magic and divination

magic and divination

Means by which humans attempt to secure for themselves some action or information from superhuman powers. Magic is an attempt by human beings to compel a divinity to do what they wish that divinity to do. Divination is an attempt to secure information about matters and events that are currently hidden or that lie in the future. The most awesome power seemed to rest in the name of a divinity; accordingly, the name of God, YHWH, was never to be pronounced (Exod 3:13-15). Magic could be practiced on various levels and the Bible uses several words to refer to this occupation. On the highest level were the magi (NRSV, “wise men”) of (Matt 2) and the “Chaldeans” of (Dan 1-2), who had priestly functions. On the lowest level were the “imposters” (2Tim 3:13) who relied on trickery. Between these were the sorcerers, enchanters, and charmers who could cast spells and knew how to use herbs, potions, and drugs. One of the earliest references to magic in the Bible is the confrontation between Moses and the Egyptian magicians (Exod 8:5-9:12). Also, Saul resorted to necromancy when “the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets,” and he had to consult the medium of Endor to bring up Samuel for him (1Sam 28). In spite of their seeming popularity in the world at large, however, both magic and divination were strongly opposed in both OT and NT (Isa 8:19; Isa 44:25; Isa 47:12-15; Deut 18:10-12; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 13:6-11; Acts 19:13-20; Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15). The Bible teaches that humans have direct access to God, and the NT especially emphasizes that the role of demons and other intermediaries was made superfluous by Jesus Christ.

Exod 3:13-15

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Matt 2

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Dan 1-2

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2Tim 3:13

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Exod 8:5-9:12

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1Sam 28

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Isa 8:19

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Isa 44:25

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Isa 47:12-15

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Deut 18:10-12

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Acts 8:9-24

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Acts 13:6-11

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Acts 19:13-20

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Rev 21:8

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Rev 22:15

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