I rarely remember my dreams. When I do, it is usually because they are significant.
This morning I awoke with what seemed like an odd dream fresh in my mind. In the dream I had travelled on St Patrick’s Day to the border town of Prescott, ON or Ogdensburg, NY (I’m really not sure which – I had the impression that I was in both places at once. It’s strange what happens in dreams). It seems I was there with a group of friends but I don’t recall any of them. We all went into a large building to get ready for some special activity which seemed very important at the time – I was quite caught up in the excitement and anticipation of it. I remember thinking that I had a lot of money to spend and I felt quite rich. I had several US twenty dollar bills as well as several Canadian twenties and tens in my wallet. I went to what seemed like a ticket counter in this large building and spent quite a lot of my US cash to buy tickets. When I was about to spend my last US twenty, the ticket guy said to me “You might want to keep that in case you want to go down the street and get pizza later”. When I woke up I realized that the tickets I had bought were all for gambling. I was in a bar where there was going to be a large St Patrick’s Day party. They were getting the green beer ready. I had apparently been planning to go along with this group of unknown friends for an evening of drinking and gambling.
Then I woke up. I thought to myself, “Why would I be so excited about something like that? I think gambling is stupid, it has no appeal at all for me, and while I like the occasional beer, I hate the idea of celebrating St Patricks Day – or any special day – by setting out purposely to get drunk. Why would I dream about something like that?”
I asked the Lord for understanding because I knew the dream was probably significant. As I prayed, I sensed that if I began journalling, the meaning would become clear. I started writing and as I wrote, the Holy Spirit began to reveal the meaning of the dream. The interpretation of the dream was fairly detailed and specific but here is the core of it.
This culture is sick and getting sicker. It has traded in almost everything of real value (the money in my dream) for trivialities that are worth nothing at all (the tickets entitling me to gamble : at this point I realized the significance of having kept one twenty for something of actual value – pizza, i.e. real food). It has believed liars and no longer wants to listen to the truth. It celebrates the feast day of a great, noble, heroic and godly man by getting drunk and gambling away its inheritance in his name. It is no longer worthy of being preserved. It will endure for a while longer because I am giving its people time to wake up before I destroy them.
Not a very encouraging message, you say? That’s what I thought too. All around me I hear sincere, earnest friends in Christ speaking messages of relentless good cheer, and I get this bizarre dream with the sobering interpretation. A lot of my friends already think I’m a bit of a nutbar – what will they think if I proclaim a message this sombre? Yet I have been sitting on a sense of foreboding for several months now – as though things are going to happen in the next few years – big things, momentous things – that will shake our complacent, entertainment-driven, self-preoccupied culture to the core.
I knew it was not insignificant that the dream took place in a border town. I had the sense that the dream straddled both countries, and as I prayed the Spirit confirmed this perception.
I then asked if there was not some good left?
Yes, there is some good left. That is why I am allowing time for repentance. I still have a remnant in both countries of people who love me. But for the most part both these nations have forgotten what made them great, they have become accustomed to peace and plenty without recognizing the price of integrity and sacrifice that made them strong, and they think nothing can shake them from their secure position.
Even most of my people are asleep. They see my blessings and get drunk on them, and do not realize that it is time to repent. Like Samson with Delilah, they have thought that they could have whatever they wanted with no consequences, and they have been lulled to sleep. They talk of my glory and my Kingdom as if there were no crisis coming. Yet on those who truly fear my name, I will pour out my grace and my power. To those who truly revere my holiness, I will reveal my glory, and they will indeed have entrance into my Kingdom.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not without hope. In fact I am full of hope. I know that Jesus is Lord and that he will reign as undisputed king across the whole earth. I believe in the Kingdom of God – not just an ethereal heavenly realm, but a real kingdom on a real restored earth. I know that God has a relentless, pursuing passion for the people he has made, that he loves to save all who will humble themselves and throw themselves on his mercy. I know that he gave his Son’s life for the world and that he loves to heal broken hearts and restore shattered lives. I know that even now in many places there are outpourings of the Holy Spirit accompanied by signs and wonders and miracles of various descriptions – what the book of Hebrews calls the powers of the age to come. But I also know that our culture has lost its moorings and is rotting at its core, and that debt-fuelled living has made us economically vulnerable despite our seeming prosperity. As well, I know that there is a dark power rising in the Middle East that wants to rule the entire world and is quite seriously bent on destroying Christianity, Judaism and Western civilization. This is no exaggeration. This monster has been biding its time and gathering its strength for a long time and we have for the most part closed our eyes and ears. Soon it will not be possible to do so any longer.
I have been reluctant to speak about such things because I know that the people of God need above all to be encouraged. But what kind of encouragement is it to speak a message of peace when warnings are what is needed?
Around the world – especially in the Middle East and Northern Africa, as well as parts of Asia – Christians are being threatened, persecuted and killed in increasing numbers. In several Western European countries, synagogues are being attacked, Jews feel themselves increasingly vulnerable, and cities have no-go zones where Sharia law rules and police are afraid to go. Yet in comfortable North America we are too politically correct to talk or pray about such things. Maybe it isn’t a positive enough message. But Jesus warned us that such things would happen before he returned. The gospel would be preached to all nations, accompanied by miracles, signs and wonders; and at the same time, persecutions would increase, Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies yet again, a great enemy of God’s people would arise, there would be a final time of conflict and then the Lord would return in power and glory to establish his throne openly on the earth.
I believe in the glory of God. I know the glory of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. I know that there is great potential for transformation of lives and communities even now, and I am committed to seeking the welfare of my city and nation. I know the government of Jesus will increase and fill the earth. But my Bible also tells me that this cannot happen without intense testing, purging and shaking. The testing is already underway and it will increase. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
I remember hearing the story of a man who had been a Pentecostal pastor in Germany in the 1930s. Hitler had brought peace, prosperity and order to Germany. As the saying goes, “He made the trains run on time”. Surely all must be well? And if we had reason to believe that maybe everything was not quite so rosy – well, best not to say too much about it.
The church that this man served was close to the railway tracks. On Sunday evenings during their prayer meeting they could hear the trains on their way to the death camps. Although they knew where the trains were going, and also knew or at least suspected what was happening at those camps, no-one talked about it. Instead, they sang louder during their prayer meeting to cover up the noise of the death trains that would later be seen as their nation’s shame.
David Carson, president of Intercessors for Canada, wrote a searching article a few months ago in which he compared the present times to 1938 in Canada. Everything seemed to be going on as normal. Life was quite pleasant for most people. The Depression was coming to an end. Neville Chamberlain came home to Great Britain from meeting with Adolf Hitler and declared, “I believe it is peace in our time. Go home and sleep quietly in your beds.” A little over a year later, the world was at war (a war about which I heard many stories from my parents, who at that time were a young engaged couple living in the occupied Netherlands). Among other horrors, six million Jews were killed in the gas chambers. Almost one million Canadians fought in that war – close to ten percent of the nation’s population at that time. And it was not even the final great conflict of history – just an advance warning. You can read David’s article here.
Am I making predictions of specific events? No. That’s not the message the Lord gave me. He simply told me it is time for the church to wake up and begin recognizing the signs of the times.
A popular message? Probably not. A hopeless message? Certainly not. A necessary message? Yes, I believe so. One of the qualities of the end-times church – the glorious Bride for whom Jesus is eager to return – is that it is a church that prays prayers of prevailing faith. It is time to pray in a way that most of us have probably not prayed before. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? That’s a question each of us has to answer for ourselves.