Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Saul, Samuel, Soul Sleep and the Witch of Endor

Here is the biblical story of Israel's King Saul and his consulting a medium to conjure up the dead soul of the Prophet Samuel. It's found in I Samuel 28.

The Philistines were encamped, ready to attack Israel....

When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, so that I may go to her and inquire of her." His servants said to him, "There is a medium at Endor." 
So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes and went there, he and two men with him. They came to the woman by night. And he said, "Consult a spirit for me, and bring up for me the one whom I name to you." The woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?" But Saul swore to her by the Lord, "As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" 
He answered, "Bring up Samuel for me." When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!" The king said to her, "Have no fear; what do you see?" The woman said to Saul, "I see a divine being coming up out of the ground." He said to her, "What is his appearance?" She said, "An old man is coming up; he is wrapped in a robe." So Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. 
Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" Saul answered, "I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; so I have summoned you to tell me what I should do." Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you just 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, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you today. Moreover the Lord will give Israel along with you into the hands of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines." 

And indeed, the next day on Mt. Gilboa, Saul, his sons and his arm bearer were killed. 

So many points and so little space.... (as tempting as it is to point out may things... I will stick to only three)

As an Adventist I was raised to read the inerrant, infallible Word of God in a way that ignored the obvious meaning of the text. I was taught that Samuel was not really raised and that it was some type of demon posing as Samuel. 

But the text is obvious, clear and direct. The witch conjured up the prophet. I know that doesn't fit in with Adventist's idea of soul sleep (which it actually does quite well I would think. Samuel wasn't taken down from heaven? So why the problem with Samuel protesting that he was asleep? As some translations record Samuel as asking why Saul disturbed or troubled his rest.) 

In any case, we need to point out several things in this story that counter what Adventists were taught: 

1. Adventists are taught that the witch cried out when she saw Samuel, because she was a fake and this time some ghost actually showed up! Not so at all! When you look at the context, the woman had just told the disguised Saul that she feared for her life, because the king banned mediums in Israel. 

Note that she didn't cry out, "Oh no! A real ghost!" This is what she said:

"When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!"

She felt terrified of Saul not Samuel.

2. Samuel gave a true prophecy. So either demons can give true prophecies or it was really Samuel. If demons can give true prophecies that should make those who follow Ellen White a little worried! If it really was Samuel, then wouldn't that make Adventists also reconsider their whole non-immortality of the soul stance? 

3. "...tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me,"

Samuel didn't see Saul and his righteous son, Jonathan in hell or in annihilation, but both the righteous son and bad father went to the same place. Hmmm.... ? Where could that be? Heaven? Well, it's either heaven or what the Bible calls Abraham's bosom... a kind of holding place until Christ's judgement or purgatory... For surely SAMUEL wasn't in hell. 

So, even though Samuel was in some resting place, his soul seemed to be alive, in some degree aware and able to be raised. Perhaps we might say this proves some type of pre-Christ immortal soul in the Old Testament. But keep in mind that Christians do not simply believe in an immortal soul (pretty much everyone did in the ancient religions). We believe in the resurrection of the body too! That is rather unique. 

In the New Testament, we see several texts that back up the idea that Christians have an immortal soul and eventually at Christ's coming an immortal body:

"to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." Romans 2: 7 
"but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." II Tim. 1:10 
"For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." I Cor. 15: 53, 54.
Granted, searching the scripture to see a direct text about what happened immediately after death for the Christian--can be confusing because the Bible deals with God's immortality and His children's immortality and you're not sure if its the body's immortality or the soul's. But there does seem to be clarity on one point. Christians who accept Christ have been given immortality. And it does seem to be immediate for their souls, while later for their bodies. 

Can ALL scripture that deals with soul's being aware after death be symbolic? The Adventists will tell you that. But at some point, you have to wonder. For Jesus said (as recorded in Matthew 27: 32):
"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob? He is the God not of the dead, but of the living." 
And then there is the parable of Father Abraham, Lazarus and the rich man having a conversation after death in Luke 16: 20-31. 

