A Close Encounter Through A Dream
Close Encounters Of The God Kind
A Close Encounter Through A Dream
The following report was given by Jan M. Faust, ABCNEWS.com, March 23.
At midnight on Tuesday, March 24—presumably Central time—some predicted Channel 18s everywhere would broadcast God. Don’t adjust your set, says Heng-ming Chen, leader of the God’s Salvation Church, a Garland, Texas, group whose beliefs blend Buddhism, Christianity and science fiction. This “appearance” is just a scheduled preview of God’s return to Earth on Tuesday, March 31, says the church.
It’s being billed as a 20th-century Second Coming, played out with television cameos, press conferences and flying saucers.
It’s the shared vision of approximately 150 people who’ve left everything behind to pursue a religion in a new land. The Taiwanese group, whose Chinese name, Chen Tao, roughly translates to “God Saves the Earth Flying Saucer Association,” has come to tell America that the end is near.
As you can see flying saucers are everywhere, even in religion. Whether these accounts are ridiculous or credible, they are becoming far too common place to simply ignore. So, as I thought about the theme of “Encounters With God,” I began to notice some strong similarities between professed close encounters with aliens and close encounters with God. Consequently, I felt impressed to use the subject of “Alien Encounters” as a launching pad for our biblical discussion of “Encounters with God.”
We are presently involved in a series of messages entitled: “Close Encounters Of The God Kind.” This title is taken from the UFO science fiction film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
In this series, we are studying close encounters with God, by likening them to close encounters with UFO’s.
Whether you believe in alien “Close Encounters” or not, you must admit that anyone who claims to have had one is changed forever!
Similarly, when a person has a close encounter with the Jehovah God, it is an experience that changes that person’s life forever.
In addition, when a person has a close encounter with a UFO, it cannot be totally explained.
Likewise, when a person truly encounters God, something happens that he/she cannot totally explain or rationalize. A person must use his/her spirit to leap beyond the natural and begin to entertain the supernatural, the miraculous, the ineffable, the transcendent, the eternal.
In first three sermons in this series, we worked hard to develop a definition for a “Close Encounter Of The God Kind.” That definition is
A “Close Encounter Of The God Kind” is a face-to-face meeting with God that cannot be totally explained, but which—when fully experienced—will bring about a response of genuine worship or celebration, which includes the remembrance of a redemptive past and/or the conviction of a liberated future that changes people forever; causing them to move and grow by over-recording the intuitive tapes of their core belief.
In the fourth message in this series, we explored one of the major barriers to experiencing a close encounter with God. We called that barrier: “The Brain Barrier.” “The Brain Barrier” is the American, Greek influenced tendency to separate and exalt the intellect above the emotions.
We then began to explore twelve “Close Encounters Of The God Kind.”
In the fifth message, we explored Abraham’s first encounter with God. In that first encounter, God encountered Abraham through His Word that He might commission Abraham to be the forefather of the Messiah.
In the last message, we explored God’s encountering of Abraham through a test. God tested the faith of Abraham with a severe test, that He might approve Abraham for service and to ultimately reign with Him.
(This brings us to the next encounter that we want to explore.)
In this message, we are going to see that God uses a dream to encounter one of His servants. This story is found in the 28th chapter of Genesis. The servant that we shall be looking at is Jacob. I hope that we are all familiar with the story of Jacob. I took a couple of messages on Jacob and Esau some months back during the “Family Mess” series.
Nevertheless, for those who don’t remember and those who are unfamiliar with the story, let me summarize the story for you. Isaac, the son of Abraham took Rebekah to be his wife. Rebekah was barren, but Isaac prayed for her and she conceived. Rebekah was pregnant with twins that struggled within her womb. This troubled Rebekah and she inquired of the Lord about what was going on inside of her. The Bible says in
Genesis 25:23, “And the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples shall be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.’”
After the boys were born their struggle continued and Jacob, the younger, the supplanter, the cheater, bought the birthright from Esau for a bowl of lentil soup. He would eventually also wrestle away from Esau the blessing of the first born.
In the “Family Mess” series we studied how mother and son, Rebekah and Jacob, conspired to trick their elderly, blind husband and father, Isaac out of the blessing. Because of that act:
· We saw Isaac trembling and shaken;
· We saw Esau embittered and threatening to murder his brother;
· We saw Rebekah bereft of both of her sons, and probably a good relationship with her husband; and
· We saw Jacob have to flee from His brother, losing his family, his home, his country, and seemingly his destiny. (FAMILY MESS!)
