Saturday, June 23, 2012

Occult Practices (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27)

The following quotes are taken from

"Kill Witches - "You should not let a sorceress live." (Exodus 22:18 NAB)

"Kill Fortunetellers - "A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death." (Leviticus 20:27 NAB)

You can read the full chapters containing these laws here:

            The question that has been presented is this: Why was capital punishment prescribed for those who practiced sorcery/witchcraft, mediums, fortunetellers, etc.?  Later in the Law (Torah), in Deuteronomy chapter 18, God gave the reason for the death penalty in this instance - it matched the severity of the crime. "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.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you" (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, NIV).
            In this passage, we learn that the reason that God expelled the inhabitants of Canaan from the land that they were living in was because of the things that they did.  One of their practices that God referred to as "detestable" was sorcery, fortunetelling (divination), and consultation of the dead.  God forbid these occult practices on multiple occasions (Leviticus 19:26, 31; 20:6).
            The reason that God calls these practices "detestable" is because they encourage people to reject God, seeking answers and power apart from him. God is the only God, the Lord and creator of all the universe.  When anyone bows down and worships or pays tribute to a false god/idol, worships any created thing, or seeks to utilize powers of demonic nature that are not from God, they are taking credit away from God and giving it to something undeserving of that credit. 
            It is important to note that capital punishment commands such as these were given specifically to the nation of Israel during the time period and culture of the Ancient Near East.  All of Scripture, both Old and New Testament, condemns occult practices; however, the capital punishments prescribed do not apply in our time period and culture (Acts 19:13-20; Romans 6:14).