tRUTH qUEST: eARTHBOUNDS/GHOSTS
Here's how this study started:
Shortly after moving to a new city, my 7 year old began having excruciating stomach pains. The medical doctors we saw could not figure out what was causing them, so in desperation, in a new city, knowing almost no one, I found a holistic doctor who used Muscle Testing. I had just recently become a huge fan of this practice seeing it in action at my chiropractor's office in my previous hometown. I sought her out BECAUSE she Muscle Tested. Anyway, she quickly assessed that this was spiritual problem, caused by an earthbound spirit. and/or an evil spirit. She dealt with the spirit issue and Zack never had another stomach pain. Not only that, but Zack's intense and quirky personality began to change. Within a few weeks, we had a new kid in our house. A more peaceful, less agitating Zack; and without the food sensitivities he had previously. The changes were astounding. Being raised in the baptist church, I did not believe in ghosts or earthbound spirits. I was taught that what people call ghosts are actually demons masquerading as ghosts. I was taught that to be absent from the body, was to be present with the Lord. There's no gray area there. You're in your body on earth, and you're in heaven upon your death. However, I had to reconcile my beliefs with what I just watched happen with my son. The two could not co-exist peacefully!
You can read Zack's story in blog posts #2 and #3. This is where the truth quests began... This was my "threshold experience" with the realm of the spirit world. I removed my "baptist goggles" and read the Bible with fresh new eyes. Here's what I found...
Saul, Samuel and the Medium
1 Samuel 28:11-15 (HCSB):
11 “Who is it that you want me to bring up for you?” the woman asked.
“Bring up Samuel for me,” he answered.
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, and then she asked Saul, “Why did you deceive me? You are Saul!”
13 But the king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”
“I see a spirit form coming up out of the earth,” the woman answered.
14 Then Saul asked her, “What does he look like?”
“An old man is coming up,” she replied. “He’s wearing a robe.” Then Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed his face to the ground and paid homage.
15 “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Samuel asked Saul.
“I’m in serious trouble,” replied Saul. “The Philistines are fighting against me and God has turned away from me. He doesn’t answer me anymore, either through the prophets or in dreams. So I’ve called on you to tell me what I should do.”
This seems like a good place to start our quest. A medium, by request of King Saul, called up the ghost of Samuel. There is no indication that what she "called up" was anything other than the disembodied human soul (the ghost) of Samuel.
Let's look a little closer at the text. The medium said "I see a spirit form coming up out of the earth" and described him. Apparently, Saul couldn't see him, but the medium clearly could. Based on her description, Saul knew without a doubt it was Samuel she was seeing. The Hebrew word used here is "elohiym" and is translated in this version as "spirit form." This word has been used in the Old Testament to refer to God, false gods, supernatural spirits, or human leaders. (It should be noted that it was never once used to refer to the demonic.)
This passage tells us that it IS possible for a disembodied human soul to be on this earth AND interact with living humans.
Let's talk about Mediums
What does the Bible say about them? Only one thing really, stay away from them. Right? This verse in Deuteronomy sums up what all the verses in the Bible say about mediums:
Deuteronomy 18:10,11 (NKJV) "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead."
Does this passage (or any other) indicate or imply that these "mediums and spiritists" only CLAIM to call up the dead? Or does it imply that they ACTUALLY call up the dead. Can you "call up the dead" if the dead are not around to be called upon?
The text in the above story says that she cried out when she saw Samuel and I read some commentaries that asserted that this was a scream of fear because she was not used to actually seeing a ghost and it must have startled her. Well, that is reading into the text something that is simply not there. Remember exegesis and eisegesis? If your belief system says there are no ghosts, you read meaning INTO the text to make it fit your beliefs. Let's examine closely, keeping in mind the culture and context of this setting. Here's what the passage looks like in it's Hebrew form.
