Vol. 11 No. 8 August 2009
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I have a question from Exodus 7 & 8, concerning the rod turning into a serpent miracle, the water turning into blood plague, and the plague with the frogs. In each of these miracles, it is said that the magicians and sorcerers were able to do the same things. Can you please explain this?…Some preachers have said that these powers were authentic…When asking one preacher about 2 Thessalonians 2:9, he used the Exodus 7 & 8 miracles with the magicians to show that Satan does have some miraculous power, though it will still be deceitful and lead to a person’s ruin.
The magicians of Exodus 7 and 8 may not have been using real miraculous powers since the word “enchantments” (7:11, 22; 8:7) includes in its definition the idea of “covert.” Albert Barnes commented: “The original expression implies a deceptive appearance, an illusion, a juggler’s trick, not an actual putting forth of magic power. Pharaoh may or may not have believed in a real transformation; but in either case he would naturally consider that if the portent performed by Aaron differed from that of the magicians, it was a difference of degree only, implying merely superiority in a common art.”The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary asserts that modern magicians can duplicate the feat of Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8) with real snakes by soothing them into rod-like stiffness and then reviving them.
However, the commentator, Adam Clarke, admits that the word “enchantments” refers to “deceptive miracles,” but he argues that the context overrules the conclusion that these activities by Pharaoh’s magicians were counterfeit or not on par with the miracles performed by Aaron and Moses. Then again, the Keil & Delitzsch Commentary speaks to both possibilities: “The magicians summoned by Pharaoh also turned their sticks into snakes (v. 12); a fact which naturally excites the suspicion that the sticks themselves were only rigid snakes, though, with our very limited acquaintance with the dark domain of heathen conjuring, the possibility of their working ‘lying wonders after the working of Satan,’ i.e., supernatural things (2 Thess 2:9), cannot be absolutely denied.” Second Thessalonians 2:9 does appear to coincide with instances of demon possession (Matthew 8:16), etc. in the miraculous period (for the purpose of demonstrating the superiority of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the apostles and other Christians), i.e. demon possession, etc. relied upon supernatural power (beyond what mere humans can do).
This we conclude: (1) It does not make any difference whether the activities of Jannes and Jambres were genuine or fake miracles since by now and forevermore biblical quality miracles have ceased to be contemporary experiences (1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Ephesians 4:11-14). (2) With Wycliffe we must agree: “Whether they performed their feat by some sort of trick with trained reptiles, or by a Satanically empowered ‘lying wonder’ cannot be determined. In either case the supremacy of Jehovah was demonstrated when their serpents were swallowed up.”
Adam Clarke’s Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1996.
Barnes’ Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition. CD-ROM. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.
Wycliffe Bible Commentary. CD-ROM. Chicago: Moody P., 1962.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I have four questions concerning the Holy Spirit. 1. Does the Holy Spirit have to enlighten and energize the word of God today to help us understand it? 2. Does the Holy Spirit take control of our hearts and minds today? 3. Does the Holy Spirit continue today? 4. Does the Holy Spirit lead and guide us in any other way than through the word or God today? Thanks, Marvin Towell
No, the Holy Spirit does not have to “enlighten and energize the Word of God today to help us understand it.” I am not aware of Scripture passages that indicate that some further divine activity must occur upon the Word of God, but rather it is completely satisfactory as a revelation from God to address mankind’s every (especially spiritual) need (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3).
No, neither the Holy Spirit and nor any Divine Person “takes control of our hearts and minds.” Instead, each person with a mind that can reason or understand communication has personal responsibility for his or her conduct (2 Corinthians 5:10). “…And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
Yes, the Holy Spirit continues today. However, the role of the Holy Spirit continues providentially, but not miraculously (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 13:8-12). The Holy Spirit is active with Jesus Christ on the spiritual side of conversion at baptism (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; 1 Corinthians 12:13). In addition, the Holy Spirit has completed His role of delivering new revelation from the Father (2 Peter 1:21; Galatians 1:6-9; Jude 3).
No, “the Holy Spirit does not lead and guide us in any other way than through the word or God today.” The Holy Spirit was promised as a guide to the apostles of Jesus Christ (John 14-16) and other Christians in the infant church (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21). Constant revelation from God or the continuation of miracles was never promised indefinitely, but miracles were provisional (Mark 16:20), which when they accomplished the deliverance of the New Testament they ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8-12; Ephesians 4:11-13).
The sequence of events respecting the Holy Spirit and the Word of God was that the Holy Spirit provided the Word of God. While the Holy Spirit was in the process of delivering the Word of God (the New Testament), both the Holy Spirit and the Word of God were instructors of mankind. When the Holy Spirit completed the delivery of the Word of God, the Word of God only became man’s instructor.