There are many forms of divination out there. Pick your poison. From simple augury (really, a catch-all term), to necromancy (communication with the dead), to ornithomancy (divination by birds in flight), bibliomancy (kinda hard nowadays with e-readers), to tea-leaf reading, to palmistry, astrology… It’s quite literally endless.
A losing hand
Follow the suffix -mancy back and you’ll run up against a deep etymology. It’s essentially a suffix meaning “divination”. The prefix determines what type. My opinion is that it’s the same root for hand but I can’t prove it. While the word “emancipation” literally means “to release from the hands”–the “man” part referring to the hand–to draw the parallel between divination (anytypeof-mancy) and “something done with the hands” might be a bit of a stretch. At least from a professional linguistic standpoint. But for purposes such as these, it makes perfect sense. As an aside, the word “emancipate” in Ancient Roman legalese, literally meant “to free from paternal obligation and control”.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18, emphasis mine)
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah 33:3) Come on! It can’t be that easy, can it? Actually, it is. It’s human’s who’ve made a mess of things and muddied the waters.
Every culture, the world over has, or had, its forms of divination. Something deep down compelled them to seek out answers to the unknown and largely unknowable by means other than, what? Scientific curiousity? Well, first of all, many people still practice these things to a greater or lesser degree. Secondly, there’s a measure of closure when one seeks an answer to an unknown issue through a medium (literally/figuratively) other than God. Or prime evidence. But we’re necessarily talking about the supernatural. And just because it feels right, doesn’t mean that we’ve received truth.
“And the Lord shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:” (Deuteronomy 6:22)
While there’s no doubt that God uses signs, the way that God leads since the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is primarily through His Spirit. We didn’t just receive a portion of the infinite Holy Spirit to ignore and sideline. He’s here to lead us and guide us through all of our affairs, both the mundane and the supernatural. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God.” (Romans 8:14)
Where can we go with this? Really nowhere unless we’re being led by the Holy Spirit.
I met a man one day with a jaunty porkpie hat. A musician, we talked for a minute or two. And when I mentioned that a dream of mine was to someday play electric bass, he asked to see my hand. I extended my right hand and he took it in his then proceeded to tell me about myself. I thought he was going to tell me that I had good hands for that sort of thing, develop callouses and all that. How naive! I wasn’t expecting him to read my palm. The things he said, while ambiguous and vague, did touch on seemingly innocuous things that were part of my life (as I’m sure are part of everyone’s). And everytime for a time after, that I thought about the things he touched on, I felt trapped by the things he said. One thing I will say though, there seemed to be an inner detachment to his character and personality that set him apart from other people. A…hands-off approach?
“The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands.” (Psalm 76:5, emphasis mine) I imagine a bunch of ancient soldiers, sans hands, wandering around the battlefield, groggy with sleep, searching for a large wicker basket of severed (not bloody, cartoony) hands that sits, hidden behind some large rock. The verse really refers to those who are proud and have forgotten what their hands are to be used for. Tsk. Tsk. I waggle my finger.
I wholeheartedly disagree with divination—anyone seeking a sign from some source using a set of esoteric rules that must be performed just right. The Bible condemns it too: “There shall not be found among you any one that…useth divination” (Deuteronomy 18:10) One thing I’m inclined to wonder about is, who set up the rules by which any kind of divination is supposed to work? The short answer, in my opinion, is that it’s our faith, misapplied. We bring to pass thoughts and notions from sources other than God, and then we’re off and running in a direction opposite God’s will for our life. It’s almost like a higher form of superstition–with an added evil component. Is superstition just a higher form of OCD? Food for thought…
Superstition is a crazy thing. The very rules and regulations that hold mystery and meaning for one, are totally dismissed and passed over in favor of one’s own common sense and insight, by another. Here’s the thing though. Both, bereft of God’s leading, will take you by the hand and ultimately lead you astray.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, emphasis mine)
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13)