Even Paul wasn’t sure whether he actually died or not.
It’s only as important as you make it…
Jesus is Cool…
There is a curious story about speaking with the dead in the OT.
1 Samuel 28
3 Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land.
.4 And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
5 And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled.
.6 And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets.
.7 ¶ Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor.
.8 And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.
9 And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?
10 And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing,
.11 Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh 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 himself.
15 ¶ And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
16 Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy?
I have wondered about this story for quite awhile. Witchcraft, sorcery, etc., was punishable by death so I can’t imagine God allowing any revelation from such. There is no escape from hell and certainly no witches in heaven so I tend to think she was a demon but I haven’t done any study on it…
It never mentioned her being a demon, just a witch that could bring up the dead for a chat.
Here are three more verses:
The Lord has done to you what he declared through me: he has torn the kingdom from your hand and has given it to your neighbor David.
“Because you disobeyed the LORD’s directive and would not carry out his fierce anger against Amalek, the LORD has done this to you today. Moreover, the LORD will deliver Israel, and you as well, into the hands of the Philistines. By tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the LORD will have delivered the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”
Rabbis in the early medieval period argued that the God used the Witch of Endor for Samuel to speak through. They point out that the witch seems astonished that she was able to do such a thing. Further, how would the witch, on her own, know about a few specifics of the Jewish afterlife, that Saul would be in the same place as Samuel, not somewhere else?
My thought: To be fair, if the medium was speaking on her own, she could have meant that Saul, like Samuel, would be dead. Even so, the medieval Rabbis found the wording meaningful.
No, it didn’t say demon. I just don’t believe anyone can actually bring up the dead to chat. Satan and his followers have no power for that, so I think it had to be an impersonator meant to deceive.
It’s an interesting point. God would have to allow such a thing which makes me wonder why God didn’t use his traditional means of imparting information. If he didn’t want Saul to know, why reveal through forbidden means?
Optrader, fair warning here…you are not going to like my analysis, so let me start with I believe God can work with whatever we humans decide we are going to do. Remember Jacob and Esau, where by law, the blessing was to go to Esau? If God wanted Jacob to have the blessing, why not have him born first? Time after time in the Old Testament, we see people breaking some rule or law…and then claiming it was God’s will they do so.
The first time I read through the Book of Samuel, I was also involved in minor political reporting (city and county level). The usual fights between Democrats and Republicans were being played out, and was being reported by the local media, each with their own slant on what was happening.
What struck me as I read the Book of Samuel, was the same type of squabble was being played out then between what I named the Priestly Party (of David) versus what I named the Political Party (of Saul).
The Priestly Party won, and wrote the history, using their own slant (just like we do today). They present their own candidate, David, as a hero while vilifying Saul. I liked Saul. When the Priestly Party insisted Amalek be wiped out down to the last sheep, Saul was the one who showed mercy to the conquered people. It appears the priestly party was adamant that even one thing was left standing of the Amalek culture, might be adopted in the Hebrew culture–and the Israelites were to be a people set apart from all other cultures.
The priestly party was aghast at the King’s decision. I don’t doubt their sincerity and their true fear of what would happen to them should the people break away from God and God’s ways and adopt Amalek culture.
But note what they did to Saul in the “press”. Mediums (witches) were banned and probably for good reason. For every true Medium, there are always a dozen liars and frauds ready to fleece money from the people. Frauds in any culture are generally outlawed.
When King Saul showed mercy and began making peace with the Amaleks, his opponents in the Priestly Party saw King Saul as turning away from God’s commands and they were determined to bring Saul down and replace him with someone who would listen to their counsel.
Their slant is to portray not only God turning from Saul, but of Saul turning away from God to frauds and liars instead. Then they depict God’s truth prevailing even over frauds and liars to denounce Saul and pronounce his doom. They disgrace Saul even in death.
Once again, keep in mind my own biases against David, my looking at a Biblical story through a modern political lens, and the fact that writers slant stories. Jews, in particular (at least the ones I’ve discussed this with) and others are horrified at my conclusions, probably with good reason. It is simply the way that I (and probably I alone) read the story back in the day–yet have never changed my mind. Hard to get youngsters to change their minds.
I believe our self-aware nature lends itself to a self-important narcissism which makes us tend to think anything surprising and good that happens to us is a “miracle”.
Some people survive cancer, or escape a burning building, or have a baby, or win the lottery. ■■■■ happens.
Doesn’t humbleness describe this better than narcissism? That something good happened that was not our doing?
I personally don’t feel like it’s humble to think that the creator of the universe personally intervened to save me from cancer but let other people suffer and die from it.
Do you believe in God?
Hey what’s more humble than thinking God the ultimate creator is on your side helping you personally
I always like your analysis Meri…
I don’t always agree with them, but you always put thought in them, that’s what makes them worth reading.
I’d be interested in how posters here define a miracle.
Existence is the only real miracle I’ve ever seen. The rest are up to the law of physics governing this particular iteration.
Thank you, Optrader.