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Editor’s Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp. If more information or the text of this Lesson is desired, please see the Director’s Note at the end. The citations referenced in the “met” (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist. The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world. (Other reference books are fully noted at the end.)

Take the Serpent by the Tail!
Lesson application ideas for: “Ancient and Modern Necromancy,alias Mesmerism and Hypnotism, Denounced” for November 21-27, 2005
by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.Bartlett, Illinois


Golden Text
The Lesson opens with a promise that what the Lord purposes must come to pass. No person or power shall be able to stop or reverse His word. In context, the opening passage is referring to God’s promise to relieve Israel of the oppression put on them by the Assyrians. In fact, the promise states that the oppressor will be broken and trodden “under foot” thus establishing freedom for the whole earth. In much the same way, the word of truth will destroy the oppression put on mankind today by what Mrs. Eddy called animal magnetism. This Lesson will uncover the methods used by animal magnetism to deceive us and give us weapons to defeat the enemy.

Responsive Reading
When Moses comes to Mount Horeb, he receives his commission to deliver the Children of Israel from the Pharaoh’s oppression. In this story we get our first glimpse at one of the most used tools of animal magnetism-doubt. Moses isn’t quite sure the people will follow him. If you read the whole story, you will see that the incident with the rod becoming a serpent is one of several signs given by God to ease Moses’ concerns. Moses is told to cast his rod on the ground. When he does, it becomes a serpent and Moses runs from it. Next, God tells Moses to “take it by the tail” and pick it up. Most people know that in order to avoid being bitten, the safest way to pick up a snake is by the head. In spite of that, Moses follows God’s direction, and the snake turns back into a rod. This activity is a template for how we are to deal with evil. It may appear to us to be a real threat, but following God’s direction, we can handle it unharmed and see through the illusion of evil’s claim to reality.

SECTION I: The Serpent
As the story of Moses gives us a template for handling evil, the story of the serpent gives us a template for understanding the methods of animal magnetism. The serpent’s technique follows a classic pattern for temptation. First, doubt is cast on God. Second, God is presented as being purposefully misleading. Third, the serpent offers a solution to the dilemma he alone has fabricated. Finally, the woman takes the bait accepting both the problem and manufactured solution. Note that the serpent doesn’t come out and say, “I want you to eat this apple so you will be thrown out of the garden.” Instead, it presents a circumstance whereby the woman thinks it’s a good idea to eat the apple. She is “beguiled,” or “deluded” and “deceived by craft” (Student’s Reference Dictionary). Most commentaries note that the serpent’s suggestion awakened in Eve some dormant desire for the forbidden fruit. Her first mistake was to talk to the serpent at all. Once the conversation started, the serpent had her.

Think about times when you have been tempted. Most often it was over something you didn’t have, and you were made to think that you wanted or needed it. We need to be sensitive to the source of our desires. Are they really coming from our own heart? Or are they suggestions implanted from without? Of course, the consequence of disobedience is punishment. Adam and Eve lose their innocence and become “knowledgeable.” They exchange life with God for knowledge of suffering, weariness, and futility. Adam, in his defense, takes the first “victim-stance” recorded. He blames all the circumstances around him, rather than admitting his own culpability. As Christian Scientists, we do not want to play the “blame game” and think of ourselves as victims. We take responsibility for our thought and action and do what it takes to get things right. Citations 3 and 4 in the Bible caution us to beware and defend ourselves against the subtleties of evil. We need to look only to God for our deliverance (B4).

Science and Health defines “Serpent” as “a lie” (S&H 2). There is no such thing as a talking serpent and this helps us see the unreliability of evil suggestions (S&H 3). Mrs. Eddy shows us that Moses couldn’t be fooled or fearful when he saw that the serpent was a delusion (S&H 4). The same goes for you and me. Animal magnetism is “a term” and a “false belief” (S&H 5). It is not a real entity or condition. It is not true at all, and we need not fear it. But as this Lesson points out, we need to be alert to the claim.

SECTION II: Evil Cannot Be Concealed
Here we have the well-known account of Cain’s murder of his brother Abel (B5). When God questioned Cain he denied responsibility for Abel’s welfare. God replied that Abel’s blood cried out from the ground. The Abingdon Bible Commentary points out that the ground had “been compelled to receive a draught of that which it loathes; therefore its anger is aroused against [Cain] and it will no more cooperate with him in the work of agriculture…” Cain is forced from farming to become a “wanderer.”

Mrs. Eddy shows the evolution of the serpent’s lie from false promises into wicked aggression (S&H 6). Originally, God created man, but believing that man gave life to man, Cain thought man could also take it away. His belief led to murder (S&H 7). Avoiding responsibility is a byproduct of a belief in a life or power opposed to and apart from God. Rather than relying on God, and patiently learning to serve Him, Cain unadvisedly, took matters into his own hands and then denied his part in it. (S&H 8). When we are tempted to deflect responsibility, we are being deceived by animal magnetism. Error cannot hide. It is always found out. Truth uncovers it. Mrs. Eddy refers to the “looms of crime” (S&H 9). Think of how fabric is made with interlocking strands of different colors. Alone, each thread is nondescript. But when they are all put together a pattern emerges. Animal magnetism takes a bunch of seemingly harmless thoughts and deeds and puts them together to create an evil story. Cain’s jealousy and indifference led to murder. We should endeavor to stop evil in its “thread stage” before it completes its picture. We can’t see the truth while evil threads remain. They need to be seen as lies (S&H 10).

