What Role did Satan Play in the Exodus Story?
Was it Jesus or Satan who sent the plagues to afflict Egypt? Was it Jesus or Satan who hardened Pharaoh’s heart to say “no” to God’s command? Was it Jesus or Satan who parted the Red Sea? Was it Jesus or Satan who caused the Red Sea to fall back down upon and drown the fleeing Egyptians? What part in this incredible story did God play, did Satan play, did Pharaoh play, did Moses play? The dynamics are really no different than they are today– it’s just getting all the parties’ roles and motives rightly divided.
The New Testament provides us an “updated” syllabus which better delineates exactly “who” did “what” to “whom” in the Old Testament. Remember, the Old Testament often needs the brighter illuminative bulb of the New Testament to better see through the occasional Old Testament darkness.
Here is the issue. The Old Testament saints lived under a SPIRITUAL STROBE LIGHT. One moment they saw the light flash of God, the very next the dark flash of Satan. We all have experienced the effects of a literal strobe light, which disorients us and keeps us from seeing reality in a smooth, clear and consistent manner. The Old Testament produces the EXACT same effect. One moment it shines forth the glory and love of the Lord of light, but the next moment it eclipses that light with Satanic wrath and darkness. AND THE TRAGEDY WAS THAT THEY THOUGHT THE DARK AND LIGHT FLASHES WERE BOTH GOD. In other words, God in their thinking was BOTH light and dark.
There is even a perfect New Testament example of this STROBE LIGHT EFFECT in Matthew 16:16-23. In verses 16-17, Jesus commends Peter for speaking the following confession to Him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded with relish, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which in heaven.” THIS was one of the great LIGHT FLASHES in the Scriptures. BUT a mere FIVE VERSES later, Peter enters a DARK ECLIPSE– he tries to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem to both die and rise again. Peter thought he was still in the light as he was just five verses earlier, but Jesus’ response had to floor him: “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
Talk about a strobe light! Do you see? One moment Peter is in the light. The next he is in Satan’s shadow. Only Jesus stayed in the light at all times and places. EVERYBODY else struggles with STROBE LIGHT sickness from time to time. The Old Testament believers suffered with it much more intensely and frequently, but even New Testament believers like Peter suffered with it on occasion. Any time Satanic wrath or darkness is confused or commingled with God’s nature, then the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT is present. Jesus’ goal is to eliminate the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT from all our minds and hearts so that we can see and know His heavenly Father in pure form and function. In other words, we see Him in sheer light and absolute goodness.
The Old Testament perspective even acknowledged and embraced the STROBE LIGHT: “I form the light, and create the darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7. This verse TOTALLY contradicts both James 1:13 and 1 John 1:5. The James verse says God has no connection with evil whatsoever, and to “let no man say” He does. Moreover, the John passage says that, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness AT ALL.”
There is NO way to resolve these New Testament passages with the Isaiah verse UNLESS we redefine terms to make sure we are talking about the same entities. The Old Testament believers’ view of God included the dark works of Satan BECAUSE they held that God was completely sovereign in creation with absolutely no spiritual opposition. The New Testament made a MASSIVE COURSE CORRECTION on this dynamic by revealing Satan’s dark kingdom as an ENEMY to God’s kingdom on every level. This mandates that we now redivide the Old Testament according to New Testament light and Holy Ghost leading.
So, let’s get back to Moses. Is there a CLEAR example of the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT in his life where one second he is hearing God and the very next moment is hearing Satan? Absolutely! Numbers 20:1-12 reveals the story. Moses here heard the good and true God instruct him to “speak to the rock” before him so that it would supernaturally gush water to bless His parched people. The people would then know their God lovingly cared and provided for them.
But, Moses allowed Satan to distort that unction. Moses’ own frustration and anger with the people gave Satan access to eclipse with darkness what Moses first heard in light. The result? Moses struck the rock in anger and disgust, while verbally rebuking the people with his own bitter words. The miracle DID happen BUT now the tone of God was misrepresented. The people now thought that their God was angry with them because of Moses’ terrible tone and harsh action.
And so the false image of a wrathful God remained embedded within the people, an image that grew and grew and grew, unchecked and unchallenged until Jesus came to reveal the truth about God— that He is only and always light and love. Moses allowed the dark flash of Satan right in the wake of a light flash from God to corrupt God’s image to the people. This was the STROBE LIGHT sin that kept Moses out of the Promised Land.
Do we really think this was a one time sin by Moses, or that it was a repeating pattern, a recurring dynamic, a habitual problem that Moses, as well all Old Testament believers, suffered from and struggled with their entire lives? Moses was the meekest and finest man of his day, but he still lived by his own righteousness and not the righteousness which is of God. He did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit baptism which could fully quench all dark Satanic impulses away. For this reason, Moses represents the flawed Old Covenant believer who did not yet understand where and how God and Satan differed in personality and purpose.
To think that this one-time violation would keep Moses forever exiled from the Land of Promise is a bit unrealistic and harsh. It seems unlikely knowing what we know about the grace and forgiveness of God. But what if the broader symbolic truth that God was planting in this Bible story was for New Testament believers to one day see, with the aid of the Holy Spirit that this was not a one-time sin on the part of Moses, but rather a full-time flaw.
It wasn’t that Moses didn’t frequently see, hear and believe in the true Lord of grace and light, for he most assuredly did. It also wasn’t that Moses didn’t minister many awesome miracles in the power of the Lord, for he often did. And it certainly wasn’t that Moses didn’t love the same Lord we do, for he richly did. The problem WAS, however, that he frequently blended God’s impulses with Satan’s impulses, thinking they came from the same source. He suffered the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT, in other words.
Although this passage just discussed is the only time we are made aware of this issue with Moses, the fact that it kept him forever from the Promised Land suggests there was much more to this than a one-time transgression. This episode symbolically alerts us to the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT which awaits any literal reading of the Old Testament which does not allow for New Testament illumination and renovation. That illumination and renovation is called Jesus Christ– His nature, His goodness, His anointing, His mercy, His heroism. These are the dynamics that will remove the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT from distorting our image of God.
Let’s now apply these dynamics to the Exodus passage involving Pharaoh and the Plagues. Now that we know that the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT could cause Moses to hear God one moment and Satan the next, we have to reexamine EVERYTHING Moses did and reassign each action to its proper source– [JESUS OR SATAN].
Let’s start with the plagues. It appears God sent a different plague whenever Pharaoh said “no” to God’s demand to “Let my people go!” How does the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT affect this story? Well, let’s start with Satan. We know that He wants all the sons of men to be destroyed, whether they be Egyptian or Israelite. He is a murderer and liar from the beginning. If God were not protecting mankind by restraining Satan from his destructions, then we would all soon perish from plague, war, famine or other destruction. The book of Job describes a “hedge” which God keeps around men to protect them from Satan’s harm. How this hedge exactly works, what enlarges it and what diminishes it, is not the purpose of this chapter. But, the point to grasp is that if Satan COULD, then Satan WOULD kill us all right now.
Satan, as proven in an earlier chapter, tempts men to fail and fall by sinning, which in turn gives him access to inflict the curses of the Law upon them. These curses give Satan power to afflict on various levels, from disease to disaster, from poverty to plague, from isolation to slavery, from emotional distress to all-out insanity. It’s all about access, what the New Testament calls “giving place to the devil.”
So the question to start with is what access did Egypt give to Satan to penetrate God’s protective hedge and wreak havoc? The worst plague, of course, was the last, the killing of Egypt’s firstborn. Let’s start with the worst first. Had Egypt given any “eye for an eye” access to Satan which would allow him access to kill its firstborn? Oh yes, Egypt did the exact same thing in killing all the Israelite male infants in Exodus 1:15-22. There, Pharaoh “charged ALL his people, saying, ‘Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river.'” Thus, this terrible sin was a national one in which ALL the people participated.
So, we see Satan had grounds to curse Egypt under “the eye for an eye” concept soon to be codified under the Law of Moses. Even though this Law had not yet been written in the stone tablets, the principle holds true from the beginning that curses come from access given by previous sins committed in the world. “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” Proverbs 26:2. This obviously is not a scientific formula we can figure out to a tee, but in general terms it is true that individual and corporate sins give Satan greater and greater access to inflict his wrathful destruction, sometimes in the same degree, but often in a “ratcheted up” or worse degree than the prior sin committed.
So, we know Satan’s game plan was to destroy both Israel and Egypt if he could. Egypt gave great access to Satan’s evil by their great sin in killing Israel’s firstborn, not to mention their slavery of Israel to begin with, their worship of false God’s, etc. By Satan’s reckoning, Egypt had it coming. Destruction was coming by Satan, special delivery.
