San Diego, California
Together with other kinds of talismans, amulets are becoming very popular today. They are usually crystals, Celtic crosses, or other mystical jewelry worn as a pendant on a necklace or bracelet or hung on a chain dangling from the rear view mirror of automobiles. These so-called “sacred stones” and other engraved talisman are believed to have mystical powers, which supposedly bring personal protection, success, and prosperity. They are often regarded as transmitters of healing energies and positive vibrations that are thought to promote feelings of peace and tranquility. From archaeological evidence, we know that amulets were very common in the ancient cultures of the Bible lands, especially among pagan peoples.
What does God say about people who use amulets? “They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans” (Isaiah 2:6, NIV). The Bible further warns us, “In that day, the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes [and] amulets” (Isaiah 3:18-20, NAS).
During times of apostasy and idolatry, the Israelites copied the superstitions of the pagan people around them, including the practice of wearing amulets and magic charms. God issued a stern warning to the false prophetesses of Israel who wore amulets. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? . . . I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power” (Ezekiel 13:18, 20, 21, NIV).
In addition to wearing amulets, pagan peoples also possessed larger talismans called “teraphim,” or household idols. These miniature images were kept in the home or would be taken along on journeys. The use of these figurines infiltrated Israel, and God was opposed to them. “Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spirits and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book” (2 Kings 23:24, NAS).
Whenever amulets, idols, and other magic charms are mentioned in the Bible, God’s attitude is against them and those who trust in them. “I have hated those who regard useless idols; but I trust in the Lord” (Psalm 31:6, NKJV). When we feel the need for divine protection to guard us against physical harm or danger, we should trust in God—not some magic amulet or charm. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday” (Psalm 91:2-6, NKJV).
If we feel a need for protection from evil and demonic powers, God has something far better to offer than amulets and useless figurines. “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. . . . Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17, NIV).