|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
|Our World of Magic|
Egypt's religion was naturalistic, ie. they worshipped nature and all parts of nature. They used supernatural magic to control nature, and thus control people. The Lord through Moses is going to totally destroy all authority of Egypt's gods in the people's eyes.
At the Lord's command, Aaron cast his rod to the ground where it became a serpent. Pharaoh may have said: "That's nothing! Let me show you what my men can do." So Pharaoh's servants imitated the hand of the Lord by doing in like manner with their enchantments. Reportedly, the magicians of Egypt could charm a serpent so that it would become stiff as a rod. Was their ability here before Moses something like that, or did they actually duplicate the supernatural sign of Moses? I am inclined to follow the Scripture's account and say that they did indeed duplicate what happened to Aaron's rod.
Exodus 7:11, The wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt...
"We know not only that magic formed part and parcel of the religion of Egypt, but we have actually restored to us their ancient magical Ritual itself! We know their incantations and their amulets, with a special reference to the dead ; their belief in lucky and unlucky days and events, and even in the so-called "evil eye." But what is most to our present purpose, we know that the care of the magical books was entrusted to two classes of learned men, whose titles exactly correspond to what, for want of better designation, is rendered as "magicians," or perhaps "scribes," and "wise men!"" (Old Testament Bible History, Edersheim, on Joseph before Pharaoh, pg. 156.)
The magicians held almost total sway in Egypt. Note Ex 7:11 says, "the magicians of Egypt," not the magicians of Pharaoh. These were the absolute best in the nation and were considered as belonging to Egypt. Obviously, their control over Pharaoh would depend upon their magical abilities; it was when they failed to interpret Pharaoh's dream that Joseph was summoned. Egypt's religion was centered in Pharaoh who was supported by these magicians acting in his name. (I wonder what would have taken place if the magicians had turned against Pharaoh? Did they have enough power to usurp the throne or set up someone of whom they approved?)
Moses was initially looked upon as just another magician by Pharaoh. When the magicians duplicated in the slightest any of Moses' 'tricks,' Pharaoh's suspicion was confirmed and his heart hardened. Hastings (Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, vol. 5, pg. 237) tells us that "it seems not too much to say that an Egyptian was dominated throughout his life by the belief in the magical control exercised upon the gods, upon spirits in life and in death, and upon material objects."
When Moses confronted Pharaoh, and Pharaoh called for the magicians of Egypt, Moses and Aaron were confronting the very foundation of the religious and social structure upon which Egypt, the world-power of that day, was built. When this structure crumbled, Egypt ceased being a world-power. God destroyed this power, not with a mighty army equipped with modern weapons of carnal warfare, but with frogs, bugs, rain and blights. When Egypt's religion was destroyed, Egypt was destroyed.
1) First and foremost, the actions here before Pharaoh show us that there is a battle going on, a battle between the forces of evil and the force of God. It is a real battle requiring real action and cost.
2) The devil's crowd has power to do signs and wonders. The NT idea is that Satan disguises himself as an angle of light. These were live serpents (one of the 'gods' of Egypt), not figments of an overwrought imagination.
3) The Wicked one has genuine power, but his power comes from the Lord Who has all power. Signs and lying wonders would refer to genuine signs and wonders, but the idea behind them is a lie. The sign which these evil men did was true, but it represented a lie.
4) Note that though the devil and his followers have power, it is subject to not only the approval but the power of God, v. 12, and it is limited by God, 8:18.
5) Logically, we can be assured that the same enemy has the same power today to use for the same purpose: to undermine the message of the Lord to the heart of the sinner. An important point is that the message of the Lord was being delivered to Egypt through Moses. The enemy is still today undermining the command of the Lord as delivered by Moses.
6) One reason the Lord gives power to the enemy is found in Deut 13: the Lord's testing to see if His people will indeed follow His revealed word over all else. An important point is that supernatural signs and wonders do not prove that a messenger is from God; in fact, the indication from Romans 8:24 is that supernatural signs which might accompany a message point more to the message being false. I am sure that there are exceptions, but they would be that, exceptions.
