Friday, May 1, 2015
Super Powers in the Bible
In my opinion, one of the coolest things about the Bible is the idea that people in both the Old and New Testament were given "super powers" by the Lord without them having to be bit by a radioactive spider, get bombarded with gamma rays, or come from a doomed planet. Obviously the coolest thing about the Bible is the fact that we are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ when we repent of our sins, believe in His sacrifice, and strive to do the will of the Father (and no, I'm not promoting a works-based salvation here guys...). What an amazing gift, am I right?
That being said, another really cool thing about the Bible, as I said before, is that some of the most famous biblical characters HAD SUPER POWERS! Maybe they didn't have them all the time, and technically they were called "miracles" or "signs and wonders", but in today's world where The Avengers, X-Men, and Superman are so popular we would know them as "super powers" or "abilities".
Let's start off with some of the most obvious...
Super Strength - This one is perhaps the most apparent as seen in Scripture and that is Samson's very own super strength. In Judges 14:5-6, we see that Samson actually kills a lion with his bear hands. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure that I could ever do that! Later in verse 19 we find out that he kills 30 men down at Ashkelon! I mean, wow! Thirty men? All by himself? Yep, that's Samson! But it doesn't stop there... In Judges 15:14-17, not only does Samson break out of the bounds that he was entangled in, but after picking up a donkey's jawbone, he took out a thousand men. I don't know about you, but that's some strength! Now, unfortunately, Samson, much like Solomon, had a weakness: women. Because of Delilah, his hair (the source of his strength) was cut and he was tortured, blinded, afflicted, humiliated, and made into a slave by his enemies... A woman was a terrible trade-off Samson... However, in Judges 16:25-30, Samson realizes his mistakes and his rejection of the Lord and prays that one last time his strength would return so he could avenge his two eyes and fulfill the will of the Lord against the Philistines. God answered his prayer and as his hair returned, so did his strength and he brought down the building that he was imprisoned in, taking out more Philistines through his death than he did in his life. It's a shame Samson didn't live longer, he could have gone up against Goliath and his brothers (who very possibly had super strength of their own, especially since we know how much armor & weaponry Goliath carried)... That would have been an awesome fight!
Super Speed - The second super power I'm going to talk about that seen in Scripture is one that a lot of people read over and/or miss. In fact, I couldn't tell you how I originally heard of this passage (because I only heard about it originally, I did not read it myself at first), but that doesn't make it any less cool! In 1 Kings 18, at the end of the chapter (verses 40-46), Elijah has an encounter with King Ahab where he tells him to head back to Jezreel from Mount Carmel and to make sure that the rain doesn't stop him. Verse 46 says that the "hand of the LORD" was upon Elijah and that he ran before Ahab and his chariots, beating them to Jezreel. I don't know about you, but that sure sounds like super speed to me, and super speed that would make Quicksilver & The Flash jealous!
Healing Factor - Although many of you are probably thinking of the X-Men/Avengers character Wolverine's immediate self-healing factor, that's actually not what I'm talking about here. All throughout Scripture there are accounts of people being healed! Whether it's healing from disease, sickness, blindness, lameness, being risen from the dead, or healed from demons/possession, healing is actually a common theme throughout Scripture because, well, Jesus was the ultimate healer who died for our sins, healing us from the Curse, therefore allowing us into Heaven one day! How cool is that? Acts 5:15 tells us that Peter was so filled with the Spirit that his shadow could heal people! We know full well that Jesus raised Lazarus (and Himself) from the dead, but the Apostles brought people back too, like Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) in Acts 9:36-42. Not to mention, when Jesus came back to life, not only was He alive once again, but His wounds were healed, leaving only scars to prove that He was the Christ (In Luke 24:39, He tells his Disciples to look at His hands and feet as proof). Healing, in fact, still goes on today. We don't see it as much in America because we rely so much on medicine and science to help us, but in many countries around the world supernatural healings are still a common occurrence, and can be here too if we allow ourselves to see/believe in them.
Flight - Believe it or not, this one is actually in the Bible. More commonly known as the "Ascension of Jesus", Mark 16:19, Luke 24:50-52, and Acts 1:9-11 all talk about Jesus being "carried up to Heaven" and being "received by a cloud". I don't know about you, but that sounds to me like Jesus floated, of flew, back up to Heaven (though He may have just teleported between dimensions, Scripture isn't exact on the details), and that's really cool! Many people also believe that angels can fly as well, especially since in Isaiah 6:2 it's mentioned that the Seraphim class of angels had six wings (most likely used for flying, I mean come on, what else are wings used for?). Though no human in Scripture, at least to my knowledge and if I'm wrong let me know, has been given the ability to fly, with the exception of Jesus (who we have to remember was also FULLY GOD as well as fully man).
Invisibility/Teleportation - Now, let me be clear here, invisibility and teleportation are actually two entirely different abilities. Invisibility is simply the ability to make yourself appear as if you are not there at all, at least to the human eye, while teleportation is traveling from one place to another simultaneously. Invisibility is definitely something Scripture talks about in relation to God as Colossians 1:15 says, "The Son is the image of the Invisible God." Based on this Scripture, we know that God is invisible, or at the very least can make Himself be. Now, Acts 12:10, Luke 22:43, and Judges 6:21 (and many other places in the Bible) all talk about angels appearing and disappearing. Some instances, like the one from Judges 6, are clearly showing that the angels can make themselves visible to one person or animal and not the other, but the other passages are a little trickier when looked at closely leaving it up to interpretation whether or not angels can teleport or simply turn invisible. When watching A.D. The Bible Continues, the way they show Jesus' ascension, He kinda teleports up to Heaven, He doesn't actually float up into the air. I don't honestly know how it happened exactly, but in that instance, flight or teleportation make the most sense!
Shapeshifting - This ability we see very on in Scripture, in the third chapter of Genesis to be exact. If Genesis 3's reference to Satan as a serpent are meant to be taken literally (not to mention Revelation's reference to him as a dragon), then we must assume that the Devil can change his shape/appearance to look like whatever pleases him. In 2 Corinthians 11:14 we know that he can make himself look like an "angel of light", even when he clearly is not. On some level, the Word becoming flesh in Jesus Christ (John 1:14) is in and of itself a form of shapeshifting! We also know that in Scripture angels can make themselves appear as men. We don't know what angels look like in their natural spiritual form, but they can certainly take on physical form, often appearing as men to Abraham, Lot, Mary, Zechariah, and others.
Elemental Control - I know the immediate thought for most here is to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and honestly, that's kinda accurate. We of course know the story in Exodus about Israel crossing the Red Sea after God, through Moses, parted it (hydrokinesis aka water-bending), but that's not all. In the New Testament, Jesus actually uses the ability of hydrokinesis on two distinct occasions. The first is in Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus calms the raging storm on the Sea of Galilee with just his voice. Now, I know that Jesus is FULLY GOD, so this power is certainly part of His divine nature, but when He was on Earth He was also fully man, therefore making this ability still a miracle and, by my definition, a "super power". The second time He uses this ability is in Matthew 14:22-33 where He walks on water. I read a blog post somewhere about the "super powers" of the Bible, and they called this "Jesus, Like a Non-Useless Aquaman" (Aquaman is actually not useless, but it's still pretty funny). In fact, Peter also walked on the water in the same passage, until he took his eyes off the Lord. 2 Kings 2:11 tells us that the prophet Elijah was take to Heaven in a whirlwind (air-bending) not to mention the Lord leading Israel in the desert with a pillar of air during the day and one of fire (pryokinesis or fire-bending) during the night. We also know that as believers, our faith can move mountains (earth-bending) as told in Matthew 17:20. Revelation 7:1 also tells us that the angels have control over the winds across the four corners of the Earth.
Prophecy - Now, this may not be considered a "superpower" per se as much as it is a revelation from God, but all throughout Scripture the Lord has allowed his prophets (including His Son) to foretell future events, some of which have already come true and some which will still come to pass. Elijah, Daniel, Samuel, Elisha, John the Apostle, John the Baptist, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, and many others throughout Scripture prophesied about what would happen to Israel and her enemies, the Church, Jesus' coming and death, His Second Coming, the events of the End Times and the rebuilding of the Temple. All this and more found all throughout the Word!
Telepathy - We know that God is omnipotent and omnipresent (and one more I'm forgetting), so clearly we know the Lord is able to read our minds! While on Earth, Jesus knew what was on people's minds often, to the point where He knew that Judas would betray Him long before he did. We also know that angels can enter dreams based on their interaction with Jacob and Joseph in Genesis 28 & 31 as well as Matthew 1-2.
Cross-Dimensional Travel - Genesis 28:12 (Jacob's Ladder) talks about angels moving in between Heaven and Earth, in 2 Kings 2 we see that Elijah traveled from Earth to Heaven, and of course Jesus went back to Heaven forty days after He conquered Death. Being able to enter dreams as talked about above may be considered part of this category as well though I'm not entirely sure.
Telekinesis - Acts 12:7 talks about how Peter's chains fell off his hands after an angel appeared to him. As said before, in Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us that we have the power (through faith) to move mountains. Whether this is metaphorical or literal is up debate, but nevertheless.
Witchcraft - Now we're getting into the evil superpowers of the Bible... Witchcraft is condemned by God as sin Deuteronomy 18:9-12 tells us that omens, witchcraft, spells, divination, and consulting the dead is "detestable" (or in other translations, an abomination) to God. Saul consulted the witch from Endor and had her bring "Samuel" (actually conjuring a demon) up from the underworld to talk to him (1 Samuel 28) and Pharaoh's magicians created snakes to combat Moses' in Exodus 7. Witchcraft is definitely a "superpower" in the Bible, but unlike the abilities above is not one that could potentially be used by good AND evil, ONLY the Enemy. For more on why magic is evil, check out my article on it HERE.
Possession - Much like telepathy or "dream travel", possession involved invading someone's mind, though in this case here I am solely referring to demonic possession. Demonic possession is less a superpower and more an ability that demons can use to torture and destroy mankind. In fact, over 2,000 demons can even possess one body at a time as seen in the story about Legion in Matthew 8, Mark 5, and Luke 8. During possession, demons often physically harm the body they are "wearing" or those of others while being given enhanced super-strength as well as being able to survive drowning and falling into fire (Matthew 17:15). Possession is a scary ability that only demons have, though I supposed the Lord could if He wanted too, but there's not scriptural evidence that He does or has. This is strictly and evil ability used by demons.
So there you all have it! This is an extensive list of some (as I'm sure I've missed a few) of the superpowers and abilities found within both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible! I hope you've enjoyed this article and I hope it's made you even more excited about what Jesus can do and maybe do in your life in the future!
Michael J. Petty