Deut. 18:10-14 Priest and Prophet part 2; James Dale; Sermon Notes
II.B. Priest and Prophet
(Part 2 of 3)
Moses is discussing two offices of authority in chapter 18 … the priest and the prophet. In the New Covenant, we know that Christ has fulfilled both of these. By looking at the Old Testament picture of these two offices, we can learn more about what Christ has done for us.
So far, we have heard two beats of God’s heart. The first is the place of worship in the life of His people. The tribe of Levi was specifically set aside to be the priests so they could handle the worship system. In order for them to do this, they had to be scattered throughout the land rather than have an inheritance themselves (verses 1,2), be provided for by the people they minister to (verses 3-5), and have equal rights regardless of where they are or how rich they are (verses 6-8). We learn from this that it is important to God and to us that a system was set up to allow the people of Israel to worship Him consistently.
The second beat of God’s heart is fidelity. It is important to God and important for us that we are loyal and true to God alone. Verses 9-14 emphasize this. We are to stay away from worldly activities that have origins and contact with the demonic world. They are an abomination to God.
Since the same “abominations” that are mentioned in this chapter are rooted in our nation, I have decided to do what Moses did … discuss them specifically and individually. In each case, we will describe what was going on in Canaan then, and then identify the modern manifestation of the same activity now.
So far, in verse 10 we have discussed:
- One … “Pass through fire” which today is the same idea as abortion.
- Two … “Divination” which today is the same idea as witchcraft or Wicca.
- Three … “Observer of times” which today is the same idea as astrology or the horoscope.
Let’s pick it up again in verse 10 and talk about the last six “abominations”.
Stand, pray, and be seated.
Four – Enchanter verse 10
The King James uses several other words for this same word in Hebrew. One of them is “to divine” (Gen 44:15). Do you remember when Joseph put his special silver cup into his brother Benjamin’s grain sack and accused him of stealing it. Joseph asked his brothers the question, “Why did you think you could get away with it? Don’t you know that a man like myself can divine?” This means telling your fortune.
In America, we see this same phenomenon in tarot cards, crystal balls, reading tea leaves, palm readers, or the Ouija board. Since the advent of the internet, there is probably much more opportunity. And, yes, much of it in capitalistic America is part of a money-grubbing fraud, but it is connected to demonic sources.
Then … Don’t mess around with enchanters.
Now … Don’t get involved with methods of trying tell your future by using omens or listening
to others that do.
Five – Witch verse 10
Other words that the King James uses for this same Hebrew word is “sorcerer” (Exo 7:11). In Rev 9:21, we see that the word “sorceries” indicates witchcraft by means of drugs. Therefore, this is talking about practicing witchcraft by using drugs or potions to alter your state of consciousness.
In America, we see the trend toward a greater use of drugs, not only medicinally but recreationally. Marijuana is legal in 11 states now and 15 other states have decriminalized recreational cannabis. Although we don’t normally relate this to witchcraft, it would be a small step to see how this could be connected to the modern New Age movement.
The stereotypical picture that comes to our minds is witches stirring a boiling pot over a fire. Perhaps you studied Shakespeare in high school? In Macbeth, there was the scene of the three witches stirring a boiling pot and putting in certain ingredients.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing;
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-both, boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
There used to be a time when witches were afraid to show their face in this country because of Christian influence. Now, Eastern religion and the occult is everywhere you turn.
Back in the “Make love not war” 60’s when I was in college, it was promoted to try LSD, a drug to help open the mind to mystical experiences.
In Peru in the Amazon basin in the city where my daughter lives, there is a huge tourist population drawn there by a bitter dark brown hallucinogenic drink called “ayahuasca”. It is produced by the local shamans (witch doctors) and it is used in pagan spiritual rituals.
More familiar activities that we see around here that are designed to empty the mind and be open to spiritual suggestion are yoga or transcendental meditation. We have seen this creep into churches.
Then … Don’t mess around with witches.
Now … Don’t use drugs or any method to change your mental state to practice witchcraft.
Six – Charmer verse 11
In the context in Deuteronomy, this refers to the casting of spells on someone for good or evil apart from God. We see this process attempted with Balaam when Balak hired him to cast a spell on God’s people.
The Dominican Republic where I spent a few years has a border with Haiti. A common saying that I heard while I was there, “Haitians are 70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 100% Voodoo.” Although the official religion of Haiti is Roman Catholicism, Voodoo may be considered the country’s national religion. The majority of Haitians believe in and practice at least some aspects of Voodoo.
Before I went to the DR, I relegated Voodoo to Tarzan movies. Now that I’ve been close to it, I saw that it is altogether too real. A young lady that we know was in prison in the DR and she saw the frightening reality of the practice of Voodoo.
For fun, my wife enjoys playing some of the pretty songs of the 1930’s and 40’s. One day she ran across a catchy tune. When she stopped to read the words, she realized she’ll never play that song again because the lyrics would go through her mind. It went, “Ivy, I was never born for the touch of a witch’s thorn; so please be gentle to my heart.” No big deal? Maybe, but not to my wife. She heard the melody and lyrics in her mind for days after. We need to be careful what we put into our minds. There are best-selling books out there geared toward young people that glorify the occult and make it seem fun and righteous.
