THE OCCULT (Lesson 3)
All this month we have been talking about what God's Word says about supernatural things -- astrology, witchcraft, occult objects, et cetera -- and how those things take you farther and farther away from God.
Well, tonight we are going to add one more thing to the list, and that thing is rebellion. When you are rebellious and stubborn and you choose to do things your way even though God commands you to do things His way, the bible says that your rebelliousness is just as bad as witchcraft! So if you are a child of God who continues in sin, or a wife or husband who is stubborn and rebellious towards your spouse, or even just a young man or young woman who behaves disrespectfully towards your parents, that "I'll do things my way" rebellious behavior is just as occultic as if you were worshipping the devil himself! And we will show you this in the following lesson.
So tonight we are going to see how one man's life was ruined because he continued to disobey God. He was rebellious and stubborn and chose to do things his way. This man was initially hand-picked by God to be king. And as king, he had all of the psychics and wizards and people who practiced witchcraft thrown out of the land. But then later, he ultimately let himself get so far from God that he felt that he had no where else to turn, so he went to a psychic for help, and it cost him his life. This man's name was King Saul.
Let's go back to the beginning. God's chosen people, the Israelites, wanted God to give them a king to rule over them. So God chose a man named Saul. And God sent his prophet Samuel to meet Saul and to anoint Saul as king of the Israelites.
Saul was a tall, handsome man. He was taller than anyone else around. But he was humble and could not believe that God had chosen him for such a position. He was even kind of scared after Samuel told him that he would be king. And when it was time to introduce him as king before the people, Saul hid himself. Let's pick up the story there.
1 Samuel 10:21-24, "When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found. Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, if the man should yet come thither. And the Lord answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff. And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward. And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the Lord hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king."
So here we see a humble man named Saul was made king. And for the first couple years, Saul served God faithfully as king. But then Saul started doing things his own way, even when God gave him specific directions. Let's pick up the story at a time when God told Saul to take his army and totally destroy a wicked city of people called the Amalekites and all of their possessions. But instead of doing what God said, Saul destroyed most of the people, but not all, and Saul even kept all of the Amalekites' nice stuff instead of destroying it.
1 Samuel 15:8-11, "And he [Saul] took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly. Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night."
*God gave Saul specific commandments and instructions. There were things that God wanted Saul to completely destroy. Similarly, God has given us specific commandments and instructions. There are certain things that God says are okay, and there are other things that God wants you to utterly destroy out of your life. Are you living in rebellion against God because you refuse to give up those things that you know are displeasing to him? Are you being like Saul and keeping the *best* stuff for yourself? How could anything that God calls evil be considered good or worth keeping? Are you rebellious by ignoring God's Word and clinging to your favorite sins? It has been said that the degree that you hate evil reflects the depth of your love for God. In The bible, God says, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
God wants us to destroy those things because He knows that they will be our downfall. Sin is like cancer. If you had a cancerous tumor in your body and the doctor only cut half of it out, what would happen? It would continue to grow and eventually your entire body would be diseased, and you would die. You must cut out the sin 100% or it too will continue to grow and take you over.
Now, back to Saul. Let's see how he explains his disobedient rebellious behavior.
1 Samuel 15:16-21, "Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on. And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? And the Lord sent thee on a journey and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal."
* Saul is making excuses for not following God's command. He's blaming it on other people. And then he is basically saying, "But we were going to offer the good stuff we got from the Amalekites to God." But God does not want us to offer to Him the evil things that He said should be destroyed. He does not want our sin-filled offering. Here's an example: If you and your friends were to rob a bank, but then you all made a promise to give God 10% of the money you stole, do you think that offering would be pleasing to God? Of course not. God wants you to obey His commandment to not steal in the first place! Listen to what Samuel told Saul:
1 Samuel 15:22-24, "And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king."
*This is sad indeed. God is now sorry that he even made Saul king. But notice what Saul does next. Instead of asking God for forgiveness, he asks Samuel for forgiveness. 1 Samuel 15:25-26, "Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel."
When you sin and are disobedient and rebellious, the only one who can truly forgive you is God. Go to Him, confess your sin, and turn from your sin. Don't tell your buddy that you feel bad. Don't go to a priest to confess to make yourself feel better. Go to God Himself.
So here we have Saul who has gone from being hand-chosen by God to someone totally in rebellion against God. But as we are about to read, Saul is going to sink even lower. Instead of truly seeking God's forgiveness for his rebellious actions, he is going to add sin on top of sin by consulting with a psychic.
1 Samuel 28:3-6, "Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramay, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilbo'a. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets."
* Saul is surrounded by his enemy the Philistines. He is afraid. He sought the Lord, but his sin is still separating him from God. But instead of continuing to pray and seek God's face, Saul is about to seek help from an occultic woman!
1 Samuel 28:7-9, "Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die?"
* Saul is trying to get help from this psychic. And she herself is reminding him that she isn't supposed to be performing this witchcraft. Perhaps God was giving Saul an out, a chance to think about what he was doing. Have you ever been about to do something wrong, but something happened that made you come to your senses? But, unfortunately, Saul just kept right ahead, insistent on rebelling. 1 Samuel 28:10-11, "And Saul sware to her by the Lord, saying, As the Lord liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel."
God's Word strictly forbids against seeking out psychics and people who claim to be able to speak to the dead. But here Saul is asking this woman to "bring up" or to conjure up or cause to come forward the spirit of Samuel! At a time when Saul should have been doing everything he could to show God that he was truly sorry for his past sins, instead he is doing the very thing that God calls an abomination and seeking answers from someone who is an agent of Satan himself.
1 Samuel 28:12-15, "And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? For thou art Saul. And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth. And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself. And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do."
* Now you might be thinking, "Well, what Saul did wasn't so bad, because he tried to talk to God, and God wouldn't answer. He was desperate." But as we will read in 1 Chronicles 10, Saul never really truly sought the Lord. He might have mumbled a few quick words, but his actions show us that he was rebellious and insincere. Sometimes WE even pretend to seek the Lord's face. Maybe you pray for three minutes that the Lord will help your finances. But then when you don't get a job that same week, you go out and do something illegal to make money. And you even use the excuse, "I prayed, but God wasn't there for me." Did you really pray? For how long? Did you fast? Did you wait, trusting in the Lord's timing and not your own? Or, like Saul, were you just itching for an excuse to do something that you knew was against God's instructions?
To make a long story short, when Saul's army went to battle against the Philistines, they lost. Saul's two sons were killed. Saul was severely wounded. And in one last final act of untrust and rebellion, as Saul stood wounded, he killed himself by falling on his sword. Saul's stubbornness and rebelliousness cost him his relationship with God and his life.
1 Chronicles 10:13-14 reads, "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; and inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse."
Saul stopped trusting in the Lord, didn't keep the Lord's commandments, and went from being someone who the Lord had big plans for to someone who threw it all away because of rebelliousness. Do you now see how rebelliousness is as the sin of witchcraft? Both things put the emphasis on something or someone other than God. Both things separate you from who God is and what He wants you to do. Trust only in the Living God, and be obedient to Him!
Isaiah 30:1, "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin."
Proverbs 17:11, "An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him."