Witchcraft is thriving among Christians, and they don’t need Harry Potter, pentagrams, astrology or spell books to put it into practice.
When I worked for the Elijah List, I had a lot of exposure to many false prophets. Although I now consider the majority of what they said to be complete garbage, there was one thing that I heard that has stuck with me even to this day.
You can’t expect to overcome the spirit of Ba’al when you’ve set up altars to him in your heart.”
Very recently, the western church had huge concerns over plans to construct temples to Ba’al in the United States and Great Britain – some reports said this would happen all around the world. Snopes.com (if you can trust Snopes.com) recently stated that the plans had been “shelved indefinitely…” we’ll see.
Nevertheless, when one considers the state of the church and holds it up to the standards set forth in the Word, it is the height of hypocrisy for them to have such concerns.
Because the Most Ancient Form of Witchcraft is Practiced in the Church
The western church has spent all kinds of energy going after homosexuality, abortion and Harry Potter, but has ignored the most ancient form of witchcraft that permeates her very culture. She has attempted to raise her own standard of righteousness in fighting the sins of others without, but has ignored God’s standard of righteousness, allowing an altar of sin to remain undetected and operable within.
Man, that seems a little harsh, Kevin… what gives you the right to write such things?
Look, don’t get offended just yet… aren’t you interested in knowing what raising your own standard of righteousness has to do with witchcraft? Don’t you want to know what I mean by the “most ancient form of witchcraft?”
Please, grab your Bible, a cup of coffee (or tea) and read this rather long post through to the end. See if what I’m saying doesn’t balance with Scripture. I think you’ll find the implications for the modern day church to be staggering.
The Backdrop of Our Study (taken from 1 Samuel 7-8)
God’s original plan for Israel was for them to move into the Promised Land and completely annihilate the foreign inhabitants in the process. He was to be their God… their divine King who would protect them from any foreign invader. They were to be His people, a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6) who lived out their daily lives according to the Torah given at Mount Sinai.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, the people continually turned away from His divine laws and ordinances, necessitating the need for a judge – a representative of God who would steer people back to the Torah. Often, the judge would act in the role of a prophet, speaking God’s words and showing the people where they fell short of His commands. I’m talking about people like Deborah and Samuel.
Samuel acted as both priest and judge (1 Samuel 3:20, 7:15). He was dearly loved by the people, and his words never fell to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19), but his sons were another story. For whatever reason, they were in it for personal gain and had no trouble twisting judgments and the Word of God to their own advantage (1 Samuel 8:3) – they were your standard model for today’s false prophets.
The people were not looking forward to the day Samuel died, because that meant that his sons would become the priests (and judges). That was not a good prospect, so they told Samuel to give them a king like the other nations had.
This made Samuel understandably upset, but God told him to appoint a king anyway, comparing their desire for a king other than YHWH to “idolatry.” (1 Samuel 8:8) At this point, I’m gritting my teeth, resisting the urge to talk about the political situation in America.
So Saul gets anointed King, is “changed into another man” when the Spirit of God comes upon him (1 Samuel 10:6) and even prophesies. Then, after some great victories, Saul sacrifices a burnt offering in direct violation of the commandment (1 Samuel 13). This results in Samuel prophesying that the kingdom would be given to “a man after His (God’s) heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14)
Things go downhill fast for Saul from there, even to the point where his own son, Jonathan, states “My father has troubled the land.” (1 Samuel 14:29)
The Word of YHWH to Saul was to be Obeyed.
Samuel also said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed [H8085 – shama] the voice of the words of the LORD.”
The English word “heed” means to just hear, but the Hebrew word “shama” or “sh’ma” (link) means to both hear and obey.
Samuel came to Saul and reminded him that it was YHWH who sent him (Samuel) to anoint him king over Israel. Now this same God was sending the prophet again with another message. This message was not to be just heard, it was to be obeyed!
Keep this in your mind as you read this post, because it will have direct bearing on what happens later.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt.”
The Amalekites were descendants of Esau and a Canaanite woman. Esau was hated by God (Malachi 1:3), and Canaan was cursed by Noah (Genesis 9:25). God’s animosity towards this people was not unwarranted, as they attacked His people in the wilderness when they were headed toward the Promised Land.
When Israel fought with Amalek, Moses was up on top of a hill with the rod of God in his hand (Exodus 17). The rod was a symbol of guidance and authority. As long as the hands of Moses (which held the authority and guidance of God) were supported, the Israelites won, but when the hands of Moses (which held the authority and guidance of God) were let down, Amalek prevailed.
