Divination – appealing to mediums, and through them to some supposed, causative world beyond – is strongly condemned in both OT and NT. The Bible specifically warns against such appeal as being unalterably opposed by God.
However, the kind of universe in which the ordinary Muslim perceives himself to be living is not so foreign to Scripture. The biblical portrayal is clearly far removed from a closed, mechanistic view —
- the heavens declare the glory of God
- if children didn’t sing hosannas to the Son of David, the stones would
- donkeys respond to angels
- a fish can cooperate in disciplining a renegade prophet
- people of faith and generosity host angels unawares
- angels and archangels fight in the heaves with spirit beings who claim some authority over the nations of Persia and Greece
- the prayers of the saints share in unleashing supernatural occurrences
- Jesus’ death on a cross leads to a mass return of life of holy people who have died and been buried nearby, and surprising many in Jerusalem to see them raised to life
- a curtain in the Temple torn in two by the same event
Involvement of the Creator with His creation argues against man’s usurping of his authority behind His back. Sin adversely affects man’s relationship with everyone and everything, including God, fellow-man, angels and nature. Groaning and travail become the lot of both nature and humanity until a new creation will replace the marred version. To neglect fellowship with Him will result in lions prowling the territory, blight eating the crops, war and defeat decimating the nation.
The created world is living and vibrant. Within this world, the Creator provides various means for promoting and maintaining a healthy relationship with the people made in His own image.
In the OT, it was especially through the prophets that the people of Israel were to stay in touch with Yahweh. He fills the children of God to overflowing, giving direction and security to their lives.
Scripture, then, upholds a strong view of God’s sovereignty and involvement in a vital, non-mechanistic world. The Bible reveals a consistency in the way the Creator responds to such seeking of Him. A person such as Naaman the Syrian comes to a healing experience at the hands of the prophet Elisha. In terms of Naaman’s subsequent relating to Yahweh, a very inadequate state of affairs accepted, at least for the time being —
“However, may the Lord pardon me in this one thing: When my master the king goes into the temple of the god Rimmon to worship there and leans on my arm, may the Lord pardon me when I bow, too.” – 2 Kings 5:18
Yahweh is willing for some accommodation in the beginnings of a relationship with a Syrian. The intention accepted, even while his expressing worship is for the moment immature.
In the NT, magi who had seen a star in the East came to worship the new King of the Jews. There were those where a fuller good news preached to those who ‘worship’ a God not yet known to them. A God-fearer’s alms and prayers move the Creator to unveil to him the possibilities of complete relationship through Christ.
What then of ordinary Muslims who try to unravel ‘the future’? What of the varieties of search for stability and meaning in life which arise from ordinary Muslims’ perceptions of their own needs? What of the intentions of those for whom life plays out on a vast stage with many actors?
The above link with take you to a table that illustrates ways in which such ordinary Muslims seek answers for their needs in the context of their universe and world view. In terms of the specific issue of divination, the following question needs asking — is there a biblical alternative to divination being demonstrated among ordinary Muslims which acknowledges the complexities of their world, but which operates in it in holy power?
It is significant that in Ephesus during NT times, it took several years of Paul’s ministry before the believers (not unbelievers, Act 19:19=8) learned, from the Holy Spirit, that occult attempts to direct their lives in the complex universe in which they participated were not acceptable. Fatima’s case seems typical of the kind of dynamics often at work in nascent fellowships of those from a Muslim background. Fatima was a believer, along with her mother, at the time of her father’s death. She worked as a nurse in a Tunis hospital and later went to France for further training. Her experience in France was not a happy one, and when she returned to Tunis she chose to combine her Christian profession of faith with card divination and seeking out fortune tellers. Not surprisingly, her relationship with her mother suffered and she gradually disengaged herself from fellowship with other believers. For such a history to become the exception and not the rule, as much depends upon the witness of mature Christians – it seems to me – as upon the person enmeshed in a background involvement with divination. Is the Holy Spirit, comforter and guide, being positively experienced in the local fellowship as the Unraveller of the future?