Acts 19:20 “So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”
When the sons of Sceva and others tried to exorcise demons from people by invoking the name of Jesus, they found out the hard way that demons don’t react to people who have no authority. When Paul wore aprons and used handkerchiefs, these items were then taken to people who were sick and demon-possessed. The recipients of these items were healed and even freed from demonic possession. It moved the people so much in the city that many who confessed to be believers confessed of their magic and other deeds and then brought their scrolls on magic and other evil topics and burned them. The end result was that the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and the word of the Lord grew mightily among these people and prevailed over the enemy’s darkness there.
The Word of the Lord is none other than Jesus himself. Jesus said that he is the light of the world. We know that wherever light is it exposes the darkness and all that happens in the darkness. For this very reason men hide in the dark and don’t want their evil deeds known, as Jesus said. However, in the account in Acts of Paul’s works, we read that the miracles, signs, and wonders done through Paul lead the people to confess their sins, turn from their wicked ways, and even rid themselves of anything related to the dark arts. When the people had burned up their scrolls on magic and other related topics, they supposed the value of such scrolls amounted to some 50,000 drachmas. The value of a drachma was equal to a day’s wage in that day. Thus, the total value of 50,000 drachmas equaled the wages of one person for 137 years worth of wages.
The verse we look at today says that the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. But, just what did it grow against and prevail against? It overcame the power of the darkness the people were involved in. They were superstitious people and believed in dark arts and black magic. They had put their trust in the devil and his demonic minions. The demon that whipped up on the sons of Sceva caused the people to fear and turn their thoughts to God, who was glorified through this demonstration. The lesson learned was that people cannot just “invoke” the name of Jesus and expect to do exploits in his name. People, who are not empowered by the Spirit of God, will never do anything for God. Paul was able to do all that he did because God’s Spirit lived in Paul and enabled him to do great and mighty things. That is why his aprons and handkerchiefs could be sent to the sick, who were healed, and to the demon-possessed, who were freed. It wasn’t Paul or his personal effects but the power of the Holy Spirit working through Paul to accomplish these things.
When people witness firsthand the mighty things of God, they do one of two things: scoff at them through unbelief or accept them through faith and believe in God. What we do know is that wherever God is, sin and the devil cannot exist for long. God’s power trumps evil every time. Now that is not to say that bad things don’t happen to good people. If I made that statement, I would be lying. John the Baptist was beheaded. Peter, Paul, James, and the other apostles save John were all executed in some fashion. Many first century Christians were fed to lions and tigers to amuse Roman spectators under Nero. Today, Christians around the world in countries led by oppressive regimes are giving their lives for the sake of the gospel. Good people of God do endure persecution; however, God says that those who endure to the end will have everlasting life. On the other hand, in the end we know that God triumphs over Satan and reigns supreme. Jesus destroyed the works of the devil on the cross by enabling man to have a path of redemption back to God and to have eternal life.
Satan will wins battles along the way because he is the rightful prince of this world because Adam sold us out for a bite of fruit to exercise his moral choice rather than being humble and obedient to God. Adam sold his birthright for a piece of fruit much as Edom sold his birthright for a bowl of beans. Because Satan is the prince of the air, he can maneuver in the lives of his children and even inflict harm on God’s children; however, God will stand up for his beloved and deliver them out of the snare of the fowler as David wrote. At the end of the age, God will call his children home to be with him, destroy the enemy, and set up his kingdom in the new heaven and new earth forever. The Word of the Lord has prevailed in times past, continues to prevail today and will prevail in the future because God said that his word will accomplish what it was intended to do and will not return to him void. His Word is true and faithful and everlasting. Get it, know it, live it.
Father, in the name of Jesus, I offer this petition to you today. Allow your Word to speak to me and then prevail in my life. There are things that we all struggle with in life, and I have my burdens with which I struggle. I need you more today more than I did yesterday. I submit all of me to you and trust in you. Your Word has never let me down or failed me even in times where I thought it had. You stuck by me through the thickest and thinnest of times. You saved and spared my life from numerous attempts at its destruction by the enemy through my actions and the actions of others. I believe that your Word is,”living and active. Sharper than any two-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” You have overcome the enemy, and I need your grace to endure to the end and reach the goal laid out before me by your hand. Strengthen me and lead me in the way of righteousness. Amen.