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Rob Morgan:The Witch Of Endor

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The Witch Of Endor

A Pocket Paper
The Donelson Fellowship

Robert J. Morgan
March 14, 1999

This is the third message in our series "Double, Double, Toil, and Trouble," on the subject of what the Bible says about witchcraft. Our first message was devoted to the person of Jesus Christ, to his matchless power and absolute victory. He has been given a name that is above every name, and he is seated at the right hand of glory far above all power and principality and authority. Our second message was an overview of the Bible’s view of witchcraft, sorcery, and the occult. Now today I would like to speak on the subject of the witch of Endor.

If you go to Maple Ridge, British Columbia you’ll come to one of the most famous restaurants in Canada. It’s a pub, and it takes its name from an old public house in 18th Century London. The name is The Witch of Endor.

If you are a patron of the opera you might know of a director named Travis Preston. One of his most famous productions is entitled Saul and the Witch of Endor.

If you attend a music festival featuring works written by George Frideric Handel, you might hear his oratorio about Saul and the Witch of Endor.

If you visit the great art museums of Europe, you’ll see many paintings labeled "Saul and the Witch of Endor" by artists from all periods of history.

If you are a fan of Mark Twain, you may know that he has a short story entitled "Curious Relic for Sale" about the Witch of Endor.

Who is this most famous witch in history, this witch on Endor who has so intrigued readers and students of the Bible? Well, we need to work our way up to that question by looking at the Old Testament king named Saul. Let’s begin our study in the book of 1 Samuel 9 as I show you five things about Saul, the first king of Israel.

His Charisma Was Obvious

First, Saul was a young man whose charisma was obvious. 1 Samuel 9 begins: There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zerror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.

This young man had been created by God with impressive physical qualities, and he radiated a magnetism that others could only envy. I tried to think of an actor who would be perfect for the role of Saul. I thought of Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, but they aren’t tall enough. I thought of Mel Gibson, but he is too old. Just think of the hottest young hunk in the movies, and you’ll have a picture of this young man Saul.

The Lord made him perfect for the leadership role for which he had been born. God makes all of us just the way he wants us to be for what he wants us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared us in advance for us to do." I want you to know that you have certain strengths that God wants to use. He gave you those strengths, and he gave you those gifts. Every one of you.

His Calling Was Noble

The second thing to notice about Saul was that his calling was noble. Look at 1 Samuel 10: Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance… As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart…"

The Lord wanted to choose Saul and to use Saul to play an important role in his kingdom. In a similar way, God has a purpose and a plan for your life. What if we had to go through life without a sense of purpose or meaning? I read about a man the other day who said that he has boiled down all his questions about life into one four-word sentence: "What is the point?" The English writer Aldous E. Huxley once said, "Sooner or later, one asks even of Beethoven, even of Shakespeare… ‘Is this all?’" The Bible says that God has set eternity in our hearts, and we instinctively feel that we are made for something special, for a significant purpose. When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of him and of his word, God shows us what he wants us to do. He guides us. He promises to use us to accomplish his will in this world. We become partners with him in his enterprise.

His Career Was Promising

Third, Saul’s career was promising. Look at 1 Samuel 11:11: The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. And verse 15 says that after this remarkable military victory, All the people went to Gilgal and confirmed Saul as king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

The young King Saul got off to a great start, leading Israel into much-needed military victory over the enemies that had been long tormenting them, and he won the respect and admiration of all the people.

His Character Was Flawed

This could have been one of the greatest and most uplifting stories of the Bible, but the story of Saul quickly headed south. Although Saul’s charisma was obvious, his calling noble, and his career promising, his character was flawed.

A couple of years ago, Dick Morris was one of the most powerful men in Washington, intimate advisor to President Bill Clinton. Then the news came out that he was caught in a sex scandal, and he very quickly fell from power. In the Detroit newspaper, Morris later explained what had happened to him. He said, "I started out being excited working for the president. Then I became arrogant, then I became grandiose, and then I became self-destructive." He said that it happened because he had "a fundamental flaw in my character, a fundamental weakness in my personality, a fundamental sin, if you will. I'm prone to being infatuated with power and believing that the rules don't apply to me."

That describes King Saul to a "T".

This week the former Presidential advisor and wonder boy George Stephanopoulos published his behind-the-scenes look at the Clinton White House, and it is not very flattering. Stephanopoulos is disillusioned and disappointed, and the last sentence of his book says, "I wonder what might have been if only this good president had been a better man."

That describes perfectly what happened to King Saul. What exploits he might have accomplished, what victories he might have won, what history he might have made, what advances he might have made for the Kingdoms of Israel and of God if only he had been a better man.

