And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.—Exodus 7:10b-11
When God told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go worship Him, He told them to perform signs using Aaron’s rod: first, by turning water into blood; next, by sending a plague of frogs. Pharaoh’s magicians, channeling Satan’s power, duplicated the first two signs. But their dark arts could not duplicate the remaining eight signs. This is how the world works. It gives us cheap imitations of God’s power and love, and its substitutes always fall short.
We look for unconditional love. The world can’t give us that, so it offers us a worldly forgery that takes more than it gives and gives up when it can’t take anymore. We long for acceptance. The world offers us conditional acceptance, the kind that turns its backs on us when we no longer fit into a prescribed mold.
The cheap imitations don’t stop there. The world gives us temporal happiness, a giddiness that ebbs and flows as our circumstances change. It gives us worldly success that satisfies only for a season. It gives us confidence in our imperfect selves instead of in our perfect God.
The world gives us hope based upon the things we see, things we know will change. In place of contentment, it conditions us to settle for a distant second best. In place of wisdom, it gives us knowledge without understanding. In place of peace, it gives us spiritual novocaine so we are numbed to the reality of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior.
The more we accept the world’s cheap imitations, the harder our hearts grow toward God. Pharaoh saw an escalating series of signs that led to the death of his own son in the final plague. He eventually allowed God’s children to leave, only to send his army to pursue them at the Red Sea. God’s people safely crossed on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army drowned.
Pharaoh’s hardness of heart came at a very high price to both him and his people. It’s no different for us today. When we settle for the world’s cheap imitations, we experience heartache, dysfunction, brokenness, isolation, emptiness, failure and frustration. Our efforts will always be inadequate outside of God’s perfect plan.
What cheap imitations have you settled for in your life? Ask God to open your eyes to His ways and His will. It begins with placing Jesus at the center of all we are and all we do. When our hearts are right with Him, He will give us His desires and His vision. Only by living in and for Him can we find true love, acceptance, wisdom, peace and purpose.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”—2 Corinthians 12:9a