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M. S. Thirumalai
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M. S. Thirumalai
Desire to Know
Newspapers and weekly magazines abound in astrological predictions and statements every day for the benefit of their readers. I have noticed that some Christians also avidly read such notes and are eager to know what will happen to them that particular day, every week, and in the months ahead. Reading fortune cookies in the restaurants is a pastime of many at the dining table. While Christians in non-Christian nations are influenced by the local religious beliefs from which they were converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, secularized Christians in America and the other western nations are greatly disturbed in their careers and seek some kind of comfort and a peek into their future through such predictions. These astrological predictions are usually couched in general terms, and the individual who reads them will interpret it according to his own understanding and mood. Soon everyone becomes a slave to this curiosity.
Divination is born out of a desire to know the reasons in the present for the past, and what would happen in the future. Through divination people want to know the significance of the happenings in the present and to link the same with the past and the future. Divination is also used to know what goes on at present in another place. In times past, when people were separated from one another spatially, it was difficult to know what went on in each other's place. Divination was used by many mythological and historical characters for this purpose.
Divination as an Art
Divination has been developed into an art in the animistic, pantheistic, and polytheistic societies. A few successful predictions here and there keep divination a flourishing business even today. The name given today is "consultation with the psychic!" The unsuccessful predictions are many, but those given to divination easily forget and gloss over such unsuccessful predictions and cling to the few successful ones.
Reservations About the Source of Divination
Divination is practiced also by the practitioners of monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. However, in these monotheistic religions there are reservations expressed as to the source and medium of divination. The question often raised is whether the divination is sought from the spirit powers or from God.
Means Used for Divination
Divination has an aura of science around it. Remember that some of the present day empirical sciences developed from earlier animistic practices of divination. Astronomy has a direct link with astrology in its past. However, at present both look and move in different directions.
The following are some of the commonest means used to divine. It is difficult to list all the means used since anything and everything has been used for divination purposes around the world:
Dreams (oneiromancy); hunches and presentiments; involuntary body actions (twitches, sneezes, etc.); ordeals; mediumistic possession; consulting the dead (necromancy); observing animal behavior (e.g., ornithomancy), interpreting the flight of birds; noting the form of entrails of sacrificial victim's (extaspicy or haruspicy), or the victims' last movements before death; making mechanical manipulations with small objects such as dice, drawing long or short stalks from a bundle, and so on (sortilege); reading tea leaves (tasseography), or using playing cards (cartography), etc.; decoding natural phenomena (as in geomancy, palmistry, phrenology, or astrology); and-of course- 'miscellaneous' (Eliade, Mircea, p. 375).
A Typology of Divination
A typology of divination identifies three types of divination: "Intuitive divination in which the diviner spontaneously sees or knows reality or the future"; "possession divination in which spiritual beings are said to communicate through intermediary agents"; and "wisdom divination in which the diviner decodes impersonal patters of reality."
In the intuitive divination, hunches and presentiments are offered. Some of us have a heightened awareness of the spiritual realm, and this may be used to divine. Intuitive divination also includes insights of spiritual masters, saints, gurus, etc.
Possession divination is done through two types of agents: human and non-human. Human agents use "divination by body twitches or pains, divination by judicial ordeal, divination by dreams, divination by glossalalia, spiritualistic seances, and prophecy, and divination by full mediumism or oracular trance." Non-Human agents used to divine are as follows: "divination by arbitrary movements of heavenly bodies (meteorology), divination by fire, divination by stones, as in throwing dice, divination by observation of quadrupeds, fish, insects, or reptiles, and divination by lots."
Some examples of wisdom divination are as follows: "Divination by temporal patterns in movements of heavenly bodies (astrology), divination by patterns in earth formations, divination by body forms, often said to be influenced by astrological forces: in the hand, in the liver or entrails, and in the head shape (phrenology), and divination by mathematical correspondence (numerology, etc.)."
Divination by Dreams
Divination by dreams has been very popular in many cultures and religions. Some cultures explain divination by dream as a process in which the spirit of the dreamer leaves the body and sees things that form part of the dream. The spirit may go to another world when the person sleeps and gets news or message or revelation for the person in his dream. Or a spirit or god may communicate with the person through the dream. People may go to lonely and holy places to seek the dream as part of divination.
