"Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God." - Lev 19:31 ¶
Shakespeare's Macbeth is famous for its witches. These three crones are not out producing butterflies and gum drop forests. They are cauldron-fillers who consult with evil spirits, who use baboon's blood, nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips in their foul brews. In the end, their words deceive Macbeth and direct him on a path that eventually leads to the demise of him and half the cast. As we enter the time of year when young people are tempted to visit graveyards and conjure spirits, to play with ouija boards and consult the dead, it's vital we remember that these spooky pursuits may seem like harmless Halloween fun, but can open doors that allow in evils far more real than Macbeth's witches.
In 1973, The Exorcist terrified audiences by portraying a little girl possessed by demons and the efforts of two priests to cast out the spiritual forces and free her. William Blatty's tale was inspired by a teenage boy from a Washington suburb in Maryland who was reportedly exorcised in 1949. The Washington Post offered one of many reports on the story August 20, 1949 in an article entitled, "Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil's Grip." In it, Bill Brinkley writes:
"…In all except the last of these, the boy broke into a violent tantrum of screaming, cursing and voicing of Latin phrases-a language he had never studied-whenever the priest reached the climactic point of the ritual, 'In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, I cast thee (the devil) out.'"
Despite the horrifying content, movie goers flocked to The Exorcist as well as to other movies like Poltergeist (1982) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005). Demon possession and the paranormal fascinate audiences.
I Am ZoZo:
The Indy crowd is capitalizing on the paranormal too in an independent film called I Am ZoZo shot on San Juan Island off the Washington coast last autumn. While it will not likely arrive in local theaters across the country, this film interestingly enough shows the dangers of playing with spirits. It is supposedly based on a true story of a group of teenagers who use a Ouija board and meet an evil spirit called ZoZo that is out to harm them. The movie web site's header declares, "Warning: ZoZo is an evil Ouija spirit! – this Super8 Movie is based on a real Ouija Board experience gone wrong." (As though they can go right?)
Darren Evans tells about his true-life experiences with an entity named ZoZo, whom he met through the use of a Ouija board. He states, "Too many times to count, it has at first pretended to be a nice spirit, or pretend to be whomever I was trying to contact. (italics ours) But eventually it showed it's [sic] true self, cussing me, threatening me and others present in the room." Evans describes his ZoZo-related poltergeist activities and his small daughter's various maladies from near-drowning to an iron-tongue affliction. One day, Evans exclaimed, "I rebuke this curse in the name of Jesus Christ!" The disturbances stopped… until re-invited.
It is easy to get too interested in demonic activity. In the Bible, Jesus told demonic forces to be quiet before he cast them out (Luke 4:35). He did not engage them in conversations past finding out their names (Mark 5:7-13). The law repeatedly orders the children of Israel to stay away from occultic activities:
"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." (Deut 18:10-12).
The Truth About Evil Spirits:
- Evil spirits are smart. Remember the shrewd serpent in the Garden (Gen 3:1). Just as Satan knew how to trick Eve, demonic forces know exactly how to get to us. It's foolish to even talk to them, let alone ask them questions for the sake of knowing the answers.
- Evil spirits can know unexpected amounts of information about us and our loved ones. About history. Which means they can pretend to be anybody. The girl possessed with the spirit of divination in Acts 16:16-18 was not putting on a show. When Paul and Silas cast the demon out, the girl's masters were angry that their source of income had been ruined.
- Evil spirits are amazing at deception. Satan is an expert liar and can appear as an angel of light (John 8:44, 2Cr 11:14).
- Jesus and Satan are not equals. Jesus has all the power and authority of the universe and we can have authority over evil spirits in Jesus' name (Luke 4:36, Luke 9:1; Phil 2:9-11). Satan is overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Rev 12:9-11).
Messing with spiritual forces we don't understand is dangerous and completely foolish. We might be able to win a fight with demonic powers, but it doesn't mean the wrestle won't leave scars.
One of the most telling lines in Macbeth is spoken by Banquo shortly after he and Macbeth first encounter the witches. The witches correctly called Macbeth "Thane of Glamis" out on the heath, and Macbeth soon learns he's been named Thane of Cawdor, just as the witches predicted. Certainly, he would therefore be king as they promised as well? Banquo recognizes the supernatural power at work, but he's suspicious. He says, "And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray's in deepest consequence." Banquo's distrust turns out to be well founded. Macbeth is tricked with honest trifles, which sends him on his way to the dragon's mouth.
Macbeth is just a story, but the same tactic is found in the Bible. Satan tempted Jesus in the desert using the scriptures themselves, but Jesus quoted the scriptures right back. This is why it's so vital we study the whole word of God and test the spirits as 1 John 4:1 describes.
As Christians, we do not have to fear demons. Jesus Christ has authority over all spirits. Yet, we should absolutely not allow ourselves or our children to treat spiritual things lightly, even if they are packaged as an innocent-looking cardboard game from Parker Brothers. As 17th century Dutch jurist Hugo De Groot once said, "Ignorance of certain subjects is a great part of wisdom."