Questions From Readers
● Why did the law given to Moses require that the hand of the witnesses should be first to come upon a person sentenced to death, and does this have any application or lesson for us today?
Concerning those sentenced to death by the court in Israel, Deuteronomy 17:5-7 reads: “. . . you must stone such one with stones, and such one must die. At the mouth of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one dying should be put to death. . . . The hand of the witnesses first of all should come upon him to put him to death, and the hand of all the people afterward; and you must clear out what is bad from your midst.”
Not only were the judges and older men of the nation responsible to clear out what was bad, but all in Israel were to be zealous for true worship, anxious to see that no reproach was brought upon God’s name, that the organization remained clean, avoiding community condemnation. The witnesses must show their zeal by taking the lead in carrying out the judgment. Such zeal was illustrated by the Levites when they acted against their Israelite brothers who practiced calf worship at Sinai; by Phinehas the Levite in executing the Simeonite Zimri at the time 24,000 Israelites died for immorality in connection with Baal of Peor. (Ex. 32:25-29; Num. 25:6-9) Parents were required to bring their stubborn, incorrigible son to the judges, not shielding him from the death sentence. If one became a false prophet or apostate, love of Jehovah God and loyalty to him and his organization came ahead of even the closest natural ties, such as that of a son or a daughter.—Deut. 21:18-21; 13:6-11.
Another principle was involved. It was one thing to bring testimony against a person before the court but quite another thing to be the executioner, actually shedding the person’s blood. This would make a witness think very carefully in giving evidence. It would be a very hardened witness who would give false testimony knowing he also had to be first to act to put the man or woman to death.
So today, if wickedness is practiced by anyone in the Christian congregation, the congregation’s judicial committee has the responsibility to investigate and disfellowship, to clear away what is bad. But each one in the congregation should be just as zealous for the congregation’s cleanness and good standing before Jehovah, even though the guilty one may be as close as a son or a daughter. Each one should be zealous to bear witness to what he knows in the case, not withholding information or evidence because of close ties of family or friendship. He should acquiesce to the judgment of the committee and support its action.—Zech. 13:3.
Also, there is another lesson for us. We should be very careful that we give true, not false or questionable testimony. We should not let prejudice or a preconceived opinion cause us to give false, hasty, careless or inaccurate testimony. We stand accountable to the great Judge, Jehovah God. For we must remember that in God’s law to Israel the false witness received the punishment that he had intended for the one against whom he testified falsely.—Deut. 19:18-20.
Thus, from this law given to Israel we can apply to our modern day the principle of being zealous for right, for the pure, clean worship of Jehovah, and also the principle of being truthful, very careful, in giving testimony, knowing that we are before the great Judge Jehovah, who judges us on the words we speak at such a time.—Matt. 12:36, 37.
● Is it proper for a Christian to have a hobby of magical tricks simply for his amusement?
It may be that a person has a hobby of performing tricks that have nothing to do with real magic or demonism. It may be that one simply employs sleight-of-hand tricks or those involving illusions. So if one were merely showing how adroit a person may be with his hands, with no pretense of any magic, there may be no objection to such entertainment. However, whether a Christian will be involved in things of this nature or not is something that should be thoughtfully considered. One might start out performing simple tricks, but this could lead into practices that, knowingly or unwittingly, mimic the magical arts. One might duplicate by trickery real magical feats that are performed by demons, such as levitation, moving objects mysteriously, ectoplasmic materializations, and so forth. Such could lead into involvement with wicked spirit forces because it is playing at what the demons actually do.
Illustrating the danger of playing at anything that resembles demon activity is the experience of a woman in London. Her experience is described by Nandor Fodor in the book The Haunted Mind. This woman was fascinated by magic and hypnotism, and she had an extensive library on magical arts. The report says:
“I had a young boy staying with me who was a good hypnotic subject. I drew a magic circle, put him inside and sent him into hypnotic sleep. Then I commanded him to bring up the Devil! The boy writhed and cried. He was afraid. . . . Nothing happened in the first five hypnotic sessions. But the sixth time something did, and it frightened me out of my senses. In the magic circle a light appeared. Out of a luminous haze two eyes—as big as eggs—looked at me with an awful, penetrating look, a horrible expression. I asked hoarsely what it was. The boy answered—in a totally different voice—’the Evil that you conjured up speaks to you’. . . . I was so scared that I shrieked, ‘Go back, never come again! I will not permit you, I don’t want you!’ The light disappeared with a rushing sound, and things returned to normal. But I was white as chalk and for days afterward I felt that all the strength had gone out of me. The boy felt the same. Four or five times he felt that a power had tried to gain control of him.”
Toying with magical practices, even though one may be faking them, is highly dangerous, and is inviting the demons to put in an actual appearance, as they did in the case of a man who put on fake seances, only to discover that sometimes he actually performed mediumistic phenomena.—Clock Without Hands.
Sometimes those who perform tricks try to cause others to believe that they are doing something supernatural, magical. Thus they may, in fact, lay themselves open to real difficulty with the demons. Certainly no Christian would want to make any claim to having supernatural powers or leave any impression that he is a practitioner of Babylonian magic, which is condemned by God. (Deut. 18:10, 14) A Christian should also keep in mind that persons who know him and that he is a minister of God might look unfavorably on magiclike tricks; some persons might be stumbled. So the Christian may well find the pursuit of a hobby in so-called “magical” tricks is not advantageous.—Phil. 1:10; 1 Cor. 6:12.