If you are an ardent reader of the bible, you might have come across those portions of scripture you wish were excluded from the canon because of the controversy and confusion they attract. Three of the most baffling stories involve occult practitioners like Balaam the professional Diviner and Curser (Numbers 22-23), the Witch of Endor (1Samuel 28) and Simon Magus or Simon the Magician (Acts 8:9-24). Why did God allow such stories to be part of his inspired word bearing in mind God’s declared displeasure to these abominations. God said, ‘When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their 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’ (Deuteronomy 18:9-11). These practices are interconnected because they tap from one source i.e. the spirit world. What lessons or warnings can be gleaned from the stories of these occult practitioners?
Balaam was a prominent entrepreneur in soothsaying, sorcery and divination with a speciality in cursing and blessing using omens and auguries. He was also a practising Polytheist (Greek POLYTHEOS meaning worship of many gods) hence his acclimatisation to Yahweh worship. Could it be that African religiosity also has this polytheistic temperament whereby they see no friction between ancestral worship and Christian worship? It takes radical conversion for a lot of my African brothers and sisters to solely embrace the Christian God without resorting to ancestors in times of crisis. In the biblical narrative, we see Balak the Moabite king sending his messengers to travel more than five hundred miles to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites who were camped across the Jordan river and ready to possess their promised land. The main purpose of the curse was to block the Israelites from entering the promised land thus render the promises of God null and void. Balaam was offered a high fee for this exercise but this time around he embarked on a mission in failure. He had several encounters with Yahweh who aborted his mandate to curse. Out of desperation Balak raised the divination fee but to no avail. Could it be that the charging of professional fees originates from Occult Practitioners and that true Prophets of God cannot afford to cross the line which differentiates true and false prophets.
From this story comes one of the most quoted bible verses, being the confession of Balaam the professional curser. He says, ‘God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil? There is no divination against Jacob, no evil omens against Israel’ (Numbers 23:19,23). Could it be that those preachers and believers who curse others can only do so by tapping into the occult? From this passage of scripture we glean a few aspects of God’s attributes and the unchangeable nature of his decrees and promises. Check out some of these:
# God’s divine decrees, blessings and promises cannot be altered by the words of mortals be it by professional cursers or by commoners
# People are prone to change their positions, loyalties and their love but God is immutable i.e. God is consistently the same in his eternal being. He does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17)
# God can change his INTENTIONS as he did with the people of Nineveh when they repented and the Israelites when Moses interceded
# God does not lie like Satan the father of lies because he is a covenant keeping or promise keeping God
# Only God has the power to bless or curse
# A believer cannot be cursed by mortals because there is no sorcery or divination against God’s people
# God is omniscient i.e. he is all knowing hence there is nothing new he has to learn
# God is omnipotent i.e. He is all-powerful
# God is omnipresent i.e. He is present everywhere at the same time
# God does not have mood swings or mood disorders. He is the same yesterday, the same today and forever. He is the ancient of days and the Rock of ages
# God does not grow or develop e.g. from a vicious and capricious God in the Old Testament to a loving and caring God in the New Testament (MARCIONISM)
In the next article we will look at Simon Magus and how he influenced modern SIMONY i.e. religious exploitation through sale of ecclesiastical positions or consecrated objects like holy water, holy oil and the like. Furthermore we will also look at the Witch of Endor to demonstrate how desperation for the supernatural can tempt believers to consult Mistresses of Necromancy whilst only those who are anchored on the unchanging God will experience the genuine visitation of God in our times. For now I rest my case.