Why the sudden rise in astrology, sorcery, religious superstition?
WEIRD happenings are occurring in the British Isles. During the year just ended — 1963 — a number of churches were deliberately and disgracefully desecrated. Peaceful English churchyards were disturbed — the bones from numerous graves deliberately disinterred. Wild and obscene orgiastic parties have been reported in various parts of Britain. What is really behind these acts which one normally thinks of as belonging to the Dark Ages?
The Plague of Witchcraft
Reports a leading news source: "BRITAIN is being plagued today by the biggest upsurge of interest in Black Magic and the timeless secrets of witchcraft that the country has known since the Middle Ages. "And in those days, for the record, they burned two million witches throughout Europe. "We know of covens (regular meetings of witchcraft devotees) all over London.... "In one Home Counties town with a population of only just over 50,000 there are at least half a dozen meeting places regularly used for Black Magic rites" (News of the World, 1st September, 1963). British newspapers report a sudden all-time record demand for books on Black Magic and witchcraft impedimenta such as skulls, chalices, black candles and various other objects used in connection with "the dark art." Numerous witches have appeared on British Television and have unashamedly admitted that they were witches — blatantly divulging information to news reporters. Many cities and university towns all over Britain have well-established covens. In the Daily Express of February 20, 1964, appeared an interesting article entitled "Witches Meet." According to Mrs. Sybil Leek, 41-year-old high priestess of the New Forest Witches, "There are 600 witches' covens in Britain, with 13 witches to a coven."
Why Black Magic Is Common in Britain
"Black Magic is as common in Britain today as, say, the traffic in dope, "reports the Daily Express, August 26, 1963. The same article continues, "But Black Magic is the worship of the devil. The story of Lucifer is part of the Original Creation and cannot be shrugged off." Dennis Wheatley, author of this Daily Express article shows that Black Magic dates long before Christianity. It continued after the introduction of Catholicism into Western Europe. During the Dark Ages weekly "night clubs" were organized by the peasants, and at such meetings "they called upon Lucifer for help." Even Time magazine (December 27, 1963) mentioned that "England seems to be in the midst of a mild little REVIVAL OF BLACK MAGIC." Scores of articles have described numerous Black Magic activities here in Britain. But just what is behind this "revival" of witchcraft — this veritable rash of Black Magic? For part of the answer, turn to Time magazine. "Parliament removed witchcraft from the list of criminal offences in 1936. Since then, the Black Arts have been the property of tiny demoniac cults. But 1963, for no clear reason, has been a banner year for sorcerers" (Time, December 27, 1963). In November, 1963, a Conservative M.P., Commander John Kerans, asked the British Government to pass new laws against the spread of witchcraft. Though the immediate reason for the revival of witchcraft and astrology in Britain is attributed to the fact that Parliament removed witchcraft from the list of criminal offences, yet the REAL reason lies much deeper than this. Before we can understand the subject of witchcraft, there are certain basic facts which we need to bear in mind. First, we need to realize that there is a personal, real, living Creator-Sustainer of the universe — who upholds and rules it from His high throne in heaven. This Being is revealed in the Bible as the Creator God. He is Creator, Sustainer, Ruler of all that exists in the vast limitlessness of space. He is supreme in power, wisdom and intelligence. Second in command of the Universe is His Son, Jesus Christ. The Scripture reveals that God the Father created all things through, or by, Christ Jesus. This includes the creation of myriads of angelic, spirit beings. You can read it in Colossians 1:13, 16, and 17.