The interpretation of dream is regulated by conventions already established in the culture or religion of the dreamer. What in real world is considered portending something good or bad will have the same meaning in the dream also. However, there are instances interpretation of which is not easy and hence the interpretation of these dreams requires the help of a professional interpreter, gifted especially for the purpose. Literal and symbolic interpretations are possible. However, there is always a possibility that the interpretations may not come true.
There are 24 dreamers and 34 dreams recorded in the Bible (Dake's Bible, p. 856). Of these dreams, 22 are found in the Old Testament and 12 in the New Testament. The Old Testament words used to refer to dream "have the meaning of something seen while asleep." The Hebrew words translates as "vision" have the meanings of mental sight, dream, revelation, and oracle. Vision is generally a happening while one is awake, and dream is a happening while asleep.
Premonitions through dream have been attested in the Word of God. The dream is one of the means through which God speaks to us, according to the Word of God. It is not the only means, or the most superior means. God indeed made dreams as secondary to other means of his contact with us. When Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses, "a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth," God said to Miriam and Aaron,
When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses: he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (Numbers 12:6-8).
Importance of the Message
Everyone may get dreams and visions. That is not questioned in the Word of God. Perhaps it is part of the make-up of man who is in the image of God. What message the dreamer brings through his dream is the most important thing to watch, according to the Word of God.
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer." (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
Each Dream Has Its Own Meaning
We find that each dream has a meaning of its own: the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt each had a dream, and the Bible says that "each dream had a meaning of its own" (Genesis 40:5). However, the Bible also says through the words of Joseph that the interpretations belong to God, not to individuals (Genesis 40:8). People are warned or given advance notice of what is going to happen through dreams: "And having been warned in a dream not to go to Herod, they (the Magi) returned to their country by another route" (Matthew 2:12). Joseph and Mary, "having been warned in a dream," withdrew to the district of Galilee with the infant (Matthew 2:22). People may see dreams when there are many cares (Ecclesiastes 5:3). Much dreaming is useless just as many words, when a few would be adequate and effective, are meaningless (Ecclesiastes 5:7). In the last days, dreams and, by implication, messages from God come to everyone irrespective of their age, because of the outpouring of the Spirit (Joel 2:28).
Dreams May Be Deceptive
The Word of God clearly recognizes that dreams may be deceptive, and that false prophets often present false dreams in support of their claims.
"I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, 'I had a dream! I had a dream!' How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their fathers forgot my name through Baal worship. Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?" declares the LORD. "is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces. Therefore," declares the LORD, "I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes, " declares the LORD, "I am against those who prophesy false dreams," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:25-31, 32)
There may be dreams and interpreters of dreams and prophets who say things contrary to the Word of God. The LORD says: "So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers . . . " (Jeremiah 27:9). Also we read,
The idols speak deceit, the diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)
Premonitions by Bodily Actions
Premonitions through bodily actions such as twitching the eye, sneezing, and cracking the joints are found in many cultures and religious groups. We bless the sneezer, and in this blessing lies our assumption that it is a bad omen. We often listen to stories about how people were told of something in their thought, dream, or vision that may be happening (usually something bad) to someone close to them in a far off place. Presentiments are being reported everyday.
Divination by Ordeal
Divination by ordeal is quite common in animistic and rural societies. A suspect may be asked to dip his or her hand in boiling oil or water, or asked to walk over burning coal, etc. Supposedly, the person will come out of this ordeal unscathed if he or she is innocent. The divine spirit or Supreme Being will help the innocent to win through the ordeal, and the guilty will be harmed in the process. The innocent will not feel the pain.
Another method of divination by ordeal is when the parties swear before the deity concerning their innocence, declaring that they would soon die or undergo some other serious consequence if they have uttered lies. From many societies in Africa and Asia, we have reports of people dying after such a ceremony, out of fear of the deity or of facing some serious illness or some other terrible consequences. People believe that "guilt weakens the wrong-doer, robs him of his mana or of Divine favor, and so renders him an easy prey to any injury, natural or magical." People actually fall sick out of fear and die soon.
