The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: spirituality

Goat demons in the Bible

Goat Demons? Azazel? Are We in the Days of Noah? I Have Questions About Leviticus.

This was not the post I was planning (that one’s still in draft mode, about halfway done), but in the vein of exploring spiritual beings of the Bible, a new one caught my attention this morning as I was reading through Leviticus: goat demons.

What now?

Here is Leviticus 17:7, which is in the context of forbidding the Israelites to kill animals outside the camp unless they then bring the animal to the Tabernacle and present it to the Lord as a peace offering. Emphasis mine:

So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.

So apparently there was a problem with people sneaking off to sacrifice animals to goat demons?

What’s really interesting is that this passage immediately follows the instructions for the Day of Atonement, in which the Jews were instructed to bring two goats before the Lord. One was to be sacrificed for a sin offering. As for the other, the priest would symbolically place upon its head all the sins of the people, and then they would take it outside the camp and release it into the wilderness, “to Azazel.”

Nobody really knows for sure what, or who, Azazel is. Some say it’s a name for Satan. Some say it’s the name of a demon. Others say it’s just a word that means scapegoat. Now I’m wondering — could it be the name of a goat demon? Perhaps the one the Israelites were making sacrifices to?

The phrase “goat demon” also puts me in mind of Pan, a half-goat, half-man pagan deity and nature spirit, as well as Baphomet, the goat-headed hermaphrodite who is a symbol for Satan in all kinds of devil worship.

So goat demons definitely seem to be a thing that exists. My question is, where did they come from?

If demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim, the offspring of humans and fallen angels, then how on earth did we get goat demons?

Jesus said the last days would be as it was in the days of Noah — the days when fallen angels were mixing their DNA with humans and, according to Enoch, also instructing us in effective and creative ways to defile and destroy ourselves. It’s the DNA tampering that springs to my mind. In our own time, as I write this there are labs both here in the US and around the world that are combining human and animal DNA. In Arizona they’ve created humanized mice. In China they’ve been experimenting with humanizing the brains of monkeys, because they either haven’t seen Planet of the Apes, or it struck them as a brilliant idea.

It makes sense, in light of both the moral and genetic corruption wrought by the Watchers, why God had to wipe out humanity in the flood and start over. But why the animals? Could it be that the fallen Sons of God also played around with animal DNA? Could some of the Nephilim also have been part animal?

And could that be how we got goat demons?

And could this explain certain cryptid sightings?

Or maybe these all fall under the category of elemental spirits and have nothing to do with the Nephilim?

These are just some thoughts and observations from this morning’s Bible study, and I thought I’d submit it to you for discussion. So what do you think? Am I onto something? Am I overthinking this and taking it all way too literally? What’s your theory? Let’s hash this weirdness out together in the comments.

Is the World Under a Spell?

Somebody must really not want this post to be seen. Twice now it has completely disappeared from my site without a trace, which is the weirdest thing. Hopefully, this third time posting it will be the charm that makes it stick. If you’re a subscriber and you’re getting this in your mailbox AGAIN, I’m so sorry. Say a prayer that this will be the last time.

Image by ksyfffka07 from Pixabay

It’s interesting to me that New Agers and astrologers believe we either are entering or have just entered the Age of Aquarius, which is supposed to be this era of spiritual awakening for humanity. It’s interesting because that actually seems to be happening to a degree. More and more people are coming to a heightened awareness of spiritual forces at work in the world and of something greater than themselves. In this post-postmodern era, following a long post-enlightenment period during which even the Church-at-large mostly abandoned belief in the supernatural in favor of a materialist and naturalistic worldview, people both within and without Christianity are waking up to the fact that there’s too much that is left unexplained by such a worldview. And as things get darker and darker, both Christians and non-Christians are gaining a stronger sense of the reality of spiritual warfare.

The enlightenment was a real mixed bag, wasn’t it? It led to some great things, like a better understanding of science and physics and nature, and it led to the advancement of Judeo-Christian values and beliefs in human dignity and liberty and God-given rights that led to the founding of our nation. But it also led to humanism and secularism and atheism and the abandonment of belief in the supernatural, even in the Church.