'ishshah (the woman) ra'ah (saw) Shĕmuw'el (Samuel) za`aq gadowl (cried out loudly in sorrow) qowl (exclaiming sorrow and imploring aid) 'ishshah (the woman) 'amar (spake) Sha'uwl (to Saul) 'amar (saying) ramah (beguile, deceive, mislead, deal treacherously, betray) Sha'uwl (Saul)
None of these words seem to indicate this was fear in seeing the ghost. Remember when he came to her, she was confident she could bring up whoever he wanted her to. She was in hiding for fear of her life. Would she risk her life if she was a fake and couldn't actually do what she claimed? No, that doesn't make sense, does it?
Seeing the ghost didn't frighten her. My younger sister is so much fun to scare. My favorite is to wait on the other side of a closed door, perfectly silent, just waiting for her to open that door... BAAH! I yell right in her face. She never disappoints! She always screams and jumps a mile in the air. If it's a particularly good scare she takes a breath and I get a double howl out of her! When we lived together, I was always looking for my next opportunity... the poor girl. THIS is a scream of fear, not of sorrow. Surely, a different Hebrew word would have been used to indicate a scream of fear, as opposed to one of sorrow. In this culture, being a medium was punishable by death and the woman seems to have discovered right then that she was practicing her craft right in front of the king! SO, an unbiased reading of the text does not support the idea that she cried out in fear because she saw Samuel, a real ghost; instead it shows that she cried out in fear for her life as she discovered who her client really was: the very King who had made her an outlaw!
Let's switch gears a bit... Let's look at the definitions of the words the Bible uses to refer to a medium. The words used in the Hebrew are 'yidd'oniy' and 'owb' and 'darash'.
yidd'oniy. This word is translated as "wizard" (KJV), "spiritist" (NIV), "those who consult with the spirits of the dead" (NLT), and "necromancer" (ESV). Strong's definition is: "properly, a knowing one; specifically, a conjurer; (by implication) a ghost" and it occurs 17 times in the Old Testament.
'owb. This word is translated as "familiar spirit" or "medium" in the 6 versions I checked. According to blueletterbible.org, its "outline of Biblical usage" is: water skin bottle, necromancer, one who evokes the dead, ghost, spirit of a dead one, practice of necromancy, one that has a familiar spirit. It is used 17 times in the Old Testament.
darash. This word is translated "necromancer" or "one who inquires of the dead"
OK, so the common denominator in all these words is calling on/conjuring/evoking the dead. While it seems that a large portion of the modern church has decided that the dead can have no interaction with the living, it doesn't seem that the Bible shares that belief. While God's people are forbidden from calling on the dead, it never says the practice is not real. Would God be so adamant about His people steering clear of this practice, grouping it with the likes of child sacrifice, if it weren't possible?
We also need to make an important clarification here, seeing in the spirit is NOT the same as being a medium. The gift of seeing what is in the spirit realm is just that - a gift that should celebrated by the church, not shunned.
"Then Elisha prayed, “LORD, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the LORD opened the servant’s eyes. He looked and saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." (2 Kings 6:17)
Or what about this?
“Amid disquieting thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling,
And made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed by my face; The hair of my flesh bristled up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance; A form was before my eyes; There was silence, then I heard a voice." (Job 4:13-16)
These are clear examples of people in the Bible seeing into the spirit realm, and it being sanctioned by God. So let's not jump to the incorrect, fear-based conclusion that anyone who SEES or speaks to a ghost is a medium. The crime of the medium is CALLING on the spirit of the dead for personal gain or information. Being aware of their presence, is not at all the same. Discerning of spirits is a GIFT, not a crime. Let's put down the pitchforks, friends; I have a couple more verses.
"Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Samuel the seer, in the chronicles of Nathan the prophet and in the chronicles of Gad the seer" (I Chronicles 29:29) We all know how God felt about David; a man after His own heart. Would He have sanctioned a medium in the courts of David? A seer is not a medium.
