What is the biblical belief on communing with the dead?
Any activity associated with the occult is strictly prohibited by God, including communing with the dead. Here are a few references.
Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God. (NASB) Leviticus 19:31
As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists . . . I will also set My face against that person . . . (NASB) Leviticus 20:6
Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine. Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones . . . (NASB) Leviticus 20:26-27
There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD . . . (NASB) Deuteronomy 18:10-12
1 Samuel 28:5-25 gives us a biblical example of a medium calling up the dead. The historical event finds King Saul in great fear when he faces a strong Philistine army. As a result, he seeks counsel from the Lord; but God does not respond. So Saul seeks out a medium in Endor in order to speak to the dead prophet Samuel. The medium is afraid for her life when this unknown customer asks her to conjure up the dead. After her customer, King Saul, promises her safety, she agrees to help. Here is more of the event,
Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” 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.” And the king said to her, “Do not be afraid; but what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a divine being coming up out of the earth.” And he said to her, “What is his form? And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped with a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and did homage. Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up? And Saul answered, “I am greatly distressed; for the Philistines are waging war against me, and God has departed from me and answers me no more, either through prophets or by dreams; therefore I have called you, that you may make known to me what I should do.” And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary? (NASB) 1 Samuel 28:11-16
Previously Saul had sinned and God turned against him. That is the reason God would not grant his requests. So Saul sinned again when he turned to a medium to commune with the dead prophet Samuel. Most of us would agree that Saul was in sin. Imagine God as your adversary. From this historical event, some have wondered if mediums really can “call-up” the dead. The answer is found in her scream and her answer.
When the woman sees Samuel, she screams with a loud voice. This was an unexpected event. Apparently she was not used to dealing with real spirits of dead people. If she had expected to see him, why scream? Also she declares the person is a divine being. This was not expected! Is it possible she screamed because Samuel would only have appeared to someone he knew? If so, she would have been a fraud to have offered to bring him up without knowing who her customer was. Either way, she is a fraud. It appears that she did not call-up real dead people but only apparitions created by demons. It appears, however, in this event that God did a miracle and allowed a real dead person, Samuel, to be called-up. Not only was she afraid when she realized what happened, but she was afraid when she realized that her customer was King Saul.
It does not matter what our conclusion is about King Saul’s medium. God prohibits any involvement with the occult. The occult is controlled by Satan. God warns us that Satan is after us . . .
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (NASB) 1 Peter 5:8-9
Ask for the Holy Spirit to protect you, keep you, help you stand firm in your faith and resist the devil.
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