And Jacob went through all of this for a birthright and blessing that were already prophesied and promised to Him by Jehovah God!
This is where we pick up the story today, with Jacob fleeing from his brother, Esau. Notice with me please Genesis 28:10-22.
There are many ways to preach through this narrative, but I want to explore this narrative from the perspective of a “Close Encounter Of The God Kind.”
As Jacob was fleeing from his brother, Esau, he came to an ordinary place to stop and rest. But Jehovah God turned that ordinary place into a sanctuary. When he went to sleep that night, Jacob had an “experiential encounter” with Jehovah God that engendered worship.
God encounters Jacob through a dream. When Jacob rested for the night, God showed Jacob a ladder whose bottom was on the earth, but whose top reached into heaven. In addition, angels were ascending and descending this latter.
There are many things to study here, but remember we are only looking at this narrative from the perspective of a close encounter with God. This is no doubt a face-to-face meeting with God. We get some words that seem to explain this dream in the New Testament, in Jesus words to Nathanael, in
John 1:50-51, “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’”
In these words of Jesus, He seems to refer to the dream that Jacob had. That was a dream to Jacob, but Christ is himself the bond of fellowship between heaven and earth, between God and man, for Jesus is both ‘the Son of God’ as Nathanael said and ‘the Son of Man’ as Jesus here calls himself. God and man meet in Christ. He is the true Jacob’s Ladder.
This same Jesus said,
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
· He is the Way to heaven.
· He is the Mediator between man and God.
· He is the spiritual ladder or passageway between earth and heaven.
His body was firmly planted on the earth, but His nature was firmly planted in heaven. He is the God-Man and the Man-God. He is the “Theanthropic One.” Theos means God and anthropos means man, and yet the two never intermingled. His deity and his humanity are joined together in a hypostatic union, i.e. one hypostasis or person. He had two natures and yet He was one being. He was as much Man as if He had never been God, and as much God as if He had never been Man. He represented both God and the human race.
So, in this dream, Jacob experienced a face-to-face encounter with the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. This is “A Close Encounter Of The God Kind.”
Now, I am about to make a very bold statement. “I believe that God sometimes still uses dreams to encounter us!” Now you should be thinking, “Why is that such a bold statement?” It is a bold statement, because many have done away with all supernatural manifestations or encounters with God and reduced our relationship with God to a cognitive endeavor. This reduction also includes dreams. Most churches today have no theology of experience or spiritual manifestations. Therefore, the world that we live in, which is deeply spiritual, is looking for a way to deal with spiritual manifestations like dreams. We live in a post-modern society and post-modern people are spiritual. They have their own experiences and spirituality, but they are looking for someone to help them interpret those experiences and spirituality. Unfortunately, they are looking to Eastern Mystic religions and 1-900 numbers for answers. Why are they looking there? Because the church is ill-equipped to help people deal with spiritual manifestations like dreams, although God worked through dreams throughout the Bible—we act as if He didn’t or He doesn’t any more!
We must develop a theology of experience, which includes dreams.
(I am attempting to begin to do this today, and will continue the effort next Sunday. Let’s see what we can learn today.)
At this church, we have a fairly well developed theology of propositional doctrine, but our theology of experience—particularly with respect to miraculous experiences—still needs further development. We must study dreams from a biblical perspective and be ready to help people understand how to interpret and deal with their dreams. We must learn to discern between Spirit-given dreams and those that come from natural causes like Rapid Eye Movement (REM.) and eating late at night.
It is believed that we dream often during the night, although we cannot remember most of them. This kind of dreaming occurs during REM., Rapid Eye Movement sleep. This is a kind of sleep that ties together two periods of deep sleep. It is believed that much dreaming occurs during REM sleep when your body is tying together two periods of sleep. When REM does not occur, we wake up. It is believed that babies have many dreams, as they sleep for hours during the early days of their existence.
Dreams also stem from other natural occurrences like overeating late at night. Once again these dreams are not memorable, or they simply do not make sense. But periodically God will break into our sleep and meet us face-to-face for His own purposes.