This is a man-made process of justice, cruel and inhuman, beside the fact that this process is a coercion, and does not give an opportunity to the accused to prove his innocence. Its trust in the gods is misplaced, because the gods themselves are not without blame in their activities. This goes against the Word of God, which says that
When a man wrongs his neighbor and is required to take an oath and he comes and swears the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on his own head what he has done. Declare the innocent not guilty, and so establish his innocence. (1 Kings 8:31-32).
Divination by Ordeal Is Against Word of God
Note that there is no mention of any physical ordeal here. Also there is no demand for instantaneous physical punishment. It is a request to God that the innocent be declared innocent and that the guilty be condemned in an appropriate manner. The Word of God speaks of the protection of property in Exodus 22, and gives us several laws of justice and mercy in Exodus 23. One of the main themes of justice tells us
Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. . . . Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips (Exodus 23:6-13).
Trance and Divination
In several cultures, those who divine fall into an induced trance before they begin the divination process. The spirits which are called upon to divine possess the individuals before they begin the process. I have seen this happen to people so many times in my culture that I often thought that this was the only authentic divination! I was not prepared to accept divination by other means since possession is so dramatic and other worldly that one is easily convinced of the efficacy of this process. An atmosphere of fear for the shaman in trance is created, and whatever he says or blurts out is interpreted as prophecy and divination of the impending event. Sensory bombardment plays a crucial part in this process of divination. Summoning the dead is also a common practice used for divination. The dead may be ceremoniously summoned and they descend on the shaman. The shaman's voice becomes the voice of the dead.
Mediums and Spiritists Are a Cancer in the Body of Christ
God asks us: "Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God" (Leviticus 19:1). In the past the mediums and spiritists were a cancer in the body of the Israelite nation. Since the holy nation was losing its holiness, God even took the strong step of calling upon the Israelites to put to death the man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among them (Leviticus 20:27). The Israelites were told to stone them; the blood of the mediums will be on their own heads, not on the heads of the Israelites, because the mediums and spiritists were doing unpardonable things against the glory of God (Leviticus 20:27). In building their society in the land promised by God, the Israelites were asked not to learn to imitate the animists who indulge in divination:
. . . do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 18:9-13)
Saul died because he was unfaithful to the LORD; he did not keep the word of the LORD and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the LORD. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. (1 Chronicles 10:13)
When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isaiah 8:19)
Use of Animals for Divination
Use of animals for divination is also quite common. The Hindus have an elaborate system of interpreting the bird calls, cries of various animals, the lizard movements, and flights of the birds, etc. Some are deadly, and some portend the arrival of guests, some tell one in advance the possibility of sexual union, and some announce the impending death in the family, etc., etc. Parrots may be especially trained to pick a card from the stack of cards to divine what is in store for the client. The direction of the flight of the eagle is watched and interpreted. In my high school days, I saw hundreds of people assembling at the river front and waiting there for hours to see the direction the eagles flew before they started anything of significance on that day. People would return to their homes if they saw a widow on their way, since seeing a widow on your way means bad luck. If the donkey brays in the night it is a bad omen. Unless you are born and brought up in an animistic, pantheistic or polytheistic world, you cannot really understand and appreciate what it means when the Word of God says that Jesus Christ set you free!
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
. . . Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
If we lose the freedom in Christ, then we become slaves to practices of the type we have listed above (Galatians 2:4).
Sea-shells may be rolled as dice to foretell the fortune of the inquirer. Using mechanical means to divine the luck of the client and to foretell the future is quite common. The wheel of fortune is an age-old device. I had a detestable habit of tossing a coin to find out whether what I desired would be accomplished. I would continue to toss the coin until I got the side of the coin that told me that what I desired would be accomplished! Most cultures at their folk religious levels have some luck game or another. The wishbone phenomenon in the western nations still continues. Rolling dice is still practiced to divine future course of action, etc.
