Branson Bible Church
Sunday Service 3.24.2019
      • John 1:14ESV

      • John 1:4ESV

      • John 1:11–12ESV

      • John 1:16ESV

  • Through The Precious Blood
  • Blessed Assurance
  • You Are My Vision
  • Immortal Invisible God Only Wise
  • Searching for Light Where Darkness Dwells - 1 Samuel 28

    Intro: Science Fiction vs Spiritualism
    We live in a day when science fiction is a common means of speculative entertainment. - typically dealing with imaginative concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, and extraterrestrial life... - We’re entertained by theoretical ideas of what could be, or might be in the future, from Star Wars to Marvel’s Avengers.
    But from the 1840’s to the 1920’s, there was a booming interest in spiritualism, especially in English-speaking countries. (This is similar to what we deal with in our text today.) - Spiritualism is based on the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living. Spiritualists often set March 31, 1848, as the beginning of their movement. On that date, Kate and Margaret Fox, of Hydesville, New York, reported that they had made contact with a spirit that was later claimed to be the spirit of a murdered peddler whose body was found in the house, though no record of such a person was ever found. The spirit was said to have communicated through rapping noises, audible to onlookers. The Fox sisters became a sensation. As the first celebrity mediums, the sisters quickly became famous for their public séances in New York. However, in 1888 the Fox sisters admitted that this "contact" with the spirit was a hoax, though shortly afterward they recanted that admission. In the years following the sensation that greeted the Fox sisters, demonstrations of mediumship proved to be a profitable venture, and soon became popular forms of entertainment and spiritual catharsis. Despite numerous instances of chicanery, the appeal of spiritualism was strong. They often preyed on the sensibilities of those who were grieving the death of a loved one. But it wasn’t all trickery only, for [some] scientists who investigated the phenomenon also became converts. ( - At it’s peak, many viewed this spiritualism as a kind of macabre entertainment, others as a real means to communicate with the dead, and for others still it became a kind of religion. - Though meeting with less popularity, spiritualism is alive and well today. Why do you suppose that is? (see Ecc. 1:9)
    Ecclesiastes 1:9 ESV
    What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.
    It is always a foolish and fruitless endeavor to seek God or his will by any means other than that which he has directed. By contrast, God offers light and life to those who come to him and learn from him on his terms: through Jesus the Christ, as revealed in the Bible.
    1 Samuel 28:1–2 ESV
    In those days the Philistines gathered their forces for war, to fight against Israel. And Achish said to David, “Understand that you and your men are to go out with me in the army.” David said to Achish, “Very well, you shall know what your servant can do.” And Achish said to David, “Very well, I will make you my bodyguard for life.”

    Awkward! - David in a Compromising Position

    (“called on to demonstrate his loyalty... by fighting against his own people” - Eugene H. Merrill in Bible Knowledge Commentary)
    1 Samuel 28:3–7 ESV
    Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”

    When God’s Silence Is the Answer

    V. 3 is transitional and explains how the situation is what it is for the story that unfolds.
    Confirmation: Samuel is dead and buried. - Reminds me of the first lines of Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol: “Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.”
    And Saul had done something good for once! The law forbade mediums and necromancers (cf. Lev 19:31), so Saul had put them out of the land. (Well, for the most part, as we shall see.)
    Deuteronomy 18:10–11 ESV
    There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead,
    Let’s get back to the battle preparations...
    subheading Title again here
    In fear and desperation, Saul inquires of the Lord. … But the Lord did not answer him. God gave him no insight, not in any of the three basic ways that God, during that time, revealed his word and his will. So these were the permissible means of seeking His will.
    God often communicated his will in dreams (visions). Now of course it was also important that they be interpreted rightly.
    Urim - Along with Thummim, was kept in the breast pouch of the priest’s ephod and used by him to inquire of the Lord. - Um, yeah, Saul had slain all but one of these guys, and he was with David. (Abiathar, end of ch. 22)
    Prophets - Samuel isn’t available, and he was the leader over the other prophets. The Lord had rejected Saul, so it makes sense that they wouldn’t be of any help.
    Why didn’t God answer. Because God had already answered Saul. God had rejected Saul because he had rebelliously rejected the word of the Lord: in other words, he deliberately disobeyed and made excuses rather than repenting!
    Rather than listening to God’s silence (he never did listen to God), Saul stepped further into wickedness. A note on Saul’s life in the Chronicles explains both how Saul didn’t really seek guidance from the Lord (with a heart prepared to listen to and obey God’s will), and how this thing that he does only serves to confirm God’s rejection and punishment of him.
    1 Chronicles 10:13–14 ESV
    So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
    1 Samuel 28:8–14 ESV
    So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the necromancers from the land. Why then are you laying a trap for my life to bring about my death?” But Saul swore to her by the Lord, “As the Lord lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing.” Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” He said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. And the woman said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul.” The king said to her, “Do not be afraid. What do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground and paid homage.
    Saul disguised himself and went by night. He had a couple reasons to do this:
    En-dor was on the other side of the enemy camp! (so he would have had to sneak around them to get there) [map]
    He knows this isn’t right. - He’s the one who had removed them from the land, as you can tell by the medium’s initial reaction.
    What I find most interesting in here is the medium’s response to the appearance of Samuel:

