And what about the increase in the interest of magic and the occult in the world today? Is it becoming more and more normal? Has the evil eye replaced the cross as the trendy new thing to wear and why?
Jeremiah 15 & 16
1 Thessalonians 2.1-20
Witchcraft, Halloween & Conscious Issues
Jeremiah 15 & 16:
Magic, Mediums, Witchcraft & Spiritists
Today’s reading in Jeremiah is pretty shocking in some ways. God declared judgment on His people. He said some would die “gruesome deaths,” that some would be “consumed by the sword” and others would be “meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth” (16.4). He said this would happen because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem” (15.4) and “… you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me” (16.12).
“Each one,” so while Manasseh was singled out because of his leadership in doing evil, they weren’t being judged just because of something he had done, but because they had done the same things and even worse. If you go back to 2 Kings 21 you can read just what the sins of Manasseh were. It says:
3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.
11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols),
16 Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.
It was bad enough that the people had returned again and again to their idolatry, but Manasseh brought the worship of false gods right into the house of the true and living God! This would be like a husband bringing his lover right into his wife’s bed and then setting up a permanent place in their house for him to go and commit adultery with her.
He “also made his son pass through the fire.” He sacrificed his own son as a burnt offering to one of these demonic gods.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, he “practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums.”
We read something like that and think, “Wow, those people were really horrible!” But does a passage like this have any application to us?
Ephesians 5 says:
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
We’re to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Look at that list again in 2 Kings 21.6 above: soothsaying, witchcraft, spiritists and mediums.
Soothsaying is the use of supernatural spirits to affect this world or predict the future. Witchcraft is the practice of magic, the use of spells, or the invocation of spirits. Spiritism is the belief that the dead communicate with us in some way. A medium is someone used to communicate in some of these ways.
That would include palm reading, horoscopes, so-called white magic, crystals, new age religion, or spiritism of any kind.
In our part of the country, I have heard things like this many times, “Well, my mother says it’s OK to go to this woman who removes curses. She says she believes in Jesus.” She may believe in Jesus, but James said, “… even the demons believe …” (Jas. 2.19). We’re to have no fellowship with those things.
Other people say, “I read my horoscope for fun, but I don’t really believe it.” Why would we want to play around with anything that might be displeasing to God? Genesis 3 says that the serpent was more subtle than all the beasts of the field. His question to Eve was “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3.1). In other words, “Did God really say …?” He’s still asking the same question in various ways today.
In fact, there has been a major upswing in involvement with magic around the world and even in our nation’s capitol. That involvement includes the sacrificing of women and children. A practice that’s happening today.
Just as alarming is it’s normalization. One of the central figures in the social world of Washington D.C., a woman by the name of Sally Quinn, has written a book in which she comes out about her participation in the occult.
Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in his daily briefing quoted The Washingtonian Magazine who said:
“Beyond the particular anecdotes, this book is Quinn’s coming-out as an ardent believer in the supernatural. For the longest time, she declares, ‘I had been afraid to discuss my occultism for fear people would think I was crazy, and then I was reluctant to discuss my blossoming faith for fear my friends would think I had gone over the edge.’”
But as the Washingtonian went on,
“But now Quinn is going all in.”
Dr. Mohler said:
All in, indeed, for in this book and in the magazine profile, Sally Quinn documents her own participation in the occult to the extent that she says in her own words that she put three hexes on persons who subsequently and rather quickly died. Now what’s so important about this is that here you have a person who has been and still is at the very center of the social life of Washington D.C., the Capital of the United States of America. And now she is to use her own words all in when it comes to the occult and all out when she speaks about it in public. That tells us a great deal, of course, about Sally Quinn, but it also tells us a great deal about high society in Washington D.C., which upon reflection tells us a great deal about ourselves.
But a similar story appeared in Religion News Service from Greece. The headline,
“In Greece, the evil eye is trending.”
Jenny Lower tells us that,
“The term refers to negative energy caused by another’s jealousy, which Greeks believe can cause minor troubles and even physical symptoms for the victim.” The evil eye symbol, we are told, “is popping up everywhere, from handmade soap to chic hotel lobbies.”
… one person said and I quote, “The evil eye is like the new trendy cross.”
The most interesting dimension of this report is what becomes very clear, and that is that this return to superstitions comes in the midst of what is supposedly simultaneous turn to secularism to a secular worldview. But as we learn over and over again that secular worldview is never a) secular for long or b) as secular as many will claim. But the line in the article about the evil eye jewelry becoming a substitute for the cross, well that just tells us that those who have been wearing the cross as jewelry might well never have recognized it as meaning much more. But the ultimate issue here is the fact that what’s revealed about the secular worldview, once again, is that it’s a vacuum. And a vacuum never exists for very long. A vacuum is fragile, and eventually it is going to be filled by something. And what we see now is that if it is not filled by biblical authentic Christianity, it will be filled by something else perhaps in New Age spirituality, perhaps superstition, perhaps even the occult.
You can listen to all of Dr. Mohler’s briefing here. That day’s audio also includes a very interesting piece about the Kennedy family’s evolution on abortion.
Christians & Halloween
That brings us to Halloween. At this time of year, Christians sometimes wonder whether it’s OK to dress up or take part in Halloween activities. I think there’s some gray area here and needs to be considered prayerfully.
Some churches provide alternative events where children dress up, play games and get candy and treats. Some families take part in Halloween, but are careful about the costumes they wear. Other believers refuse to participate at all.
I believe costumes that are focused on the things of darkness (witches, goblins, death, etc.) would fall under “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” But there is nothing inherently sinful about dressing up in another kind of costume.
When our children were young we took them to church events rather than participate in activities that were questionable.
In recent years, my husband and I have bought candy and passed it out along with gospel material as an outreach to our neighbors, though if I still had children at home, I probably would not have.
After listening to Dr. Mohler’s report, I think we’ll have to pray about it before we make a decision about this year.
These are conscience issues. James 4.17 says:
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
In other words, if we are convinced in our hearts that it’s wrong to participate in something, we would be sinning if we do.
What does your family do and why? Has your view changed through the years?
May we all pray and seek God’s wisdom on this and every issue.
Today’s Other Readings:
This is the Day …
Verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
We are to rejoice, not just when the circumstances of life are to our liking, but all the time, every day, because of verse 21:
“For You … have become my salvation”!
Friends, Neighbors, and Brothers
“… better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.”
Many times our friends know us better, even, than our relatives. As Christians, it is often better to seek counsel from our brothers and sisters in Christ, than a sibling, especially if that sibling is not a believer.
1 Thessalonians 2.1-20:
Not Merely the Word of Men
Verse 13, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
Though we are to be like the Bereans, who searched the Scriptures to be sure what Paul taught them was the truth, once we know our leaders are speaking God’s truth, we need to take it to heart and act on it.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about some people’s attitudes about hell, the rapture, and ways to live like we’re expecting Jesus to come back soon, among other things.
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