Has there ever been a time when you wished you could know what the future holds?
What big decisions are you facing right now?
- Should I stay with this person? Or will they turn out, ten years from now, to be a bad choice?
- Should I continue with my education, or should I get a job?
- Is it better to take out a loan (for a car, a house, school, an appliance) or to buy what I can with what money I already have in the bank?
- Should I take this job, or that one? Which will end up being the better job?
- Should I home-school or send my kids to public school, or private school? What will the outcome be a year from now?
- Should I invest in where I now live, paint, make repairs, or should I move to another place?
I am sure you can think of many more life decisions that are hard to make without knowing what lies ahead. So where do you go to find what you need to make these decisions?
God asks us to do the very thing we do not want to do. We want to know the end result ahead of time, so we can decide accordingly. But God says: Trust Me with the future and allow Me to guide you one step at a time.
Trying to control the future leads to anxiety, and trying to get around God leads to darkness.
King Ahaz had just heard that the king of Assyria was coming.
That was bad news.
Where would he, or the people, go to find out how to deal with that? God had given them a promise, to let them know the Lord was with them. But apparently, the people wanted more than God’s promise.
When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter,…Isaiah 8:19 (NRSV)
A medium is an intermediary between the physical and spiritual worlds. A spiritist calls up spirits of divination for protection, wisdom and healing.
Just a cursory surf on the net shows there are tens of thousands of websites to consult mediums, spiritists, palm readers, tarot card interpreters, astrologists, angelology and so on. Yet the prophet Isaiah asked,
… should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?Isaiah 8:19-20 (NRSV)
God, throughout scripture, has made God’s position plain on being involved in such activities. The Lord considers it abomination, spiritual prostitution, adultery; it defiles us. To be involved in it is to prompt God to turn God’s face away, it cuts us off from the intimacy of fellowship with the Lord, it provokes the Lord to anger.
Yet, it is not that there is no power in these things.
It is downright uncanny how accurate some of that stuff is. So, surfing the net, loneliness, desperate for answers, ignorant of the danger, wanting entertainment, having a fascination with the other world, you and I might hear people – might even hear ourselves – say
“It works” so it must be okay.
“It is fun, it is entertaining,” it surely is not that big a deal.
“Psychics help. They have answers.”
“People really do find power in it.”
And it is true that people find power in these dark sources. God did not say there is nothing to it.
Consulting other spirits, or observing planet alignments, seems like the kind of answer we can work with, and it is easier to get by than God. And no wonder, as the apostle Paul pointed out.
And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness.2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NRSV)
But the occult world only appears innocent. It is actually dark, and evil, according to scripture.
[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.The Lord Jesus Christ, John 8:44 (NRSV)
For our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.Apostle Paul, Ephesians 6:12 (NRSV)
Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.James, brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church, James 4:7 (NRSV)
Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 5:8 (NRSV)
The devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the works of the devil.Apostle John, 1 John 3:8 (NRSV)
That ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.Revelation 12:9 (NRSV)
Instead, as the prophet Isaiah wrote,
Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning.Isaiah 8:20 (NRSV)
The apostle John wrote on this same theme, saying “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” Then he added, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” echoing Isaiah in this passage
If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.Isaiah 8:20 (NRSV)
Playing with darkness leads to deeper darkness.
Living in Darkness
No good can come out of living a lie.
When God, who is the source of all truth, is left out, all the human mind is able to do is rearrange error.
Any philosophy about life, any sophisticated education that is based on anything but God and God’s wisdom will eventually, inevitably, be futile, worthless, in the end. When we reject truth we only make room for more error.
A darkened mind, then, is like a person who is in a dark room, bumping into furniture and generally having to feel their way. Such a person might think they know their way around just like you and I think we know where everything is in our own home with the lights off. But in the dark, we end up bumping into familiar objects unexpectedly, we “forget” where stuff really is. With just a little error in calculation, we run into a wall instead of a door, we cross into another room before we know we got there, and so on.
That is the darkened mind fooled into thinking it can get around well enough. But its ability to love what is good, and to reject what is bad, goes badly off course.
The increased interest in the occult and paranormal today is evidence that people are searching for spiritual answers, yet sidestepping God and God’s wisdom. Isaiah described this stumbling in the dark thousands of years ago.
Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land …Isaiah 8:21 (NRSV)
Isaiah went on to describe the consequences of being involved with darkness
… when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God.Isaiah 8:21 (NRSV)
I had to think about that for a while. Why curse God and blame God for every ill when a person was searching for answers somewhere else? Then I realized how suffering itself can warp our emotions and fog our thinking. Distressed, famished, stumbling in the dark, at some level people realize that if there is a God, then that God is certainly aware of their suffering and capable of easing it.
And when you and I are in that pit, it is sure hard to take responsibility for having got there in the first place.
Isaiah wrote that after cursing God—rejecting God, rejecting God’s wisdom, ways, and word,
Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.Isaiah 8:22 (NRSV)
Jesus described such a place as weeping and gnashing of teeth.
To reject God, the source of all light and life, is to actually choose darkness and death.