EXTREME DANGER FROM THE SPIRIT WORLDBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Chapter Index
Many of the elect feel that there is no danger from the spirit world because of a misconception that they cannot be deceived by evil. This misconception comes mainly because of the following English mistranslation of Matthew 24:24.
"For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (KJV).
The words "if it were possible" is where the mistranslation conveys the thought that it is impossible to deceive the elect. However, the correct translation is "if possible", which conveys the correct thought that it is the goal of false christs and prophets to deceive the elect. This is the reason for the many warnings given to the elect by Jesus Christ and the apostles.
The history of the early church clearly shows that it is indeed possible to deceive the elect of God under certain circumstances. The goal of evil spirits and counterfeit ministers of Christ is to cause people to accept a lie as truth. There would be no reason for a warning, if there were no danger of being deceived and led astray by evil spirits, false teachers, and false doctrines.
The apostle Peter warns that the devil is an enemy who is actively trying to destroy righteous people. Peter says that the way to conquer the devil is to resist him and to have faith that God will deliver the righteous:
"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen,settle you" (1.Pet.5:6-10 KJV). See also Jms.4:7.
Although one's own failings and lustful desires are a formidable foe to conquer, the child of God must also be aware of powerful spiritual forces that are a tremendous threat to one's salvation. Paul warns that the most powerful enemies of a child of God are not of this world but are from the spirit dimension of time and space:
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph.6:10-12 KJV). Read also verses 13-18.
The existence of the dark side of the spirit world was common knowledge to those who were called to salvation during the time of the early church. Paul gives an exhortation to the Romans about using the power of God in one's life to overcome physical trials and evil spiritual powers:
"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom.12:21 KJV).
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom.8:35-39 KJV).
The spiritual warfare that the elect of God are engaged in is a life and death matter. A major goal of Satan and the evil spirits that serve him is to destroy the elect of God. In order to become victorious over these evil beings (Rom.12:12), a Christian must know and understand who and what the enemy is and its strengths and weaknesses. If one does not know these things about one's enemy, the battle can be lost before it even begins. Once a Christian knows the enemy and its potential for destruction, they should thoroughly acquaint themselves with the superior weaponry of God's spirit that is given to each Christian in order for them to overcome evil.
Masters of Deception
Evil spirits are masters of deception, and throughout the ages, they have cleverly produced many counterfeits of the Father's truth, his good news message, his worship system, and his way of life for humanity.
Although it is a powerful adversary, evil is no match for those who truly believe in the Father and Jesus, because they have the power to overcome all adversaries through the power that is in the blood of Christ and the holy spirit.
COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION WITH THE SPIRIT WORLDBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Top | Back to Chapter Index
The Bible is a book that deals with the physical and spiritual dimensions of time and space and many of the things that concern communications and interactions between them. Much of this information is extremely important to the Father's elect children who will live during the last few years before Christ's return because of the increased number and activity of evil spirits who will inhabit the earth at that time and because these spirits intend to destroy the elect of God. Therefore, it is vitally important for the elect children of God to know and understand something about the communications and interactions between these two dimensions of existence in order to discern when these communications and interactions are taking place and who or what is causing them.
In today's world as in past ages, there are many people who have the ability to communicate and interact with the spirit dimension of time and space. This communication and interaction falls into two categories:
COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION WITH GOD
Normally when people think of communicating with God, they think of prayer. Although prayer is a way to communicate with God, prayer is a one way communication and, sometimes, one must wait a considerable length of time in order to determine the outcome of one's prayer. However, the Bible documents other forms of communication with God that are two way communications in which there is an immediate response from God. There are also many methods by which God initiates a communication with people in order to give them knowledge, insight, understanding, or instructions.
The following are some of the ways that the Creator God communicated with people.
The following are some of the ways other than through prayer that God communicated with people after the advent of the Messiah:
Communication with the Sovereign God
There are a number of important foundational things that one should have firmly in mind about communication with the Sovereign God before continuing this study into communication with the spirit world:
1. Neither in the past nor today has the Sovereign God (God the Father) communicated with his children the same way as the Creator God (Jesus Christ) did. See Jn.1:18; 5:37; 14:13-14; 17:25-26; 1.Cor.15:24-28.
2. God the Father has delegated all power and authority in heaven and earth to Jesus Christ (1.Pet.3:22), including the care, protection, communication, and direction of his elect children.
3. From the creation of humanity until the gospel age, the Creator God who became Jesus Christ either personally communicated knowledge, insight, or the will of the Sovereign God (God the Father) and himself to people or he directed the method by which these communications were made.
4. Today, Jesus Christ either personally communicates knowledge, insight or the will of God the Father to people or he directs the method by which these communications are made.
5. Today, only the Father's elect children who have his holy spirit are allowed to communicate with him through the authority of Jesus Christ.
6. Today, as in the past, God reveals and communicate his knowledge and will to his people through physical as well as spiritual methods.
In both the Old and New Testaments there are many accounts that show people using physical objects to communicate with the Creator God and God the Father for the purpose of determining their will in certain matters and communicating with spirit-being in physical and spirit form. See our studies that deal with the physical objects that were given to the people of God to allow them to establish two way communication with him, the danger of communication and interaction with evil spirits and evil influences, and how to test a spirit or spiritual influence to determine if it is good or evil.