I find it highly ironic that among his worshipers, Lucifer is heralded as the Light-bringer, the one who bestowed the gift of knowledge on humanity — yet he used, or perhaps even instituted this Age of Enlightenment, which brought us an increase in knowledge, to convince the world that he doesn’t exist, which may have been an even more effective trick than managing to convince so many that God doesn’t exist.

But after a couple hundred years or so of that being the dominant viewpoint, people are coming back around to belief in the supernatural, if not necessarily to belief in God. I don’t hold with the beliefs of astrologers and New Agers, but I absolutely believe that they are in touch with beings beyond this realm, demons and/or fallen Elohim, who are giving them factual information, albeit twisted facts that suit their agenda to keep humans as far from God as possible. Some of those beings may even be some of the Powers and Principalities who are allowed to direct, to an extent, the culture and the affairs of those who don’t belong to Christ.

And make no mistake: if you don’t belong to Him, you belong to them.

Sadly, because so much of the Church embraced materialism, local church bodies who know and understand what we’re dealing with and are equipped to instruct their congregations in how to deal with this increasingly more aggressive spiritual activity and deception are few and far between. Most churches also aren’t equipped to handle, say, an unbeliever who has a sensitivity to these things and who tries turning to the church for answers.

For something like 1800 years, the Church was able to provide a Biblical basis for understanding and dealing with the supernatural and paranormal and placing it in its proper context. But for the last 200 years or so, and especially the last hundred, a pastor’s response to someone dealing with demonic oppression or who has encountered something they can’t explain is more likely to be along the lines of, “You should probably see a counselor and maybe get on some medication.”

Of course, there’s the other end of the spectrum–hyper-charismatic and NAR-type churches who embrace the supernatural to an unhealthy degree, going way off the Biblical script in order to have experiences that prove how spiritual they are, emphasizing the Holy Spirit over Jesus, teaching unbiblical doctrine and dangerous spiritual practices that open them up to the same ungodly forces that New Age and occult practitioners flirt with on the regular. A close cousin to this is Richard Rohr’s brand of Progressive Christianity, with its meditative practices and spiritual disciplines meant to achieve enlightenment, and its gnostic and New Age panentheistic views of the Universal Christ Consciousness rather than faith in the person and finished work of Christ Jesus.

And then there are all of the non-Christians who are growing in spiritual awareness, who are turning to things like New Age and the occult, paganism and witchcraft in their attempt to grapple with, understand and dominate this new reality.

I think the Church’s failure to provide sound, Biblical answers to all of this, answers that don’t dismiss or redirect, but equip believers and affirm their experiences, is largely responsible for why we’re seeing such a rise in all of the things mentioned above.

I’ve taken in a couple of things lately, one a Christian podcast and the other a decidedly unchristian documentary, that discussed this idea that we’re going through a sort of re-enchantment. That the Enlightenment that was supposedly this great awakening to knowledge actually put us to sleep to the fact that the world is an enchanted place, full of magic and shared with otherworldly beings — the stuff of both fairytales and nightmares (and if you’ve read the Brother’s Grimm and the older versions of those stories, then you know that fairytales pretty much are nightmares). And now as things are getting darker, many are waking up to that sense of that which is other, and they’re hungry for it. They want answers. And they want to feel safe and in control.

I believe this is why we’re seeing such an increase, not only in attendance at the kinds of churches that emphasize spiritual experience over doctrine or that teach inner divinity and paths to enlightenment, but also growing interest in witchcraft and the occult. It’s why these things are going mainstream. It’s why satanists, who used to stick to the shadows and fringes of society, now feel comfortable taking out billboards to advertise their sick rituals as services.

And I think it’s why so many celebrities are coming out as witches and occult practitioners, and why, more and more, we’re seeing televised concerts and performances that look like pagan and occult rituals. And now we have former child Disney stars turned pop superstars singing about meeting the devil and inviting him to spend the night.

Which brings me to a question I’ve been asking myself for a while now, which I think in some way is related to all of this: is the world literally under a spell?

The Bible warned us that there would be strong delusion in the last days. Of course, the hardening of hearts of those who love the world and the culture more than Jesus has a lot to do with that. And we also know from certain passages that God has been known to send lying spirits to deceive the disobedient.

