In Hebrew (as in English) the soul and the spirit are represented by different words (I believe ruach and nefesh, respectively). Does this mean that the soul and the spirit are different things? I tend to think they are, possibly that the soul is what you get when you combine the spirit with the body.
It is very clear in the New Testament that the human soul and the human spirit are not identical compenants of the human make up.
There are verses there however, which arguably might seem to contradict this even in the New Testament.
Because I don't believe that man's make up changes from one period of time to another, therefore what is soul and spirit in man in the New Testament must also have been soul and spirit previously.
Having said that it is not reasonable for me to think that the human make up changed from Old Testament times to New Testament times, the revelation of the difference between human soul and human spirit is not as pointed in the Old Testament as in the New. But there are some clear verses that I believe show that there is a difference.
God breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living soul. Like you I take this to mean that God imparted something into man's body and the contact between it and man's body brought about the existence of a third matter - man's soul. The union between the breath of God and the frame of man's body caused man to become a living soul.
Now all the verses in the Old Testament are not this clear. So I think that the revelation of the distinction of soul and spirit in man runs concurrently with the gradual and progressive revelation of the nature of God's full salvation. As the nature of God's salvation is progressively revealed more and more as the Bible progresses so also the tripartite nature of man is made more and more clear.
The Skeptics Dictionary treats soul and spirit as being the same thing, as do some (many? most?) Christians, like Billy Graham. Obviously, I don't agree with that interpretation.
The Christian liturature that states that soul and spirit are identical I take to be in error.
I do think there is an immaterial something or other that accounts for my ability to know that I exist. I don't know if I would identify it with either the soul or the spirit.
This message has been edited by jaywill, 03-16-2006 08:19 AM
God's salvation covers all three parts of man's being from the innermost to the outermost. Like three concentric circles His salvation starts from the kernel of man's being and works outward until the total man is saved:
[/b]"And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23)[/b]
Here "... your spirit and soul and body ..." indicates three components of the human makeup. The spirit being the innermost and the body being the outermost. Inbetween these two is the human soul.
The conjuction "and" shows the distinction between the three parts. The NIV is an incorrect translation when it renders this verse "spirit, soul and body", leaving out "and" between "spirit and soul".
It is in the nucleus of man, in the kernel of his being that the new birth of regeneration takes place:
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6)
The first "Spirit" with a capital "S" is the third Person of the Triune God, the Holy Spirit. The second "spirit" with a small "s" is the human spirit of man. The innermost part of man, in regeneration, is awakened out of its comatose state inflicted upon it because of man's fall into sin. It is enlivened by the divine Spirit of God and reborn when the man receives Jesus Christ. "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit".
Being born in the human spirit of the Holy Spirit is also having the Holy Spirit joined to the human spirit in a blended way. Man is united with God organically deep within. "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17). The Spirit who is God and the human spirit of the believer become one mingled, one united, one blended, and one interwoven spirit - "one spirit". Joined to the Lord means indwelt with by the Lord. Joined to the Lord means made one blended spirit with the Spirit of God.
Since the Holy Spirit is just Christ in His spiritual form, for the Spirit to be joined to the human spirit is for the Lord Jesus to be with the human spirit. Therefore Paul writes:
"The Lord be with your spirit" (2 Tim. 4:22)
Jesus Christ in His pneumatic form as the Spirit of Christ, can dwell with and in the human spirit of the believer in Christ. Then the Lord is with that person's spirit. Deep within Christ the Lord lives in the person in a blended and mingled way.
His plan is then to spread His life from within the innermost of man into the outer regions - man's soul and eventually man's body.
"And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:23)
This preserving means Christ filling and saturating the person with Himself, preserving the person in God's sanctification process for the second coming of Christ. Then the believer's whole being will be brought into eternal life and express Christ joined to her or him in glory and in expression.
Comment: the NIV is not necessarily "incorrect" here, so long as one understands that the comma is conjunctive and not indicating apposition.
