By Elizabeth Prata
I’ve been reading Isaiah through the Advent season. This time I’ve been appreciating the poetic language Isaiah uses. Isn’t it amazing how, each time you read through a book of the Bible, the Spirit orients our mind toward a different aspect? He can and does do this infinitely, eternally. The Word is living and active and eternal, so it’s a refreshing and lively journey through the scriptures every time, and every time is different.
The following verses stopped me in appreciation of how the language is used. These are in the NASB because that is the translation my study Bible is in-
A palace of strangers is a city no more, It will never be rebuilt. (Isaiah 25:2b)
The plumb line of emptiness. (Isaiah 34:11b)
From the ends of the earth we hear songs, “Glory to the Righteous One,” But I say, “Woe to me! Woe to me! Alas for me! The treacherous deal treacherously, And the treacherous deal very treacherously.”
The city of chaos is broken down; (Isaiah 24:10a)
In Isaiah 29:4 there is a phrase I especially appreciated for its poetic qualities, if not its content,
Then you will be brought low; From the earth you will speak, And from the dust where you are prostrate Your words will come. Your voice will also be like that of a spirit from the ground, And your speech will whisper from the dust.
Isaiah is pronouncing God’s judgment on them and what will happen if they do not repent. Curious about the ‘whispers from the dust’ part of the verse, I looked it up. It refers variously to one or two things. First, some interpret it that the Jerusalemites’ voice will be brought low, humbled. Second, it is sometimes interpreted along the lines of Isaiah 8:19 verse which specifically condemns necromancy. This parallel verse is pointed to:
When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isaiah 8:19)
Other translations say the necromancers mutter and chirp. So descriptive.
Necromancy is the practice of consulting a medium or spiritist in order to gain information about the future or to commune with the dead. It is also called sorcery, spiritism, or divination. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 1098) defines necromancy,
MEDIUM: One possessed by (Lev. 20:6) or consulting (Deut. 18:11) a ghost or spirit of the dead, especially for information about the future. Acting as a medium was punishable by stoning (Lev. 20:27); consulting a medium, by exclusion from the congregation of Israel (Lev. 20:6). The transformation of Saul from one who expelled mediums (1 Sam. 28:3) to one who consulted a medium at En-dor (28:8–19) graphically illustrates his fall.
The chirping and muttering of the spirits perhaps refers to the inarticulate sounds that must be interpreted by the medium. Consulting of mediums defiled the land and was described as prostitution. God’s people were to trust God in times of distress and not resort to other “gods” in an attempt to learn the future.
Necromancy even in professing Christian circles has not disappeared. In 2002 Roma Downey, star of Touched by an Angel and The Bible miniseries, contacted her dead ‘mother‘ on live television with the medium John Edward.
In this website it is helpfully broken down that “The art of necromancy is based on three premises:
1) The survival of the soul after death
2) The supernatural knowledge of the spirits
3) Communication between the living and the dead.
[N]ecromancy is considered the most condemned divination practice.”
1) Christians know the soul survives after death. That is a fact. The soul goes to one of two places, awaiting a body after the end of all things. It goes to hell or it goes to heaven.
2) Yet the soul does not have any knowledge of future events just because they have died and gone to the other side. The dead only know what is revealed to them by God, before and after death, either through general revelation or special revelation.
3) There is no communication between the living and the dead.
If a person “hears” from a dead person on ‘the other side’ they are most assuredly not hearing from a dead soul of a human, but from a demon. This is one reason necromancy is so condemned in the Bible. The practice also opens one up to further oppression or even possession (if not a Christian) by such demons.
Seek wisdom and knowledge from the only reliable source, God and His word as revealed to us within its pages. Why rely on whispers from the dust when we have the thunderous voice of many waters?