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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Magic

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People have from earliest times had the urge to use supernatural (occult) forces to help them know the future. The foretelling of events in this way is sometimes called divination (Acts 16:16-18). Magic, witchcraft and sorcery go beyond divination in that they seek to use occult powers not merely to foretell future events but also to influence those events.

Such magic often has an evil intent, being directed at enemies by means of curses, spells and ritualistic actions. Sometimes it may have a partly good intent in trying to reverse evil spells and curses (Numbers 24:1; Numbers 24:10; 1 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6; Daniel 2:2; Revelation 9:21). But divination and sorcery derive their power from the demons of the spirit world, and for this reason the Bible condemns them (Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-11; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:24; Galatians 5:19-20; Revelation 9:21; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15). Sorcerers often used their powers in deliberate opposition to God (Acts 13:8; Acts 19:19; 2 Timothy 3:8).

Among the methods of divination and sorcery mentioned in the Bible are throwing arrows into the air and observing the pattern formed when they fall (Ezekiel 21:21), consulting idolatrous figures or images (Ezekiel 21:21), looking into the liver of a sacrificed animal (Ezekiel 21:21), consulting the spirits of the dead (1 Samuel 28:8-9), studying the movements of the stars (Isaiah 47:13), gazing into a bowl or large cup of water (Genesis 44:5; Genesis 44:15) and using wristbands and veils in weird rituals to cast deadly spells over people (Ezekiel 13:17-19). Magicians were among the chief advisers to kings in many ancient countries (Exodus 7:11; Daniel 2:2).

Divination, witchcraft and all these associated practices are contrary to the ways of God, not only because they depend on evil spiritual powers for their operation, but also because they are a denial of faith. True believers walk humbly with their God, accepting that, no matter what the circumstances, God is still in control of their affairs. Having been saved by faith, they now live by faith (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 1:11-13; Hebrews 11:6).

Jesus Christ has triumphed over all the unseen powers of evil, and through him believers too can triumph (Ephesians 1:19-21; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:8-10; Colossians 3:1-3). They believe in the power of the living Christ, but they do not treat that power as if it is magical (Acts 19:13-16).


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Magic'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/m/magic.html. 2004.

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