THE EPHOD, BREASTPLATE, URIM, THUMMIN, AND TERAPHIMBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Top | Back to Chapter Index
Within the Book of Hosea there is an extremely curious prophecy that speaks of the betrayal of Jesus and an interim period of time before his return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God in which the tribes of Israel will be without a king and a prince and without images, an ephod, or a teraphim:
"And the Lord said to me, Go again. Love a woman loved by a friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the sons of Israel, who turn to other gods, and love raisin cakes of grapes. So I bought her for myself with fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley, and a half barley. And I said to her, You shall stay with me many days. You shall not be a harlot, nor be to a man; and I also will be for you" (Hos.3:1-3 Para.).
This shows the spiritual adultery of national Israel (raisin cakes represent the desirability of sin and idolatrous worship) and the price that was paid to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus. An homer of barley was divided into ten parts, and each part was worth one shekel of silver at that time; hence, the price of Jesus' life was 30 shekels of silver (15 shekels of silver and 1.5 homers of barley equal 30 shekels of silver).
Because of what is said in verse 3 about Israel being restored as a wife to the Creator God (Jesus Christ), it is clear that this prophecy continues on into verses 4 and 5, which speak of the removal of the sacred objects through which the high priest and others communicated with the Creator God:
"For the sons of Israel shall be many days without a king [civil ruler], and prince [spiritual leader], and without a sacrifice, or images, or ephod and teraphim. Afterward the sons of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king. And they shall fear the Lord God and his goodness in the end of the days" (Hos.3:4-5 Para.).
Clearly, the time when David will reign over national Israel again (Ezk.37:24-25) is after the return of Christ when Israel will have been restored to its national sovereignty under the Kingdom of God. Everything noted after the civil ruler is mentioned pertains to the worship of God and the method through which he communicated with the high priest and others of Israel.
It is also important to note that the things mentioned have no tie to any pagan religion; they are all things that the Creator God sanctioned as a part of the first agreement with national Israel and they were only removed from national Israel because of its rebellion against the Creator God.
There is little doubt that the removal of these things took place over many hundreds of years and culminated in the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. after which the priesthood and the sacrifices were discontinued because of the lack of a proper place within which to worship.
There are many opinions as to exactly how each of the items that the high priest wore were made, what they looked like, and what their actual and symbolic purpose was. Although it would be interesting to understand these things in exact detail, it is not necessary in order to understand the benefits that came from wearing these items. Therefore, this section gives only brief comments as to how each sacred item relates to Hosea's prophecy and the elect of God who will live during the time just before Christ's return.
Exodus 28:1-43 KJV Paraphrased
"And take Aaron your brother, and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar from among the children of Israel, so that he and his sons may minister to me in the priestís office. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother for glory and for beauty. And you shall speak to all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaronís garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priestís office" (vs.1-3).
The sacred garments represent the glory and beauty of the high priest's office as he represents the people to God and God to the people. Moreover, God had given special wisdom to certain people in order for them to make these sacred garments that consecrated Aaron to his office.
"And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, and his sons, that he may minister to me in the priest's office" (v4).
Verse four lists each of the items that the high priest had to wear while performing the various duties of his office.
"And they shall take gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and make the ephod with cunning work. It shall have the two shoulder pieces joined at two edges, and will have a girdle on it, which will be of the same material as the ephod. And you shall take two onyx stones, and engrave the names of six of the tribes of Israel on one stone and six on the other, according to the order of their patriarchs birth, and place the stones in golden holders upon the shoulders of the ephod to be a memorial to the children of Israel before the LORD upon Aaron's shoulders" (vs.5-12).
"And you will make the breastplate of judgment of similar material and work as the ephod. It will be square and doubled; and a span in length and width. And you shall set in it four rows of stones in golden holders: in the first row a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle, in the second row an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond, in the third row a ligure, an agate, and a amethyst, and the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper. And on each stone will be the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel" (v21).
"And you will make chains and rings of pure gold and place them on the breastplate in order to attach it to the fittings that hold the shoulder pieces of the ephod, and to attach the breastplate to the sides of the ephod. And Aaron will bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goes in to the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually" (vs.22-29).
"And you shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue with a hole in the top and middle of it: it will have a binding of woven work round about the hole, so that it will not tear. And on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet; and bells of gold between each pomegranate: And it will be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound will be heard when he goes in to the holy place before the LORD, and when he comes out, so that he will not die" (vs.31-35).
The Turban and Mitre
"And you will make a plate of pure gold, and make engravings upon it as of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And you will put it on blue lace, that it may be upon the front of the mitre. And it will be upon Aaronís forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel will hollow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD" (vs.36-38).
"And for Aaron's sons you shall make coats, and you shall make for them girdles, and bonnets shall you make for them, for glory and for beauty. And you shall put them upon Aaron your brother, and his sons; and anoint them, that they may minister to me in the priest's office. And you shall make them linen breaches that reach from the loins to the thighs: to cover their nakedness; when they come into the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him" (vs.40-43).
It is important to understand that, in addition to the symbolic meaning of the breastplate that covered the ephod, it also had much to do with actual communication with God. The Septuagint renders the Hebrew word 'hoshen' (i.e., breastplate) as 'oracle', which indicates that the breastplate was an object through which one could gain insight from or contact God (i.e., oracle of Judgement). Although the Septuagint may or may not be correct concerning the exact meaning of the Hebrew word 'hoshen', it is correct as to its conceptual meaning. The breastplate of judgement ('mishpat hoshen') was clearly a necessary part of all the objects that were required in order for the high priest to communicate with God.
The Urim and Thummin
The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that, because of the sins of the people, the lights that radiated from the two stones on the shoulders of the high priest's ephod and from the stones of the breastplate ceased to shine 200 years before he wrote his history (app.150 B.C.). This seems to be the beginning point of the fulfillment of Hosea's prophecy (Hos.3:4-5) that spoke of the cessation of God's communication through the sacred items associated with the priesthood:
"And in the breastplate of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummin; and these shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goes in before the LORD: and Aaron will bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually" (v30).