Satan’s plan was to gradually destroy Egypt by plague, and then during that process provoke Egypt to destroy Israel by the sword. Brilliant plan, but for one thing– God’s protective hedge around Israel would not allow this to happen. In fact, God was working to extend mercy to Pharaoh by continually warning him to “Let my people go!” If Pharaoh had relented and repented, then God’s hedge would have been strengthened to keep, or at least diminish, Satan’s oncoming destructions toward Egypt.
So, is the picture clear? Two invisible presences, two personalities, two opposing forces, hovered in and around this entire situation. One seeking everybody’s destruction, and the other seeking everybody’s redemption. Moses now comes to Pharaoh’s court to warn him of the plagues to come if he does not free Israel from slavery. Now, stop! Let’s use THE BRACKET method suggested above to determine whether this passage is referring to Satan’s works or to Jesus’ works. Does God warn of impending Satanic disaster? Yes, all the time in both Old and New Testaments, God warns the righteous and unrighteous of destructions to come SO THAT they can either repent, avoid harm or otherwise defuse the danger to come. So, Moses warning Pharaoh multiple times is definitely under the inspiration of God.
Now, how about Moses being the apparent conduit of those plagues by raising or lowering his staff just prior to these different plagues manifesting? He sure seems to be the bringer of all the plagues. Well, to the extent he did serve as the conduit, he wasn’t getting the power from God, but from Satan. Remember, Satan has the power of death and destruction, not God. Satan is the destroyer, the tempter, the killer, the god of this world, the commander of countless armies of demon spirits of infirmity. Satan delights to use the momentarily misguided servants of God to do his dirty work. It is one of his favorite ploys. That way, it looks like God is doing the killing rather than Satan. God ends up being framed for the very evil from which He was trying to stop and save everybody.
Whenever Moses performed an act or miracle which saved, healed or delivered, he was in a light phase where he was seeing and hearing the will of God. BUT, whenever Moses performed a miracle which maimed, killed, or destroyed, then he was seeing and hearing the will of Satan. The STROBE LIGHT EFFECT explains this entire passage. Sometimes the sequences were light/dark/light/dark, sometimes light/light/dark/dark, sometimes dark/dark/light/light. But there was always some STROBING influencing everybody’s perceptions.
God warned. Satan destroyed. God protected. Satan assaulted. God worked to slow and restrain the effects of Satan’s plagues so that Pharaoh could find space to repent. Satan worked to increasingly harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not repent. Had Pharaoh repented, God’s mercy would have been allowed to rush in and strengthen the divine hedge of protection around Egypt and the plagues would have been staved off. Pharaoh at first hardened his own heart to repentance, but then it says later that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” But, using THE BRACKET, we know that JESUS does not harden hearts to say no to God, but Satan surely does.
Becoming clearer? But for argument’s sake, what if Moses had not yielded to the Satanic impulse to use his staff to release the plagues? Would they have still manifested? Tough to know for sure. Satan may have used some other conduit or perhaps none at all. In other words, the plagues may have just happened spontaneously. But we do know this for sure– Satan was the source of the plagues, and Egypt’s various sins allowed Satan the access to send the plagues Egypt’s way.
It has been much documented that many of the plagues involved creatures and themes that were involved in Egyptian idolatry. If this was the case, then the Satanic access of some of the earlier plagues may have come as a result of their various idolatries of false Gods. Am I saying Satan would inflict plagues on ignorant idolaters, even on devil-worshippers themselves? YES! Satan would immediately afflict anybody and everybody with every means at his evil disposal, IF HE COULD.
Satan is a rabid killer who wants us all dead– ASAP, DOA. He preys on WHOEVER he can obtain access to afflict, including his own worshippers. It is only the restraining power of God that keeps the devil at bay in any of our lives. Men’s continuing sin and hardening hearts serve to quench and lessen their divine hedges of protection, and in some cases this allows Satan to destroy both men and nations in this temporal realm. Conversely, ever-increasing faith harvests ever-increasing protection– not necessarily from all the worldly persecutions which the righteous are called to endure, but certainly sure shielding from all Satanic missiles meant to destroy us. Such is the dynamic our spiritual freedom necessitates– faith increases divine access and protection, while unbelief increases Satanic access and vulnerability. I don’t want to over-simplify this most complex dynamic, so future chapters will go into this in much greater depth.
