IN SEEKING COUNSEL AND DIRECTION, AVOID ALL CONTACT WITH THE DARK SIDE OF THE OCCULT
We are treading on some dangerous ground today. The Holy Spirit wants to expose for us the dangers of the occult. The term occult implies a “secret knowledge” or something which is hidden and beyond normal understanding. But God doesn’t want us to go diving too deeply into this subject. You would be naïve to think that you are insulated from occult influences. The context in Isaiah involves presenting the dark backdrop for the contrasting revelation of the coming Light of the Messiah who will bring blessing and a dominion of righteousness that will supplant the powers of darkness. We are making preparations here at the end of Chap. 8 for another precious Messianic Prophecy in 9:6.
Contact with the occult is more prevalent today than any of us would like to think.
– It can penetrate to the highest levels of our national government. Do you remember Nancy Reagan’s reliance upon soothsayers? Decisions regarding our country’s future were quite possibly influenced by fortune telling and horoscopes.
– It certainly lies behind the motivation for some of the more heinous crimes that have occurred.
– You drive through our local neighborhoods and you see multiple establishments advertising some form of fortune telling or tarot card reading. I used to remember the car always parked outside of one such establishment on Pulaski highway just down the street from Alban’s headquarters: (obviously belonging to the fortune teller herself) a white car with a black top. I thought the symbolism was appropriate – black on top of white.
What are some of the practices associated with the occult? Some overlap here
Eric Barger: Nine Forbidden Practices
1) Human Sacrifice – Wicked Ahaz had established the worship of Molech (savage god of Ammonites) on Mt. of Olives east of Jerusalem in Valley of Hinnom; burning children as offering to this god; 2 Kings 16 – we have looked at that passage previously;
Who would sacrifice their children and have them burned in the fire to try to appease the spirits? Well, who would commit abortion on their innocent babies who cannot speak on their own behalf??
2) Divination – The Heart of the occult. Manipulation from demonic sources.
Ouija boards, Tarot cards – trying to gain insight into “hidden things” – we don’t want too much intimate knowledge of these practices
3) Astrology – We either trust God or the Zodiac but not both! – [look at newspapers devoting valuable space every day to horoscope – there must be a lot of interest; roots way back in ancient pagan cultures – worshipping the sun and the stars] – Chinese fortune cookies seem innocent enough – just don’t go further down that path looking for divine insights
4) Enchanter – Someone satanically endowed to produce seductive spells.—I would be leery of hypnotism – anything where you give over control of your mind to something outside of yourself
5) Witchcraft and Witches – Includes its modern, organized counterpart, Wicca.—lots of modern activity in this realm; lots of TV shows and movies exalting this aspect of the occult; Maybe “I Dream of Jeannie” was not so innocent and just tipping open the door to more emphasis here; go to foreign countries like Haiti and you see how prevalent practices such as Voodoo are today
6) Charmer – One who manipulates objects or beings via demonic power.—snake charmers, etc. – TV show Ghost Whisperer – can communicate with ghosts
7) Consulter with Familiar Spirits – One who gleans knowledge from demonic contact.
Prevalence of Satanism – actual worship of Satan
8) Wizards – Practitioners of magical arts –cf. “The Wizard of Oz;” look at the conversion of those in Ephesus in Acts 19:19 who were involved with this – How do you repent? Burn all of your associated paraphernalia — they burned their expensive books of magic because they recognized their potential evil impact on themselves and others; remember Pharoah had his wise men and his magicians – Ex. 7:11
9) Necromancers – Those who claim to be in contact with the dead. Seances – trying to call up a dead relative and communicate with them
8 REASONS TO AVOID ANY CONTACT WITH THE OCCULT
I. CURIOSITY REGARDING THE OCCULT OPENS THE DOOR TO DEMONIC POWERS AND LEADS TO IDOLATRY
“And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists”
Understand first of all that the OT clearly forbids all such contact with the occult:
Deut. 18:9-12a “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…”
Judgment by stoning to death was the only prescribed form of contact with such individuals
Lev. 20:27 “Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them.”
