I realize there may be speculation on an answer for this question. However, in Exodus how were Pharaoh’s sorcerers able to turn their staff into snakes just like when Aaron threw down his staff? Could this be Satan and if so does he really have this kind of power. I believe the Exodus accounts of events but I would have expected them not to be able to perform this task.


You are right that this requires speculation. This question has been debated, probably since the time Exodus was written. Were these fellows magicians/deceivers who played a clever trick on Pharaoh, or were they satanic servants, using the power of Satan to perform a legitimate, albeit evil miracle? The answer is that we do not know. In any case, the spiritual importance of the event is not largely affected by the difference between these two interpretations. The key point is not whether Pharoah’s magicians had real powers of sorcery: the key is that God worked a miracle through Moses which, ultimately, freed God’s people from slavery in Egypt. The miracle God worked through Moses was greater than anything the magicians could do, whether trickery of legitimate supernatural sorcery. This historical event is a wonderful foreshadow of our being freed from spiritual slavery on our spiritual Egypt.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:9 Paul tells us that the work of Satan is revealed in “all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.” Even in this case, it is not completely clear if Paul is talking about Satan doing miralces with legitimate supernatural power or whether it is mere trickery. The use of the word counterfeit makes the meaning unclear. I tend to think that those who align themselves with Satan may be able to access real supernatural power, but I cannot prove it. You are surprised that Pharaoh’s servants could do what can only be described as a miracle. I can relate to your surprise, but perhaps both of us are conditioned by our Western skepticism. We know that Satan can work miracles. He used his ability to work miracles to tempt Jesus in the wilderness.

To summarize, I am not sure if what Pharaoh’s sorcerers did was trickery or supernatural, but the meaning of the event is not significantly changed by this distinction.

John Oakes


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