When you are come into the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.…
The process of divination, in its different forms here referred to - "divination," "observing the heavenly bodies," "enchantment," "witchcraft," "charming," "consultation of spirits," "sorcery," and "necromancy" was an effort to discover secrets by unwarrantable methods. It was man's longing for revelation undergoing degradation through the imaginations of men. It had been practiced by the predecessors in Canaan, and in consequence they were being cast out. The Israelites were to deem it abomination, and unworthy of the people of God. From the succeeding verses, it is evident that it is to be contrasted with the Divine order of prophetical inspiration, and in consequence rejected with detestation.
I. OUR IDEAS OF REVELATION SHOULD BE WORTHY OF GOD. We have no right to expect God to degrade himself in the methods of revelation. Our own instincts should lead us to abhor such processes as have been adopted to secure the secrets of the Most High. All the mean and abominable ways which are here enumerated ought to have been renounced by thinking men instead of adopted. They are all unworthy channels for God's messages. Astrology, enchantment, necromancy, - all are miserable makeshifts for a decent mode of revelation. God has in "diverse manners" certainly made known his will to men (Hebrews 1:1). He has used dreams (Genesis 37:8; Job 33:15), revealing to the soul, whose avenues of sensation are temporarily closed, the information it needed. The dream was the condition of the communication (Genesis 28:12-22). God spoke when he had got man's ear shut to other things. And we can see this to be a most worthy way! Then by angelic visits he oftentimes revealed his will, instances of which are many in the Bible. This also was worthy. Last of all, by inspiring men, that is, through human nature, which is also eminently worthy of God. But the divination process is and should have been regarded as mean and contemptible.
II. IT IS EVIDENCE OF THE GREAT CREDULITY OF MEN THAT DIVINATION HAS IMPOSED UPON THEM. In connection with "spiritualism," for example, we have examples of credulity now corresponding exactly to the divination of the earlier times. As if such mean methods would be adopted by the Infinite Majesty, who has spoken in these last days by his Son! The power of belief is incalculable. Credulity is the believing power exercised on false objects and on insufficient evidence. We have ample faith in the world, if we could only get it rightly directed. And sometimes we find men who are most skeptical about religious matters, most credulous about the novelties of spiritualism. They yield to phenomena a credence that they deny to the well-authenticated Word.
III. GOD'S PRESENCE IS TO DETERMINE OUR CONDUCT. When Moses says, "Thou shalt be perfect with (עִס) the Lord thy God" (ver. 13), the idea seems to be that the overshadowing Presence is to determine our conduct before him. We will strive to be perfect as he is, and not look for mean methods from him. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.