The Hebrew word 'urim' means 'light(s)' and the Hebrew word 'thummin' means 'integrity of perfection'. These two objects were to be placed over Aaron's heart and were to be used to determine God's will concerning certain matters pertaining to the people of Israel.
The scriptures clearly show that the symbolism of light is knowledge and perfect integrity is one of the attributes of God. Moreover, the breastplate of judgment and the urim and the thummin were devices through which God conveyed his will and instructions to his people.
The following are some of many events recorded in the Bible in which the ephod, breastplate, urim, thummin, and teraphim were used to gain insight and knowledge from God or to determine his will in certain matters:
Moses and Joshua and the Urim
When Moses asked God to appoint someone to replace him as Israel's leader, God told Moses that Joshua would replace him and that he was to take him to Eleazar whose responsibility it was to use the urim to ask for God's will and council (Num.27:15-23). This account shows the importance of the urim and thummin in gaining insight and knowledge into the will of God.
After the death of Samuel, Saul found himself and Israel confronted with the prospect of being conquered by the Philistines:
"And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled" (1.Sam.28:4-5 KJV).
Knowing that the armies of Israel were no match for the Philistines, Saul sought counsel and help from God:
"And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by the Urim, nor by prophets" (1.Sam.28:6 KJV).
Although Saul sought God's counsel through authorized methods, he did not answer him. Because God would not answer, Saul became so discouraged and frightened that he decided to seek insight and guidance through a source that was not authorized by God:
"Then said Saul to his servants, Seek me a woman that has a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that has a familiar spirit at Endor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other clothing, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray you, divine to me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name to you" (1.Sam.28:7-8 KJV).
It is important to understand that Saul violated God's law in regard to witchcraft through his attempt to communicate with the spirit of Samuel. God condemns all such practices and imposes the death penalty upon those who practice them. See Lev.19:31; 20:6; 2.Chron.33:1-25; Isa.8:19-20.
Another important thing to learn from this account is that no human has the ability to force God to give them insight or knowledge or to reveal his will to them. It is God's prerogative whether or not he will communicate with an individual.
On two different occasions, when David was in great distress, he called for the priest Abiathar to come to him and bring the ephod so that he could ask God for insight and guidance. On both occasions, God honored David's request and answered him. See 1.Sam.23:6-12; 30:1-8
The Return From Captivity
Both Ezra and Nehemiah record that, after the people return to Jerusalem after their captivity, there were a number of men who wanted to serve in the temple as priests. However, they could not prove that they were descended from Aaron; therefore, they were not allowed to serve until a priest consulted with God through the urim and thummin to determine the men's genealogy (Ezr.2:61-63; Nehe.7:63-65).
This account shows that at least 300 years after Hosea's prophecy about the removal of the sacred objects of council from Israel, these objects were still being used by the priesthood in order to gain insight and knowledge from God.
Gideon was a man who followed God's instructions and knew how to worship him through the sacrificial system. After Gideon had performed all the things that God had asked him to do in order to remove pagan worship and the enemies of Israel, the Israelites asked Gideon to rule over them (Jdg.8:22-23).
Up to the time of Gideon's rule, the biblical record shows that the ephod was only used by the priesthood; however, Gideon, who was not a priest, told the Israelites to give him the materials to make an ephod. Although there is nothing said about Gideon using the ephod, the fact that he had it made probably means that he used it to gain insight and knowledge from God while ruling the people.
It is important to note that nothing negative has ever been said about Gideon or his use of the ephod. However, the scriptures clearly indicate that the use of the ephod caused Gideon and his sons much trouble, because the people began to worship the ephod instead of the Creator God who gave insight and knowledge through it (Jdg.8:27).
The Hebrew word 'teraphim' means idolatry, idols, or images. There is no doubt that Israelites as well as other people used idols, images, and other objects in order to gain insight and knowledge that would have been outside their ability to gain through natural means.
The teraphim is not mentioned in the list of items that God had made for the tabernacle nor is it in the list of items that comprised the high priest's sacred garments; however, it is very possible that the teraphim is referred to along with these items by a name other than 'teraphim'.
The teraphim is noted as something that is associated with the high priest, and that was removed because of Israel's rebellion, but will be a part of the things restored when national Israel is again established as a nation after Christ's return (Hos.3:4). Therefore, we should be able to solve at least some of the mystery surrounding the teraphim and its use.
The Ephod and the Teraphim
The death of Samson was accompanied by the end of the judges of Israel as national leaders. At this point in history, it is unclear what had happened to the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the system of worship over which they were to officiate. What is clear is that the northern tribes again began to practice worship systems that were in opposition to God. During this time, there was a loose confederation of the tribes of Israel. This is the time when the scriptures say that there was no ruler in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes (Jdg.17:6).
Chapter 17 and 18 of the Book of Judges tells the story of Micah, a man of the tribe of Ephraim, who had an ephod, a teraphim, and carved and cast images made. Eventually, a Levite from Bethlehem happened to come to Micah's home to work. Micah paid the Levite to be his priest over his household gods. One day a group of men from the tribe of Dan asked the Levite to consult God for them to see if they would be successful in their conquest of a nearby land. The Levite consulted God through the ephod and the other objects that Micah had made and gave these men a positive answer from God.
This account reveals the following things about the ephod and the teraphim:
1. Although Micah's ephod, images, and teraphim did not come from the tabernacle, God still honored their use in seeking guidance from him.