I wonder why they didn't adopt a similiar rendering in Matthew 28:19 - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.." (NIV)
A couple of questions:
1.) Is there any reason to believe that the first "Spirit" means "Holy Spirit" other than it fits in with one's understanding of the Trinity doctrine? It would have been much clearer if Jesus had said "Holy Spirit" if that was what was specifically meant.
This omission of "Holy" from "Spirit" is not surprising in John's gospel before the resurrection of Christ. John speaks only of "the Spirit" in one place where the Holy Spirit is most obviously intended:
"He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believe into Him were about to receive; for [the] Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:28,29)
Surely, the Holy Spirit is meant in this passage also. But I think it may be characteristic of John to speak of "the Spirit." Even in the main chapter on the Holy Spirit, chapter 14, John imploys "the Spirit of reality" or "the Comforter". I don't think he refers to "the Holy Spirit" until after the resurrection in John 20:22 - And when He had said this, He breathed into them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit"
I would check this out to see if I am right though. The one exception I though occured in the speaking of John the Baptist turned out also to be a reference to "the Spirit".
Now, how do we know that "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" means the human spirit is born of the Holy Spirit? Well, I think that is the best assumption. He should not mean that the human spirit is born of itself. And the Holy Spirit does not need to be born at all being eternal. And it is not likely that He meant that the Holy Spirit is born of the human spirit as in "that which is born of the spirit is [S]pirit."
So the regenration of the human spirit of the Holy Spirit is the most logical understanding. A confirming verse would be [b]Romans 8:16 - "The Spirit Himself bears withness with our spirit that we are children of God."
So I think the best understanding of these two verses is the the Holy Spirit which is God causes out human spirit to be born again. And from that point the Holy Spirit Himself bears witness along with our regenerated spirit that we, being born of God, are indeed children of God.
Why isn't the soul mentioned here?
It is interesting that nowhere does the Bible ever say that we are born again in our soul. The Bible mentions the salvation of the soul. But this is related to transformation. Birth is instantaneous. Transformation takes a long time. So I think what we have is man's full salvation in three stages. Two are instantaneous and one is gradual:
1.) The human spirit is regenerated
2.) The human soul is transformed
3.) The human body is transfigured.
Regeneration happens quickly. Transformation is gradual and may take a lifetime. Transfiguration happens in the twinkling of an eye, instantaneously as with being born again.
Since chapter 3 is concerned mostly with birth it mentions the human spirit rather than the human soul. When Jesus mentions the human soul it is often in connection with losing ones soul that one may gain it. This means a life long practice of denying one's self that the soul may be sanctified and transformed into a Christ like, Christ reflecting soul.
Does this mean that a human can eventually become part of the Trinity? (I'm sure there are some who would say yes, and that there are others who would reject the Trinity doctine for just that reason.)
I would refer to the Godhead as being the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This Godhead I might refer to as the Trinity as an object of worship - omnipotent, onmiscient, omnipresent, a Creator of the universe. This Godhead, I do not believe man ever becomes. So I don't think I mean man being joined to God becomes the Godhead.
But to become children of God is in a very real sense to become God, but not in His Godhead. It is to allow God to spread His life and nature into man - a kind of expansion or enlargement of God's "family" nature into man.
Well, perhaps we're now straying into topics for another discussion. It seems that Paul conceived of the soul as being something somewhere between the spirit and the body, but not identical to either. This would seem to be at variance with the beliefs of many professing Christians today.
It is in variance with the belief that man is a dichotomy and that spirit and soul are the same thing. Many good Christians hold such a view. I do not. Hebrews 4:12 shows that the word of God can divide the soul from the spirit within the hearer:
"For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and of joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12)
The phrase "the dividing of soul and spirit" indicates that the human spirit and the human soul may be very close but can be made distinct from one another by the sharp operation of the cutting word of God. The phrase "of the joints and marrow" may indicate that as the marrow is within the bones so also the spirit is deep within the soul.
