THE STRANGE AND THE SPOOKY PART 1

 

Just about every time I turn my TV on here lately, I keep seeing strange and spooky shows advertising. Well, I guess I have been influenced by all the hype because I have decided to preach a two part sermon on the strange and spooky things found in the Bible. Of course the big difference between the shows I have been seeing advertize and the Bible is that the strange and spooky things of the Bible actually happened.

 

There are many different examples I could look at, but we only have time to look at a some of them. Some examples I will mention just briefly and others will a look at more closely. Now some of the stories I will share this morning you have probably read many times and you have become used to them, but if you really think about it and look at it from the perspective of those who saw the event happening or experienced the event, then it would indeed be spooky or strange.

 

My first example comes from Moses.

 

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."5 Then He said, "Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground."6 Moreover He said, "I am the God of your father -- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

 

Put yourself in the place of Moses. Imagine you'rejust doing your job and all of sudden you see a burning bush that was not being consumed. That would be pretty strange, but then you begin to hear the voice of the Lord from the burning bush? I know if I was there witnessing that, it would certainly cause me to be scared and in awe at the same time.

 

If you continue to read the account you see Moses starts making excuses for what God wants him to do. If all this was not spooky enough, what happens next would have driven me over the edge:

 

Exodus 4:1 Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.' "2 So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod."3 And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand),5 "that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you."6 Furthermore the LORD said to him, "Now put your hand in your bosom." And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow.7 And He said, "Put your hand in your bosom again." So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh.8 "Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.

 

As a shepherd, you would be very cautious of snakes, but to throw your rod down and it becomes a snake would have done more than make me run away from it, I would have probably screamed like a little girl. I would have to dig down deep to reach down a grab that snake by the tail. Could you imagine sticking your hand into your bosom and then taking it out and it being leprous especially knowing what leprosy does to your body? I know one thing, I would be relieved when it turned back to normal. These things were done for Moses and for the benefit of the children of Israel so they could know that God was going to make them free from Egyptian bondage.

 

Now I am not going to take the time to read to you the 10 plagues and their details in Scripture, but I would like you to consider how strange and spooky these plagues were. Just one of these plagues would have been enough to spook me, but they happened to them one after another. Here is a quick list of the plagues:

 

1. Water to Blood

2. Frogs

3. Gnats or Lice

4. Flies

5. Livestock Diseased

6. Boils

7. Thunder and Hail

8. Locusts

9. Darkness

10. Death of the Firstborn

 

Of course all of the plagues were designed to show that power of God, and that He was more powerful than all the supposed gods of Egypt. Nobody in Egypt could keep these plagues from happening and they worked, because the Pharoh let Godís people go. We could certainly include the other awesome events that happened by the power of God all the way to the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea on dry ground, but letís move on to another strange and spooky event.

 

Our next event comes from:

 

2 Kings 13:20 Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year.21 So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.

 

I want youto imagine yourself being one of these men that was trying to bury this dead man. You could image that would already be on edge because you have spied out a band of raiders. Are they are going to see you? Will they kill you? So, while these kind of thoughts are going through your head, imagine putting this dead body in Elishaís tomb and he touches the bones of Elisha and then immediately rises up from the dead. I donít know about you, but I would be very scared and shocked at the same time.

 

This is one of these areas in the Bible that it does not tell us why this happened, but I suspect it happened as a sign to prove what Elisha had told the king earlier would happen, which is a strange event all by itself. This event is described right before the verse we just looked at. Here is what happened:

 

2 Kings 13:14 Elisha had become sick with the illness of which he would die. Then Joash the king of Israel came down to him, and wept over his face, and said, "O my father, my father, the chariots of Israel and their horsemen!"15 And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows.16 Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands.17 And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the LORD's deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them."18 Then he said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times, and stopped.19 And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times."

 

It never ceases to amaze me at the different methods that God uses to get His message across. Our next example is considered very strange by many and it about Elisha as well:

 

2 Kings 2:23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, "Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!"24 So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.25 Then he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

 

If you are bald headed you might want to remember this verse and tell people they should read it if they are given you a hard time about it. Who knows, it might make them think twice about telling you a bald joke.

 

On a more serious note, I want to point out that some translations give the impression that these were young boys, but the word is translated as young men many times. In fact, Joshua was somewhere in his twenties when he is called this in Exodus 33:11. These young men were mocking Elisha saying Go up baldhead. They were being very disrespectful and they basically wanted Elisha to go up like Elijah did because these young men didnít want to have anything to do with the righteousness that Elisha represented.

 

Then Elisha pronounces a curse on them. Because of their mockery and disobedience, God causes 2 female bears to kill 42 of these young men. This is a story that some donít like because they think these were young boys who didnít deserve to die because of their teasing. Obviously, these were not young boys and they were not just playfully teasing. Otherwise, God would not have allowed them to be killed and Elisha would not have cursed them. This is another area where we must realize that God knows the hearts of men, and we have to trust in His judgment.

 

No lesson about the strange and spooky would be complete without telling the story of Balaam and his disobedience to God. We are not going to look at the whole story but just the part when he is on his way to see Balak.

