Derek finishes this week’s message using Moses’ confrontation with Pharaoh’s magicians as an example. As darkness increases, we will need to use the power of God to battle these forces. Going on in the passage from 2 Timothy 3, we are exhorted to continue in our reliance on God and the knowledge of His Word to overcome every form of opposition we may encounter.
The next thing startled Moses. Moses said, “I can’t go to Egypt, I’ve got nothing.” And typically God said, “What have you got in your hand?” Moses said, “Just my shepherd’s rod, that’s all.” The Lord said, “Throw it down on the ground.” And when it hit the ground it became a snake. And Moses fled from his own rod, you see? He didn’t realize what power he had in his hand. A lot of Christians are like that. We just say, “God, I don’t have anything.” God says, “What’s that? Throw it on the ground and see what happens.”
Then God said to Moses, “Pick it up by the tail.” I don’t think you have snakes here in New Zealand, do you? But anybody who is familiar with snakes knows you never pick a snake up by the tail. I suppose Moses rather gingerly reached out and caught this snake and it became a rod in his hand. So the Lord said that’s all you need. And He said if you have any further problems, just bear in mind that you can turn water into blood! This is serious, I’m not inventing anything, it’s all there.
So there came a showdown. Moses said, he took Aaron his brother with him. Aaron was his spokesman and they said to Pharaoh, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has sent us here to let His people go.” “How do I know?” That’s a reasonable question. “How do I know you had an interview with God?” So the Lord said, “Throw the rod down.” And it became a snake. Well, you would have thought Pharaoh would have been impressed. I would have been. Pharaoh said, “Hold on a moment. I’ll see what my magicians can do.” That’s Jannes and Jambres. So they came with their rods and Pharaoh said, “This is what Moses did, what can you do?” They said, “We can do the same.” Without a moment’s doubt they threw their rods down, they became snakes. Do you believe that?
Let me tell you, not all supernatural signs are from God. There’s a lot of supernatural power that doesn’t come from God. However, there was an exciting end to the story, you know that. Moses’ snake ate up the snakes of the Egyptians. And I don’t know whether you’ve ever pictured the scene but those two magicians left without any rods! And Moses’ rod was thicker and stronger than it had been when he started.
Now, what I want to point out is that Paul says just as the magicians resisted Moses, the practitioners of the occult are going to resist the message of the gospel in the last days. Is that true? It’s true. And I want to tell you there’s a practical lesson. The victory is not going to be settled by theology, it’s not going to be up for dispute between theologians. It’s going to be a demonstration of power. Paul says the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. That’s what we’ve got to have to win the battle, we’ve got to have supernatural power over all the power of the enemy. Jesus said to His disciples, “See, I am giving you authority over all the power of the enemy.” He didn’t say the enemy had no power but He said I’ll give you authority that is greater than the power of the enemy.
And if anything is conspicuously true, this is. That, today all over the earth in country after country, practitioners of the occult are rising up and challenging the church.
And then one further statement in verse 13 of the same chapter:
“...but evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Now that translation is followed by most versions but I happen to have access to the original Greek. And the word that’s translated impostors is literally enchanters. And enchanters were magicians, they were people that used enchantment in order to cast spells on people and bring them under their power. So once again we have this emphasis on the occult. See? It’s one of the distinguishing features of the last days. We’d better be familiar with it because we’re going to encounter it.
I was in a meeting in York, in England, and I was having a real hard time breaking through. I was getting the people to make confessions about Jesus Christ the Son of God. And, there were a couple women somewhere in the back to the right, their lips didn’t move. And normally I would have not said anything about it because I try to be polite. After all, I’m still British by background! After you, sir. But something in me rose up so I said to those two ladies, “Why are you not repeating this confession?” And they looked at me, they thought it over, they got up and walked out. Do you know what they were? They were witches. They were there to bind the meeting. God showed me I had to get them out of the meeting before the purposes of God could be fulfilled. We need to be aware of these things.
And then we come to what’s going to happen to Christians. Paul says in verse 10–11:
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions...”
And then he lists all of them where they happened. And then he says, praise God:
“...out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
And then he says in verse 12:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution...”
That’s a very clear warning specifically emphasized in the last days. We must expect to meet persecution and opposition. It’s in the agenda. Are you ready? Does that shock you? Has anybody ever told you that in your church?
And then we get the remedy and this is where we’re going to close. It’s important that you grasp this. The chapter ends with the remedy, the safeguard.
“But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them [that was his grandmother and his mother], and that from childhood you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Where is our strength? What is the one thing we can rely on, the thing that can never change, the thing that Satan can never defeat? The Scriptures, the written word of God.
And then Paul ends with this tremendous statement:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for direction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
That’s the answer. We have to know the teaching of Scripture. And Paul says all Scripture is needed. That’s not just a few passages from the New Testament, that’s books like Ezra and Nehemiah and Job and the minor prophets. You need them. If you’re going to be thoroughly equipped for every good work, you need all Scripture. It’s all true, it’s all inspired and it’s the one thing that Satan cannot defeat. It’s the Word of God. Don’t hide behind the Word of God. Faith is the shield; the Word of God is the sword. The sword isn’t used to defend you, it’s used to attack.
A great man of God of a previous generation, the pastor of the People’s Church in Toronto, Ontario said this, “No defense, no attack. I don’t defend, I just proclaim the Word of God.” I’ve learned that in my ministry. Don’t get sidetracked; don’t run after the devil’s rabbits, as somebody said. Stick to the word of God, proclaim it, keep Jesus central, keep the cross in the middle. Don’t get sidetracked into minor issues. Preach salvation, preach the blood of Jesus, preach the power of the Holy Spirit, preach the truth of God’s prophetic word, preach that Jesus Christ is coming back again. How many churches emphasize that today? That’s the blessed hope of the Christian. There’s our strength, there’s our security, there’s our answer. And millions of Christians today are being enticed away from the absolute, total authority and truth of the Word of God. Let’s not follow that deceptive pattern, let’s hold on to God’s Word.
Could we pray for a moment and ask God to make us faithful to His Word? Just very briefly.
“Lord, tonight I feel you’ve led me to challenge Your people and to call Your people back to a simple, positive faith in the written Word of God and in Jesus who is the personal Word of God. And tonight, Lord, we ask You to clear out of our minds and lives irrelevancies, secondary issues; and help us to come back to the foundation and to build on that. And Lord, I’ve spoken tonight about selfishness as the root problem. We ask You to deal with selfishness in our lives. Pull out that root, Lord, that we may be able to produce that good fruit that comes from the gospel and the Word of God. For Your name’s sake, Lord, we pray. Amen.”