This is my two cents about magic and since this is the debates forum, you can post anything you want. So here it goes: What is the occult? The word "occult" is generally associated with secret knowledge and practices dealing with the supernatural or "psychic" phenomena often for the purpose of obtaining personal power. Some occult practices rely on demons or "spirits" to achieve their goals. Occultism is rapidly increasing throughout the world. There are now thousands of publishers of occultic books and magazines (not to mention Web sites). Interest in the occult has been promoted by the New Age movement, the rise of neo-paganism, movies and even some heavy-metal rock bands. Please understand that the terms "occult" and "cult" refer to completely different things - although there can be crossover in some specific instances. That is, some cults have occultic practices. Here is a quick list on occultist rituals/practices: Alchemy Animism Astrology Automatic speaking (through spirits) Automatic writing (spirit-guided) Cabalistic knowledge Calling up the dead Candomble Celtics (the religion, not the Celtic "race") Channeling Chaos Magic Chiromancy Clairaudience Clairvoyance Crystalmancy Demon worship and consultation Discordianism Divination Eckankar Enchantments Fetishism Fortune telling Freemasonry Glass looking Gnostic wisdom Hermetic Traditions Horoscopes Hydromancy I Ching Illuminated organizations Illuminati Incantations Kabbalah Knights Templar La Regla Lucumi Lukumi Lycanthropy Macumba Magic, magick (magical arts) Mediums Mirror gazing Necromancy Neo-paganism Omens Oracles Ordo Templi Orientis Ouija boards Paganism Palmistry Prognostication Psychometry Qabalah Quimbanda Radiestesia Rosicrucianism Runes Santeria Satanism Scrying Secret societies Sevi Lwa Shamanism Soothsaying Sorcery Spells (casting, conjuring) Spirit-guides Spiritists Spiritualism Tarot cards Tea cup reading Thelemite Umbanda Vedic astrology Vodun (Voodoo) White witchcraft Wicca* (Explanation below) Witchcraft Wizardy *The Bible says, "Our fight in this world is not against flesh and blood, (human beings) but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual powers in heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). I know how real these principalities, powers and rulers of darkness are. As bizarre as it may seem, I have been involved in the very extremes of psychic phenomena. What occultists don’t understand is that there is a spirit battle for their soul. On one hand, we have the Holy Spirit; on the other side, we have a Spirit world of demonic power. And where do you think the battleground is? Man himself, his very soul. Jesus, in His farewell message to the Apostle said “I must go so that the comforter must come” (The Holy Spirit) Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins. He was the perfect sacrifice. You have to make a decision; you have to choose, either follow Satan or Jesus. Now a lot of people don’t understand this. Why? Because they simply just don’t understand the Bible. Here is the reason why. (I don’t know who the author was, but it made sense to me. The following is what he wrote.) The Bible is a difficult book because it came from the infinite to the finite — from the unlimited all powerful God, to limited man. Therefore, you cannot understand the Bible as you could understand the writings of Plato and Socrates. You can study the great philosophers with the natural mind and by diligent application grasp their profound meanings. If the Bible could be understood by natural man, it would be a natural book and could not be the Word of God Since the Bible is from God, and therefore Spiritual, before you can receive it’s teachings, you must be born of the Spirit and filled with the spirit. Always approach the Bible praying that the Spirit will be your teacher and will guide you to a better understanding of His Holy word, or it will remain a difficult, closed book. Jesus made it clear, He said: "I am the way the truth and the life, NO ONE ENTERS INTO HEAVEN EXCEPT THROUGH ME" (John 14:1-7). Jesus always told the truth. Think about it. What does the Bible say about the occult? Today, many people dabble in the mystical, occultic arts. Is there anything wrong with being involved in these practices? Yes, the Bible takes a clear position on this subject, strongly denouncing these practices. God created us and therefore owns us. He has a right to set the rules for our lives. God's Word indicates that these practices are part of Satan's strategy of evil tricks and deception, designed to lead us astray. Satan and his demons are real beings set on our destruction. Christians are warned to "put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:11-12). Concerning occult practices, the Israelites were told: "When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…" -Deuteronomy 18:9-12a Astrology (predictions by the planets or moon; horoscopes; sometimes referred to as "observing times" in the Old Testament) Although the Bible does go into great detail about astrology, it certainly makes its position clear. We should never trust in astrological beliefs or predictions. Astrology is an ancient, heathen practice that leads to disaster. Our lives are not determined by the stars or movement of planets. The Bible warns against the false predictions of astrology (Jeremiah 10:2; 27:9-10; Daniel 2:1-4; 4:7; 5:7-9) and repeatedly condemns the associated practice of worshipping the sun, moon and stars (or "deities or demons associated with them") (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:2-5; 2 Kings 21:3, 5; Zephaniah 