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Bible verses about Sorcery
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 19:31

The Bible is not in the least ambiguous about what God thinks on the subject of the occult. It plainly condemns the practice of witchcraft and similar sorceries. Notice Leviticus 19:31, for instance, which condemns consulting mediums: “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” A few verses later, God adds, “And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people” (Leviticus 20:6). This is as good as a prophecy of Saul's demise. See also Deuteronomy 18:9-14, which names practitioners of witchcraft, soothsayers, interpreters of omens, sorcerers, conjurors, mediums, spiritists, necromancers, and diviners as abominations to the Lord.

The New Testament is just as condemnatory as the Old. However, instead of legislating against sorcery and the like—except where Paul lists sorcery as a work of the flesh, mentioned between “idolatry” and “hatred” (Galatians 5:20; see I Samuel 15:23)—the writers recount experiences of Jesus and the apostles battling against it. For instance, on the island of Paphos, the apostle Paul stood against Elymas the sorcerer, really a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus, saying, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). The episode in Acts 16:16-18 reveals that a slave girl diviner, who greatly annoyed Paul by following him around for many days, was in fact possessed by a demon, “a spirit of divination.” The second-to-last chapter of Revelation states plainly that sorcerers will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8; see also 22:15).

This is sufficient proof that God considers the practice of all forms of occultism to be a moral outrage. He is not by any means involved in them and wants His people to avoid them, forbidding them to consult them or dabble in them in any way. This most important point indicates that God had nothing to do with the events at En Dor, except to allow them to move His purpose along, removing Saul to place David on Israel's throne.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What Happened at En Dor?


 

Numbers 22:7-14

The princes come to Balaam and tell him what Balak has asked. Then, when Balaam goes to God, he leaves out some of what the princes said. After God gives His answer, Balaam reports back to the princes, this time leaving out some of what God said. Finally, when the men return to Balak, all they say is, "He is not coming."

So, we can see a great deal of deception going on, in which each party tries to slant the conversations to its advantage. The princes certainly do not want Balak angry at them because they failed in their mission, and Balaam did not want to tell the princes all that God had said to him because he wants them to come back with more money.

We cannot take this story at face value. This is what Balaam did for a living; this is how he made his money. He was a sorcerer for hire—for pay—and he is negotiating here. We have just read a sorcerer's negotiation for his hire.

The first thing Balaam did wrong (from our perspective) he did immediately: The princes waltz into his courtyard, saying, "Balak wants you to come and curse Israel for him." Balaam replies, "Oh. Let me think about that. In the meantime, why don't you stay the night? Here, I'll put you up and feed you." He probably entertained them—perhaps he performed parlor tricks for them. But, in such a situation, what should a Christian have done? What should just a good person have done? He should have said, "Go back to your master!" and not even listened to them.

The apostle John tells us what to do should anyone come to our house and wants us to do evil, to go against the Lord God:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (II John 10-11)

Immediately, then, Balaam becomes complicit in the sins of Balak. He should have said, "No. I'm taking my shingle down. I will not curse Israel." But instead he says, "Why don't you stay the night? I'll see if God gives me guidance in this matter."

It is probable that he did not expect God to say a word to him. His words were merely a ploy to get the princes interested and drag the negotiation out. He was putting on his diviner's hat and doing a little acting here. "Oh, I can't make this decision on my own! I must consult the gods. Stay here overnight, and in the morning I will tell you if God has come to me in a dream or a vision to tell me what I can do!"

He was playing the charlatan with them because most of the time, a demon did not come to him and say, "Okay, go ahead and do this," or "Don't do that." Balaam probably manufactured most of his "visitations." However, if a demon did communicate with him and was behind his sorcery, it makes Balaam even more evil. At the very least, he was giving the princes his pitch.

God surprises him by actually answering him! He starts off by asking him, "Who are these men with you?" making the man explain himself, which Balaam does. Then, incredibly, Balaam makes his pitch to God! "God, let me curse them!" God responds emphatically, "No! No! No! You shall not go with them. You shall not curse them. I have blessed them."

In the morning, Balaam tells Balak's princes, "Go back to your land. The Lord refused to give me permission."

We can give Balaam credit for this: He actually does what God told him and sent them away with their diviner's fee in their hands. He made no money. However, we can read into this that he did it, not because of the fear of God, but because of the thought that, "Hey, maybe this will help the negotiations if I send them away, because they might come back, and bring a bigger bag of gold with them to try and convince me. If I play hard to get, and they really want me, I could make a killing."

We need to remember that all the authors who mention Balaam after this write about him being greedy for profit at Israel's expense. We must include this fact in our understanding of what was happening here. God obviously inspired it to be written several times in His Word that this was how Balaam worked. He was avariciously negotiating a higher fee.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Balaam and the End-Time Church (Part 1)


 

Deuteronomy 18:10-12

God considers these things to be idolatrous; they honor demonic spirits, and thus He calls them abominations or detestable things, things that He hates. Interestingly, He says these practices are a reason why He sent Israel in to dispossess these people. We do not want to practice customs that ultimately bring on God's wrath and destruction.

In Leviticus 20:6, God likens spiritism to prostitution, the physical counterpart to spiritual prostitution, idolatry. To God, witchcraft and occultism are similar to sexual immorality, but one is physical and the other is spiritual. Which is worse—physical or spiritual prostitution? Both defile the purity God desires in our flesh and in our spirit (II Corinthians 7:1). This linking of spiritism with sexual sins and idolatry occurs elsewhere (Exodus 22:16-20; I Samuel 15:22-23). Witchcraft is equated with them because it is both prostitution and idolatry.

When a Christian meddles in spiritism of any kind, whether witchcraft, sorcery, divination, consulting a medium or fortune-teller, or even reading a horoscope, he undermines his relationship with God—just as a man who visits a prostitute damages his relationship with his wife. Someone else is coming between the two covenanted parties, causing division. Occultism puts a wedge between God and the Christian; he might as well bow to an idol. It produces the same result: to drive him away from God.

The New Testament takes the same approach as the Old:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, . . . of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

The apostle Paul speaks of adultery, fornication, uncleanness, and licentiousness—all with at least overtones of sexuality—then he mentions idolatry and immediately thereafter sorcery! It cannot be just a coincidence that they all fall in this order. Those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God because they are not fulfilling their covenant with God.

"Sorcery," intriguingly, is pharmakeia in Greek, from which we derive our words "pharmacy" and "pharmaceutical." Diviners, enchanters, witches, and sorcerers employed drugs and other potions to put them or their clients "in the spirit" so their "magic" would work. The drugs, then, came to stand for sorcery of all kinds. For the same reason, drug use is part of the celebration among the more serious Halloween devotees today.

The Bible's teaching on this is consistent. Spiritism, the occult, is a form of idolatry, a kind of spiritual prostitution. Its end is separation from God and eventual destruction.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Halloween


 

1 Samuel 28:14-20

The internal evidence from the narrative reveals a number of significant details to conclude that the spirit the medium saw was not Samuel but a demon impersonating him. One of the most obvious clues is that the text tells the reader outright—twice!—that the Lord would not answer Saul (I Samuel 28:6, 15-16), and there is no way that God would answer him through a lying spirit during an abominable séance! One of the points of the story is to show what desperate people will do when they are cut off from God, in fear for their lives, and without hope.

Yet, this does not mean that the demon does not give Saul a truthful answer. Acting as if it were Samuel, the demon wounds the king with the cruelest words it can use, complaining about being disturbed in his rest, mocking Saul for seeking him, and rubbing it in that God had left him and become his enemy. It reminds him of one of Samuel's prophecies—given when Saul had disobeyed God's instruction about the punishment of Amalek and its king, Agag (see I Samuel 15)—foretelling that the kingdom would be torn from him and given to another, David (I Samuel 15:23, 26-28). Finally, it predicts that both he and his sons would die in the next day's battle against the Philistines, a reasonable assumption considering how overmatched Saul's forces were.

The demon's words have the desired effect: “Immediately, Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night” (I Samuel 28:20). Playing on Saul's fears and weakness, the demon succeeds in bringing the big man low, destroying any remnant of hope. Later, after finally eating and resting (verses 21-25), he leaves the medium's house a completely broken man.

So, what happened at En Dor?

1. At the end of his rope and highly susceptible to suggestion, Saul was ready to clutch at any straw of hope for a better outcome.

2. The medium was a fraud, bilking people of their money by preying on their superstitions. The spirit's appearance shocked her.

3. At most God allowed a demon to impersonate Samuel and pronounce Saul's doom to him, to give him the truth from the only source he had ever trusted to speak straight to him.

In the end, the story of Saul and the medium at En Dor is a morality play of sorts, an object lesson to teach how dangerous it is to forsake God and turn to the counsels of demons through sorcery and divination. It is a path of fear, despair, lies, curses, and death. It records the sad and tragic end of a man who had shown such great potential but who had allowed jealousy and pride to bring him and his house to ruin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What Happened at En Dor?


 

1 Samuel 28:15

We must consider King Saul's state of mind. Early in his reign, under the tutelage of Samuel, Saul had been the great champion of Israel, pushing its enemies back and making good progress in forging a nation out of the twelve tribes. Yet, just about the time David came on the scene, he began to display severe emotional problems, exacerbated by “the Spirit of the LORD depart[ing] from Saul” and “a distressing spirit from the LORD troubl[ing] him” (I Samuel 16:14). Evidently, God allowed a demon to cause Saul distress—perhaps severe melancholy and fits of sullenness and anger—and only David's playing of his harp drove the demon away (verse 23).

Once David had slain Goliath and begun to receive acclaim from the people, Saul became murderously jealous of his young servant. Saul's distress soon warped into real anger (I Samuel 18:8) and suspicion (verse 9), and the next time David came to play his harp for Saul, the king cast a spear at him, shouting, “I will pin David to the wall!” (verses 10-11). The younger man escaped, only to have the scene repeated sometime later (I Samuel 19:9-10). Not long thereafter, David had to flee and hide in the wilderness.

We see, then, that Saul was highly susceptible to demonic influence and emotionally unstable. The distressing spirit that God allowed to torment him had played with his emotions for years, and it is likely that as he aged, as David eluded capture, and as the Philistines grew in strength, Saul only became more depressed and fearful. By the time he was camped on the slopes of Mount Gilboa, brooding over the advance of the Philistine army into camp on the opposite hillside, he was in a state of severe misery and near-terror, knowing that no happy ending awaited him the next day.

These three factors provide the background for the story in I Samuel 28: God is always against those who practice sorcery; Satan and his demons can appear as ministers of righteousness; and Saul himself, emotionally unbalanced, was predisposed to the sway of a demon. Knowing these things makes all the difference in how we understand the events at En Dor.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
What Happened at En Dor?


 

Nahum 3:1-4

God directs this prophecy against Nineveh, not Israel, but it gives us insight into the way God perceives matters and their uses. He considers as harlotry their military power and its use against others. In addition, God repeats His earlier statement that dealing in the occult, sorcery, is harlotry.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great


 

Find more Bible verses about Sorcery:
Sorcery {Nave's}
 




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