29 January 2017 Bible Reading
Did the magicians, or sorcerers, in Pharoah’s court possess supernatural power, or were they simply illusionists? I do not know.
- Exodus 7:10-12: “Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers (or soothsayers); so the magicians of Egypt, they ALSO DID IN LIKE MANNER with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.”
- Exodus 7:20-22: “all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. Then the magicians of Egypt DID SO with their enchantments [or: secret arts]; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them [Moses and Aaron], as the LORD had said.”
- In Exodus 8:5-7, the magicians were able to perform a similar sign with the frogs. Beginning with the sign of the lice, the magicians were no longer able to replicate the signs performed by Aaron.
I do not know whether these were illusions or manifestations of supernatural power. More often than not, I have heard men argue that the magicians of the Egyptian court were simply illusionists who had no supernatural power. While I would not argue either position, I would not dismiss the possibility of supernatural power. We seem to forget that there was a time, prior to the end of divine revelation in late First or early Second Century, Satan was allowed some exercise of supernatural power in the physical world.
Satan was allowed to use supernatural power to afflict and test Job. Some have used demonic power to accurately foretell the future (Deuteronomy 13:1–4; Acts 16:16–19). Satan and his demons have possessed animals and people (Luke 22:3, John 13:27, Matthew 8:28, Mark 5:2–5, Luke 8:27).
If we are to understand the role of supernatural power, we must understand its purpose and timing.
- Jude 6 tells us that angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
- 2 Peter 2:4 says God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.
What does the Bible teach about the use of supernatural power by Satan and the fallen angels that follow him?
In describing supernatural power, the New Testament uses two Greek words: dunamis and semeion.
Some examples of dunamis, which means power or inherent ability:
- Acts 8:13, “…observed signs and great miracles…”
- I Corinthians 12:10, “…effecting of great miracles…”
- Galatians 3:5, “…works miracles…by the hearing of faith…”
Some examples of semeion, which means sign, mark or token:
- Luke 23:8, “…hoping to see some sign performed by Him.”
- John 2:11, “…signs…manifested His glory…disciples believed…”
- Acts 15:12, “…signs and wonders God had done through them…”
The Bible is clear that Satan was allowed to use supernatural power:
- I Samuel 28:8-9, 7Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor. 8And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and went, he and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, Divine unto me, I pray thee, by the familiar spirit, and bring me up whomsoever I shall name unto thee. 9And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
- Job 1:16, 1:19, 2:7, 16While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 17While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have taken them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 18While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house; 19and, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. 20Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped; 21and he said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah. 22In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. 2 Again it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah. 2And Jehovah said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 3And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil: and he still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 4And Satan answered Jehovah, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5But put forth thy hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will renounce thee to thy face. 6And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thy hand; only spare his life. 7So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown.
- Matthew 8:28-29, 28And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming forth out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way. 29And behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30Now there was afar off from them a herd of many swine feeding. 31And the demons besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine. 32And he said unto them, Go. And they came out, and went into the swine: and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33And they that fed them fled, and went away into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to them that were possessed with demons. 34And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart from their borders.
- Acts 16:16, 16And it came to pass, as we were going to the place of prayer, that a certain maid having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. 17The same following after Paul and us cried out, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation. 18And this she did for many days. But Paul, being sore troubled, turned and said to the spirit, I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it came out that very hour.
- Revelation 21:8, 8But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.
In every case, Satan’s power was given, defined and regulated by God. In the end, use of the supernatural by the forces of darkness often accomplished the same purpose as when used by the forces of good: it caused God to be glorified and strengthened the faithful.
Those who exercised this power for Satan seemed to understand the limitations, especially with respect to time. The two, fierce, demon-possessed men may have said it best in Matthew 8:29: they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
25 Seven days were fulfilled, after Yahweh had struck the river.
8 Yahweh spoke to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, “This is what Yahweh says, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your borders with frogs: 3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into your house, and into your bedroom, and on your bed, and into the house of your servants, and on your people, and into your ovens, and into your kneading troughs: 4 and the frogs shall come up both on you, and on your people, and on all your servants.’” 5 Yahweh said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 The magicians did the same thing with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.
8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat Yahweh, that he take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to Yahweh.”
9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I give you the honor of setting the time that I should pray for you, and for your servants, and for your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, and remain in the river only.”
10 He said, “Tomorrow.”
He said, “Be it according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like Yahweh our God. 11 The frogs shall depart from you, and from your houses, and from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only.”
12 Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to Yahweh concerning the frogs which he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 Yahweh did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. 14 They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and didn’t listen to them, as Yahweh had spoken.
16 Yahweh said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’” 17 They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were lice on man, and on animal; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried with their enchantments to produce lice, but they couldn’t. There were lice on man, and on animal. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is God’s finger:” and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he didn’t listen to them; as Yahweh had spoken.