1:5; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 8:1-2). In Isaiah, God sarcastically rebukes Israel for practicing astrology, …For you have trusted in your wickedness… Therefore evil shall come upon you… trouble shall fall upon you… Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, And the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from what shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble, The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame…" -Isaiah 47:10-14a Magic, Spells, Enchantments, Charming, Sorcery, Wizardry, Witchcraft Research has shown that occult magic is often fraudulent and deceitful illusion - counterfeit miracles. Many books have been written on this subject. In some instances, occult magic or divination are a manifestation of demonic powers or the result of demon possession (Acts 16:16). Of course, the power of Satan and his demons is extremely limited compared to God's power. Those who follow the path of the magic arts are on the wrong path - a road that leads away from God, not toward Him. In one way or another, the end will be disaster. The evil Queen Jezebel practiced witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22) bringing catastrophe on herself and all Israel. Over and over, God denounces those who "conjure spells" (NKJV) and those who practice witchcraft and sorcery. The Bible says that anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 2 Kings 21:6; Micah 5:12; Isaiah 47:12; Ezekiel 13:18, 20; Acts 8:11-24; Leviticus 20:27; Exodus 7:11; Revelation 9:21; 22:15). God warns of the ultimate punishment. Revelation 21:8 says of "…those who practice magic arts …their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur… the second death" (NIV). Those who practice witchcraft (sorcery) will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). These practices are anti-God and are in rebellion against Him. Many of citizens of ancient Ephesus practiced the magic arts. Those who became Christians realized the foolish error of their former lives and burned their expensive books of magic as the trash they were (Acts 19:19). The Bible tells how the apostle Paul once dealt with one of these deceivers, a sorcerer and false prophet who led people astray. "Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.' And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand" (Acts 13:9-11). Divination, Fortune-telling, Mediums, Spiritism, Necromancy, Familiar Spirits, Wizardry, Seances, Channeling, Clairvoyance, Spirit-guides The Bible strongly warns people not to consult mediums and spiritists for the truth, but to inquire of God (Isaiah 8:19). Clearly, if those who practiced these arts have any power (beyond being great deceivers), it is not a gift from God (as some falsely claim). The Bible condemns and forbids these practices several times (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 27:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24). Divination and Spiritism were despised practices of the heathens (Ezekiel 21:21; Isaiah 19:3; 1 Samuel 28). Scripture says that one of the reasons King Saul died was "because he consulted a medium for guidance" rather than God (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). The Bible provides examples showing the folly and failures of those who claimed the ability to predict the future based on their own powers or those of spirits (Daniel 2:27, etc.). God calls the word of diviners "nonsense," "lies" and "deception" for foolish people (Ezekiel 13:8; Jeremiah 14:14; Isaiah 44:25). God said, "Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!" (Ezekiel 13:3). If an Israelite lived the deceitful practice of being a medium, it was punishable by death (Leviticus 20:27). The presence of a medium or spiritist among God's people of Israel was considered a defilement (Leviticus 19:31). All these practices take people further from their Creator, the true and living God. Following omens or signs We are not to look to omens or "signs" to direct our lives. The Bible reprimands people for doing this. It is an "abomination" and foolishness (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Look to God and His instructions for life as provided in the Bible. To do otherwise is to foolishly deceive yourself, or allow Satan and others to deceive you. Definitions Demon: (Daemon)the Greek form, translated "devil" in the King James Version of the New Testament Demons are spoken of as spiritual beings (Matt. 8:16; 10:1; 12:43-45) at enmity with God, and as having a certain power over man (James 2:19; Rev. 16:14). They recognize our Lord as the Son of God (Matt. 8:20; Luke 4:41). They belong to the number of those angels that "kept not their first estate," "unclean spirits," "fallen angels," the angels of the devil (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7-9). They are the "principalities and powers" against which we must "wrestle" (Eph. 6:12). Author: Matthew G. Easton The word demon(s) does not appear in the King James Bible, which uses the word "devils" instead. The New King James Bible uses the word "demon(s)" in 72 verses. The only exorcist mentioned in the Old Testament is David (1 Samuel 16:23). In the New Testament, both Jesus and his Apostles cast out demons through the power of the Holy Spirit. Spirit: Hebrew: ruah; Greek: pneuma, meaning wind or breath In 2 Thess. 