Deuteronomy 18:9–14, 1 Samuel 28:3–25, Galatians 5:16–26
The list of people not to listen to is interesting. As part of the Israelites’ preparation to enter the Promised Land, these people were to not be sought out. From a cultural standpoint, this is not a small thing. These people were the ones that were sought for wisdom and guidance. For many leaders, they were (so-to-speak) the power behind the throne. In our modern-day, we tie these practices to Satan, yet there is much more than that in this. If one gets rid of the diviners, fortune tellers, omen interpreters, sorcerers, magicians, mediums, spiritualists, and dead relatives, who do you listen to? God.
The evil of these practices is more about human selfishness, pride, sin, and disobedience than it is about the Adversary. This is not to say that the Enemy does not use these to deceive, it’s just that it is human behavior and choices that make it these things effective in separating humanity from God.
Saul’s own pride (and disobedience) resulted in God pulling favor from him. Saul mostly appeared to follow the visible laws, but it seems that his heart wasn’t there. When Saul finally seeks God (in desperation, not adoration), God does not respond. Saul decides to invoke the practices that God said were detestable. Saul, who had gotten rid of mediums and spiritualists (exile or death), goes to one to talk to…Samuel? That Saul would knowingly break the Law, go against his own actions, and want to talk to Samuel (a God-fearing prophet, leader, and deliverer of the news regarding the loss of God’s favor) all shows that Saul was not thinking well.
Saul could have probably avoided the resulting disaster by abdicating to his sons or to David (God’s chosen one). Saul’s pride resulted in a disastrous defeat of Israel, and the beginning of the end of his family line. Saul had a number of paths he could have taken after being told of the loss of God’s favor. He probably chose the worst.
When we get to Paul’s list of “works of the flesh”, idolatry and sorcery appear to be the only things in common with the Old Testament prohibitions. That isn’t so. The Old Testament prohibitions are, again, expressions of humanity’s desire to wrest control and authority from God. While the signs of what that is had changed, the underlying truth was still there. Today with New Age (which isn’t new anymore), (neo-)paganism, and occult practices on the rise in both practice and acceptance we now have both Old Testament and New Testament.
1) Instead of wringing our hands and saying empty words, what can we do?
2) Thinking of why people turn to such things, how can we show the better way (in love, without lectures)?