The Pharaoh's Magicians
Deception & Discernment
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1Thess. 5:21
If you're a Christian (and maybe even if you aren't), I'm sure you remember the story in Exodus about how Moses and Aaron were trying to get Pharaoh to release the Israelites. They performed a number of miracles in order to convince him to let the people go. Unfortunately, Pharaoh's magicians were able to duplicate several of these miracles, which initially made Pharaoh think that Moses and Aaron weren't anything special, and therefore, nothing that he should worry about.
For instance, the LORD told Moses to have Aaron cast down his rod in front of Pharaoh. When Aaron did this, his rod became a serpent. Pharaoh called in his magicians, and they did the same thing. (Of course, Aaron's serpent ate the other serpents, but that's another paper.) So, the next thing Moses and Aaron did (at the LORD's command) was to turn the waters of Egypt into blood. Well, the magicians did the same thing. Next came the plague of frogs, again repeated by the magicians. In fact, if Moses and Aaron had stopped right then and there, there wouldn't have been much, if any, difference between what the LORD had them do, and what the Pharaoh's magicians did. Fortunately, the LORD was "just getting warmed up," so to speak, and went on to do things that the magicians couldn't duplicate, which subsequently convinced Pharaoh to let the Israelites go.
The point is, the magicians were able to duplicate several of the works that Moses and Aaron did. Someone who didn't know better might think that they both drew their power from the same source. Jesus warned us of this very same thing happening in the last days in Matthew 24:24. He said, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Satan wants to be God. Because of this, much of what he does is an imitation of the works of the Lord. The example of Pharaoh's magicians was just the beginning. There are several other examples in the Bible of how Satan has, and will, try to counterfeit the power and works of God, in order to draw glory to himself, or away from the Lord.
Fire from the sky: In the story of Job, Satan is doing everything he can to break Job's faith in the Lord. At one point he even caused fire to come down from the sky, burning up Job's sheep and servants. He then let God take the blame. (Job 1:16) If you look back in your Bible to Genesis 19:24, you'll see that the Lord did virtually the same thing to Sodom and Gomorrah. Then, in Revelation 13:13, we'll see that Satan will do it again, "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men."
Unholy trinity: Just as the Bible tells us of heavenly trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so will Satan set up his counterfeit version. His version will be Satan; the beast from the sea (sometimes called the Antichrist); and the beast from the earth (also called the False Prophet).
Angel of light: In Revelation 1:13-16, John sees a vision of a figure that we later realize is Jesus. In verse 16 it says that His "countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." which one would assume to be a very bright light. However, in 2Corinthians 11:14 we find that this too Satan imitates. "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
Identifying seals or marks: In Revelation 7:3, the servants of God are sealed, "Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." Later, in chapter 13, we find Satan's counterfeit mark. "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:" Revelation 13:16
Prophecy vs. Divination: God gives the gift of prophecy to certain of His servants. This can be foretelling what the Lord intends to do in the future, proclaiming the great works of the Lord, or revealing something to one of His children through the person with the gift of prophecy. Satan's counterfeit to this is the spirit of divination, as seen in the girl in Acts 16:16.
The point is, just because something seems to be miraculous does not mean that it is of God. Many people today are being led astray because of false signs, wonders, and miracles. We have been warned about this in advance, and we have been admonished to "prove all things" concerning anyone or anything that claims to be of God.
There is much talk today about how the Lord is "pouring out His Spirit" on the church. Much of this is accompanied by what people claim are miraculous displays and manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of these manifestations include being "slain in the Spirit," where the person affected falls to the ground and is either unable to move, or in some cases, lies on the ground twitching and spasming uncontrollably. Other people may begin laughing during these services, or perhaps making other, almost animal-like sounds, such as grunts, roars, or barks. Some go into such contorsions that the only word that would suffice to describe it would be 'convulsions.' The question we have to ask ourselves is: Is this truly a move of God?
There are certainly examples in the Bible of people who have fainted when in the presence of God or one of His angels. However, in each case the person in question was given strength to rise again and stand before the Lord or His angel, and nowhere is there any mention of the person experiencing spasms, convulsions, or contortions of any kind. In fact, the only time convulsions are even described in the Bible is when a demon is the reason for them, and the situation is remedied quickly by a casting out of the demon.
I will admit that there is an example in the Bible of a person who began acting like an animal because of the power of God. Just take a look at the fourth chapter of Daniel, and you'll see that Nebuchadnezzar was caused to act like a beast of the field and eat grass for seven "times." Of course, this was not exactly a blessing from the Lord. Rather, it was because of Nebuchadnezzar's pride at his kingdom that it happened. God was reminding Nebuchadnezzar that He was in charge, not the king.
I'm not saying that people cannot be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit, but when these types of manifestations are claimed to be the result of the power of God, we should be very careful not to accept them as such simply because a pastor or preacher tells us so. Of course, we should also not automatically "write them off" simply because they are something outside of our "normal" experience. I believe that the Lord is indeed "pouring out His Spirit" on His children in our time, however, we must ask the Lord to reveal the truth of these things to us through the power of His Holy Spirit. We must "prove all things" against the authoritative word of God, the Bible. The next time you're in a service where these things begin to happen, take a look around, not just with your physical eyes, but with your spiritual eyes as well. Ask the Lord to give you "eyes that see" and "ears that hear." Don't rely on "feelings," but use your mind also. Does everything seem disorderly and confused? If so, there's a very good chance that what is happening is not from the Lord, because the Bible tells us "...God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." 1Cor. 14:33
Now, why am I writing a paper about this? Well, part of it is, of course, to alert people to the possibility that they may be being deceived without even knowing it. The other reason has to do with what is commonly called the "Great Deception" spoken about in Biblical prophecy.
Many theories have been put forward as to what this deception may be. Some of them involve UFOs, or the "mark of the beast," or as having to do with the rapture, or any number of other things. While I agree that the deception may have something to do with some, or even all, of the things mentioned, I believe the majority of the deception will be something far more subtle and insidious.
Let me say, first of all, that this is my own personal opinion. I don't have specific scripture to back it up, but there are suggestions of this in the Bible. I believe that the "Great Deception" will be a religion that will be very close to Christianity. I think there will also be elements of other religions in it, but I think it will be close enough to Christianity that many Christians will follow it without realizing its falseness. We are warned many times in the Bible of false Christs, false prophets, and false doctrines. We are told more than once to test everything against what is written in the scriptures. We are told that many will give "heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." (1Timothy 4:1) The "beast from the earth" in Revelation has two horns like a lamb.
We must always be as the Bereans who "searched the scriptures daily," in order to make sure that what they were being taught was in accordance with the word of God. Don't simply take someone's word that this or that is of the Lord. Search the scripture to verify the truth. Pray for the Spirit to reveal the truth to you. Don't let yourself be deceived without even checking the scriptures.
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