7) How many good sincere people who profess to love God have fallen for the devil's lie and into his trap because they mistook all supernatural power for God's power? They accept the working of the enemy of God for the working of the Spirit of God. Furthermore, they assume that because the enemy of God has supernatural power, he is in sovereign control of the world today. They feel that Satan's power is independent of God's power; therefore, Satan is acting on his own and is to be feared. This is a totally corrupt view of power because all power belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, Mat 28:19, 20. (I find it strange that many who believe in the sovereignty of Satan in this present age also believe Mat 28:19. This kind of thinking is extremely contradictory.)
8) Another point which should be made here is that dependance on any answer to the surrounding ills other than repentance and obedience to the word of the Lord (as delivered basically through Moses, Jn 5:46, 47), is dependance on a form of magic. Fallen man (salvation does not change this desire) grasps at anything except the word of God for the answers to his ills. Moreover, there is an abundance of magicians around to provide the magic. The natural man loves the wisdom of this world and human experiences in place of the clear instructions from God's mouth.
9) Pharaoh's magicians could increase the first two plagues but could not do anything to ease them. The devil's crowd can only kill and destroy; they can only make a devastating situation more devastating (Jn 10:10). The antinomians promise life, but can only deliver more death (Pr 13:13, 14).
Observe that all of the world's wisdom cannot improve one iota upon the conditions around us. These magicians could only make matters worse; they could make more blood for a people who were being destroyed by blood; they could make more frogs appear for a people who were being overrun by the frogs. But they could not make anything better for anyone, not even for themselves.
I can imagine what the people thought in both instances, the blood & frogs, as they saw the magicians only making matters worse: "We don't need any more blood or frogs. Give us something to relieve our suffering."
And we must say this about all of the world's answers to the difficulties facing society today: they are only making matters worse! The only hope in hopeless situations is repentance and obeying the voice of the Lord (2 Chron 7:14).
The distressed cry of mankind today is "Give us something which will address the desperate situation in which we find ourselves." The magicians rush in with their answers, but the situations worsen. How long will it be before people discover the truth that there are no answers apart from every word which proceeds from the mouth of God? (Mat 4:4)
10) Finally, when Pharaoh saw that the magicians indeed could do something (even make matters worse), Pharaoh's heart was hardened.
As the saying goes: "Any
old port in a storm," and Pharaoh's port in the storm to
justify his rebellion against the words of Moses was the fact
that the magicians could do something. How many people have we
met with hardened hearts who are looking for any excuse to refuse
to obey the word of the Lord? They will settle for anything that
will justify their rebellion, even though what they flee to only
makes matters worse (eg. "I am going to counseling").
Why do they refuse to turn to the Lord and His word? Because the
god they are serving is helping them in their situation? No, hardened
in sin, they search for and accept any answer other than repentance
and turning in obedience to the Lord.
|Prayer or Magic|
"As soon as man comes to see in the beings [context-any spiritual beings, angelic or demonic] by whose power marvels are wrought, personalities capable of emotions like himself and susceptible to persuasion, his magical art becomes an intelligent effort to propitiate these superior beings and his incantations become hymns and prayers. In all religions, Jewish, Moslem, Christian or pagan, when the act or prayer as such is held to produce certain results or to secure certain desired boons, we have to do with a species of magic. The word "religion" is inapplicable, unless it includes the idea of personal faith in a God or gods whose favor depends on moral acts and on ritual acts only in so far as they have a voluntary and ethical character..." ISBE also points out that the sorceress [AV "witch"] is to be put to death. (Emph added. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915), pg. 1963, 4.)
Note ISBE's point: Prayer on the part of the child of God who seeks to influence God or His angles to do the petitioner's request, is little more than an exercise in magic. Numerous passages appear to make God man's servant, either to come personally, or to send His holy angles to do the individual's personal pleasure. But these passages will not stand alone.