I strayed from the current talk a little bit. The human conscience is in the human spirit from what we can ascertain from the Bible. So the conscience dicerning right and wrong, I believe is a function in the deepest part of man - the human spirit.
The human spirit was meant to be the highest and most powerful component of man keeping the soul underneath its influence. But in the fall of Adam, the human spirit became the weaker "organ" underneath the ascended human soul. And in some instances the flesh or the fallen body became more powerful in some people than even the soul of man.
This message has been edited by jaywill, 03-18-2006 02:51 PM
This message has been edited by jaywill, 03-18-2006 02:52 PM
With the mind man thinks and considers and understands. With the emotion man loves or hates and generally feels about things. With the will man decides and chooses.
Biblically, the majority of the verses which mention man's soul involve one or more of these activities.
If you think it a little you may discover that practically everything you do involves the mind thinking, the emotion either liking or disliking, and finally the will deciding. These three functions are a fundamental part of almost everything we do in our daily lives. We think about a certain matter. We have a feeling one way or another about it. Then we decide what action we will do in relation to that matter - mind, emotion, will.
Jesus is a soul living in the heavenly realm. He is not a spirit.
Jesus Christ is an entire man in the heavenly realm. He has what we would well call a glorified body in resurrection (John 20:19,20; Luke 24:36-41). This miraculous body in resurrection He demonstrated after He rose from the dead. He ate a piece of fish and the disciples handled him with their hands. That is after the Father was the first to enjoy His Son's resurrection.
At His second coming His physical feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4)
I believe that today, right now Christ is a man in resurrection and not just an unembodied soul: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5)
He is a body and a spirit. If we die before he comes, the we eagerly await our resurection, because we will be just a spirit until the ressurection.
The believer before the resurrection is spoken of as being unclothed or found najed. So though I am not sure whether to use "just spirit" here or "soul and spirit" it is clear that it is the immeterial component of man. And the resurrrection and glorification of the physical body are needed to complete this full salvation.
First Thessalonians speaks of being preserved complete in all three parts of the human being - "spirit and soul and body":
"And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:23)
And for experience sake it is important that the Christian be able to discern the distinction between the soul and the spirit or else he will fail to live a spiritual life.
I'm not sure what you mean by this. All animal life is spiritual. It's just not necessarily Godly. Godly life is led by the Spirit of God. As we crucify ourselves (our person) then we begin to live through His Spirit. (that is once we have received that Spirit)
The need to discern the human spirit from the soul is needed to be spiritual rather than to be soulish, natural, and worse yet just plain fleshy or fleshly. The living and operative word of God helps to divide within us the soul and the spirit:
"For the word of God is living and operative and sharper than any two-edge sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit and joints and marrow, and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the hearth." (Heb. 4:12)
The Christian may not always be able to discern his real motives, whether they are of God or simply of his fallen self. The living word of God can help him discern the thoughts and intentions of his heart. That is to divide two things which are closely stuck together - his human soul and his human spirit. The Spirit of the Lord Jesus is one with his spirit - "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17). So the need to get to the Lord's Spirit in his human spirit is needed to walk by the Spirit.
This is alife long excercise. We never as Christians graduate from the need to discern our spirit, because in doing so we discern the Lord's Spirit.
Paul had the assurance that he served God in his regenerated spirit and not simply from himself, ie. from his soulish and natural man:
"For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son ..." (Rom. 1:9)
Paul encouraged the believers to set their mind on the regenerated spirit. So it is important to be able to learn to discern our regenerated Christ indwelt spirit in order to be spiritual:
"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace." (Rom. 8:6)
Actually to deny the self is to set the mind on the spirit where the Spirit of Jesus is. To deny the self is to deny the independent soul life. And instead of enjoying the independent soul life, the denyer sets his mind on the born again human spirit. There there is life and peace - "the mind set on the spirit [human spirit] is life and peace."
