Exodus 7: 12 & 20-22, Exodus 8: 6, Matthew 24: 4-5, Ephesians 6: 12

Rachel Nixon
Rachel Nixon

I don't know if you saw the program 'Messiah' that was broadcast on channel 4 on Friday 7th January.

'In this documentary Derren Brown goes undercover in America in an attempt to raise questions about the validity of certain religious and spiritual belief systems. Derren approaches influential figures in areas such as new age faiths and evangelical Christianity.'*

For those who didn't watch, Derren, in one part, pretended to be a Christian preacher who could convert by a touch. He gave himself a new name and went to talk with an American Pastor. He subsequently advertised an evening where people from the general public could come and talk about issues of faith etc.
Some people arrived and the evening progressed, involving questions of belief, personal experience and why people did or didn't believe. For some in particular that Derren was talking too he tried his 'convert by touch' one man was dramatically cast to the floor and others cried and were emotionally affected after their 'conversion' experience. All claimed to now believe, or showed a dramatic transformation in their thought pattern, nearly all were atheist or agnostic on entering the discussion.

Derren had convinced the American Pastor and left leaving him amazed, and explaining to the people who came to the discussion what had happened, and were subsequently 'de-converted'. It was clear from the program that the people were not stooges and were genuine people who had walked in off the street.

It was obvious that Derren was using what he'd learnt and studied about the mind to be able to do these things so very dramatically, and was just another in a line of programs about the mind and it's power. However seeing this program could have easily raised questions about Christianity, both for believers and non-believers.

After watching the program however, almost immediately I began to think about Moses and the plagues sent to the Egyptians because Pharaoh wouldn't let the Israelites go.

"Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded.
He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said." (Ex 7: 20-22, NIV)

It had been a while since I'd read this passage in full but after reading it I was taken aback by the amount of times the Pharaoh's magicians could 'copy'
what Moses did. Turning their staffs into snakes like Moses did (Ex 7: 12) the plague of blood, the plague of Frogs (Ex 8: 6). These events can easily go unnoticed when reading the story as it doesn't seem central to the overall theme, and it can almost seem alien to understand how the magicians/sorcerers could have done what they did without the help of God.

Yet, today we may not see sorcerers copying Moses, but there are many many things of similar nature that could as easily go unnoticed. The 'Messiah' program showed how one man could 'copy' the conversion stories we see on Christian TV shows, and in churches.

Countless people seem to become more and more satisfied with things that make them feel 'loved' yet evidently inside feel still something is lacking. We see anorexia and other eating disorders on the rise, because many look to the other images of 'beauty' portrayed in today's world. rather than the real thing. Jesus, the only perfection, and the only one who can fill that gap in our hearts.

Remember then to take care and keep watch because. "Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.' (Matt 24: 4-5)

Maybe initially shocking and causing somewhat disbelief in faith, don't be shaken by what goes on around us. Jesus tells us many will come and seem like him to deceive many. Many may perform similar things as Pharaoh's magicians did and 'copy' the things of God. Many may claim to do miraculous things only God can do. The program 'Messiah, was designed not to criticise peoples beliefs of faiths, the makers promised, yet to provoke discussion and thought into what people believe and see. And for me it did, yet it made my faith stronger, and reminded me to be aware more of things that are false and claim to be of God, or seem to be but are not.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Eph 6:12)

Keep watch, be on your guard and don't be one of the many that Jesus say's will be deceived.
Pray always.
Read the Bible.

And, enjoy the life God gives to us, but don't be blind to the things that can distract us from Him.

* Courtesy of channel4.com  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.