Daily Devotional: Exodus 7:8-13

The first sign in Egypt is the sign of the serpent. For many peoples around the world, including Egypt, the serpent represented and was said to bring long life, eternal youth, wisdom, and beauty. Pharaoh wore the image of the serpent. This is why Mosaic literature is filled with serpentine imagery from Genesis 1 onward—he is at war with the concept that taming a serpent brings such life because only God can. When Aaron’s staff is turned into a serpent, it is a statement about the power of Yahweh over life, youth, wisdom, and beauty. Summoning snake imagery is something the religious sorcerers would have already had practiced. They perform their religious ritual by their secret arts and summon as many snakes as there are sorcerers. When Aaron’s snake consumes the sorcerer’s, it is seen that Aaron has greater manipulative control of Heqa (the force created by the Egyptian gods) than do even the priests of Egypt—at least from an Egyptian perspective. The Egyptians charmed the snakes only to be consumed. From the religious perspective of Egypt, this act meant emphatically that Yahweh is more powerful than any god that the Egyptians had to invoke to manipulate Heqa—and Yahweh could not be invoked but, instead, simply is (the I Am), further setting Him apart and above the Egyptian pantheon.

Here, we see something important about God and our relationship to Him. God is not invokable. He cannot be summoned or called. He simply is. He is unlike all the false gods of false religions, some even referring to themselves as “Christian,” who must be invoked. They must be pleased in order for us to get something from them. When they don’t perform, it is said that people don’t have enough faith or do the correct things correctly. These types of gods are not gods—they do not even exist. Yahweh chooses and calls people. The true God is working despite people. He is at war against false religion that would pretend to invoke Him or some kind of lesser deity. He is the I Am, not the I can be. He is unsearchable. He cannot be manipulated by human action like the false gods of Egypt, India, Greece, Mesopotamia, or even Islam can supposedly be. Yahweh alone is sovereign over life, death, youth, wisdom, and beauty.

If our purpose for religion is to invoke a deity, just know that the true God is not invokable. He is. He is unsearchable. He reveals Himself. Many times we feel like God does not answer us after we have tried to invoke Him. We use that as an excuse, perhaps, not to believe. Yet, if God could be invoked, He would not be God—the invoker would be. Perhaps that is our greatest religious problem, we assume that God must be subject to our wills and whims. Such was the theology of Egypt. If God was at war with Egypt for such religion, is He also at war with many today who have a similar form of religion—even if they are monotheists or call themselves by God’s name. God is the one who leads, not us. He is the one who strikes first.

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