Furthermore, James Hastings makes this statement concerning Domestic worship in Egypt: "Of the prayers to the gods there is evidence in the epithets of Amon, 'who cometh quickly to him who calls on him'; and of Ptah, 'who hears petitions,' and whose tablets have ears carved on them.' ("Egyptian Religion," Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, vol 5, pg. 237.)
Notice, therefore, that the pagan concept of worshiping a deity is to place that deity under obligation to the worshiper. Nothing could be more blasphemous and contrary to true worship of Jehovah God according to the word of God. True religion and undefiled before the Heavenly Father places the worshiper under total obligation to the Heavenly Father Whom he claims to worship.
We see this pagan idea of worship reflected in Moses' exchange with Pharaoh; twice Pharaoh asked Moses to intreat for him with the Lord, 9:28; 10:17. Paganism desires a magic formula to solve all man's ills, identifying prayer with that magic formula.
Certainly, God commands men to humble themselves and pray, but even modern Christianity has Pharaoh's attitude: pray and all problems will be solved. Prayer temporally relieved Pharaoh of the current results of his hardness in sin, but prayer did not change the final death that was awaiting his pride and stubbornness. (Pharaoh was probably accustomed to the magicians who stood before him. I would imagine that they had convinced him that if he would submit to their will, they would intercede for him before the gods which they represented and that all would be healed.)
Prayer without turning from our word to His word is hypocrisy, idolatry and little more than an exercise in magic; it surely is an abomination to God. Ezekiel 8:7-16 records the actions of men worshiping the "Lord" with their mouths, yet their hearts were still far from Him. Vs. 17 & 18 records God's attitude toward this action. Cf. Ez 14.
Keach's Catechism rightly defines prayer thusly: "Q. 109. What is Prayer? A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies. (1 Jn 5:14; 1 Jn 1:9; Phi 4:6; Ps 10:17; 145:19; Jn 14:13, 14)" [Keach's Catechism is included in Gospel Mission's reprint of The London Baptist Confession of 1689. Box M, Choteau, MT 59422.]
We pray and receive from God because: 1) we pray according to His will, 1 John 14, 15, and 2) we follow His commandments and do those things which are pleasing in His sight, John 9:31; 1 John 3:22. Thus, the primary purpose of prayer is for the Lord to shed His Divine grace upon the petitioner enabling him to know and do God's will that he might inherit the then part of the covenant, Hebrews 4:16.
Not long ago we heard of a National Day of Prayer when all Christians were urged to join together in prayer for God to restore national righteousness. (As a pastor, I received several requests to meet at the local courthouse for prayer. The obvious implication of the invitations was that the Lord would hear and heal because of our much speaking, Mt. 6:7.) Throughout all the "hype" over the national day of prayer, I heard no mention of any kind of effort toward the command-word of God on the part of the petitioners. Therefore, from what I heard and understood, it sounded more like an effort in witchcraft than in Godly prayer. According to ISBE, any effort to influence any supernatural power (God or Satan) to gain desired benefits through chants, hymns, &c, is an exercise in magic. Thus, Biblical prayer requests are based upon wisdom and power to do what is pleasing in the sight of God (obedience to the command-word of God) and praying for His will to be accomplished in any given situation.
A common blasphemous conception of God today is that salvation places the Sovereign God of the universe under obligation to the worshiper; now all one has to do is pray, and God comes running to his aid.
Salvation places the redeemed under complete and total obligation to the One Who bought him back from his fallen state, by paying the price for his sin. It is the responsibility of the redeemed to find out what is expected of him by his Redeemer, claim the grace of God for action and then get to work in obedience to His command- word.
What kind of praying
do we do?
|Reprobate Men of Corrupt Minds|
1) Because of the wording of this verse, this plague seems to be primarily against the magicians who had undermined and withstood Moses and Aaron.
