BABYLONIANISM AT THE GATES: CHRISTIANS AND THE ENCIRCLING WORLD OF THE OCCULT
Ken Silva pastor-teacher
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn of Guarding His Flock Ministries, republished here with permission:
And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? The Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 8:19
Like many others in the world, our culture has become obsessed with the paranormal, the appetite for it being stimulated and fed by video games played, television programs and movies watched, books read, music listened to, art exhibits visited, spiritual activities engaged in, and more. Recently, a local arts center hosted an exhibit called “Encounter” that was “devoted to dragons, robots and other science fiction and fantasy themes.”  The same sectional front page also publicized “LARP-ing” (that is, live-action-role-playing) where participants gather together to act out “vampire-themed” scripts related to “those tabletop Dungeons and Dragons-style games that gained huge popularity in the 1980s and continue to draw a steady base of faithful players.”  In his coverage of the vampire-themed games, the reporter issued the following caveat: “They pretend to be vampires, but that doesn’t make them devil worshippers.” 
Souls under Siege
At first glance, “LARP-ing” might appear to be the activity of people belonging to one of society’s eccentric fringe groups (perhaps that’s why they consider themselves “nerds”), unless, of course, it is set against the backdrop of our overall culture, a culture fascinated not only by vampires, but also by werewolves, wizards, witches and warlocks (a la the popular Harry Potter novels and movies), Halloween, visits to and visitations from the netherworld (23 Minutes in Hell), near-death experiences (NDES), intergalactic soul travel, alien visitations (E.T., Cowboys and Aliens), spiritist séances, demon possessions (Rosemary’s Baby), Satanism (The Omen Trilogy), fortune telling, horoscopes, psychic readings, apparitions and poltergeists (The Apparition), horror films and TV programs (NBC’s Grimm), drug induced altered states of consciousness (experiencing the divine), extra-sensory perception (ESP), Sci-Fi, and on and on a listing can go. In fact, one can walk in any American shopping mall and see people, from adults to kids, wearing dark T-shirts and sporting tattooed bodies emblazoned with occult themes, grotesque human-like images, skulls and bones, and other occult symbols. The signs and stuff of the occult seem to be everywhere! 
A Post-Christian Phenomena
The popularity of paranormal spirituality, as it has now emerged in the United States during the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of this 21st century, mirrors in many ways what happened at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th in Great Britain. History repeats itself. As the influence of Christianity began to wane amongst the British at that time, there arose a corresponding popular interest in the occult. As one historian describes the spiritual morphing that took place in Great Britain during late 19th and early 20th centuries:
A revival of interest in mysticism and mystery traditions of all kinds, however, abounded . . . and a variety of groups promised access to esoteric readings of the world’s sacred literatures and an unmediated experience of the divine. In this heightened spiritual atmosphere . . . most [of the] spiritually inclined no longer identified in any way with formal Christian observance. They turned instead to the heterodox spirituality of occultism, with its animistic sense of a living universe and a broad range of teachings drawn from sources as diverse as those of mystical Christianity, the Hermetic traditions of the West, and the religions of the East. 
As it became in Great Britain then, so it has become in America now. As the influence of Christianity has waned, and our society too has morphed to become a culture besieged by the occult. Seemingly, mankind cannot live without the supernatural. So the question arises, from whence does this all derive?
From Time Immemorial
Since the occult is sourced from a time when before creation Lucifer—a created light-bearer within the angelic realm—aspired to be the Light (“I will be like the most High,” Isaiah 14:14b); and from a time when after creation in the Garden of Eden Satan conned Eve into thinking she possessed the potential to reset her life and become God (“Ye shall be as gods[“like God,” NASB] knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:5), the influence of unseen forces (i.e., evil spirits) has been pervasive in this universe and our world (See Ephesians 6:12.).
