True Horror: A Halloween Tale

Rationalists are ill equipped to deal with the realities of the underworld. Reports of paranormal activity are viewed skeptically if not derisively. People who swear they have seen a ghost or are sure that their house is haunted are considered gullible, delusional, or deceitful. Scientific man wouldn’t recognize a demon if it slapped him in the face. After all, in a universe without God, how can there be such a thing as a devil?

Despite the substantial gains that secular humanism appears to have made in establishing a materialistic world view for the masses of Western civilization, popular culture belies their success. If rationalism reigns supreme, why is Halloween one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays?[1] Modern man may take his stand to explain this away with psychological arguments about humanity’s proclivity for pretense or sociological theories about the propagation of the traditions of youth that adults bequeath to their children in commemoration of romanticized memories, but this doesn’t go quite far enough to justify the macabre. A recent survey of Halloween costume picks has witches, zombies, and vampires in the top ten. No one should be surprised, least of all the Devil; who came in a disappointing eleventh in the survey just below a three-way tie between serial killers, tarts, and politicians[2] – which one could argue would give him tenth place representation on influence alone.

To Christians who bemoan the open embracement of the occult that Halloween provides, I would advise a review of Church history if they wish to know the reasons for its popular continuance. The ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween), the festival of the dead, was transmuted by the Church into All Hallows Eve through the implementation of celebrations and rites that incorporated the pagan holiday in order to be culturally relevant in their outreach.[3] This approach continues into the modern era in which fellowship halls across the Evangelical spectrum are opened up to alternative events where children can enjoy a little bit of dress up and lots of sugar in a “safe” environment. Personally, I think it would be safer for them to see the realities of the spirit realm.

The ancients believed in sacred times and places, seasons and shrines where the vail between this dimension and the next was nothing more than a wisp of gossamer easily moved aside by the wind. Such instincts led them to communal worship in admiration or for appeasement and safety. When the otherworldly was afoot, best be in the company of brothers. Anyone who has had even a fleeting moment of fear in the dark knows the sensation of a haunted place. And most have felt this brush on their skin at one time or another with the lights on. To encounter the spiritual is common to the human condition, for we are spirit beings. Halloween’s centuries long continuance is a testament of this.

But the pretend horrors of Halloween are nothing compared to the true terrors that the spirit realm holds. The costume masks are mere grotesques of the dangers of the dark. And the children of darkness hold no candle to the terrors of the heavenlies. One could pile demons, ghosts, and lycans atop all the wiccans, walking corpses, and blood suckers[4] in the world and not come close to matching the menace of the lowly insects of the spirit realm, let alone its higher beings.

Revelation 9:1-12 (Contemporary English Version)
1 When the fifth angel blew his trumpet, I saw a star fall from the sky to earth. It was given the key to the tunnel that leads down to the deep pit.
2 As it opened the tunnel, smoke poured out like the smoke of a great furnace. The sun and the air turned dark because of the smoke.
3 Locusts came out of the smoke and covered the earth. They were given the same power that scorpions have.
4 The locusts were told not to harm the grass on the earth or any plant or any tree. They were to punish only those people who did not have God’s mark on their foreheads.
5 The locusts were allowed to make them suffer for five months, but not to kill them. The suffering they caused was like the sting of a scorpion.
6 In those days people will want to die, but they will not be able to. They will hope for death, but it will escape from them.
7 These locusts looked like horses ready for battle. On their heads they wore something like gold crowns, and they had human faces.
8 Their hair was like a woman’s long hair, and their teeth were like those of a lion.
9 On their chests they wore armor made of iron. Their wings roared like an army of horse-drawn chariots rushing into battle.
10 Their tails were like a scorpion’s tail with a stinger that had the power to hurt someone for five months.
11 Their king was the angel in charge of the deep pit. In Hebrew his name was Abaddon, and in Greek it was Apollyon.
12 The first horrible thing has now happened! But wait. Two more horrible things will happen soon.

If you think these scorpions are bad news, consider the specter of the horses of the underworld:

Revelation 9:17b-19 (CEV)
17b The heads of the horses looked like lions, with fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths.
18 One-third of all people were killed by the three terrible troubles caused by the fire, the smoke, and the sulfur.
19 The horses had powerful mouths, and their tails were like poisonous snakes that bite and hurt.

As bad as these are, the Dragon is even worse.

Revelation 12:3-4 (CEV)
3 Something else appeared in the sky. It was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and a crown on each of its seven heads.
4 With its tail, it dragged a third of the stars from the sky and threw them down to the earth. Then the dragon turned toward the woman, because it wanted to eat her child as soon as it was born.

No horror tale pretended to by man in a bid for free candy or filmed by him to sell sweets and popcorn to the adoring masses can touch the realities that hell holds captive. And the dwellers of the dark kingdom are but pale shadows of the terrifying light of the bright ones.

Ezekiel 1:4-14 (New King James Version)
4 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.
5 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.
6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings.
7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze.
8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings.
9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.
10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle.
11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies.
12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.
13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning.
14 And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.
24 When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings.

These creatures – taller than tornadoes, brighter than lightning, loud as the voice of the Almighty – worship One more terrifying than themselves.[5]

Revelation 1:12-18 (NKJV)
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;
15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.
17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

John’s vision of Jesus glorified was far more terrible than his glimpse of Him transfigured.[6] True horror would be to perish beneath the sword of the Living Lord returning from Heaven[7], to die at the hand of the One who died for you because His grace was rejected.

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NKJV)
For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”  Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Matthew 10:28 (NKJV)
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

This year, as in the centuries before it, many will don themselves in mockeries of the spirit realm. They will mum their way through occult pantomimes, oblivious to the true dangers lurking in the darkness or the worse danger of rejecting the Light. Man’s reason may deny these realities. But his heart and the hair at the nape of his neck know better. Evil is real, but it trembles before God.[8] It is far better to feel His embrace at our repentance[9] than to face the hand of His judgment,[10] for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

John 3:16 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

[1] Treacy Reynolds, “Record Number of Americans Buy Halloween Costumes”, https://nrf.com/media/press-releases/record-number-of-americans-buy-halloween-costumes, accessed 10/18/15.
[2] https://nrf.com/sites/default/files/Images/Media%20Center/Costumes%209-12-15%20press.pdf, accessed 10/18/15.
[3] Jack Santino, “Halloween: The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows”, The Library of Congress American Folklife Center, http://www.loc.gov/folklife/halloween.html, accessed 10/30/15.
[4] The reader is free to choose vampires or politicians or both for this reference.
[5] See Rev 4:6-11
[6] Matt 17:1-2
[7] Rev 19:11-18
[8] James 2:19
[9] Luke 15:10
[10] Heb 10:31

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