ISIS Fighter Meets Jesus in a Dream, but Why the Skepticism?

This has to be one of the most exciting reports I’ve read in the past month. After a seemingly endless string of gory tales involving beheadings, hangings and stonings across the Middle East, here’s some news you really want to read: ISIS Fighter Who ‘Enjoyed’ Killing Christians Wants to Follow Jesus After Dreaming of Man in White.

Islamic State

This is how God fights evil! Your prayers are truly making a difference.

But here’s the question I asked myself after reading these articles: Why do people so often assume that this experience is only for Muslims? Why the skepticism? In this article from The Christian Post, Nicola Menzie writes:

“In Islam… people don’t expect to have God talk back to them personally, as the Holy Spirit isn’t living in them. They ask God for guidance through dreams; that’s like the one way that Muslims expect to hear from God…”

“Christians have been skeptical of Muslims’ claims that “Jesus dreams” have led them to Christianity.”

Muslims expect to hear God in dreams, but why not Christians? How did we forget that  Islam was birthed six centuries after Christianity with versions of many of our biblical stories echoed in the Koran. Dreams and visions make up nearly ⅓ of our Old Testament! It’s the primary way God speaks to the prophets and the way he describes his own communication style (Numbers 12:6). Many of our famous biblical stories began while someone was sleeping. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Gideon, Samuel, David and Solomon all had significant dreams from God that shaped Judeo-Christian history. Most of the prophets too received their messages in visionary form. Even angels are described as appearing mostly as a visionary experience or dream (Eg. Gen. 22:11; Judges 6:11, Zech. 1:9).

We also see God speaking to people who don’t know him personally (think Jacob, the Egyptian Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Abimelech to name a few). And let’s not forget our most famous New Testament character, Paul the Apostle, was once Saul the Terrorist whose actions are not unlike the ISIS fighters of today and whose radical conversion was brought about by a vision/dream. So why are we urged to be skeptical about these sorts of stories (See CBN article) when they are integral to our Christian legacy? We believe the Apostle Paul’s story in the Bible without a second thought, but why are we skeptical of it happening in our day?

The skepticism towards dreams can be explained in part by lack of understanding and fear in relation to the work of the Holy Spirit. We’ve been taught to doubt this invisible person sent by Jesus to be his voice in our lives (John 16:12-15). A history of rationalism, birthed primarily through the Enlightenment period meant that it’s harder for us to trust the supernatural. So repentance brought about by a dream of Jesus is harder to accept than by a sermon delivered by a missionary. Yet God’s ways haven’t changed. He’s still speaking to people by his Spirit. He’s still transforming hearts and revealing himself to those who don’t know him. And sometimes he is doing it in dreams (Acts 2:17).

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Learn More

A thorough biblical teaching on one of God’s most common forms of communication can be found at the God Conversations Store as a CD or MP3: Does God Speak in Dreams?

 

On Star with Cathy Jenke

During my ministry in Auckland last week, I had the opportunity to visit Rhema Media. It was fabulous to meet a number of the team who work hard to broadcast God’s heart across New Zealand through radio and TV. Watch my interview with Cathy Jenke at Star Radio here: