Posted in theology

The voluminous activity of satan and how he creates ‘acceptable sorceries’

By Elizabeth Prata

 Frieze depicting the Prophets Micah, Haggai, Malacchi, and Zechariah. By John Singer Sargent, Boston Public Library, CC Some rights reserved

Did you ever wonder how the Old Testament Prophets prophesied? Did you ever wonder about the false prophets and their unholy business? Well stay tuned, it’s a prophet-a-palooza today!

The Old Testament contains 39 books. Of these, they are generally divided as Pentateuch (the 1st five), Historical Books, Poetic & Wisdom Literature, and the Prophets. Of the 39 books, 41% are written by Prophets or contain major prophecies. 1 and 2 Samuel are part of the Historical section of the OT but Samuel was Israel’s first prophet and the books describe his emergence and activities as a prophet. (I did not include Lamentations as one of the prophetical books, but some do). Thus, the Old Testament is heavy with Prophets.

The Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. They are called ‘major’ due to their length and broadness of scope, not because of the content. The Minor Prophetical books are considered to be Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. They are dubbed ‘minor’ not due to their content but because these books are shorter and have a narrower focus.

Prophets foretold the future as given by God, but that is not ALL they did. Prophets were designated as a representative of God before the people. Sometimes, when they received God’s message they proclaimed it to the king of Israel. Another task they performed was to remind the people of their covenant with God as delivered by Moses. I know we’re all familiar with this one- Prophets told the people that there would be a coming judgment if they rebelled, but they also told of a coming blessing if they were obedient. They called the people to repent and return to God. They taught the people the Law. They were watchmen. So, not everything the Prophets did involved fore-telling. Sometimes they engaged in ‘forth-telling’ too.

A few common refrains in the prophetic books are “Thus sayeth the LORD,” which was the Prophets’ way of affirming that the prophecy was from God and not their own made-up speech; and “The word of the LORD came to me”. A seminary friend believes that when we read ‘the word of the LORD came to me’, as we see in Jeremiah 1:4, that it was Jesus coming to speak to the prophet in a pre-incarnate appearance. This made sense to me. After all, Jesus IS the Word (John 1:1). Whichever way it happened, the Prophetical words when they were delivered, were accepted as having come from God. Whether they liked the message or not!

Anyway, the true prophets operated in myriad ways. Sometimes they spoke a word that was given to them as I just mentioned. Sometimes they became a symbol, or acted out a symbol. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was a symbol of Israel’s adulterous relationship with false gods. Ezekiel in particular was called to perform ‘sign-acts’ or symbolical actions. He was tasked with laying on his side for a year in front of a model of a siege mound. Jeremiah was tasked with smashing clay pots in front of the audience who came to seek the word. (Jeremiah 19:10-13). Isaiah was told to preach barefoot and (nearly) naked. (Isaiah 20:1-2).

Satan is relentlessly active. So there were many false prophets, too. They had other methods of gaining information from the gods. Of course, there are no other gods. And the One True God wasn’t speaking to them, so they needed to devise other ways of appearing to have inside wisdom. The Bible speaks against many of these. I went and found all the verses condemning their practices and I was surprised to see there were so many! Many verses and many practices!

The Bible speaks against: soothsayers, magicians, necromancers, witches, mediums, fortune-tellers, sorcerers, sorceresses, omen-interpreters, charmers, one who inquires of the dead, diviners, dreamers… phew! That’s a lot of demonic activity! (Verses here)

In Exodus 7:10-12 we see that some of these magicians did actually possess dark powers. Satan is a powerful angel, capable of masquerading as an angel of light. He caused winds to destroy Job’s house. He caused lighting to fall. (Job 1:16, 18-19). Therefore, to a point, the magicians had powers to replicate Moses and Aaron’s miracles from God. But in the end, Aaron’s rod swallowed up the magicians’ rods and the limited extent of their power was reached.

In Deuteronomy 13:2 we see that occasionally a prophet or dreamer will predict some sign or wonder that does come to pass, in those cases, one must detect, the verse says, if they are leading you away from God.

The warning for us is that when we dabble, (more on that below), there actually does exist a darkness with powers that you will be inviting into your home, heart, or mind.

DEFINITIONS (from Logos 9: Factbook & Dictionaries)

Soothsayers: A phrase used in some English translations to describe one who practices divination, fortune-telling, or astrology. An example is Balaam.

Magician: One who attempts to manipulate one’s environment through incantations, spiritual assistance (or manipulation), curses, or blessings. Magicians of Nebuchadnezzar- were a group of men who served Nebuchadnezzar as magicians. Nebuchadnezzar favored Daniel and his friends over them.

Necromancer: “one who interrogates the dead,” as the word literally means, with the view of discovering the secrets of futurity (comp. 1 Sam. 28:7).

Diviner: Ritual action employed by someone to determine the will, knowledge, or plans of deities.

Fortune-teller: See Diviner, it is a synonym. “foretelling future events, or discovering things secret by the aid of superior beings, or other than human means.” Source- Easton’s Bible Dictionary.

Witch: Or sorceress, a female whose work was in divination and magic. Also, someone who dealt with drugs or herbs for occult purposes. Also, conjurer, someone who interprets omens. See 1 Samuel 28 about the witch of Endor. Trivia: If you’re familiar with the television show from the 1960s called Bewitched, Samantha the witch’s witch mother was named…Endor-a.