In this world, the occult, sourced in Lucifer’s rebellion against God in Heaven, and then transplanted by him on earth, initially appeared in the Garden of Eden, in the same geographical vicinity where the religious system called Babylon “the mother of harlots and abominations on the earth” emerged (Revelation 17:5). The multifaceted spiritual religious system called Babylon is a magical belief system in which humans think they, if even by digital imagery, can manipulate and control their reality and destiny. Such spirituality totally opposes faith in the sovereign God who rules the universe. Therefore, from the biblical perspective, occultism is at the heart of an “i-am-ness” system of religion that designs to unseat God as the creator and ruler of the universe. Repeatedly, the Lord affirmed His sovereign “I-am-ness” to Israel and the nations when He said: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isaiah 44:6; 45:5, 6, 18, 22; 46:9). Then there had developed the competing claim of the Babylonian religion which, amidst her “sorceries . . . enchantments . . . astrologers . . . star gazers . . . monthly prognosticators,” dared to declare its “i-am-ness”: “I am, and none else beside me” (Isaiah 47:8-13; *10).
A Prevalent Worldview
In their godlessness, ancient civilizations became intrigued by and possessed of a magical worldview sourced from ancient Babylon (Isaiah 47:12-13; Ezekiel 21:21; Daniel 1:20; 2:2, 10, 27; 4:6-7; 5:7), and from there, dispensed to the Egyptian (Genesis 41:8; Exodus 7:11, 22), Canaanite (Deuteronomy 18:9) and Assyrian (Nahum 3:4) civilizations and cultures. But in his day (circa2000 B.C.), God called upon Abraham to separate himself from the hotbed of the occult arts that was Ur (Genesis 12:1), and journey by faith to an unknown land which the Lord would show to him. Upon ending their seventy-year exile of captivity in Babylon (circa 520 B.C.), the Lord also instructed the Israelites to “Depart ye [from Babylon], depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing [anything contaminated by the occult Babylonian religion]; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord [the clean things]” (Isaiah 52:11; Compare 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 for commentary; See Revelation 18:4.). All of which is to say, any involvement in the occult is, in God’s eyes, “an unclean thing” and therefore a serious breach of faith!
No “Crossover” Spiritualities
The spirituality of these civilizations posed an ever-present threat to the spiritual life of the nation of Israel for reason of that nation’s necessary commerce with and concourse amongst them. So the great question was, would the Lord’s people, as His priestly nation in that world (Exodus 19:5-6a), maintain a testimony of their abiding faith in Jehovah and remain separate from the heterodox and occult spirituality of their neighbors? Therefore, commanded the Israelites: “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:31).
To exhibit their keeping covenant with Him, the Lord through Moses, just before their entering the land of Canaan, the Lord expanded His commandment telling the nation:
When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. (Deuteronomy 18:9-14) 
All of the idolatrous activities listed above, and more, served as litmus tests for the faith-keeping of the Israelites. Repudiating those activities would mark them out to be covenant keepers. On the other hand, indulging in those activities would mark them as covenant breakers, as being unfaithful to the Lord their husband (Isaiah 54:6). Unfortunately, much of the Old Testament record portrays how the Israelites spurned their covenant with the Lord, and like a spiritual whore, chased after the abominations of the occult (Isaiah 8:19; Jeremiah 27:9-10; Ezekiel 8:1-18; 13:1-23; Malachi 3:5). So it was to a people who refused to consult “the law and . . . the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20) that God sent Isaiah as His ambassador announcing the coming of divine judgment, all the while knowing that the apostate majority within Israel, having been so mesmerized by a magical worldview, would spurn the Word He had given the prophet to speak (Compare Ezekiel 3:4-11.).
“This People” and “My People”
As our nation is fascinated with, even captivated by, the occult, so was Israel during the days of the prophets.  During Isaiah’s days of ministry, there were two groupings of people: the majority, who had been seduced by spiritualities of the surrounding culture, and who Yahweh designated as “this people” (Isaiah 6:9-10; 8:6, 11, 12; 9:16; 28:14; 29:13; etc.); and a minoritywho, by refusing to conform to the religion of the surrounding culture, the Lord called “my people” (Isaiah 1:3; 5:13; 10:24; etc.). 
As for Isaiah, the Lord instructed him “not walk in the way of this people,” the majority who, manifesting their denial of the coming judgment, counseled that Isaiah and his disciples should seek a more favorable verdict, and “Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter” (Isaiah 8:11, 19; Compare 1 Timothy 4:1.). Think of it . . .