"and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:10) This word "distinguishing" means "to separate, make a distinction." The gift of distinguishing of spirits can be translated as making a distinction between, or separating different kinds of spirits. Therefore, according to the Bible, having an awareness of spirits does NOT make one a medium.
And let's not forget that Matthew, Mark and Luke each record that Jesus himself spoke with the spirits of Moses and Elijah in the presence of Peter, James and John, and God promptly gave His approval. If the act of speaking with the spirits of dead makes one a medium, then does that make Jesus a medium?
Demons Masquerading as Ghosts
Surely, you have heard this teaching, right? It is common, but is it biblical? Let's check. Here's every verse that supports this idea.
Folks, there are NONE. Not even one shred of evidence to support this teaching biblically. In my research, I read several commentaries supporting this teaching, but not one could list a single passage in the Bible to support it. The closest we can come to supporting this scripturally is by saying that Satan is the father of lies and deception, and that he masquerades as an angel of light. How is masquerading as an angel of light equivalent to masquerading as a human soul? This is another example of 'eisegesis' my friends; making the Bible support your beliefs. CAN a demon present himself as a human spirit, for the purpose of deception? Yes, I believe he can. Is that ALWAYS the case though? No, there is no evidence to support that. And the Bible is silent on this matter. Silence is not contradiction, but we can't make a 'rule' here that is not supported across scripture. The Bible does present ghosts, and it does present demons. But it never presents one pretending to be the other.
Absent from the Body
This was the first place I went when I started this study. Here's how I've always heard the phrase quoted: "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." That's pretty clear. But, to my surprise that's not what the Bible verse actually says.
"Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord." II Corinthians 5:8 ESV
That phrase, that I always thought was a quote, isn't actually a quote at all. It's been rephrased to mean something different that the actual words of Paul. Look at the difference in intention and actual meaning of these two phrases:
"I would RATHER BE away from the body AND present with the Lord"
"To be absent from the body IS TO BE present with the Lord"
One simply states the author's desire to be with his Lord and the other is making a theological statement about what happen to the soul upon the death of the body. These are two very different things. Let's look at context. What has Paul been through at the time of this writing? Beatings. Imprisonment. Stoning. Shipwreck. He hasn't had an easy ride. Back up and read chapter 4 and 5 in this letter to the Corinthians. He is showing some tiring of his hard life. He says in a few verses prior to the famous 'quote' that he is "hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down and outwardly wasting away, groaning and burdened." He also says "We groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling..." (II Cor. 5:2) and "For while we are in this tent (body), we groan and are burdened because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by this life." Do you see the theme of Paul's thoughts here? Although not crushed and still in good spirits, he is tired and longing for heaven. So this verse, this phrase... is Paul trying to tell us what happens when our body dies?? NO!! Am I denying that we go to heaven at all? Absolutely not. I am saying that this statement can not be considered biblical proof that our soul is immediately whisked away upon death. This is a misused, misunderstood and misquoted phrase, taken out of context.
The Jewish 3 Day Rule
Paul wrote that famous (although misquoted) phrase. Let's look at this culturally. Was Paul, who wrote those words above, Jewish? Here's what he says about himself:
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:5-6 NASB
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today." Acts 22:3 NASB
Safe to say, Paul was a devout Jew. So as a Jew, what actually were his beliefs of the soul upon death? Did he believe that his soul would be whisked away, immediately to heaven, as he has clearly been credited with believing? Would you be surprised to hear, NO!! That is not what the Jewish person of the 1st century believed. Are you ready for this... they believed that upon the death of the body, the soul lingers for 3 days! All of their death, mourning and burial traditions were designed around this belief.
This "three day" rule is played out in the resurrection of Lazarus. His family was devastated that Jesus didn't get there before the end of the third day. He arrived on the 4th day, and did so purposely. Jewish people who read this understand better what's happening here. The family believed that a resurrection was only possible within the three day window, while his soul lingered. According to them, his soul had left by the fourth day.
