As Halloween approaches each year, I’m always wondering how to respond to this secular holiday. After reading a passage today about what the disciples appeared to see, this is as good of a time as any to address ghostly encounters of the Bible. Depending upon which source you reference, a ghost can take the form of an apparition of a dead person. This manifestation may appear as a glimmer, shadow or spirit. However, you want to define a ghost, based upon the passage below it’s clear that Jesus’ own disciples believed in ghosts.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear, Matthew 14:26.
One of the most famous ghostly encounters in the Bible occurs in the Old Testament. During the reign of Israel’s first king, Saul’s prophet Samuel and spiritual mentor dies. When this source of discernment was no longer available, Saul panicked following a rare defeat on the battlefield. Turning to a medium which he banned from his kingdom, Saul sends servants to find the Witch on Endor. Despite fear of breaking the law, Saul convinces this witch to perform a séance. This term is French referring to taking a seat, a session to bring back spirits from the dead.
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 ghostly figure coming up out of the earth,” 1 Samuel 28:11-13.
Unlike the séance which takes place in the 1990 film Ghost, the spirit of Samuel comes back to give King Saul a message. Instead of receiving comforting news, the ghost of Samuel communicates the impending doom set to fall upon Saul. This chapter brings up multiple issues to contemplate. However, the greatest lesson from this ghostly encounter can be found in who you trust. While God has allowed certain individuals to communicate with spirits of the past similar to the Sixth Sense, trusting in the Lord alone is essential. Anything else opens the door for fear which the disciples experienced in Matthew. Therefore, despite what you might encounter in this life, make sure that you practice the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 so that you are sheltered by the Holy Spirit.
by Jay Mankus