5 Spookiest Stories in the Bible + What is the Bible’s Best Evangelism Strategy? #308
Happy Friday, friends. As mentioned yesterday, we are going to cover a few spooky Bible stories over the next couple of days, but don’t fear – these will be real Bible stories, with real and important messages for us AND we will still be reading our normal Bible readings and discussing our Bible questions, just a bit shorter questions for the next couple of days. Our Bible reading passages today include 2nd Kings 11-12, Psalms 119:121-144, Hosea 3-4, and 2nd Timothy 2. Our Big Bible question is from our Timothy passage. Evangelism is a very churchy word that comes from a Greek word that basically means ‘good news.’ When we are talking about evangelism, we are very simply talking about sharing the good news about Jesus, and in doing so, we are fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus that He gave to His disciples before ascending into Heaven – to go and teach all people the teachings of Jesus, making disciples of His and baptizing people. Paul is going to give us that strategy in today’s reading, and I need to tell you that it is not to build big church buildings, to to put your church service on TV, or to have amazing programs, or the best and most impressive Sunday service. No – it is none of those things, and it is so simple, you might just miss it if you aren’t careful. Let’s read 2nd TImothy 2 and see if you can catch it.
Here it is again if you missed it:
You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2nd Timothy 2:1-2
Very, very simple, right? Take the teachings of the Word of God and teach them to faithful men, who will then do likewise. It is with such a strategy that the good news of Jesus reached all over the world from a tiny little country. This, as it turns out, is the Jesus method of discipleship. David Mathis tells us more:
Does “disciple all nations” not call to mind how Jesus himself discipled his men? They were, after all, his disciples. And when they heard him say, “disciple all nations,” would they not think this discipling is similar to the very thing he did with them—investing prolonged, real-life, day-in, day-out, intentional time with younger believers in order to personally grow them to maturity, as well as model for them how to disciple others in the same way?
This sounds like what Paul is getting at in 2 Timothy 2:2, when he instructs his disciple Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Timothy, my disciple, disciple others to disciple others. Four spiritual generations get explicit mention here: Paul, Timothy, “faithful men,” and “others also”—with the implication that further generations are to follow.
Discipling, seen in this light, means not merely the pursuit of our own spiritual maturity but getting outside ourselves for personal connection and substantial, intentional investment of time in a few others—the kind of investment for which there must be going to accomplish among the nations. Jesus spent over three years with his twelve disciples. He called them to be discipled at the outset of his ministry (Matt. 4:19), and he gave them the lion’s share of his life until his departure in Matthew 28. He invested his life in his men. It is eye-opening to track in the Gospels how much Jesus gave of himself to his disciples. While the crowds pursued him, he pursued his disciples. He was willing to bless the masses, but he invested in the few.
David Mathis, “Introduction: Remember, Jesus Never Lies,” in Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged, ed. John Piper (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 17–18.
And now…let’s talk about SPOOKY stories in the Bible, and then we will finish up with our Bible readings.
5 Spooky Bible Stories, Part 1:
#5 The Disembodied Hand! The fifth spookiest story in the Bible is one we just read a few days ago – the terrifying story of King Belshazzar and the Disembodied hand! How do I know that this is one of the scariest stories in the Bible? Because the King might just have wet his pants – or worse! when he saw the hand writing on the wall. Here’s the story:
5 King Belshazzar held a great feast for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine in their presence. 2 Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the gold and silver vessels that his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines could drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, wives, and concubines drank from them. 4 They drank the wine and praised their gods made of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. 5 At that moment the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing on the plaster of the king’s palace wall next to the lampstand. As the king watched the hand that was writing, 6 his face turned pale, and his thoughts so terrified him that he soiled himself and his knees knocked together. 7 The king shouted to bring in the mediums, Chaldeans, and diviners. He said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this inscription and gives me its interpretation will be clothed in purple, have a gold chain around his neck, and have the third highest position in the kingdom.” 8 So all the king’s wise men came in, but none could read the inscription or make its interpretation known to him. 9 Then King Belshazzar became even more terrified, his face turned pale, and his nobles were bewildered.
As we have discussed before, we aren’t 100% sure that the king wet himself, but seeing the hand of God writing on the wall obviously terrified him inside and out – his face went pale, his knees knocked and he became even MORE terrified when nobody could tell him the message. Even more spooky, the story just gets worse from there. Belshazzar – a man of great pride who did not love God or obey His commandments, was told the interpretation of the writing by the Man of God Daniel – the king had been judged by God, and his kingdom would be taken away…a prophecy that happened within 24 hours of the writing on the wall!
#4 LEGION: The Super-Strong Demonized Man.
What if I told you there was a man in the Bible who could NOT be captured by the police, military or any people. That he was so supernaturally strong that anytime people did try to capture him and tie him up with chains or ropes, he would just break them? What if I told you that this man was so immune to fear and so terrifying himself that he LIVED IN A GRAVEYARD and cried out constantly in a horrifying voice?! You would be terrified, and unsettled, right? But…what if I aksi told you that this man met somebody even more powerful than he was?! Let’s read Mark 5:
5 They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit came out of the tombs and met him. 3 He lived in the tombs, and no one was able to restrain him anymore—not even with a chain— 4 because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had torn the chains apart and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, don’t torment me!” 8 For he had told him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”9 “What is your name?” he asked him.“My name is Legion,” he answered him, “because we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region.11 A large herd of pigs was there, feeding on the hillside. 12 The demons begged him, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. The herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there.14 The men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Mark 5:1-15
So, this man possessed by a whole group of demons wasn’t living in the tombs, breaking chains, cutting himself and crying out constantly because he was some sort of super-creepy and super-evil villain, but because he was oppressed and demonized…and Jesus set him completely and utterly free, so this spooky story has a great ending, thanks to Jesus!
#3 Spookiest Bible story: The Ghost Walking on the Water!
Did you know that the Bible has more than one ghost story? Let me set the scene for you: Matthew, John, Peter, James and the other followers of Jesus are in a boat at night on the somewhat treacherous sea of Galilee. Jesus isn’t with them, because He wanted to spend time praying on the mountainside…so these men are alone, MILES from shore, and a storm has fired up. The time is well after midnight, and the disciples are in a very small boat – one that is powered by oars. When was the last time you found yourself several miles offshore in a small boat after midnight, and a sudden storm has come up? Terrifying! My dad used to own a powerful motorboat, and we took it out on a bay in the middle of the day once – we were less than a mile from shore, with a 150 horsepower motor, but a storm kicked up that was somewhat unexpected, and the boat was being tossed back and forth. We could see land, and it was daylight, and yet it was still a scary experience…I can only imagine how unsettling it would be for the disciples to be miles offshore after midnight in the middle of the storm…and to make matters worse, they look up while straining at the oars and see a ghostly figure walking across the water – ON TOP OF THE WATER! Terrified, they shout – IT’s A GHOST…and then the figure looks at them and TALKS TO THEM! Let’s read the story:
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 After dismissing the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. Well into the night, he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat was already some distance from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. 25 Jesus came toward them walking on the sea very early in the morning. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and they cried out in fear.27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter answered him, “command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.”And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those in the boat worshiped him and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Well, maybe the fact that the ‘ghost’ ended up being Jesus makes the story a little less spooky, but spare a thought for those poor disciples – i’m sure they were SCARED out of their minds!
Join us again tomorrow for our last two spooky stories, where we will see somebody actually COME BACK FROM THE DEAD and appear to over 500 people. How SPOOKY! (?)