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Have a victorious week, overcoming every supposed enemy!

“Ancient & Modern Necromancy, alias Mesmerism & Hypnotism, Denounced”
Lesson Application Ideas for May 24-30, 2004 by Kerry Jenkins, CS (St. Louis)

Let’s begin our look into this week’s Bible lesson by defining some of those words in the subject. Necromancy is defined primarily as the act of revealing the future by communicating with the dead. It comes from the Greek words Necros, meaning death, corpse, and from Manteia, meaning divination. Next we have mesmerism which Mrs. Eddy and the dictionary both explain as a form of hypnotism named after a 19th century German named Mesmer. And, finally, we all have a pretty good idea of the meaning of hypnotism, but I wonder if we all realize that its Greek root hypnos means sleep-hence hypnotism is associated most often with a sleep-like state. (This kind of sleep would not be the kind where we are resting, of course, but the sort where we are not being alert and attentive when we should be!)

It is most interesting that the entire lesson is approached from the basis of overpowering a supposed enemy, from fighting evil. And in each section, with each example of an enemy, we are also given powerful tools to overcome these enemies. The most powerful tool being that-ultimately-there is no power that can oppose God, Good!

The Golden Text begins with a strong declaration of God’s supremacy -His right hand being representative of His active, saving, power. This is followed by passages from Isa. In the Responsive Reading, establishing even further the comforting power of God’s overwhelming control and government -where “they that were incensed (furiously angry) against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing;” (their influence, their seeming power is nothing.)

Section 1. Why does this section start by asking us to seek the Lord, to “seek his face continually?” When we are looking for God in everything we do, we are engaged and alert. We’re not likely to fall for any temptation the enemy might put in front of us. We are also much more likely to see His/Her power surrounding us and everyone we see. The citation from Genesis struck me as very interesting. Might we see the horse as that which is carrying us forward, propelling progress and spiritual growth? The adder bites at the heels of such progress and, if we don’t pay attention, can cause us to “fall backward”, to become discouraged or lose our momentum and inspiration. There are actually three mentions of serpents or snakes biting in this lesson, see if you can find all three. Why snakes? Don’t they represent the idea of something sneaky and tricky? Remember the one in the beginning of the Bible that fools Eve into tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge? This is hypnotism at its trickiest, those sneaky snake-like thoughts that fool us into believing that we have no power to oppose evil, sin, sickness-whatever it is that is un-Godlike and needs opposing. Mrs. Eddy tells us in the citations in this section that animal magnetism such as this “has no scientific foundation…There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit.” (S&H 102)

Section 2. Here we are presented with enemies of a kind that many of us can really relate to! The ones who attack with words. How can we prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of speaking ill of others, or incorrectly, might I say poisonously? (Remember the snakes?) Be careful not to listen to bad advice-always, always listen for the voice of good, it’s usually quite obvious! No need to come to any sticky ends that way. But Mrs. Eddy puts these false speakers in their proper place. They have no real power. She says: “Every attempt of evil to destroy good is a failure, and only aids in peremptorily punishing the evil-doer.” (S&H 186:20) Notice that what seems powerful-an attempt to overthrow the king-ends in suicide for the Absalom’s advisor, and eventually in the death of Absalom as well, though that part is not in the lesson this time. Think of what these deaths represent, rather than literally dying think of it as the end of the so-called power of sin to continue in the face of Truth.

Section 3. Again, an advisor of sorts. This story is not told in its entirety here. Check it out in Numbers, it’s pretty interesting. Why do you think Balaam couldn’t at first see the angel? Why do we sometimes miss the obvious signs that God is showing us? This is what mesmerism or hypnotism does, it fools us into being blind to the healing presence and power of God. I love it that Mrs. Eddy tells us here that while sometimes the progress we make may be slow, that the “angels of His presence (which she refers to as spiritual intuitions)…are our guardians in the gloom.” (S&H 174:12) Sometimes we really do feel like we are striking out in the gloom of sadness, or discomfort from injury, or illness. We can really use these “guardians in the gloom”. Having trouble seeing them? We are told here; “Truth is revealed. It needs only to be practiced.” (S&H 174:12) Remember at the beginning of the lesson where we were seeking out God? Well that’s our practice. This practicing will show us the revealed Truth.

Section 4 In this section our Master gives no sanctuary to anything that would hypnotize our thought into believing in the power of disease or evil spirits of any kind. He rebuked such lies and “suffered them not to speak.” (Luke 4:41) Our Leader tells us just how to do this in the correlative passages from S&H. She says that “If sickness is true…” if it comes from God, then of course we can do nothing to oppose it. But obviously Jesus opposed it so it must not be from God! She gives us specific commands about how to deal with the state of thought that lets in sickness. She talks about your clear sense…Notice she says clear here too! Certainly no hypnotic or sleepy state of thought. She then tells us that “You command the situation…” (S&H 403:14) How cool! We command the situation, what a thought. This is truly the power of God! But at our fingertips!

Section 5. This section deals in “wrong notions about God” as Mrs. Eddy refers to them. (S&H 357:22) Paul lands on an island after a shipwreck, gets bitten by a poisonous snake and then the natives stand around and wonder when he’s going to die. They think that because something bad happened to him even after he made it alive out of a shipwreck, that that must mean he has done something wrong. How many times have you asked yourself what you did wrong to become sick or injured, or why you haven’t had a healing? If you are like most of us, you’ve probably asked yourself more than a few times! But as we read this story, it is pointed out that this is a wrong idea to have of God. This is looking at God as “anthropomorphic” that means we are attributing human-like qualities to God. We are limiting God to human reasoning and human thought patterns. We are making God “man-like”. Shouldn’t we rather be seeing man as “God-like”?

Section 6. Finally we get to the great story of the “old serpent” or “dragon” in Revelation. Here, at the end of the Bible, as at the beginning, we are tempted by a serpent, only he has grown to unbelievable proportions, with seven heads and ten horns! He is even red! He wears crowns on those heads to make us think he has some kind of real power, like a king would have over a kingdom. But this dragon is a deceiver, just like the smaller snake in Genesis. And the Revelator “lifts the veil” on this liar. That is, he uncovers the error and shows it to be the powerless pretender that error really is. It cannot contend with Truth, with our Father-Mother, God. And this ends any conflict between matter and Spirit, any battle. (See S&H this section.) So we complete our journey through enemy territory and find that there really is no enemy. We have gone to battle and found there is no opposition to God’s goodness though it will require alertness of thought to see this. None of us needs to fall victim to any kind of hypnotism that would tell us that we live in any state other than the very Kingdom of God and we have all His power at hand to use in our healing work!

Have a victorious week!

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