Immortality and Mortality

Question 4

Can mediums and spiritualists summon and raise the dead?

1 Samuel 28:13 reads, 'And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.'

King Saul's life was at a negative and a crucial time. First Samuel chapter 28 (1 Samuel 28) records the events. So much was going wrong in Saul's life at that point. Saul had departed from following the Lord. The prophet Samuel was dead. The Philistines armies gathered to fight Israel. When Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid. In his fear, he sought the Lord, and the Lord did not answer. With nowhere else to turn Saul sought direction from a woman who was a medium.

1 Samuel 28:7
Saul said to his servants, "Seek a woman that has a familiar spirit; that I may go and enquire of her." And his servants replied, "Behold, at Endor there is a woman that has a familiar spirit."


Let us pursue some background information. How did God view those who sought counsel from sources other than Himself?

The people of the surrounding nations did not serve the Lord. They sought counsel in various ways. For instance, the people of Egypt sought guidance in the following as recorded in Isaiah 19:3.

They sought counsel from --

  • idols
  • the charmers
  • those that have familiar spirits
  • the wizards

Isaiah 19:3
And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek unto idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

In 2 Chronicles 33:6, the Lord declared that Manasseh committed much evil. He followed practises which provoked the Lord to anger.

These evils Manasseh did --

  • he observed times
  • he used enchantments
  • he used witchcraft
  • he dealt with familiar spirits
  • he dealt with wizards

The lists below show how the evils of Manasseh are rendered in the KJV and NIV.


  • observed times
  • used enchantments
  • used witchcraft
  • dealt with familiar spirits
  • dealt with wizards


  • practised sorcery
  • practised divination
  • practised witchcraft
  • consulted mediums
  • consulted spiritists

2 Chronicles 33:6
... Manasseh observed times, he used enchantments, and witchcraft, and dealt with familiar spirits, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger.

Under the law of Moses severe penalties were metered out to those who were mediums or spiritists. They were condemned to death (Leviticus 20:26-27). God had set his people apart from other nations. They were to be holy. They were to serve him only.

Leviticus 20:26-27
26 And you shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord your God am holy. I have set you apart from other people, that you should be mine.
27 A man or woman that has a familiar spirit, or is a wizard, shall surely be put to death...

With this background, let's return to the narrative of 1 Samuel 28.

First Samuel 28

In 1 Samuel 28:3, we find that Saul had earlier banished those that had familiar spirits, and wizards, out of the land. But now Saul was desperate for counsel.

He considered his options -- his possible sources for guidance were Samuel, God, mediums, and spiritists.

Samuel was dead (v3)

God did not answer (v6)

Saul himself had banished mediums and spiritists (v3)

In desperation he does manage to seek out a woman who had a familiar spirit. Saul's relationship with the Lord had been declining for ages. So it was that Saul could simultaneously seek counsel both from the Lord and elsewhere. Without a true relationship with God, Saul was comfortable to enquire of the Lord and also enquire of a medium. It is no wonder that the Lord did not hear him. If we in any age think it a trifle to consult mediums and the like and still maintain a relationship with our God, we need to think again. Our relationship is with God; there can be no other.

Contacting the Dead

Can mediums and spiritists call for and raise the dead? Let's look at key points in the narrative of 1 Samuel 28:11-19.

Saul asked the woman, "Bring up Samuel." (v11)

The woman saw Samuel... (v12)

Saul asked, "What do you see?" (v13)

The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground." (v13)

Saul asked, "What does he look like?" (v14)

She replied, "An old man wearing a robe is coming up." (v14)

Then Saul knew it was Samuel. (v14)

Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" (v15)

Saul replied, "I am in great distress, 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." (v15)

Samuel said, "Why do you consult me, now that the Lord has turned away from you and become your enemy?" (v16)

Samuel continued, "The Lord will hand over both you and Israel to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me." (v19)

A Few Questions

One by one we will answer a few questions. What did the woman see? What did Saul see? Where did Samuel come from? Where did Samuel go? Where did Saul and his sons go when they went to be with Samuel?

What did the woman see?

She saw a spirit coming up out of the ground, which she described as an old man wearing a robe. (v13, 14)

What did Saul see?

Saul saw nothing. Saul acknowledged that it was Samuel based on the woman's description. There is a conversation recorded; but Saul did not actually see Samuel. (v14)

Where did Samuel come from?

He came up out of the ground. (v13)

Where did Samuel go?

We would assume the woman returned him to the place from whence she had summoned him.

Where did Saul and his sons go?

Where did Saul and his sons go when they went to be with Samuel? (Samuel said, "... tomorrow you and your sons will be with me..." Verse 19) Samuel was dead, and the next day Saul and his sons would also be dead.

Where did Saul and his sons go? Let's consider some possibilities.

1. To the grave?

Did Saul and his sons go to be with Samuel in the grave? Being buried does seem a possibility because the woman summoned Samuel up out of the ground - possibly from the grave. In 1 Samuel 31:8-13 it is recorded how the Philistines mutilated the bodies of Saul and his sons; how valiant men took the bodies and burned them; and how they buried the bones under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh. So it was that Saul and his sons were buried. They were placed in the grave.


2. To heaven?

Alternatively, did Saul and his sons go to be with Samuel in heaven? Seeing as God had rejected Saul, it appears very unlikely that Saul was going to heaven.


3. To hell?

Alternatively, did Saul and his sons go to be with Samuel in hell? I can't imagine Samuel who was a man of God being in hell for the sake of keeping Saul company.

The most obvious conclusion is -- Samuel was dead, so the next day Saul and his sons would likewise be dead.

A Séance

Every bit of the description indicates that the woman conducted a séance. The woman purported to bring Samuel up out of the ground. Note that Saul did not actually see Samuel. The woman simply portrayed an old man wearing a robe. Whatever it was that the woman saw; it was not Samuel. Whether the medium lived in that day or ours, they cannot raise the dead.

Can mediums and spiritists raise the dead? No!

But a perplexing question arises; so much of the detail that the medium told and predicted was correct. There is a reason for this. Remember the Bible says that in this world there are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs to deceive. (See Revelation 16:14, Matthew 24:24)

Mediums and spiritists cannot raise the dead. This prerogative lies with God alone.

Jesus said of Himself, "I am the resurrection and the life." (John 11:25)

Séances and Astrology - some good advice

I include here two passages of Scripture that give good advice regarding séances and astrology.

Isaiah 8:19-20
19 When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
20 If people do not speak according to God's Word -- to the law and to the testimony -- they have no light in them. (See KJV and NIV)

Earlier we looked at a list of Manasseh's sins. Note that astrology also is listed among his many sins (2 Chronicles 33:5 -- Read verses 2-9). Manasseh built altars for all the starry host of heaven.

2 Chronicles 33:2, 5
2 Manasseh did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen...
5 He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.

As God's people we are to seek counsel from God; not from the dead, or from the stars. God is very clear; He does not treat such deviation lightly.


Question 5

What does the term 'unquenchable fire' mean? Is it a fire that cannot be put out, or a fire that never goes out?