by Jefferson David Tant
Witchcraft has been around for a long, long time. Way back in Leviticus 19:31, Israel is warned about such: “'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” The KJV refers to them as “familiar spirits” and “wizards.”
That first word “mediums” is from the Hebrew word which has the following meaning, “from the same as 1 (apparently through the idea of prattling a father's name); properly, a mumble, i.e. a water skin (from its hollow sound); hence a necromancer (ventriloquist, as from a jar):--bottle, familiar spirit.” The second word has the meaning, “properly, a knowing one; specifically, a conjurer; (by impl) a ghost:--wizard.”
In later centuries, warnings are still given about them, as Isaiah wrote, “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, that chirp and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? on behalf of the living should they seek unto the dead?” (Isaiah 8:19). The wicked king Manasseh even forced this on his son: “He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger” (II Kings 21:6).
And we find them centuries later in the New Testament. We remember that Paul and Silas got in trouble in the city of Philippi when they confronted a young woman who was practicing sorcery. “It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling” (Acts 16:16). Paul drove out her evil spirit, and when her masters saw their profit was gone, they dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities and raised up a mob who caused Paul and Silas to be beaten and thrown into prison.
In my work in South Africa, I studied with a young woman who seemed to be convinced concerning the gospel, but she was afraid that if she accepted it, evil spirits would bring harm. The “sangoma” is a traditional healer, who reads bones he has cast to make decisions. In sub-Sahara Africa, there is one traditional healer for every 500 people, while there is one medical doctor for every 400,000 people. Sangomas claim they can cure any disease, including aids. In working in Jamaica, I have come across Obeah, which is “spell-casting.” I had a spell cast on me one time, but evidently, the spell-caster wasn’t very good at it, as I felt no ill effects from it.
Well, what about the United States? Witchcraft, sorcery, or whatever you want to call it, is everywhere. When driving in your car, have you ever seen a sign in front of a building that says “Palm Reading?” “Spell Casting?” “Fortune Telling?” It’s all the same. Do you subscribe to your local newspaper? If so, you probably have a column entitled “Horoscope” in it. that’s basically a form of fortune-telling.
I rarely, if ever, look at this nonsense, but out of curiosity this morning, I looked to see what was said about those born under my sign, Pisces. It read, “Fear makes hair stand on end. This is how, in primitive times, when humans were furry, fear made humans appear bigger to predators. Today, you’ll find other ways to appear big.” I’ll have to admit that I laughed. At my age, I am losing my hair, so I don’t guess enough will stand up to scare away predators. I have also gotten a bit shorter and don’t weigh as much, so that’s not going to frighten predators. Maybe if I growl loudly enough it will help.
The newspaper actually pays people to write this nonsense. Then I read the omen for Cancer: “The person spreading goodwill, common decency and a cheerful smile — that is the one advancing the true spirit of humanity.’ Wow! Who would have ever thunk it? I never would have known that if someone practicing witchcraft hadn’t told me.
One of the popular posts in the newspapers a while back was Jeane Dixon (1918-1997), who appeared regularly in the newspapers with her prognostications. Among her “prophecies” which did not come to pass were
- Russia will be the first to land a man on the moon;
- “World War III will break out in October 1958; and
- Walter Mondale will be the Democratic candidate for president in 1964.
As we know, none of these came true. Yes, she did make some predictions that did come true. I might take a survey of several people and make a correct prediction of who our next president might be. But that would not be because some “spirit” told me. Anyone can make an “educated guess.” Some will come to pass, while others will not.
Let us take care that we do not fall for this fantasy. It may seem harmless, but it is the work of Satan, and we have been warned about this.
"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).