You see ads from time to time from people claiming to be psychics. A psychic is a person who claims to be able to identify information hidden from the normal senses, particularly involving telepathy or clairvoyance, or who perform acts that are apparently inexplicable by natural laws. People sometimes go to psychics to inquire about a love interest, a business matter, or some aspect of their future. Some claim such powers come from hidden spiritual knowledge taping into spiritual energy. Some even claim Biblical prophets were examples of such knowledge and power and it can be available to you and I if properly trained.
Is this Biblical? Does God give men such powers and approve of it’s use? Where did the Prophets (of the Bible) get their power and how did they use it?
27 “A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.”
First a few definitions. A medium is a person who uses “his or her psychic or intuitive abilities to see the past, present and future events of a person by tuning into the spirit energy surrounding that person. This means mediums rely on the presence of non-physical energy outside of themselves for the information relevant to the person being read.”
A psychic is a person who “tune into the energy of people or objects by feeling or sensing elements of their past, present and future. Simply put, psychics rely on their basic sense of intuition and psychic ability to gather information for the person being read.”
As the above cited article states, “a psychic is not necessarily a medium, but a medium is a psychic.” According to our passage from Leviticus a medium was to be put to death.
10 There shall not be found among you anyone xwho burns his son or his daughter as an offering,5 anyone who ypractices divination or ztells fortunes or interprets omens, or aa sorcerer 11 or a charmer or ba medium or a necromancer or cone who inquires of the dead, 12 dfor whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And ebecause of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God,
Once again we see that those who practice divination, tells fortunes, interprets omens, is a sorcerer, a charmer, or a necromancer should be driven out and are an abomination before the Lord. It doesn’t matter what they claim the source of their ability is. No exception is given for those who claim their power comes from God.
How did the Apostles respond when they came upon someone with the power of divination?
16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. (Acts 16:16-18)
While this slave girl apparently was able to foretell the future, they cast a demon out of her. The true source of her power was demonic. While she presumably had some ability it was demonic in it’s source and a violation of God’s law. In the book of 1 Samuel, Saul consults with a medium. He wanted to know what his future would be and why he was being pursued. What did God think about his consorting with a medium?
13 “So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. 14 He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.”
Notice a contrast is made between Saul consulting with a medium versus seeking guidance from the Lord. Saul should have sought the Lord. Instead he disobeyed God and sought a medium and God took his life from him. Clearly God did not approve.
What about the Prophets? First, we need to understand who the Prophets were. They were men, called by God, to speak messages from God to the nation of Israel. If you read the words of God spoken through the Prophets you will find that the vast majority of what they spoke was not prophetic (future telling) but rather God confronting Israel with a message of judgement and deliverance. At times they did speak of future events but only a minority of the time.
The signs of a true prophet were these:
In Deuteronomy 18:15-22 and Deuteronomy 13:1-5 God listed five certifying signs by which a true prophet of God could be recognized: (1) a prophet must be an Israelite, “from among [his] own brothers” ( Deut 18:15 ) (Balaam is the exception that proves this rule); (2) he must speak in the name of the Lord (“If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name” [ Deut 18:19 ]); (3) he must be able to predict the near as well as the distant future (“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken” [ Deut 18:22 ]); (4) he must be able to predict signs and wonders ( Deut 13:2 ); and (5) his words must conform to the previous revelation that God has given ( Deut 13:2-3 ).
Notice they were all Israelites. Anyone today, claiming to be a modern-day prophet, cannot claim to be in the line of the OT Prophets if he’s not a Jew. Secondly, he must claim to speak in the name of the Lord and his prophecies can never fail to come true. One false prophecy and he is to be considered a false prophet. His message must not ever contradict God’s past revelations.
Prophets spoke as God directed up until the coming of Christ. John the Baptist was the last of the Prophets though Jesus was a prophet but much more than a prophet. We have no more need of prophets because:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son (Hebrews 1:1)
These “last days” refers to the time period between Christ’s first coming and his future second coming. We are in the last days now. The need for the Prophets has been done away with as we now have Christ. The Prophets did not speak by their own will or for their own purposes. They never prophesized for financial gain nor to answer man’s inquiry.
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20)
Another thing to note about the prophets is that prior to their calling by God they never prophesized. The also never did it outside of God’s express will and only when God had a message for them to speak.
Now let’s consider those who are modern-day psychics. One such person is Gary Spivey. On his official website his title is “Psychic, Medium Spiritual Healer.” His own claim to be a medium is clearly in violation to our passage from Leviticus. His bio goes on to describe how his prophetic gifts began as a child. Yet none of his predictions were said to be “from the Lord.” Later he appeared on radio and television which lead him to be “ doing private sessions with people where he could help them with any problem they might have from love and relationship questions to channeling a passed love one, or miraculously healing people from physical ailments.”