But is there something darker and more sinister at work, taking and holding so much of the world captive? Are these ritualistic performances that engage millions of viewers part of that?

Maybe. Or maybe those are just a symptom.

But one thing I’m sure about: social distancing, separation and isolation, masking and the dehumanization that comes with it, forced and coerced submission and compliance — these are all hallmarks of cult initiation rituals. And the true believers who have drunk the Kool-aid behave like nothing less than members of a cult.

I feel in my gut that there is something very, very strange and sinister about this whole virus and how the world has responded to it. That there is something happening on a metaphysical level that is fundamentally transforming not just society, but humanity, and not for the better or the good. And that somehow all of this ties together.

Of course, I know that all of this is God-ordained, that it’s setting the stage for the end times and the Tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist and the one-world government, religion and currency that he’ll control.

So how do we, as Christians, respond to all of this?

My sincere wish is that the Church at large would wake up, stop mythologizing and allegorizing everything the Bible tells us about the supernatural, and start equipping the saints with this knowledge and with the proper context and perspective to prevent us from falling prey to these beings and their deceptive practices. Equipping us for spiritual warfare. I know there are some small churches here and there who are doing this, but they are woefully few and far between. The Church has fallen down in their duty in this regard, and they need to step up and lead the charge.

But unless and until that happens–and I won’t hold my breath for it to happen–those of us who are aware need to connect however we can and support each other. We, the believing Church remnant, and the Holy Spirit who indwells us, are the Restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2. We hold back these spiritual forces of darkness through prayer and through worship. We can do these things individually, but I believe they’re more effective when done corporately, as a body. Jesus said where two or more are gathered together, there He is in our midst. And I think that’s why churches have become such a target, why the Powers that Be are so dead set against the saints assembling together.

But we need to gather where we can, when we can, to worship together, and to pray. And we need to be willing to be true lights in the world, shining the light of Christ and of Biblical truth into this darkness, proclaiming Christ, proclaiming truth, refusing to kowtow to lies and deception. And we need to be willing to teach, to patiently, graciously and lovingly reach out to those who are curious and hungry for a world full of enchantment and magic and explain the source and powers behind these things and what the Bible has to say about it all.

We’re here to hold back the darkness, Christians, not to cower before it. We’re at war against an already defeated foe. Our greatest weapon is the Word of God. And we step onto the battlefield by getting on our knees.

On Hearing from God and the Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Prayer

So far I’ve talked about how God led me out of practicing yoga and the Enneagram (and how I got led into those things in the first place).

I saved this post for last because it’s the hardest to write. This was the last domino to fall in my awakening from spiritual deception, but it was also the thing that led me down that path to begin with.

I’m talking about spiritual formation.

Several years ago, we went through a really hard season that included two miscarriages followed by the sudden passing of both my in-laws (and their cat) in rapid succession, my PCOS and thrombophilia diagnoses, losing one of our kitties to cancer, and major financial hardship. I was tired and depressed and desperate for encouragement. I found it in the form of some popular online women’s ministries and daily devotionals.

One of the devotional writers really stood out to me. She wrote a post on my favorite devotional blog that spoke directly to my soul. I sought out her blog and subsequently read some of her books, which at the time I loved. They really ministered to me and helped me through my depression and grief. They helped me believe that God still loved me and wanted what’s best for me.

However.

As part of a promotional campaign for an upcoming book, she posted videos to her website in which she encouraged a spiritual practice of sitting quietly for five minutes and just opening yourself up to God and inviting him to speak to you. She taught me to get quiet and listen. I didn’t know it at the time, but what she was teaching me was the spiritual formation practice of contemplative prayer. Eventually, this led to the practice of keeping a journal and writing down what I thought I heard the “Holy Spirit” speaking to me.

So what’s the matter with that?

The problem is that this form of contemplative prayer is a form of meditation that’s rooted in New Age and Eastern mysticism. It was introduced into the Church and popularized by Richard Rohr (remember him from my Enneagram post?) and his followers–several of whom are often quoted by this author I was so enamored with. And it also opened the door for me to try other things like mindfulness meditation, believing that it was harmless. Of course, this was also the slippery slope (and the same influencer) that led me to yoga and the Enneagram.