2) Of course, through this plague God confronts the magicians with the fact that He alone is the Divine Sovereign over all of creation. They could not stand before Moses.. Evidently the boils were from the sole of their feet to the top of their heads, rendering them absolutely helpless. The magicians had stood against the words of Moses; now they cannot stand at all.
3) When Moses offered his credentials to Pharaoh, the rod into a serpent, these magicians were there to undermine and withstand Moses. In order to discredit and undermine Moses, the first "stroke" (plague) against Egypt, river into blood, was imitated by the magicians; the second "stroke," frogs, was again imitated. But the third "stroke," lice, was vainly attempted by these magicians, and they admit it was the finger of God (but they did not repent of their evil deeds).
These magicians discredited Moses' words to Pharaoh to undermine him and Aaron. Their goal was to prevent Pharaoh from believing the command-word of the Lord as given by Moses.
Paul, by the Spirit's inspiration and purpose, specifically names these magicians, 2 Timothy 3:8, 9.
A) Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses.
B) The plague of boils made their folly of those standing against Moses manifest unto all men: they could not stand before Moses and His God.
C) The context of Paul's reference to these two magicians is important. He identifies certain evil men of the last days (starting with the time of Christ, Acts 2:17) with these two magicians. In other words, the time-frame for these evil men's activity is from the time of Christ until the end of time, 1 Cor 15:24-28.
2 Tim 3:1-9, lists some identifying marks of these certain men:
The first mark given by Paul is v. 2, lovers of their own selves.. high-minded.. Obviously, this refers to self-love and self-esteem. Deceiving and deceived teachers in the last days are rampant, and the situation is not improving, v. 13. We are certainly living in a generation of self-loving and covetous people, spurred on by so called "Christian" teachers. (Furthermore, thanklessness indicates a decline of Biblical religion, Rom. 1. It is not difficult to see all of these things which Paul mentions prevalent in society and in the church.)
Second, they are corrupt: having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (Rom. 2:20), identifies these men as hidden within the church for the purpose of corrupting the church (Acts 20:29.
Note that the power of God is manifested in His gospel (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18); God complains in Isaiah 29:13 that His people honour Him with their lips but not with their hearts and actions (Ez 33:30-32); the power to restrain sin is found in the law of Moses (Deut 31:11- 13; Rom 3:18; 1 Jn 3:4), and the power to change the sinner is found in the work of Christ: regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, those who undermine "Moses" are denying the power of God, and the more he is undermined, the more sin abounds in the church and in society.
Third, Paul tells us that the men of 2 timothy 2 present a smooth, soothing and deceitful message, win themselves into the hearts and homes of their victims, and draw after themselves those controlled by their own lusts. Usually the first ones to follow after them are women, as Eve was drawn to the Seducer in the Garden.
Fourth, those who follow after these certain men may learn a great deal about the doctrines of the word of God and be extremely active in religion, but they are not able to come to the true knowledge of Christ: they follow a false gospel.
Fifth, those who resist the law of God, have corrupt minds and are reprobate concerning the faith. (The truth of God is the law of God, Ps 119:142.)
Sixth, Paul further identifies them, v. 13. They are evil seducing men who deceive others (by appealing to the lusts of the flesh, among other things) for the gain which is involved for themselves; therefore, as a result of deceiving others, they themselves are deceived (they resist, thus reject, the truth and hence honestly believe that they are doing right). Note that these evil men are self-deceived as described by James 1:22, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Accordingly, these teachers described by Paul are men within the church who study without doing the law-word of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof (the power [grace] of God which is revealed in godly living according to the words of Moses, Ph 2:13). Note the order given by Paul: deceiving and being deceived.. The more they deceive others by undermining Moses, the more they themselves are deceived.
Seventh, the significant point about Paul's warning to Timothy is Paul's use of an OT illustration to further identify these men of corrupt minds; he names Egypt's magicians who withstood and undermined Moses before Pharaoh: Now as Jannes and Jambres..
