As a child in Mozambique, I enjoyed watching magicians perform at my school. The disappearing acts, birds popping out of a hat and levitations were exhilarating. I would walk away from these shows amazed and wondered how magicians were able to perform such tricks. Even though I was told that these magic tricks were not real, that didn’t deter me from attending the shows.
Twenty years on and somehow I am no longer amused by these performances. This may be due to a number of reasons. Maybe it’s the “I have grown up” factor and I no longer find magicians fascinating. It could even be that I have lost interest because I think it isn’t real. Or maybe I have seen so many tricks that they have just become a “bag of old tricks” and there is just no “wow” factor.
But there is another part of these performances I have recently come to acknowledge that I believe is highly affecting my view. I don’t know what it is about watching Dynamo instantly pop a mobile phone into a bottle or walk right through a window that I find quite eerie. Is this for real? The entertainment line-up for The Illusionists 2.0 includes the Master Magician, Futurist, Unusualist, Warrior, Hypnotist, Deceptionist and Manipulator (as seen on an advertisement for “The Illusionists 2.0” on the QPAC website). The very words used to describe the craft of each of these illusionists I find quite disturbing.
Why do I feel this way?
So, why do I feel this way? Why do I get this uneasiness when it comes to magicians and illusionists? Am I just reading too much into something that is simply a harmless trick or could it be that as a Christian, I have gained a new insight into these illusions? Could these tricks be more than just an illusion?
Whenever I think of magicians, I flip back to the story of Moses when he went to Pharaoh to ask to release the Israelites from slavery. When Aaron’s (Moses’ brother) staff miraculously changed into a snake at Pharaoh’s site, Pharaoh summoned wise man, sorcerers and Egyptian magicians to mimic that miracle using their secret arts.
But God showed his sovereign power when Aaron’s staff swallowed the other staffs [Exodus 7 verses 8-12]. Furthermore, when Egypt was plagued with gnats, Pharaoh once again called upon his magicians who tried to produce gnats using their arts, but they didn’t succeed. Even the magicians themselves acknowledged that the plagues were the finger of God [Exodus 8 verses 16-19].
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. I believe Pharaoh was proud, vindictive and he thought he knew better than God. I don’t think Pharaoh truly believed that the God of the Israelites was real. Hence he tried to do everything to disprove God’s existence, like calling upon his sorcerers and magicians to copy God’s miraculous acts. Clearly, Pharaoh wasn’t someone that was for God, but was against God.
What it isn't
Sorcery and magic isn’t from God. These are evil and detestable in the site of God [Deuteronomy 18 verses 9-12].
With this in mind, I turn back to the illusionists of our day. How can I be sure that they aren’t using sorcery in their tricks? Part of my unease lies in the uncertainty of the answers to questions I have below:
1. Do the illusionists have a hidden agenda (e.g. try to disprove the existence of God) and are they seeking self praise?
2. Could they be inadvertently making a mockery of God or do they deliberately mock God using their “secret crafts”?
3. Could they be attempting to deceive us into thinking that you don’t need God in order to perform miraculous acts? Do their tricks try to deter people from God?
4. How do they perform these tricks? Is there a supernatural power involved and who is the source of this power?
I believe for something to be called a miracle, the source needs to be God. All else is just mere trickery - not the real deal. If the source isn’t God, then I’m inclined to say that it is evil. The reality is that Satan does exist and there is evil in this world. There are magicians and illusionists that can fool you into believing that they just use simple tricks, but in actual fact could be using sorcery and witchcraft to perform their acts.
As a Christian, I believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to discern whether something is from God or not.
I do not want to poison my mind or even give Satan a leeway to do so. What if I am reading too much into it? It may not always be clear. But for my conscious sake, I would much rather not get involved in such acts than place myself in a position that will expose my mind to things that are possibly unholy. Why give Satan that satisfaction? I do not want to contribute to a cause that is against Christ. I am for Christ and not against Him.
Crazy and ridiculous?
Some people may call me crazy and ridiculous but at the end of the day, this is probably something that each person will need to consider themselves. My unease is my unease. I know that it is between me and God, so I continually ask him for guidance in such matters. I pray each day that God continually gives me a discerning spirit.
If something doesn’t seem right, I would rather go with those feelings, than completely ignore them. I’m not telling anyone not to watch magic shows, but I am saying be mindful because for all you know, it may be more than just an illusion.
“To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen” [Galatians 1 verse 5]
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