I love cats, and I love this picture! OK, it's just a bit of fun, but it has something serious to say. Those of us who have trusted Christ for salvation have 'ninjas' – or, more accurately, 'angels' – watching our backs.
In 1997 I had a supernatural experience in which I was given a vision of angels and demons. I believe the angels saved my life that day. On that day I witnessed a tiny snapshot of the spiritual war which is constantly raging between the divine forces of goodness and the demonic forces of evil. But before I tell you the story let me give you some background information.
Does God exist? Do angels exist? Many in the UK, and the rest of the developed world would say a resounding "No!" Why? Because they've been fed the lie that if something can't be detected with the bodily senses, or measured with scientific instruments, or have its existence postulated by science, then it simply can't exist.
I lived in India as a child because my parents were running a mission hospital. In India, and in other less developed nations, the majority of the population believe in an all pervading spiritual realm, and have done for millenia. But 'enlightened' materialistic societies simply put that down to superstition.
More people on this planet believe in a spiritual realm than don't – many more – but the materialists simply put that down to lack of education. "What can they know?" they say, "They're only Africans, or Indians, or South Americans, or South East Asians, etc."
Yet, there are many enlightened and highly educated people in the developed world who do believe – very strongly – in a spiritual realm which impinges closely on our physical world.
I myself have had direct experience of this spiritual realm in a number of unusual ways throughout my life. It would take too long to describe them all here, but I'll try to give you a taster, and whet your appetite for the book I WILL one day write!
In 1977 I was visiting Kathmandu, Nepal, during my gap year between school and university. As I walked down the road from my hotel to the city centre, I could see a large Buddhist temple directly ahead of me, and about a mile away. It dominated the sky line at the end of the road, and appeared to straddle it. This temple had a large triangular roof, and painted in the middle of the roof was a huge eye.
As I walked down that long straight road I suddenly became aware of a dark menacing presence somewhere over my head, and a fearful thought was powerfully impressed onto my mind:
"Don't you DARE step out of line! If you so much as think about going one step beyond what's allowed, you will suffer the consequences!"I carried on walking, wondering what the 'hell' was going on, and slowly the presence dissipated. But that experience left an indelible mark on me. It was only later that I discovered the significance of that fear producing thought, and the temple which seemed to be connected with it.
Those familiar with occult symbolism know that a triangle, with an eye looking out of it, is the so called 'all seeing eye' of Satan. It's also sometimes called the 'Eye of Horus' from ancient Egyptian mythology. Not only is it part of the symbolism of Satanism, but it's also found in Freemasonry, and in cults like Mormonism, and various New Age and pagan practices.
J.R. Tolkein brought this symbol into popular culture as the 'eye of Sauron' in his wonderful trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. It's evil menacing presence is especially well depicted in the film of The Return of the King. This film, and the book itself, contain much truth about the world we're living in right now. I believe those truths will become increasingly evident as the next few decades progress.
For some it will come as a shock to learn that Buddhism, which is portrayed in the West as a benign philosophy, has Satanic worship at it's roots. Many in Buddhist societies who convert to Christianity speak about the palpable fear they lived under – a dread of stepping out of line – while under the domination of that religion.
Even here in the UK its evil presence can be felt. Twice I've had neighbours who've dabbled in Buddhism and placed statues of Buddha in their gardens. You might think that's benign but in each case I sensed the presence of dark oppressing forces – spirits which threatened my peace of mind, and even my physical health. Thankfully, after some concerted prayer and spiritual warfare on my part, the statues were removed and the oppression with them.
A few months before going to Nepal I was in India, and had another experience of a similar nature, this time related to Hinduism. I was attending an exhibition of Indian dancing with some Christian friends. The evening started with a classical South Indian dance – the beautiful Bharatanatyam. I was entranced by the subtle hand and head movements of the lovely female dancers.
The evening took a downward turn, however, when this was followed by a Kathakali dance. Kali means 'the black one' and this Hindu goddess is a demon of destruction. The dancers wore grotesque costumes, and the music consisted of rhythmic drumming while the dancers stamped and gyrated on the stage. There was a distinct sense of evil in the room, and it wasn't long before I began to feel very uncomfortable. I looked at my friends to see how they were feeling and it was clear we all felt the same way. So we got up and left.
Although I was only 19 at the time, this certainly wasn't the first time I'd come into direct contact with the spiritual forces we share this world with. One of my very earliest memories, as a wee toddler in India, involved becoming aware of spiritual realities, and of the need for spiritual protection as we travel along life's journey through these perilous realms.
Even at that tender age I became aware that the world is not a 'safe' place, and that we need the protection of a Force greater than ourselves, if we're to make it safely through to the end. Like Frodo on his traumatic journey through Mordor to Mount Doom, we are beset by enemies all around – some who even appear to be our friends – and we need a Friend, greater than all the rest, to see us through.
At the age of twelve I discovered such a Friend – a Friend who has great power – and in an act of simple surrender I received Him into my life.
