Genuine and Counterfeit

In reading the story of Joseph and his divine gift to interpret the dreams of those around him, I always wonder about the other interpreters. Pharaoh had wise men, no doubt, who hadn’t been able to interpret his dream. Moses was given the sign of his staff turning to a snake, his hand becoming leprous/cleansed, and others. God brought plagues down on the Egyptians, a few of which, their magicians were able to imitate. Daniel’s story has the same ingredients: he miraculously interprets a dream no one else had been able to yet. The prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel had a reasonable expectation to win their altar-burning contest against Jehovah, or certainly they wouldn’t have entered it in the first place, right?

We could talk about plenty of others. How did the wise men at Jesus’ birth know to look for a star? I can’t recall a prophecy about it. How did Saul expect the witch at Endor to give him a chance to commune with Samuel again?

I’ve always assumed these folks are phonies. Maybe they had illusions or tricks to deceive the crowds. Maybe God allowed them the ability to do some things — after all, he didn’t record for us his dealings with people other than Israel. Somehow, I’m pretty sure he didn’t ignore them…

Either way, imagine being these magicians or sorcerers when you finally encounter the real deal. I remember seeing in a movie somewhere along the line that there’s nothing a trickster dreads more than the genuine article. Your whole life you’ve been able to trick people, or pull off something by a power you can’t really explain, and suddenly, the real power is revealed across from you.

I wonder how many foreign sorcerers joined God’s side after seeing the real deal through the years?

I wonder, how many more people would align themselves with God if they saw genuine faith instead of snake-oil salesmen today (2 Timothy 1:5).