God hated Amalek so much, that He said that He would have war with the Amalekites “from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16). They would be cursed with no hope of redemption. Saul was ordered by the prophet, the mouthpiece of YHWH, to act as the hand of YHWH and end the existence of this cursed tribe once and for all. That group of people, who would dare to attack His young bride, were to pay with their lives. The victory was to be decisive, final and without mercy.
Slaughtering the Undesirable While Sparing the Subtle
“Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey”
I want to bring your attention to this verse by itself for a reason. YHWH specifically lists out the various things that He wants destroyed. These are items (or people) that could be a temptation to the children of Israel. The young men would want the women and the entire population could find good use for the ox, sheep, camel and donkey.
But that did not matter in this situation. “Utterly destroy” was the verdict from on high and the order was to be obeyed.
So, we read in 1 Samuel 15:4-7 that Saul starts his campaign against the Amalekites, giving notice to the Kenites so that they would have a chance to escape the impending slaughter. Then he does something really stupid.
He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
Saul and his army obey the Lord in destroying the people, and yet spare king Agag, the very symbol of the strength and culture of the Amalekites. They destroy the tribe whom YHWH hates, yet save that which is the very epitome and authority of that hatred.
This is where things start to parallel with the church.
In our quest to obey God as we live out our daily lives, we will joyfully destroy the undesirable… or at least give lip service and agree that certain sins are undesirable. We will gladly, and understandably, call out homosexuality, beastiality, the witchcraft of Harry Potter and ouija boards as sin, and do everything we can to put their presence and influence out of our lives. Some of us will call out the “mediocre” sins of lying, cheating, and stealing for what they are… although our numbers are dwindling.
But we spare the greater sin of twisting God’s Word to conform it to fit our own comfort and culture. This sin is very subtle, but make no mistake about it – the sin of manipulating the Word to fit into our way of doing things is the very source from which all of the “sicker” sort of sins are spawned. (Romans 1:18-32)
Not only was Agag spared, but the best sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs and “all that was good” were spared. YHWH specifically listed these things out to be destroyed, and yet they were spared. Why? Because they were pleasing in the eyes of the people.
The “despised” and “worthless” were destroyed, but “all that was good” was spared.
What does that show us about King Saul and the Israelites?
Like the modern day church, they were happy to obey YHWH’s commands if it didn’t cost them anything, but they were quick to disobey if it involved the denial of what they desired.
What does all this have to do with the church and witchcraft?… Wait for it, it’s coming.
Partial Obedience is a Monument to Self.
Now the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying,
There are a couple of things that I want you to keep in mind with this passage.
Saul has only partially fulfilled the commandment of YHWH, and we shall soon see that he feels fully justified in his own mind. Although he may have had noble intentions, the bottom line is that he felt his reasoning was superior to God’s command. God equates this with disobedience and tells His prophet “…he has turned back from following me.”
Our God never changes (Malachi 3:6). Even today, if you rationalize His commands and apply your own reasoning so that it fits your wants and desires, He equates that with “turning back from following Him.”
In this same passage, we see that Saul has erected a monument to himself. Anytime you disobey YHWH’s eternal Word and hold back what is desirable, that lends itself to your comfort, you have built a monument to self.
Side Note: On this same mountain – Mt. Carmel – where Saul built a monument to himself, Elijah would one day rebuild an altar (I’m not sure if it’s the same one) which was torn down. YHWH’s prophet would build it with stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel and, in his prayer, would say “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” (1 Kings 18:37) Powerful stuff.
Disobedience Out of Self-Delusion is No Excuse.
Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”
Saul is not intentionally lying, at this point. Saul is so self-deluded and self-justified (notice the self?) that he is fully convinced that he has obeyed the orders of the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He confidently strides up to YHWH’s prophet and says “I have performed the commandment of the Lord!”
Then the prophet states the obvious (paraphrased), “Then what’s with all the cows and sheep, Saul?”
This scenario encapsulates the job description of a true modern day prophet. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than to jolt God’s people out of their self-induced delusion and give them a harsh dose of His truth. While the well-churched masses prance about in their man-made ritual, emotion-driven worship and catchy christian idioms, the prophet comes along and says, “What about the original orders of YHWH?”
Back to the topic… Saul quickly responds to Samuel:
And Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.”
