Mark 6:30-56; 2 Samuel 16; Daniel 10
Many years ago there was a fad where you would be shown a picture that seemed to be a design of some kind. You would then be told “There’s an elephant in that picture if you look at it right.” I never saw the elephant, or the flying fish, or any of the other pictures they had in those drawings. I thought they were someone’s idea of a practical joke, and someone was secretly recording facial expressions as people squinted and screwed their faces up to find that unfindable picture. Seeing may be believing, but I thought that for some of them, believing led to seeing.
People have had fun with optical illusions down through the ages. Some people see them, some people don’t. God has often shown Himself in similar ways: some people see Him, others don’t, but feel His presence. Paul, on the road to Damascus saw Jesus. His traveling companions didn’t see Him, but heard the sounds that Paul heard, only without understanding. Daniel had a similar experience: “I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves.” (Daniel 10:7)
Daniel had many experiences where God appeared to him. In this situation, he saw a man gleaming like he was made of burnished bronze. Ok, that’s the short version, read the chapter to get the full version. He saw this man clearly, his companions didn’t, but they felt a presence that overwhelmed them with terror and they ran and hid. The apocalyptic message was one that left Daniel with no strength; he mourned for three weeks afterward. The vision from God, and the message he received, left him without strength – just like Paul needed to be helped after his vision. A vision that’s truly from God is a frightening, physically and emotionally draining experience.
Sometimes when we hear people talking about visions from God there are amazing personal benefits to the person who has the vision. And, those benefits seem to come because you’re supposed to send them money. When those are the visions we hear about, we begin discounting the idea that God might still work with visions today. The truth is that God still speaks in visions, often when other means are impossible. I have heard many stories from those involved on the mission field of former Muslims who have seen visions of Jesus that have led them into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In countries that have laws against evangelism, that persecute and execute Christians where it may be nearly impossible for a Christian witness to make an appearance, God appears to them in a vision and they know that salvation is found only in Jesus. As I listen to, and read the comments of people I’m acquainted with, I often see rage against those who are Muslim. I’m reminded as I hear or read that God loves those in the Muslim world, too, and I’m saddened by the hate. And so I have a challenge to my friends: when you see or hear news involving Muslims, don’t react in rage or hate; engage in spiritual evangelism and pray that the old men will see dreams and the young men will see visions. Pray for them with love, knowing that God’s purposes are accomplished through His love. Pray that God will reveal Himself to them and that revival will break out in the Muslim word. Pray that in seeing, they might believe.
Oh Lord, I pray that you would reveal Yourself to people all over the world. That Your people would spread the word of salvation. That when kingdoms of the world seek to prevent that, that You would reveal Yourself in dreams and visions, especially in the Muslim world.
Daily Devotion by Bob James https://dailyenduringtruth.com/https://www.amazon.com/Daily-Enduring-Truth-January-February/dp/1983973955