Lessons from that Witch
Take another look at 1 Samuel 28. King Saul under heavy pressure from his enemies concludes that he is no longer entitled to the counsel of God. His prophet Samuel has been dead for approximately two years.
He panics and decides that, God's prohibition notwithstanding, he will seek out a woman with a familiar spirit and will entice her to call out the spirit of Samuel. She is a witch, a practitioner in dark divination.
There appears unto this woman the impression of an old man, asking why Saul has called for him and reinforcing the sad news that Saul is out of God's favour and going to join that spirit in the place of the dead, the Kingdom being torn from him and his sons. Could this visitor be Samuel?
Sounded authentic. Definitely supernatural and miraculous. Having nothing to do with the righteous agenda of God. But how do we know? First the laws of Moses condemned such a practice. Second the King knew by reputation that the woman was a witch. Third it was clear that God was offering no answer by prayer or by the oracles of Urim and Thumim or other prophets. Fourth this spirit said that Saul and his sons would soon join him in the afterlife. But consider most assuredly that rebellious and unbelieving Saul was not going to end up in the bliss enjoyed by the real Samuel. This messenger was a spirit of darkness having some knowledge of the situation and intent upon tormenting the pathetic Saul even before the time.
Now carry this information over into religious services fraught with a frenzy for the arrival of the miraculous. They often get what appears to be their heart's desire, but only darkness and deception are at the bottom of it. Christ is not lifted up.
It was to a very young church that the Apostle Paul issued the timeless and worthy admonitions "Quench not the Spirit. Despise nor prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil."