William Andrew Dillard
Samuel 28 relates the story of a successful séance. Are we to
believe that this really happened? Yes, indeed! The greatest reason
for believing this literal event successfully occurred is that it is
affirmed in the Bible. Moreover, there is additional, strong Biblical
support for it. God preserved the incident in His Holy Word, so it is
to be believed regardless of peripheral reasoning. However the
peripheral, biblical support is assuring.
One must consider that this is an Old Testament event. In that time period departed spirits of men all went into Hades, the world of the departed ones. Hades consisted of two compartments: one for the saved, and one for the lost. This is most graphically seen in Luke 16 regarding the rich man and Lazarus. The compartment of Hades for the lost was a place of torment. The compartment of the saved is referenced as Abraham’s Bosom, or Paradise. There was an uncrossable gulf between the two, but communication was apparently possible, via Luke 16. Jesus went into this paradise, and promised one repentant thief on the cross that he, too would be with him there that very day. The apostle Peter tells us that Jesus preached to the spirits in Paradise who were disobedient during the days of Noah. I Peter 3:18-22
However, it is apparent that Satan held some sort of claim over the entire world of the dead until Christ Jesus experientially defeated death on the cross. For this reason, people who had committed themselves to Satan ( possessors of a familiar spirit) had ability to explore to some degree that world. The witch of Endor actually did contact, and request the appearance of Samuel from the world of the dead. Both she and Saul recognized the prophet. Samuel then correctly prophesied the death of Saul and his sons in battle with the Philistines the very next day.
But when Jesus arose, the New Testament is adamant that he possessed the keys of death, hell, and the grave. Eph 4:8-10. Not only did he rise from the world of the dead, he carried Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom into the present heaven where the spirits of saved people in this age are immediately transported. upon death. Matt. 27:53
The difference in resting places for the saved dead then hinge on the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Before His experiential victory, it was the Paradise of Hades; afterward, it is the heaven of the throne of God. Before His experiential victory, Satan held a claim over the world of the dead for their sins although forgiven, had not yet been successfully paid for by the perfect work of Jesus. Afterward, it is the resting place in heaven, and there is no Satanic claim on those in Christ.