Drawing lots is a very common practice all over the world. This perhaps is the simplest of all the divination process. This is a practice followed on both elitist and folk religions. In Buddhist and Hindu villages, people go to the local temple and ask the priest to draw lots for them. Often the worshippers themselves may draw lots either in front of the idol or in their homes to decide which of the given options they should adopt, and to find out whether what they desire will be accomplished or not. My pastor's wife in India was in the habit of drawing lots and making decisions. She would draw lots to decide on the dates for gospel meetings, etc. She would draw lots to decide on the suitability of the match proposed for the young women under her care, or when the parents wanted to know whether they would go forward with the marriage proposals for their children. As a new Christian, I was shocked that Christians would do detestable things often resorted to by Hindus. When I asked why she was in the habit of drawing lots, she told me that it was biblical, and that we can resort to drawing lots to make decisions. The apostles themselves did, so why not we?
"Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they drew lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-26)
Remember that this was done before the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. With the Holy Spirit as the Comforter and Director of our lives, there is no justification whatsoever for drawing lots to decide on any matter. It is important to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and to let the Holy Spirit speak to us, giving His direction. Great things have been accomplished through this simple process. Great decisions have been made just by kneeling down and praying in Jesus' name.
Remember also that the lot is only a mechanical device. The result need not be always true. Haman plotted "to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes." The lot was cast in Haman's presence to select a day and month for the killing of all Jews. But it so turned out that "when the plot came to the king's attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows" (Esther 9:25). The remembrance of Purim incident described above is indeed the declaration of the defeat of drawing lots!
It is apt when the Book of Proverbs declares that "the lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD" (Proverbs 16:33). Casting lots is taken as a tie-breaker, not as a message from God. It is a man-made device to settle disputes between strong opponents: "Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart" (Proverbs 18:18). That it is a mechanical device and not a provision used by the Holy Spirit is seen in the act of casting lots for the robes of Jesus Christ by the hard-hearted, unrepentant soldiers.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. (Matthew 27:33-36)
Remember, casting lots is an unreliable medium even for the evil spirits. For, often the lot came to nothing! Dependence on the Holy Spirit's leading brings understanding, wisdom, and a result that is in the will of the Lord.
Astrology comes to us in the guise of a scientific pursuit. The assumption is that the movements of the planets have an effect on us the humans. The stars and the planets decide the course of our lives. Everything happens according to the position, direction and movement of the planets and stars. This belief has been current for thousands of years.
Hindus and Buddhists call the astrologer as soon as a child is born and have a birth horoscope written down for the child. This horoscope charts out the milestones in the life of the child. The astrologer predicts how the life of the child would be, and how long he would live. Wherever there is a malevolent influence of the planets, he may suggest some propitiatory acts. Nothing is done without the reading of the horoscope by astrologers. Choice of spouses is made based on the match between the horoscopes of the groom and bride. Some girls may never be able to get a groom because their horoscopes may predict the death of the husbands as soon as they get married! Some may predict the death of the father-in-law or mother-in-law, so the groom's family would be afraid of entering into any marriage relationship with the girl's family. However, there may be some propitiatory arrangements made to overcome the ill effects of the girl's horoscope.
Astrology is quite common in Malaysia too, even among Muslims. They have calendars of lucky and unlucky days. In Tibet, it is very popular. Astrology is a highly regarded discipline in all pantheistic and polytheistic societies. "Astrology is the more reputable form of divination practised by orthodox Buddhist monks, and from the preparation of the horoscopes and the worship prescribed therein, the monasteries derive a considerable amount of their income. . . . The oracles and professional soothsayers are almost exclusively confined to the followers of the pre-Buddhist religion of the particular country." As we have remarked earlier in another chapter, the worship of the planets is quite common in polytheistic religions. There are temples for the sun, moon, stars, and planets in polytheistic religions.
Generally speaking, astrology is considered to be a higher form of religious belief than the divination done using mechanical means such as dice, or casting lots. The astrologer is usually a well-read man, he studies the position and movement of the stars and planets, does a lot of mathematical calculations, draws charts of the zodiac, and presents his findings in a language which sounds highly empirical and well-reasoned.