Have you ever experienced this? Have you ever had a dream and woke straight up with the impressions heavy upon your mind and heart? Have you ever awakened from a dream and knew, deep within your spirit, that God had spoken to you? I have! One of those dreams is a recurring dream. When God was calling me into the ministry, as a child and a teenager, He gave me a recurring dream. In that dream, I was preaching to more people than I could count, in a large church auditorium with a balcony and a sloped floor, and the Spirit of God was visibly moving through the congregation like a wave! Every time that I have had this dream, I have awakened with that dream heavy upon my mind and heart and knowing that I have just seen God face-to-face!
But that is not all! Across time God has confirmed to me and others, in many ways, that that dream is a prophecy. Others have had the same or similar dreams. God has chosen to show a number of us, through the instrumentality of dreams, what He is going to do.
This ministry is founded on the Word of God and the power of God, through a dream!
By the way, the longer I live the more the dream is making sense. I almost immediately knew what God was showing me, but I didn’t fully understand all that He was showing me—and I still may not understand all that God is showing me. These elements were very significant to me, because they denoted a great move of God. The ultimate building that I saw is not yet built. That is why we are believing God and waiting on Him to build at least a 3,000 seat Worship Center. It shall happen!
But lately, God has illuminated in my spirit the visible movement of the Holy Spirit in that auditorium. The Holy Spirit was sweeping like waves across that great auditorium. Have you ever seen the wave in a football or basketball stadium? That is what I saw! This has not come to pass yet, but I am beginning to see that wave of the Holy Spirit now!
In earlier days, I was more centered on the crowd and the building. The tremendous move of the Holy Spirit is much more important to me, as I grow older, than a building! How many of you know, in your spirit, that this is God speaking?
Try to think of a time when God spoke to you through a dream. Ask God to give you the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to discern how He was trying to meet you face-to-face.
As we have been pointing out in this series, God didn’t encounter Jacob through a dream just to be doing something. He encountered Jacob through a dream that He might give him a God-sized assignment. Not only was the ladder a representation of Jesus Christ, but Jehovah God stood above the ladder and prophesied to Jacob.
· He identified Himself as the God of his father and grandfather, Abraham and Isaac.
· He again promised Jacob the land that had been promised to his forefathers and to his countrymen.
· The blessing of many descendents was re-promised to Jacob.
· The promise of Jesus Christ is reiterated,
“...in you and in your descendents shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
· He promised Jacob that He would be with him.
· He promised Jacob that He would be with him wherever he would go.
· He promised that He would bring him back to the land from which he was fleeing.
· He promised that He would not leave him until he had brought to pass all that He had promised.
God encountered Jacob to give him the God-sized assignment of being a progenitor, ancestor, forefather of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
God didn’t give me dreams of future facilities and the move of His Spirit just to be doing something. He gave me the dreams, because He wanted me to accept the God-sized assignment that He was giving. I have accepted it!!! And let me tell you, it becomes more God-sized all the time!
God doesn’t encounter us through dreams for our own pride and arrogance, but to give us a God-sized assignment. So, whenever you have a dream that you know is an encounter with God, begin to look for the assignment that God wants to give to you.
This was not just a dream, but an encounter—an experience that involved all of Jacob. This dream was more than an intellectual event; it was an experience. And when we have dreams, they are not just intellectual impressions but experiences. We experience them with all that we are! Dreams cause our hearts to pound, our eyes to move, our muscles to twitch, our bodies to sweat, etc., etc., etc.
Dreams are like virtual reality. We sometimes actually experience what we are going to experience in the future!
Sister Cathy has been the recipient of a number of dream induced bruises.
· I used to play basketball in my dreams.
· I play racquetball in my dreams.
· I have fought satanic dogs in my sleep.
· I preach in my sleep.
· I have been raptured too many times to count in my dreams.
When I am raptured in a dream, I usually wake up and run through the house. I have believed on several occasions that what I was dreaming was real.
Notice that Jacob did not merely intellectually dissect the dream. He experienced it and responded to it in worship. He had no “paralysis of analysis.” It was an experience that could not be totally explained, but Jacob fully experienced the dream and responded in genuine worship.
What was Jacob’s response to this dream? First, he made a statement of discovery,
“Surely, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”
Discovery is the beginning of genuine worship.
Sometimes the Lord is trying to encounter us and we don’t know it!
Secondly, he was afraid. Notice that he experienced awe, for he used the word “awesome.” Holy reverence is one genuine response of worship. We ought to get in touch with the awesomeness of God!
Out of this holy reverence arose an acknowledgement of God’s presence in that place. This was not some place where God was just passing by; this was the house of God and the gate to heaven! “You are awesome in this place Mighty God!”
