Title: The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination
Author: Michael S. Heiser
Publisher: BlindSpot Press
Back Cover: The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination
Much of the Old Testament’s recounting of the salvation history of the people of God concerns the disastrous effects of Israelite adoption of the beliefs and practices of the surrounding nations. The people of Israel were to avoid the gods of other nations and any practices that involved the worship of those other gods. The Gentile nations had been put under the jurisdiction of these other gods by God himself as a punishment in response to the rebellion of the nations at the tower of Babel. After disowning the nations at Babel, God called Abram and created his own people anew, confirming his abiding love for the patriarch’s descendants by means of a convenant relationship. As a result, any use of divination to contact one of the foreign gods was viewed as a covenant violation and disloyalty to the true God.
The barrier between God’s people and the disinherited pagan was communicated in various ways in the the Law of Moses. Some laws were clearly aimed at prohibiting a mingling of the populations due to fear of idolatry, such as laws forbidding intermarriage between Israelites and the peoples that were to be driven from the land promised to Israel.
“Realm distinction” was also what lay behind laws forbidding human beings from transgressing the boundary between the terrestrial realm of humanity and the non-terrestrial spiritual realm. More properly, there was a realm of embodied living beings (humans, animals) and disembodied beings (God, angels, demons). While it is true that Scripture contains examples where member of each group were permitted entrance into the other realm, human efforts to tap into the “other side” apart from God’s sovereign permission and initiation were forbidden.
The foundation passage of the Old Testament that articulates God’s demand that Israel reject pagan divination is Deuteronomy 18:9-14. There is certainly no doubt that the Old Testament views the practices sketched above very negatively. The condemnations are clear. What isn’t so clear is why God would allow some of these very same divination techniques to be practiced by Israelites (e.g., prophets) who were his faithful servants, or by people God chose to contact. This paper answers this question.
Book Review: The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination
The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination is very short, only 18 pages on Kindle. That being said, it covers a lot of ground in a very short time. The book discusses many pagan practices of the nations that surrounded Israel, that parallel much of what we’ve seen in our more modern times. Topics discussed include:
- The Principle of Realm Distinction
- Abominable Practices
- Getting Away with Divination?
- Standing in the Council
This book was both eye-opening and telling in many ways. At the same time, it also wasn’t surprising to read the things that God does not like, because He knows it’s these very acts that can allow us to open doors to the demonic and close the door on Him, which is certainly not His best nor desire for us, His children.
Some of the things that we see in practice still today, that were warned about back then are passing children through the fire. While it’s different, it’s symbolically the same…and perhaps, in some cases today, it can be argued that it’s exactly the same. Others include, fortune-telling, interpret omens, mixing of herbs (or an herbalist), spellbinding, consulting non-human spirits (seances and ouija boards), contacting the human dead, astrologer (astrologies), dream interpretation, and the like.
The question that may arise for you is, but didn’t God allow these things Himself? And if so, why are they bad? Great questions….let’s explore that further.
My thoughts about The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination
This was a wonderful book with so much good information that we may “innocently” partake in, not realizing what damages are being done, due to them being unseen through our mortal eyes. The problem lies in that very fact, that we can allow, open doors, to demonic activity into our lives, giving them legal rights to us and our family, without knowing it. Then, all sorts of problems ensue and we are unclear why. Do all problems come this way, clearly not, based on Scripture, but it is one way the enemy seeks to gain access into our lives.
Now, for the question of if this is all wrong, why did God allow some of this to transpire through His chosen people? As Heiser so adeptly points out in his book, the key lies in who is initiating the actions. Is it by God’s will and invitation or are we willing it and initiating it to happen? What is the difference? In our limited spiritual view and perspective, we can unintentionally tap into things that we should not be. Conversely, when God initiates it, we can be sure that we are engaging in the very thing that is not only according to His will, but divinely guided by Him and we remain under His protection throughout, for both His purpose and glory.
When, however, we will it to happen in our own time and according to our own initiation, we cannot always be certain that we are meeting our intended desires. We more often than not, have access to the second heaven, through these endeavors, and therefore maybe contacting lying, deceiving and nefarious spirits, rather than the goodness that is in the third heaven, where God dwells. This, I believe, is why God forbids these activities without His consent and guidance and what He longs to protect us from.
In more recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of spiritual activities like seeing and traveling in the spirit. Let me first say that I do believe these are Scriptural and available to believers, at God’s initiation and guidance. I do not believe these acts are heretical in any manner. I’ve studied them and what the Bible has to say about them. There is certainly a place for these to still occur among God’s people. I’ve even tried to engage in them, but not too hard or for too long. Thankfully, in retrospect, God sheltered me from engaging in things that I’m not equipped nor prepared to battle. What do I mean?
I believe that I could have unintentionally been deceived or I could have accidentally tapped into astral projection (pagan/occult activity), by willfully trying to travel in the spirit or see more demonic beings than I’m prepared at the present time to see and battle. But why do I think it’s still okay, if it’s riddled with these possible dangers? Because I trust God and if He initiates it within a believer, then I believe He has a purpose that will be for the good.
I do believe that we are in the last days and we will continue to see God work wonders, but I don’t look to signs and wonders for evidence of Him…they are mere shadows of His existence…I look not for the shadow, but the One that is casting the shadow. It’s not the things He creates that woos me, but it’s Him. Don’t get me wrong, I love signs, wonders, miracles and all the amazing things God does, but it is He that truly takes my breath away.
I do believe it’s dangerous to go anywhere that God is not leading us. If He takes us, it’s safe to go, if not…then, it’s best to stay clear. I am concerned that there are those teaching that it’s okay for everyone to engage in such things. I do believe God has called some to do these things, but I’m not sure it’s for everyone, because we are not all in the same place spiritually and in the hands of someone that is not prepared for the spiritual gifts and adventures, this could prove to be problematic.
God doesn’t put these restrictions in place to limit us, but rather to protect us. I believe if He calls someone to engage in these things, as He did in the Bible and does with some today, He will confirm it and it will be a blessing beyond measure. But, if it is us that is initiating it, we must proceed with much prayer and caution, with heightened spiritual discernment and ever on the look out for the nefarious spirits that are more than eager to take advantage of our naivety in such spiritual matters.
Would I Recommend The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination
Without a doubt, I sure would. This is a very short book, but it is so eye-opening. This can help us to walk with God daily, in all He has for us, but not cross the boundaries that He has put in place for our own good. This is a great book for the new believer and the mature believer alike. We can find ourselves engaged in things we not fully aware of their consequences. Books like, The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination, can help us be in this world and not of it and to avoid the dangerous pitfalls that the enemy has laid to sneer us.
And, that’s a wrap…The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination
I hope you found this review helpful. If so, please share it with your family and friends, so they can learn about this great book too. You can click here or on any image of the book on this page to see it on Amazon. Thanks for taking the time to read this review and God bless!
Willfully contacting the other side through means of divination without God’s approval telegraphed one’s desire to “be like a god,” to have the knowledge and attributes of God and the other entities that inhabited the disembodied spiritual world.
Heiser, Michael S., The Old Testament Response to Pagan Divination: A conference paper (Kindle Locations 37-39). BlindSpot Press. Kindle Edition.