It is a glorious thing to bless another in the Lord or to pray against the evil of another’s actions, but it is always wrong to do it using demonic spells.
Then … Don’t mess around with charmers.
Now … Don’t cast spells for either blessing or cursing apart from God.
Seven – Consulter with familiar spirits Verse 11
Another word we could use that is more familiar today is “medium”. This is a person who stands between two people or cultures … similar to an arbitrator or diplomat or a priest. Only in this case, it is referring to a person who channels knowledge from the psychic world to the physical world.
We see something similar in Mark 5 when the spirit speaks from the demoniac and says his name is Legion. He is using the voice of the demon possessed man.
Today, New Age books call this “channeling” … a person who becomes a conduit or a channel for a spirit to flow through in order to achieve wisdom for this life. We hear about it in religion and in the arts like musicians and artists who try to get in touch with creative energy from a higher source.
Then … Don’t mess around with familiar spirits.
Now … Don’t go to a medium or use channeling for any purpose.
Eight – Wizard verse 11
This word refers to the person who has the ability to conjure up or get in contact with a certain spirit to get unique knowledge about life or the future. Today we could think of Psychic hotlines that people call to get advice from ones who claim to have special knowledge from the spirit realm.
Under this category I include so-called prophets or preachers who tell someone what will happen to them in the future and claim they heard it from the Lord. This kind of thing happened in the Old Testament and it happens today. (i.e. - “The Lord told me to tell you that you will have a baby by this time next year.”) See Jer 14:14.
Then … Don’t mess around with wizards.
Now … don’t go to any psychic for spiritual wisdom or to know your future.
Nine – necromancer verse 11
This is a word that describes the process of contacting the dead. Because of movies and other media, you might be familiar with the séance. A medium meets with a person or persons and does a ritual in order to bring up the spirit of someone who has died.
Today we could call them “spiritists” or people who have spirit guides. They are the “knowing ones”. King Saul contacted a wizard because he wanted to communicate with the spirit of Samuel who had died
(I Sam 28:9).
Then … Don’t mess around with necromancers.
Now … Don’t be part of a séance or try to contact the dead for any reason.
As you can tell, these categories tend to blend into one another. However, they are all under the general category of what we would call the Occult or the New Age movement today.
“New Age” takes its name from the astrological age that we supposedly live in … the so-called Age of Aquarius which astrologers say began in 1844. On Wikipedia, they describe themselves in part as:
New Age spirituality is characterized by an individual approach to spirituality while rejecting religious doctrine and dogma.”
It appears to me that it is saying, “I’ll take anything no matter how weird, but reject God’s revelation.”
How prevalent is New Age thinking in America? From Pew Research Center who surveys this idea every few years I received these statistics from 2009. Notice that there is very little difference between the world and the Christian population.
New Age Activity %Total population %Christians
Have been in touch with the dead 29 29
Had a ghostly experience 18 17
Consulted a psychic 15 14
Believes in Astrology 25 23
Believes in reincarnation 24 22
Uses yoga as a spiritual practice 23 21
Cast spells and curses 16 17
Here is something else that demonstrates how prevalent New Age thinking is in America. There is a new age activist named Marianne Williamson who has written 7 New York Times best-selling books and appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s “Super Soul Sunday”. Williamson is a New Age priestess running for the Democratic Presidential nomination. She wants to be part of the party’s first presidential debate in Miami at the end of June.
There are a couple of ways to qualify and she has qualified. She has received contributions from 65,000 individual donors from 43 states … a monumental feat for any person for any cause. She is the first religious professional running for President since 1988 when Jesse Jackson (D) ran against Pat Robertson.
What does this tell us about the American culture? The generalized interest in New Age practices and spirituality is not a fringe element any more. The big story here is that a representative of a belief system that promotes exactly what Deut 18 condemns has reached this far in American politics.
Why are occultic activities prohibited? Read verses 12-14
The Canaanites were idolaters. They worshipped many gods. For example, the god Asherah brought into its worship system prostitutes because they worshipped sex and fertility. Another god was Baal, the god of fertile soil and lord of the dew and rain, absolutely necessary for growth and well-being.
Many nations have been sex-worshippers, and money-and-success worshippers, just like Asherah and Baal, including the nation we live in, but they have not been necessarily destroyed by God. What earns the judgment of God in a special way, so that He would say, “These things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee?” (verse 12)
The Bible says that the practice of these activities of the Occult which He just mentioned is why they were destroyed. It is an abomination to God!
Deuteronomy 18 is a special warning, not only to the nation of Israel before they enter the land, but it is a warning to any child of God living in America.
The clear message is … as priests, God “hath not suffered (allowed) thee so to do” (verse 14).
The New Testament says that Christian believers are “a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9), and “We have a high priest … Jesus the Son of God” ( Heb 4:14). Therefore, He does not want us to flirt with any aspect of the Occult or New Age thinking either. He wants us to “be perfect (totally loyal and true) with the LORD thy God”. (verse 13).