Today’s Reading: Acts 14-16
Today’s Reflection: Acts 14:11-12
11) And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12) Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
When Paul and Barnabas fled the conflict in Iconium, to avoid being stoned by Jews who refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah, they came to a place called Lystra. This region was heavily pagan—Paul and Barnabas would have seen the temple of Zeus at the gate of the city as they entered (Acts 14:13). The population was mostly Gentile and there was no synagogue, so no real knowledge of the God of Israel. When they came upon the man crippled from birth, and saw that he had faith, Paul told him to stand. When the crippled man leapt to his feet and began to walk the people were amazed… And assumed Paul and Barnabas must be gods.
Um, awkward. And yet not surprising. If you had no knowledge of God or His ways, if you were raised to believe in human appearing gods who at times dwelled among men, even mated with them creating demi-gods, that they thought Paul and Barnabas were supernatural beings wasn’t at all surprising. Add to that our human tendency to want to worship things we can see and touch, assuming these men were gods was almost a foregone conclusion.
Our world today is completely fascinated with superheroes, aliens and other human appearing but supernatural beings. Once the province of cartoons and comic books, these figures have conquered our popular culture: Superman, Batman The Avengers, Harry Potter, True Blood, and more fantastical characters now dominate our multiplex theatres, TV screens, bookshelves and libraries.
Interestingly, many of the powers these characters display are not terribly different from the miracles we’ve seen God perform through the patriarchs, prophets, disciples, apostles and the Messiah Himself: healing (Acts 5:14-16), flight (Acts 1:9), teleportation (Acts 8:39-40), strength (Judges 14:6), command over animals (Daniel 6:19-24), invulnerability (Acts 14:19-20) and resurrection (Acts 9:36-43).
But what effect is associating these attributes and abilities to people instead of to God having on us as a culture? Especially those not well acquainted with the truth about God? Could this media assault be preparing people in our society to bow down and worship when they encounter people with these miraculous abilities?
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 – 9) The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10) and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
The time is now for us to come to know God and His truth so that even the appearance of ‘superheroes’ will not be able to deceive us in the dark days to come.
Matthew 24:24 – For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.