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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, March 01, 2010
Did Saul See Samuel's Ghost or Not? Part -VII-
Sorry about the delay, this post was getting pretty long, so I decided to cut it back and cut it down a bit.

In the last post I narrowed the field a bit based on a more biblically accurate description of what a "medium" was. A medium (we said) was someone who had a familiar spirit.

Do you recall the slave girl that Paul encountered at Philippi (c.f. Acts 16:6)? The one with the spirit of divination? That would be a good example of a biblical "medium". A medium being, not someone who has some sort of supernatural power to summon or conjure up the "spirits" of the dead, but rather a person who receives information (in whatever form) from a familiar spirit.
Given this understanding, the unusual things that the medium sees, hears, and ultimately experiences are imposed on her by the familiar spirit, and therefore that means that the validity of the medium's experience depends entirely on the willingness of the familiar Spirit to portray things accurately.

He said, she said...

In Exodus 22:18, we read this imperative given to the Israelites (pertaining to their conduct in the promised land): "you shall not allow a sorceress to live"

Compare that to what we find read in 1 Samuel 28:10, "Saul vowed to her by the LORD, saying, 'As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.'"

Don't miss this. Saul invokes God's name here as his personal guarantee that he will not obey God's explicit command. I find that rather ironic, and certainly significant.

Just to play catch up a bit. Saul was afraid of the Philistines, and in particular he was afraid of what could happen in the up and coming battle. That much is implied in verse 5 where we read, "When Saul saw the camp of the Philistines, he was afraid and his heart trembled greatly".

So Saul is certainly motivated, in part at least, by fear. He wants to hear from God, but when God God refuses to answer Saul directly, Saul seeks to hear from God through an intercessor. For reasons known only to Saul, though we could probably guess at, the intercessor Saul chooses is Samuel. The only problem is that Samuel is dead.

Yet Saul knows that there are still mediums in the land, and finding one he promises her (in God's name and by God's life) that he will by no means obey God in putting her to death, if she will conjure up Samuel for him.

The narrative is following Saul's perspective. I mention that because, as I pointed out in our previous discussion on what all fits under the umbrella of a "literal" interpretation, there are two ways to interpret the events of this narrative: the narrative either [1] reflects Saul's interpretation of events, or it [2] records events independent of Saul's perspective (i.e. as they really were).

We have to examine both possibilities, but let's first examine the latter; we will examine the former in another post, and probably not the next one...

Let's see, therefore, what we would have to believe in order to pursue the idea that events happened just as they were recorded (i.e. irrespective of Saul's perspective).

And After That The Judgment, ...(unless someone conjures you up of course)

In arguing that the Messiah only has to die once, the author of Hebrews writes, in Hebrews 9:27-28, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, ...", from this one might argue, I suppose that "the judgment" referred to here was that which was recorded in Genesis 3:19, in the words, "By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.". That is, one might argue that the judgment refers to the judgment against mankind which ends in the fact that your body returns to dust. Thus, it is appointed for men to die, and after that they "turn into dust".

Now, this verse is being used to say that the Messiah (Jesus) doesn't die again and again, but only dies once. If the "judgment" here is the corruption of the flesh that takes place after death, then the author is saying that Jesus received "the judgement" of seeing corruption/decay. But we know that Christ didn't receive that. I don't think, therefore, that this text is identifying the corruption of our flesh after death as "the judgment" - but rather is referring to standing before the judgment seat of Christ.

Again, some would interject at this point and say that if by "judgment" we mean that immediately after death everyone goes before Christ to be judged, then how is it that certain individuals in scripture were restored to life? Did they live, die, get judged, get brought back to life, live again, and die again, and get judged again?

I think that is a valid, and even penetrating question - one we need to seriously consider.

Let's use Lazarus as our guinea pig, since he was dead for four days before the Father heard Christ's prayer and restored him to life. We could have picked any number of persons, I only chose Lazarus because he came to mind first. When Lazarus died, did he go to judgment or not?

Let's answer that with a question: From God's eternal perspective, was Lazarus' life over? No. It is clear, given God's omniscience, that God knew before Lazarus was ever born, and certainly at the time of Lazarus' death that Lazarus would be raised again.

I think we can conclude, without going into the details, that God would not have judged Lazarus twice, but simply put off judging Lazarus until after his "entire" life was lived.

I think the same can be said of anyone who has ever died and was raised again to life again. Whatever else we might say, we must conclude that judgment comes after you are finished living all the life allotted to you. I think it is safe to say that God does judge the life you lived until after you have lived all of it.

