Magic versus Miracles

When God strikes Egypt with the first plague in Exodus 7, all the water in Egypt turns to blood.  Then we read this:

“Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood.  The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.   But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.” — Exodus 7:20-22

The magicians also duplicate the next plague – frogs:

“So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.  But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.” — Exodus 8:6-7

Was magic really in existence back then?  Or did the magicians do this through some sort of trickery?  I feel relatively sure that this would not occur today, so I have to entertain the idea that Pharaoh’s magicians were truly magicians, and not charlatans.

Interestingly, the magicians can’t reproduce the next plague – gnats.  And they even give credit to God, and they admit to Pharaoh that He is more powerful than they are:

‘and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats.  But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.    Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere,  the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”’ — Exodus 8:17-19

Was magic “real” back in these earlier times?  If so, by what power or authority did it occur?  Why isn’t real magic seen today?  Or is it?


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