Because the Lord is WITH the human spirit - "The Lord be with your spirit"( 2 Tim. 4:22). This is logical because it was the human spirit that inderwent the new birth by the Holy Spirit to initiate the Christian life:
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6)
Since the human spirit, in regeneration was born of the Holy Spirit, it is logical that the human spirit and the Holy Spirit have become one mingled and united spirit:
"He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17)
Since the regenerated spirit is born of the Lord's Spirit and is mingled and united with the Lord's Holy Spirit, therefore the Lord is with the Christian's spirit:
"The Lord be with your spirit" (2 Tim 4:22)
So we must more and more discern our spirit in order to discern the Lord. And moreover we must discern our spirit in order to know the grace of the Lord. That is the empowerment and enabling ability which is in the Lord's divine life. So the Lord being with our spirit exactly means that the grace of the Lord which we so desperately need, is ALSO with our spirit:
"The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you." (1 Tim. 4:22)
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." (Phil. 4:23)
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers, Amen." (Galatians 6:18)
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." (Philemon 25)
We have to discern our spirit to touch the Lord subjectively within. We have to discern our spirit to sense the life and peace which indicates that we are in harmony with God and His will. And we have to discern our spirit in order to know the empowerment, the empowering, the enabling and support of the grace of Christ. His grace is with our spirit.
Seems like we ARE spirits and we do live in a body, it's the spirit that gives the body life and when that life begins it produces the soul which is WHO we are. Our soul makes us who we are and is influenced by our body and our spirit. If you allow your body to control your soul and block the spirit you're only getting half of the information to make a decision.
You supplied very good verses.
And I agree with your paragraph above. In other words we are meant to function in three dimensions. And lacking information from one dimension, ie. blocked by the body or soul, we have partial information.
Learning to function in all three realms takes a life time and most progress deeper and deeper.
This website helps inform my views on the parts of man:
i dont know mate it all comes back to the original meaning of that word doesnt it?
if you were living in the hebrew's days, and you spoke of the 'soul', the likely hood is that you were talking about your own life
Seems that Mary was a good Jew and knew how to use the word. And Jesus I trust.
The soul must be an entity that can be separated from the body or else Christ would not have said this:
"And do not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." (Matthew 10:28)
Christ must have been using Gehenna as a symbol of a realm in which the soul of man can be destroyed after the body has been destroyed. Otherwise it would be logical to assume that if soul and living body were the same to destroy the body would be to kill the soul. Apparently Christ, also a Jew, taught we should fear that God can do more than man can do, ie. not only kill the body but to destroy or kill the soul also.
Going back to the Old Testament David suggests that he could not flee God's presence even if he hide himself in Sheol:
"Where shall I go, away from Your Spirit, Where shall I go, away from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, there You are. IF I take the wings of the dawn and settle at the limits of the sea, There also You hand will lead me ..." (Psalm 139:7-10)
David, a good Hebrew speaking Jew, asks to what local he should escape to get away from God's Spirit and God's presence:
1.) Heaven ? No. 2.) Sheol ? No. 3.) The uttermost limits beyond the sea. No.
Nowhere can he get away from God. This leads me to understand Sheol is a local where the soul of David could go after the body of David died.
Then again David prophesied that God would not abandon his soul in Sheol. I will speak to this passage probably more latter.
Then again Amos said that Shoel could not be filled. If it is nothing then I would ask, filled with what? Or I would ask filled with who ?
again we are assuming that our english translation of their language is correct
I am not working from the initial assumption that an English translation has to be a bad one ? I am not working from the assumption that God's revelation is locked to anyone except those who can fluently read and write ancient Hebrew.
The Scriptures can be translated into other languages. People have the skill to do that. And some of them have the added advantage of having a vital and living relationship with God and care about accuracy. They include footnotes where there are other opinions to site those other opinions.
