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Adopting Occult/New Age Practices

Are we permitted to do occult and New Age practices in the light of 1 Samuel 28?

I think it’s fair to say that 1 Samuel 28 is a chapter that brings up a lot of questions. This chapter records when King Saul had exhausted all his options for inquiring of God through the priests of God, which are listed as dreams, Urim, and prophets. Dreams, like King Solomon had of God when he offered sacrifices at the Tent Tabernacle and then God appeared to him in dreams that night. Urim, as in the Urim & Thummim, the stones used only by the High Priest of Israel for the leaders of Israel to receive direction. And prophets, so waiting to receive a message through a proven prophet of God. None of these methods had panned out for Saul, and we know why! Because of his excessive sinfulness and refusal to repent, Saul had been cut off from God, and he was about to face judgement.

Rather than accept this silence, a desperate Saul finds a medium and goes for a visit. The result is that the true Samuel (who is dead and gone by this point in the history) appears and gives Saul the very last message from God Saul will receive, and it’s a prophecy of his death. Which, of course, comes true. But this is a really weird account for a few reasons. The medium’s divination or process of calling Samuel up is not detailed at all––it’s not even mentioned––but it worked. The real Samuel seems to have showed up and had a conversation with Saul. Does this mean that necromancy is real?

Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?

1 Samuel 28:15

Some Christians deny that this was really Samuel who appeared, but I don’t think that position is acceptable. There’s no hint in the text that I can find to show that this was some sort of fake Samuel. And the word that Samuel gives from God is accurate! A prophecy from beyond the grave is kind of an awesome concept, but back to the main point here: Samuel really appeared, so is this God rewarding paganism? Is it showing us that necromancy is legitimate or that mediums are okay? No, I don’t think so.

We can see through this that God will sometimes use unconventional methods to get his point across. God can talk with and through anything and anyone (think Balaam and the donkey), it’s God’s prerogative to do these types of things. So, then, is 1 Samuel 28 advocating the use of mediums to get messages from the spiritual world? No. The Scripture is very clear that trying to communicate with the spiritual world, other than through God and his approved ways, is wrong. Read Deuteronomy 18:9-15 with me:

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination. But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”

Now, to take this discussion in a slightly different direction, I have heard arguments from Christians who say that the spiritual things found outside of Christianity are really just things that have been stolen from the people of God. The idea is that things from the occult or the new age are counterfeits of real spiritual gifts, which means, therefore, we can rightly dabble in occult and new age practices to experiment with “redeeming” these acts for God.

Everyone, hear me now: this is a very bad idea that will end in pain at best and judgment at worst. Keep in mind the actions of Christians of Ephesus in Acts 19. As a result of the true gifts of the Spirit being practiced in the city the Scripture says, “A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.” Christians are called to turn away from pagan practices not towards them.

If you’d like to watch a deeper presentation on King Saul, then check out Understanding Saul: A Journey Through 1 Samuel available right here on our website.

Corie Bobechko is a daily co-host, speaker, and writer of Bible Discovery. She also hosts a YouTube channel that shows how history and archaeology prove the Bible. Her heart for seekers and skeptics has led her to seek truth and share it with others. Corie also has a Bachelor of Theology from Canada Christian College.

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