The Fallen Angels
Long before the creation of man upon the earth, God Almighty created myriads of angelic spirit beings (Heb. 1:7). These angelic beings — symbolized as "stars" — were with God at the time when He "laid the foundations of the earth" and they "shouted for joy" (Job 38:4, 7). (For proof that "stars" represent angels, see Revelation 1:20, and 12:3, 4). Some of the angels of God followed the rebellious leadership of a great cherub, named Lucifer. Though they had an estate here on this earth, they wanted to exalt themselves. "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). This same event is mentioned by the Apostle Peter. "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Greek tartaroo], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (II Peter 2:4). Isaiah 14:12 and Ezekiel 28:11-18 show that the former cherub, Lucifer, became exalted in his own estimation. He led a number of angels in assault against the very throne of God in heaven. Revelation 12:4 reveals that one third of the angels were involved in this angelic insurrection! Even Jesus Christ himself said, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke 10:18). After this angelic rebellion God created MAN on earth. He made man with free moral agency — free to make CHOICE between the right ways of God and the wrong ways of Satan. God marked off a duration of six thousand years during which man must choose between the invisible sway and influence of Satan and the revealed laws of God. This is to be followed by one millennium under the enforced world-rule of Christ, when Satan shall be totally restrained. With this very brief scriptural history of the "angels that sinned," we can understand the real motivating, diabolical power behind this recent rash of witchcraft covens which has appeared all over Britain. The real motivating power behind all forms of witchcraft, Black Magic or sorcery — is Satan and his demons! Reports from America, Germany, Spain, Australia, Haiti, Africa and all over the world reveal that witchcraft, voodoo and all the various forms of occultism or demonism are fast on the increase! Bible prophecies reveal that we will see greatly increased demoniacal activity in the years immediately ahead. Not only do the wicked spirits rule the occult world, but they influence and, indirectly, control this present evil 'world — including its politics, religion, social and economic beliefs and practices. This is shocking, I know, but true! It is Satan who is "the — GOD OF THIS WORLD" (II Cor. 4:4, Matt. 4:8-10). He is "the prince of the power of the air, the SPIRIT that now WORKS IN the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). Yes, it Is Satan the devil who is now feverishly working in those individuals who have yielded to him and his way of lawlessness. Satan is a rebel, and those who follow him always rebel against the holy and perfect laws and ways of Almighty God. The Apostle Paul was very emphatic in showing that the works of the flesh include "WITCHCRAFT" (Gal. 5:19, 20). "They which do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God" (verse 21).
God Condemns All Forms of Divination
Throughout the Old and the New Testaments the prophets and apostles of God condemned the utterly abominable practice of witchcraft or sorcery. God commanded Israel "Ye shall not... use enchantment, nor observe times [practice divination]" (Lev. 19:26). He further commanded Israel, "Regard not them that have FAMILIAR SPIRITS [demons], neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God" (verse 31). God declared that anyone who would seek after familiar spirits and wizards incurs His divine wrath. "And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people" (Lev. 20:6). Those who deal with familiar spirits are so detestable in the sight of Almighty God that He commanded, "A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them" (verse 27). God warned Israel not to learn to do "the abominations" of the Canaanitish nations when they drove them out and inherited their land. He said: "There shall not be found among you one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth DIVINATION, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer, for all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord your God doth drive them out from before thee" (Deut. 18:9-14). Divination was practiced in many different ways. Some diviners practiced augury. They revealed future or secret knowledge (or in some cases only pretended to) through dreams, trance-speaking, examining of the victims' livers, intestines, speal bones or shoulder bones, observation of clouds, movement of animals, birds, astrology, divining-rods and through an almost endless number of other ways. An enchanter was one who cast a spell on his bewitched victim through chanting or muttering certain words, phrases or songs. A witch simple means a sorcerer. A witch can refer either to a male or female, though today it has come to mean a female who practices sorcery. A male witch is now sometimes called a warlock. A charmer is one who by one means or another charms his victims. There are snake-charmers, Today we have our modern charmers known as hypnotists. Many now foolishly look upon hypnotism as harmless, as a toy. Others consider it as a useful tool. And today it is being commonly used on, women during childbirth and by numerous mind and body doctors in their practice. It is a known fact, however, that hypnotism is often dangerous — especially when the subject is mentally or emotionally disturbed. God Almighty forbids you to "flirt with" hypnotism — or meddle with any form of sorcery for that matter. Don't ever let your curiosity cause you to even dabble in these diabolical practices. Your mind is your most precious possession, so don't ever let another person (or being) take control of your mind. Don't ever permit yourself to be hypnotized by anyone. A few years ago Bridle Murphy (hypnotists) Clubs sprang up all over America, and many played with this dangerous power as though it were a toy. Recently on British television an interviewer and a hypnotist discussed the subject of hypnotism of expectant mothers by means of a kit! This kit included a record of the soothing, purring voice of the hypnotist — which the expectant mother would listen to in order to become hypnotized at the time of the delivery of her baby. The Living God denounces these charmers — these hypnotists! Remember it is Satan who wants to take control of your mind in order to implant more firmly his diabolical suggestions. Resist him, and he will flee from you (Jas. 4:7). There were many, in ancient times just as today, who consulted with familiar spirits by one means or another. Even wizards received their knowledge through familiar spirits, and necromancers (those who pretended to receive their knowledge from the dead) also practiced their evil art through the cooperation of an evil spirit who impersonated a dead person.
