What about occultic practices? (Part 1)

Since Halloween is approaching fast, this new series of blogs will examine the occult.  What does the word mean?  What about occultic practices such as casting spells, predicting the future, and contacting the dead?  Can a Christian be involved in these practices?  If not, why not? 

To start, the definition of the word “occult” means things hidden or mysterious.  It also means things dealing with the mystic arts.  There are two extremes to avoid when this topic arises: disbelief and fascination.  Some people dismiss all references to the supernatural as childish and immature.  They don’t believe there is anything to demonic possession or the realm of angelic creatures, so it is pointless to try to explain their existence.  The other extreme accepts the belief in the supernatural and wants to actually engage in these practices.  The thinking is that if these practices work, why not try them to receive their power?  I think it makes most sense to be aware of the reality of the supernatural and to obey God when He says to avoid these occultic practices.

But where does God address this?  Read Deuteronomy 18:9-13.  As the Israelites are entering the land of Canaan, God warns them to not imitate the occultic practices of the people who live there:

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.  You must be blameless before the Lord your God.”

The first forbidden and occultic practice mentioned is human sacrifice.  Back in the days of Joshua (approximately 1400 BC), the Canaanites worshiped gods like Baal, Chemosh and Molech.  Baal was the god of fertility and rain.  To offer sacrifices to Baal was to invite his blessings.  For instance, worshipers would kill their children for Baal in the hope that he would send rain on crops and bring a plentiful harvest. 

Since the Israelites would see this horrific practice, God clearly commands them to not kill their children.  Unbelievable as it is, later the Israelites would indeed sacrifice their own children to foreign gods.  Not only would the people worship another god, but they would also kill their children.  This is one of the reasons for the judgment of God that fell on the disobedient Israelites, according to 2 Kings 17:16-18.  It says, “They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols cast in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshiped Baal.  They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sought omens and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.  So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence.”

It is the same way for those who worship the devil today.  Some Satanists believe that he will give them things if they sacrifice to him.  For these Satanists,  power is given to worshipers through the taking of life.  Check to see if your local Humane Society sells any black cats at this time of year.  Chances are that they don’t, since the remains of these creatures are later found ritualistically slaughtered. 

Even as people try to get what they want, God has provided what all of humanity really needs: a way back to Him.  Through Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross. we can be forgiven of all sins, no matter how brutal or inhuman.

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