Thanks for joining today’s study to discuss what the Old and New Testaments say about the occult. To negate any confusion, let’s define the term. According to Wikipedia:
“The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of esoteric supernatural beliefs and practices which generally fall outside the scope of religion and science, encompassing phenomena involving otherworldly agency, such as magic, sorcery, and mysticism and their varied spells.”
Before we dive into Scripture, I will share two occult-related stories. First, years ago, my Bible study teacher said he did not read his horoscope because it was an occult practice. That impacted me, and I stopped reading mine.
Second, around where I live, numerous storefronts are located on all the main roads, offering tarot card readings, psychic mediums, and spiritual advisors. Occasionally, I fight the urge to patronize these establishments — curious about what might be revealed. Fortunately, that “urge” is always defeated by a little voice saying, “Trust God.”
Then, this past week, after feeling called to write about the occult, I rationalized how a psychic reading could be justified as “research.” But a nanosecond later, I recognized that rationalization emanated from a dark voice and rejected the temptation.
Why does the occult conflict with God? Compatible with my story, the Almighty God wants us to trust Him as the most powerful force in the universe. He knows our past, present, and future. God is our “spiritual advisor.” His door is always open with no credit card needed.
Furthermore, the Word of God forcefully warns against the occult. Let’s read some selected verses starting with the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible in order of appearance:
Leviticus, the Bible’s third book of the five books of Moses (known as the Torah), recorded all the laws and regulations for temple worship. Also included are rules for cleanliness, purity, holy days, and where God first proclaims to His people that engaging in the occult is a sin:
“‘You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes’ ” (Leviticus 19:26).
“ ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God’ ” (Leviticus 19:31).
“ ‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people’ “ (Leviticus 20:6).
“ ‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads’ ” (Leviticus 20:27).
If anyone is still unclear about God’s disgust for the occult, read the following passage from Deuteronomy — Torah’s fifth and last book, also the Hebrew Bible’s fifth book. In Deuteronomy, the God of Israel issued specific instructions about how His people were to worship in the Promised Land:
“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 nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so” (Deuteronomy 18: 9-14).
Knowing Deuteronomy, what does Saul, the first king of Israel, do? He consults a medium to call up the deceased prophet Samuel. King Saul tells his attendants:
“ ‘Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her.’ ‘There is one in Endor,’ they said. So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. ‘Consult a spirit for me,’ he said, ‘and bring up for me the one I name’ ” (1 Samuel 28:7-8). (Read the entire dramatic story in Chapter 28.)
And since the Lord knows how busy you are, He chronicled the story in 1 Chronicles, including its relevant lesson:
“Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).
Let’s contrast Saul’s unfaithfulness with King Josiah of Judah, whose actions were pleasing to God:
“Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:24).
In the book of Isaiah, God issued a warning mindful of when King Saul summoned the dead for advice:
“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19). (So, the next time you are invited to a séance, just say “no.”)
Turning to the New Testament, in Acts, after a violent incident with an evil spirit:
“…the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.” And then, those “who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly” (Acts:19:13-20), abbreviated.
In Galatians, St. Paul listed “acts of the sinful nature,” which included “idolatry and witchcraft” (Galatians 5:19-20), abbreviated.
And Paul also wrote in 2 Thessalonians:
“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
That verse neatly summarizes today’s lesson: The occult is Satanic. So now, whenever I drive by a psychic storefront, I will say, “Trust God” and “Get behind me, Satan.” You should too. Amen!
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible,” reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a proud sponsor of all the Museum of the Bible’s events for its five-month exhibition about the Shroud of Turin. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.
Author’s Note: Readers can find all previous volumes of this series here. The first 56 volumes are compiled into the book “Bible Study For Those Who Don’t Read The Bible.” Part Two, featuring volumes 57-113, will be published later this year.
Cross-posted at Townhall and Substack.