[Cf. 2 Kings 21:6; Isaiah 44:25; 47:12; Jeremiah 27:9; Ezekiel 13:18, 20; Micah 5:12; Acts 8:11-24; Revelation 9:21]
God is a supremely Jealous God:
Michael Bradley: The Reasons God Does Not Want Us to Engage With the Occult
The Bible says that God the Father is a jealous God, a consuming fire. Here are two verses specifically telling us this:
1. “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God …” (Exodus 20:5)
2. “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:24)
Because God is very jealous and possessive over His own children, He wants all of us coming directly to Him if we have any problems with our future, or what He might have in store for us in our future. People are consulting fortunetellers, psychics, horoscopes, and Ouija boards for guidance and information on what the future may hold for them.
The Bible says that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and teach us all things in this life. God wants to be the Guide and Teacher of your life. He does not want you going to others to seek out this type of divine guidance because of His intensely jealous nature. The Bible says that there is only one God – and only He knows all things about you – which includes all of your past, present, and future.
Read more: http://www.bible-knowledge.com/dangers-of-the-occult/#ixzz2RzKyyWqN
Curiosity can be a dangerous thing: College illustration – séance experience
Temptation will be there to check out what the fortune tellers have to say:
Look how often investigators of major crimes involve some type of spiritist in their probe.
Example of Celebrity psychic Sylvia Browne who has been in the news just recently:
In the days since Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight emerged from their decade-long captivity in a home in Cleveland, Ohio, celebrity psychic Sylvia Browne has come under scrutiny for her incorrect prediction regarding Berry’s fate.
In 2004, the year following the then 16-year-old schoolgirl’s disappearance, Browne appeared on “The Montel Williams” show and told Berry’s distraught mother Louwana Miller – who died from heart failure a year later – that her daughter was “in heaven and on the other side” and that her last words were “goodbye, mom, I love you.”
Turns out Browne was wrong, and thousands of people have flooded her Facebook page to tell her what they think.
“Sylvia is a con artist and commits fraud for financial gain,” commented one, as another weighed in: “You should be ashamed of yourself….why would anybody believe anything you have to say after this?? All you do is rip money off the weak minded people.” Another wrote “YOU are the worst kind of predator, offering people hope where there is none,” while several called Browne everything from a “fraud” and a “lying rat” to a “scammer” and a “fake.”
“Sylvia sees dead people,” wrote another. “Only they’re not dead.”
Browne has created quite a business as a spiritual leader: she’s published 45 books over the years, runs the “Sylvia Browne Hypnosis Training Center” in Northern California, and has phone psychic reading fee of $850, currently discounted to $550.
In response to the criticism, Browne’s rep released a statement asserting that for nearly six decades, Browne has dedicated her life to helping individuals, families and law enforcement agencies on hundreds of high-profile criminal investigations, and received numerous commendations for her the “positive impact her contributions have provided.”
“For more than 50 years as a spiritual psychic and guide, when called upon to either help authorities with missing person cases or to help families with questions about their loved ones, I have been more right than wrong,” Browne herself insisted. “If ever there was a time to be grateful and relieved for being mistaken, this is that time. Only God is right all the time.” . . .
Amongst the intense backlash, there were at least a few fans defending Browne’s psychic abilities.
“You can’t be right all the time. You would have to be God,” observed a Facebook follower, as another noted that “everyone makes mistakes.”