I frequently see the reasoning of Saul rear its ugly head when confronting Christians about the sin (yes, sin) of celebrating Christmas and Easter.
- We’re taking these days back from the pagans!
- We’re celebrating them “unto the Lord!” We don’t celebrate the pagan aspects of these holidays!
It’s the exact same rebellion and disobedience that Saul is displaying here. Their self-delusion and desperate attempt at twisting the Word of God to fit into what is culturally acceptable is nothing more than… well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s read Samuel’s response.
Samuel Puts Saul in His Place
Then Samuel said to Saul, “Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night.” And he said to him, “Speak on.”
At this point, Samuel doesn’t want to hear Saul’s reasoning, so he interrupts the sputtering king and tells him, “Dude, shut up.” Then he again reminds him that it was YHWH that set him up as king – Saul didn’t get there by his own merit or effort. Were it not for the power and favor of Most High, he would still be just some guy from the tribe of Benjamin.
The prophet tells Saul (paraphrased), “Don’t you remember when you were nothing, Saul? YOU even thought you were nothing! But YHWH put you where you are today, Saul! Not You! And He gave you an order; why did you not obey Him?”
Saul was convinced he was being obedient because he felt his heart was in the right place… the prophet saw the whole facade for what it was – “evil in the sight of the Lord”.
In the same way, if we pledge allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we begin a journey, starting from a place of absolute spiritual poverty. We recognize that we are in a complete mess and need saving. As an act of grace, the Creator mercifully reaches down and extends to us a lifeline, allowing us (as enemies) to “cross over” to the other side and join His people Israel.
In response to this grace, we embark upon a quest to purge our lives of anything evil. If, along this journey, we start to make concessions, holding back what has been forbidden (regardless of whether or not it is acceptable to our society)… even for the alleged purpose of “offering it to the Lord,” we are self-deluded and are “doing evil” (and more) in the eyes of the King who had mercy on us.
At this point, we need to be reminded of where we came from. We didn’t get here because of our own merit. What right do we have to factor in our reasoning or our wants and desires when obeying His commands?
Self Justification is No Justification
And Saul said to Samuel, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
Saul starts off in complete denial, deluded into thinking that He has actually obeyed the commands of His Creator. No where did God say to spare Amalek, who was the very symbol and strength of the Amalekites.
No… this was to be a complete annihilation. The wants (and maybe even needs) of YHWH’s people were not to come into the picture. They were not to add to, or take away from, His orders.
Agag was the person who was in charge of the entire Amalekite people! This guy made the rules and was the very epitome of the sinful, abominable culture in which the Amalekites lived!
Then Saul tries to get Samuel to blame the people for keeping back the animals that YHWH had said to destroy. But it’s OK, Samuel, they are going to sacrifice these animals to YHWH! Israel’s first mortal king is so deluded that he excuses the sin of the people, just so long as they can use it to perform their religious duty.
Does this not sound familiar, dear readers?
But the prophet of our unchangeable God (Malachi 3:6) has something to say. I suggest that we take heed and apply it for today.
Offering Up What is Cursed is Not Worship
So Samuel said: “Has 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 heed than the fat of rams.”
Thus begins the first of two verses that have been often quoted, but taken way out of context by the church.
First, consider, these are cursed beasts that the people were going to offer up to YHWH as a form of worship. But, according to our King, they were animals destined for destruction. They came from a pagan culture and were subject to who knows what kind of corruption and pollution (spiritual, physical or otherwise).
In the same way, the Babylonian “church” attempts to offer up its own form of cursed worship every Sunday, Christmas and Easter. These holidays (holy-days) are firmly rooted in pagan culture and yet are faithfully clung to and justified because the people slapped a “Jesus” sticker on it and “offered it up to the Lord!”
God would always rather you obey His voice and do what He says than that you offer up to Him something that He has already appointed for destruction. Your obedience to His commandments is always better to Him than any form of worship.
Partial Obedience is Witchcraft.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.
Now, understand this (because it’s the main point I’m trying to make): What just happened?
The people disobeyed the Father’s explicit instructions to destroy everything; they spared what was pleasing in their own eyes. Even though the Father cursed those animals to destruction, these rebellious Israelites:
- Felt the cursed beasts were all-of-a-sudden worthy to be sacrificed because they took them back from the Amalekites.
- Were going to dedicate (offer them up) to YHWH.
The Israelites were convinced that they were doing YHWH’s will, when in fact, they were rebellious – a sin equal to witchcraft.
