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Can the dead communicate with the living?

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Samuel Smith
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LESSON 9

CAN THE DEAD COMMUNICATE WITH THE LIVING?

You are welcome to another edition of Insights from God's Word, a Bible study programme that is committed to sharing God's Word by allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

In this edition, we continue with our series on The Truth About Death. In this study, I want us to consider the topic: Can the dead communicate with the living? Exploring what the Bible says about spirits, ghosts, demons and the dead. It is my sincere prayer that the Lord will use this study to enable us to know and be wary of the subtle deceptions of Satan. The study is categorized into four segments:

1) THE BIBLE AFFIRMS THE EXISTENCE OF GHOSTS

On two occasions, Christ had to assure the disciples that He was not a spirit. Let us consider these stories from the Bible:

A) After Christ had fed the five thousand men with five loaves of bread and two fishes, He asked the disciples to take the lead by sailing unto Bethsaida on the other side while He sent the multitudes away. The rest of the story continues as follows: "6:46 And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.

6:47 Now when evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea; and He was alone on the land.

6:48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.

6:49 AND WHEN THEY SAW HIM WALKING ON THE SEA, THEY SUPPOSED IT WAS A GHOST, AND CRIED OUT;

6:50 for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."

6:51 Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled."

(Mark 6:46-51; Capital Emphasis Added)
B) We read the second story about ghosts in relation to the resurrection of Jesus. From the book of Luke, we read the following: "24:36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you."

24:37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a SPIRIT.

24:38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

24:39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a SPIRIT does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

24:40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.

24:41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?"

24:42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb.

24:43 And He took it and ate in their presence."

(Luke 24:36-43; Capital Emphasis Added)
Beloved, from these two incidents in Scripture, we gather the biblical fact that ghosts or spirits do exist.

2) WHO ARE THESE SPIRITS OR GHOSTS?

Right from ancient times, ghosts or spirits have been viewed in various cultures as the apparitions of dead people that can appear to the living. It is a common belief among a lot of cultural groups that these spirits sometimes hover around the abode of the living, and do possess supernatural powers that they can use to even harm people. Thus, it is no wonder that during the time of Christ, even the disciples had a certain fear for ghosts or spirits (Mark 6:46-51; Luke 24:36-43).

Friends, the fact of the matter is that right from ancient times and even in our day, many people have physically seen beings that look exactly like their departed friends or relatives. Other people have been given information from their dead relations in their dreams that have proven worthwhile. Some people have even had face to face conversations with their dead relations. Thus, from the prevailing culture, and also through personal experiences, many people have come to believe that ghosts are actually the spirits of the dead that hover around the abode of the living; and have the power to even communicate with the living.

But friends, this popular view about spirits that has been embedded in various cultures and even several religions of the world today is not supported by the Bible. From our previous studies in this series, we have gained clear biblical insights on the following points:

A) The dead are not conscious of anything.

Supporting texts:

i) "5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).

ii) "3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. 4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish" (Psalm 146:3-4).

iii) 20 You prevail forever against him, and he passes on; You change his countenance and send him away. 21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it; They are brought low, and he does not perceive it" (Job 14:20-21).

B) The dead rest in their graves; for they cannot come back home.

i) "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

ii) "8 The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not. 9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. 10 He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more" (Job 7:8-10).

iii) "So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep" (Job 14:12).

Friends, these clear texts of Scripture are contrary to the prevailing viewpoints about spirits or ghosts. The Bible is clear that the dead are unconscious; that is, they do not know anything, and that their abode is in the grave. We are also told from Scripture that the dead cannot come back home. These facts of Scripture prove that the apparitions of the dead that we may see around are not actually our departed friends or relatives.

At this point in our study, I believe the question that now begs for an answer is this: If the Bible is clear that spirits or ghosts are not our dead friends or loved ones, then who are these beings? And where do they come from?

Beloved, even though Christ made it clear to the disciples that ghosts or spirits do exist (Mark 6:46-51; Luke 24:36-43), He did not go into the details as to who these beings really are. However, through His discourse with the disciples, He gave us a clue in relation to the identity of these spirits. From the lips of Christ, we learn that these spirits do not have flesh and bones as humans have (Luke 24:39). Friends, besides God, there is yet one order of being that is described in Scripture as a spirit. From Hebrews 1:7, we read the clear words of Scripture: "And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire."