Once again we find necromancy (talking to the dead) and speaking not as God commanded (in the age where there are no more prophets). He also does so for financial profit. None of these things are consistent with the Bible.
How do such people ever have any insight or correct predictions? The answer is by the power of demons.
“Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (1 Corinthians 11:14-15)
While demons do not know the future (beyond what God has revealed), they are able to gather vast amounts of information and have lived for all of human history so have tremendous insight into human thinking and activity. This gives them the ability to make predictions that have far greater chances of coming true than anything we could make. Why would they do so? Satan’s highest aim to is keep us from God. He is a master of deception and one of his greatest deceptions is selling us a brand of spiritually that we find appealing, and almost Christian, yet is far from it. Anything to keep us from following as true disciples of Christ. It is appealing to man to have spiritual power. Organizations like the Masons have gained members for centuries by appealing to their possession of hidden knowledge. Our egos want us to possess something others don’t. We want to have special powers that only those who are “enlightened” can possess. Make no mistake. Satan can heal so not all healing is of God. If it will further his purposes he will heal.
Does God heal today? Of course, he does but generally quietly and without fanfare. He also only does so when it is His will. We have no ability to bring about God’s healing. While we are told to pray and ask in faith, not doubting, our prayers are always subject to God’s sovereign will. God never puts His power at our disposal to wield as we will. Faith can move mountains but only when God wills.
It should be clear that no Christian should ever consult with a psychic or medium. We should never “channel” or consort with the dead or those who have “passed over.” Once again Satan can make us think such things are happening. He can appear as anything, or anyone, he wants and having existed since before mankind he knows all about our passed love ones and specific knowledge only they and us share. He can easily deceive us into thinking we are hearing from a loved one. We should never trust such experiences when they clearly contradict the revealed will of God. We are not to seek the future nor expect special powers simply by special knowledge. God instructed us to pray for the sick and call the elders to pray for them but not to seek a psychic or medium to heal them.
We have all we need and all God has revealed to us in His Word. We need not nor should not seek other knowledge and should avoid those who claim to know “secret things” hidden from us. If you can read the Bible then you can know all things that God has made available to man to know.
One final note. In 1 Corinthians 12:10 and Romans 12:6 the gift of prophecy is listed among the spiritual gifts. What is this gift of prophecy? As noted earlier, the gift of prophecy was far more about “forth-telling” than “fore-telling.” Forth-telling was when a Prophet declared the will of God, gave messages of warning or deliverance, and in other ways spoke to influence the people of God. Only on occasion did it include fore-telling (i.e. predicting the future). In that sense a modern-day pastor can be considered a “prophesier” as he is speaking forth the counsel of God. With the completion of the NT canon, prophesying changed from declaring new revelation to the completed revelation God had already given.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)
Jude speaks of the faith that was “once for all delivered”, meaning the revelation has been made complete. The modern gift of prophecy is that of teaching and proclaiming those things already revealed by God. There are some Christians and churches today who believe God speaks special messages of revelation to individuals. Whether you believe that or not we know a few things. First, any such message must be tested against the Word of God. God never contradicts Himself and would never give a message contrary to His revealed will. Second, such messages when given in the Bible were never for personal gain or financial use. God forbids us to seek out the counsel of those who claim to be able to channel spirits, energy, or fore-tell the future. Personal experience is not a substitute for the revealed will of God. I will not personally judge someone who claims a word from God but I will test that word against Scripture and understand that such “words” are still subject to human frailty and error and not on par with the verbally inspired written Word of God. They never take the place of Scripture nor are on par with it. The focus of our faith should be God’s written revelation not ours or someone else’s personal experiences. There is not hidden meaning or spiritual powers yet to be discovered.
It is fashionable these days, at least here in America, to claim belief in “God.” America is still largely a Judea-Christian country at least in terms of our culture. A large percentage of Americans still attend church and profess a faith. Even among those who do not regularly attend church believe in “God” is still high. Some speak of a “higher power” that helps them overcome alcoholism or disease. Some scientists claim we have a “faith gene” that predisposes us to believe in something outside ourselves or perhaps within ourselves but something divine or more powerful than ourselves. Such belief, it is claimed, can create a positive state of mind that empowers us. So it is fashionable to believe in some kind of higher power unless you are a hardcore atheist.
America is full of spirituality but feathers get ruffled when one tries to define that spirituality particularly in definite terms. When your “higher power” becomes Jesus Christ and not just any “Jesus Christ” but the Jesus of the New Testament then well you are simply going too far. Now you are being exclusive and definitely not tolerant. You see in modern society “tolerance is next to godliness.” So we want a “higher power” but we want that “higher power” to be a bit ill-defined and there when we need it but otherwise respecting the boundaries of our lives and the beliefs of others. Sort of a god who is like a genie in a bottle. Rub the bottle when you need him but otherwise he stays in the bottle and does not interfere with your life.