SECTION III: God Is the True Power
Interestingly, the verse in B6 is taken from a ceremony consecrating the firstborn. To consecrate means to set aside for holy use. Adam’s firstborn became a condemned murderer. But here the firstborn are to be set apart for God’s use. The section continues (B7) with an account of the battle of Rephidim. Rephidim comes from a word meaning a railing or “baluster” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). This is exactly what Aaron and Hur were for Moses. They acted as supports to hold up Moses’ hands. When Moses’ hands lowered, the battle went toward the enemy. When they were raised, the advantage went to the Israelites. Hands often symbolize strength as in the Golden Text. The rod too, symbolizes the power of God and was a reminder that God was helping them as He had in the past. As Moses did, sometimes we need help and support in holding up our hands to God. This is what we do when we pray for each other. We are helping to “hold up each other’s hands” to God. It is also interesting that the Israelites in this battle were fighting the Amalakites who were a fierce and warlike tribe of nomads or wanderers like Cain was. Evil thoughts are always wondering around looking for a battle and some ground to take. But as we rely upon the power of God we can resist the attacks.

Mrs. Eddy reminds us that there is no other power than God (S&H 11). She also acknowledges that to believe in a power opposed to God is “disheartening” (S&H 12). When we believe evil, we may need help holding up our hands. We rely on Truth to support our understanding of true being, but error has no foundation to support it (S&H 13). Mrs. Eddy commands us to “rise in the strength of Spirit” (S&H 14). Nothing can vitiate-injure, spoil, render defective, or destroy (SRD)-the power God gives us. We gain this power and strength through obedience to Truth (S&H 15).

SECTION IV: Binding the Strong Man
As Jesus began his “open air ministry” he commanded that a small boat should wait on him (B9). The Greek word translated as “wait” means: “to be earnest towards, to persevere, be constantly diligent, attend assiduously, adhere closely…” (Strong’s). Abingdon’s points out that the Gospel writer wanted to suggest to readers: “that prayer should be to them in their busy lives what the little boat was to Jesus-a refuge from the pressure of the crowd, a means to seek places of rest, an agency to secure food for daily supplies, and a pulpit from whence to deliver the oracles of God.” This description certainly has validity in the context of this Lesson. When accused of healing by the power of Beelzebub, Jesus showed the ridiculousness of the argument. It is illogical to think that Satan would fight against himself. Jesus’ ability to heal was proof that he had overcome Satan and was therefore free to spoil his house.

Mrs. Eddy states that Jesus exercised the power of God alone (S&H 16). She then goes on to say that “mortal mind” is the “strong man” which must be bound in order to eliminate sin and disease which are his “goods” (S&H 17). Knowing there is only “one Mind” exterminates error (S&H 18). As we diligently hold to truth, we will be putting a stop to the “strong man.”

SECTION V: Power over Serpents
When Jesus sent out the seventy he told them to go in teams and he told them to be on guard because they were as “lambs among wolves” (B10). We need to be supportive of each other and alert to the situations we are entering. When we go out into the world we shouldn’t be naïve. When the seventy returned victorious, Jesus said he saw Satan as lightening falling from heaven. Lightening puts on a pretty big show. The thunder that follows it can sometimes shake us to the core. But when it “grounds out,” its power is dissipated. Jesus’ teachings give us the understanding that disarms error. They give us power to tread on the serpent and be unharmed. Healing and handling serpents unhurt is proof that we are following the teachings correctly (B11). John cautions the church to keep an eye on its activities. We cannot take for granted the duty we have. What we do is not just for our own good; it is for the whole church (B12). We are admonished and encouraged to “stand fast” (B13). This is a continuation of diligently working, holding each other up, and witnessing the power of God.

Mrs. Eddy affirms that our mission is to be fulfilled in destroying the claims of evil through the power of good (S&H 19). Mrs. Eddy saw that the enemies facing mankind were not many. The enemy was animal magnetism assuming whatever form we allowed it to have. She saw that truth destroyed error, and she longed to save mankind from error’s lies (S&H 21). Once you know how a magic trick is done, you’re never fooled by it again. Once we see what’s really going on with error, we can’t be fooled by it (S&H 22). We have to arm ourselves against error. We have no choice but to partake in the warfare until we gain the victory (S&H 23).

SECTION VI: The Accuser Cast Down
The scene in Revelation (B14) is meant to encourage Christians under persecution (Interpreter’s). The “woman” represents the church, the heavenly mother of all Christians. She brings forth the child of healing that the dragon (serpent) wants to devour. But the dragon is thwarted-cast down into the earth “and all his angels with him.” All the tricks and lies of evil are sent to dust and nothingness by the power of Truth. The song of victory actually takes place before the battle is over because the victory is assured. There is no doubt any more. The voice of truth acknowledges that all power belongs to God.

Mrs. Eddy points out that as evil nears its inevitable end, it swells in defiance against the coming of spirituality (S&H 25). The nature of evil never changes. It compels mortals to harm each other, to lie, cheat, steal, and kill. It continues to deflect responsibility and wreak havoc everywhere it pretends to go (S&H 26). Christ proves this “old serpent” to be powerless. Just as exposing a magic trick wipes out the illusion, so Christ wipes out the illusion of evil and we see its unreality (S&H 27). We should be grateful for every victory over sin and disease (S&H 28). Each small victory leads to the final destruction of all evil-when the “accuser” is cast down forever-and harmony rules everything. Our victories over evil come day by day in our efforts to live rightly-to cherish goodness and stay away from evil. Nothing in us should respond to evil’s suggestions. We shouldn’t take the position of a victim, blaming and accusing others. We stand fast in the truth and hold our hands up with power. We keep our armor on and fight boldly, assured of everlasting victory.

The reference books used in this met were:

Student’s Reference Dictionary

The Abingdon Bible Commentary

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible

Camp Director”s Note: The above sharing is the latest in a long series of CedarS Bible Lesson “mets” (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson “mets” are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson in the books. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied. The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one. We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.)

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