Beloved, angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:7, 14). And as you might be aware, there are two main groups of angels. There are good angels and evil angels. The evil angels are the ones who joined the ranks of Satan in trying to usurp the throne of God in heaven (see Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:12-17). In the end, these angels were cast out from heaven with their leader, the devil. From Revelation 12, we gain an insight into the genesis of the great controversy battle between Christ and Satan: "12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."

(Revelation 12:7-9)
Beloved, these evil angels who were thrown out of heaven with Satan are the ones who parade themselves as our dead friends and relatives. From Genesis 19:1-3, we learn from the story of Lot about how angels can assume the form of humans. Thus, it shouldn't surprise us that evil angels are able to impersonate the dead. For the beloved apostle wrote concerning them: "For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles". Another similar text reads: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Dear friends, the Bible forcefully points out that our dead friends and relatives rest unconscious in their graves awaiting one of two resurrections (see Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29). Thus, they cannot contact us physically or even through dreams. Irrespective of how exactly they may appear unto us in appearance, mannerisms or gestures, the Bible makes it clear that they are not the people we once knew. From the pages of Holy Scripture, we have seen that it is Satan and his host of evil angels who masquerade as our departed friends and relatives.

C) A TRUE STORY ABOUT GHOSTS

To close this part, I want to recount to you a true story that Evangelist Tony Rykers shared in a presentation like this one. The story is about a retired minister of the gospel who lost his son in the Vietnam War. This man loved the son so much that his death was a tremendous loss to him. A few years after this took place; he woke up one night and found his dead son standing at the end of his bed. All his instincts wanted him to jump out of bed and embrace him. But he refrained from doing that. As a minister of the gospel, he knew what we have studied in this series on the state of the dead. He knew this person couldn't be his dead son. And so he rebuked this being in the name of Jesus Christ. And what happened next was amazing! The face of this 'supposed son' friends, turned into a bizarre, horrible demon and then he disappeared into thin air. The evil angel couldn't stand a command given out in the name of Jesus Christ.

Beloved, the lesson from this true story is enormous. This evil angel had come to deceive the man of God. Physically, everything that this old pastor saw showed that 'this being' was his beloved son. However, his knowledge from Scripture was contrary to what his eyes saw, and what his senses told him. Despite what he was seeing, he knew he had to go by the clear words of Scripture and nothing else. Friends, we are just on the brink of time when the deceptions of Satan in relation to spiritualism is going to break on the world like wildfire. And beloved, only a good knowledge of Scripture on these issues can serve as our sure defense.

3) WHAT ABOUT THE MEDIUM AT EN DOR?

At this point in our study, someone is likely to ask the question: What about the medium at En Dor? Doesn't the Bible say she brought up the dead Samuel so King Saul could communicate with him? Beloved, for us to obtain a clear understanding in relation to the case of the medium at En Dor, it is important that we consider the passage in which the story is given so we can understand exactly what went on. From 1 Samuel 28:4-25, we read the following about King Saul and the medium at En Dor: "28:4 Then the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa.

28:5 When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.

28:6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.

28:7 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 En Dor."

28:8 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 seance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you."

28:9 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?"

28:10 And Saul swore to her by the Lord, saying, "As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing."

28:11 Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" And he said, "Bring up Samuel for me."

28:12 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!"

28:13 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."

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 was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down.

28:15 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."

28:16 Then Samuel said: "So why do you ask me, seeing the Lord has departed from you and has become your enemy?

28:17 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.

28:18 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.

28:19 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."

28:20 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.

28:21 And the woman came to Saul and saw that he was severely troubled, and said to him, "Look, your maidservant has obeyed your voice, and I have put my life in my hands and heeded the words which you spoke to me.

28:22 Now therefore, please, heed also the voice of your maidservant, and let me set a piece of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way."

28:23 But he refused and said, "I will not eat." So his servants, together with the woman, urged him; and he heeded their voice. Then he arose from the ground and sat on the bed.

28:24 Now the woman had a fatted calf in the house, and she hastened to kill it. And she took flour and kneaded it, and baked unleavened bread from it.

28:25 So she brought it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night."

(1 Samuel 28:4-25)
KEY INSIGHTS FROM THE PASSAGE IN 1 SAMUEL 28

A) The Lord had left King Saul because of his sins. The Lord refused to speak to him by dreams or through His prophets. What this means is that 'the Samuel' who came up cannot be considered a prophet of God. He was someone else's prophet.

