Life is filled with many counterfeits, and this is evident in every area of life especially in merchandising; we make a purchase of a name-brand that we trust only eventually to find out it is a fake. Sadly, we find that this has moved into our Christian lives and our Churches, and at times it is shocking to hear the messages from some of our church pulpits, and this is Satan’s design! “Wherever God does a work on earth, Satan first tries to oppose it, and next to corrupt it by introducing a sham” (From Egypt to Canaan by John Ritchie)
In the book of Exodus, we find that Pharaoh is a depiction of Satan, and many of his attempts to avoid releasing the Israelites involve some counterfeit action or suggestion to God’s command. His magicians duplicated Aaron’s rod by doing the same with theirs <Ex.7:11-12>; the Nile water became blood and again and this was duplicated <Ex.7:20-22>; again, the plague of frogs was replicated by the magicians <Ex.8:6-7>; but we find that after this when the magicians could not produce a counterfeit, Pharaoh responded with alternatives.
God’s command was “Let my people go, so that they may worship me…. We must take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.” <Ex.7:16; 8:27 (NIV)>; and Pharaoh’s first suggestion was, don’t go too far <Ex.8:28>, later after the Egyptians had endured God’s judgments, Pharaoh suggested that only the Israelite men should go <Ex.10:11>; and finally, he suggested that that all the Israelites could go but their animals should be left behind <Ex.10:24>.
So, we find that throughout the accounts recorded in the Scriptures Satan introduced his own alternatives to what God had done or commanded His people. One of the first incidents recorded is that of Abraham, Sarai and Hagar. God made a promise to Abraham and Sarai <Gen.15:4>, but because of Sarai’s infertility <Gen.11:30>, she doubted God and decided on her own solution <Gen.16:1-5>, and the result of this action is evident throughout the centuries to this day in the animosity between the Jews and the Arab nations. After their departure from Egypt and their anticipated entrance into Canaan, Moses rehearsed God’s promises and gave them God’s specific commands, as recorded in the book Deuteronomy; “The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.” <Deut.26:16 (NIV)>, and one specific command was concerning the inhabitants of Canaan who were under the condemnation of God because of their detestable worship customs, God intended for the Israelites to carry out His judgment upon these people; He commanded the Israelites to completely destroy the people and everything that related to them, because God knew that if anything was left of them the Israelites would be attracted to their form of worship. After Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan river and the conquest began, Satan immediately introduced a deception which, unfortunately they fell for <see Jos.9:3-6, 14-16> and allowed the Gibeonites to live in the land, which later on was to their regret <see Jud.2:2-3>. How often today Christians are faced with similar situations, they know what the Scriptures teach but they deliberately disobey God’s commands to their detriment. Moving forward; during Solomon’s reign his son Jeroboam rebelled against his father, and some years after the death of Solomon we see a division in the kingdom; Jeroboam rules over the northern kingdom of Israel where he introduces a substitute place of worship and sacrifices, no doubt influenced by Canaanite worship, to discourage the people from travelling to Jerusalem for the Temple worship, <see 1 Kings 12:26-33>; which led to the eventual fall of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians. The Kingdom of Judah soon followed the northern kingdom into captivity by the Babylonians for the same sins; they had allowed the Canaanite worship to influence them <see Deut. 28:43; 31:29>.
This pattern continued on to the birth of the early Church after Christ’s ascension. Several times the apostles were confronted by Judaizers and other false teachers, and Paul had to write to Timothy and Titus giving them specific instructions in dealing with false teachers that had infiltrated the early Churches, and throughout the other books recorded in the New Testament we see that false teachers were constantly at work, and we continue to see evidence of their teaching today as Gnosticism and Nicolaitan doctrines continue to creep into the Church. Satan will continue to introduce various counterfeits and suggestions to God’s people and we have to be extremely cautious in bringing these counterfeits into our lives and into our Churches. Sermons are preached, teachings and variations in our worship are introduced in our Churches today that have no semblance to what is taught in God’s Word, and we as Christians, followers of Christ, must be continually on our guard; we must know what the Scriptures teach so that we can readily recognize the Satanic counterfeits and suggestions that are facing us; “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” <1 Jn.4:1>.