2:8 it means "breath," and in Eccl. 8:8 the vital principle in man. It also denotes the rational, immortal soul by which man is distinguished (Acts 7:59; 1 Cor. 5:5; 6:20; 7:34), and the soul in its separate state (Hebrews 12:23), and hence also an apparition (Job 4:15; Luke 24:37, 39), an angel (Hebrews 1:14), and a demon (Luke 4:36; 10:20). This word is used also metaphorically as denoting a tendency (Zech. 12:10; Luke 13:11). In Rom. 1:4, 1 Tim. 3:16, 2 Cor. 3:17, 1 Pet. 3:18, it designates the divine nature. Angels: Hebrew: "mal'ak" / Greek: "aggelos." In both languages, the word means "messenger," and is used to describe any agent God sends to do his will. It does not always refer to heavenly beings. The appearances of "the Angel of the Lord" to Abraham at Mamre (Gen. 18:2, 22. Compare 19:1), to Jacob at Peniel (Gen. 32:24, 30), to Joshua at Gilgal (Josh. 5:13,15), were of the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. They were "foreshadowings of the incarnation," revelations before the "fullness of the time" of the Son of God. HEAVENLY ANGELS 1. These superior beings are very numerous. "Thousand thousands," etc. (Dan. 7:10; Matt. 26:53; Luke 2:13; Hebrews 12:22-23). They have different ranks in dignity and power (Zech. 1:9,11; Dan. 10:13; 12:1; 1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 1:9; Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16). 2. They are spirits (Hebrews 1:14), like the soul of man, but without a physical body. 3. Such expressions as "like the angels" (Luke 20:36), and the fact that whenever angels appeared to man it was always in a human form (Gen. 18:2; 19:1, 10; Luke 24:4; Acts 1:10), and the titles that are applied to them ("sons of God," Job 1:6; 38:7; Dan. 3:25; compare 28) and to men (Luke 3:38), all seem to indicate some resemblance between them and the human race. 4. Imperfection is ascribed to them (Job 4:18; Matt. 24:36; 1 Pet. 1:12). As free-willed creatures, they may fall under temptation; and thus we read of "fallen angels." We can only guess at the cause and manner of their "fall." We know only that fallen angels "left their first estate" (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7,9), and that they are "reserved unto judgement" (2 Pet. 2:4). 5. Angels never die (Luke 20:36). They possess superhuman intelligence and power (Mark 13:32; 2 Thess. 1:7; Ps. 103:20). 6. They are called "holy" (Luke 9:26), "elect" (1 Tim. 5:21). The redeemed in glory are "like the angels" (Luke 20:36). 7. They are not to be worshipped (Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10). 8. They have many functions. (a) In the widest sense, they are AGENTS OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE (Ex. 12:23; Ps. 104:4; Hebrews 11:28; 1 Cor. 10:10; 2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Chr. 21:16; 2 Kings 19:35; Acts 12:23). (b) They are especially God's agents in carrying on his great WORK OF REDEMPTION. There is no clear report of angelic appearances to man till after the call of Abraham. From that time onward there are frequent references to their ministry on earth (Gen. 18; 19; 24:7, 40; 28:12; 32:1). They appear to rebuke idolatry (Judg. 2:1-4), to call Gideon (Judg. 6:11-12), and to consecrate Samson (13:3). In the days of the prophets, from Samuel downward, the angels appear only on their behalf (1 Kings 19:5; 2 Kings 6:17; Zech. 1-6; Dan. 4:13, 23; 10:10,13, 20-21). (c) When Jesus Christ came to earth to die, a new era was begun in the ministry of angels. They came with their Lord to earth to assist him while here. They predict his advent (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1:26-38), minister to him after his temptation and agony (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43), and declare his resurrection and ascension (Matt. 28:2-8>; John 20:12-13; Acts 1:10-11). (d) They now minister to the people of God (Hebrews 1:14; Ps. 34:7; 91:11; Matt. 18:10; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 10:3; 12:7; 27:23). They rejoice over a repentant sinner (Luke 15:10). They carry the souls of the redeemed to paradise (Luke 16:22); and they will be the ministers of judgement on the great day of judgement (Matt. 13:39,41, 49; 16:27; 24:31). (e) GUARDIAN ANGELS? - The passages (Ps. 34:7, Matt. 18:10) usually referred to in support of the idea that every individual has a particular guardian angel have no such meaning. They merely indicate that God employs the ministry of angels to deliver his people from affliction and danger, and that the angels do not think it below their dignity to minister even to children and to the least among Christ's disciples. ANGEL OF HIS PRESENCE - The "angel of his presence" (Isa. 63:9. Compare Ex. 23:20-21; 32:34; 33:2; Num. 20:16) sometimes referred to in the Bible is probably referring to the Messiah as the guide of his people. Others have supposed the expression to refer to Gabriel (Luke 1:19). When the manna is called "angels' food" in Psalms, this is merely to describe its heavenly excellence (Psalm 78:25). Satan: Also known as: Sataniel, The Devil, Beelzebub, Abaddon, Apollyon, Destroyer, the Dragon, the old serpent, the prince of this world, the god of this world, etc. Meaning: adversary; accuser When used as a proper name, the Hebrew word translated as "Satan" has the article "the adversary" (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7). In the New Testament it is used as interchangeable with Diabolos, or the devil, and is so used more than thirty times. He is also called "the dragon," "the old serpent" (Rev. 12:9; 20:2); "the prince of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30); "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2); "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4); "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2). The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized. He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He