I read a story about a dad who got an unnerving phone call from his daughter’s school. The secretary said that his daughter ate some sort of fungus on the playground. They had already contacted Poison Control and had saved a sample. They did not think it would be a problem. He rushed to the school.
The teacher explained that when the little girl came in from recess, her face was filthy. The teacher asked her what had happened. The little girl proclaimed, “There were free marshmallows outside!” They both then proceeded outside. The little girl pointed to the “marshmallows” on the playground bark. It turned out being a fungus called “dog vomit fungus.”
After her body “rejected” the treat, the little girl was fine.
Sometimes things are not what they appear to be. Pastor Caleb tells a funny story about being duped into thinking a cheap imitation of a designer cologne was the real thing.
Have you ever had an experience with something that was a cheap imitation?
1. Moses saw the Real Deal.
Exodus 4:27-31 records the start of Moses and Aaron as a team, “The Lord said to Aaron, ‘Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.’ So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do. Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.”
The Lord had Aaron meet Moses on the mountain where Moses saw the burning bush.
What did Aaron and Moses do for the people of Israel?
What was the response of the people?
The people recognized that Aaron and Moses represented the true God.
2. Pharaoh did not know of a Real Deal.
Not everyone was receptive to what the Lord had to offer. Exodus 5:1-4 says, “Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’’ But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.’ Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.’ But the king of Egypt said to them, ‘Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.’”
What is the first question Pharaoh asked?
Pharaoh did not know the Lord. Let that phrase sink deep into your heart. There are people who do not know the Lord. The void in their life is enormous and growing, but they miss the offer.
3. Pharaoh denied the Real Deal.
Exodus 7:10-13 continues the story, “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”
What was similar and different about the staffs?
I am wary of snakes. I feel they are unpredictable and always ready to strike. I never remember the cute poem to figure out if it is poisonous or not:
“Yellow touching red: You are dead.”
“Red against yellow can kill a fellow.”
“Red touching black: Safe for Jack.”
“Red Touch Yellow, Kills a Fellow;
Red Touch Black, Venom Lack.”
Either way, if I was Pharaoh, I would not want you to imitate something I do not like. Why did they think making cheap imitations was a good idea? Why not throw down a staff and have it be a Mongoose and make it interesting? Two negatives do not always make a positive.
How do you feel about snakes?
In the end, how do you think each group responded to Aaron’s staff?
Pharaoh’s wise men, sorcerers, and magicians could only offer a cheap imitation. It clearly represents the world. They were not genuine or authentic. So many words can be used to describe these fakers: fraud, imposter, pseudo, faker, pretender, juke, hoax, hypocrite, phony, and dupery.
The Bible warns us in several passages to be on the alert or reject cheap imitations. There are at least nine things of which we are told to beware:
1. False gods - “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
2. False prophets – “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15
3. False christs – “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24
4. Another Jesus – “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.” 2 Corinthians 11:4
5. Another gospel – “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” Galatians 1:6
6. False brethren – “On frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers.” 2 Corinthians 11:26
7. False teachers – “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” 2 Peter 2:1-2
8. False apostles – “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:13
9. Satan who deceives the whole world – “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 12:9
Which of these imposters is most prevalent today?
The world tries to fill a void that can only be supplied by the Gospel through the work of Jesus Christ. Satan wants us to think that peace, hope, and fulfillment come through relationships, possessions, titles, drugs, and alcohol. These will not satisfy in the long run.
Imitation is not always a form of flattery. Sometimes it is intended to take one down a road that has a Dead End.