Moses' fifth speech, Part 12, Spiritual boundaries
Jan 26, 2013
The fifth speech of Moses is about government. After speaking about kings and priests, Moses then turns his attention to unlawful ways of governing. There are spiritual boundaries that must not be crossed as kings or priests make decisions about how to govern or what course of action to take. Deuteronomy 18:9 says,
9 When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.
There were certain practices that the Canaanites were doing, which were not lawful in the sight of God. What follows is a partial list of those practices that God finds “detestable.”
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord; and because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you.
First, the Israelites were not to sacrifice their children. The Canaanite temples were centers of sexual vice, often resulting in the firstborn son or daughter being fathered by a temple priest in the “purification” ceremony that prepared women for marriage. As the priest was said to represent their god, the child fathered by him was thought of as a “son of God,” and hence he was sacrificed for their sin.
They still possessed a vestige of truth and revelation from the beginning that the son of God would die for sin, but their religious understanding became warped in later years. Halley’s Bible Handbook says,
“So, Canaanites worshipped, by immoral indulgence, as a religious rite, in the presence of their gods; and then, by murdering their first-born children, as a sacrifice to these same gods” (p. 157).
The Israelites were given the true revelation, first that such immorality was not permitted by the law of God, and secondly that their first-born children were not to be sacrificed on behalf of their sin. Instead, they were to sacrifice animals only, which prophesied of the coming of the one True Sacrifice, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
In today’s world, where we have cast aside God’s law in favor of the spirit of Canaan, the 60’s revolution saw the acceptance of immorality as a natural right, and on its heels came the right to kill one’s children by abortion. The second naturally follows the first, because with increased pregnancy outside of marriage, abortion was then justified by calling it an “unwanted pregnancy.” The people wanted the right to be immoral without being inconvenienced by children, and after 40 years the death toll has now reached more than 55 million babies being sacrificed on the altars of Baal and Molech, which men call “abortion clinics.”
Abortion is the modern form of Canaanite worship, though doubtless, most people think of it in secular terms. Satanists know better and rejoice that their bloody religion is now mainstream practice in society.
Jeremiah 19 tells us that this practice was one of the main reasons why God hired the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple.
4 Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; 6 therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter.
God’s horror at this practice is matched only by the lack of conscience found in the people. Even today, many who call themselves Christians have been hardened by modern propaganda, so that they are even willing to vote for political candidates who openly promote such murder and promise to perpetuate it. Obviously, such Christians are ignorant of biblical law and fall into the category that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 7:23,
23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
The Israelites—those who had accepted Christ as their King and agreed to take on His mind and way of life—were to establish the model of the Kingdom of God. They were to provide the example, the light to the nations. Unfortunately, more often than not, the Canaanites were the ones who provided the example for the Israelites to follow. It is the same today, where we see how the church follows the example of the world and “adapts” in order to be seen as “progressive” and “in tune with the world.”
Yet the word of the Lord still stands: “You shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.”
The second thing in Deuteronomy 18:10 that God finds detestable is “one who uses divination.” The Hebrew word for divination is qecem. It has either a positive or a negative meaning, depending on how it is used. In the negative sense it refers to witchcraft or divination, by which men sought to foretell the future apart from consulting God. We see, however, the word used in a positive sense in Proverbs 16:9-11,
9 The mind of man plans his way; but the Lord directs his steps. 10 A divine decision [qecem] is in the lips of the king; his mouth should not err in judgment. 11 A just balance and scales belong to the Lord; all the weights of the bag are His concern.
In other words, determining the future or the will of God is not something that God finds detestable. The sin is in consulting other gods or in trying to discover the future that God chooses to hide. The law of God regulates prophecy and determines His will. When men depart from God and seek other paths, it falls short of God’s standard of measure, and it is for this reason that Proverbs 16:11 comes on the heels of the valid use of qecem on the lips of the king.
The law of God is the standard by which all behavior is measured. Jesus Christ never sinned, never violated the law, but continually acted in accordance with it, thus fulfilling it perfectly. The mind of Christ is our standard of measure. We are to have only one standard of measure in our “bag.” We are not to act one way in church and another way in the world.
So also is it with qecem. If we consult other gods, or try to bypass Christ, or seek to know what God does not want to reveal at the time, then it is biblical divination. However, if we consult God in the proper way, as Moses and the prophets did, then God is pleased with our qecem.