is "Beelzebub, the prince of the devils" (12:24). He is "the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way." His power is very great in the world. He is a "roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Men are said to be "taken captive by him" (2 Tim. 2:26). Christians are warned against his "devices" (2 Cor. 2:11), and called on to "resist" him (James 4:7). Christ redeems his people from "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14). Satan has the "power of death," not as lord, but simply as executioner. Adversary: The word "adversary" is used 22 times in the King James Bible, nine times in the NIV, and 16 times in the NRSV. It has various meanings: 1. an opponent or foe (1 Kings 5:4; 11:14,23,25; Luke 13:17) 2. one that speaks against another, a complainant (Matt. 5:25; Luke 12:58) 3. an enemy (Luke 18:3) 4. the devil (1 Pet. 5:8 - Greek: antidikos) Witch: Occurs only in Ex. 22:18, as the rendering of mekhashshepheh, the feminine form of the word, meaning "enchantress" (R.V., "sorceress"), and in Deut. 18:10, as the rendering of mekhashshepheth, the masculine form of the word, meaning "enchanter." Witchcraft: (1 Sam. 15:23; 2 Kings 9:22; 2 Chr. 33:6; Micah 5:12; Nahum 3:4; Gal. 5:20). In the popular sense of the word no mention is made either of witches or of witchcraft in Scripture. The "witch of En-dor" (1 Sam. 28) was a necromancer, i.e., one who feigned to hold converse with the dead. The damsel with "a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16) was possessed by an evil spirit, or, as the words are literally rendered, "having a spirit, a pithon." The reference is to the heathen god Apollo, who was regarded as the god of prophecy. Divination: …of false prophets (Deut. 18:10, 14; Micah 3:6-7, 11), of necromancers (1 Sam. 28:8), of the Philistine priests and diviners (1 Sam. 6:2), of Balaam (Josh. 13:22) Three kinds of divination are mentioned in Ezek. 21:21, by arrows, consulting with images (the teraphim), and by examining the entrails of animals sacrificed. The practice of this art seems to have been encouraged in ancient Egypt. Diviners also abounded among the aborigines of Canaan and the Philistines (Isa. 2:6; 1 Sam. 28). At a later period multitudes of magicians poured from Chaldea and Arabia into the land of Israel, and pursued their occupations (Isa. 8:19; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6). This superstition widely spread, and in the time of the apostles there were "vagabond Jews, exorcists" (Acts 19:13), and men like Simon Magus (Acts 8:9), Bar-jesus (13:6, 8), and other jugglers and impostors (19:19; 2 Tim. 3:13). Every species and degree of this superstition was strictly forbidden by the law of Moses (Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:27; Deut. 18:10-11). But beyond these various forms of superstition, there are instances of divination on record in the Scriptures by which God was pleased to make known his will. 1. There was divination by lot, by which, when resorted to in matters of moment, and with solemnity, God intimated his will (Josh. 7:13). The land of Canaan was divided by lot (Num. 26:55-56); Achan's guilt was detected (Josh. 7:16-19), Saul was elected king (1 Sam. 10:20-21), and Matthias chosen to the apostleship, by the solem lot (Acts 1:26). It was thus also that the scape-goat was determined (Lev. 16:8-10). 2. There was divination by dreams (Gen. 20:6; Deut. 13:1-3; Judg. 7:13-15; Matt. 1:20; 2:12-13, 19, 22). This is illustrated in the history of Joseph (Gen. 41:25-32) and of Daniel (2:27; 4:19-28). 3. By divine appointment there was also divination by the Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21), and by the ephod. 4. God was pleased sometimes to vouch-safe direct vocal communications to men (Deut. 34:10; Ex. 3:4; 4:3; Deut. 4:14-15; 1 Kings 19:12). He also communed with men from above the mercy-seat (Ex. 25:22), and at the door of the tabernacle (Ex. 29:42-43). 5. Through his prophets God revealed himself, and gave intimations of his will (2 Kings 13:17; Jer. 51:63-64). Seer: a name sometimes applied to the prophets because of the visions granted to them It is first found in 1 Sam. 9:9. It is afterwards applied to Zadok, Gad, etc. (2 Sam. 15:27; 24:11; 1 Chr. 9:22; 25:5; 2 Chr. 9:29; Amos 7:12; Micah 3:7). The "sayings of the seers" (2 Chr. 33:18, 19) is rendered in the Revised Version "the history of Hozai" (marg., the seers; so the LXX.), of whom, however, nothing is known. Necromancer: (Deut. 15:11) i.e., "one who interrogates the dead," as the word literally means, with the view of discovering the secrets of futurity (compare 1 Sam. 28:7) Sorcerer: from the Latin sortiarius, one who casts lots, or one who tells the lot of others (See Divination.) In Dan. 2:2 it is the rendering of the Hebrew mekhashphim, i.e., mutterers, men who professed to have power with evil spirits. The practice of sorcery exposed to severest punishment (Mal. 3:5; Rev. 21:8; 22:15). Enchantments: (1.) The rendering of Hebrew latim_ or _lehatim, which means "something covered," "muffled up;" secret arts, tricks (Ex. 7:11, 22; 8:7, 18), by which the Egyptian magicians imposed on the credulity of Pharaoh. (2.) The rendering of the Hebrew keshaphim, "muttered spells" or "incantations," rendered "sorceries" in Isa. 47:9, 12, i.e., the using of certain formulae under the belief that men could thus be bound. (3.) Hebrew lehashim, "charming," as of serpents (Jer. 8:17; compare Ps. 58:5). (4.) Hebrew nehashim, the enchantments or omens used by Balaam (Num. 24:1); his endeavouring to gain omens