Bishop Dr Peter (UK)
Exodus 22:18-20 (ESV)
Do not allow a sorceress to live.
Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal is to be put to death.
Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.
Notes on the Scripture
When we think of the sternness of the Old Testament, these verses are the very heart of it. These are the three sentences most likely to cause “Old Testament” to be used as an adjective.
None of these is a crime today, and other than bestiality, not even frowned upon by secular society. And in modern experience, putting witches to death has proven not to be conducive to justice; for it is easily abused by hysterical and superstitious people under the guise of Christian practice.
As we have discussed many times, the letter of Mosaic law has been fulfilled; we are not bound by it, strictly speaking. We are no longer compelled, for example, to put witches or sexual deviants to death. Likely, Christ’s famous teachings on judgment and forgiveness would prohibit it, or at least discourage it. And yet, the meaning of the law represents the will of God; if we love God, we will not ignore it. It is our morality, for it is given by God, for our good.
The ban on sorcery is directly related to the last commandment in Exodus 34, forbidding a kid from being cooked in its mother’s milk — a common occult ritual that was, for lack of a more elegant term, just plain weird. The point of these laws for modern Christians can be simply stated: Avoid superstition. We may not feel like Jeanne Dixon should be executed, but we must avoid horoscopes. Do you really think your personality is determined by the way the stars were aligned when you were born?
When I was much younger, I decided to read a horoscope book. I was born in March so I looked up Aries, and . . . it described me perfectly! I considered myself adventurous, open to new experiences, etc. Then I realized: the signs don’t go by the month, but run from the 20th day. I had the wrong sign. So I read the description for Pisces, and . . . that described me perfectly, too! Astrology, palm reading, tarot cards, etc., are hogwash.
But if we think of astrology as meaningless fun, we need to think again, for the Bible clearly tells us that it is harmful to us; in fact, it is so offensive to God, that its practitioners will die. It is, in effect, almost identical to the third stricture in today’s Scripture, giving sacrifice to a false god. When we let superstition into our lives, we encourage evil in ourselves. The Holy Spirit is shoved into a corner.
The witches, Wiccans, and astrologers of the world are for Jesus to judge, not us. They will not find death at our hand or society’s hand, but they will find death. For these practices are not only utterly erroneous, but also violate the great First Commandment summarized by Christ: To love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind. For all of these practices presuppose a supernatural force outside God’s control which we must obey, or suffer harm.
Let us rejoice and be comforted, that God has protected us from superstitions.