We’ve always been taught this verse means that, in a general sense, to rebel against God’s word is equal to witchcraft. For me, this creates an inner image of some big-mouthed atheist or a young punk who is out partying and causing mayhem. While I still feel this to be true in a sense, you can’t read the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 15, read verse 23 in context and come up with the same conclusion.
The “rebellion” spoken of here is the sin of taking His original word, obeying the parts that you feel comfortable with and “doing away with” the parts that will actually cost you. If you view and act on His word in this way, you might as well be dancing naked around a pentagram and sacrificing children.
… because that’s the way He sees it.
Do You Feel the Anger Rising? Read On!
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD.”
Unable to stand against the words of the prophet, Saul finally ‘fesses up. He admits that he:
- Disobeyed God’s commandment – only the priest was to offer sacrifices (see the entire book of Leviticus). True, he had not offered the sacrifice yet, but he had done so before (see 1 Samuel 13) and was fully intent on doing so again. Saul had a thing for the priesthood.
- Disobeyed God’s orders through His prophet – he did not utterly destroy what was destined for destruction, but kept back what appealed to his flesh.
- He even went so far as to admit that it was the fear of man that got him to this point.
Notice here that the prophet did his job and convicted the man of his sin, and the words had the desired effect – it brought a mode of clarity to the situation – but not necessarily the desired result.
King Saul verbally repented, but his heart was not changed. This man who was “changed into another man” by the spirit of God had forsaken His Word and was wholly given over to a “debased mind” (Romans 1:28).
Like our current leaders who have forsaken YHWH’s original instructions, Saul was more concerned about appeasing and impressing the masses (as well as increasing his own kingdom), so the true word of YHWH took a backseat to coddling the congregation in its idolatry.
That’s right, shepherds, be rebuked.
But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you, for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.”
What true prophet would deny an opportunity for someone who wants to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Someone who sees past the facade – someone who can see into the heart of a person.
Samuel knew that not only had Saul disobeyed this particular order from the Most High, but he had rejected the Torah of YHWH in His heart, creating within himself a resting place for an evil spirit. This was not an evil, demonic spirit sent by Satan, but a spirit sent by the God of Israel. Like those who have rejected the truth in 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Saul had given himself over to lawlessness (Torah-lessness), so YHWH sent an evil spirit to complete the work.
This is the same dynamic that Paul spoke about in 2 Thessalonians 2. This “Great Delusion” is almost complete. Like Saul, who thought everything was A-OK between him and God (up until this point), the lawless will think that they are in complete unity with the will of the Father. These are the people who will say:
“…’Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! [anomia – G458]‘” (link)
Witchcraft & Rebellion Results in Violence If Challenged
And as Samuel turned around to go away, Saul seized the edge [H3671 – kanaph] of his robe, and it tore.
Samuel walked in a true prophetic anointing. Not one of his words fell to the ground. (1 Samuel 3:19) The spirit of witchcraft in Saul’s heart, which simply could not handle the truth of the Word of YHWH nor the idea that its idea of righteousness fell short of YHWH’s standard set forth in His commands, rose up in frustration and desperation, violently tearing the robe of the priest and prophet.
Currently, there is a separation occurring within the Babylonian church. Those who have grieved in the night at the realization that the church is no longer valid and an illusion are walking away because they refuse to uphold even the most basic commandments of the Most High. The zeal for God’s higher ways is winning out over the modern day church dogma, but the heart is rent, nonetheless. The Sauls in your life are reaching out to you and making the heart tear even larger.
It says that Samuel eventually caved in to Saul’s pleadings to honor him before the elders and the nation of Israel.
Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.
Samuel stated only a few verses earlier that he would not honor Saul in the presence of the people. Since Samuel was a prophet and none of his words fell to the ground, I think that the only reason why he did this was so that he could hack Agag to pieces (v32-33). A true prophet of YHWH would not be wishy-washy in his verdicts and Saul was much too likely to spare Agag.
This passage ends on a sad note with Samuel going to his house in Ramah, refusing to see Saul until the day of his death. The Father had another assignment for His prophet… to anoint a “man after God’s own heart” – not a perfect king, but a righteous king who would not twist the Word of God to fit into his own mold.
Of course, I’m talking about David… the shepherd/warrior who wrote “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)
That may sound like “bondage” to a witch, but to those “strangers and pilgrims” who “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:16) ruled by that law (Isaiah 2:2-4), it is true freedom.