Now, concerning the killing of the Egyptian firstborn, who was the death angel? We know from Jewish religious resources cited in the previous link above that the Jews still believe to this day that the death angel was Satan. They believed it then. They believe it now. They are absolutely correct. Their only mistake is that they believe Satan was God’s personal assassin fulfilling God’s will rather than God’s fiercest enemy opposing God’s will.
We now know Satan steals, kills, and destroys, and that he has the power of death according to Hebrews 2:14-15, not God. So if God didn’t kill the firstborn, what DID God do in all this? Simple. He saved the Israelites from the death angel. By instructing the Israelites to apply blood over all their doorstep as act of FAITH, God was now enabled to fully hedge them about with complete protection. God always longs to give His full hedge of protection to all men, including the Egyptians, but men harden, reject and refuse to receive it. This quenches the Lord’s access to protect, instead allowing Satan access to attack.
I have always wondered why people think that the Lord is the one who SICS the devil on us whenever we displease God. No, we are the ones who SIC the devil on ourselves. Jesus is trying to save us from our self-SICCING (or self-seeking, excuse the pun). Jesus comes daily extending to us a gold-engraved invitation to experience the limitless life of God. Some receive that invitation gladly. Others spit at it and turn away immediately into Satan’s waiting arms.
Poor Moses thought in Exodus 5:3 that God would actually punish Israel “with pestilence and sword” if they didn’t immediately go into the desert and sacrifice to Him (see Exodus 3:18, where the Lord originally threatened no such thing). While it’s certainly true that our failure to worship God does open us up to greater Satanic attacks, the culprit is our own neglect and not the vindictiveness of God to ever SIC Satan on us. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?” Hebrew 2:3.
To reject God’s call is to enter Satan’s domain. God doesn’t unleash Satanic attacks toward us to show us who is boss. Instead, by us continuing to harden our hearts toward God, we turn ourselves over more and more to the power of the prince of darkness. God speaks only words of life, deliverance and blessing. If we harden our heart to spit at those words with our neglect and unbelief, then we have opened wide our gates to invite all kinds of demonic attack. When we ignore God, we empower Satan and diminish God’s hedge around us. Repentance reestablishes and strengthens that hedge.
One last question needs to be addressed. The Red Sea crossing– who parted the waves and who caused them to fall on and kill the Egyptians? Well, the parting is easy. God parted the waters to save the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptian army bent on killing them by the sword. That was Moses in the light cycle saving others in the pure power of God. But the falling waters is another matter.
Did you know that the Lord caused the Egyptians to get stuck in the mud as they were chasing the Israelites through the parted waters? Did you know that the Lord actually made all the Egyptian chariot wheels to fall off? Did you know that the Egyptians had actually decided to give up and started to flee back to their own shore? Exodus 14:24-25.
Do you see? Divine protection without killing anybody. They had given up and were returning home. There was no need to kill them to save Israel at this point. Do you think for a moment Jesus would have lowered His hand and commanded the waters to kill the Egyptians? No! He would have allowed the Egyptians to return home alive.
But what did Moses do in his dark cycle? He listened to wrath, to Satan, to revenge. Moses was the one who commanded the waters to fall and kill the Egyptian enemies– not God, not Jesus, not Holy Spirit love that blesses and forgives enemies. People tried to kill, stone, and shove Jesus off a cliff at various points of His life. He NEVER harmed anybody. He just passed through their midst supernaturally. Anytime our enemies are harmed by us rather than blessed and forgiven, then rest assured the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT is responsible.
Apply THE BRACKET method demonstrated above and we can eliminate the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT. Our image of God will be forever purified and elevated. It will be so much easier to love Jesus with a sincere and unfeigned love, one not based on fear, threat, manipulation or intimidation. Remember, it is just not the Old Testament “characters” written about who suffer from the STROBE LIGHT EFFECT. It is also the Old Testament writers themselves, and even on occasion the New Testament characters and writers. Not nearly as much for sure, but still, from time to time, some slight STROBING will occur in the New Testament. We just need to be aware of this phenomenon and know how to quickly use THE BRACKET to rightly divide Scripture with the revealed nature of Jesus. It always comes down to Jesus. If our Spirit-enlightened conscience can’t see Jesus doing horrible things described in Scripture, then we mustn’t see the Father doing it either. If we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father. Satan is the source of all destructive evil, not Jesus, never Jesus.