Later, when I was in my mid teens, the Charismatic Revival movement swept across the UK, America, and large parts off the world. People started to experience the power of the Spirit of God in their lives in a new way. Experiences of the empowering fire of the Holy Spirit had been common in New Testament times, but had largely died out. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s they began to be poured out on the Church again.
This was prophesied about in the book of Joel in the Old Testament, and repeated by the Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the fledgling Church.
At that time I too had hands laid on me in prayer, and received an empowering experience, sometimes called the 'baptism in the Holy Spirit', which started me on a path of increasing spiritual awareness. I found myself discerning things which others in the church didn't seem to notice. In time what I had discerned proved to be true, in every case.
This gift of spiritual discernment expanded until, by the time I was in my early thirties, I was regularly experiencing what the Apostle Paul called, the gift of 'discernment of spirits' or 'distinguishing between spirits' (1 Cor 12:10). By that gift I often know when evil spirits are around, and can usually tell what type they are.
That then is the context for what I'm about to tell you now.
In 1997 I was living in Brixton, which Londoners will know to be an area of extensive drug use, New Age activity, witchcraft, voodoo, and the like. Because of my spiritual sensitivity it's not surprising that I frequently experienced severe spiritual attack.
Prior to that time I had already learned something about putting on the armour of God, by faith, and spending time in prayer and worship. But now I felt the need to engage more actively in direct spiritual warfare.
To that end I started prayer-walking and prayer-cycling around my block and my local area (which was situated between Brixton Hill and Acre Lane). Taking a lead from the story of the fall of Jericho in the Old Testament, I determined to 'Jericho-cycle' around my block once every day and seven times on a Sunday. I kept this up, more or less regularly, for over a year.
While cycling I prayed, not only that the activities of God's spiritual enemies would be held back in that area, but that the people who lived there would experience the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and be drawn closer to the Lord Jesus Christ.
One day, as I was out walking – not praying this time – I left a side street and entered Acre Lane. It was as if I had walked straight into a solid wall of spiritual blackness – a barrage of dark demonic beings! I stepped back and thought, "Whoa, what's going on here?", and immediately realised that Acre Lane was the boundary of the area I'd been praying for.
"Silly me", I thought, "I should have included both sides of Acre Lane in my prayers." But that's not the point. The fact is I suddenly became aware that my prayers had been effective and had created a literal geographical area of spiritual light within that dark region of London. God was showing me that prayer – warfare prayer – works!
One day I hope that I might meet one or two people who were blessed by those prayers. But that's just the start of the story.
Two minutes from my home was the large Brockwell Park, situated on top of a hill. I used to go cycling there for exercise and relaxation. There's a dirt BMX track in the park and I used to enjoy riding around it on my mountain bike. At the start of the track was a notice board stating that only BMX bikes should be used, and that full protective gear – including helmets – should be worn. Of course I ignored it!
One day I was all alone and navigating the humps and troughs of the track. As usual I was pedalling in a standing position so that the bike would be safely balanced around a central pivot. However, my mind became distracted and as I sped down a dip I sat on the saddle. When the front wheel hit the next upward slope it was too much for the spokes and one of them broke. Well the bike stopped short but I kept going – head first!
Needless to say, my bare head made contact with the upward rising slope and I was knocked unconscious. However, in the split second before I passed out I had a vision, and it's a vision that sends a shiver down my spine even today.
In that brief moment – which in God's time scale could have lasted much longer – I saw what looked like a six-pack of ferocious beasts, fangs bared, charging at me as fast as their little legs could carry them. What struck me most about them was their horrendous ferocity – completely unbridled – as if they were the sheer embodiment of anger, hatred, bitterness, murder, and revenge all rolled into one.
Those beasts had only one aim in mind, and I believe that if they had succeeded in their goal I would have died on the BMX track that day. But God had other plans for me.
Suddenly, from just above me and slightly behind, six or seven ethereal beings appeared. They had no specific shape and they were completely transparent, like liquid glass or crystal. What struck me most about them was their utter transparency, beautiful in its simplicity, as if they had nothing whatsoever to hide, spiritually speaking. I also perceived that it was their absolute purity which gave them their power and authority, and I got the impression that they were used to being in the presence of God.
All of that took a moment to grasp. Then, like a flash of lightening, those remarkable beings streaked towards the demonic beasts and scattered them. They simply disappeared. What struck me this time about the angels was their amazing speed of flight. Compared to them, the demonic creatures were like steam rollers competing in a formula one race!
The vision took just a moment to experience, and a medical person might say that it was the product of a brain in shock. However, it's what happened next which roots the whole thing in reality for me.
Instead of passing out and waking up some time later at the same spot, the next thing I was aware of was gradually coming back into consciousness while sitting on a grassy bank some 80 yards downhill from the BMX track, and maybe 200 yards uphill from the 'Brockwell Lido' – an open-air swimming pool. As I became aware of things around me I was actually in the process of dialing 999 on my mobile phone.