favorable to his design. (5.) Hebrew Heber (Isa. 47:9, 12), "magical spells." All kinds of enchantments were condemned by the Mosaic law (Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10-12). Magic: The Jews seem early to have consulted the teraphim (q.v.) for oracular answers (Judg. 18:5-6; Zech. 10:2). There is a remarkable illustration of this divining by teraphim in Ezek. 21:19-22. We read also of the divining cup of Joseph (Gen. 44:5). The magicians of Egypt are frequently referred to in the history of the Exodus. Magic was an inherent part of the ancient Egyptian religion, and entered largely into their daily life. All magical arts were distinctly prohibited under penalty of death in the Mosaic law. The Jews were commanded not to learn the "abomination" of the people of the Promised Land (Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:9-14). The history of Saul's consulting the witch of Endor (1 Sam. 28:3-20) gives no warrant for attributing supernatural power to magicians. From the first the witch is here only a bystander. The practice of magic lingered among the people till after the Captivity, when they gradually abandoned it. It is not much referred to in the New Testament. The Magi mentioned in Matt. 2:1-12 were not magicians in the ordinary sense of the word. They belonged to a religious caste, the followers of Zoroaster, the astrologers of the East. Simon, a magician, was found by Philip at Samaria (Acts 8:9-24); and Paul and Barnabas encountered Elymas, a Jewish sorcerer, at Paphos (13:6-12). At Ephesus there was a great destruction of magical books (Acts 19:18-19). Magicians: Hebrew: hartumim Daniel 1:20 Magicians were sacred scribes who acted as interpreters of omens, or "revealers of secret things." Chaldea: The southern portion of Babylonia, Lower Mesopotamia, lying chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates, but commonly used of the whole of the Mesopotamian plain. The Hebrew name is Kasdim, which is usually rendered "Chaldeans" (Jer. 50:10; 51:24,35). The country so named is a vast plain formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending to about 400 miles along the course of these rivers, and about 100 miles in average breadth. "In former days the vast plains of Babylon were nourished by a complicated system of canals and water-courses, which spread over the surface of the country like a network. The wants of a teeming population were supplied by a rich soil, not less bountiful than that on the banks of the Egyptian Nile. Like islands rising from a golden sea of waving corn stood frequent groves of palm-trees and pleasant gardens, affording to the idler or traveller their grateful and highly-valued shade. Crowds of passengers hurried along the dusty roads to and from the busy city. The land was rich in corn and wine." Recent discoveries, more especially in Babylonia, have thrown much light on the history of the Hebrew patriarchs, and have illustrated or confirmed the Biblical narrative in many points. The ancestor of the Hebrew people, Abram, was, we are told, born at "Ur of the Chaldees." "Chaldees" is a mistranslation of the Hebrew Kasdim, Kasdim being the Old Testament name of the Babylonians, while the Chaldees were a tribe who lived on the shores of the Persian Gulf, and did not become a part of the Babylonian population till the time of Hezekiah. Ur was one of the oldest and most famous of the Babylonian cities. Its site is now called Mugheir, or Mugayyar, on the western bank of the Euphrates, in Southern Babylonia. About a century before the birth of Abram it was ruled by a powerful dynasty of kings. Their conquests extended to Elam on the one side, and to the Lebanon on the other. They were followed by a dynasty of princes whose capital was Babylon, and who seem to have been of South Arabian origin. The founder of the dynasty was Sumu-abi ("Shem is my father"). But soon afterwards Babylonia fell under Elamite dominion. The kings of Babylon were compelled to acknowledge the supremacy of Elam, and a rival kingdom to that of Babylon, and governed by Elamites, sprang up at Larsa, not far from Ur, but on the opposite bank of the river. In the time of Abram the king of Larsa was Eri-Aku, the son of an Elamite prince, and Eri-Aku, as has long been recognized, is the Biblical "Arioch king of Ellasar" (Gen. 14:1). The contemporaneous king of Babylon in the north, in the country termed Shinar in Scripture, was Khammu-rabi. Familiar Spirit: Sorcerers or necormancers, who professed to call up the dead to answer questions, were said to have a "familiar spirit" (Deut. 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chr. 33:6; Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Isa. 8:19; 29:4). Such a person was called by the Hebrews an 'ob, which properly means a leather bottle; for sorcerers were regarded as vessels containing the inspiring demon. This Hebrew word was equivalent to the pytho of the Greeks, and was used to denote both the person and the spirit which possessed him (Lev. 20:27; 1 Sam. 28:8; compare Acts 16:16). The word "familiar" is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a "household servant," and was intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands. Prophecy: (or prediction) This was one of the functions of the prophet. It has been defined as a "miracle of knowledge, a declaration or description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture." (See PROPHET.) The great predictions which run like a golden thread through the whole contents of the Old Testament are those regarding the coming and work of the Messiah. The great body