Not talking about remote hypothetical situations here – these are events ripped from today’s headlines
You don’t want to open the door to Satan and his demonic forces; they do have power; we must recognize we are in a spiritual battle involving forces we cannot see – very real warfare
Ephes. 6:11-12 “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”
Ephes. 4:27 “do not give the devil an opportunity”
Scriptures make a direct connection between the occult and idolatry:
MacArthur: idolatry is worshiping demons; 1 Cor. 10:14; “Flee from idolatry” – they sacrifice to demons; Ps. 96:5 “all the gods of the nations are idols [demons];” Lev. 17:7; Deut. 32:16 “new gods who came newly up” from that lower demonic realm; Ps. 106:37ff; to worship anything but the true God is idolatry – whether money or self or . . .;
II. REVELATION FROM THE OCCULT CANNOT COMPARE TO REVELATION FROM GOD (FAR INFERIOR IN TERMS OF QUALITY AND RELIABILITY) –
RAISES MORE QUESTIONS THAN IT ANSWERS
“familiar spirits, mediums” = Greek translation means ventriloquist
Oswalt: It was apparently a common belief in the ancient Near East that the dead spoke in birdlike, whispered voices”
Is. 29:4 “Your voice will also be like that of a spirit from the ground, and your speech will whisper from the dust.”
A. Associated with Shameful Advisements – “who whisper” Peep – high tones
vs. open and transparent communication
Lord’s revelation is like that open and public billboard He had Isaiah display in the opening verses of chapter 8.
Apostle Paul made a special point to emphasize the openness and clarity of his communication of God’s truth: 1 Cor. 14:6-12 in the context of spiritual gifts; speaking of the need for interpretation; there must be a distinct and understandable message;
Paul did not come with fancy or confusing speech; he spoke the gospel clearly and directly
B. Associated with Satanic Ambiguity – “and mutter,” Growl, moan – low tones
vs. clear and distinct communication
the snake in the garden tries to confuse the woman regarding the clear revelation of God
Oswalt: Having lost the only real source of confidence, belief in an all-wise and all-loving creator, they turned to more limited but supposedly less-demanding sources.
III. CONTACT WITH THE OCCULT CONSTITUTES SPIRITUAL ADULTERY AGAINST THE GOD OF TRUTH
“should not a people consult their God?” this should be the final answer
Vs. allegiance to personal relationship with God; we have direct access to God the Father through the one Mediator, the perfect God-Man, our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ; Why would we want to inquire at the feet of other intermediaries??
This should be the end of the issue. What are Christians thinking when they dabble with the occult?
We must be firmly convinced of the Sufficiency of Scripture:
This is why we advocate for biblical counseling rather than secular psychologists. Where there are medical and chemical concerns, we understand the need for doctors. But in matters of morality and behavior, the basis problem is spiritual. “Should not a people consult their God?”
Many OT examples where the children of Israel turned elsewhere for counsel
Cf. King Saul seeking help from the medium rather than from God = one of the reasons God judged him with death (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).
Where do you turn for counsel regarding the future and how to live?
IV. REVELATION FROM THE OCCULT FOCUSES ON THE DEAD RATHER THAN THE LIVING
“Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?”
No Victory over death and dominion of Satan when you seek his influence
Jesus came and proclaimed Himself as “the way, the truth and the life” – He is the one who provides resurrection from the dead; they empty tomb showed His victory over death; we need to come to Him for counsel
Cf. strange Roman Catholic practices of almost idolizing the dead saints or Mary, the mother of Jesus – falls into this same category of consulting the dead
ChristianAnswers.net: Astrology (predictions by the planets or moon; horoscopes; sometimes referred to as “observing times” in the Old Testament)
Although the Bible does not go into great detail about astrology, it certainly makes its position clear. We should never trust in astrological beliefs or predictions. Astrology is an ancient, heathen practice that leads to disaster. Our lives are not determined by the stars or movement of planets. The Bible warns against the false predictions of astrology (Jeremiah 10:2; 27:9-10; Daniel 2:1-4; 4:7; 5:7-9) and repeatedly condemns the associated practice of worshipping the sun, moon and stars (or “deities or demons associated with them”) (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:2-5; 2 Kings 21:3, 5; Zephaniah 1:5; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 8:1-2).
V. (:20) REVELATION FROM THE OCCULT BELONGS TO THE DOMAIN OF DARKNESS (RATHER THAN THE LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD)
“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.”
Young: The law is the revelation of God expressing His will for man’s obedience, and the testimony is His revelation expressing His will as a system to be believed. These are the standards by which all opinions and utterances are to be judged.