All of these things are New Age, and also completely unbiblical.

Here’s the thing: God prescribes how to pray and meditate in his word. The Hebrew word that gets translated “meditate” in our English Bibles actually means to utter or to muse. Biblical meditation is not emptying or quieting your mind, but instead filling it with God’s word. This can look like thinking about the meaning and interpretation of a passage of scripture and how it applies to our lives. It can also look like memorizing scripture and repeating it back to ourselves. It doesn’t look like getting quiet and opening ourselves up to receive some personal spiritual revelation.

The Bible also gives us countless examples of how to pray–we have three examples from the Lord Jesus himself. Biblical prayer involves a combination of praise, thanksgiving, and asking for what we need. It involves pouring out our hearts and telling God what’s on our minds and what’s making us anxious. It involves repeating scripture back to him and reminding him of his promises. Sometimes it involves repentance. When we’re really struggling, prayer can sometimes look like crying or groaning deep in our spirit. But Biblical prayer, again, never involves us being silent, quieting our minds and waiting for God to speak to us.

The danger here is that when we go outside of God’s prescribed ways to contact and hear from him, we open ourselves up to who knows what. Biblical prayer and meditation are protected from interference from outside forces. But non-Biblical methods are not — which is why so many of those methods are expressly forbidden in scripture. If you quiet your mind and open up yourself to receive a message, you may well get one — but it may very well not be from God.

Case in point: remember how I said I got into the practice of writing down the things I thought I heard from the Holy Spirit? I’ve got pages in my old journals of messages I heard telling me how much I was loved and affirming that I was on the right track and I was exactly where God wanted me. Well that sounds good, doesn’t it? The problem is, I wasn’t on the right track — I was engaged in the New Age practices that God would eventually convict me about and get me to stop doing. Whatever I was hearing — whether it was just my own subconscious thoughts or a deceiving spirit whispering comforting lies — it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. Whatever it was seemed bent on keeping me complacent and deceived.

Now, I’m not saying that God never speaks to us. Despite leaving the charismatic movement, I’m not completely persuaded by cessationist arguments, and one reason is because there have been times in my life — that I can count on one hand — when I have with absolute, 100 percent certainty heard God speak. And those times were nothing like the wordy, self-affirming messages I was getting when I practiced contemplative prayer.

One of those times, the first time it happened, as a matter of fact, I was in my early 20s. I was living at home and my dad and I weren’t getting along (I’ll spare you the details). Driving home from work one night, dreading having to go home and face him and praying for help with the situation, I heard a voice — not an external voice, but different from my own head voice — say three times, “I am the Father to the fatherless.”

When I got home, I looked that up and found Psalm 68:5: “A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.” I felt extremely comforted. My dad had never been much of a father, and I took that to mean that God saw my situation and was letting me know that he was working in it.

A week later, my dad was killed in a car accident. I suddenly found myself literally fatherless.

I’ve had a few similar encounters since then, and there are a few characteristics that they’ve all had in common:

  1. I wasn’t trying to initiate hearing from God. I was either praying or thinking about an issue and He interrupted me.
  2. It was direct and to the point. God doesn’t waste words.
  3. It affirmed an aspect or a promise of GOD — it didn’t affirm ME.
  4. It got my eyes off of myself and my circumstances and onto God and his word.

What I’ve learned from these instances is that God doesn’t need us to get quiet and invite him to speak to us. If he’s got something to say to us, he’ll stop us short and say it, and there won’t be any doubt that it’s him speaking.

The people pushing this practice of getting quiet and listening will tell you that you can be sure it’s from God if it doesn’t contradict scripture. The problem with that is, Satan knows scripture. He quoted it to Jesus in the wilderness. The Bible tells us that he can appear as an angel of light. He’s a pro at using scripture to deceive.

But what about listening for God’s “still, small voice?” Let’s take a minute and examine this passage from 1 Kings 19 where that concept is supposedly found.

9And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
11Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [e]a still small voice.
13So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

First of all, God is the one who initiates contact with Elijah. Elijah was being hunted by Jezebel after his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, and he was depressed to the point of being suicidal. He wasn’t seeking God in prayer. God spoke to him and told him to get up and get out of the cave, and then he proceeded to announce himself with a strong wind and an earthquake and a fire before using a “still, small voice” to let Elijah know it was safe to come outside, where God then spoke to him in a normal voice.

