Friday, October 26, 2012

God Really, Really Hates Ghosts

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

1The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,2"Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones.3I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name.

4And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death,5then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.6If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

The same God, who created the universe, uttered the words above. As Creator, He has the authority to hate and be angry with whatever/whoever He wants…always in keeping with His just character. In verses 1-5 the Lord tells His covenant community that He detests the practice of child sacrifice to Molech. He hates it so much that He declares that it is a capital crime. I read this text in my personal devotion today, and it is what comes next that particularly struck me. In v.4 the Lord says that if the people fail to put the perpetrator to death, then He will cut his life short. How terrifying it would be to have the Lord set His face against a person and pledge to cut him off—which is simply another way of saying to “kill” someone. When the Jews were circumcised, the foreskin was cut off as a sign of blessing and curse—as members of God’s holy covenant community, they would be blessed if they believed and obeyed, and they would be cursed if they were disobedient. On the cross, Jesus became The Circumcised One—cut off from the Father. From the context, it is clear that the Lord would Himself kill the practitioner of child sacrifice to Molech. Does that not indicate how much He hates that practice?

However, the Lord’s pledge to avenge unpunished wrongdoing does not end there (and this is key)—in v. 6 God Almighty states that He will personally kill people for two other sins if the covenant community does not follow through with the death penalty. Along with killing one’s own child by sacrificing them to Molech, Yahweh says that seeking after mediums and necromancers will result in He Himself killing that person (if they are not properly dealt with judicially). THAT is what leapt off the page this morning when I read it…God promised that He would kill anyone who committed those three sins—that is how much He hates them. As I showed in an earlier post, there are gradations to sins seriousness…and God has revealed three that top the list.

Notice that it is not the mediums and necromancers who are singled out for His special wrath (though surely that is implied), but the people who seek them out. What does that mean for today? Since there is not a theocracy anymore, then the death penalty has been discontinued in the New Testament for being involved with mediums and attempting to traffic with the dead. (there is a distinction between sin and crime). What does carry over from the Old Testament to today is this principle: the Holy God has particular revulsion for mediumistic activity as well as any practice that involves seeking the dead. Here is what truly frightens me—all the folks actively investigating the spirit realm, are the objects of His special displeasure and wrath. Rom.1:18 explicitly says that God’s wrath is currently being poured out from heaven upon those who suppress the truth, and then fall into dark practices. God is immutable (unchanging), so if He actively punished those who sought mediums as well as interaction with the dead, then there is every reason to believe that is still the case.

Every square inch of the Old Testament is applicable to today, and has up to the second relevance…THE CHALLENGE IS KNOWING HOW IT IS APPLICABLE. Just because the sacrificial system has been abrogated by the once-for-all sacrifice of the Messiah, that does not mean that all the various sacrifices have no purpose for today. Each one highlights an essential aspect of Christ’s atonement, and helps us to understand the many splendored wonder of the cross. There is both continuity and dis-continuity. Similarly, the death penalty has been discontinued, but certainly God’s resolute anger towards, and special punishment of, mediums and spiritism flows with continuity into our era…especially in light of the reality of Rom.1:18ff. Why does God accent the particular repugnance of these three sins? As Creator He can pull rank and not answer that—I really think it is important that we understand God can do what He wants with or without our approval. Nevertheless, the fact that all three sins lead one into direct contact with the demonic is certainly something that sheds light on the situation. Intentional contact with the spirit realm is exceedingly dangerous, and angers God mightily.

Since God created the world, then He has the authority to hate and punish how He wishes (God does love everyone, and forgiveness is available to all who embrace the gospel).According to God, all those who mess with alleged ghosts are spiritually whoring (v. 6). Can God still hurt people? He most certainly can and does…and He has said He will severely punish all who mess with mediums and ghosts. Yes, God expresses more grace in the New Covenant, but that does not abrogate or do away with the continuity of basic principles from Old to New Testament. God really, really hates the notion of ghosts…do you?

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