2. Although the Levite was not the high priest from the Tabernacle, God granted his request for knowledge and guidance and told him what his will was in this matter.
3. God honored the Levite's request because he used objects that were designed to be used to seek his guidance.
Again, we see God using an object to communicate his will. Because the word 'teraphim' is a plural word, there has been some speculation that 'teraphim' was another word used to describe the urim and thummin, which may have been small replicas of the tabernacle and the mercy seat. This may have some validity, because God told Aaron that, when he went in to the Holy of Holies he would appear to him in a cloud above the mercy seat (Lev.16-1-2). Moreover, when Moses went into the tabernacle of the congregation, God would speak to him from between the cherubim which were above the mercy seat. See Num.7:89; 1.Chron.13:6.
Whether or not the ephod and the urim and thummin will exist again and be used by the high priest at the temple in Jerusalem before Christ's return is unclear from Hosea's prophecy (Hos.3:4-5). However, it is clear that these objects will exist after Christ's return.
For the elect of God today, knowing exactly what the ephod, teraphim, urim, and thummin were made of, or exactly what they looked like is not important. What is important to understand, however, is that God used these physical objects to give insight, and knowledge and to communicate his will to his people.
THE DRAWING AND CASTING OF LOTSBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Top | Back to Chapter Index
Throughout the history of humanity, people have used objects that are either drawn out of a container or cast upon a surface in order to seek advice from the spirit world, make choices, predict future events, or gain insight and knowledge about things and events that are beyond the normal capabilities of people to gain through natural means. The Bible has much to say about the uses of these methods of seeking advice, insight, and knowledge from the spirit-realm of existence. Therefore, it is important to explore what the Bible has to say about the drawing and casting of lots.
The Day of Atonement
The drawing of lots concerning the two goats on the Day of Atonement was an extremely important part of the festival's rituals and it was the method through which the Creator God chose to show his will concerning which goat was to be sacrificed and which one was to be set free:
"And Aaron shall take from the Israelite's, two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering . . . And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat" (Lev.16:5, 7-8 Para.).
On each Day of Atonement, two goats were presented to God at the door of the tabernacle, but they were not allowed to pass through it while they were alive, which was the case with all animals that were to be used as a sacrifice.
The method by which the high priest was to determine the purpose for each goat was the drawing of lots. Through this method, God chose which goat would die and which one would live. Although all animals that were sacrificed had to be physically perfect, God needed to make the choice on this occasion, because this sacrificial goat is prophetic of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the atonement of all humanity. See our study about the Day of Atonement.
"And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord's lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering" (Lev.16:9 KJV).
No one explanation seems to be able to satisfy everyone as to exactly what the lots were made of or what they looked like. However, if we combine the information given by Yoma in the Babylonian Talmud and the Mishnah, it seems that the lots were two stones: one white and one black. According to the Talmud and the Mishnah, the white stone displayed the words "For the Lord", and the black stone displayed the words "For Azazel".
These two stones were placed into a container and shaken; then, without looking into the container, the high priest would put his right hand into the container and draw out one of the lots.
Simon the Righteous
In the third century B.C., there was a high priest named Simon who served in the Jerusalem temple. Simon was considered to be very honorable and he continued in the office of high priest for 40 years. Each of the forty years that Simon drew the lots to determine which of the goats would be slain and which would be set free, the white lot for the slain goat would appear in his right hand.
The Day of Atonement 30 A.D.
One of the four major signs listed in the Babylonian Talmud that foretold the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. pertained to the drawing of lots for the two goats on the Day of Atonement.
The Babylonian Talmud states that, for 200 years before 30 A.D., the first stone to appear in the right hand randomly alternated between the white and black stone, because God selected the more perfect goat that was to be slain for the sins of the people. But, beginning with the Day of Atonement 30 A.D. (the year of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ), things changed. The black stone appeared in the right hand of the high priest and would do so for the next 39 years.
The chances of either the black or white stone appearing 40 consecutive times in the right hand of the high priest is over a trillion to one according to Pascal's table of numerical odds.
Since the color black is symbolic of spiritual darkness and is a harbinger of bad things to come upon the enemies of God, it seems that the continual appearance of the black stone in the right hand of the high priest was surely a sign of God's displeasure with the Jews as well as a warning for them to repent. After forty years of continuous warning, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by the Roman Empire in 70 A.D..
The choosing of lots to determine the fate of the two goats on the Day of Atonement and the events surrounding the two forty years cycles of white and black lots clearly show that lots were used to reveal the will of God for the present and the future to those who served as his ministers.
The Dividing of the Promised Land
The Creator gave Moses specific instructions to use lots to divide the land that he would give national Israel among the various tribes (Num.26:55-56). Moses subsequently gave instructions to the Israelites concerning the general areas that they were to inhabit after they conquered the nations that occupied that land, and he told them that Eleazar the high priest and Joshua would use lots to determine the exact division of land among them:
"And Moses commanded the Israelites saying, This is the land that you shall inherit by lot . . .. And the Lord spoke to Moses saying, These are the names of the men who shall divide the land to you: Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun" (Num.34:13,16-17 Para.).
The use of lots to determine which tribe would inherit which piece of land was not done to ensure the impartiality of Eleazar and Joshua. Lots were cast so that the Israelites would know that the Creator God had chosen where they would live.
In compliance with God's instructions concerning the drawing of lots to divide the land among the tribes of Israel (Jos.18:1-10), Joshua went to Shiloh where the priesthood officiated at the tabernacle of God. See also Jos.13:6-7.
