Scripture: Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. Exodus 7:20 ESV
Observation: It is no coincidence that this first plague features a vital waterway of Egyptian life that entailed idol worship of a pagan god. Moreover, it ties together the overarching story of the Exodus. Beginning with the present Pharaoh’s father ordering the Hebrew midwives to cast newborn Hebrew boys into the Nile, the story ends with the son meeting his fate in the Red Sea. As for the miraculous transformation of water into blood, scholars debate whether the miracle entailed a metabolic change or the flooding of the Nile. When flooded, the Nile’s waters appeared red as blood due to its soil composition (predominately a reddish clay). Further deepening the Nile’s reddish hue, the overflow enriched by soil minerals would spur an overgrowth of flagellate algae that depleted oxygen, thereby suffocating marine life (similar to “red tide” here in my home state of Florida).
Nevertheless, Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated the miracle, or so it seemed. Two questions come to mind, however. Where did they find water unaffected by Moses and Aaron’s miraculous act? And how did they perform this supposed miracle? Again, assuming this supernatural event entailed flash flooding, the magicians likely drew water from underground wells unaffected by flooding and then merely added clay and or algae-contaminated water from the Nile. Regardless, a God-directed event served his purposes: Pharaoh retired to his chambers unmoved by the miraculous sign—escalating the conflict and assuring his eventual demise.
Takeaway: There are moments in our lives when events seem beyond the laws of nature. Whether or not these occurrences find a basis in the supernatural or natural sciences, the timing and outcome are miraculous and reveal the glory of God—but only to those who see beyond the apparent, who walk by faith, not by sight. Indeed, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus illustrates this point. Abraham tells the hell-suffering rich man that even if Lazarus appeared to the rich man’s earth-oriented brothers, they would not believe his resurrected state nor his message to repent (Luke 16:19-31).
So why do some of us fail to walk by faith, to see beyond the apparent? The short answer is pride. Our pride quenches the Holy Spirit, who reveals the hand of God. Our pride closes our minds to the evidence that would point us beyond our small, self-idolized world to the eternal and endless realm of our Lord and his power and majesty. And tragically, when we fail to see beyond the evidence and deny the glory of God at work in our midst, like Pharaoh, we remain unmoved and set on a path to self-destruction. But when we see beyond the apparent and believe in our hearts that God raised his Son from the dead, our exodus deliverance awaits us (Romans 10:9). And as we walk by faith guided by the Holy Spirit, we will behold even greater miracles than that of the Exodus story: hardened hearts transformed into hearts of flesh!
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for revealing yourself incarnate in your Son. Would you please help us embrace the reality of the resurrected Christ and walk by faith, looking beyond the apparent events of our temporal world to your glory and your miraculous work in our midst? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling