– by R. Scott Clark –
As a child I was fascinated by “magicians” such as Harry Blackstone Jr. For a few dollars one could order a kit or study library books and learn to do “magic.” Of course, it was not magic at all. It was merely sleight of hand. The “magician” is an illusionist. He creates the illusion that one thing is happening when something else is really going on.
Apart from demonic power there are no real magicians in the world. It is true that Pharaoh had court magicians who, according to holy Scripture, were able to replicate some of what the Lord did through Moses and Aaron. E.g., after the Aaron threw down his staff and it turned into a serpent, Scripture Records:
Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs (Ex 7:11–12; NASB).
After the Lord struck Egypt with gnats (or lice; Ex 8:17) Pharaoh’s magicians tried and failed to reproduce the third plague.
Nevertheless, idolaters that we are by nature, we are often tempted to turn God’s free favor in Christ into a form of magic that we can control. This happened in the history of the medieval church. The Roman communion admits that our Lord only instituted two sacraments (holy baptism and holy communion) but insists that she has authority to create and impose new sacraments. Thus, the medieval church elaborated on the sacraments instituted by Christ by adding five new, false sacraments: 1) confirmation (chrismation), 2) penance, 3) marriage (holy matrimony), 4) anointing of the sick (extreme unction), 5) holy orders.