Decisions Concerning Life and Death
There are two accounts that show the use of lots to determine the identity of a person responsible for a sin or a life threatening situation in which a person was either put to death or sent to his death. The first account shows the use of lots to determine who had violated God's instructions concerning the taking of spoils of war. When the responsible person was discovered, he was put to death (Jos.7:1-26). The second account concerns Jonah and his attempt to escape from a responsibility that God had given him. When the sailors (through the casting of lots) found that it was Jonah who was responsible for their life threatening situation, he was cast into the sea to die (Jnh.1:1-15). In both of these accounts, it was the Creator God who revealed truth through the casting of lots.
The Proverbs and Lots
"One casts the lot into the lap; but all its decision comes from the Lord" (Pro.16:33 Para.).
This proverb clearly shows the use of lots to seek a decision for God in matters that could not be determined from the use of the facts at hand. Although it is not stated in this proverb, it can be assumed that the participants are in conformity to God's ways, authorized by God to access him through the casting of lots, seeking to gain insight, knowledge, and his will, and will abide by the decision that he gives through the lots.
The casting of lots was not only used by the spiritual and national leaders of Israel to determine a matter but also in the private lives of individuals.
"The lot causes arguments to cease, and divides between the mighty" (Pro.18:18 Para.).
For those who brought a matter before the Lord and sought insight, knowledge, or his decision in a matter and abided by what was revealed, the matter was settled and ceased to be a problem between them. Again, those involved in the matter were most likely righteous in their intention to discover truth and a righteous judgement.
King David and the Priesthood
In the first book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel, there are several accounts of king David and others seeking to understand the will of God concerning the division of the priesthood into their various functions. These accounts show that the method used to determine God's will in these matters was the casting of lots, and that it was considered prudent to seek the will of God by this method concerning people and things that would impact how people would serve and worship God. See 1.Chron.24:1-31; 25:1-8; 26:1-14.
Choosing a Replacement for Judas
Shortly after the Festival of Pentecost in 30 A.D. and the bestowing of the holy spirit upon those who were worthy of receiving it, the apostles selected a replacement for the traitor Judas who had killed himself:
"And they [the eleven apostles] selected Joseph who was called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And when they had prayed, and said, You Lord, who knows the hearts of all men, show which of these two men you have chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas through transgression fell . . . And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:23-26 Para).
The following are very important things to take note of:
1. The apostles selected two men who they thought qualified to fulfill the responsibilities of an apostle.
2. They asked God the Father to make the choice between these two men.
3. The method that they used to have God's will revealed to them was the casting or drawing of lots. It is logical that they would have used this method, because this method had been used for centuries by the authorized civil and spiritual leaders of Israel to gain certain kinds of knowledge from God and to determine his will in certain matters.
Simon the Sorcerer
When Simon saw that it was through the laying on of hands that people received the holy spirit and that it was through the hands of the apostles that this spirit-power was given, he offered the apostles money:
"Give me this authority, so that I may do the same thing by laying my hands on people. But Peter said to him, Your money parish with you into perdition, because you think that God's gift can be purchased with money. You have no part or lot in this matter, because your heart is not right in the sight of God" (Acts 8:18-21).
This account shows that, in order to be able to use the casting of lots in the framework of the Body of Christ, one must have the right attitude and be authorized (called by God the Father) to participate in the work of the church.
Both the Bible and historical records show that God has revealed certain insights and knowledge about people, things, events, and his will concerning them through the method of drawing or casting lots. And both the Bible and historical records show that this method was in common use by those whom God had authorized as the civil and spiritual leaders of his people.
There is no indication in the scriptures that the practice of drawing or casting lots is condemned when it is used to gain insight, and knowledge about people, things, and events for the right purpose. However, there is a darker side to the use of lots that deserves a detailed explanation.
A Great Danger
Although there is no doubt that God authorized the use of objects that are either drawn out of a container or cast upon a surface in order seek his advice, have him make a choice and to gain insight and knowledge about things and events which are beyond the normal capabilities of people to gain through natural means, there is great danger in the use of lots.
Today, as in the past, there are many things that one must consider before attempting to access God through an object:
1. Will God honor one's attempt to use an object to access physical or spiritual knowledge?
2. Has one been authorized to use an object to access physical or spiritual knowledge?
3. How can one be absolutely certain that an answer one receives is from the spirit of God?
4. How can one be certain that an answer one receives is not from an evil spirit or one's own mind?
These are very serious questions that must be answered before a person attempts to use an object to access the spirit of God. Without the correct answers to these questions, it seems foolish to use any physical object to guide one's physical or spiritual life. This is not to say that God the Father and Jesus Christ will not authorize such a method to be used during the end of the age; however, extreme caution must be exercised. The apostle Peter warned, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walks about as a roaring lion, seeking those whom he may devour" (1.Pet.5:8).
Because the only example of the casting of lots by the elect of the early church concerns the affairs of the church, we can safely assume that, at that time, it was not wrong to use this method to gain insight and knowledge and to discover the will of God concerning spiritual matters.
When we consider the two examples in the Book of Acts that speak of lots, the implication seems to be that the apostles were the custodians of this method of seeking insight from God.
COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION WITH EVILBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Top | Back to Chapter Index
The scriptures clearly show that the elect of God are the only humans that are allowed to communicate directly with God the Father. There are also accounts in the Bible of people communicating and interacting with evil spirits directly and through physical objects.
It is important to understand that almost all humans have the ability to one degree or another to communicate with both good and evil spirit beings under certain circumstances.
