Magic in the New Testament, Day 5

Today’s reading is drawn from Acts 8:9-10 and Acts 13:7-11.

Magical practices claimed to draw on or manipulate nonhuman spiritual power (usually distinguished from submission to God). Magic was popular in antiquity, including in Judea. It is sometimes associated with Ephesus and most fully associated with remnants of ancient religion in Egypt.

In general, people classified as magic whatever was done secretly and for the magician’s (rather than the public’s) good. They especially classified as magic whatever expressions of spiritual power fit belief systems contrary to their own. Some Jewish teachers regarded some magic as fake but other cases as genuine, dangerous sorcery. Protective amulets were common, as were magical formulas, instructions, and gestures. One common form was love-magic, sometimes used to try to seduce a person away from their current spouse. Another was to kill rivals, e.g., in chariot races. People sometimes inscribed the names of enemies on pots and then shattered them, cursing them. Magic was thus often viewed as antisocial.

Magic frequently claimed to manipulate spirits, sometimes controlling them by using special knowledge about them bought from others adept in magic. Often magical formulas spoke of “binding” and “loosing” demons to manipulate them to do the bidder’s will. Although mostly from later centuries, many magical papyri, replete with various formulas designed to achieve designated ends, have survived from Egypt.

Bible Gateway

Women Of The Bible

Joanna, Wealthy But Humble, Day 5

Today’s reading is taken from Luke 8:2-3 and Luke 24:10.

Joanna, a name that means “Yahweh’s Gift,” was the wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas. Holding such an important position, Chuza would have earned a good salary. No doubt, he provided Joanna with a nice home and every available luxury of that day. Yet, when Joanna met Jesus, he healed her of an unrecorded illness or evil spirit that controlled her life (Lk 8:2), and Joanna made a self-sacrificing decision. She chose to risk her comfortable lifestyle in order to become a follower of Jesus Christ..

Life was difficult for the women who served Jesus and his disciples. Yet Joanna joined these women in giving unselfishly not only of her time and energies but also of whatever money she had to support the Lord’s work.

Joanna went to Jesus’ tomb on the early Sunday morning following the crucifixion. She is listed as one of the women who reported the resurrection of Jesus to the eleven disciples.

Joanna could have lived out her years focusing on the luxuries and privileges provided by her wealthy and influential husband. Instead she was willing to give up her mansion on earth for the mansion in heaven she knew would be hers when she committed herself to Christ. Joanna was privileged to be among the last at the cross as well as among the first to witness the empty tomb and proclaim the Lord’s resurrection. She stands in history as a woman with position and possessions whose devotion to her Lord is exemplified in humble service.

Institute For Creation Research

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February 1, 2019
How to Know the Truth
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17)

The apostle Paul, in his last epistle, wrote about certain philosophers who would be “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). In the next verse, Paul makes it clear why such people, no matter how scholarly or well educated they seem to be, are still incapable of accepting real truth. “So do these also resist the truth,” he says (v. 8). They could not learn the truth because they were not willing to believe or obey the truth when they learned it. For example, a very vexing controversy among modern Christians is whether or not the Genesis account of six-day creation can be so interpreted as to accommodate the billion-year, geological-age system of Earth history.

Perhaps the difficulty, in this as well as in other such doctrinal controversies, is a basic unwillingness to believe doctrines plainly revealed in God’s Word when they conflict with doctrines based solely on human reasoning. When the Lord Jesus spoke the words of our text, He was speaking to arrogant religionists who regarded Him as nothing but an itinerant preacher, rejecting His teachings, even though they knew these teachings were fully biblical.

His rebuke of these hypocrites is truly a timeless criterion for recognizing God’s truth and knowing His will. Such a heart does not try to twist God’s Word to accommodate a human philosophy, nor does it try to accommodate one’s personal will by persuading himself that it is God’s will. God’s will is always consistent with God’s Word, which is written to be easily understood by anyone who is willing to believe His Word and do His will. HMM