    Surprise! - Say Hello to Samuel

    This is what I think is going on:
    She’s accustomed to faking the appearance of somebody as a trick, or maybe even having a demonic falsehood, but not THIS!
    God actually has Samuel appear. (Note: This is NOT normal!)
    Who Is Sovereign Over the Spirit Realm?
    Who THINKS he is ruler, and does temporarily have significant influence?
    Who ULTIMATELY rules…? - Satan’s influence is only what God has granted (for a time). - But God has spoken, the end is written, Jesus has conquered Satan, sin, and death. He awaits judgment. - Just as we see in the life of Saul in the verses momentarily. We hear of this right now in Samuel’s reply:
    1 Samuel 28:15–19 ESV
    Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

    Not the Answer You’re Looking For?

    What ON EARTH did Saul expect, especially if this ploy succeeded in bringing up Samuel?
    “God has turned away from me and answer me no more” - Who had informed him of this because of his disobedience!
    “Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” - The reply is: Well, buddy, we’ve already had this conversation. - So if you’re looking for an answer, you will lose this battle, your life, and the kingdom from your family. (Textually, this could possibly mean that Saul would be with him in the “abode of the righteous.”)
    [Let’s look at the final verses of our text today to observe Saul’s response to this final word from Samuel.]
    1 Samuel 28:20–25 ESV
    Then Saul fell at once full length on the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. And the woman came to Saul, and when she saw that he was terrified, she said to him, “Behold, your servant has obeyed you. I have taken my life in my hand and have listened to what you have said to me. Now therefore, you also obey your servant. Let me set a morsel of bread before you; and eat, that you may have strength when you go on your way.” He refused and said, “I will not eat.” But his servants, together with the woman, urged him, and he listened to their words. So he arose from the earth and sat on the bed. Now the woman had a fattened calf in the house, and she quickly killed it, and she took flour and kneaded it and baked unleavened bread of it, and she put it before Saul and his servants, and they ate. Then they rose and went away that night.

    Saul on Death Row, Awaiting Judgment

    Now Saul seems resigned to his fate... and miserable.
    Contrast - SCC’s song I’m Free (lyrics from first verse and Chorus)
    The sun was beating down inside the walls of stone and razor wire As we made our way across the prison yard I felt my heart begin to race as we drew nearer to the place Where they say that death is waiting in the dark The slamming doors of iron echoed through the halls Where despair holds life within its cruel claws But then I met a man whose face seemed so strangely out of place A blinding light of hope was shining in his eyes And with repentance in his voice he told me of his tragic choice That led him to this place where he must pay the price But then his voice grew strong as he began to tell About the One he said had rescued him from hell, he said...
    [Chorus:] I'm free, yeah, oh, I have been forgiven God's love has taken off my chains and given me these wings And I'm free, yeah, yeah, and the freedom I've been given Is something that not even death can take away from me Because I'm free Jesus set me free
    It is always a foolish and fruitless endeavor to seek God or his will by any means other than that which he has directed. By contrast, God offers light and life to those who come to him and learn from him on his terms: through Jesus the Christ, as revealed in the Bible.

    Light from God, Piercing our Darkness

    This should be both a cause for great hope as well as a severe warning. - What God says he does. Unlike us, he doesn’t vacillate, change his mind, have doubts or issues with distemper. So when God says, “I have spoken. See where I have revealed myself. Here is the means to be made right with me, and there is no other.” We do well to listen and obey.
    Hebrews 1:1–2 ESV
    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
    To reconnect with the theme of this revelation from God being a light piercing our darkness, Recall the prophecy of Isaiah 9:2 (and see also vv. 6-7 context, clearly a prophecy of Jesus the Messiah)
    Isaiah 9:2 ESV
    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
    Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV
    For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
    Let’s return also to where we began our scripture reading for this morning’s call to worship:
    John 1:14 ESV
    And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
    John 1:4–5 ESV
    In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
    There is no doubt or question as to how this cosmic story will end. Darkness cannot win, because God is on his throne, and in him there is no darkness (cf. 1 John 1:5) He has offered us that light, His Son Jesus Christ, who through his obedient suffering and subsequent resurrection from the grave, through his righteousness and sacrifice achieved for us the only means of restoration to God through faith in Him.
    There is no question how this will end. Only one question remains (stated several ways): Are you with him or against him? Are you of the light or of the darkness? Have you been made right with God through faith in Jesus? When death comes, as it surely does for us all (and we don’t know when), will you celebrate his love eternally or will be separated from him in punishment for ever?
    If you give up all your own methods and strength to reaching God, confessing your sin and inability, and placing your trust only in Jesus to rescue you and be your Lord, then you can join us, the rescued, in saying:
    John 1:16 ESV
    For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
  • All I Have Is Christ
  • All Praise To Him

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