Pharaoh of Egypt was not willing to let God’s people go, so the Lord sent one plague after another upon the land. It is interesting to note that Pharaoh hardened his own heart several times before the Lord finally hardened it (see Exodus 9:12). He likely could have turned his heart to God at one time, but ultimately he no longer could. This sequential hardening of our own hearts will lead to a depraved mind – a mind devoid of logic that will lead to extreme depravity (see Romans 1:28-32). It wasn’t until the tenth plague that Pharaoh finally relented and let God’s people go for self-preservation (see Exodus 12:31), but he never repented.
At first Pharaoh summoned his magicians and sorcerers, and they, by their secret arts, were able to mimic what Moses had done (see Exodus 7:11,22; 8:7). “But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. . . . The magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God’” (verses 8:18-19). The magicians’ powers could only go so far. They could mimic what Moses did until God created gnats out of dust. Satan has no power to create, so the rest of the plagues went unmatched.
The magicians knew it was the finger of God when they couldn’t counterfeit what He was doing. Similar spiritual counterfeiters will continue throughout the Church Age, culminating with “terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1). “Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected” (verse 8).
The magic the sorcerers practiced in the Old Testament is not the same as the entertaining tricks that our modern magicians do. Magicians who seek to entertain us have the ability to create illusions by using clever tricks and slight of hand. In a similar way, some “psychics” are only doing “cold readings.” These clever charlatans ask the naïve a few leading questions. They observe their clients’ speech, mannerisms, appearance and dress. Based on these observations, such “psychics” make general statements that can appear to be accurate. The gullible are so impressed with the accuracy of their “revelations” that they start giving more information, which these charlatans fabricate into a “reading.” This is not demonic; it’s just verbal slight of hand. However, it does reveal just how easy it is for people to be deceived.
The mediums and spiritists whom God spoke against in Leviticus and Deuteronomy were not con artists but people who possessed real spiritual power. They were channels for the demonic and knew in their own ranks who the true psychics were. Today, while the charlatans, with their phony cold readings, are only interested in bilking us out of our money, true mediums and spiritists want to enslave us and expand the control of Satan. The evil one will also counterfeit many of the spiritual gifts with which God has endowed the Church. This is especially true of the gifts of tongues and prophecy, which are reported in false religions and in cults around the world. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
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