The air is crisp, the leaves have changed to bright yellow, orange, and red, the farm markets are full of apples, squash and pumpkins, but the stores are full of Halloween candy and array of costumes ranging from cute and silly to scary and gory. Although I love fall, I do not love Halloween with all of it's trappings. Call me the Scrooge of Halloween, if you wish. Horror movies have edged into the theaters. Yards have become makeshift graveyards or murder scenes. Yuck! I will be the first to tell you that I don't go for it one bit. Why? There is something creepy and spooky at work behind the scenes. To glorify gore and think spooky is cute is to dance with the devil unaware.
History of Halloween, aka All Hallow's Eve
Halloween began through the ancient Celtic and Welsh traditions of appeasing dead spirits and keeping them at bay with Jack O'Lanterns on the eve of All Saint's Day. All Saint's Day is November 1st on the traditional church calendar. The thought was that the division between the living and the dead was thinnest, so dead souls would come amongst the living and wreak havoc. Supposedly Christian-based, many of the celebrations used divination to tell the future of individuals and bonfires were also used for that purpose and to remind witches of their destination in Hell.
Poor beggars went around from house to house asking for food and tricking people who gave none, which later became the trick-or-treat tradition of the Irish and Scottish peoples. Dressing in costumes representing spirits going from house to house threatening to do a trick if not welcomed, they would instead receive a treat. Later, Protestants renounced the notion of the souls in Purgatory coming among the living, rather it was evil spirits, or demons instead. In our more modern times, stories and movies have influenced the horror and gory aspects of Halloween in American to this day.
Although intended originally to prepare for the honoring of the dead saints and to pray those in Purgatory into Heaven, Halloween is a far cry from Christian now. Look in the stores at severed heads for costumes and other death and horror-related themes for "celebration". In Detroit, Michigan, it is called Devil's Night and all "Hell" breaks loose with fires, looting and other dangerous practices. Somehow I scratch my head at people decorating their lawns with hanging "bodies", cemeteries, ghoulish figures and people munching snacks that look like eyeballs and brains. Haunted corn mazes and closed prisons set up for the occasion depict murders of the most grotesque. This definitely no longer resembles anything Christian.
Churches attempt to reach out into their communities with Harvest parties, trunk-or-treat, and Halloween gospel tracts. It is an attempt to reach the lost for Christ and entertain the children of the church safely. Some host their own version of a horror house called "Hell House" depicting what is would be like to die and go to Hell. The gospel is shared and people from the church are available to pray with those who wish to accept Christ. Others believe it is still a Christian holiday and join in the festivities of what is in the secular venues. This indeed is confusing and cause for quite a bit of debate in churches.
Biblical accounts of the supernatural
If you want to stay up at night, there are plenty of accounts of evil spirits, demons and the like in the Bible. I think you will agree that what we are seeing "celebrated" with Halloween is actually a celebration of evil/demons. The Bible abounds in true accounts of creepy encounters and God warns us of the dangers of dabbling in the occult. Let's look at some passages and what was going on:
Satan tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, to which she fell for his lie and brought on a whole boat-load of trouble for mankind (Genesis 3). He and his demons, formerly angels from Heaven, fell to earth over pride. Satan believed he was as good or better than God. They are therefore, cast out of heaven and roam around here on earth (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-19). Demons are subject to God as created beings; therefore, they believe and shudder (James 2:19). Their end is sure, doomed to the Lake of Fire, the second death, along with Satan and unbelievers (Revelation 20:10-15).
In the book of Job, Satan had to petition God to do harm to Job to test him (Job 1). He could only do these things with the permission of God, who put limits on what he could do. At one point, a spirit passed in front of Job in the middle of a restless night, who spoke to him and caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand up (Job 4:12-21). My assumption from the discourse is that Satan appeared in front of him. In the New Testament, Jesus told Peter that Satan wanted to sift him like wheat, but Jesus had prayed for him (Luke 22:30-32). Satan wants to harm God's people and derail their faith (Mark 4:15, Job 2:4,5).
We aren't to be involved in divination (Deuteronomy 18:10, 1 Samuel 15:23, 2 Kings 17:17), yet leaders of Israel in the Old Testament did this and angered God. Saul in 1 Samuel 28 consulted a medium in Endor, a witch, who supposedly called up the spirit of Samuel. God would not answer his prayers which is why he resorted to this. He died as a result of his sin. The spirit warned him of this ending. Saul knew what Scripture said about this kind of thing. Why do we get involved with seances, Ouija boards, and the like? We should know better since we know the living God.
Jesus cast out demons in numerous accounts in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The apostles did, as well. They were subject to Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Mark 1:24). Sorcerers in the New Testament tried to do the same, but were in for a surprise because they did not know Christ yet tried to invoke the name of Christ (Acts 19:11-20). The power of Jesus' Name is powerful indeed!
The only account of the dead walking the earth was when Jesus died on the cross, being only a momentary thing (Matthew 27:52). Dead people were raised to life a number of times during Jesus ministry and the ministry of the apostles. Elijah raised the son of a widow back to life (1 Kings 17:17-24). Their spirits were restored to their bodies and they lived normal lives, yet to die again. The story of Lazarus and the poor man told by Jesus illustrates that the dead do not come back to tell us about the life to come or to warn us about anything in our future (Luke 16:19-25). The only one to have victory over the grave is Jesus, who raises us to our new lives in eternity.
Do be careful about spending too much time reading about such things, though. Rather, focus on the power of Christ and what He brings to your life.