One might ask, "Where did Lazarus' consciousness/soul go for those intervening days?" - a fair question. We know that spirits, dominions, principalities and powers, authorities in high places, etc. experience time in the same manner that the rest of creation experiences time. We know this from various accounts in scripture where spiritual beings could not be here or there in time because they were delayed. We see that certain spiritual beings are waiting for such and such, and even in the book of revelation, we see that some things precede other things, and are followed by further things. Creation, all of it (including every spirit and the reality they find themselves in) is bound by and in time. We all experience it in the same way.

Given that this is so, and we have no good reason to believe otherwise, the question we are faced with is, "Do we remain in creation when we die, i.e. is our soul shuffled off to some created place until judgment day, or do we step outside of creation (and therefore time) and immediately we are at the judgment?"

If the former is true, that is, if upon dying the elect go (in comfort) to (let's say) Abraham's bosom where they await the judgment, and the non-elect go (in torment) to (let's say) Hades, where they likewise await the judgment; the question becomes "Can a spirit summon a soul out of Hades or Abraham's bosom?

If the former is not the case, but rather the soul, upon dying, moves outside of creation (and therefore outside of "time")then the question about whether a spirit is able to conjure up a dead person becomes rather moot since it is ridiculous to imagine that a spirit could compel someone who has already been judged and entered into eternity to come back into time and space and answer questions for them.

Let's be fair here too. The text of Hebrews 9 goes so far as to tell us that "the judgment" follow death, but it doesn't say one way or the other whether that is immediate or not. One can infer that, but there is nothing in that text, one way or the other that demands it.

If souls do retire to Abraham's bosom or Hades before they are judged, that doesn't invalidate what is said in Hebrews 9. Judgment will still follow death.

For our purposes then, when we speak of after we die - we simply mean, after our lives is over - all of it. We have two possibilities, either we go to judgment immediately, or we dwell in either Hades or Abraham's bosom until the judgment.

If there is some intermediate place between this life and the judgment, we can assume that it is part of this creation, and that time exists in this place just as it exists everywhere else in creation.

In 2 Peter 3 we learn that the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (see 2 Peter 3:7, 10, etc.) We read about the destruction of ungodly men again in more vivid detail, in last few chapters of the book of Revelation. Our presumption then is that these are describing the same event - the judgment.

Here is the list of things (from the book of Revelation) that are going to be tossed into the lake of fire (LoF):
  • The beast

  • the false prophet

  • the devil

  • death

  • Hades

  • everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's book of life (which presumably includes the list given in Revelation 21:8, (...the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars)

Note the inclusion of Hades?

Okay. Here is why this post took so long to put up. Seriously, there is a lot of room for discussion on what exactly Hades is, and how can death be burned up, if in the final analysis it is merely the absence of life? etc. etc.

I think, as much as I would like to ferret out every thread that could come off of that, I have to be realistic. It is interesting to note that Hades is listed here, and it lends some credibility to the notion that whatever it is, it is part of this creation, and will be face God's wrath along with everything else that is scheduled for wrath on that day.

So the first point we would have to believe in order to accept the text of 1 Samuel as describing what happened irrespective of perspective, would be that we would need to believe that soul's do not immediately go to judgment, but dwell somewhere else between dying and being judged - and do so "in time".

I think there is room to allow for that without compromising anything said in scripture. The next, and weightier question is, does the bible give us any reason to believe (elsewhere in scripture) that a spirit has both the power and authority to summon a person out of the place they go in between death and judgment?

Thoughts to take away from this:

Our first concern is whether or not a thing is biblical, and when we find room in our texts for various interpretations, we want to carefully rule out those interpretations that cannot be maintained according to some clear teaching elsewhere in scripture.

To that end we looked at the question of where the soul goes once it departs this world. Scripture claims that the soul goes to be with Christ (or so Paul claimed), again, scripture says that the soul goes to judgment (so the author of Hebrews writes), and while we hold both to be true, we cannot rule out one way or the other, whether that means immediately, or eventually, whether there is some intermediate place or not.

Looking to scripture, we see there is more support for an intermediate place (No, not a sort of purgatory, nor even a limbo, but either Hades or Abraham's bosom depending on the destination of our souls) where we go to await judgment, than the idea that we all step out of creation (and therefore time) and arrive at judgment without delay - unless of course, judgment precedes entry into Hades or Abraham's bosom - a thought we will consider in the next post.


posted by Daniel @ 10:50 AM  
  • At 1:51 PM, March 01, 2010, Anonymous sabeian said…

    A very thought provoking entry. Thank you again. I will chew on it awhile before digesting I think.

  • At 4:32 PM, March 01, 2010, Blogger Jim said…

    Keep it coming!

  • At 7:41 AM, March 02, 2010, Blogger David said…

    What about 2 Corinthians 5:8? Does not "absent from the body" = "at home with the Lord"? I'm not saying "absent from the body" must mean immediately "at home with the Lord," but that's how I've always read it.

