God is against witchcraft, those who interpret omens, sorcerers, those who conjures spells, medium, spiritists, soothsayers, divination and those who calls up the dead. All these are abominations to God. Yet we see in the Bible that God is speaking to pagans, soothsayers, diviners and sorcerers. Here we will investigate some of the events where God spoke to those who don’t worship Him.
God speaks to Balaam the Sorcerer
Num 22:7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the diviner’s fee in their hand, and they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak. …. Num 24:1 Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times, to seek to use sorcery, but he set his face toward the wilderness.
Josh 13:22 The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.
The Bible repeatedly mentions Balaam as a diviner or a soothsayer using sorcery. We have the following questions:
- Why was God speaking to Balaam the sorcerer?
- Was it really God who was speaking to Balaam?
- Was it a later corruption by scribes?
Deir ‘Alla inscription, found in the Iron Age town of Deir ‘Alla, mentions the Biblical prophet Balaam. The site of Deir ‘Alla is, technically, on the Ammonite side of the river Jabbok. The text, in a language between Aramaic and Canaanite, can be dated to c.800 BC and was discovered in 1967 by Dutch archaeologists. The text refers to divine visions and signs of future destruction, in a language that is close to that of the Bible. For example, we read about the “Shaddai gods”, an expression that is close to the Biblical El Shaddai, “God Almighty”. On the other hand, the setting is not monotheistic: we read, for instance, about a gathering of a group of gods. The word elohim, which in the Bible (although plural) refers to one God, refers to more than one god in the Deir ‘Alla text.2
If the inscription is not accurate about Balaam the soothsayer then we can easily ignore it. However, if the inscription is indeed accurate, then we have the following issues to resolve:
- God indeed spoke to Balaam the soothsayer as the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy mentions.
- The event in the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy is a later corruption by scribes.
Rev 2:14 “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Christ mentions the event of Balaam advising Balak to put a stumbling block to Israel. Hence, the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy is not a corruption and we can be sure of the fact that it was indeed God who spoke to Balaam, son of Beor.
God speaks to Butler and Baker
Gen 40:5 Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation. …. Gen 40:20-22 Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
In the above verses, we see that God speaking to both butler and baker through a dream on what will happen which Joseph interprets it. There is no reference that the Butler and the Baker were worshipping the one true God. Hence, God does speak to ordinary pagan people, who don’t worship Him.
God speaks to Pharaoh, king of Egypt
Gen 41:15-16 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.” So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”
God is speaking to Pharaoh through two dreams on what will happen which Joseph interprets it and saved the entire Egypt.
Gen 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-Paaneah. And he gave him as a wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On. So Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
Pharaoh wasn’t worshipping the one true God. We know this because, Asenath in ancient Egypt means, “devoted to the goddess Neith” and “Poti-Pherah” means, “he whom Ra has given”. Joseph was married into a typical priestly family of idol worshippers.
This shows, that God does speak to pagan kings who don’t worship Him, to save the nation and their people.
God speaks to Abimelech, king of Gerar
Gen 20:3-7 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, “Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? “Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”
God spoke to Abimelech, the king of Gerar in a dream and warned him about his action of taking Sarah (Abraham’s wife) to be his wife. Now, Abimelech wasn’t worshipping the God of Abraham. Yet, God spoke to Abimelech, king of Gerar in a dream and warned him from committing a grave sin.
God speaks to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon
Dan 2:28-30 “But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these: As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.
God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon through a dream for his sake that he may know the thoughts of his heart.
Dan 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t worshipping the one true God. He even creates his own god made of gold and punish others if they don’t worship, as we can read from the book of Daniel.
God can speak to soothsayers, diviners and sorcerers to deliver a blessing for His people. God can speak to all people, even idol worshippers to let them know what will happen to them, even though they don’t know Him. God can speak to pagan kings like Pharaoh to save a nation from famine and to exalt His servant. God can speak to pagan kings like Abimelech to warn him of his sin. God can speak to pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar to let him know of his thought and exalt His servant. Just because God speaks to someone does not mean God acknowledges them or their actions.
Deut 18:10-12 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you.
God is against witchcraft, those who interpret omens, sorcerers, those who conjures spells, medium, spiritists, soothsayers, divination and those who calls up the dead. All these are abominations to God.
1 Jona Lendering. “Deir ‘Alla Inscription – Livius.” Livius.org, http://www.livius.org/pictures/jordan/deir-alla/deir-alla-inscription/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.
2 “Deir ‘Alla Inscription – Livius.” Livius.org, http://www.livius.org/sources/content/deir-alla-inscription/. Accessed 22 Sept. 2017.