Where else do we see this "three day" rule played out?
In JESUS HIMSELF, sillies.
Jesus is our perfect example both in life - and in death! Was Jesus' soul whisked away as soon his body was dead? Nope. It was not. I Peter 3:18,19 says that Christ was put to death in the flesh realm but made alive in the spiritual realm and "in that state went" and made a proclamation to spirits that were in prison. Read between the lines my friends. What does this say? When our flesh body dies, we are then in the spirit realm. Check. We all agree with that, right? But the fact that he "WENT" while in "that state" (spirit realm) to make a proclamation means that while he was in the spirit realm he continued His work. It does not say He was TAKEN or SENT or any such verb that would indicate that He was not in control of what He was doing or where He was going. He was fully aware of what He was doing and what still needed to be done. He knew before He died what He was going to do once in the spirit realm. He said: “For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:40). And in those three days, we know He had not been to heaven yet - He says so Himself! Read what He says to Mary upon His resurrection:
"Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father...’” John 20:17 NASB
The disciples clearly believed in ghosts. Twice they thought Jesus was one! Matthew 15 and Mark 6 both record the story of Jesus walking on the water in the storm. As He approached, the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost. After His resurrection, scripture records that they again thought they were seeing a ghost. And to this He says, "...touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." (Luke 24:39 NIV) Jesus was pretty consistent about correcting people when mistaken or believing falsehoods. So why wouldn't He correct their thoughts concerning 'ghosts' in either of these situations? Why wouldn't He take this opportunity to say "Hey guys - really, come on, there's no such thing as ghosts..." Or maybe He could have said (like I've heard a million times) "Seriously? Don't you know that ghosts are really just demons pretending to be ghosts?" But He didn't say that, and what He DOESN'T say is important. What He DID say is "a ghost does not have flesh and bones." When my children ask me questions about fictional superheroes and villains, I generally wrap up my answers with "but you know they're not real, right?" Would He really not set them straight about this, if they were wrong about believing in ghosts?
There's another interesting nugget here. The disciple's reactions are recorded differently. When the disciples thought they were seeing a ghost, there was fear. When the disciples encountered demons, they commanded it to leave. There is no evidence that they feared the demons they encountered.
Raising people from the Dead
Have you ever read any near death experiences? There are many common points with most experiences. One of the most common is seeing your own body once outside of it. You see the room, the people. You are aware of the physical world. When Jesus raised people from the dead He simply called their name. There are countless stories of this happening since Jesus set the precedent. What happens when you call their name? Their body is dead. It's not hearing you. Whether you know it or not, you are speaking to the person's soul that is still present and can hear you calling their name. Now, obviously God doesn't grant every request to raise the dead, but when it does happen, technically it's because you communicated with a ghost!
God of the Dead
Romans 8:38 says not even death nor life can separate us from the love that is in Jesus. In Mark 12:24 and Luke 20:27 Jesus tells us He is not God of the dead but of the living because they are all living to him. This tells us that God does not see dead people as dead. We're all living whether we have a physical body or we don't, it's this Spirit man - the soul that God loves and us being dead or alive doesn't seem to make a difference.
OK, this is the fun part. Since the very first experience I had that introduced me to the reality of Earthbounds (ghosts), I have had numerous experiences with them. I'll tell you many of them in detail over in the blog under "The Stories." But I will attempt to summarize what I've learned working alongside the amazing team of prayer warriors I have been blessed to be a part of.
Indicators. There are common indicators that an Earthbound is present. The two most common are suddenly being extremely tired and the sudden brush of coldness. When several people in the room randomly start yawning at the same time... most likely there is an EB (earthbound) in your presence. See Luke 9:32, when Jesus was seen speaking with the spirits of Moses and Elijah: "Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him." Yeah, same thing still happens. And if you suddenly get the feeling that someone opened the freezer door right next you, you are most likely in the presence of an EB. If you feel a pressure on your face that you can't explain, that's often the presence of an Earthbound spirit. Awareness is key!! You probably wouldn't even take notice of these things, unless you choose to become aware of the spirit realm. Once you make that choice, and lean into it. You will not be disappointed. It's there. Put on your snorkeling mask and dive in!
