Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints #2 Ghosts
Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints #2 Ghosts
When it comes to this idea of Ghosts Jesus made it pretty clear that they don’t exist. When it comes to speculation about the afterlife there are four possible places a person goes when they die to await the resurrection. In Hebrew thought that place is Sheol, the descriptions of which sound like being in states of semi-consciousness. (Genesis 37:35; Numbers 16:30; Jonah 2:2). Jesus told us a parable in Luke that seems to indicate that those who do not have faith in Jesus go to a place of torment (Luke 16:23), those who do have faith in Jesus wait in a place of comfort (Luke 16:25). But it’s probably not the wisest to build your theology around the literacy of a parable. The Apostle Paul indicates that when our bodies die, the eternal part of us is ushered into the presence of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8). The fourth place is mentioned in Revelation, those who died in service to Jesus go to a place very close to God called under the altar (Revelation 6:9). So the question is can someone come back from one of those places as a ghost and interact with people?
In the scripture, there are two instances when someone who had died interacts with the living as a ghost. 1 Samuel 28:15 tells us that on the behest of King Saul the witch at Endor calls up the ghost of the prophet Samuel for advice. Leviticus tells us not to do this ever (Leviticus 19:31). The séance, calling upon the dead, astrology, tarot cards, was a practice of all the pagan cultures and not to be tolerated by God’s people. Leviticus 20:27 instructs that mediums and necromancers are to be put to death (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
When people tell you, "Try out the fortunetellers. Consult the spiritualists. Why not tap into the spirit-world, get in touch with the dead?" Tell them, "No, we're going to study the Scriptures." People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end! Frustrated and famished, they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, Looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing, A blank wall, an empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing.
Scholars all have their biases, so we are left not knowing for sure what comes up from the place of the dead. The dialogue is bad news. “Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me” (1 Sam 28:19 (MSG). If there are any more instances of ghosts popping up in the Hebrew Bible it has escaped me.
In the New Testament, we have the story of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36). Peter, James, and John witness Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah. We know Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6), we’re not sure what Elijah's “being caught up on a whirlwind means other than speculating the aliens came back to get him” (2 Kings 2:1). Just kidding. Moses represents the Law, Elijah represents the prophets and again scholars are of mixed opinion as to the ghost question. What we do know for sure is that the message of the Law and the message of the Prophets are in agreement with Jesus. Some scholars suggest that these are the resurrected bodies of Moses and Elijah, others say this is a manifestation of the Spirits of Moses and Elijah and differentiate between the meaning of Ghost and Spirit. One thing is for sure, this appearance doesn’t fit into our folklore concerning Ghosts.
God’s timing is so amazing. It’s the end of June when I am preparing this message and I got visited by a ghost. I had one of those straws that “breaks the camel’s back” moments, and I choose to have what is best described as a two-year-old temper tantrum. After I came back to my senses, I got on the phone with a trusted friend and told him the tale. In the conversation, a light dawned as to what this ghost was all about. It had to do with events in my past. Ghosts always are from our past. A current series of events was piling up on me emotionally and something as light as a feather set me off. It all had to deal with my need for validation. God used the Ghost to show me a problem that was holding me back from being completely free. My insecurities led me to unconsciously keep asking the question “Am I doing good?” My insecurity led me to consciously keep asking “How did I do?” When the answer was no, all those old tapes of being bad, of being broken, of being worthless, of not being able to get it right, all that negative self-talk would flood back convince me that it was all about me and my shortcoming making me miserably incapacitated and terribly angry at myself. God is so faithful, through fellowship and confession the Holy Spirit pinpointed my issue. Now that the Ghost was out of the closet it could be dealt with.
What you are doing is learning from the past. Learning from the past you rewrite the past. You put a different spin on what happened. It was traumatizing, most Ghosts are the result of trauma. You can’t change the past but you can take the power of the past to haunt you out by reinterpreting the even into a lesson you learn from.
The past’s power to haunt disappears when you actively take those lessons you learned and pass them on to others. Maybe you can become an activist shining the light of truth and justice on a situation and helping others find liberation from similar situations.