|Vol. 13 No. 2 February 2011||
Witchdoctors and Avenging Spirits
Louis Rushmore, Editor
I am very grateful for your sound biblical answers to scriptural questions, this time may you help me with the following on some issues were some of our preachers I believe are divided, I have had reports some do go witchdoctor at night! Should Christians fear ancestoral spirits? I asked some local evangelist if the avenging spirits really do exist who escape from the hadean realm to come and avenge on their killer or the killers family. The preacher I asked now quized whether I was now doubting the existance of the devil and his great supernatural powers. I want to help fellow African brethren on fear of occulticism with your your help from the Bible. ~ Joshua Mukusha
The Devil or Satan is real, of course. Further, Satan actively pursues us to harm our souls. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), but the next verse says in part, “Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” Satan can be resisted!
The question, today, is whether the Devil or other evil spirits have supernatural or miraculous power. The short answer is, “Positively, No!” In the first place, supernatural or miraculous power used by Satan or evil spirits appears in the New Testament books parallel to the same time when Jesus Christ, His apostles and other miraculously endowed Christians demonstrated supernatural or miraculous powers. It appears that the reason that for this span of a few decades that Satan and his kind were permitted to us supernatural or miraculous powers was so that Jesus Christ and Christians empowered by the Holy Spirit could demonstrate the superior power of God over Satan. For instance, the miracles of Jesus Christ demonstrated power over nature in calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:39) or turning water into grape juice (John 2), over disease by healing the infirm (Mark 4:23) and over the spirit realm by casting out demons (Matthew 8:16).
Supernatural or miraculous power had a purpose, primarily which was to deliver divine revelation from God and prove that the new revelation was from God (Mark 16:17-20). That new revelation which was validated with miracles is the New Testament, and when the New Testament was complete and miracles had served their purpose, supernatural or miraculous power ceased (1 Corinthians 13:8-13). The early church had miraculously assisted apostles, prophets, elders, preachers and teachers, but after the New Testament was completed, miracles ceased, and church leaders, preachers and teachers today rely not on miracles but on the Word of God (Ephesians 4:11-14). Since supernatural or miraculous power no longer occurs on earth, neither Satan or evil spirits have supernatural or miraculous powers today.
In the second place, departed spirits cannot escape their assignment after death to Hades. Jesus Christ taught about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus, both of whom died and resided in different chambers in Hades (Luke 16:19-31). Verse 26 says, “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” Departed spirits cannot pass between the chambers in Hades, one chamber for the righteous and one chamber for the unrighteous, and they cannot leave Hades to come back to the earth.
Satan can be resisted (1 Peter 5:9)! The power and influence of Satan today is limited to temptation. However, we have this assurance. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Neither Satan nor avenging spirits possess supernatural powers today. Witchdoctors and other practitioners of the occult do not possess supernatural or miraculous powers either.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
The first occurrence of the word “Sabbath” in the Bible is in Exodus 16:23, at which time God had given manna to the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:4-31). The Sabbath Day was declared to the Israelites in Exodus 16:23 and explained to be a day of rest in verse 26. Verses 27-30 note that the Israelites were not accustomed to the seventh or Sabbath Day as being a day of rest, and some did not observe the Sabbath at that time. Consequently, they were instructed again. The Sabbath Day observance was instituted in Exodus 16:23-30.
For the first 2,500 years, both the secular, historical record and the biblical record were silent about Sabbath Day observance. The Israelites were specifically the nation that God commanded to observe the Sabbath Day (Exodus 16; 20:8-11). Deuteronomy 5:12-15 is a second giving of the Ten Commandments, and the passage specifies Sabbath Day observance with the additional information that it was to serve as a memorial of the Israelite deliverance from Egypt. Further, in Exodus 31:13-14, God declared that the Sabbath Day observance was between “the children of Israel” and Himself, violation of which carried the death penalty. “There’s no evidence that God ever required any other nation to observe the Sabbath, because the Jews alone were the chosen people of God” (Wiersbe, Bible Exposition Commentary).
Yes, Genesis 2:3 records that God blessed, sanctified or hallowed the seventh day as the day from which He ceased creation week. Absent from the verse, though, is correlation at that time to the Sabbath Day introduced 2,500 years later to the Israelites.
Now He blessed the Sabbath by setting it apart as a special day. There is no commandment here for people to observe the Sabbath. In fact, since Adam was created on the sixth day, the Sabbath Day was actually the first day for him. …There is no evidence in Scripture that God ever told the Gentiles to observe the Sabbath; in fact, Ps 147:19-20 makes it clear that the OT Mosaic Law was given only to Israel. (Wiersbe, Expository Outlines)
Since Moses wrote Genesis and Exodus for his Israelite audience, it is possible that he made the association between the seventh day on which God rested form creation and the Sabbath Day rest when it was instituted in Exodus 16. In which case, the hallowing or sanctifying of the seventh day would have occurred not on the seventh day that the universe existed, but 2,500 years later in Exodus 16.
In either case, “[t]he blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day had regard, no doubt, to the Sabbath, which Israel as the people of God was afterwards to keep; but we are not to suppose that the theocratic Sabbath was instituted here, or that the institution of that Sabbath was transferred to the history of the creation” (Keil and Delitzsch).
Of course, some claim that “[t]he institution of the Sabbath is thus as old as creation; and the fact of its high antiquity, its being coeval [equal] with the existence of the human race, demonstrates the universality and permanence of its obligation” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). However, it is a mere assumption that the Sabbath Day observance dates back to creation since its institution appears 2,500 years later in Exodus 16. Matthew Henry, though, reasons that “Sabbaths are as ancient as the world; and I see no reason to doubt that the sabbath, being now instituted in innocency, was religiously observed by the people of God throughout the patriarchal age.” Yet, personal preference does not trump biblical authorization; it remains a fact that Sabbath Day observance (1) was not instituted until 2,500 years after creation, and (2) that it was specifically and only commanded to the Israelites through Judaism.
Patriarchy was the first religious law given by God, and it began in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Judaism was the second religious law given by God, and it was given to the Israelites, and for them, it replaced Patriarchy. Christianity is the third religious law given by God, and it replaces both Patriarchy (that was still bound on non-Israelites) and Judaism (bound exclusively upon Israelites).
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two [Gentile and Jew], thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both [Gentile and Jew] to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both [Gentile and Jew] have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:11-18)
Sabbath Day observance was instituted under Judaism for the Israelites. It was neither commanded to anyone previously under Patriarchy, nor has it been commanded under Christianity. Sabbath Day observance is no longer valid since the Old Testament, Patriarchy and Judaism, have been superseded or replaced with the New Testament (Gospel, Christianity).
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset and David Brown. Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 2006.
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testament, 10 Vols. CD-ROM. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament. 4 Vols. CD-ROM. Colorado Springs: Victor, 2004.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament. CD-ROM. Victor, 1993.