of Old Testament prophecy relates directly to the advent of the Messiah, beginning with Gen. 3:15, the first great promise, and extending in ever-increasing fulness and clearness all through to the very close of the canon. The Messianic prophecies are too numerous to be quoted here. "To him gave all the prophets witness." (Compare Micah 5:2; Hag. 2:6-9; Isa. 7:14; 9:6, 7; 11:1, 2; 53; 60:10, 13; Ps. 16:11; 68:18.) Many predictions also were delivered by Jesus and his apostles. Those of Christ were very numerous. (Compare Matt. 10:23-24; 11:23; 19:28; 21:43, 44; 24; 25:31-46; 26:17-35, 46, 64; Mark 9:1; 10:30; 13; 11:1-6, 14; 14:12-31, 42, 62; 16:17, etc.) The great use of prophecy was to perpetuate faith in his coming, and to prepare the world for that event. But there are many subordinate and intermediate prophecies, also, which hold an important place in the great chain of events which illustrate the sovereignty and all-wise overruling providence of God. Then there are many prophecies regarding the Jewish nation, its founder Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:16; 15:5; 17:2, 4-6, etc.), and his posterity, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants (12:7; 13:14, 15, 17; 15:18-21; Ex. 3:8, 17), which have all been fulfilled. The twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy contains a series of predictions which are even now in the present day being fulfilled. In the writings of the prophets Isaiah (2:18-21), Jeremiah (27:3-7; 29:11-14), Ezekiel (5:12; 8), Daniel (8; 9:26, 27), Hosea (9:17), there are also many prophecies regarding the events which were to befall that people. There are also a large number of prophecies relating to those nations with which the Jews came into contact, such as Tyre (Ezek. 26:3-5, 14-21), Egypt (Ezek. 29:10, 15; 30:6, 12, 13), Ethiopia (Nahum 3:8-10), Nineveh (Nahum 1:10; 2:8-13; 3:17-19), Babylon (Isa. 13:4; Jer. 51:7; Isa. 44:27; Jer. 50:38; 51:36, 39, 57), the land of the Philistines (Jer. 47:4-7; Ezek. 25:15-17; Amos 1:6-8; Zeph. 2:4-7; Zech. 9:5-8), and of the four great monarchies (Dan. 2:39, 40; 7:17-24; 8:9). Prophet: Hebrew: nabi, from a root meaning "to bubble forth, as from a fountain," hence "to utter", compare Ps. 45:1) Nabi is is the first and the most generally used for a prophet. In the time of Samuel another word, ro'eh, "seer", began to be used (1 Sam. 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to Samuel. Afterwards another word, hozeh, "seer" (2 Sam. 24:11), was employed. In 1 Ch. 29:29 all these three words are used: "Samuel the seer (ro'eh), Nathan the prophet (nabi'), Gad the seer" (hozeh). In Josh. 13:22 Balaam is called (Hebrew) a kosem "diviner," a word used only of a false prophet. The "prophet" proclaimed the message given to him, as the "seer" beheld the vision of God. (See Num. 12:6,8.) Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God's name and by his authority (Ex. 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jer. 1:9; Isa. 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2 Pet. 1:20,21; compare Hebrews 3:7; Acts 4:25; 28:25). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the communication of his mind and will to men (Deut. 18:18, 19). The whole Word of God may in this general sense be spoken of as prophetic, inasmuch as it was written by men who received the revelation they communicated from God, no matter what its nature might be. The foretelling of future events was not a necessary but only an incidental part of the prophetic office. The great task assigned to the prophets whom God raised up among the people was "to correct moral and religious abuses, to proclaim the great moral and religious truths which are connected with the character of God, and which lie at the foundation of his government." Any one being a spokesman for God to man might thus be called a prophet. Thus Enoch, Abraham, and the patriarchs, as bearers of God's message (Gen. 20:7; Ex. 7:1; Ps. 105:15), as also Moses (Deut. 18:15; 34:10; Hos. 12:13), are ranked among the prophets. The seventy elders of Israel (Num. 11:16-29), "when the spirit rested upon them, prophesied;" Asaph and Jeduthun "prophesied with a harp" (1 Chr. 25:3). Miriam and Deborah were prophetesses (Ex. 15:20; Judg. 4:4). The title thus has a general application to all who have messages from God to men. But while the prophetic gift was thus exercised from the beginning, the prophetical order as such began with Samuel. colleges, "schools of the prophets", were instituted for the training of prophets, who were constituted, a distinct order (1 Sam. 19:18-24; 2 Kings 2:3, 15; 4:38), which continued to the close of the Old Testament. Such "schools" were established at Ramah, Bethel, Gilgal, Gibeah, and Jericho. The "sons" or "disciples" of the prophets were young men (2 Kings 5:22; 9:1, 4) who lived together at these different "schools" (4:38-41). These young men were taught not only the rudiments of secular knowledge, but they were brought up to exercise the office of prophet, "to preach pure morality and the heart-felt worship of Jehovah, and to act along and co-ordinately with the priesthood and monarchy in guiding the state aright and checking all attempts at illegality and tyranny." In New Testament times the prophetical office was continued. Our Lord is frequently spoken of as a prophet (Luke 13:33; 24:19). He was and is the great Prophet of the Church. There was also in the Church a distinct order of prophets (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 2:20; 3:5), who made new revelations from God. They differed from the "teacher," whose office it was to impart truths already revealed. Of the major Old Testament prophets there are sixteen, whose prophecies form part of the inspired canon. These are divided into four groups: 1. The prophets of the northern kingdom (Israel), viz., Hosea, Amos, Joel, Jonah. 2. The prophets of Judah, viz., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah. 3. The prophets of Captivity, viz., Ezekiel and Daniel. 4. The prophets of the Restoration, viz., Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Biblical prophets: 1. Abraham 2. Asaph 3. Barnabas 4. Daniel / Book of Daniel 5. David 6. Deborah 7. Elijah 8. Elisha 9. Ezekiel / Book of Ezekiel 10. Habakkuk / Prophecies of Habakkuk 11. Haggai / Book of Haggai 12. Hosea / Prophecies of Hosea 13. Isaiah / Book of Isaiah 14. Jeduthun 15. Jeremiah / Book of Jeremiah 16. Jesus Christ 17. Joel / Book of Joel 18. John / Book of Revelation 19. John the Baptist 20. Jonah / Book of Jonah 21. Joshua 22. Malachi / Prophecies of Malachi 23. Micah / Book of Micah 24. Miriam 25. Moses 26. Nahum / Book of Nahum 27. Noah 28. Samuel / Books of Samuel / Books of Kings 29. Zechariah False prophets: * Balaam * Nostradamus Vision: (Luke 1:22), a vivid apparition, not a dream (compare Luke 24:23; Acts 26:19; 2 Cor. 12:1) Harry Potter The reading phenomenon known as "Harry Potter" is sweeping the globe, and it truly has an international presence as readers in 200 nations, in over 40 languages, indulge in this series. A U.S. consumer research survey reports that "over half of all children between the ages of 6 and 17 have read at least one Harry Potter book". With the financial backing of Warner Brothers, Mattel, Coca Cola, and Scholastic, Inc., Potter is sure to be a force to reckon with for years to come. Public school educators and many parents in America are thrilled with a series that has captured the imagination of children like no other in history, prompting a revived interest in reading. Reading is a good thing, but not all is as innocent as Potter fans would have others believe. This series of books by British author J.K. Rowling focuses on the plights of young Harry, who is selected to attend the prestigious 1000-year-old Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry himself is an orphan, his parents (practitioners of "white magic") murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort (a master of the "Dark Arts"). But "when Lord Voldemort, the most powerful Dark Wizard for a century turned the curse that had killed so many witches and wizards on Harry Potter, it rebounded upon Voldemort, ripping him from his body, and his powers gone, barely alive, he fled." Young Harry is given a strange marking on his forehead. "Through the sacrificial goddess magic of his mother's love, baby Harry is saved and his blood is given magical powers. Unable to kill Harry, in revenge, Voldemort sears a death curse of a lightning bolt on Harry's forehead." (Some have criticized the imagery behind the lightning bolt itself.) Rowling, a graduate of Exeter University in England, is very familiar with occultic practices, using elements and philosophies behind "pagan religions, celtic religions, the religions of the druids, witchcraft, [and] satanism." Little is said during the time Harry's parents are killed until he is around 10 years old. At the age of 11, Harry travels to Hogwarts, where he and and other students are taught by the faculty, all accomplished wizards and witches, how to properly use magic tools, spells and rituals. One such tool is a tail feather from the powerful, mythical Phoenix bird. The school Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, owns such a bird, a symbol of resurrection. Both Harry and Lord Voldemort uses the tail feather in their wand, perhaps symbolizing, as some critics say, that the source of their powers come from the same place, even though Potter and Voldemort are enemies, one using "white" magic and one "dark arts". The wand is only one of many magical items used and studied. A Fantasy World Children are understandably fascinated with the kind of power that Harry and others in his world possess. Author JK Rowling says, "The idea that we could have a child who escapes from the confines of the adult world and goes somewhere where he has power, both literally and metaphorically, really appealed to me." Certainly power is appealing, especially "white" witchcraft like this that is made to look so innocent. Even some Christians leaders agree that it's "just fantasy" and generally acceptable for the Christian reader, including Chuck Colson of Breakpoint, the editors of World Magazine, and Connie Neal (author of What's A Christian To Do With Harry Potter?) However, occult experts, Marcia Montenegro of Christian Answers for the New Age and Caryl Matrisciana, author of Gods of the New Age, disagree with their Christian peers. Both have personal experience in the occult before becoming Christians As one example among many, Caryl points to a chapter in the fourth book entitled "Flesh, Blood and Bone". "Harry is magically transported with his friend Cedric to a dark, scary graveyard. There, Harry is tied to the headstone of Lord Voldemort's father's tomb by Voldemort's slave, Wormtail -- a shapeshifter who takes the form of a rat. A slithering snake, synonymous with the presence of Voldemort, circles around Harry. Following an order to kill from a voice of unknown origin, the slave utters a death curse. In shock, Harry witnesses the murder of his friend Cedric." Perhaps all of this sounds a bit scary, but nothing to be concerned about. Potter fans say that this world is just make believe