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

"Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and 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 the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." (Revelation 22.15)✞

Sexually Immoral

A new phrase here is "the dogs." This can have two meanings. The wild dog in Palestine is the symbol of everything that is savage and unclean. They are greatly feared by the people especially when in packs. The English Biblical scholar H. B. Swete (1835-1917) writes from his own experience, "No one who has watched the dogs prowling in an eastern city will wonder at the contempt and disgust which the word suggests to the oriental mind." That is why the Jews in Jesus' day call the Gentiles by the term, "dogs." The Apostle John adds, "those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood" and paints them with the same brush as "dogs."

Symbol of Disgust

ChasedThere is a rabbinic saying, "Whoever eats with an idolater is the same as he who would eat with a dog. Who is a dog? He is not circumcised." It is suggested that "the dogs" are not only the shameless and the unbelieving but also Christians who after their baptism give up their faith. Eastern scavenging dogs may, then, be a symbol of all that is disgusting. Revelation temple dogs are how Revelation describes immoral persons who practiced magic arts, sexual immorality and other evils in the Temple. There is a strange phrase in Deuteronomy 23.18 which says, "You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow." The first part is clear enough. It was forbidden to offer to God money that had been earned by prostitution. But the wages of a temple dog is more difficult. These are not pets but the term "dog" is applied to all types of ceremonially impure persons. In this category are "those who practice magic arts," being spiritualism and the occult. The "sexually immoral," do not conform to Biblical standards of morality and "murderers," take another person's life. "Idolaters" are those who worship wooden and metal idols and "everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Others knowingly spread lies. In pagan temples, there are not only female prostitutes but also male homosexual prostitutes, and these are commonly called "temple dogs." Revelation Temple dogs denote thoroughly immoral persons, and that may be its meaning but it may also refer particularly to male prostitutes. "Everyone who loved and practiced falsehood" is shut out. 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."

Root of Jesse

Jesus calls himself the Root and Offspring of David and the Bright Morning Star in Revelation 22. Here are two special titles for Jesus. He says he is both the root and the offspring of David. The Greek word for "root" is "rhiza." It is the same word that John the Baptist uses in Matthew 3.10 when he says, "And even now the ax is laid to the root (rhiza) of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Jesus also uses this word in the "Parable of the Sower" in Mark 4.6 where he says, "But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no "rhiza". There is probably also a reference here to Isaiah 11.1, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his root "rhiza" a branch will bear fruit." The Greek word which is translated "offspring" in our English Bibles is "genos." It is also translated "generation" in other verses in Scripture referring to a family's descendants. There are two genealogies in Matthew's Gospel and in Luke's Gospel which show the lines from one generation to another 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 Luke 3.38, "the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God." 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 to everyone and especially to all committed Christians as indicated by the first person plural "you." In Liverpool, where I come from, ordinary people would say that the plural of "you" is "yous." The point of the guarantee is this. The book begins in Revelation 1.1 by promising a revelation to be given to all by Jesus. Jesus goes on to give, as it were, his credentials. Jesus is saying that in himself is the fulfillment of this prophecy and he is the shoot growing from the stump of Jesse. He is at one with God and at the same time the eternal source of being from which Jesse, David and his promised descendants come. Jesus also then states that he is the Bright Morning Star.

Bright Morning Star

Jesus makes the astonishing statement that he would waken and his symbolic ornamental staff or scepter of a ruling monarch would rise like the bright Morning Star. Jesus sends his angel to give you this testimony. Note that here the plural "you" is used meaning all who are gathered within his hearing. All of us are given this testimony! Jesus' use of a title like "Bright Morning Star" places him among the very top of all Bible heroes. Mordecai in the Book of Esther is one of its main personalities and great heroes and is also called by the name "The Morning Star" by the rabbis. They also list Mordecai and Esther as prophets in the Talmud.

Messianic Prophecy

"Morning Star" also recalls the great Messianic prophecy in Numbers 24.17, "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.". This awakens other thoughts for the Jews for the morning star is the first herald of the day which chases away the darkness of the night. "Morning Star" is also the name given to the planet "Venus" when it appears in the East before sunrise and also called the "Light Bringer." In the same way, Jesus dispels the night of sin and death flees away. Jesus said in John 8.12b, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." When the risen Christ says that he is the "morning star", he claims to be the light of the World and the vanquisher of all the World's darkness.

"Reject Magic Arts"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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