Seers. In our prayer group, we have a couple seers. When I asked them the question, "How do you know what you're seeing is a demon or an EB?" The answer was "Usually you can just tell, but sometimes the only way to know for sure is to speak to them. They react differently." See, there's value to a human soul. A demon you have authority over, and you command it to obey you, and usually that is by leaving! You cast them out. But a human soul will respond to you like a human would. They don't respond to your commands. But they respond to help, when offered. When an EB is in our presence, we first ask the Lord if He wants us to help them. Sometimes the answer is no, but usually the answer is yes.
EB/Demon Combo Pack. Sometimes we come across the Combo Pack. The EB with a demon attached. We call it a Demi or Ruler. The demon is under our authority. They have no value in the kingdom and they hate us with a passion. But an EB has immense value to the King. So when a demon can convince an EB to work in collusion, the demon has it made. We can't simply cast it out, because the we can't go against the will of the EB. Their contract is valid. These cases need to be handled with care, because a Combo Pack is no joke. A demon can do some seriously scary stuff when it's riding in collusion with an a EB. When we have permission from the Lord, we cancel the contract with the blood of Jesus, then separate the two spirits, then we can cast the demon away and get angels to help the EB.
Cross Over. It seems so cliche, but that's what we call it. It's basically changing your address. For one reason or another, the EB has gotten stuck here and they need a little help. It's another commonality in near death experiences, is the existence of a radiant light, usually at the end of a tunnel or through a doorway and the feeling of overhelming peace and joy the closer you get to the light. The feeling of the presence of an omnipresent loving being, even if you can't see Him, you can feel Him. This is what we do when we help an EB. We get them to call on Jesus, and we ask for angels to help them get to the light and go into it. There's truly nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). You've seen it in movies and tv shows. Who can forget that little lady screaming in Poltergeist, "Run to the Light Carol Ann!" Whether you want to believe it or not, there does seem to be truth in this whole "go into the light" thing. Hundreds of people have seen it, and come back to tell about it. And the seers that I personally know, can see it when an EB crosses over.
Stuck? Not every person becomes an EB when they die, and not every EB is stuck here needing help. There are EBs that we have come across that are perfectly aware of what and who they are. We call them 'care-takers.' However, most of the EBs we encounter do seem to be stuck. This most commonly happens in the case of a sudden, unexpected death. There is no pain associated with death, your body was designed with a "pain receptor shut off switch" upon impending death apparently. And when you are going to die, the switch gets flipped. So when a person dies suddenly and instantly switches over from physical realm to spirit realm, there is no marker in their mind about the death. They often have no idea they are dead. It's so confusing. Time does not exist there like it does here. Everything is just "now." They don't have an awareness of the passing of time that we are slaves to in this realm. Miscarriages create human souls that often do not cross over. They stay with their mother or attach to a sibling, eventually causing problems physically for them. Almost every case of bi-polar that we've seen, is a sibling and can be instantly healed by helping the EB sibling cross over. Another reason is that they can be tethered here. They have a bond to someone or something and can't let go. Or someone can't let go of them, and it holds them captive. I know it all sounds crazy, but that's why we call this reality "crazy town!"
In conclusion, you can still choose not to believe in Earthbounds, or ghosts, but there's no biblical basis for that belief. It would be your choice. EB's are not scary usually. They just need help. My girlfriend was really struggling with this whole idea of helping ghosts when she first stepping into 'crazy town.' Until one night she had a dream that we (our prayer team) was all lined up side by side with big smiles on our faces wearing those WalMart vests that say "How may I help you?" We were facing a multitude of EBs that were walking one at a time to us for help, which we happily gave. She said it changed her outlook completely.