and has no bearing on the real world. While a few Christians don't even like to read or see classics such as Sleeping Beauty, Lord of the Rings, or Chronicles of Narnia due to the mere presence of evil, most Christians recognize the good vs. evil element as being clearly delineated. Evil is evil, and good is good, and good is promoted while evil is not. But in the Potter series, the line is not so clear. The "good" guys practice "white magic", while the bad guys practice the "Dark Arts". Readers become fascinated with the magic used (explained in remarkable detail). Yet God is clear in Scripture that any practice of magic is an "abomination" to him. God doesn't distinguish between "white" and "dark" magic since they both originate from the same source. "There shall not be found among you anyone who ...practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you." Deut. 18:10-14 Furthermore, if one were to use the reasoning that such objectionable material can be included in fantasy literature, then "that line of reasoning would tell you that you could include in fantasy any violence, pornography, whatever you wanted, and still defend those books by that very same statement." The problem is, witchcraft is not fantasy; it is a sinful reality in our world. "J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has gone through an awful lot of research. She is very accurate (otherwise we would have witches all over the country and the world saying 'this is not a true representation of our religion'.) This is a true representation of witchcraft, and the black arts, and black magic. And yet we have people that say this is merely fantasy and harmless reading for our children. Actually, what makes this more dangerous is that it is couched in fantasy language, and children's literature, and made to be humorous, and beautifully written and extremely provocative reading. and it just opens up children to want to have the next one. This is what is so harmful." Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged studies elements of Rowlings's imagery and writings, including the use of the "Potter" name in Pagan religion , shapechanging , meditation , human sacrifice , feminine power, Wicca (the religion of witchcraft) , the tools, spells and curses used in witchcraft , Christian youth and their involvement , communicating with the spirit world, reincarnation, situational ethics in witchcraft, the lightning bolt as a power symbol, broomsticks and witches' hats as phallic symbols, dabbling in divination and sorcery, recruitment, teaching children dark arts, Scholastic Inc.'s involvement, and more. We can be sure that this video by Jeremiah Films, while probably the first of its kind to deal with Harry Potter from a biblical cautionary perspective, will not be the last. The Christian Booksellers Association's 13,000 member annual meeting in 2000 had a noticeable lack of anything Potter. "Clara Sessoms, who manages Living Water Christian Books in Marion, Ind. [says] 'I don't think people fully realize what they're dealing with, and I think anyone who knows anything about spiritual warfare knows those books can open the door to spiritual bondage.' 'And I think it's worse that children are the target,' said Jessica Ruemler, a buyer for Living Water. 'It opens the doors for young minds. You put sorcery in, what do you expect to get out?'" Many concerned parents agree. According to the American Library Association, the best-selling Harry Potter series has topped the list of the nation's most frequently challenged books for two years in a row. Complaints rose 37 percent in the past year. Author John Andrew Murray believes that... "With the growing popularity of youth-oriented TV shows on witchcraft -- 'Sabrina, the Teenage Witch;' 'Charmed;' 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' -- a generation of children is becoming desensitized to the occult. But with Hollywood's help, Harry Potter will likely surpass all these influences, potentially reaping some grave spiritual consequences." Potter has caused quite a stir in many nations, with several Australian Christian schools supporting a banning of the books. "Dr. Chas. Gullo of the Christian Outreach College, a private school in Queensland state, said he read one chapter from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and was exposed to four murders. 'It was pretty gory,' Gullo said in Brisbane's Courier-Mail newspaper." Rev. Robert Frisken of Christian Community Schools Ltd in Australia says: "The ordinary person is typified as being bad because they have no (magic) powers, and heroes are the people who are using the occult. Good finds itself in the occult, which is an inversion of morality for many Christian people" Even many non-Christian parents have been concerned due to the greatly heightened fear that their younger children have after reading Potter's books. While some practicing Wiccans flatly deny any link between Potter's world and theirs, the evidence is undeniably clear that Potter promotes an interest in magic and the occult. Parents, whether Christian or not, must take an active role in what their children are being exposed to and determine what is appropriate. Christians especially should be guided by God's Word, the Bible. Author Richard Abanes has written a book called Harry Potter and the Bible. He says that the movie and books not only teach anti-Christian lessons on the occult, but also moral relativism, and desensitize children to profanity and off-color humor. (Sources: http://www.christiananswers.net and the KJV Holy Bible) Well this is pretty much it; any comments?