Before the plagues occur, the miracle that Pharaoh asks, gives him as it were a last chance to meet God’s demand. But he doesn’t listen. On the contrary, he wants to destroy the power of the miracle by letting his magicians imitate it. Imitating something that comes from God has always been a success story of satan. Many have already been misled and are still being misled every day.
The transformation of the staff into a snake is an introduction to the plagues. This time it is the staff of Aaron which causes this sign for Pharaoh. First it was the staff of Moses, and he used it for the people (Exo 4:1-51Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’”2The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”3Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.4But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp [it] by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—5“that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”). Because the staff of Aaron is now being used, the sign has a slightly different meaning. The staff of Aaron will sprout (Num 17:88Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.). This is why the power of life from the dead, the power of the resurrection, is attached to his staff.
Aaron is a picture of the Lord Jesus as the risen Lord. Aaron comes to Pharaoh as the one in whose hand the staff is. He has, as it were, been given the staff that has returned in the hand of Moses and is now exercising his authority. We see with the Lord Jesus that after His resurrection He says that He “has been given all power in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:1818And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.).
We do not yet see this in reality, but we do see it by faith (Heb 2:88You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.). When we look at the world, it seems as if the devil is in control. However, that is in appearance only. The power is in the hands of the Lord Jesus and He gives it to whom He will (Rom 13:11Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.; Pro 21:11The king’s heart is [like] channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.
; Dan 2:21a21“It is He who changes the times and the epochs;
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
). He is above all powers and eventually devours all powers. This introduction to the plagues shows us at the same time the outcome of the plagues: God is victorious, He destroys all opposition.
Paul mentions the names of the magicians of Pharaoh. He points to these magicians, because in so-called nominal Christians the same corrupt traits of character are revealed as in these magicians: “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these [men] also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith” (2Tim 3:88Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these [men] also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.). These are people who discredit the Christian faith, of whom Paul says to Timothy: “Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2Tim 3:55holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.).
The plagues affect Egypt, which represents the world. By mentioning the magicians in 2 Timothy 3 we see that the plagues also relate to Christianity. This is because Christendom is linked with the world. In this way, Christianity shares in the judgment that God makes to come upon the world. This is why the call comes to the true Christian: “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness” (2Tim 2:19b19Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”; cf. Rev 18:44I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;).
We live “in the last days” (2Tim 3:11But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.). These are the days in which the magicians of Pharaoh try to explain away the power of God’s Word with their magic. At this stage there is no distinction between Israel and Egypt (Exo 8:2222But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land.), between the world and God’s people. That is why we also have to deal with it.