Thirdly, Jacob rose early in the morning and erected a worship marker and called the name of it Bethel, which means “the house of God.”
We need to set up a worship marker, when we know that God has encountered us through a dream. We need to write down somewhere, “On this date, God encountered me through this dream.” Then we need to worship God, not only then, but every time our mind returns to the worship marker!
Fourthly, Jacob made a three-part vow based on four conditions.
Condition #1: If God will be my God.
Condition #2: If God will keep me on this journey.
Condition #3: If God will give me provisions on this journey;
Condition #4: If I return to my father’s house in safety.
First vow: The Lord will be my God.
Second vow: The worship marker will be God’s house.
Third vow: He would give tithes of all that God gave him.
These responses were responses of worship and the specific kind of worship in view is the conviction of a liberated future, which transformed the immediate events and changed Jacob forever. This encounter began to overwrite the intuitive tapes of Jacob’s core beliefs. Jacob’s intuitive tapes before this encounter had to be tied to cheating others, because he could only trust in himself. His tapes were full of fear as he fled from his brother. His tapes were full of uncertainty about the future. Etc., etc., etc. But now, Jacob tapes are beginning to be overwritten with a slight trust in God.
When we realize that God has encountered us through a dream, we should do more than analyze that dream. We should seek to fully experience that dream and respond to God with genuine worship. Genuine worship will include:
· Discovering the presence of God in ordinary circumstances;
· Sensing the awesomeness of God in ordinary places;
· Acknowledging the presence of God in our otherwise ordinary life;
· Setting up worship markers to mark the time and place;
· Making vows to God; and
· Giving financially to God.
When we respond to God with genuine worship, we will be changed forever. We will be supernaturally assured of a conviction of a liberated future, which will transform whatever events we are facing. We will be changed forever. The negative intuitive tapes of our core beliefs will be over-recorded with positive intuitive tapes that proceed from the Word of God and positive experiences with God.
When God repeatedly encountered me through dreams to give me the God-sized assignment of building this church for Him, overtime I began to fully respond to those dreams and give a genuine response of worship. My genuine response of worship was and is to place my faith in Jesus Christ and organize, launch this church, and continue to work towards its growth. I have developed in the past and continue to develop and enjoy a conviction of a liberated future, which has changed me forever. My intuitive tapes before these dreams included only normal Christian aspirations and timidity, but after fully experiencing the dreams and responding to them with genuine worship, my intuitive tapes play, “God is trustworthy! God is going to do what He has promised! I trust God to do what He has promised! I will go forth boldly, in the name of the Lord!”
Now I hate to tell you that there is some bad news in this story. God wants to use Jacob to establish and extend His kingdom plan, but Satan tries to destroy the plan of God through “Family Mess.”
It is good news that God wants us to partner with Him in establishing and extending His kingdom, but Satan uses “Family Mess” to try to derail God’s intentions of using us in His kingdom. We don’t just receive God’s dreams and fulfill them, there is going to be resistance from Satan through our families. He will use “Family Mess” from our natural or spiritual families!
Another kind of resistance will be people’s response to us sharing our dream.
· Some will think us weird.
· Some will think us crazy.
· Others will respond in various hurtful ways.
Many of the responses to us will be painful, and Satan will try to use that pain to stop us.
But praise God, that as we began to fully experience what God is doing and respond in worship through the conviction of a liberated future, we will receive the courage, encouragement, and power to get on with the assignment. Then we will be able to recognize those few people who responding to our dream with support and spiritual understanding.
We should celebrate the fact that God desires to use us in the awesome task of establishing and extending His kingdom. We should celebrate the fact that God so desires to use us in extending His kingdom that He initiates close encounters with us through dreams. On the basis of this celebration, we should take our dreams more seriously.
In addition, we should celebrate the dreams that God has given me, and confirmed through others, concerning our destiny as a church and an important part of the establishing and extending of the kingdom of God.
I have a dream:
· That many more people, thousands shall come to know Jesus;
· That we will be a training center for other churches, who want to move in a visionary way;
· That there will be a Bible Institute here, a college, a seminary;
· That there will be at least a 3,000 seat Worship Center and other buildings to facilitate this great dream;
· That the power of the Holy Spirit is going to visibly move in that new Worship Center, in keeping with the prophecy of Joel!
I have a dream!
(Now is the day of Salvation. Come to Jesus, Now!)
Call to Discipleship