20 Yahweh said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; behold, he comes out to the water; and tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh says, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you, and on your servants, and on your people, and into your houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end you may know that I am Yahweh on the earth. 23 I will put a division between my people and your people: by tomorrow shall this sign be.”’” 24 Yahweh did so; and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses: and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies.
25 Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land!”
26 Moses said, “It isn’t appropriate to do so; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Yahweh our God. Behold, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and won’t they stone us? 27 We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Yahweh our God, as he shall command us.”
28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to Yahweh your God in the wilderness, only you shall not go very far away. Pray for me.”
29 Moses said, “Behold, I go out from you, and I will pray to Yahweh that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow; only don’t let Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to Yahweh.” 30 Moses went out from Pharaoh, and prayed to Yahweh. 31 Yahweh did according to the word of Moses, and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. There remained not one. 32 Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he didn’t let the people go.
9 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go, and hold them still, 3 behold, Yahweh’s hand is on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks with a very grievous pestilence. 4 Yahweh will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt; and nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.”’” 5 Yahweh appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow Yahweh shall do this thing in the land.” 6 Yahweh did that thing on the next day; and all the livestock of Egypt died, but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died. 7 Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the livestock of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he didn’t let the people go.
8 Yahweh said to Moses and to Aaron, “Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 It shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking out with boils on man and on animal, throughout all the land of Egypt.”
10 They took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward the sky; and it became a boil breaking out with boils on man and on animal. 11 The magicians couldn’t stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were on the magicians, and on all the Egyptians. 12 Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he didn’t listen to them, as Yahweh had spoken to Moses.
13 Yahweh said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues against your heart, against your officials, and against your people; that you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For now I would have stretched out my hand, and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth; 16 but indeed for this cause I have made you stand: to show you my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth; 17 as you still exalt yourself against my people, that you won’t let them go. 18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. 19 Now therefore command that all of your livestock and all that you have in the field be brought into shelter. Every man and animal that is found in the field, and isn’t brought home, the hail shall come down on them, and they shall die.”’”
20 Those who feared Yahweh’s word among the servants of Pharaoh made their servants and their livestock flee into the houses. 21 Whoever didn’t respect Yahweh’s word left his servants and his livestock in the field.
22 Yahweh said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man, and on animal, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.”
23 Moses stretched out his rod toward the heavens, and Yahweh sent thunder, hail, and lightning flashed down to the earth. Yahweh rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 So there was very severe hail, and lightning mixed with the hail, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and animal; and the hail struck every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.
27 Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. Yahweh is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Pray to Yahweh; for there has been enough of mighty thunderings and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”
29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands to Yahweh. The thunders shall cease, and there will not be any more hail; that you may know that the earth is Yahweh’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you don’t yet fear Yahweh God.”
31 The flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they had not grown up. 33 Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands to Yahweh; and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth. 34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 The heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he didn’t let the children of Israel go, just as Yahweh had spoken through Moses.
13 Then little children were brought to him, that he should lay his hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Allow the little children, and don’t forbid them to come to me; for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to ones like these.” 15 He laid his hands on them, and departed from there.
16 Behold, one came to him and said, “Good teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”
17 He said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but one, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 He said to him, “Which ones?”
Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder.’ ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ ‘You shall not steal.’ ‘You shall not offer false testimony.’ 19 ‘Honor your father and mother.’ And, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 The young man said to him, “All these things I have observed from my youth. What do I still lack?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 But when the young man heard the saying, he went away sad, for he was one who had great possessions. 23 Jesus said to his disciples, “Most certainly I say to you, a rich man will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven with difficulty. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into God’s Kingdom.”
25 When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Then Peter answered, “Behold, we have left everything, and followed you. What then will we have?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Most certainly I tell you that you who have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on the throne of his glory, you also will sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 Everyone who has left houses, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive one hundred times, and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many will be last who are first; and first who are last.
A Psalm by David.
24 The earth is Yahweh’s, with its fullness;
the world, and those who dwell therein.
2 For he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the floods.
3 Who may ascend to Yahweh’s hill?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart;
who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,
and has not sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from Yahweh,
righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,
who seek your face—even Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, you gates!
Be lifted up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of glory will come in.
8 Who is the King of glory?
Yahweh strong and mighty,
Yahweh mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
yes, lift them up, you everlasting doors,
and the King of glory will come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
Yahweh of Armies is the King of glory!
6 My son, if you have become collateral for your neighbor,
if you have struck your hands in pledge for a stranger;
2 You are trapped by the words of your mouth.
You are ensnared with the words of your mouth.
3 Do this now, my son, and deliver yourself,
since you have come into the hand of your neighbor.
Go, humble yourself.
Press your plea with your neighbor.
4 Give no sleep to your eyes,
nor slumber to your eyelids.
5 Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.