God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul…I love there was no doubt here that Paul was only an instrument, it was God at work. God’s power was so strong it infused the handkerchiefs or aprons that even touched Paul’s skin. And just this latent power healed the sick and exorcised evil spirits.
It must have been a wonder to observe such things but of course it was only a matter of time before someone would seek to abuse it. So was the case of some traveling Jewish exorcists who tried to use the power without knowing the power source. (Hold on – what were the Jews doing being exorcists in the first place? – check out Lev. 19:31.)
“I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” It’s a pretty wimpy statement. Reminds me of the commercial where the person without State Farm calls out “I don’t have State Farm but insurance man find me money!’ She got a dollar.
Then there is the story of the seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva. They tried casting out an evil spirit only to have the spirit tell them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” Having no genuine power they were overcome, stripped, wounded and had to flee. (God allows them to reap the consequences of their disregard and disrespect.)
This became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, (This kind of fear is just what it says – terror. As in “do you have any idea of who you are messing with?”) and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. (Praise is the natural response to a right understanding of fear.)
Many who were believers came forward and confessed their practices, brought their magic books and burned them publicly. (More than admonishing the usurpers, God uses this as an awakening moment for the church. Convicted, they publicly confess and repent. Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16)
So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Frankly, I am more comfortable with a Father image of God than a God to be afraid of. But it is flippant for me to not to fully appreciate the uber-difference between me and God. To say “I am no match for Him” doesn’t come close and while I am His beloved child, I am not His peer.
It is exactly when I seek to embrace the distinction between us – the Creator and the created – that I can most appreciate the compassionate depth of His love and the tenderness of His fatherhood.
God will not be mocked, manipulated or used.
I think I will only know the depth of His love to the degree I rightly fear Him.
About the World?
The fear of the Lord leads to life. Proverbs 19:23