In other words, God made a BIG RUCKUS to announce his presence before speaking in hushed tones to call Elijah out of the cave, leaving no room for doubt that Elijah was hearing the voice of God. And, again, Elijah didn’t seek out that voice or do anything to invite it or initiate contact. It was all God’s doing, on God’s schedule, to accomplish God’s purpose.

Nowhere in scripture are we ever instructed to get quiet and listen for that “still, small voice.”

This whole practice of contemplative prayer is part of the growing Spiritual Formation movement in the modern church. What could possibly be wrong with spiritual formation? Here’s how GotQuestions.org describes it:

“This idea of spiritual formation is based on the premise that if we do certain practices, we can be more like Jesus. Proponents of spiritual formation erroneously teach that anyone can practice these mystical rituals and find God within themselves.
Too often, adherents of the current spiritual formation movement believe the spiritual disciplines transform the seeker by his or her entering an altered realm of consciousness. The spiritual formation movement is characterized by such things as contemplative prayer, contemplative spirituality, and Christian mysticism.”


Spiritual formation is one of those sneaky ways that the New Age is worming its way into the Church in the guise of something that sounds on the surface like something Christians ought to be in favor of. But it’s actually a mystical replacement for actual discipleship.

What’s the difference between spiritual formation and discipleship? The short answer is that discipleship is about becoming more like Jesus, whereas spiritual formation is about becoming Christ.

Discipleship is the process of taking up our cross and following after Jesus. It’s growing in faith and sanctification and knowledge of the truth, being transformed from the inside out by the Holy Spirit and the word and having our character refined to be more like Jesus.

Spiritual formation is a works-based process of practicing external “spiritual disciplines” in an attempt to discipline our minds and become part of the universal Christ consciousness.

It wasn’t until I got convicted about the Enneagram and was made aware of its origins that I also became aware of the New Age aspect of spiritual formation and finally got convicted about my contemplative prayer practice. Again, I ceased immediately and repented. I also unfollowed the author who started me down this path in the first place, along with her entire circle of friends and associates, and stopped having anything to do with them.

Even so, I hesitate to call her out by name or to label her a false teacher. Partly because she’s not off-base about everything — she seems to sincerely love Jesus, and her books really did minister to me. But at the same time, there are things that really bother me about her, like her habit of calling Jesus her friend instead of her Lord, her tendency to quote Richard Rohr acolytes like Henri Nouwen and Dallas Willard, her evangelizing of the Enneagram, and her (and the rest of her crowd’s) affiliations with blatantly false teachers like Jen Hatmaker and Sarah Bessey. I’ve probably provided enough clues that if you know her, then you know who I’m talking about. Still, I don’t feel convicted to reveal her name. Let these clues serve as red flags that should tell you to proceed with caution regarding any Bible teacher or Christian author or influencer.

All of this is why it’s so, SO important to pray for and exercise discernment. The New Age and occult (same thing) are finding several ways to infiltrate the Church and they’re all sneaky and deceptive and difficult to recognize if you’re not paying close attention. We have to be Bereans and test everything against scripture, and we have to safeguard our hearts and minds by being extremely careful about the influences we allow into our lives.

I’m so incredibly grateful to the Lord for waking me up to these things and showing me the truth. And that was only the beginning of my journey. In another post soon I’ll share about the work He’s been doing in me over the past year. This post is long enough already, but I can tell you that taking all that time and energy I was spending on those false Christian New Age practices and putting it into diligent Bible study has been one of the most transformational experiences of my life.

Get in the word, y’all. Our time here is getting short.

Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay

2013: Blessing In Disguise

I’m not going to beat around the bush: 2013 was not a good year. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say it had very little to offer in the way of high points and was filled with a lot of very low lows. Low-lights include losing one of my uncles and one of our cats, substantial freelance income loss and a whole lot of stress and frustration.

There was also a lot of blaming myself and beating myself up, feeling completely helpless and useless, and wondering why God was punishing us. What can I say? It’s hard to think healthy and helpful thoughts when you’re standing knee-deep in the doo. 

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