Okay, you think every single text so far is symbolic, not really telling us anything about the immortal soul, even when Christ himself tells us that His death brought immortality to light? 

What about this verse? It seems to be paralleling the story of Samuel. 

  • When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, "Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?" They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed. Rev. 6: 9-11

    These "dead" souls sensed something amiss on earth, the were disturbed from their sleep and cried out for justice.  They have some type of awareness. Also in Revelation, three times it talks about the prayers of the saints being offered to God. Are these martyrs under the altar (symbolically covered by Christ's atonement) not saints also praying? Are their prayers not being offered alongside those from the earth? For two thousand years, the church has always said yes to this question. 

    The Bible is clear that the people of God have always had some type of rest after death and with the possibility of being aware of what was going on in this world. This was taught by those early leaders who were anointed and entrusted to take over the church and spread the good news of the gospel to the world when the Apostles died. 

    Think about it.... even Samuel prophesied after his death....


Arik said...

God had established certain conventional methods, to answer Israel's requests, and when Saul used these methods, God did not answer. 1 Samuel 28:6:

"And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dream or by Urim or by the prophets,"

Note 1 Samuel 28:3: "Now Samuel had died, and all of Israel had lamented for him, and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the spiritist out of the land."

Leviticus 20:27: 'A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; and they shall stone them with stones. And their blood shall be upon them."

Leviticus 19:31 "Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them; I am the Lord your God."

Would God go against His own established methods, ignoring His own commandments not to seek out mediums to communicate with Saul?

Saul had killed the mediums from the land because he knew that necromancy was against God.

1 Samuel 28:14: "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 ws Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed."

Nowhere in Scripture does it say the spirit the witch conjured up was Samuel, but rather Saul perceived it to be. And what does this spirit say?

1 Samuel 28:19: "Moreover the lord will also deliver israel with you into the hand of the Phillistines. And tomorrow you and your sons WILL BE WITH ME. The Lord will also deliver the army of israel into the hand of the Phillistines.

What does Scripture say?

1 Chronicles 10:13,14:
"So Saul died for his UNFAITHFULNESS which he committed against the Lord, because he did NOT keep the word of the Lord, AND ALSO BECAUSE HE CONSULTED A MEDIUM FOR GUIDENCE. But he did NOT inquire of the Lord, therefor he killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

"Satan leads men to consult those that have familiar spirits; and by revealing hidden things of the past, he inspired confidence in his power to fortell things to come. By experience gained through the long ages he can reason from cause and effect and often forcast with a degree of accuracy, some of the future events of man's life. Thus he is enabled to deceive poor, misguided souls and bring them under his power and lead them captive at his will/ Patriarchs and Prophets p 687.

Arik said...

Romans 2:5-7

"But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the DAY OF WRATH AND REVELATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT, who will render each one according to his deeds eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor immortality:"

The context is judgment, and in that day immortality (eternal life) is given to those who seek for it. We do not already have it.

2 Timothy 1:10 "but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel."

Taken together with Romans 2:7 Paul is speaking of the gift of eternal life given at Christ second coming. Jesus conquered death by His resurrection, and after His second coming is when death is abolished and immortality given.

Rev. 20:14- "THEN (after the 1000 yrs)death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."

1 Corinthians 15:52-53

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, AT THE LAST TRUMPET. For the TRUMPET SHALL SOUND, and the dead will be changed. For this corruptible shall put on incorruptible, and this MORTAL shall put on IMMORTALITY."

Matthew 22:32

"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."

God is the God of the living, and in anticipation of the resurrection He is not the God of the dead. In the same anticipation Abraham "Looked for a city that hath no foundation, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10)

Teresa Beem said...

Interesting string of texts.... but not convincing.

Anonymous said...

how are they not convincing?
pliz refute all of Arik's arguments from the Bible, point by point (He has used the Bible, use the Bible as well in refuting him).

Teresa Beem said...

I have already stated my position using scripture. Arik disagrees. That's okay….