Understanding this fact and that there are many methods through which people can communicate and interact with the spirit dimension is very important, because once one understands this, one can use God's word and its standards of good and evil to determine if a communication and interaction with the spirit dimension is with good or evil spirits.
CONTACT WITH THE DARK SIDE
Many people either intentionally or unintentionally communicate with evil spirits through the religion they practice, inanimate objects that people believe have supernatural powers, or people that they associate with.
It is important to understand that the dark side of the spirit existence is more than willing to communicate with humans in order to further their own purpose and that there are literally hundreds of methods through which a person can come into contact with the dark side of the spirit dimension of existence. Some of these methods are the use of tarot cards, charms, medallions or other objects that people believe have supernatural power such as ouiji boards, pendulums, crystals, geometric designs, pictures, prayer to statues, idols, and spirits, and consulting astrologers, spiritual mediums, and witches.
EVIL PRACTICES FORBIDDEN
The practice of communicating and interacting with the dark side of the spirit dimension for purpose other than permitted by God is strictly forbidden. The following are some of the instructions to ancient Israel concerning communication and interaction with the dark side of the spirit world:
"When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn or do the hateful acts of those nations. There shall not be found among you, one that passes his son or daughter through the fire, or a person that uses divination, or an observer of clouds, or a fortune-teller, or a whisperer of spells, or a magic-charmer, or a person who communicates with and questions evil spirits, or a wizard, or a person that communicates with and questions the dead. For all doing these things are an abomination to the Lord your God" (Deut.18:9-12 KJV Para.).
"You shall not allow a sorceress to live" (Ex.22:18 KJV Para.).
"You shall not inquire of those who are possessed of evil spirits; and you shall not seek after spiritualists and become defiled by them; I am the Lord your God" (Lev.19:31 KJV Para.). See also 2.Chron.33:1-25; Isa.8:19-20.
"The person who inquires of people possessed with evil spirits, or inquire of a spiritualist, and seek them as one seeks a whore to fornicate with them, I shall set my face against that person, and cut him off from the midst of his people" (Lev.20:6 KJV Para.).
Throughout history there have been people who have discovered how to use the physical and spiritual powers that exist to either gain insight and knowledge or to affect the natural and supernatural existence. The account in the Book of Acts shows that, during the beginnings of the early church, the Father called some people who had used their knowledge of the physical and spiritual dimensions of existence for the wrong purposes, but repented and destroyed the books that held this knowledge after they understood their error:
"And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds. Many of them also which used magical arts brought their books, and burned them before all: and the price of these books was about 50,000 pieces of silver. So the word of God grew greatly and prevailed" (Acts 19:18-20).
God strongly condemns the practice of communicating and interacting with evil because its practice draws people away from truth and into error, which will lead to eternal death if not repented of.
There are three categories of people who have the knowledge and ability to manipulate and/or affect the physical and spiritual dimensions of existence through physical or spiritual power:
1. Those who have discovered this knowledge and gained this ability through the study of the natural and the spiritual existence without being influenced by evil spirits.
2. Those who have been guided into or given this knowledge and ability by evil spirits.
3. Those who have been guided into or given this knowledge and ability by God the Father and Jesus Christ through the influence of the holy spirit or their physical or spiritual servants.
Whether or not one chooses to believe that there are people who have secret knowledge and abilities that are outside the norm of human experience, history clearly shows that many people have possessed secret knowledge that gave them the ability to communicate and interact with the spirit dimension of existence and perform supernatural works.
It is the responsibility of each of God's elect to be aware of the dangers from communication and interaction with evil and to respond accordingly to its threat to one's salvation and eternal destiny.
TESTING THE SPIRITSBack to Alphabetical Index | Back to Top | Back to Chapter Index
The Bible gives many keys to understanding how to test the spirits in order to determine if a person, spirit, or influence is good or evil. Because almost all opposition to the Father, Jesus Christ, and the children of God comes from the influence of evil spirits, it is extremely important for God's elect to be able to discern the difference between a good and an evil spiritual influence (1.Cor.2:11-16).
This study shows many of the keys to testing a spiritual influence in order to determine if it is good or evil. Moreover, this study shows how to use these keys to resist and overcome an evil influence.
Some people believe that a pleasant or benign supernatural experience is a confirmation of their belief system, and that such experiences are from the true God. Moreover, because no physical harm came to them during the experience, they believe that they are in no danger.
Although a religious or supernatural experience may be pleasant and seemingly harmless, it is very dangerous to automatically assume that the experience is from the true God or one of his servants. Just because one feels that one has had a supernatural experience such as a dream, a vision, the appearance of an apparition, the hearing of a disembodied voice, or some other unexplained experience with religious implications, it does not mean that the experience is from the true God or one of his servants. The word of God clearly says to test the spirits to see if they are of God or not.
Gideon Tests the Spirit
Gideon is mentioned in the Book of Hebrews chapter 11 as one of the faithful who has obtained salvation and will be included in the first resurrection (Heb.11:32-33, 39). Gideon was not a novice in the worship of God; he understood who God was, how he was to be worshiped, and God's promises to Israel. Gideon was well grounded in his faith relationship with God, yet he questioned the validity of the message sent to him by God through a spirit-being. See Jdg.6:11-40.
The account of Gideon shows that the true God does not condemn those who are suspicious of supernatural experiences and question their source.
A Serious Warning
The apostle John gave an extremely serious warning to the elect of God about people who claim to be true servants of God, but may not be. John instructs the elect of God to put these people to the test to see if they are what they say they are. Although John's warning primarily speaks to people who are false prophets, his warning should also be taken to include other types of evil, such as the influence and presence of evil spirits:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, to see whether they are from God: for many false prophets have gone forth into the world" (1.Jn.4:1). See Matt.24:4-5; 2.Cor.11:3-15.
Here, John speaks of an influence from spirit-beings and instructs the children of God to put them to the test of truth.
In Jesus' reprimand to the Jewish religious leaders about of their false religious beliefs and practices, their sinfulness, and their conspiracy to murder him, he notes that the Devil is the father of lies (Jn.8:44). This is the same evil spirit that mixed truth with error in order to deceive Eve and cause her and Adam to rebel against God. He is also the same spirit-being who (along with other evil spirits) is deceiving the whole world politically, philosophically, and religiously today (Rev.12:9).
The account of lying spirits going from heaven to deceive Ahab's prophets into telling him lies (1.Kgs.22:19-22) and the prophecy of Ezekiel, which shows that, at the end of the age the spiritual leaders of the Israelitish people will be liars who deceive the gullible (Ezk.13:1-10), clearly show that one should be very cautious about who and what one believes in reference to spiritual matters.
That Which is Good
The apostle Paul instructs the elect of God at Thessalonica to "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1.Thes.5:21 KJV):
One of the simplest ways to determine if an influence, spirit-being, belief, teaching, or person is good or evil is to see if there is conformity to or a violation of God's law and his instructions to his people.
THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST CHRIST
There are many people who teach things that are contrary to the teachings of God but say that they follow his ways. In his letter to the elect, John repeats a prophecy that was known to those to whom he was writing, and he tells them that its fulfillment was in progress at that time. Moreover, he says that those who were against Christ at that time were never true sons of God, and that by leaving the true body of Christ, they had revealed their true nature and purpose.
1.John 2:18-24 Paraphrased
"Young ones, it is the last hour and as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up; from which you know that it is a last hour. They went out from us, but were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but they left so that it might be revealed that they were not of us" (vs.18-19).
John confirms that those who have the spirit of God also have the knowledge and ability to discern truth from error in spiritual matters:
"And you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I did not write to you because you did not know the truth, but because you know it, and because every lie is not of the truth" (vs.20-21).
Here, John presumes that the people he is speaking to are not novices in the faith, but are experienced in the truth of God. Herein is a major key to having discernment between good and evil. In order to know the truth, a person must diligently, sincerely, and prayerfully study God's word. People who lie about spiritual matters will be known by people who have the spirit of God within them, because the spirit of God reveals truth: See Jn.14:17; 15:26; 16:12-13; 1.Cor.2:12-13.
Those Who Deny Christ
Those who are against Christ, do not teach the truth concerning Jesus as the Creator God and Savior of humanity. They also deny the individuality of the Father and the Son. Evil spirits teach a mixture of truth and error and pervert the knowledge of God and his system of worship in order to deceive the gullible:
"Who is the liar, except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? The one who denies the Father and the Son is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father. The one who confesses the Son truly has the Father" (vs.22-23).
Only those who understand and believe the truth concerning the Father and the Son have the Father's spirit. John says that all others who claim to be followers of the true God are liars. They are liars because they deny the individuality of the Father (the Sovereign God) and the Son (the Creator God and Savior of humanity) and deny this foundational truth.
"What you heard from the beginning, let it abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you will abide both in the Father and in the Son" (v24).
The truly converted people of the first age of the church understood exactly what John was saying concerning the Father, Christ, and the spirit of God because they were taught the mysteries concerning the plan of God by the apostles. However, this knowledge was lost when the organized church disappeared shortly after the apostle John's death. Now, in the last age of the church, this knowledge is again necessary, and is being revealed to those whom the Father is calling to salvation. See Dan.12:1-10; Matt.13:10-12; 1.Cor.4:1; Rom.16:24-26. See also our studies about the disappearance of the early church.
One of the things that John stresses in his writings is that the spirit of God residing within the children of God separates them from the world, makes them sinless before God the Father, and reveals to them those who oppose and reject Christ and the Father. This is an extremely important understanding because each of the elect has been given the ability to discern good from evil; however, it is the responsibility of the elect to strengthen and exercise this ability to discern good from evil.
1.John 3:6-10 Paraphrased
"Everyone who remains in him does not sin. Everyone who continues to sin has not seen him, nor known him" (v6).
John speaks of the purity and sinlessness of those who practice righteousness and have the spirit of God. The English word 'seen' is translated from the Greek 'horao', which means 'to stare at','to discern', or 'to perceive'. John says that the children of God who reside in Christ remain sinless because they understand the things pertaining to Christ, whereas sinners cannot understand or know God:
"Little children, let no one lead you astray; the one practicing righteousness, is righteous, even as the One is righteous. The one practicing sin is of the Devil, because the Devil sin from the beginning. For this the Son of God was revealed, that he undo [destroy] the devil's works" (vs.7-8).
The 'Devil's works' refers to the deception of Eve, which resulted in humanity being placed under the death sentence for the violation of God's righteous law. Christ has destroyed the Devil's work through his righteousness, his life, and his perfect sacrifice. Thereby, he removed the death sentence for those who obey God.
"Everyone being begotten of God does not sin, because his seed [spirit of God] abides in him, and he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the Devil are revealed:Everyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God; neither is the one who does not love his brother" (vs.9-10).
It is impossible to understand what John is saying here unless one understands that the spirit of God the Father that resides within his children keeps them in a sinless condition before him. As long as a child of God seeks to live a righteous life and does not willfully and habitually practice sin, no sin is imputed to them. This is because the spirit of Christ also lives in the children of God through the spirit of God. Therefore, his righteous qualifications are also imputed to those who possess the Father's holy spirit. See Rom.8:33-34; 1.Jn.1:1-7; 2:1-2; 5:18 and our studies about the indwelling of the spirit of God.