Notorious Old Testament Sorcerers
A number of sorcerers are mentioned in the Bible. Notice how God regarded such persons. Through the mighty power of God, Moses and Aaron were able to perform mighty miracles before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. But so were the magicians sorcerers — of Egypt (Exod. 7:22 and 8:7). They were able to turn water into blood and to bring up frogs on the land through their clever enchantments. They did, however, finally have to acknowledge that Moses and Aaron had a power superior to theirs (Exod. 8:18, 19). In the end, they had to admit that the miracles of Moses and Aaron were real — produced by "the finger of God." The magicians of Egypt were unable to bring up lice, flies and the other plagues which God brought upon Egypt through Moses and Aaron. (See II Tim. 3:8) Though Satan and his demons are allowed to produce limited miracles, and also have power to reveal certain hidden knowledge, there is nonetheless, a limit to how far God permits Satan to exercise his limited power. Balaam is one of the best-known sorcerers mentioned in the Bible. Balak, king of the Moabites, asked the false prophet, Balaam, to curse Israel (Num. 22:1-6). Balaam wanted to curse Israel. Even though he had certain occult powers, God would not let him curse Israel. Finally Balaam, fearful of God, had to acknowledge the overruling power of God. He said "Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he (God) hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.... Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel." (Num. 23:20, 23). Study carefully Numbers 22, 23 and 24. It will become very clear that even though Balaam sought to curse Israel by enchantments (Num. 24:1), yet he was forced by God to bless Israel. He was not permitted to curse the Chosen People whom God had sworn that He would bless. It was "Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication" (Rev. 2:14). Because of Balaam's perversity and because of his loathsome sorceries, God saw to it that the children of Israel later slew him in their war against the Midianites (Num. 31:1-8).
Saul Seeks a Sorceress
Saul, king of Israel, knew the command as given in the law of Moses, and "had put away those that bad familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land" (I Sam. 28:3). On other occasions, however, Saul was a very rebellious king. He would not follow the commands of God (I Sam. 15). After flagrantly disobeying God, he was told by Samuel: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (I Sam. 15:22, 23). Since Saul refused to obey God, God rejected him, and removed His protection from him. Thereafter, the Philistines gathered a mighty army to battle against Israel. Saul was terrified and greatly trembled (I Sam. 28:4, 5). He tried to enquire of God and of His prophets, but God would not answer him. Saul then went to enquire of a woman who had a familiar spirit. At first she was afraid of this tall enquirer, by the name of Saul. Saul promised her that if she would contact the spirit, he would do her no harm. Immediately afterward she contacted a lying demon spirit who revealed to her that this renowned enquirer was Saul, the King of Israel. This evil sorceress described to Saul what she saw while entranced. In vision the demon or familiar spirit with whom she was communicating caused a likeness of Samuel to be seen by this woman. This familiar spirit, furthermore, revealed to her that on the very next day Israel would be delivered into the hand of the Philistines, and Saul and his sons would all be slain (verses 10-20). I Samuel 31 reveals the fate of this rebellious king of Israel who refused to hearken to God's commands, but who consulted with familiar spirits. Saul and three of his sons were slain on the battlefield — exactly as God had permitted the familiar spirit to reveal to him through the "witch of Endor." These people deal with familiar spirits just as much as the witch at Endor or as any of the ancient sorcerers. The witch of Endor who claimed to have the power to call up the dead was also a necromancer. Necromancers professed to be able to communicate with the spirits of the deceased, but in fact they always contacted a familiar demon spirit who impersonated the dead. One who knows the Scripture will not be misled by lying, seducing spirits. The Bible clearly reveals that the dead are unconscious, and have no way of communicating with the living. "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten" (Eccl. 9:5). Verse 10 also reveals that the dead are totally unconscious — awaiting a resurrection. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol] whither thou goest." King David was inspired to write "For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" (Psa. 6:5.) Furthermore, Psalm 146:4 says, "His [man's] breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts PERISH." The Scriptures reveal that the dead are unconscious — know nothing, have no ability to think, praise God or in any way communicate with any living being. They must await the moment of the resurrection when God will give them consciousness and raise them up to live again. The Hebrew and Greek Scriptures both clearly reveal a resurrection of the dead. (See Job 14:14, 19:26; Psa. 16:10, 11; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Ezek. 37:1-14; John 5:28, 29) Now that we understand the Bible teaching concerning the state of the dead, we know it is impossible for the living to communicate with the dead. The living can, however, communicate with spirits who are able to impersonate the dead, and who communicate to human minds — by means unknown to man — impressions, visions, facts or knowledge of the future. Yes, demons can convey messages to human beings from the spirit world. It is these lying spirits who impersonate the dead. If the truth on this subject were thoroughly understood, those who now contact the spirit world (that is, mediums) would shudder to realize that they are dealing with demons — and not with the "spirits" of dead people. Today, we speak of those who consult familiar spirits as "Spiritualists" or "Mediums." Ellen G. White, for instance, is called a "medium" by those who follow her.
The Living Should Not Seek to the Dead
Notice God's admonition concerning those who seek after familiar spirits. "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep [chirp], and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? [is it proper] for the living [to seek] to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:19, 20). God expects His people to look to Him — through the Bible to reveal those future events which God deems it wise or necessary for man to know. Notice this in Deuteronomy 29:29. 'The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." In other words, God reserves certain secret knowledge to Himself and deems it unwise for man to know too much about the future. He only reveals to man those things which are good for man. God does, however, permit some of the foul, demon spirits to obtain and reveal certain limited knowledge of the future to those unwise individuals who seek occult knowledge by consulting (through one means or another) familiar spirits. This is what happened with King Saul. The knowledge which Saul obtained from the familiar spirit was only detrimental to him. How terrifying it must have been for Saul to learn that he would die the very next day on the battlefield! Likewise, today, some people who foolishly consult those persons with occult powers are sometimes informed of calamitous happenings which will befall them. This is God's way of rebuking those who consult with familiar spirits. He then deems those who consult with familiar spirits worthy of suffering the agony and torment of mind which they receive from knowing that certain terrifying events will befall them. One can laugh at these things or even scoff at them. But the facts reveal that there are definitely many people living in this world today who do have occult powers — who do have powers to contact the unseen world and receive certain secret knowledge from wicked spirit beings. One way by which you can always prove a true servant of God is whether or not such a person is willing to speak and act according to the law of God (Isa. 8:20). Deuteronomy 13:1-5 clearly reveals that if any prophet arises and works a miracle, or gives a sign — which comes to pass — you are not to follow him if he speaks contrary to God's law. Simply because one is able to work great signs and wonders is no proof that he is of God. It is true that though some few individuals actually possess the satanic ability to see into the future or to work miracles — through the power of Satan, yet other individuals who claim to have such power, often are merely lying. They deceive the gullible into thinking they have occult powers when in truth they are only "divining lies" (Zech. 10:2, Ezek. 22:28).
New Testament Sorcerers
The most notorious sorcerer in the days of the Apostles was unquestionably Simon Magus — the man who later established a counterfeit Christianity at Rome! "But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that HIMSELF was some great one: To whom they ALL gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, THIS MAN IS the great power of God (or this man is that power of God which is called great). And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries" (Acts 8:9-11). Simon, the sorcerer, the great "Interpreter" or "Peter" of the pagan Samaritan religion, later believed on the name of Christ. He was baptized. He had not, however, repented, and he was unwilling to obey God. He followed Philip bug-eyed with amazement at the miracles and signs which were done by this servant of God (verse 13). When he saw that the apostles Peter and John had power to lay hands on people and give them tile Holy Spirit, he also wanted this power and even offered money for it (verses 18, 19). But the apostle Peter rebuked him sharply — told him he had better repent of this gross iniquity! Simon didn't want to obey God. He merely wanted more power to work miracles! He had previously been working miracles through Satan, and now his scheming mind perceived that the power of God was greater than Satan, and he was even willing to join the Apostles if he could only receive this power (see verses 20-24). Secular history is crystal-clear in showing that this man (Simon Magus, also known as the Sorcerer Simon the Peter or Interpreter — as he is variously called) later went to Rome and became the leader there of a great religious apostasy which took root in the capital of the mighty Roman Empire! It is this man's cult that has persecuted certain forms of witchcraft, while it actually practices others! In Acts 16:16-24, we read of another remarkable example of sorcery in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul was pestered by a demon-possessed sorceress. "And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour" (Acts 16:16-18). It was after the evil "spirit of divination" had been cast out of her that her masters then saw that she could no longer soothsay. Her power to foretell the future (and their means of gain) was destroyed (verse 19). Because of this good deed Paul and Silas were beaten with many stripes and imprisoned.
Prophecy for Today
Speaking of the end of this age, Jesus Christ warned of the Simon Magus-type religious leaders performing great miracles. He said, "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matt. 24:24). The final great false prophet to rule over the world's universal religion is also prophesied to work many signs and wonders. The Apostle Paul, when speaking of the second coming of Christ, spoke of the "man of sin," the "son of perdition," who would sit in a temple of God, showing that he himself was God (II Thes. 2:1-4). Through this false prophet, ruling over professing Christianity, Satan is prophesied to work "with all power and signs and lying wonders" (verse 9). "And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast..." (Rev. 13:13, 14). These Scriptures all clearly reveal that Satan and his demons are to work "miracles" and great "signs and lying wonders" through human beings. Satan has been granted by God limited power to work mighty miracles. He can, however, work only those miracles which God permits him to work. He is quite limited in the exercising of the powers which God has granted him. He cannot lay a finger on anyone unless God permits it. Nor does he have power over those in the true Church of God. In Isaiah 47 is a detailed prophecy of a great false religious system which masquerades as Christian. This false Church, and her daughter Churches, are also described in Revelation 17. Her downfall is depicted in Revelation 18. Speaking of the day of her destruction, God says: "But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments" (Isa. 47:9). "Stand now," God continues, "with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the star-gazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee" (verses 12, 13). The great false church system of this world is literally steeped in the Babylonian mysteries and the pagan Chaldean practices originated by Nimrod and Semiramis. These are just another form of the Black Magic now raging in Britain. These sorcerers revealed in Isaiah's prophecy are not atheistic Communists — they're professing "Christians" who worship crucifixes and idols of dead "saints." The Communist hordes of Russia, China and the rest of the Orient will at that time sweep across Europe, devastating it. Again notice that the ones whom God punishes through this trumpet plague are those who "worship demons, and idols" and they are also spoken of as "sorcerers" (Rev. 9:20, 21). And they do it in the name of Christ! You had better heed. Turn from all these forms of adoration, reverence, or outright worship of idols! Don't worship images, dead saints or demons. Worship God only!
WHY God Will Forsake
America and Britain One of the chief reasons why Almighty God is going to let the peoples of America and Britain (modern-day House of Israel) be forsaken and finally taken into captivity is that of their sorceries. "Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob) because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines..." (Isa.2:6). God says, "And I will come near to you in judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the SORCERERS... for I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:5-6). Today modern Israel and Judah — and the whole world — are horribly contaminated with many forms of sorcery. In Revelation 21:8 and Revelation 22:15 Christ reveals that "sorcerers" will be rejected — denied the privilege of entering the New Jerusalem. All sorcerers shall "have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimsrone: which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8). This is a stern warning from God Almighty. All who are in any way contaminated by sorcery, astrology, and religious superstition had better heed God's warning!