You may recall the Apostle tell a crowd that King David had not ascended to any heavenly realm but, just as Jesus received a resurrection, so King David was in his grave awaiting a resurrection...
You are refering to Acts 2:22-36 I believe.
Acts 2:29 writes: “Men, brothers, it is allowable to speak with freeness of speech to YOU concerning the family head David, that he both deceased and was buried and his tomb is among us to this day....He saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Ha′des nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. . . . Actually David did not ascend to the heavens.” (Acts 2:1-34)
According to Peter’s words, David’s resurrection is yet future.
That is correct. What's wrong with that? David's resurrection and ascending to heaven await a future moment. I have always believed that.
I agree that the spirit never dies, for the scriptures say that the spirit returns to God and stays there
I'm am going to try to hone in on the responses to things which I specifically said. With multiple participants in a discussion there is the possibility that it seems like someone is arguing someone else's point. Just a heads up.
Luke 20 :34 writes: Jesus said to them: “...those who have been counted worthy of gaining... the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed, in the account about the thornbush, when he calls Jehovah ‘the God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob.’ 38 He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.”
Jesus he was granted a resurrection after 3 days.
That is what I believe the Bible is teaching. Jesus rose from the dead in three days.
but King David was still awaiting a resurrection...as was Abraham, Issac and Jacob... and as were the 'great crowd of witnesses' spoken of in Hebrews Chptr 11:39 states "...39 And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the [fulfillment of the] promise"
So, sure, they are all living in the sense that they are alive in Gods memory, in that way, we never die... but their mortal bodies and minds have died and they are awaiting a resurrection from the dead.
Well, I think it is more than that they are alive in God's memory. They are physically DEAD. there is no question about that.
But what I am saying is that this physical death is a separation of the immaterial part of man from the material part.
You are aware that Jesus was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-4). Though it is true that Elijah was caught up alive and carried somewhere Moses had clearly died.
I don't think this could have been Jesus speaking with an illusion or simply God's memory of Moses. It was Moses, probably in the same state that Samuel the prophet was when Saul conversed with him after his death.
"Then Samuel DIED, and all Israel gathered and mourned for him; and they buried him in Ramah" ( 1 Sam. 25:1).
Samuel was clearly DEAD. Do you agree? And KIng Saul, whose, Hebrew reading and writing skills were probably up to par spoke these words:
"Consult a DEPARTED spirit for me, and bring up to me the one whom I tell you." (1 Samuel 28:8 my emphasis)
Then a witch of Indor was deceived by Saul to bring up the departed soul of the prophet Samuel. I do not believe that these witches were able to actually do this thing. But it seems that in this instance God permitted it. The spirit of Samuel came up from Sheol.
"So the woman said, Whom shall I bring up to you? And he [King Saul] said, Bring up Samuel to me. Now when the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; snd the soman spoke to Saul, saying, Why have you deceived me? For you are Saul." (1 Sam 28:12)
The spirit of Samuel comes up from the realm of the dead and speaks to Saul - "Why have you disturebed me by bringing me up?" (v. 15)
There is no question in my mind that God permitted the immaterial part of Samuel the prophet to come up out of Sheol. This was actually the prophet's personality minus his physical body.
I do not believe that this was a bodily resurrection of a non-existant person. He was not in the realm of the living under the sun. But his immaterial part was brought before Saul to speak.
I believe that on the mount of transfiguration a similiar thing happened with Moses who had died. Elijah may have been taken alive to some realm of God or heaven of which we know little about. But Moses, like Samuel, appeared to converse with someone alive on the earth. In this case Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul in Second Corinthians says that to die physically is to be found naked. That is unclothed. He and the other apostles did not want to be found naked before God but clothed with their new glorified and resurrected physical bodies.
Essentially, the "naked" and unclothed soul, ie. the soul apart from the body, on some exists in Sheol.
Revelation 6:9-11 also contains a vision of the departed souls through the history who have believed, underneath the altar crying out to God.
