Pastor Edward Brouwer 3-3-19 1 Samuel 28 “Saul and the Witch at Endor”
Saul finds himself in a séance. He’s sitting down with a witch, conjuring up the dead. Saul was dabbling in the Dark Arts! Saul knew this was wrong. The Torah expressly forbids consulting mediums (Lev. 19:31). How did it get to this? Because of disobedience–because God had rejected him utterly and would not speak to him. Ravi Zacharias notes sadly “sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay”. Read 1 Samuel 28
How did King Saul, the Anointed One get to that place? Through disobedience. 1 Samuel 13 tells the story of Saul mustering his army against the Philistines and Samuel had told him to wait for him for 7 days in order that Samuel could make sacrifices as the priest to invoke God’s blessing on the battle. But Saul panicked because his soldiers were loosing heart so he did the sacrifice himself. When Samuel arrives he rebukes Saul for his disobedience and insolence and presumption. Saul at first justifies his actions but eventually repents.
A second time, recorded in 1 Samuel 15 Samuel tells Saul to utterly annihilate the Amalekites. They are haram, set apart for destruction unto the Lord. But when Samuel arrives he asks what all the lowing of cattle and bleating of sheep is about? Again Saul justifies his actions, saying he wanted to keep the best for religious sacrifice but had otherwise fulfilled Samuels instruction. To which Samuel replies: (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”
Because of Saul’s disobedience God decides to 1) take the Kingship from Saul 2) take away His anointing Spirit 3) withhold all counsel and revelation
Saul is desperate. He is facing his foes and he needs a hopeful answer from God. But God is silent. From all his traditional “go to” places for answers: nothing –“crickets”. No dreams, no prophetic words, no priestly inquiry through the Umim and Thumim. (Part of the linen ephod that the priests wore, that gave light and revelation, perfection and truth. The Yale coat of arms has these Hebrew words written on 2 pages in a book with Lux et Veritas underneath. )
Here’s the progression: disobedience leads to silence leads to desperation. That was then. What about now? We who walk by the Spirit, can we follow the same path? Yes, otherwise the Scriptures would not say “don’t quench the Spirit” or don’t grieve the Holy Spirit” or “keep in step with the Spirit”. If you are not obedient to God in what he has shown you through His Word or through inner conviction of His Spirit, then don’t be surprised if God withholds further truth. It’s a simple principle, you are tested, you pass the test and you move to a deeper level. You ignore or disobey and you must relearn the elementary things. Paul describes a scenario in Corinth (1 Cor 3) like this where he notes that he is keeping it simple (milk) although by now they should be teachers themselves (meaty). An everyday example for us might be that God is calling you to forgive someone and you can’t or won’t. Or you’re asking for ministry opportunities and He gives you one but it’s hard or inconvenient! Again if we are not faithful to the light that He shows us then he will not give us further light. Because that would only lead to further condemnation. Because as Jesus said “he who is faithful in the small things will be entrusted with great things”.
But this story is not primarily about a simple lesson on the consequences of disobedience leading to death. The broader picture is the gospel truth that our willful sin and disobedience brings condemnation. Let us contrast Saul to Christ.
God turned His face away, He rejected Saul, so Saul reached across death’s divide to get a word of hope BUT received a word of condemnation. Jesus reached across death’s divide, the Father turned His face away, and he was condemned, SO that we could receive a word of hope and life.