One of my favorite stories in Scripture would be in Exodus 14. The great escape.
God’s people suffered many years, serving Pharaoh, sweating, bleeding and dying at his hands. God heard their cries and He sent Moses to release the people from bondage. So many aspects of this story capture my attention. God calling the unqualified servant. Water turns to blood. Each plague, unique and powerful. Fire pouring from the sky. Literal darkness. The Passover. The pillar of cloud and fire leading the people. And finally, crossing the Red Sea.
But being in Africa I stop and pause on Exodus 7:10-12, the very first plea to free the people. God told Moses to have Aaron throw down his staff and it would become a serpent, so they would know God’s power. But then Pharaoh called the sorcerers and by “their secret arts” they also turned their staffs into serpents.
“…But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.”
Here in Africa there’s a lot of African Traditional Religion (ATR). There’s animism and witchcraft. There’s a lot of “secret arts” that hold these people in fear and bondage.
I spoke with one teenage girl. I shared with her the story of Jesus and the many miracles he performed. Jesus had power over nature, death, sickness and demons. It wasn’t when Jesus raised the dead, healed the sick, or calmed the storm that caught her attention, but when he cast out the demons.
Her eyes lit up and her mouth dropped open. “Wow…” she gasped. I said, “Yeah.” Confused and interested, I asked, “Are there demons here?” She nodded and said, “Yes. Out there.” She nodded towards the whole township.