Reject Magic Arts
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83. Reject Magic Arts
Revelation 22.15-16

"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and David's Offspring and the Bright Morning Star." (Revelation 22.15) ✞

Barred From Heaven

There follows a list of those barred from God's city. A very similar list appears in Revelation 21.8 of those cast into the lake of fire. It includes the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, the sexually immoral. It also condemns those who practice magic arts, idolaters, and all liars. In ancient days, scribes carefully checked and hand-copied all books. It was customary to insert a solemn warning at the book's end against applying any change of one's liking. It is in the light of this custom that we read John's words to us today. It is easy to change Scripture's words to suit our ideas, be politically correct, or even leave out a few phrases that don't sit right. We need to be very careful! ✞

Revelation Dogs

A new phrase here is "the dogs" who practice magic arts. "Dogs" can have two meanings. Palestine's wild dogs were not docile pets but the symbol of everything savage and unclean. They were greatly feared by people, especially when in packs. The English Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) wrote from his own experience, "No one who has watched the dogs prowling in an eastern city will wonder at the contempt and disgust the word suggests to the oriental mind." In Jesus' day, the Gentiles were called "dogs." John of Patmos highlights "those who practice magic arts, sexually immoral, idolaters, everyone who loves and practices falsehood" and paints them all as "dogs." A rabbinic saying warns, "Whoever eats with an idolater is the same as he who would eat with a dog. Who is a dog? He is not circumcised." "The dogs" are perhaps not only shameless and unbelieving but also Christians who, after their baptism, abandon their faith. A strange phrase in Deuteronomy 23.18 says, "You shall not bring a harlot's hire or a dog's wages into the Lord your God's house in payment for any vow." The first part is clear enough. It is forbidden to offer God money earned by prostitution. But the "temple dog's wages" is more complicated, for the term "dog" applies to ceremonially impure persons.

Biblical Moral Standards

ChasedIn this category are "those who practice magic arts," meaning spiritualism and the occult. The description "sexually immoral" means not conforming to Biblical morality standards, and "murderers" take another person's life. Biblical morality standards are set by Leviticus 18.22, which says, "Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable." Interestingly, almost the whole of this chapter is addressed to males, warning against sexual relations with family relatives. The reason for these laws is so that they may not defile the nation. Then God warns in Leviticus 18.28, "And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out." These laws are broken routinely by many in our society, including business leaders, parliament members, church officials, the wealthy, sports players, and celebrities going right up to top officials.

Fake News

Social media, television, and advertising engage in half-truths and false news to sell products and gain power. Psalm 101.7 echoes this idea, "No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence." Truth to them often means saying what they need to say to get what they want! It is the nation that will suffer. "Idolaters" worship wooden and metal idols and "everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Others readily spread these lies. In pagan temples, there were female, male, and gay prostitutes, and these were commonly called "temple dogs." Revelation Temple dogs may denote thoroughly immoral persons, which may be its meaning. Male and female prostitutes were part and parcel of Roman society.

Jesse's Root

Jesus calls himself the "Root and David's Offspring" and the "Bright Morning Star" in Revelation 22. These are two of Jesus' specific titles. The Greek word for "root" is "rhiza" and is the same word used by John the Baptist in Matthew 3.10, "And even now the ax is laid to the tree's root." Jesus also uses this word in the "Parable of the Sower" in Mark 4.6, "But when the sun rose, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Isaiah 11.1 also says, "A shoot will rise from Jesse's stump; from his root, a branch will bear fruit." This latter example refers to Jesus, who will "bear much fruit."


Jesus is also called "David's offspring." The Greek word translated as "offspring" or as "generation," referring to a family's descendants in our English language Bibles is "genos." Matthew and Luke's Gospels both have genealogies, showing ancestors from past generations up to Jesus. Matthew's line runs from Abraham to Jesus. Luke begins with Jesus and goes back to Adam. Luke 3.23 tells us, "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli," and finishes in verse 38 "the son of Adam, the son of God."

Revelation For All

In Revelation 22.16, we read, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches." Jesus guarantees the truth of all that John sees and hears and especially to all committed Christians in the churches. The first person plural "you" indicates "many, many people." In Liverpool, where I come from, ordinary people would say the plural of "you" as "yous." The testimony's point is that the book begins by promising a revelation or an unveiling for all. Jesus goes on to offer, as it were, his credentials. Jesus and the shoot growing from Jesse's stump is this prophecy's fulfillment in himself. He is one with God and simultaneously the eternal source of being from which Jesse, David, and his promised descendants come.

The World's Light

Jesus dispels the night of sin, and death flies away. He said in John 8.12b, "I am the world's light. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have life's light." When the risen Christ claims to be the "bright morning star," he means the world's light and the vanquisher of all the world's darkness.

"Reject Magic Arts"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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