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~The views and opinions expressed here are of the blog author and not necessarily of CCAPSG as a whole~

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Witch of Endor - Part 2 by Pastor Robin Swope (The Paranormal Pastor)

   Saul was a deeply disturbed King. God had chosen him as the first King of the united kingdom of Israel. He was God’s man. And his prideful disobedience led him down a dark path, a path of demon possession, paranormal encounters and suicide.

   King Saul’s story is told in the biblical book of 1st Samuel, a historical book that describes the transition of the ruling authority of Israel from anointed judges to a monarchy. 1st Samuel is one of my favorite books in scripture, it reads like a Conan novel: swords and sorcery abound. It also contains the only scripture that describes a ghostly entity that is directly called the spirit of a deceased human being.

  Saul was a vain and proud king. His disobedience to God cost him his kingdom. He disobeyed God’s prophet Samuel and offered a sacrifice in preparation for battle (1 Samuel 13:3-14). Only a priest was to offer such a sacrifice, and what he did was tantamount to sacrilege. So God decided to remove him from the throne and chose David instead. After David is anointed as King by Samuel, Saul still retains the throne, and he is possessed by an evil spirit. David has to play his harp to settle the spirit within him (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 18:8-16; 19:8-10).

   Perhaps it was this possession that motivated Saul to put the mediums and spiritists out of the land of Israel after Samuel’s death in 1 Samuel 28. Even though he was a rebellious king, Saul relied on Samuel as a prophet of God to help direct him in battle. When another battle arose, and Saul had nowhere to go, God would not answer him by dreams or consulting the Urim. So strangely he turns to a medium, the same kind of person who had had just tried to throw out of Israel. The Scripture tells us:

“Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.”
And his servants said to him, “In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at Endor.”
So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you.”
Then the woman said to him, “Look, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the spiritists from the land. Why then do you lay a snare for my life, to cause me to die?”
And Saul swore to her by the LORD, saying, “As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.”
Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”
And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.”
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman spoke to Saul, saying, “Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul!”
And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What did you see?”
And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth.”  So he said to her, “What is his form?”
And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.
Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?”
And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore, neither by prophets nor by dreams. Therefore I have called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.”
Then Samuel said: “So why do you ask me, seeing the LORD has departed from you and has become your enemy? And the LORD has done for Himself as He spoke by me. For the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philistines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also deliver the army of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.”
 Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night.” I Samuel 28:7-20 NKJV

Most Christians believe that all ghosts are really demonic spirits. They deceive people to believe that they are the spirits of the dead and with their cunning skills they draw away Christians to follow false teachings. However the scripture here tells us different. The Bible implicitly tells us that it is the ghost of Samuel. When he talks to Saul, it does not say “The spirit said to Saul”, no. It says “Samuel said to Saul”.  Some look at this passage and they feel it is an evil spirit telling Saul of his defeat in battle which leads to Saul committing suicide. But the word of God does not tell us that, it says it is Samuel’s ghost. The Bible is pretty explicit when it comes to details. Not paying attention to the details of obedience is why Saul lost his throne. Why would the Bible tell us it is Samuel when it is an evil spirit? That would make the scripture and God Himself deceiving us, and that is heretical at the least. This was actually Samuel being brought by God from the grave to pronounce His judgment upon Saul. Notice the medium seems to be unnerved that this bringing up of Samuel from Sheol actually happens. Than as now, many psychics are in it only for the money. This woman was a huckster who suddenly actually became a medium between the dead and the living by the power of God.

   So what are ghosts? In Christian Systematic Theology we have two main divergent views of the make up of humans. Some people believe man’s essence is physical and immaterial, body and soul/spirit. They make no distinction between soul and spirit, it is the same thing. Those who believe in this view are called Dicotomists. The alternative view is that of the Tricotomists. The tricotomist believes that man is body, soul and spirit. The soul is the rational part of man, responsible for self awareness and the spirit is the part of man that interacts with God. The word ghost and spirit are interchangeable in scripture, they are both translations of the ancient Greek word PNUEMATOS, which literally means wind. That is why we call the third person of the trinity the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit; they both describe the same person of the trinity. A spirit/ghost is an invisible force like the wind, you can sense it but it is immaterial. Some tricotomists assert that while the soul is with God, the spirit may be able to roam.
   The main problem Christians have with ghosts is the belief that when we die we immediately go to heaven. Actually, the bible is very vague as to what happens right after we die. There are hints, but nothing directly spelled out. However according to scripture we do have access to heaven after we are transformed into our resurrected bodies. When Jesus died, he did not immediately go to heaven. He went to hell. For three days Jesus was in the grave, Sheol in the Old Testament language, delivering the Old Testament saints and raising them from dead along with Him. Matthew 27:50-53 says,