A child of God who is serious about their calling will be diligently seeking to live their life according to every word of God. This is yet another way to test the spiritual influence behind anyone who professes to follow the true God.
Jesus Christ has Come in the Flesh
"By this know the spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God: And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God: and is the antichrist which you heard is coming and now is already in the world" (1.Jn.4:2-3).
John says that a child of God can determine that a spirit (i.e., a spirit-being or spiritual influence) is from God if it acknowledges that Christ has come in the flesh. If this acknowledgment is not made, the spirit-being or spiritual influence is evil and against Christ.
On the surface it would seem that the formula John gives in order to determine the character of a spirit-being or spiritual influence is simple and direct. However, the key to understanding John's instructions is understanding what he means when he says, "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh."
Most people admit that the person Jesus lived and was a religious leader. Some acknowledge that he was a prophet, and some acknowledge him as the prophetic Savior of humanity. However, very few truly understand or will acknowledge him as the Creator God who became the Savior, died, was resurrected, and now lives in the flesh of the children of God.
The Mystery of Christ in You
In speaking to the Ephesians, Galatians, and Colossians, Paul reminds them of the importance of Christ who resides within them.
To the Ephesians
"Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ, Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit" (Eph.3:4-5 KJV).
To the Galatians
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20 KJV).
Paul says that his past life is dead through the application of Christ's sacrifice. The old Paul died at baptism and a new Paul was born with Christ living in him:
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you" (Gal.4:19-20 KJV).
In speaking to the Galatians about his concern for their spiritual growth, Paul uses the Greek word 'morphoo', which means 'to form', 'to fashion', and 'to take on form (especially in the womb)'.
This is the only place in the New Testament where this Greek word is used in the context of growth. Paul's concern for the Galatian's deteriorating spiritual condition reached the point that he had serious doubts that Christ's spirit was ever within them.
To the Colossians
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but is now made manifest to the Saints; To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col.1:25-27 KJV).
The mystery of how Jesus Christ lives in the flesh of every child of God was understood by those of the first age of the church and it can be understood today by those who have the Spirit of God residing within them.
1.John 4:4-17 Paraphrased
"Little children, you are of God and have overcome them, because he in you is greater than he in the world" (v4).
John says the children of God have overcome those who were against Christ through Christ who lives within them.
"They are of the world; therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God; the one knowing God hears us. Whosoever is not of God does not hear us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (vs.5-6).
Only those who have the spirit of God dwelling within them are truly able to understand and discern spiritual matters (1.Cor.2:9-13). If a person does not understand the foundational things of God's truth, it is a strong indication that they are not called of God.
The Indwelling of the Father
"No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and his love having been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him, and he in us, because of his spirit he has given to us" (vs.12-13). See Lk.24:46-49; Acts 5:32.
John Speaks of the Father
"And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (v15).
The Father sent the Creator God to earth to become his Son and the Savior of humanity. Only those who truly understand and acknowledge this fact will have the Father residing within them, and they will reside within the Father.
"And we have known and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love, and the one abiding in love abides in God, and God in him" (v16).
The understanding and acknowledgment of the indwelling of the Father and Jesus Christ within the elect of God is one of the many ways that one can determine whether or not a person, a spirit-being, or a spiritual influence is of God.
Testing False Ministers and False Doctrine
Paul's instructions to Timothy (1.Tim.1:18-20) and Titus (Tit.2:1-8) about the teaching of sound doctrine and his warning about elders who go astray and people who are false ministers are very important today. Today, there are many who claim to teach the truth, but actually teach false doctrine and lead people astray.
In order for a person to discern the influence behind a spiritual leader and their doctrine, a person must carefully study the leader's life and what is being taught. The warnings to six of the prophetic churches in chapters two and three of the Book of Revelation are examples of spiritual leaders and the people they lead not fulfilling their responsibilities pertaining to true doctrine.
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2.Cor.11:13-15 KJV). See also Deut.13:1-5; Jer.23:21-22; Rev.2:2.
Satan has many ministers (Rev.2:9; 3:9), and some of them are within the congregations of God. Some of these are truly deceived themselves. However, some are not and they go about actively trying to destroy the unsuspecting, the ill informed, and the gullible. Jesus knew this would happen and warned his followers to be aware of those who were not sent by him to shepherd his people:
"Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many" (Matt.24:4-5 KJV).
No matter how cleverly crafted and eloquently stated a false doctrine is, it is a teaching that is in opposition to the Father's truth. Although a false teaching may have some elements of truth within it, a false teaching will always have within it some error that will lead a person away from the foundational truth of God, which will result in eternal death for those who believe it. The following are five of the foundational errors of false doctrines:
Whether one's area of concern is with spiritual leaders, religious teachings, or manifestation of spirits, spirit influence, or any other thing concerning the spirit dimension and its interaction with the physical dimension, it is the responsibility of each person who is of God to diligently and prayerfully study and meditate upon the word of God and diligently apply the instructions and wisdom therein.
Awareness, preparedness, and resistance are the major keys to winning the spiritual battle against evil, whether this evil is a spiritual influence or false ministers or doctrines. All evil can be conquered through being aware of what is truly good and what is truly evil (2.Tim.2:15), being armed with the proper weapons for spiritual warfare (Eph.6:11-17), and vigorously resisting evil (Jms.4:7-8; 1.Pet.5:6-9). The elect who do these things will always be victorious over evil (2.Pet.1:10).