B) The woman clearly told King Saul that she saw "a spirit ascending out of the earth" (1 Samuel 28:13); a SPIRIT that has assumed the form of the old prophet Samuel. When the spirit comes up, he communicates with the human medium who is then able to tell the king's identity (1 Samuel 28:12). King Saul's mind is then deceived, and prepared into believing the devil. It is no surprise that he perceived that the spirit he saw was Samuel, and bowed down to worship him (1 Samuel 28:14).

C) The spirit received the worship of King Saul (1 Samuel 28:14). From the pages of Scripture, no true servant of God ever received the worship that is due only God (Acts 10:25-26; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 22:8-9). This means that the 'prophet' that came up was not the true prophet Samuel that we know in Scripture.

D) The spirit lied to King Saul when he made the statement: "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" By this statement, the evil angel tried to make the king believe that he was communicating with the old prophet he knew. The statement of this evil angel is contrary to the clear position of Scripture on the state of the dead. For the Bible makes it clear that the dead do not come up until the resurrection (Job 7:8-10; Job 14:12; John 5:28-29).

E) The spirit had a good knowledge about the life of Saul. He knew why the Lord had left him, and was glad to add what will befall him the next day. Friends, even as this spirit knew about the life of Saul, so does evil angels know all about us (2 Samuel 14:20). They are with us at all places of human endeavour to tempt us so we will transgress against the commandments of God. Unfortunately, because they are spirit beings, we are unable to see them. This is where they use their nature to their advantage.

Beloved, have you ever wondered how mediums such as fetish priests and some of today's so called ‘prophets of God’ are able to tell people so much about themselves when they go to consult them? You see friends, it is not all of these folks that use trickery in their work. In fact, a good number of them rely on fallen angels (also referred to as demons in Scripture; see Matthew 12:43-45; Matthew 8: 28-32; Matthew 25:41) in their operations.

Let us consider two friends who decide to go to a fetish priest or a false prophet for consultation. As these people make a firm decision to visit the shrine or church, evil angels go ahead of them and provide the human medium with all the necessary information about these friends who are coming for consultation (note that angels are extremely knowledgeable, and also travel at superb speeds; see 2 Samuel 14:20; Ezekiel 1:11, 14).

Beloved, that's how come some fetish priests and 'prophets of today' are able to tell the reasons why their clients have come to them even before these clients speak. That's how come these priests and prophets are able to tell the secret lives of people as if they have lived with them for years. Now, when these innocent people who do not have any idea about the work of evil angels hear their secret lives being opened unto them, they become amazed, wooed and overtaken by their deception.

Beloved, as the medium at En Dor could tell the identity of Saul, so does evil angels furnish their human agents with knowledge that is calculated to deceive and win the trust of those who consult them.

F) King Saul knew that it was an abomination to consult mediums. He had earlier obeyed the commandment of God by cutting off the mediums and spiritists from Israel (1 Samuel 28:9). Now, in his frustration, he disguises himself and seeks after a woman who is a medium. By taking this path, Saul knew that he was in league with the devil, and not Jehovah. For the Lord had earlier warned the children of Israel concerning this abomination: "18:9 "When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.

18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,

18:11 OR ONE WHO CONJURES SPELLS, OR A MEDIUM, OR A SPIRITIST, OR ONE WHO CALLS UP THE DEAD.

18:12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.

18:13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God."

(Deuteronomy 18:9-13; Capital Emphasis Added)
4) Friends, from what we have gone through so far in Scripture, it is clear that spirits or ghosts do exist. However, they are not our departed friends or relatives. It is actually evil angels who parade themselves as the ghosts or spirits of the dead. The Bible makes it clear that the dead are unconscious and rest in their graves. Thus, there is no way they can contact us; neither can they communicate with us. When it happens, then we can be sure that evil angels are the ones working behind the scenes.

Exhortation: "19 And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:19-20).

REFERENCE:

Spirits, Demons and the Dead by Tony Rykers. This video presentation is downloadable on YouTube.

In our next study, which happens to be the last in our series on The Truth About Death, we will consider the topic: "You will not surely die": the lie that spawned spiritualism. The Bible Study references for this study are Genesis 2:16-27, Genesis 3:1-6, Genesis 5, John 8:44, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Psalm 146:3-4, Job 7:8-10, 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16, Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:50-55, Deuteronomy 18:9-12 and Isaiah 8:19-20. Please do well to go through these passages before the next study is released.

Stay blessed and keep shining for King Jesus.

Maranatha!

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