"And when He opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and because of the testimony which they had. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Master, holy and true, will YOu not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? ... and it was said to them that they should rest yet a little while, until also the number of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed, even as they were, is completed."
I believe that the symbol of underneath the altar signifieds underneath the earth.
Furthermore the grating of the altar was netted. So when something was offered to God in burning, the remainder fell down through the netting to lie underneath the altar. I think this symbolism speaks of the departed immaterial portion of God's saints descending into Sheol.
Apparently they can still rest and pray there. And in Revelation God finally answers their prayers as well as the prayers of the living and DOES avenge their deaths upon the Christ and God persecuting world.
There are yet further reasons to see Sheol or Hades as a local to which the immaterial part of man goes at physical death.
The Bible says that Jesus at death descended into "the lower parts of the earth":
"(Now this, He ascended, what is it except He also descended into the lower parts of the earth?" (Eph. 4:9)
Yet on the cross He told the believing thief who was also on a cross that on that day that thief would be with Him in Paradise:
"And he said, Jesus, remember me when You come into YOur kingdom. And He [Jesus] said to him, Truly I say to you, Today you shall be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42,43)
The lower parts of the earth is where there is a Padadise, a copmfortable section of Sheol where the believers soul and spirit go. This Paradise is also called "Abraham's bosom" where the beggar Lazarus went to be comforted while the rich man went to be tormented.
In the lower parts of the earth there must be at least two compartments of Sheol - a comfortable Paradise for the unclothed spirit and soul of the saints of God and a place of punishment and torment for the opposers and unbelievers of God.
This lower parts of the earth was also refered to as the heart of the earth in Matthew 12:40 where Jesus in His soul and spirit went for three days immediately after His death:
"For just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights." (Matt.12:40)
So the day Jesus does He and the believing thief went down to Paradise in the lower parts of the earth, ie. in the heart of the earth.
His soul did not remain there for He asked the Father to save Him OUT OF DEATH. That not to save Him from death. That is to save Him OUT OF death - " This One, in the days of His flesh, having offered up both petitions and suplications with strong crying and tears to Him who was able to save Him out of death and having been heard because of His piety." (Hebrews 5:7)
In other words the Father did not spare Him from dying but did not leave Him in the realm of death in Sheol. He saved Him OUT OF death. Just as the prophet David had said concerning Christ that God would not leave His soul in Hades (Sheol).
This realm may be hidden to our eyes here on earth. But it is opened to eyes of God (Job 26:6; Proverbs 15:11).
wasnt witchcraft and sorcery against Gods law in the bible...
Moses sternly and repeatedly warned Israel not to take up these divination practices of the other nations, saying: “There should not be found in you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, anyone who employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens or a sorcerer, or one who binds others with a spell or anyone who consults a spirit medium or a professional foreteller of events or anyone who inquires of the dead.
do you really believe that God would have approved of this?
I fully agree that God had forbidden this practice of necromancy.
Now, would God in an instance permit it? I would probably draw your attention to the incident of Balaam's sin. God strictly told the proophet Balaam NOT to accept money from king Balak to be a hired prophet speaking AGAINST the Hebrews. Balaam at first agreed ... until Balak offered him more money.
Then Balaam went back to God and said in essence "You SURE you don't want me to do it ?" Then God said "Do it".
Now it was against God's perfect will for Balaam to be a hired prophet for the Gentile king. In hypocrisy, Balaam's greedy nature drives him to make sure that God has not made a mistake. Then God permits him to follow his own stubburn way.
Now we know that it was not God's happiness to let Balaam do it. The angel stood in the way ready to KILL Balaam. Had it not been for the talking mule Balaam would have been sliced to pieces by the angel of God. This shows that Balaam's going was not according to Balaam's way but according to God's permissive way.
Balaam's way is a way of DEATH. God's way is a permissive allowance letting the prophet follow his own sinful and stubburn course of greed.
