Neon sign psychics. Reality TV mediums. Palm reading ads stuffed into the nooks and crannies of the subway.
Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord, and because of such abominations the Lord, your God, is dispossessing them before you (Deut 18:12).
Not just tacky oddities, but abominations, and abominations that our jealous God takes personally.
You must be altogether sincere with the Lord, your God. Although these nations whom you are about to dispossess listen to their soothsayers and diviners, the Lord, your God, will not permit you to do so (Deut 18:13-14).
Regrettably, our modern soothsayers show no signs of being dispossessed. Their TV shows continue for seasons upon seasons, and, although they evade the expense of legitimate subway ads, their ubiquitous neon signs witness that they have no problem paying electricity and rent. In fact, according to an IBISWorld report, “a long-term shift in consumer perceptions has underpinned growth as [psychic] industry services are increasingly accepted among mainstream consumers.”
Deep in our being we are driven by the desire to preserve life and to know the truth. These both find fulfillment in the living God, but he is too bright for our weak eyes: Let me not again hear the voice of the Lord, my God, nor see this great fire any more, or I will die (Deut 18:16). We cannot yet look God directly in the face; we must have a mediator.
When faced with death, especially that of a loved one, we yearn for a sure sign of what lies beyond. Should I pray to him on All Saints, pray for him on All Souls, or—God forbid—is he beyond the help of prayers? God reveals that to pray for the dead is a holy and pious thought (2 Mac 12:43-46), but he keeps for himself the clarity in particulars that we would want. God’s light is both too bright and, where our curiosity is keenest, too dim for our liking.
Here the abominations offer their neon lights. They falsely present themselves as mediators, like us in all ways, but with access to those areas where the living God is unwilling to shine.
But their light does not help and does not heal. God wants nothing of it, and if their spiritual source is not Divine, it can only be deceptive or demonic. Saul’s consultation of the medium of Endor would seem a stunning success—she conjured up the spirit of Samuel who delivered a true prediction—had it brought him anything besides despair. If these abominations have knowledge, it is given to stifle hope or succor sin. If they console, it is to coddle a rightly guilty conscience.
God knows our need for a mediator and he will provide, as he told Moses: A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen (Deut 18:15).
That is the one to whom you shall listen, not to the others (and even they can be saved if they heed him). And that one is Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and man, like us in all ways but sin. He returned from the dead not to satisfy our curiosities, but to establish and show himself to be the narrow way to eternal life, to seeing God face-to-face. For by being conformed to this true mediator by his grace, we can share his vision of the Father: No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (Jn 1:18).
Photo by Bohemian Baltimore (CC BY-SA 4.0)