Christians get into trouble because we know things about our “higher power.” See our “higher power” revealed Himself to mankind through the prophets in the Old Testament and principally through the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. He also sent His Holy Spirit to inspire men to further His revelation. Thus we have the Bible – Old and New Testaments. We believe not just in a concept but in a real, personal God who has revealed Himself to us. We don’t call him “higher power” but rather we call Him God, Lord, Jesus Christ. Since He has revealed Himself to us we know many things about Him and about what He expects of us. Now there is a particularly distasteful subject. God expects things from us. We like our higher powers much more benign. They are supposed to grant us our wishes but expect nothing in return. The thought of a God who holds us accountable just takes the fun out of the whole spirituality game! Spirituality is fun when it has no rules or we get to make up the rules. As soon as we say God made up the rules then we have crossed that line in the sand and stepped on a whole lot of toes…
Now let’s go back to the days not long after Jesus ascended into heaven. Fifty days to be exact on the Day of Pentecost which was a Jewish feast day. The Book of Acts of the New Testament in chapter two describes for us an amazing event that took place on that day.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.” (from the NIV translation)
Much could be written, and has, about this passage so I am not going to try and deal with all of it. What I want to focus on is verse 13. What has happened is that a group of uneducated hicks suddenly were able to speak in foreign languages and dialects such that people from all over the known world were able to hear and understand them in their native languages. This was a miracle. Men who were not even eloquent in their own native tongues were suddenly speaking such that men from all over the world could understand them in their native tongues. God was pretty BIG that day. Most were amazed and in awe but predictably there we some who, unable to explain the clear miraculous event and unwilling to consider the implications of this being a miracle, mocked the Apostles and accused them of being drunk. Now that’s a sensible explanation! If you don’t have an answer just make fun of them!
Have you ever known anyone to get smarter when drunk? Ever seen a drunk in a bar suddenly speak fluent Arabic despite never having studied the language? Doesn’t happen does it? No in fact most drunks have difficulty speaking clearly in their own native language much less speaking a language they know nothing of. To suggest these men were speaking fluently in foreign languages due to excessive drinking was probably something a drunk would say! It made no sense. Yet that is what happens when God is too big. Rather than marvel and accept some mock and come up with ridiculous explanations that strain credulity. God was getting too big for their comfort so let’s just side step the whole issue and accuse the Apostles of being drunk. There. Problem solved.
I’ve seen TV shows that have tried to come up with natural explanations for miracles like the parting of the Red Sea. Turns out it was a sand bar that blocked the water with just the right wind conditions. Sorry but that doesn’t even explain the “walls of water” described in the Biblical account. See we just can’t have a Big God who can miraculously part water so we have to find another explanation. Oh we’ll throw God a bone and say he was smart enough to know about that sand bar and the wind requirements such that he made it all happen at precisely the correct time. Sure God can and has used natural causes to accomplish His will but He is far bigger than that. He spoke the universe into existence out of nothing. You don’t get any bigger than that! Still we have scientists like Stephen Hawking postulating multiple parallel universes (see the matter for our universe came from the collapse of a parallel universe) so no need for a God to create matter thank you. Well Stephen where did the matter for the very first of all these parallel universes come from? Oh well it just spontaneously appeared. Well why didn’t you say that in the beginning? Yes who needs God now that we have spontaneously self-creating matter! No need for a Big God who is self-existent and eternal. The funny thing is that in this silly attempt to explain away the need for God the atheist almost ends up with a “Small God.” See his God is matter. That matter had to be intelligent did it not? I mean how did it know how to form and create stars and planets? How did it figure out the speed of light and the power of gravity? Seems that matter had to have rules encoded into it’s very essence. How? I thought matter was just well matter. Kind of dumb on it’s own but when used properly can do amazing things. Take clay for example. Clay is pretty dumb but put it on a potter’s wheel and let some expert hands shape it and you can create some amazingly beautiful (and useful) things out of clay. The clay is still dumb but in the hands of a master that dumb clay ends up looking pretty good. Somehow though Stephen Hawkin’s matter had to be Smart Matter since we can’t have a Master (i.e. God) directing it. Ok so really what we have is self-intelligent matter. Maybe not as well defined as the God of the Bible but that’s how we tend to like our “higher powers.” Stephen Hawking’s “higher power” is matter. Whatever works for you Stephen. I mean isn’t that the point? If that “higher power” helps you feel better about yourself then who cares what it is right? At least intelligent matter doesn’t tell you how to live your life!
All the evidence for God aside, to me in comes down to a choice. Either you believe like Stephen Hawking that matter just somehow self-created and had intelligence and the rest followed or there is a self-existent, eternal God who is intelligent and created matter, the laws of physics, and created this one and only universe and put us in it. So intelligent matter or intelligent God? I’ll go with God. Last I checked matter didn’t give us any revelations, enable simple Galilean men to speak foreign languages, or raise people from the dead. So I’m going to go with the God who has done all those things and more. Yes a Big God.