Fortune-Telling and God’s Word

by Josh McDowell

Most people are obsessed with the future. They worry, they wonder, they obsess about possible scenarios. And some, in desperation, seek to learn what is ahead by seeking fortune-tellers or astrological forecasts. Divination, or fortune-telling, is an age-old practice. The “diviner” uses various props to receive his knowledge, including palmistry, cartomancy, mirror gazing and psychometry. Some knowledge may come from demonic beings, and some is merely educated guessing and trickery.

In his book, The Fakers, Danny Korem writes that six tools in the con artist’s tool bag are often used:

1.  Observation of sensory clues.

2.  Prior knowledge of subject obtained secretly before reading.

3.  Ability to think on one’s feet and change direction of the reading without hesitation or detection.

4.  Understanding of human nature.

5.  Utilization of the cards or any other apparatus to pick up sensory clues or change the direction of the reading when off-track.

6.  An element of luck and a keen sense of playing the odds so that a well-placed guess my produce spectacular results.

When we seek to see the future through fortune-telling it is an abomination to God, because he fails to seek God’s direction for our lives. Satan has accomplished his purpose when they reject God’s Word. In (1 Chronicles 10:13,14) God’s punishment of Saul for seeking out a medium is recorded:

“So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom to David, the son of Jesse.”

Is this passage about Saul our only warning against seeking a fortune-teller, even for fun or out of curiosity? The Lord calls the word of the diviners a lie (Ezekiel 13:8) and cuts them off from cohabitation with Israel (Ezekiel 13:9).

“Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord God. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God.” ESV

The law of Moses made fortune-telling punishable by death (Leviticus 20:27)

“A man or a woman who is a medium or a necromancer shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them.” ESV

Its existence always filtered into Israel through the pagan cultures around them (Ezekiel 21:21).

For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination. He shakes the arrows; he consults the seraphim; he looks at the liver.

Jeremiah calls divination a deception (14:14)

And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” ESV

Isaiah says God will make them into fools (44:25).

“…who frustrates the signs of liars
    and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
    and makes their knowledge foolish” ESV

In the New Testament times, divining was a lucrative business at Philippi (Acts 16:16).

“As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.” ESV

Paul took authority over the demon that inspired the girl’s practice and cast it out (16:18), which shows us that not all divination is educated guesswork, but may be a result of demonic influence.

“And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.”

Is it important or even necessary to guard our hearts and minds from the persuasion of the world? Yes, it is. What some people considered unthinkable at previous times in their lives is what they so often bend toward in their moments of weakness. Jesus gave us some guidelines for protection in the Sermon on the Mount. “The lamp of the body is the eye,” He said. “If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23). Our behavior needs to be guarded by the light of God’s Word, which also means we need to be careful about what we allow to enter our body through our senses-especially the eyes and the ears.

Trust your future to the God who made you.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a precious promise.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  The future belongs to God, and the safest place to be is in the center of His will.” ESV

The Occult: The Authority of the Believer Over the Powers of Darkness by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, pp.42-44. Used by permission.

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