Friday, February 15, 2019

Smoke and Magic

We return now to our journey through the Bible, already in progress. When we last looked at the Scriptures, Moses had just been promised that he would know for certain that the Lord was with him and was behind all of this...after his obedience, not before. Which brings us right up to a series of plagues inflicted on Egypt (which, we might add, ought to have been a sign for Moses, as well). 

The plagues are interesting for a lot of reasons, and I have written about them to some extent before, particularly about how Pharaoh responds to what's going on around him. But what we need to look at today is the first few of the plagues, the ones where Egypt's magicians were called upon to do the same...and were able. 

It happens not once, not twice, but a few times. Moses and Aaron come before Pharaoh, beg him, and then warn him, and then they wave their arms in the air and something miraculous happens by the Lord's hand. Take, for example, all the water in Egypt turning to blood. Totally undrinkable. Complete nasty stench. All the fish have died; that's not helping the stench. 

So Pharaoh, in all his brilliant wisdom, calls his magicians...and has them do the same thing. Because, you know, when you're overrun with plague from the Lord, the absolute best thing you can do for yourself is bring on more plague. Good plan.

What I wonder, while reading these passages, however, is how the magicians were able to do it. Not by what magic or wonder or words they did something that until now, only the Lord had ever been able to do, but something else entirely.

I wonder whether it's possible for the magicians only because the Lord has already done it. Only because He has already introduced it into the realm of possibility. 

In other words, was it wholly new when the Lord did it...and then magicians were able only after it had been made possible? 

I think the answer is yes. 

Because we know that the Lord makes things possible for us. We know that He's always at work, doing a new thing and making new roads for us through this world. We know that after Jesus came and lived and did all of His amazing work, He told His disciples to go and do likewise, something none of these men could ever have imagined prior to their ministry with Jesus. But He made it possible, so they became able. 

The same thing is happening in Egypt. The magicians are not somehow equal to God. They aren't somehow just as good. The miracles God is doing here aren't somehow lesser because men are able to copy them. Rather, it is because God has done them at all that men are able to follow suit. It's because the Lord made it possible that the magicians are able. 

And God is still, right now, today, making things possible for you and for me. He's still doing new things, breaking the laws of physics, breaking into the world and introducing new possibilities, that we may go and do likewise. That we might make our way through the world. That we might glorify Him by what we are able to do. 

That's pretty amazing. 

One thing, though, that I'll never understand is why Pharaoh, after having his magicians bring more frogs on the land, still asked the Lord to remove them. Like the magicians weren't capable or something. 

Oh, wait. Such a thing had never been done before....

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