Easy to test the message of a prophet
False prophets make a show of giving lip service to the Word of God – but really have very little use for it – cf. Joel Osteen – throw out a couple of verses or references here and there … then preach his false message of personal fulfillment and prosperity – no different than how political leaders like to adorn their speeches with a verse or phrase taken out of context – just something that sounds nice to serve their purposes at the time; not submitting themselves to obedience to the Word of God
Message of John 1:4-9; 3:19-21
Message of 1 John 1:5-6
People today don’t want doctrine and sound teaching
Ps. 19:8; Ps. 36:9; 119:105; Prov. 6:23; 2 Pet. 1:19;
VI. REVELATION FROM THE OCCULT LEADS TO THE JUDGMENT OF DIFFICULTY AND DEPRIVATION
“And they will pass through the land”
Van Parunak: That is, the land. The clause “pass through it” is the language of pilgrims traveling through an alien land. It echoes the reports of the spies in Num 13:32; 14:7, describing their journey through a land that they did not yet possess, and is the language of Israel’s request to traverse other lands during their wandering.
Beall: or through the condition of darkness = antecedent of “it”
A. All Types of Difficulties – “hard-pressed”
B. Extreme Deprivation and Hunger – “and famished,”
In Isaiah, God sarcastically rebukes Israel for practicing astrology,
“…For you have trusted in your wickedness… Therefore evil shall come upon you… trouble shall fall upon you… Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, And the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from what shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble, The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame…” -Isaiah 47:10-14a
VII. CONTACT WITH THE OCCULT EXPRESSES ITSELF ULTIMATELY IN BITTER ANGER AND FRUSTRATION
(WITH NO HOPE FROM HEAVEN ABOVE OR THE EARTH BENEATH)
A. Reaction of Bitter Anger
“and it will turn out that when they are hungry, they will be enraged”
Van Parunak: “they shall fret themselves,”–The simple verb (Qal) means “to be angry.” This is the only place that it is used reflexively. The second characteristic of those who have rejected the Lord and his law is that they stir themselves up to anger. Their anger is not a justifiable response to an external wrong, but something they cultivate in themselves.
Chiastic structure in these next few phrases
1. Directed Against Human Leaders
“and curse their king”
2. Directed Against God
“and their God”
B. Reaction of Hopeless Frustration — No Hope or Relief or Deliverance
1. From Heaven Above
“as they face upward.”
2. From the Earth Below
“Then they will look to the earth, and behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish;”
Look at the worship of Mother Earth in our day; environmentalists put a supreme priority on our responsibility to be the caretaker of earth’s limited resources;
We are not advocating irresponsibility with the quality of our air and water … but neither are we paranoid as if we somehow control the fate of this earth; God is going to blow it all up in His timing and create a new heaven and new earth; we are not going to be able to preserve this earth – and why would we want to when God has something better in store for us!
VIII. REVELATION FROM THE OCCULT ENDS IN CONSIGNMENT TO PERPETUAL DARKNESS
“and they will be driven away into darkness.”
Intensifying cycle of darkness ending with eternal judgment in the lake of fire where you get to have contact with the occult — instead of the God of Holiness and Truth – for all eternity
Motyer: The prevailing motif is darkness, for which Isaiah uses here three different words. They had loved darkness, the darkened rooms in which they consulted the shrouded dead, and divine justice has given them what they loved: darkness all around and a dark future ahead, the nemesis of abandoning their God and of refusing g his testimony and law.
Where do those who give themselves over to the occult end up?
– No victory and freedom in life
– No meaning or purpose
– No evolution into higher forms of existence
– No bright future
Revelation 21:8 says of “…those who practice magic arts …their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur… the second death” (NIV). Those who practice witchcraft (sorcery) will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21).
Curiosity can be a dangerous thing. Just in these short verses we have found 8 reasons to avoid all contact with the occult.
“Should not a people consult their God?” Let’s rejoice in the sufficiency of God’s revelation and His wisdom in giving us direction and guidance as His beloved children.