What does the staff in Hosea 4:12 refer to?

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The staff

In Hosea 4:12, we read, “My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God.”

In this passage, the diviner’s staff has been interpreted by Bible scholars as a magic wand, an Asherah pole, or some kind of stick used to foretell the future or guide the seekers to find answers. There were many superstitions among the ancient Arabs and Chaldeans. And using the staff was one of these methods of divination.

Clearly, it is senselessness to seek advice or counsel from a wooden staff. The prophet Jeremiah reproaches God’s people for “saying to a stock, my father” (Jeremiah 2:27); and Habakkuk says, “Woe unto him that saith to the wood, awake” (Habakkuk 2:19).

In our modern world today, the diviner’s staff can be represented by any pole, rod or stick that is used in divination practices such as the Ouji stick, dowsing rod, divining rod, magic wand, the Chinese Chien Tung…etc. People use these staffs thinking they can receive answers to their questions. But by doing so, they are in reality directly contacting demons.

Divination forbidden by the Creator

Using such occult practices are clearly a form of divination which the the Lord strongly forbids in the Bible. He says, “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer” (Deuteronomy 18:10 also Leviticus 19:26; 2 Kings 17:17). Sorcery, divination, witchcraft, and all other divination practices were why the Lord God punished the Canaanites and cast them out from their land and forbade the Israelite’s from dappling with their wicked practices (Deuteronomy 18:14; Micah 5:12).

The devil can do miracles

While divination is fully forbidden by God, the Bible tells us that the devil can and will perform  “miracles” that appear good to deceive people into believing his lies. Consider the following verses:

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:13-14).

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image…” (Revelation 19:20).

At the end of time, the devil will perform supernatural acts to deceive the inhabitants of earth (Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:33). In fact, he will even transform himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) to appear in favorable light so that people can accept his words.

The Word of God is our protector

The only way believers can test the spirits and know if a miracle is done by the power of God or Satan, is through the holy Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah instructs, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). When God’s children study His Word (2 Timothy 2:15), the Lord will grant them the Holy Spirit which will help them discern truth from error (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).

Because we live in deceptive times, the Lord declares, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore, the believer needs to make a firm stand against the devil and his sorcery, not allowing him the opportunity to lie to him. And the Lord promised, “…Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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