Dead Man Walking
Apocalypse #3 The Biblical definition of apocalypse is an exposure, an uncovering, or a revealing. It is God pulling back the curtain between heaven and earth and allowing humans to experience them as one.
Is your heart troubled over unbelieving family or friends? Maybe you are experiencing the pain of a prodigal child or spouse. What might happen to change their life trajectory if we asked God to awaken them with an apocalyptic moment? What if God, in response to our prayers, knocked them off a metaphorical horse, like Paul came off his real one? What if God stopped them from committing a terrible sin, like he did with King Abimelech in Genesis 20 and 26?
God steered a godly friend of mine away from sin through a frightening apocalyptic encounter. Brought up in a solid, Christ-centered home, my friend chose to turn from God and plunge into wild living during his teen years. One night, driving down a moonlit road after hours of partying, he looked up and saw a terrifying sight. A dead body that looked exactly like him, with a rope around its neck, hung from a roadside tree. He knew immediately God sent this vision. An understanding came that this is how darkness would consume him if he didn’t repent. A loving Father pulled back the curtain on what heaven could see as this young man’s future, if he stayed on the wide road. My prodigal friend realized he was a dead man walking, if he didn’t turn back to God.
For an audio version of this post- find me on Spotify or Apple podcasts- “The Pastor’s Feisty Wife.”
Several people in scripture received fearful warnings about their own coming doom, Belshazzar, for example. A disembodied hand appeared on one of his castle walls, during a banquet, and wrote a dire message that said, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.” In Genesis 20, King Abimelech of Gerar, received a harbinger of his death through a dream from God. This time, though, God allowed Abimelech the option of turning from sin and avoiding instant death.
Abilimech’s story is part of the Abraham narrative, during the early days of his marriage to Sarah. Abraham and his gorgeous wife, settled in the city of Gerar, a Philistine stronghold. In fear for his life and Sarah’s safety, Abraham lied to the people of Gerar and said Sarah was only his sister. Fear-based strategies are seldom good ones.
Sarah must have been quite something because King Abimelech heard of her beauty and summoned her to become part of his court. This beautiful woman carried within her a special calling and purpose to be the mother of a new nation. God could not allow her to carry another man’s child. Everything we know about Gerar, and Abimelech tells us that he did not follow Yahweh. Most likely he believed in many gods. Yet, God takes compassion on this pagan king and comes to him in a dream. I love the NLT version of the conversation between God and the king in this dream in Genesis 20: 3-6
“You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!”
But Abimelech had not slept with her yet, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Didn’t Abraham tell me, ‘She is my sister?’ And she herself said, ‘Yes, he is my brother.’ I acted in complete innocence. My hands are clean.”
In the dream God responded, “Yes, I know you are innocent. That’s why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I did not let you touch her. Now return the woman to her husband, and he will pray for you, for he is a prophet. Then you will live. But if you don’t return her to him, you can be sure that you and all your people will die.”
Mercy me, praying for Abimelech was the least that Abraham could do, after he almost got an innocent man killed. If you continue to read the chapter, the angry confrontation between Abimelech and Abraham became a Christmas Day for Abraham. Abimelech’s encounter with God was so powerful and significant, that the fear of God fell on him. This manifested as a fear that he might offend God’s man, Abraham. So, he showered Abraham and Sarah with gifts.
Genesis 20:14-16 tells us that the king gave the couple sheep, goats, cattle, servants and a thousand pieces of silver. Additionally, he told Sarah to look over his kingdom and choose any piece of land where she would like to build a home.
God, moved by Abimelech’s turn around did a healing miracle in all the women of Gerar. Apparently, when the king took Sarah into his household, God struck all of the women, including Abimelech’s wife, with infertility. After things became right between Abraham and the king, God reverses that infertility.
This story inspires me to pray for unbelieving people I know in a new way. They are unknowingly sinning against God with many of the choices they make. Every day, in a thousand small ways and some big ones, they are choosing death instead of life. They are the walking dead, but they don’t know it. I think that even those who know the truth about God experience hardened minds, thanks to Satan. They can’t see and hear what they are doing in view of God’s standards.
Here’s some of the prayers I’ve been lifting lately. You may like to use them as a template for your prayers for the lost. I’ll insert the name Ed for convenience.
- Father, send Ed a vision or dream that will show them he is on a path that leads to death.
- Father, let light break over the darkness of Ed’s life that he will know truth from lies.
- Father, speak to Ed through circumstances, other people and signs and wonders.
- Father, pull back the curtain and show Ed heaven’s perspective on his lifestyle and choices.
- Father, let your voice rise above the voice of the enemy in Ed’s life.
Who is the “Ed” in your life? I’ve got a few that are teetering on the edge of personal destruction if they don’t run to Christ soon. Let’s pray big prayers and ask God to do some spectacular, apocalyptic things in their lives. And don’t stop praying, even if things get worse. Our God loves to move on behalf of his faithful, persistent children.