The Apple Of God's Eye

March 30, 2009

The Lure Of The Dark Side: Occult Powers

 

Many ask about witches, hypnotists, fortune-tellers, mediums, crystalball gazers, supposed miracle workers, clairvoyants, and so on. Others seek clarification on people like Nostradamus, who claims to foretell the future. 

We can know whether anyone who claims to have “supernatural” powers really is a prophet, messenger, or servant of God. In the Bible we find these instructions: “If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder which he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or to that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 13:1-3, RSV). 

God further warns us, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). This is how we should “try” the spirits: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:19-20). 

Here, then, is the test of a true servant of God. He will teach the people to believe and to obey exactly what the Word of God says (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4).

Is The Feast Of Purim Biblically Commanded?

This festival is one of the national feasts of the Jewish people. It is much like our Thanksgiving Day or Fourth of July. It commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the Persian Empire during the fifth century B.C. The origin of this feast is found in the Bible (see the book of Esther, especially the ninth chapter). But, it is not one of God’s Holy Days. 

This is not to say that this or similar festivals, such as the Feast of Lights (from the Maccabean period in the second century B.C.), are without meaning. For the Jews, these festivals are rich in meaning and history. As a Jew, Jesus observed them. 

As mentioned, these festivals are not part of God’s Holy Days (see Leviticus 23, for example). God does not command us to keep them.

Is Father's Day Or Mother's Day Of Religious Origin?

Neither Father’s Day nor Mother’s Day is fundamentally religious in character in North America. They are secular holidays of comparatively recent origin.

The history of Father’s Day started in 1909, in Spokane, Washington, Sonora Smart Dodd was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon when she was inspired to have a special day dedicated to her father, whom she felt touched her with his sacrifices, courage, selflessness and love. She held the first Father’s Day celebration on 19th of June 1910, and the idea caught on. However, it was to be thirty years before a Joint Resolution of Congress gave recognition to Father’s Day, and another 16 years before President Richard Nixon established the third Sunday of June as a permanent national observance of Father’s Day.

The history of Mother’s Day is supposed to go back centuries, but it wasn’t until 1907, when Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948), a Philadelphia schoolteacher, began a movement to set up a national Mother’s Day in honor of her mother. The first Mother’s Day observance was a church service, and her hard work finally paid off in the year 1914, when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as a national holiday in honor of mothers. 

Sadly, in this world parents are too often forgotten and neglected in day-to-day living. It seems we need to make up for this by a special holiday dedicated to the role of each parent. The Bible, of course, teaches that parents should be HONORED at all times (Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3). 

But of course there is nothing wrong with acknowledging these days. Yes, Christians follow God’s instructions in remembering and honoring parents daily, but if one also wants to send a card with personal best wishes or telephone parents on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, that is fine also. There is no biblical command against it.

Does God Allow Mercy Killing?

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In recent times, the issue of “mercy killing” or “euthanasia” as it is called in medical circles, has been brought to the forefront of public awareness, largely because of the actions of Jack Kevorkian.

The definition of euthanasia, according to the “Van Nostrand’s Scientific Encyclopedia,” is defined as “easy or painless death brought on to end a lingering, hopeless, painful disease.”

Now it may seem kind and merciful to relieve a loved one of their suffering from a debilitating illness. However, that decision is not yours to make. Neither is it up to the person who is suffering – life belongs to God. Only the Almighty God – the Giver of life – can decide when life is given and when it is taken (Ps. 36:9, John 6:35). When it is time for a person to die, God will allow it to happen.

Few, it seems though look to the Bible to see what God says. When we do, we find that from the beginning God intended that each human being live out a productive and fulfilling life in preparation for eternal life with Him in His Kingdom.

While God has authorized man’s governments to end the lives of those who have committed murder and the like (see Romans 13), there is no support in Scripture for ending the life of an innocent person simply because of sickness, old age, or disease. In fact, God’s Word shows that the weak are to be cared for, not murdered. See I Thessalonians 5:14.

On the other hand, the idea that heroic measures must be taken to keep a terminally ill person alive as long as possible is not biblical either. There is no sense prolonging a person’s dying. Many righteous people in the Bible knew when they were dying, got their affairs in order, gathered their families to say good-bye, and simply died. It is not wrong to ask God in His mercy to allow a suffering person to peacefully die. But in the end, it is God who decides.

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