Jannes and Jambres
(2TI 3:8) Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. Paul, in context (2TI 3:1-9), is giving Timothy specifics about the perilous times of the last days which would be partly marked by endlessly educated religious creeps that prey on women (2TI 3:5-7). They would also resist the truth of the gospel after the manner of Jannes and Jambres who withstood Moses, per our text. There has been much speculation over the years as to whom these individuals were inasmuch as this is the only place their names appear in Scripture. This much we know from our feature text: 1) their names are Egyptian in origin (per Strong's Dictionary); 2) they withstood Moses. It is probable that they were Pharaoh's magicians who rivaled Moses' miracles so as to discredit Moses' divine message and authority (EXO 7:1-25; EXO 8:1-19). The “Jannes & Jambres / Pharaoh's magicians” connection is reasonable since the pieces of the puzzle fit and the Scripture is internally consistent. There is no doubt that Pharaoh's magicians worked miracles that (up to a point) rivaled Moses' miracles, and these hardened Pharaoh against the truth. That is the focus of today's meditation. A discerning heart should think twice before automatically concluding that miracle-working power is always of the true God and is peculiar to His messengers on earth. There is another source of miracles at work in the earth: Lucifer himself, who desires to be “...like the most High” (ISA 14:14). It is in his best interest to imitate God as much as possible to further his deception that he is an angel of light and that his ministers are ministers of righteousness (2CO 11:14-15). Miracles are one of the adversaries' chief ways of deceiving men. We read of a satanic entity who “...deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast...” (REV 13:14). Moses had warned specifically (DEU 13:1-3) about false prophets who would show miracles to impress others to follow them but their doctrine opposed what God had already revealed and this invalidated their “ministry.” Thus, the true measure of validity was not a miracle but conformity to Scripture. There was Simon (Magus), a reprobate sorcerer who had used his magical arts to con people into saying, “...This man is the great power of God” (ACT 8:10). There was “Elymas the sorcerer” (a magician) who withstood Paul (ACT 13:8) as Jannes and Jambres had withstood Moses. There were vagabond Jews (possibly sons of the Pharisees that Jesus spoke of in MAT 12:27) that had made a craft out of sham exorcisms of evil spirits (ACT 19:13-16). The Lord Jesus Christ warned of false Christs and false prophets who would show great signs and wonders to deceive men (MAT 24:24). The antichrist's coming “...is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2TH 2:9). Not only are miracles not necessarily marks of divine endowment or of an interest in heaven, they are not of themselves marks of genuine spirituality. The Corinthian church lacked none of the New Testament gifts of the Spirit (1CO 1:7), including such wonders as the working of miracles or speaking in unknown tongues (1CO 12:10). Yet it was a church rife with division, emulation, heresy and fornication whom Paul declared were carnal, not spiritual (1CO 3:1-3). Even God-sent wondrous powers have a limited value. Judas, whom Jesus called a devil and the son of perdition (JOH 6:70-71; JOH 17:12) was empowered to cast out unclean spirits and “...heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease...” (MAT 10:1-4). But what value are gifts without grace, a good show without a good future? To exuberant disciples who were awed at their received power over devils, Jesus said, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (LUK 10:17-20). Election into the Lamb's Book of Life from the foundation of the world (REV 13:8; REV 17:8) trumps any miracle since the foundation of the world. The greatest miracle of all is that any sinner should be saved: “...With men it is impossible, but not with God...” (MAR 10:23-27). Jannes and Jambres had their time in the limelight opposing the truth by miracles but their luck ran out. By the time of the miraculous plague of lice at the hand of Moses and Aaron, “...the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not...” (EXO 8:16-18). They admitted that they were bested by God (EXO 8:19). By the time of the plague of boils, these who had withstood Moses (2TI 3:8) “...could not stand before Moses because of the boils...” (EXO 9:11). What happened to them was a poetic presage of the fate of those who make more of wonders than of the word of God and resist the truth that they themselves will never grasp: “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth....they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was” (2TI 3:7-9).