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Is it ok for a church to have a vacation bible school theme based on magic shows and do these in the church?
In the Bible, it was heathen kings who used magicians, and they were always on the opposite side of God's men and God's prophets. Pharaoh, the heathen king of Egypt, had magicians. Genesis 41:1-8 says, "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the MAGICIANS of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh." Exodus 7:20-22 says, "And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the MAGICIANS of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said." Exodus 8:16-19 says, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And the MAGICIANS did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the MAGICIANS said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said." Exodus 9:8-11 says, "And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast. And the MAGICIANS could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the MAGICIANS, and upon all the Egyptians."
Nebuchadnezzar, the heathen king of Babylon, also had his magicians. Daniel 1:18-20 says, "Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the MAGICIANS and astrologers that were in all his realm." Daniel 2:26-28 says, "The king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof? Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, show unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these." In Daniel 5:10-12, the heathen wrongly consider Daniel as the head of all magicians, but we know that Daniel never considered himself as a magician, but stood opposed to them. "Now the queen by reason of the words of the king and his lords came into the banquet house: and the queen spake and said, O king, live for ever: let not thy thoughts trouble thee, nor let thy countenance be changed: There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods; and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, was found in him; whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king, I say, thy father, made master of the magicians, astrologers, Chaldeans, and soothsayers; Forasmuch as an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts, were found in the same Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar: now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation."
A magician is defined as "one skilled in magic; especially, SORCERER; one who performs tricks of illusion and sleight of hand" (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary).
Jeremiah 27:9 says, "Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your SORCERERS..." Malachi 3:5 sys, "And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the SORCERERS, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers..." Revelation 21:8 says, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and SORCERERS, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
When people got saved who were in that realm, they forsook those who practiced such things. Acts 8:9-13 says, "But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with SORCERIES. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." Acts 19:18-20 says, "And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." Magicians would certainly fall into the realm of curious arts
The practices of the average magicians today are illusions that are meant to deceive or trick people. They appear magical or miraculous, but are not. In the Bible, that realm is associated with the demonic realm, and like with the magicians of Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, there is a mixture of demonic illusions, and of failures. Salvation is not a deception, but is a true miracle. Deceptions and illusions should not be mixed in with the truth -- that causes confusion. Sadly, the church always seems but a step behind the world. Why should we imitate the world's practices to try and draw a crowd to church? Surely, Noah could have filled up the ark with an overflow capacity if he had used such a drawing card, but he did not do that. II Peter 2:5 says, "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly." Noah preached righteousness. He did not imitate the world's practices to try and draw a crowd into the ark.
Ventriloquism falls into the same realm as magicians. It is an illusion or trick to make people believe that a dummy is actually speaking. Ventriloquist is defined as "one who provides entertainment by using ventriloquism to carry on an apparent conversation with a hand-manipulated dummy" (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary). Actually, that is a very demonic thing itself, when you think about what the antichrist is going to do in the end times. Revelation 13:14,15 says, "And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, THAT THE IMAGE OF THE BEAST SHOULD BOTH SPEAK, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed." What are we preparing people for in our churches, when we bring in an image (a dummy) and seem to cause it to speak? Is that not preparing people for the great deception that is coming upon the earth?
Then consider another part of that definition, "one who provides ENTERTAINMENT by using ventriloquism..." Why is it that we are trying to provide entertainment in God's house? We are never commanded to entertain God's people, but to exhort God's people. Acts 2:40,41 says, "And with many other words did he testify and EXHORT, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Exhort means to "urge someone to pursue a future course of conduct." The above mentioned dictionary defines it as, "to urge strongly; to give warnings or advice; make urgent appeals." That does not sound too much like entertainment, but like some seriouspreaching and teaching from God's Word. Hebrews 3:13 says, "But EXHORT one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
What is beginning to show in churches is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a huge problem lying beneath the surface. Anything goes in churches now in the realm of music. People want to be entertained at church, not exhorted. Rick Warren (from Purpose Driven Church fame), took a poll of the radio stations to which his people listened, and gave them what they wanted (which amounted to Christian Rock). He did the same in the matter of dress, and they wanted casual. Hosea 4:9 says, "And there shall be, LIKE PEOPLE, LIKE PRIEST: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings." The vast majority of preachers are no longer calling the people back to the old paths, but are doing anything they can to please and gain the largest crowd. II Timothy 4:1-5 says, "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
The modern iceberg started building below the surface in fundamental churches at least 20-30 years ago, when they started hiring Youth Directors. What was the job description of the Youth Director? Spoken, or unspoken, their job was to entertain or play with or draw the largest crowd that they could of young people. The focus quickly became entertainment. And so high energy entertainment was sought. Trips to amusement parks; all night youth outings; Christian camps; weekend youth retreats; etc. It is like the amusement parks that have to continually build higher and higher roller coasters to give the children a thrill any more. It is like the drug addict that has to find something new and more powerful to give him any thrill any more. Churches that entertain find themselves looking for new and bigger things that will give the children a thrill.
Why are fundamental churches being overrun by Christian Rock, immodest dress, and multimedia presentations instead of preaching? Because what was below the surface 20-30 years ago (down in the basement in Junior Church, and down in the basement in Youth Group) has now surfaced. Now, they are adults. Now, they have families. Now, they are coming into leadership positions in the church. They are only bringing upstairs what they were taught downstairs -- entertainment. Remember Proverbs 22:6? "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Well, that is exactly what has happened. We have trained them that church is the place to be entertained, and now they are older, and that is exactly what they are demanding, and they will not depart from it.
One day, just like with Israel, God will finally have to judge us, because we have failed to do things God's way. Isaiah 1:4-7 says, "Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers." You can do things the world's way and seem to be successful, at first. But it is down the road that you find out the full impact.
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