Sorcerer, sorceresses: from the Latin sortiarius, one who casts lots, or one who tells the lot of others. In Dan. 2:2 it is the rendering of the Hebrew mekhashphim, i.e., mutterers, men who professed to have power with evil spirits. The practice of sorcery exposed to severest punishment (Mal. 3:5; Rev. 21:8; 22:15). Easton’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

Mediums: 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. Source: Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

Omen-interpreter:  An omen is a phenomenon that is perceived to indicate something else, but especially something about future events. It’s also known as a sign. Omens are considered divine signs solicited and/or interpreted for the purpose of guiding human action. Observance of omens is well-attested as a practice in the ancient Near East—along with the corresponding practice of divination, which was used to discern the meaning of omens. Source-The Lexham Bible Dictionary. The Bible forbids the Israelites from interpreting omens.

See a cardinal and say it’s an omen from a departed relative? DON’T- it’s augury and it’s a forbidden dark practice. A bird is just a bird. EPrata photo

Charmer: one who practises serpent-charming (Ps. 58:5; Jer. 8:17; Eccl. 10:11). It was an early and universal opinion that the most venomous reptiles could be made harmless by certain charms or by sweet sounds. Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Dreamers: The visual and aural sensations that a sleeping person experiences. Dreams in the Bible are often a vehicle for divine oracles. A dreamer is a person who experiences unreal events that occur in the mind of a person during sleep. In ancient times dreams were often associated with messages from deities. Deuteronomy 13:3 says not to listen to dreamers.

The demonic activity in its various permutations is astonishing. Did you realize there had been so much?

W. L. Liefeld named and listed many of the demonic acts:

(1) chresmology, the “prognostication by seers and through oracles;”
(2) oneiromancy, the “practice of predicting future through the interpretation of dreams;”
(3) astrology, by the observation and interpretation of the planets and stars described in the horoscope;
(4) necromancy, the “consultation with the dead;”
(5) haruspicy, the “study of the entrails of animals;”
(6) augury, the “analysis of the movement of animals, and especially the birds;”
(7) omens and portents, the interpretation of different events in the natural world; and
(8) mechanical means, which include the interpretation of hydromancy (divination b)y means of water, including the color, ebb and flow, or ripples produced by pebbles dropped in a pool, pyromancy (divination by means of fire or flames), and cleromancy (casting of lots).

Annnd… still more-

There were multiple techniques used to solicit omens, including lecanomancy (observing the pattern of oil poured onto water) and libanomancy (observing smoke generated by a censer), but haruspicy (looking at the entrails of an animal) was the most prevalent (Farber, “Witchcraft, Magic and Divination,” 1904; Starr, The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

INTERESTING history of the Ouija Board here! Ouija also sparked the craze for ‘automatic writing’ that so many professing Christians engage in today.

From excavated texts we learn that the ancient world was filled with individuals who predicted future events or future courses of action by dreams, use of a divining rod, shaking marked arrows (in a quiver), consulting teraphim (figurine idols- remember, Rachel stole her father’s teraphim, Genesis 31:19), or examining animal livers (hepatoscopy).

The British Museum is filled with ancient Near Eastern texts about astrologers who observed signs in the heavens (eclipses, configurations of planets, sun and moon, stars with coronas and tails, stars forming the sign of the zodiac), or saw omens—both good and bad—in the heavens and on the earth (storms, earthquakes, the flight of birds, screaming hens, odd births, when a house begins to look old, etc.). Such persons are not prophets.

I post these at length to illustrate the past and current exceedingly active doings of satan and the demons he inspires to do evil in the world.

Are these practiced today? Absolutely! Do you read your horoscope in the newspaper? That’s astrology. Try to find water by dowsing? That’s divination. Do we say ‘knock wood’ or shudder if a black cat crosses our path? Do we say that the cardinal is a happy departed family member? Or the hoot of an owl means someone is going to die soon? You’re practicing augury. Magic 8 Ball, Ouija Board…none of these are acceptable because they are all forbidden by the Bible.

Have these become “Acceptable Divinations” in your life (with apologies to Jerry Bridges for paraphrasing his “Acceptable Sins” motif)?

The Magic 8 Ball, you asked ‘it’ a question, shook the ball and waited to see what answer would float up.

Many people publicly practice these today, even people who profess to be Christian. There are witches abounding who use Tarot cards to tell your fortune. ‘The Bible‘ and ‘Touched by an Angel‘ Actress Roma Downey engaged in necromancy on live TV by calling up her dead mother using a medium. Bethel Redding church & college, which professes to be Christian, teaches dream interpretation in their School of Prophets. So, they are dreamers according to the Bible, thus are in God’s bad books. Praying to the saints or to Mary is inquiring of the dead, AKA necromancy. Professing Christian Beth Moore tells of her dreams and visions, indulges in chresmology- she prognosticates future events, does automatic writing, and acts as a prophet and seer. Her condemnation is looming. Many other women of her ilk claim to hear words directly from God, thus claiming to be prophets.

Speaking of the Bethel School of Prophets, everything new was old once before. There seemed to be a cult of (false) prophets at Mari, at the Syrian – Iraq border. Balaam is associated with the activity here, according to texts unearthed in 1933 and 1967. These prophecies were normally delivered only to the King, not to the people, and were generally mild-to-favorable. There is no evidence that this cult of prophets and their alleged prophetic activity gave messages related
to the moral life of the nation or even the king.

If the Mari-area prophets chastised, they were gentle and minor. This is a big contrast with the difficult messages the Biblical prophets were instructed to give, sometimes at peril of their life!

Although Numbers 22:7 uses the noun “omen” and the word that has been translated “fees for divination”, Balaam is far from the standard role of a prophet in biblical literature. Joshua 13:22 views Balaam as one “who practiced divination.” The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

The only reliable prophetical information we have at present is in the BIBLE. Avoid all forms of sorcery, even those that have become so mundane in modern life it feels like they are acceptable. They’re not.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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