  • At 8:32 AM, March 02, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…


    While I didn't quote the verse, I was refering to it when I said "Scripture claims that the soul goes to be with Christ (or so Paul claimed)".

    In order to say that we go to judgment immediately after we die, I knew I would have to show that this was true even in the light of such passages as the dialogue between Abraham and the rich man in Luke 16, and again there is the whole dilemma of what exactly scripture means by "Hades". We know that the Hebrew word "Sheol" means "grave" - though I am sure that there is a great deal of semantic range being overlooked for that sort of simplified equation. And we know that writers in the NT quoting the OT, replace the word Sheol for Hades - which, according to the most wooden sort of interpretation, some would argue proves that Hades means the "grave" - yet if Hades was referring to a burial tomb or a hole in the ground, it doesn't make sense that the rich man is in torment in Hades in Matthew 16, nor that (the other) Lazarus is in comfort in Abraham's bosom, both being dead. We should expect both to be in "Hades" if it were only the grave, and we should expect there to be no conversation, given that we go to be with our Lord upon leaving this body.

    Then we have to deal with those passages which inform us that we are already sitting at the right hand of God (in Christ); and how that factors into the works etc.

    I am inclined, for the moment at least, to believe (and this is tipping my hand for the next post), that judgment day is the day of condemnation, the day the books are opened, the day that things start to be thrown into the lake of fire. I think that when scripture says that we are judged already (John chapter 3), where we go to await judgment day (Hades, or Abraham's bosom) was determined already according to whether or not we were reconciled to God in Christ during this lifetime. I think Abraham's bosom is probably at God's right hand, so that when we go to Abraham's bosom, we go to be with Christ.

    Yet having said that, my understanding is in a state of "paused" flux. I am engaged in stretching my understanding of these things, and I can't say for sure at the moment what the end result will look like. Typically, I may spend a few weeks in discovery, but many months in testing that discovery. We shall see where this goes.

    One thing I am learning about myself lately, possibly as a result of this study, but more than likely just as a parallel thing that is going on: I have always had a far too generous an opinion of myself. The more I think on it, the more I believe that there can be no peace in my soul so long as I imagine that I am anything without my Lord.

    You would think I would have understood that sooner?

  • At 4:31 PM, March 02, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    One thing I am learning about myself lately, possibly as a result of this study, but more than likely just as a parallel thing that is going on: I have always had a far too generous an opinion of myself. The more I think on it, the more I believe that there can be no peace in my soul so long as I imagine that I am anything without my Lord.

    Man, I think a lot of us can empathize with this. I think of Job and his defense of himself, or Paul and his "boasting" in 2 Corinthians 11 and 12.

  • At 11:48 AM, March 03, 2010, Blogger Rick Lannoye said…

    The story of Saul and the "Witch of Endor" makes no sense at all if you feel compelled to superimpose the doctrine of Hell and Heaven over it. However, it makes perfect sense if we understand it according to the typical beliefs of the time about what happened after death.

    I've actually written an entire book on this topic--Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, let me share a bit from one of its chapters in which I explain how "Hell" evolved.

    The place were Samuel's ghost or "shade" was thought to be was called Sheol, an underworld cave where all souls went after death. Depending not on one's beliefs or how good you were or faithful to God, but on things like, whether you were properly buried, your shade would either rest comfortably in the upper part of the Sheol Cave or cascade toward the bottom (the "Pit").

    In the upper part, you could "rest in peace." It was like a non-stop Saturday afternoon snooze. Saul was enjoying his rest when, all of the sudden, he was rudely awakened and forced out of his nice bed in Upper Sheol by the medium! This explains why he was so upset, "Why did you (unexpectedly and suddenly) awaken me!"

    Keep in mind, the Mosaic law against necromancy was created, not because the priests of Yahweh thought it was all a hoax, but precisely because they thought it worked! They were trying to get the people of Israel to leave off of venerating their ancestors to become loyal to the national war God, but as the story shows, people frequently broke that law.

  • At 2:51 PM, March 03, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rick, from your cheery photo, you seem like a really easy going dude.

    you said, "The story of Saul and the 'Witch of Endor' makes no sense at all if you feel compelled to superimpose the doctrine of Hell and Heaven over it... "

    If you read through my posts again, you will discover that I haven't once mentioned heaven or hell in any of them (though I do quote loosely Peter in mentioning the "heavens").

    I was going to delete your comment because you directed traffic to your website, where you are selling your self published book. That kind of adverstising is a no-no on my blog.

    I opted to leave the comment though with that warning.

  • At 9:33 PM, March 04, 2010, Blogger JIBBS said…

    For a place that doesn't exist, Jesus sure had a hell-complex. He talked about Hell more than He talked about Heaven.

    Maybe he was just ignorant of Jewish tradition.

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