We don’t have time to trace the entire story, but in simplest terms, Saul failed to trust and to obey God. He let himself lapse into sin. And he began a long, slow, painful, shameful slide into despair. Look at 1 Samuel 13:13—"You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command."

This is why we must never tolerate on-going sin in our lives. This is why we must never rationalize our weaknesses or sweep our iniquities under the rug. God wants to perfect that which concerns us. He is Jehovah M’Kaddesh—the God who sanctifies. When we are really serious about following him, he matures and develops us into his own image. The Bible says that he who has begun a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

His Crown Was Lost

But Saul wouldn’t cooperate with the Lord. He continually disobeyed, ever more deeply, until in the end his confidence was gone. On the last full day of his life, he was despairing and despondent, frightened and unfocused. He had lost his relationship with the Lord, Samuel his mentor was dead, and his archenemies the Philistines were encircling him. In his extreme distress, he turned to the occult and consulted the witch of Endor.

Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in his own town at Ramah. Saul had expelled the mediums and spiritualists from the land. The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunned, while Saul gathered all the Israelites and set up camp at Gilboa. When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. He inquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. Saul then said to his attendants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, so I may go and inquire of her." "There is one in Endor," they said.

So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes and at night he and two men went to the woman. "Consult a spirit for me," he said, "and bring up for me the one I name." But the woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done. He has cut off the mediums and spiritists from the land. Why have you set a trap for my life to bring about my death?" Saul swore to her by the Lord, "As surely as the Lord lives, you will not be punished for this." Then the woman asked, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" "Bring up Samuel," he said.

When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!" The king said to her, "Don’t be afraid. What do you see?" The woman said, "I see a spirit coming out of the ground." "What does he look like?" he asked. ""An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?"

"I am in great distress," Saul said. "The Philistines are fighting against me, and God has turned away from me. He no longer answers me, either by prophets or by dreams. So I have called on you to tell me what to do." Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy? The Lord has done what he predicted through me. The Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hands and given it to one of your neighbors—to David. Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today. The Lord will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines."

Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, filled with fear because of Samuel’s words. His strength was gone, for he had eaten nothing all that day and night. When the woman came to Saul and saw that he was greatly shaken, she said, "Look, your maidservant has obeyed you. I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do. Now please listen to your servant and let me give you some food so you may eat and have strength to go on your way."" He refused and said, "I will not eat." But his men joined the woman in urging him, and he listened to them. He got up from the ground and sat on the couch. The woman had a fattened calf at the house, which she butchered at once. She took some flour, kneaded it and baked bread without yeast. Then she set it before Saul and his men, and they ate. That same night they got up and left (1 Samuel 28:3-25).

The most interesting thing to me about this witch is this: She was dreadfully surprised and frightened when the image of Samuel actually appeared before her. This meant that her previous seances and in her previous attempts to communicate with the dead had apparently been some kind of natural or supernatural hoax. She had evidently done one of two things in practicing her skills.

  • Maybe she had used demons and satanic powers to produce images that looked or sounded like people who were returning from the dead. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 says that the devil has the ability to produce "lying wonders" (KJV) and "counterfeit miracles" (NIV).
  • Maybe she had just used "hocus-pocus"—trickery and deception.

In any event, she was as startled as anybody when the Lord allowed Samuel to actually return to the realm of the earthly living to deliver a final message of doom to King Saul. The final result—Saul’s crown was lost. Look at chapter 31:

Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua. The fighting grew fierce around Saul, and when the archers overtook him, they wounded him critically… So Saul took his own sword and fell on it… So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day. The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his armor… and fastened his body to the wall of Beth Shan.

Turn to the next page, to 2 Samuel 1. Here David hears of Saul’s death, and he composes a song of mourning, a lament. He says: O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings of grain, for there the shield of the mighty was defiled.

Last week, we visited Beth Shan where Saul’s body was nailed to the wall, and we gazed over at Mount Gilboa where Saul was slain. To this day, the nation of Israel keeps a portion of this mountain barren, treeless, and desolate in fulfillment of this cry of David and in memory of the first king of Israel.

Saul’s charisma was obvious, his calling noble, his career obvious. But his character was flawed and his crown was lost.

The Lord loves you and he wants to do something special with your life. But inner corruption, outward compromise, and spiritual carelessness can drain away your confidence and steal away your crown. The witch of Endor is not your friend. Stay away from her. Commit yourself without reservation or hesitation to Jesus Christ. Draw near to God, and begin living a life worthy of the calling you have received.

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