“Soothsaying Is Not a Christian Virtue”

René Malgo

Allow me to make the following observation: When it comes to the Bible’s warnings about divination, many believers no longer seem to take it seriously.

Moses commanded the people of Israel, “…neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times” (Leviticus 19:26). And Micah prophesied at that time against the leading men of Judah: “Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded” (Micah 3:7a). Even if a Christian thinks that one can ignore the moral claim of Moses and the Prophet under the New Covenant, he must at least acknowledge that the immutable God does not like divination (cf. James 1:17).

Soothsaying is not a Christian virtue (see Acts 16:16-18). And yet believers continue to practice various forms of it. Perhaps they do not read horoscopes, but they turn to other “fantastic” literature: they accept the prophecies of self-proclaimed end-time experts who, for specific dates or periods, announce more or less specific events such as wars, “something special in connection with Israel,” famine, persecution, or even the return of Jesus Himself.

We know the seductive power that comes from spectacular predictions, and we also know that good Christians, even great “men/women of God,” can be taken in if they are not careful. We are not immune to it. The Word of God is still true: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man,” said our Lord Jesus as a man on earth, “no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt 24:36). Paul even said that it was not necessary to write “of the times and seasons,” since we believers would “know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:1-2). This means: Actually, we know that our Lord will come suddenly and surprisingly, and will judge the world. That is why we must not speculate about the time and hour. It is not worth it! We should always be vigilant and sober anyway (1 Thess 5:3-11). If the apostles, who were expecting Jesus to come back in their lifetime, did not know, we certainly do not know.

After His resurrection, Christ instructed the disciples for 40 days in the things of the kingdom of God. And yet they still did not know when He would restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6). At their request, the Lord said: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). Christ speaks here of long periods, not just a single point in time.

The “Christian” soothsayers today occasionally counter that they do not talk about days and hours, but about “the times.” But even that is not our duty. In Acts 3:19-20 we see, for example, that the return of Jesus depends on the repentance of the people of Israel. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ says that the Gospel must first be preached to all peoples before He returns (Matt 24:14; Mark 13:10). And in 2 Peter 3:11-12, Peter writes even that we believers can hasten the “coming of the day of God” through our holy conduct in the fear of God. The omniscient God knows the day and hour down to the exact moment, but because of the many variables (like the ones mentioned above), we can’t possibly calculate it. We are given the prophecy to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit 2:13) —not to proclaim sensational ideas.

As Paul summarizes, we should “be not soon shaken in mind” and frightened, “neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us” (or any book or YouTube video) regarding the “man of sin [to] be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess 2:2-3). In other words, it is only when the so-called Antichrist reveals himself that the “Day of the Lord” (and all that is connected with it) has arrived. Whoever now believes that the Church is raptured before the public appearance of the Antichrist (if it is the Church that is holding him off; cf. 2 Thess 2:6-7), has even less reason to fall into speculative divination.

It is just the same, whether we are trying to place the Rapture chronologically, or trying to explain the “times and moments” of the day of the Lord: it is clear that we are not called to soothsaying, but rather that we should live for Him “in all holy conversation and godliness” (2 Pet 3:11). —That should be our concern. Maranatha; Amen; Come, Lord Jesus!

Midnight Call - 09/2017

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