Even people born and brought up in Christian belief often fall prey to the urge to divine their future. The desire to know one's own personal future is largely the source which encourages the practice of divination among individuals in modern days. Palmistry is popular because it helps in reading the future of the individual. As our civilization becomes more and more individualized, and as it focuses more on the individual, practices such as astrology and palmistry, which employ pseudo-science and pseudo-scientific terms, will become more popular. There are dozens of magazines which tell the readers what the stars foretell about the week ahead. There are millions of copies of birthday forecasts sold in the market. People start collecting the signs of the zodiac in which they were born, such as Gemini, Taurus, Sagittarius, and so on.
The Word of God tells us that Christ is the door: "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture" (John 10:9). If we put our trust in Jesus, why should we need to be curious? We should walk by faith, not by sight: "We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). We should "make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it" (2 Corinthians 5:9).
There is no guarantee that the diviner tells us the truth, nothing but the truth, and the whole truth. Secondly, as the Word of God says, what is most important is the ultimate truth and that we see it only partly now: "Now we see but a poor reflection in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). A curtain is there between us and the future. We should wait for the time being to avoid the temptation to peer through the curtain using dubious divination processes. We must put our faith in Jesus since his body was the curtain which was sacrificed for us. As the writer of Hebrews says,
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:19-23)
We object to divination for various reasons. First of all, as explained above, it is a question of faith. If we surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no justification whatsoever in going after divination. We then betray our faith in Jesus. Secondly, divination is often mechanical, using material objects and imputing to them some divine power. That is giving a spiritual color to the material object, and imputing spiritual power to it. Thirdly, more often than not, during the subjective type of divination, the diviner allows himself to be possessed by, or assumes the personality of, the spirits. He makes himself a suitable medium to receive and transmit messages from some spirit. There is no acceptance of trance or transfer spiritual power from one object to another in the Word of God. It is clearly stated that the prophets are in control of their spirits. They do not become or allow other spirits to enter them. The mind and will of the prophet is intact. We are cautioned,
The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:32-33
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3
Survival of Pagan Practices
Many divination practices of pagans have survived in the lives of Christians in Europe. There had been ordinances against practices of divination issued by Emperor Constantine and others. Since such decrees against divination tried to regulate but not totally prohibit some of the practices, several practices continued to flourish. For example, the practice of breaking the wishbone as a divination of what the future holds is still practiced. "The crowing of a cock out of hours, the hooting of an owl, the cawing of a crow on the house-top, are all regarded uncanny. The pigeons which frequent the mosque of Bajesid in Constantinople and the Piazza of St. Mark's at Venice are looked on as birds of good omen."
Over the centuries, the Church began to approve a few, and these had official authority and sanction. While it is true that in early Christianity there were references to heavenly bodies and dreams as a means of revelation, we see this trend reduced in force as the Gospel of Christ triumphs. The Magi reported that they saw the star of Jesus in the east and had come to worship him. Some have tried to interpret this as an astrological saying or event. Remember that the Magi were not even Israelites. Also, according to ancient sciences practiced among the nations, it was possible to link the birth date with the particular zodiacal combination.
But this did not mean that the Bible approves of the next step of believing that the specific combinations of stars at the moment have anything to do with the future life of the individual. Once again the dream of Pilate's wife ("While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him," Matthew 27:19) confirms the early belief in the use of dream as a means of divination, but we also are cautioned against Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9), and Elymas the sorcerer of Cyprus:
They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, "You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun." (Acts 13:6-11)
Also consider the following instance in the ministry of the Apostle Paul:
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. (Acts 16:16-18)
The above is a clear condemnation of divination using spirits. A similar condemnation for sorcery is found in Acts 19:19 when it was reported that the sorcerers brought their scrolls together and burned them when the Word prospered.
Divination Distracts Our Attention From God
The question is not whether a divination is authorized by the Church or not. The question is whether such practices distract our attention to develop total faith in Jesus Christ. Divination in any form is giving prominence in our thought to forces outside of Jesus Christ. Hence, it should be avoided. The apostle Paul fought a relentless battle against the divination practices of those who claimed themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ. He wrote:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, . . . After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? . . . (Galatians 3:1-4)
This trend continued in the writings of the early church fathers. They warned the people against being curious of ungodly pursuits.
The Lord said:
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14-15)
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