The Church Pharaoh's Magciains Built

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Passage: 2 Timothy 4:1-2


This past weekend an important and very impressive conference was hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA. There were several hundreds of participants—looking for God to meet their need through association with this mega conference. For the last 30 years this conference has been offered in some form.
Now, no one can measure the original intent or impact of those who have created this conference. Such judgment should always be left to God. However, the matter of concern for the present moment is the value and the contribution such activities are making to the body of Christ.
As I sat and thought about the events that transpired during the course of this conference and the mass attention it has gotten from Christians around the world, I thought…I can’t compete with “that.” What is the that I’m referring to? It is the entertainment that lures in most Christians. This is not something that is specific to the event that happened this past weekend. Rather, this event is simply another example of what has become so common in the American church.
I was left pondering what my response should be to such a demonstration of luring entertainment? One might suggest conforming and becoming adaptable. However, the Spirit led me to 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8. Just when I was prepared to conform to a new norm, God discouraged me from doing such.
I am now more convinced that the church should be known as a distinguished organism/ body. The community of believers are a set aside body made in the image of the Son of God, and should be known for its authenticity, spirituality, and godliness. We are not entertainers. We are ambassadors of Christ, inviting captives of darkness to the kingdom of light.
And so, we are tempted to succumb to the pressure of becoming “relevant.” And yes, relevancy is important. Yet, what’s most important is being biblical. Henceforth, we should never become relevant at the expense of being biblical. Pastors have become more concerned about how many views they have on their sermon than how many people who have obeyed the gospel. Leaders are more concerned with the money they have raised for their next project than they are the number of individuals being discipled into the kingdom of God. During a preaching moment, the evangelist reads more comments from their live stream than they do scriptures from the Bible. This has all made us superficial.
Many fall into the trap of conducting their ministries this way, because they fear they will be left behind. They fear they will be outgrown by the “trendy” churches. What they don’t know is that this trendy and witty way of attracting the masses has its origin in sorcery and paganism.
In 2 Timothy 3:8-9, Paul refers to two characters: Jannes and Jambres. Keener wrote, “In a widespread Jewish tradition (various elements appear in Pseudo-Philo, the Dead Sea Scrolls, rabbis, etc.), Jannes and his brother Jambres were Pharaoh’s magicians who opposed Moses in Exodus 7:11. Even pagan accounts (Pliny the Elder and Apuleius) record them as magicians of Moses’ time. Because Paul’s opponents appeal to Jewish myths (1 Tim 1:4; 2 Tim 4:4; Tit 1:14), Paul cites such stories to fill in the names for these characters.” (Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (2 Ti 3:8). InterVarsity Press.)
Jannes and Jambres were the magicians that kept the people entertained long enough to miss the truth. Paul’s reference to Jannes and Jambres creates a comparison between witchcraft/ sorcery and the kind of tactics used by those false teachers of Paul’s day. The problem with false prophets, false doctrine, and false ideologies among God’s people is its opposition to God’s truth.
Jannes and Jambres are found in Exodus 7-9. They are enemies of Moses and opposers of him. It’s very important that we realize Moses stood as god to Pharaoh and Aaron stood as Moses’ prophet (Exodus 7:1). So, when Moses began to act in the power of God, Jannes and Jambres understood themselves as opposing a “god.”
Now, just for a moment lets imagine and reflect on the scenario that gave Jannes and Jambres such an ability to stand against such a powerful figure as Moses. First, there were people there in the nation that was gullible enough to hear anything but the truth. Clearly, false prophets need an audience. Interestingly, there were sign being performed by both sides: signs by Pharaoh’s magicians and signs by Moses. Here’s what false prophets do: They create counterfeit signs that resemble the real work of God as a means to convince individuals who cannot tell the difference. When this happens this is the replacement of truth with entertainment. The magicians were participating in what is called secret arts (Exodus 8:18). The word “art” is significant to me, because it implies a special skill which is kept secret. It is an ability which cannot be known by all. This ability or skill entice individuals on the basis of its peculiarity. Again, these acts are entertaining, because they do not have its basis in truth. It is merely the attempt to convince others through demonstrations deeply rooted in human ability.
Sadly, Jannes and Jambres were able to convince some of the Egyptians that they were just as authentic as Moses and Aaron. They, therefore, resisted Moses and led the nation into one of the must traumatic experiences of its history. Entertainment is a murderer; a silent assassin. It kills without warning.

Difficult Times and False Prophets: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Here are a few points we should consider about the prevalence of false prophets. There are two contexts in which false prophecy thrives:
Context 1: 2 Timothy 3:1-5
I think it is safe to say the condition for context 1 is hard times. Things were difficult to deal with in the first century. When life is hard to deal with, people tend to lose their morality.
Context 2: 2 Timothy 3:6-7
Across all Christian sectors except orthodox, women are represented by a higher percentage than men.
Catholic: M: 46%/ F: 54%
Evangelical Protestant: M: 45%/ F: 55%
Historically Black Protestant: M: 41%/ F: 59%
Mainline Protestant: M: 45%/ F: 55%
**Orthodox: M: 56%/ F: 43%
Now, many will say why does this matter? Well, it matters because God expect the men to protect the women from false ideas. This was the first mandate given to the chosen man in the garden of Eden—one which was utterly avoided. Such a disregard of one’s responsibility led to the tragedy of sin entering the world.
The word gullible is used, which denotes one who view themselves in a way that diminishes or places a low estimation on themselves. The term depicts women who see themselves in a derogatory manner. These women are also describes women who are driven by passions, which is a self-indulgent craving, inordinate cravings.
These conditions provide the opportunity for a response from the biblical pastor. The remainder of what we shall consider will reveal just what one’s response should be to these things.

Difficult Times and Anxious Hearers: 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The people who are in these troubled times will do the following:
Reject sound [correct or healthy] teaching
Be driven by their own desires
Search for teachers to fill those desires
Reject the truth and chase myths

Pastoral Response to Troubled Times: 2 Timothy 3:10-4:2, 4:5-8

The man of God is to stay focused on what he has learned and believed. However, Paul encourages Timothy to rest in the authority of Scripture. He wants him to know that the Scriptures have been tested and proven. When a preacher stands before God’s people, it is not one the basis of his own ability or thoughts. It is on the authority and assurance of the Word of God.
Therefore, Paul gives Timothy five imperative commands for the preacher:
Preach the word
Always be prepared
Correct [convict- prove or show to be guilty]
Rebuke [admonish or warn forcefully by expressing strong disapproval]
Encourage [to exhort or earnestly support or encourage a response or action]
How are these imperatives to be done? With patience and teaching.
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