God will howeve turn the situation to His glory, as usual.
So, I concede that God allowed to happen what He detested and strictly warned the Jews NOT to practice. Probably that was the only genuine contact of a liveing person with a dead one under God's holy supervision.
What the nations and rebel Jews practice concerning necromancy was to contact deceiving demonic spirits. This demons could ramsake the memory of departed sinners and imitate their presence. I do not believe that the dead by any magic can actually be contacted. To attempt to do so can lead to DEMONIC deception.
This may explain why the witch was shocked. Perhaps she new that "familiar spirits" were involved in this practice. I am not sure.
But anyway God permitted the phenomenon to actually occur in this instance turning it to His glory and His desires lesson.
and why do you think that it was a condemned practice in the law? Why would God not want his people to contact the 'dead'?
I think I have just explained so above. There may be more than one good reason. However, one is that it lead them to contact the Satanic and demonic realm of evil spirits who deceive mankind.
We have no argument about the hatefulness and forbiddeness of such a practice.
I would ask you. Are other things which God forbade that He allowed to take place against His perfect will ? Did God like the Golden Cafe that Aaron made ? Did God permit the thing to occur ? Did we not learn as Bible readers a lesson about God's holiness from the occurence of this hateful incident ?
This matter of Samuel's spirit coming up from Sheol was permitted under the sovereignty of God. I simply have to consider the context of the whole incident.
If the dead were still alive in some other way, then the scripture here in Eccl is false...
Eccle 9:5 "5 For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. 6 Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they have no portion anymore to time indefinite in anything that has to be done under the sun.
By far the most popular passage people point to to defend a non-existence departed soul is the book of Ecclesiastes. They have a point. But I don't think the point is quite strong enough to negate other clear teaching in the Bible.
Solomon is speaking of this mainly "under the sun" ... a phrase which he repeats many times in Ecclesiastes. He is saying that to us who are living under the sun in this well known realm of life on earth - IT IS ALL OVER ONCE WE DIE. And he is absolutely right in that sense. We are GONE. We are NOT HERE ANYMORE. Our plans have stopped. Our dreams and intentions have perished.
Under the sun, once we die, says Solomon, it is ALL OVER. But notice concerning where the spirit goes, Solomon leaves it as a question. [b]"WHO KNOWS?" he asks. Do WE here on earth know by experience that the animals spirit goes down and the human's spirit goes up?
It is set to us as a question: "All go to one place: all are of dust, and all return to dust. Who knows the breath of the children of men, that it goes upward; or the breath of the beasts, that it goes downward to the earth?" (Ecc. 3:20,21)
I take this as Solomons pragmatic musings of things of human affairs "under the sun". But experience none of us really know what will happen to our spirit. No one by that time came back from the dead to inform anyone.
Solomon is saying "We don't know that we are any better than the animals. We all turn back to dust. Who knows if the spirit of a man is more noble and goes up at death and the aninals spirit is less noble and goes down. For all intents and purposes we are just the same as they. We all turn to dust."
I love this book of Ecclesiates very much. But I would ask you when you read it again to consider its tone of mentioning again and again things "under the sun". This is a pragmatic book with pessimistic kind of tone about the limitations of human knowledge and experience. I would not take Ecclesiates as the final word about the matter of death, resurrection or man's total spiritual destiny.
but if this scripture is true, then perhaps they were not really contacting the dead, but rather like Eve in the garden of eden, they were talking to Satan who was posing as somebody else
I agree with this in principle. Man puts his hope in magic arts behind which often lurk deceiving demons.
They know what we want and can fake furnish us with deceptions all designed to lead us further away from God.
Perhaps UFOs are a modern day Satanic deception tailored to our age - a decptive phenomenon of evil spirits to tickle the lust of modern day man seeking other things beside God's salvation. Of course bleeding and crying statues of the Virgin Mary would come under the same catagory.