Real life accounts of the supernatural
As a conservative Christian with the spiritual gift of discernment, I've discovered how bittersweet this gift can be. On one hand, it is wonderful to feel the presence of God in a place or worship service, hear His voice, and encounter His holy angels. On the other hand, it is very unsettling to sense the presence of evil. It is absolutely repulsive.
Having been involved in Christian ministry, my family and I have had the awesome opportunity to share the gospel with many people around the world with martial arts. Later, we were involved in church ministry that God wanted turned around. Let me tell you up front that I am not Pentecostal nor Charismatic, just your average ordinary conservative evangelical Christian. During those years, I learned about territorial spirits, spiritual strongholds, and demonic harassment. I would liken these encounters to alligator wrestling with no prior experience or training. But I can also tell you that the power of our Almighty God is greater! He enables His people to deal with these things by His Holy Spirit. We need not be afraid.
When we ministered through martial arts, I had written a "blog" post that explained why Christians should be careful when practicing martial arts and shared what Chi and some other Zen Buddhist concepts were in karate. One day, a druid, warlock, something-or-other priest, sensei--plus a few other titles-informed me that people like us should die and we had perverted the "sacredness of the arts". Our website had been online for a couple of years by that point opening people's eyes and influencing readers to Christ. Wow! I'm not dead, though. Praise God!
Every time we were ready to take our demo team out to share Christ, awful things happened to those on the team, especially us, just before and after. Sudden, unexplained illness was common along with unruliness of class members not on the demo team, paint fumes coming through the floor of our karate studio among many other instances. Add in a scary situation when someone from a gang removing lug nuts from the tires of our van and making it look like nothing was wrong. God protected us from a very serious accident. When we were on the way home, our van rattled badly on the highway. Upon arriving home from class, we discovered the deed. It was by God's mighty hand that we were protected from a horrible accident with our kids and some students from the class! Odd things happen when we advance the Kingdom of God.
Church ministry took that even further, though. Odd, unexplainable illness hit our little congregation of a church renewal. During that time, my husband had gone out onto the back lot, we had begun to mow, checking things routinely. He stumbled upon a circle of pyramid shaped candles that were deep purplish/burgundy and one white candle of the same type. They had been partially burned. We learned that these were used in witches' covens of the area to initiate someone new into the group. When we found that out, we took them to the church's gravel parking lot, built a fire and burned them as we prayed for the Lord to cleanse our property and protect us all. Amazingly, everyone in our church who was sick became well. There were other odd things connected with that church probably due to the witches and warlocks from the are, but also as a result of a mentally disturbed pastor who had been there before us. Although the church closed, the faith of the people grew and emotional healing happened as God had intended for our family to accomplish there. It wasn't numeric growth they needed, but spiritual growth. God has the victory!
In the last church we pastored, God revealed a spiritual stronghold in the area through a dream that came two weeks after we moved in. We prayed for God to reveal to us what this meant. Not long after, He showed us that a spiritual stronghold was indeed present and it was territorial. The revelation of it's reality came through a lot of horrible, yet interesting struggles within the church congregation and leadership. By the end of our ministry there, my husband confirmed to me that the dream certainly was from God and told me who embodied that stronghold, which was definitely regional. Spiritual strongholds are built through people's attitudes and mindsets, according to prophet Brian Davis. It becomes a spiritual affair as Satan takes hold and moves in to set up housekeeping. That definition fit exactly. After my husband passed away, at his memorial service, I was awestruck at how God "shut the mouths of lions", silencing the problem people and drew out those whose lives had been touched by our ministry there. God had the victory again!
Evil will confront directly. At one point in our time at that church, while my husband was on chemo, I woke up in the middle of the night. There was the horrible sense that an evil presence was in the room. I thought that I had been dreaming and maybe that sense was left over from the dream. It persisted, so I prayed asking God to tell me what was going on. His quiet voice said that it was evil and it was there to take my husband's life. I was shocked! I wrapped myself around him while he slept praying over him and singing hymns and praise choruses quietly until the presence left. I guarantee that if more people recognized odd encounters with evil for what they are, Halloween would end abruptly. Evil spirits, demons, can show up in dreams, visibly, through the behaviors of people and bad circumstances with no rhyme nor reason. God's power is greater because Satan and his demons were defeated on the cross by Jesus Christ when He died and rose from the dead.
Do you think Ouija boards, tarot cards, the 8 ball and reading the horoscope are innocent searches for your future? Think again. Two people that I know and trust have shared accounts of playing with Ouija boards that began moving on their own. When these frightened then teenagers tossed the "game" into the fire, blood curdling screams came from them. These are a form of divination that should be left alone.
What should we do?
Personally, I don't think we need Halloween and to dabble with the devil. It's horribly creepy and downright dangerous. He's having a hay day with the festivities, numbing people mentally and spiritually to his ways. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters that the demons work through seemingly harmless ways to draw believers away from Christ and His work. Lewis wrote these letters as part of the Anglican periodical "The Guardian" and wrote a sequel, but said that it wasn't fun to write so he decided to not write any more" letters". Steve Greene's song, "No One Believes in Me Anymore" was about Satan's rejoicing that mankind has stopped believing in his existence which makes his work easier. I think Halloween runs along those lines.
Personally, I don't think we need Halloween and to dabble with the devil. We can have fun, dress up in costumes and enjoy treats without Halloween. I have resolved since some those earlier experiences to fast and pray on October 31, then celebrate the lives of Christians who influenced my life, but have passed away. Would you join me in prayer and fasting October 31? There are Christians who are being killed for their faith in various parts of the world for whom we should pray. The decision is yours.
May God bless you!
Books to read:
Angels by Billy Graham
Prayer Shield by C. Peter Wagner
Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll
Sites to see:
*Note: the Sites to See section are my references