicians were actually channeling their power from angels, but not angels of heaven, rather angels of Satan or demons. Perhaps Satan himself gave the magicians and sorcerers the power to perform such amazing feats that only someone not of this world could perform. Evil was surely against the Israelites leaving Egypt, being that this is a prophecy that God has already for told. For example, the prophecies of the messiah that we see later in the bible illustrates how badly Satan wanted to foil the plan of God and Christ. This is a typical story much like many others in the bible of good vs. evil, good being Moses and Aaron and evil being portrayed as Pharaoh or the sorcerers/magicians. Evil could only prevail for so long until God’s power proved to be much more than that of the “secret arts.”
“Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not.” Exodus 8:17-18
In the footnotes of our text it mentions that while the plagues before the gnats Pharaohs magicians were able to perform them all, but they are confounded by the gnats, which they freely acknowledge as an act of God. The hand of evil could only reach so far and after this event Pharaoh started to show signs that he was starting to weaken, and he professes that he is sinful and tells Moses and Aaron to think of him while they are sacrificing to God. This epic battle of good and evil ends with good prevailing once again, and backed by God and his love for his creation.