V. 8, Paul clearly identifies the seducing religious teachers within the church of the last days with the two magicians: they are men who resist the truth (of Moses); they are men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
The description of the ones within the church whom Timothy is to avoid might be a little dark, but when Paul named the two men who withstood Moses, he threw a bright light upon his whole warning. Therefore, What did magicians have in common with the evil men of the last days? They resisted the truth and withstood Moses before Pharaoh; they worked to undermine Moses and convince Pharaoh that the command-word of God through Moses was not valid upon Pharaoh and/or Egypt; by their deception, they sought to neutralize the word of God through Moses.
The power of God is revealed through Moses; it is by the preaching of Moses that knowledge of sin is revealed so that the power of the gospel can do its work, Rom 3:20. Without the words of Moses, there is no truth about Christ, Luke 24:44-48; John 5:46, 47.
So what do these evil men of Paul's warning do? From inside the church, they do what Jannes and Jambres did: they withstand Moses and the command-word of God as delivered by Moses.
Furthermore, they make the law of Moses of non effect by their smooth words and winning ways, leading astray those who want to follow their own lusts.
1 Timothy 3:9, Paul encourages Timothy with the assurance that the evil men and their undermining doctrine against Moses will only be permitted to go so far. With smooth words and apparent supernatural deeds, they deceive, allure and draw vast multitudes after themselves and away from the commands of God as given through Moses. But in God's good time, their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as was Jannes and Jambres' folly.
God is the One Who permits them to operate; He alone establishes their boundaries of operation. When they reach their God-defined limit of authority and time, the Lord will openly reveal their evil and put a stop to it, Ps 76:10. Jannes and Jambres had boils from the top of their heads to the bottom of their feet. The professors of religion within the church, whose smooth deceitful words and actions lead God's people away from the command-word of God, will suffer the same plagues of God as will the open enemies of God.
Paul may have been talking of some particular men, maybe as in 2 Thessalonians 2, but what he says will stand until time stands no more. Those who withstand and undermine (the words of) Moses, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 5:18, 19. And, of course, if their message is not according to the true message of the blood atonement, they will be eternally judged with the ungodly, Matthew 7:13-23.
Two concluding points about Paul's warning to Timothy:
1) Timothy is warned to expect the evil men and seducers to wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. They will grow in their ability to quietly seduce those laden with lusts to follow themselves, in their ability to deceive others and in their own deceit. In other words, as time proceeds in these last days, they will more fully develop their ability, as Jannes and Jambres, to withstand the commands of God as delivered by Moses.
2) To expose these teachers within the church, Paul reminds Timothy of the holy scriptures which Timothy had learned as a child. It is extremely significant that Paul's oft-quoted statement, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, is found in Paul's conclusion of this chapter, V. 16.
In a word, through his
instructions to Timothy, Paul compares the teachers of Antinomianism
(anti-law; thus, against Moses) to the two magicians, significantly
identified by name, who withstood Moses before Pharaoh. Furthermore,
he encourages Timothy to ignore them and continue on in the scriptures
which he had learned as a child, the law of Moses, the prophets
and the psalms (Lk 24:44), because they contained all the
instruction which he needed for life and action.
|The Rise and Rule of the Despot|
I am putting this together as almost a prophetic statement concerning the upcoming election. As mentioned several times, we have been involved on the local level with trying to retain a certain amount of freedom in our county by keeping out county-wide planning & zoning. We started a group called Concerned Citizens of Montgomery County to head up the fight, and we have kept it separate from the church as much as possible. Many people have joined with us, but no pastors, and only one professed Christian have actively helped in the fight.
I met with the three candidates we are supporting for county offices to discuss ways we (CC) could help them. One of the candidates told me that I have done about as much as I can because I am a preacher, and the whole county knows it even though I have tried to keep preacher and "politician" separate. People, even unsaved, feel that religion and politics do not mix. (I am known as that "That D... Preacher.")
1) The enemy has done his job well: not only Christians, but also the unsaved have the idea that God has nothing to do with politics.
2) It is evident that people would rather serve under totalitarianism than be led into freedom by a someone representing God. Strange indeed!
