“Joe Gutierrez tells five stories from his 42 years as a steelworker in the book, The Heat: Steelworkers’ Lives and Legends. In one story, called ‘Snow Danced in August,’ he describes a scene of silvery dust flakes that frequently floated to the floor in an area of the mill where steel strips rolled over pads in a tall cooling tower. For years, workers and visitors alike flocked to the sight, which was especially picturesque at night.
“Then they discovered the dust was asbestos. ‘Everybody breathed it,’ wrote Gutierrez. He now suffers from the slow, choking grip of asbestosis, as do many plant workers.
“‘Who am I? I’m everybody. Can’t walk too far now. I get tired real fast and it hurts when I breathe, sometimes. And to think we used to fight over that job.’
“How many things in our culture resemble the silver flakes in that steel mill? Enchanting but deadly.” [“Deceptive Appeal,” Preaching Today, October 2001, excerpted from “Steelworkers Break the Mold,” Chicago Tribune, June 2001, https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/october/13312.html.]
The practice of the occult is one of the things in our culture that resemble the silver flakes in that steel mill. For many, there is a constant temptation to dabble in it. Reading horoscopes is thought to be a harmless, innocent activity. A survey once estimated that more than 50 million Americans read their horoscopes every day to see what they should do or what they should expect that day. Horoscopes are readily available. They can be found online easily. A daily horoscope is found in nearly every newspaper across the country.
The occult comes in many different forms: fortune-telling, tarot cards, palmistry, numerology, astrology, séances, rune stones, the I ching, ouija boards, and tea leaves. You can easily find places of business dedicated to these things. Shows featuring mediums are on television now. Witchcraft, satanism, and spiritism are practiced openly.
The English term occult comes from the Latin verb occultus, which refers to hidden or concealed things. As we use the word today, it refers to dealings with the spirit realm. The Scripture forbids any participation in the occult. Paul, our apostle, warns the Body of Christ about practicing idolatry, worshipping the creation and false gods, and having “fellowship with devils” (1 Cor. 10:19,20). The stern warnings to Israel in the Mosaic Law teach us what God thinks about astrology and the occult, and that is enough for us to know that we need to avoid these things.
“Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves…Lest ye corrupt yourselves…And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them…” (Deut. 4:15,16,19).
“There shall not be found among you any one…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…” (Deut. 18:10-12).
What many consider an innocent activity is an abomination in the eyes of God. Consulting mediums, tarot cards, horoscopes, palmists, etc., belittles God. Doing so is to say, “I believe that God is either unable or unwilling to tell me all that is good for me to know.” In essence, it demonstrates the belief that God lacks the love or goodness to guide me, so I will take matters into my own hands.
For our own good, the people of God should shun the evil snare of all practices of the occult. All that we need to know about the future or the supernatural realm comes through the Word of God. By faith, we take our stand on the sufficiency of the revelation of God’s Word. And we trust the One who is with us each step of our journey through life, guiding, caring, and helping us all the way.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.