 

Numbers 22:21 So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.22 Then God's anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.23 Now the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road.24 Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side.25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; so he struck her again.26 Then the Angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam's anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"29 And Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!"30 So the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?" And he said, "No."31 ∂ Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.32 And the Angel of the LORD said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me.33 "The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live."34 And Balaam said to the Angel of the LORD, "I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back."

 

I cannot speak for everyone else, but when I put myself in the shoes of Ballam I would find all of this very strange and scary. Think about it. You have never heard an animal speak and you can just imagine how frustrated he was with his donkey because he could not see the Angel of the Lord. Now PETA would be all over this one since he beathis donkey 3 times for his behavior, but imagine how you would feel if you donkey started talking to you. Our text just shows Balaam responding to him, but if it were me, I donít know that I would have said anything because I would have been shocked and I would doubt my sanity.

 

If that was not strange and spooky enough, then his eyes are opened to see the AOTL with a sword in his hand. I never passed out in my life, but a moment like that just might make it happen. God used this method to wake up Balaam from his sin and cause him to speak only what the Lord tells him to say.

 

I know these kind of things do not happen today, but sometimes I wish they did. We have so many men and women today who claim to be Christians, but preach a false message. I think it would be great if animal began to talk to them or the AOTL appeared to them with a sword in His hand to make them admit to their sinful ways and only speak what that Word of God says.

 

God would also get his point across by using some pretty strange and spooky visions. Some of the strangest and spookiest visions come from the Book of Ezekiel. For example notice:

 

Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones.2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry.3 And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know."4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!5 'Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.6 "I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD." ' "7 ∂ So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone.8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.9 Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." ' "10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.11 Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'12 "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.13 "Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.14 "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.' "

 

Could you imagine having such a vivid vision from God? Where bones are coming together and then being covered by flesh and then coming alive by the power of God. This would be one scary vision. Please keep in mind that the Book of Ezekiel is full of symbolism like the Book of Revelation. This vision is not talking about a literal resurrection of the Jews that would happen, but was symbolically showing that Godís people who had been scattered and captive would come back to Palestine once again and be united. Of course, this great restoration of Godís peoplehappened just as this vision and other prophecies said it would. None the less, this was certainly a strange and spooky vision.

 

There are many strange and spooky events that happened in the N.T. as well. We could look at how Jesus walked on water and His disciples thought He was a ghost. We could talk about Lazarus being raised from the dead after being dead for 4 days. We could talk about the darkness, earthquakes and other strange things that happened at Jesusí crucifixion. We could talk about those who came up from their graves and walked around in the city after Jesusí resurrection, but the last two strange and spooky things I want to look at comes from Daniel.

 

King Nebuchadnezzar has this strange dream that we read about in:

 

Daniel 4:10"These were the visions of my head while on my bed: "I was looking, and behold, A tree in the midst of the earth, And its height was great.11 The tree grew and became strong; Its height reached to the heavens, And it could be seen to the ends of all the earth.12 Its leaves were lovely, Its fruit abundant, And in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, The birds of the heavens dwelt in its branches, And all flesh was fed from it.13 " I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven.14 He cried aloud and said thus: 'Chop down the tree and cut off its branches, Strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the beasts get out from under it, And the birds from its branches.15 Nevertheless leave the stump and roots in the earth, Bound with a band of iron and bronze, In the tender grass of the field. Let it be wet with the dew of heaven, And let him graze with the beasts On the grass of the earth.16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.17 'This decision is by the decree of the watchers, And the sentence by the word of the holy ones, In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men.'18 "This dream I, †††††† , have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you."

 

Here is what Daniel says, this means:

 

Daniel 4:25 They shall drive you from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.26 And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules.27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity."

 

Here is what happened:

 

Daniel 4:28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar.29 At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon.30 The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?"31 While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses."33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws.34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?"36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me.37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

 

As I have said, God has interesting ways to get His point across and this was certainly an interesting way to humble this king and make him realize that God is truly the only God there is.

Our last example of the strange and spooky can be found in:

 

Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.5 In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.6 Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.

 

This is King Nebuchadnezzarís son. What you would think if you were in his place? How scared would you be if allyou saw was some fingers and part of a hand writing a message on the wall? What did this strange and spooky event mean? Well, Daniel gives us the answer. He starts out by telling the king about how his father had been humbled by God and had learned his lesson that God is over all, but Belshazzar had not learned this lesson. He tells him:

 

Daniel 5:22 "But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this.23 "And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.24  "Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written.25 " And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.26 "This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it;27 "TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting;28 "PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians."

 

We learn in verse 30 that very night the king was put to death.

 

In conclusion, there is no doubt, many strange and spooky events are recorded in the Bible, but they all happened and they had a purpose. Whether it was justto deliver a message from God or pronounce a punishment or used to foretell those things to come, you have to appreciate the unique ways that God does things. He is in control and all powerful. No man or devil can match Him. I hope you will join us tonight, as I continue this them of the spooky and the strange as we look at mediums and magicians.