Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. - Irenaeus
Now it came to pass that a group existed who called
themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all
around. In fact the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes
filled with fish. And the fish were very hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after
year, those who called themselves fishermen met
in meetings and
talked about their call to fish, and abundance of fish and how they
might go about fishing. Year after year they carefully defined what
fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation and declared that
fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen.
These fishermen built large beautiful buildings for
local fishing headquarters. The plea was that everyone should be a
fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they did not
do, however, they did not fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a
board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many
fish. The board was formed by those who had the great vision and
courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, to promote the
idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of
different colors lived. Also the board hired staffs and appointed
committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend
fishing, to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the
staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were
built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how
to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of the
fish, the nature of fish, how to define fish, the psychological
reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish. Those who
taught had doctorates in “fishology”. But the teachers did not
fish. They only taught fishing.
Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to
publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy
day and night to
produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and
programs, to arrange and encourage meetings, to talk about fishing.
A speaker's bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on
the subject of fishing.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity of
Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The
next day he reported that he had caught two outstanding fish. He was
honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big
meetings possible to tell how he did it. So he quit fishing in order
to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He
was also placed on the Fisherman's General Board as a person having
Now it's true that many of the fishermen sacrificed
and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water
and bore the smell of dead fish. They received the ridicule of some
who made fun of their fishermen's clubs and the fact that they
claimed to be fishermen yet never fished. They wondered about those
who felt it was of little use to attend and talk about fishing.
After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow Me,
and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person
suggested that those who don't fish were not really fishermen, not
matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a
person really a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish?
One rule in reading the bible is to always interpretation the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. The Old Testament is written from the perspective that God was behind everything that happened. Job thought that everything bad that was happening to him was from God. However we see that Satan was an instigator. In Exodus we read some verses that claim God hardened Pharoah's heart (Exodus 7:3, 10:1) but we cannot ignore the other verses that clearly show that Pharaoh had a part to play in this because it also says that Pharaoh was stubborn (7:14) and he hardened his own heart (8:15&32). In the New Testament we see Jesus dealing with the Devil in a whole different light than what we see in the OT. We see Jesus being tempted by the Devil, as well as Jesus casting some demons out of people. People who have never been exposed to this part of the gospel sometimes have a fatalistic view of God regarding all the evil in the world. If they do not understand that the Devil is the destroyer and one to resist they simply throw up their hands and don't know what to do or even how to pray, and simply say "well God's in control", or "its all God". Apostle Peter wrote that we should resist the adversary who prowls about like a roaring lion (1 Pet.5:8-9). It is rather difficult to resist him if one thinks God is doing everything. When Muslim terrorists storm a church and murder children in cold blood we have to recognize that evil exists and must be confronted.
Apostle Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians he writes, "the one whose coming is in accord with the activity Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false." (2 Thess. 2:9-12)
So what happened to Pharaoh was not only God's vindication for the sake of the children of Israel but it was judgment upon the willfully stubborn heart of Pharaoh who followed the deceptive works of the magicians (Exodus 7:22). Apostle Paul mentions these two characters, Jannes and Jambres, and warns us that we will be faced with similar seducers in the future. (2 Tim. 3:8-13)
Growing up in a small town, I ventured into the perilous and confusing arena of the occult. Later, as a Christian, I was thrust headlong into a much broader view of religion through Biblical apologetics and the life experience of missionary outreach among a variety of denominational traditions. In effort to understand and meet the needs of people from different cultures and religious backgrounds my wife, Peggy, and I have always tried to find some form of practical application to what we have studied. In 1989 we traveled with a medical missionary team made up of an assortment of Christian denominations to Haiti with Peggy serving as the dentist. To get a glimpse at the mind of Islam we listened to the Muslims and Christians debate at “Speaker’s Corner” in London’s Hyde Park in 1988. On the Alaska/Canadian coast we have logged thousands of miles on boats exploring remote towns and villages. Several road trips across the United States put us in Mormon fundamentalist towns where polygamy is still a part of that “old time” religion. We have been to Jehovah’s Witness conventions, Bahai Faith meetings, Muslim Mosques, Buddhist temples and Mormon testimony meetings.