3) People, as a rule, do not want the truth of a matter; they can tolerate maybe a small amount, but too much will scare them away. All three candidates wanted me to tone down an add we are planing to run for the general election, which I did. (Saved money anyway.)
4) Many have joined with us (CC) and are standing firm even though I am a preacher (they have joined with "Bo" Gritz also). But even though they see the issues and are not afraid to be identified with me as a preacher, they will still not entertain the though of getting their own personal life straightened out with the Lord. They are good, sound moral people which admit that only a return to Bible based law will solve our problems, but they desire the results of Christianity without any kind of change on their part. Will God permit such a thing to take place? I think not.
What is a conclusion to these observations?
A) Christians, with very few exceptions, have refused and are refusing to get involved; they will not be moved to action. Apathy rules their hearts, and apparently, they would rather have totalitarianism than make any effort to "mix religion and politics."
B) It appears that we as a people are going under totalitarianism because the people would rather have that than godliness. Evidently, it appears to them that to have any kind of godly leadership is a fate worse than death.
C) Finally, what does all this mean with a general election upon us? We have done the best we can and will continue. We have some plans to carry out whether we win or not; we will still attempt to influence people over the coming years. Even though all three candidates are "Sunday Christians," they still have good character, can tell right from wrong and will take a stand; all three answered a 17 point questionnaire as we would have, which is more than I can say for the rest of the candidates in our local area.
If I were the Lord, I would probably go ahead and let the community and nation fall into totalitarianism. It appears that people (Christian and non-Christian alike) would rather have a one world government and dictator over every aspect of their lives than to get involved and be subject to godly authority. They would rather elect a dictator than be led into liberty by someone representing the Lord.
So what can we as Christians do?
All we can do is place it in the Lord's hands; all we can do is support those who will give us the most time and freedom to continue on for the Lord, until He does bring in His judgment against the wicked attitude that prevails among both the Christian and non- Christian community: religion (genuine Christian religion, that is) and politics don't mix. Undoubtedly, the Lord will allow the situation in every area to continue deteriorating until both the Christians and non-Christians see civilization's hope lies in mixing Biblical religion and politics.
The statement by the one candidate about my being a preacher (he might not have been speaking for himself, although, more often than not, we find such statements are for the one speaking even though they attribute it elsewhere) is a true statement. It reflects 1 Sam 8 better than any statement that I have encountered from any source. People do not want to be under godliness, godly authority or godly laws. They have clearly rejected the rule of the Lord, choosing instead the despotic rule of men; they would rather be slaves to a despot than be connected with the Lord in any way and under obligation to Him.
What we see on the local level is also very evident on the national and world level; it applies to the state legislature, the national congress and the presidential races.
So what is ahead? One of two things:
1) A return to Christianity by the people resulting in godly leaders and a return to godly law. Godly law, by the way, will not happen unless there is a return to Godly Biblical Christianity by the population.
2) The continued rapid decent into totalitarianism (Fascism).
From what I am seeing in all levels, pastors had best be preparing their people for totalitarianism; it is coming unless the Lord sends a revival in the hearts of the people. Only the Lord knows the outcome of the general election, but I, not being a prophet or a son of a prophet, will say that the people will vote for more totalitarianism.
We have no choice but to stand firm against the "free fall into despotism," but only the Lord can bring about the needed change of heart; only the Lord can bring people to the place where they will chose King Jesus over the despots of this world. Furthermore, there is no middle ground: King Jesus cannot be rejected and the despot be defeated. (Sad to say, Psalms 78:34-37 is as true today as it was for the children of Israel; is this what is needed to cause mankind to turn to the Lord?)
No wonder Darby saw no hope or chance for any kind of return to godliness short of a divine supernatural intervention by the Lord Himself.
But the just shall live
by his faith in the sovereign control of the Lord of all things.
The Lord God of heaven and earth is working all things according
to His divine plan. He will care for His own faithful people.