After the first miracle that God gave Moses, He added another:
Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.” (Ex. 4:6–9)
This is exactly what happened. Then the series of plagues that fell upon the Egyptians, designed to demonstrate to Pharaoh that Moses was not some dreamer with a crazy vision, but that he spoke the words of the Lord God omnipotent.
Do you know who really understood the principal reason why Jesus did the miracles he did? His name was Nicodemus, and he came to Jesus at night. He said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Beyond that point, the theology of Nicodemus was pretty suspect. But at that moment, his theology was absolutely sound—so much more than the enemies of Jesus, like Nicodemus’ fellow Pharisees, who didn’t deny the miracles of Christ but who came perilously close to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit when they attributed the power of Jesus’ miracles not to God but to Satan.
Satan cannot perform miracles. The Bible warns us against the signs that Satan will perform, deceiving even the elect; but those signs are described as lying signs and wonders. That doesn’t mean that they are true miracles that are performed for satanic purposes. Rather, they are false signs or tricks; they might be more astonishing than the most impressive magic acts, but they are still tricks. Satan is not God. He cannot do the things that God can do. Real miracles that authenticate God’s messengers are acts that only God can do, such as creating something out of nothing or raising people from the dead. Satan can’t control the laws of nature; he’s just a magician. He’s good at his craft, but his craft is altogether evil.
We see how that took place in the confrontation that Moses had with the magicians of Pharaoh’s court (Ex. 7:10–13). Moses took that rod, threw it on the ground, and it turned into a snake. But the magicians of Pharaoh just yawned and threw their sticks on the floor too—and they all became snakes. It was the oldest trick in the history of sleight-of-hand: inside each of their sticks was a snake. The sticks collapsed, so the snakes that were already in there could come out. Pharaoh’s court thought that was all Moses was doing, too. But Moses’ “trick” was real; his snake ate all of their snakes. Those magicians were no match for Moses—because they were no match for God. All the trickery and machinations that Pharaoh’s court magicians had could not really turn the Nile into blood or bring about the plagues. They certainly did not have the power of the Passover.
The miracles in the New Testament had an immediate purpose: healing people who were sick, raising people from the dead, ministering to suffering, and many other acts of compassion. But in the final analysis, those miracles authenticated and validated that Jesus was and is the Word of God, that Jesus spoke the truth. Likewise, in the burning bush we see the revelation of the person of God, of the power of God, and of the eternality of God. We see the revelation of the compassion of God, the redemption of God, and now, finally, the truth of God.
Taken from Moses and the Burning Bush by R.C. Sproul, © 2018, pp. 93–101.