In John D. Davis’ book, A Dictionary of the Bible, he writes under Divination,
“The attempt to read the future and utter soothsaying either by a kind of inspiration or divine afflatus (Acts xvi. 16), or else by means of signs. In the latter sense, it includes augury or foretelling the future by means of natural signs, such as the flight of birds, the disposition of the entrails (Ezek. xxi. 21); hydromancy or foretelling from the appearance of water poured into a vessel or of objects dropped into the water (Gen. xliv. 5); sorcery, in its original sense of foretelling by casting lots (Ezek. xxi. 21); and also astrology or the determination of the supposed influence of the stars on the destiny of a person (cp. Is. xlvii. 13).”
Signs are neither good nor bad in themselves. God gave many signs, including one given to King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:9-11. Earlier, Hezekiah had been given a Jubilee sign (2 Kings 19:29). In 1 Samuel 2:34 God gave a sign to Eli the high priest to foretell the end of the Phinehas priesthood. In 1 Kings 13:3 a sign was given to foretell the birth of a godly king in Judah by the name of Josiah. In 2 Samuel 5:24 God gave David a “natural sign,” saying,
24 And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.
These signs confirmed the word of the Lord in regard to a future event. God obviously approved such signs, because God Himself gave them to bear witness to the prophetic word. It was the misuse of signs that God detested, for in such cases men sought signs outside of the boundaries and limitations of divine law.
Davis also speaks of “sorcery,” linking it to “casting lots.” Casting lots was not a problem in and of itself. The problem was when they did so to consult false gods. In Leviticus 16:8 lots were cast to determine which goat was to be killed and which was to be released into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement. In Joshua 18:10 Joshua cast lots to determine the land inheritances of the tribes in Canaan. The priests even cast lots to determine who was to bring wood for the sacrifices (Nehemiah 10:34).
It is generally agreed that the urim and thummim held by the high priests were two stones of differing colors, which were used to cast lots (Exodus 28:30). We know that these were used to inquire of the Lord (Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 28:6). It was probably by using the urim and thummim that Achan’s guilt was uncovered (Joshua 7:16-20).
Finally, astrology has been used for thousands of years to determine the future. Originally, the constellations foretold the entire plan of God from the virgin birth of Christ (Virgo) to His coming as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Leo). It foretold His dual nature as Son of God and Son of Man (Gemini) and His death as the Passover Lamb (Aries). It foretold of the church and the overcomers (Ursa Minor and Ursa Major, the two sheepfolds). It foretold of judgment to come (Libra) and the outpouring of the Spirit (Aquarius).
Unfortunately, men lost much of the original revelation of the stars and subjected them to their own gods. They used the stars to obtain prophecy apart from the mind of Christ and used it according to their own carnal purposes. Yet in spite of this God took credit for naming the stars (i.e., constellations) in Psalm 147:4,
4 He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.
In Psalm 19:1 “the heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” The constellations were signs of the twelve sons of Jacob (Genesis 37:9), and each of the tribes represented a different constellation on their banners when they came out of Egypt. Even their placement in the camp around the tabernacle was ordered according to the circle of the twelve constellations.
The wise men, too, understood the prophetic meaning of the signs in the heavens, and thus they knew when and where the Messiah had been born (Matthew 2:1, 2).
Therefore, we see that it is the misuse of the star signs that God detests, along with the misuse of signs and prophecy in general. When men peer into the future in unlawful ways and for unlawful purposes, they sin against God. This is sorcery and witchcraft. Those who cast spells, or curse those whom God has blessed, or bless those whom God has cursed, or engage in manipulation for selfish purposes, are engaging in witchcraft.
Those who call up the dead (Deuteronomy 18:11) to inquire of things that God has hidden from the living are engaging in spiritism and witchcraft. King Saul began in rebellion against God, and Samuel told him that rebellion was like witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). Saul’s rebellion eventually ripened into full-blown witchcraft when he consulted the witch of En-dor to call up Samuel from the dead (1 Samuel 28:11).
It is interesting that Deuteronomy 18:11 outlaws spiritist mediums. The Hebrew word for “medium” is sha’al, the root of the name Sha’ul, or Saul. It means to ask or inquire. The people had “asked” for a king, so they were given a man whose name reflected this (1 Samuel 12:17). But in asking for a king, they were rejecting the direct rule of God (1 Samuel 8:7). In consulting among themselves instead of consulting God’s will, they were, in essence, engaging in witchcraft as spiritist mediums. Hence, their king reflected their own hearts, and the trouble that came of this was the consequence of their own lawlessness.
This is the twelfth part of a series titled "Moses' Fifth Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones