Hebrews 7:8-13

The story in this portion of scripture said more to those who lived in Moses day and to the early church than we think today.  I have been familiar with this story from childhood and as a child, I thought it an exciting story that sounds like it came from a book of fantasy.  It seems to be full of magic.

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The so-called wise men were certainly using magic and I think it was demonic. However, I have discovered that there is even more to the story than that.

As Shepherds, Moses and Aaron would carry a staff. It was used for herding sheep.  In that respect, the staff gave them power over the sheep and enabled them to keep them safe.  A Shepherd would use the staff to hook the sheep and draw it to safety if it was in difficulty.

Today we can see carvings and statues of the pharaohs.  Did you know that these carvings and statues depict Pharaoh as carrying a staff?  None of them were shepherds, so why did they have a staff?  The answer is that the staff was a symbol of power.  People would look at these carvings and statues and see that Pharaoh had a staff and as he had a staff, he had power over them.  In fact, he had absolute power over their lives, and he was revered as a God. He was all-powerful.

When Aron cast down his staff and it became a serpent, this was a demonstration of Gods power and when the so-called wise men cast theirs down and they also turned into serpents, it would appear that Pharaoh was just as powerful as the real God. However, God is no fool.  God demonstrated that he had Power over the Pharaoh and the Gods of Egypt as Aarons serpent swallowed all the serpents from the other staffs.  Just one serpent swallowed all them.  It overpowered the Egyptian ones.  I expect the so-called wise men or Magician’s (For that is what they were) had never been overpowered before.

God was ready for this.  In fact, I have discovered that in all the Plagues that God brought against Egypt, God was demonstrating that he had power over all the Egyptian gods and they were false gods.  By doing that, Egypt would know that the God of Israel was real.

In spite of what he saw as the serpent from Aarons staff consumed the others, Pharaoh did not change his mind and let the people of Israel go.  God had already told Moses that this would happen so Moses would be ready in his own heart for this refusal. However, I think there is a warning here.  We need to guard our own hearts.  The heart is the seat of the will and we should be careful not to harden our hearts as Pharaoh did against God.  Egypt was an advanced and wealthy nation.  Pharaoh had the power of the Israeli slaves and would be dependent on them for building and host of other tasks that made Egypt wealthy. For that reason, he would not want to let them go as it would be very hard indeed to replace such a massive cheap workforce.  Egypt would become poorer, so for those reasons, I think he ignored God and thought that he could still keep the people and get away with it.  That is what sin does. Pharaoh deceived himself.  We are told that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and in so doing, God was creating the circumstances in which he would be seen to be overcoming all the Gods of Egypt.

Let us remember that just like Pharaoh, we to could harden our hearts and refuse to obey God and if we do then God will hold that against us.  Let us work at keeping our hearts sensitive to God and to his leading in our lives and remember that it is God and not us who is all-powerful.

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