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The Death of Saul: Occultism

By: Justin Wishart

The occult has been around for many millenniums. Many people have followed and practiced occultist rituals to gain insight into future decisions, to get help for their present situations, and to find guidance in their lives. The word “occult” can have various meanings and definitions, but we are talking about the practice of “occultism” which can be broadly defined as:

“Occultism is the study of occult practices, including (but not limited to) magic, alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, and divination. Interpretation of occultism and its concepts can be found in the belief structures of religions such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Theosophy, Wicca, Thelema, Satanism, and neopaganism.” [1]

Many Christians are also drawn to these practices. They seem inviting, ancient, and can have a ring of truth about them. The question is; should Christians participate in these practices or should we be concerned about this issue?

There are many occult practices, however, the Bible provides a unifying problem found in all them that should be a cause for alarm for Christians. This is evident in the life of King Saul.

“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. 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.” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14 ESV)

Reading the relationship between King Saul and David is fascinating, yet tragic. In this verse we see the final sin which cost Saul his kingdom and his life. He looked away from the true God and instead based his decisions on the occult practice of speaking to the dead. Saul should have first listened to Scripture which says, “Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them…” (Leviticus 19:31 ESV) Then, Saul should have prayed to God for direction. Instead, Saul turned to false philosophies and false religions to find the answers. In other words, “He did not seek guidance from the Lord” and rejected God as a sufficient source for his life and for the nation of Israel. The true God wasn’t enough for Saul.

Today, we open our newspapers and find our daily horoscope, which is a form of astrology; We see Long Island Medium on television or we go get a tarot card reading at the mall. You can even have your palm read next to the local coffee shop. Occultism is everywhere in our modern world. However, we must realize that every occultist practice stems from a non-Christian worldview.  Read what Marcia Montenegro[2], who was a former leader in the Astrology community, has to say:

“Astrological philosophy is based on the occult worldview that asserts “as above, so below.” According to this view, everything in the universe is one and is connected; therefore, the patterns of the planets reflect our lives on earth… The belief that the patterns and movements of the planets, sun and moon reflect our lives is contradictory to the view of a living, omniscient God who created the heavenly bodies to reflect and proclaim His glory, not ours. Astrology also is often intertwined with the teaching that since we are all connected to the universe by a force or energy (which is sometimes considered to be divine or to be God), then everything in the universe is one and therefore, there is no true distinction between man and nature; this is called monism (all is one and one is all). Identifying God as one with the universe is pantheism (God is all, all is God) or is sometimes panentheism (God is contained within the universe), and is totally at odds with the belief in a Creator who created the world out of nothing and is distinct from His creation. God is present in the world and transcends it, but He is distinct from it. Since astrology is an occult practice of divination severely condemned in God’s word, even horoscope columns are rooted in the occult… If you take reading horoscopes lightly or “in fun,” you are denying that the occult is forbidden or possibly dangerous. As someone who was involved in this and related areas for a number of years, I can attest to the dangers inherent in these practices.”[3]

We read in the Old Testament when Israel started adopting pagan practices and foreign gods into their society, the nation crumbled. God has placed these limits in our lives so we can experience freedom fully and safely. If God were to advocate complete unrestrained freedom (examples: Hedonism or Anarchism) we will suffer destruction. Instead God, like a loving father, places these boundaries in our lives to maximize our freedom and joy while minimizing the things that would seek to bind and destroy us.

Ultimately, the question comes down to authority. The biblical witness is clear and does not waver throughout Scripture.[4]  The Bible tells us that we should not participate in occult practices. God’s Word has made this clear and has drawn the line in the sand. If you believe the Bible should have authority over our lives because it is inspired by God, then you must stay away from the occult. In one sense, this makes the choice simple and easy to understand. Simply choose A or B. In another sense, we don’t like to think in black and white terms today, we like things that are in shades of grey. However, it is the Bible that has makes this black and white, and we have to choose. Do we rely on the Lord’s Word, or do we trust the mediums, the astrologers, and the readers?

 “Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire terror. You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. Behold, they are like stubble; the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame…” (Isaiah 47:12-14 ESV)

Make your choice wisely.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occult (as of January 15, 2013)
[2] Marcia Montenegro is a “former professional licensed astrologer who practiced astrology for over 8 years; former President of the Metropolitan Astrological Society, former Chairperson of the Atlanta Board of Astrology Examiners; former teacher of astrology for over 5 years”
[4] A good list of Bible reference can be found here: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/edn-occult.html (as of January 15, 2013)