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”

We see these saints in heaven in the book of Revelations:

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”
Revelation 4:1-4

Who are these 24 elders? Many say they represent the wholeness of the Old and New Testament in heavenly form; 12 tribes and 12 prophets. But John was one of the prophets. Instead might these be some of those who were resurrected with Christ, the Old Testament saints who waited in Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22-23, where the righteous dead await resurrection) for the victory of the cross?

Jesus Himself only entered heaven after He was resurrected. We celebrate His ascension into heaven in the church calendar every year, it occurred 40 days after the resurrection.

A problem does arise with Jesus’ statements to the thief on the cross. He told him that “Today you will be with me in paradise”.  Did the thief go straight to heaven when he died? It stands to reason that he did die before Jesus’ resurrection. He would have gone to Abraham’s bosom in Sheol. Therefore he also would have been raised with the righteous dead as Matthew reports in 27:50-53.

Another problem is Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8,

“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

   Many read into this scripture that we go to heaven when we die, but that is not what the scripture says. It says we are with the Lord in some capacity. What exactly does that mean? Scripture does not elaborate. God is not limited to heaven, and the only time humans are seen in heaven in scripture is after their resurrection. So it would seem this means something…else.

   Christian Theology tells us after our mortal life we can expect a glorious new body in the resurrection. Theologians call the space in between death and resurrection the intermediate state. Some adhere to a theory that the soul or spirit is asleep in this state because of scriptural references to the dead being asleep (Luke 8:52; 1 Corinthians 15:6). Some early protestant theologians believed in this, a good site to detail the history of this theological idea in historical theology is http://www.counterbalance.org/neuro/christ-frame.html. However, it is more likely that the sleep described in Scripture is not an actual sleep of the dead, but a metaphor because the dead do look as if they are asleep.

   The current theological view that a person goes straight to heaven when they die lies in an interpretation of Christian beliefs that became popular in the revival movement of the early to mid 19th century. The basis of this belief does not rely upon Scripture itself, rather a re-interpretation of the theory of “Particular Judgment” espoused by many early Christian theologians such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Hippolytus of Rome. Their original theory was that after death the person foretastes their eternal destiny in either Hades or a special place that is either darkness or light. American Evangelical theologians of the 19th century morphed these realms into heaven by mixing it with unsriptural popular beliefs.

   However, since the dawn of civilization there has been a belief that the dead can somehow either dwell or visit the physical realm in spirit. In Catholic and Orthodox tradditions this view has been transformed into the idea that the dead saints of the past can see and interact with living believers as intermediaries to God. Other popular Christian ideas are that the saintly dead or children take the form or ministry of angels in the afterlife. What do we make of these ideas in light of evidence from many stalwart bible believing Christians that they have been in contact with the dead spirits of their loved ones? Are they demonic entities trying to decieve them? Why would demonic entities give hope to the grieving by supposed proof of life after death? Most who have these encounters have an incredible boost of faith. They did not seek it out in some form of necromancy, it just happened. Perhaps it is an act of God’s special grace to ease their grief. We do not know, and it is foolish to jump to judgement to these claims.  Demonic spirits can imitate the dead, but usually this happens when one attempts to contact the dead in a direct purposeful action or ritual. 1 John 4:1 tells us,
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God
A good way to test is by whether these encounters give hope and inspires faith in Christ and how it affects the individual who has had them. We can test by observing the fruits of the encounter, as Christ Himself said,
“every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Matthew 7:17b-20 NKJV
   When approaching unexplained phenomenon as a Christian I like to use one axiom that has proven true over and over. “Do not put God in a box; for if you do, you will find that you are the one in the box.”

Job 14:10 “But man dies and is laid away; Indeed he breathes his last and where is he?”


To check out Robins blog go to www.theparanormalpastor.blogspot.com

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