October 10, 2011 by Chris French
You wanna hear a Ghost Story? Here’s one from the Bible!
In 1st Samuel 28 Saul is preparing for war against the Philistines, but he’s got a problem. God’s not talking to him! He’s tried going to sleep and letting the Lord talk to him in a dream. That didn’t work. He’s tried going to the High Priest who wore the Urim which sometimes had given prophecy while wearing the Urim. No answer this time. He tried going to the prophets in Israel to tell him how the war would turn out. They didn’t have anything to say to him from God. Saul knows he is outside of God’s good graces at this point because of his debacle with not killing all the Amalekites earlier. In fact he’s already been told that God will take the kingdom away from him (1st Sam. 15.10-35). He’s scared that this battle with the Philistines is going to be the time for that so he’s grabbing at options like a drowing man would grab at water to hold him afloat. Saul goes to a medium. The craft of a medium was to bring the souls of people who have already died back to life for a short time so a person could talk to them. This involved a large amount of money and trickery on the part of the Medium. She doesn’t have any power! She’s certainly not strong enough to drag a soul out of God’s grasp in Paradise or Hades. The rich man in Luke 16 wanted Lazarus just to cross the gulf between them and give him so water, but even that was impossible! Once you die you stay in Paradise or Hades. There’s no getting out!
So the way this would normally go would be for the person wanting to talk to the spirit to give the Medium the money. She would take it and would perform some sort of ritual and start shaking and say whatever she thought the other person wanted to hear. It was an act. None of it was real. Except this time the unexpected happened. God allowed Samuel’s soul to go talk to Saul. It took the medium completely by surprise. So much so that she “cried out” (1st Sam. 28.12). This was the real deal. This had never happened before and she was terrified! Samuel told Saul that Israel would lose the battle with the Philistines and that by that time tomorrow Saul and his boys would be with Samuel: dead! Saul finally heard from the Lord, it just wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
We can learn something from the Medium of En Dor’s story. We can expect the unexpected from God. What He did took her completely by surprise, it was definitely unexpected! God loves working thru the unexpected because it builds our trust in Him. Think of the original 300. Gideon’s three soldiers who were supposed to fight as many warriors as the beach has granules of sand. Gideon started off with 30,000 men, but God eventually whittled his fighting force down to three hundred and told them to go fight the massive army of the Midianites…and they did. God had built up trust with these people so when He told them to go fight a force that was 100 times their superior they still went…and they won! Think of Jericho’s walls. Walking around the walls one time a day and seven times on the seventh day isn’t the usual thing to do when trying to conquer a city. But God said it and the people did it and He delivered. Sure enough the walls came crashing down. Think about the cross itself. Who would think that one death could cleanse every one of their sins. Usually death is seen as the end, Jesus’ was only the beginning! That’s unexpected. Think about the man who had experienced the unexpected from God before: Abraham. He was 100 years old when God told him he was going to have a son. He laughed. His wife was 90 years old and couldn’t even get pregnant when she was young enough to do so. Yet sure enough about a year later Abraham was holding his son in his arms. Then about sixteen years later God’s asking the unexpected again of Abraham. Kill you son. Abraham doesn’t miss a beat. He grabs the boy and the other stuff he needs and heads out to do God’s command. He’s so sure that the boy will live, even if he plunges that knife thru his heart, that he tells his servants that he AND the boy will return soon (Gen. 22.5). Even if Abraham killed Isaac he knew that God would keep his promise of making a huge nation out of Isaac, so he needed to be alive so he could have all those kids. Somehow Abraham knew that God was going to do the unexpected. Abraham trusted Him to do just that.
Not only does doing the unexpected build trust up for God to us, the unexpected also brings glory to God. Do you remember when Jesus was told that Lazarus was dying. What was His response? “We’ll wait and God will be glorified in this” (John 11.3-7). Lazarus died. Had Jesus not waited He could have gotten to Him in time, but He was wanting to do the unexpected! Raising Lazarus from the dead brought glory to God. He’s still the same God that can do the unexpected and, I think, enjoys working thru the unexpected the most. Today He doesn’t raise people from the dead, or bring down walls because we walk around them, but He still works thru unexpected situations. Today He uses us to do that. Next time you run into an unexpected situation think, “What can I do in this situation to bring glory to God”. It’s your turn to trust Him. Gideon, Abraham and Joshua are gone, but the God who worked thru them to bring Himself glory in unexpected situations is still alive and still works. Now He’s chosen to work thru you. Look for ways to bring Him glory.