At the same time I was also aware that my bicycle, with it's badly buckled front wheel, was now securely locked to some iron railings about 20 yards to my left. How could that have happened? There are two possible explanations.
The first is that in my semi-conscious state I somehow managed to carry my crippled bike off the dirt track, with it's dips and hillocks – over the two foot raised lip at the track's edge – through a wide area of long uncut grass – and down a steep grassy slope some 90 yards. After all that I found my keys, unlocked the chain from the saddle, and locked the bike to the railings – all of which I have no memory of whatsoever.
The second possibility is that God's angels did it for me and carried me to the spot where I woke up. Whichever is true I dialled 999, told the emergency services where I was, and passed out again. Some six hours later I woke up in Kings College Hospital, Camberwell.
That may sound like a remarkable story, and I suppose it is, but ever since my early childhood in India life seems to have been full of supernatural events of one sort or another. Although very unusual, this day's experience was just one more of those.
I don't say that to boast, but simply to point out that what we call 'supernatural' really isn't so unnatural, or unusual, after all. Over the years I've mixed with people from India, Africa, South America, and other parts of the world, where the spiritual is taken much more for granted. I've discovered in conversation that the kinds of experiences I'm describing are far more common than most of us in the developed world are given to believe.
For many the idea that there really are realms of the supernatural may seem 'airy-fairy', and even scary! The very word 'supernatural' implies that they are somehow 'un-natural'. But if such realms do exist, and if intelligent beings do inhabit them, then they're not un-natural at all. To those beings their realm will seem quite natural, just as ours does to us. They may even consider us to be the 'un-natural' ones!
In recent years theoretical physicists have been talking about the existence of other dimensions to reality. From my experiences it seems to me highly likely that those dimensions contain worlds of angelic spiritual beings separated from ours by just a thin 'membrane', which they can pass through when directed by God.
Angels are mentioned many times in the Bible (for example Hebrews 1:14 – Luke 1:5-20 – 26-38.) Three Archangels are mentioned, Gabriel, Michael and Lucifer (who became Satan). It seems likely to me that there are vast numbers of angels in neighbouring dimensions, all serving God in one way or another. They are pure spirits, untainted by evil, and only enter our realm when there's a job to be done.
In contrast our world is inhabited by evil spirits which the Bible says were once pure angels but were banished here after their leader, the Archangel Lucifer, rebelled against God and became evil himself. According to the prophetic book of Revelation (chapter 12), the angels under Lucifer's command – one third of the sum total – went to war against the other angels, who it's possible were under the command of Gabriel and Michael. The rebellious angels under Lucifer were thrown out of Heaven to Earth.
So, this world has been given over to Lucifer, the infernal ruler of all demons. The Bible calls him 'the ruler of the kingdom of the air' (Ephesians 2:2) which implies that he and his vast army of followers inhabit this world – in the fresh air above ground – much as we do.
Just to clear up a misconception; there's a common idea that Satan lives somewhere 'underground' in some deep dark place. The ancient Greeks called it Hades, and the Jews Sheol. Today we might call it Hell. However, according to the Bible Hell will be the place of eternal punishment and torture for Satan and his hosts. So it can't be where they live now. One day they will be sent to that eternal prison, but until then they inhabit our world, which largely explains why there is so much pain and suffering here.
And what about Heaven and the angels who live there? It seems from the Bible, and from other ancient Hebrew texts, that it exists in more than one level. The apostle Paul wrote that he was taken up to the third heaven (see 2 Corinthians 12:2). In fact the ancients believed in seven levels of Heaven.
That's actually very convenient. Some theoretical physicists are talking now about eleven dimensions of reality. So if you add our three dimension of space (breadth, length and height), plus the fourth dimension of time, to the seven levels of Heaven, you get a total of eleven dimensions.
It's worth considering here that Heaven, with it's seven dimensions of reality, is a lot more complex and magnificent than our present reality of only four dimensions. It's also far more 'real'!
Many people know about the great theologian, C.S.Lewis, who wrote the Narnia books, now being made into films. A film was made about his life called Shadowlands. Shadowlands is a word coined by Lewis to denote the world we live in now. He saw that our reality here is far less real – less tangible – than the reality of Heaven. Life here is like living in shadows compared to the bright light of Heaven. We are living in shadowlands. Not only that, but we ourselves are shadows compared to what we will be in Heaven, for the whole of eternity!
I myself like to use the analogy of birth. It goes without saying that there's a hugh difference between the life of a child in the womb, and it's life in the external world we all know, once it's been born. That seems to me to be a great analogy for the difference between life here and life in Heaven.
When a child is born it knows about nothing except it's own existence. It takes many years for it to learn about life outside of the womb. Indeed, we are learning about that all of our lives! Similarly, when we leave this world and pass through God's spiritual birth canal into Heaven, we will enter a vastly more wonderful and complex reality than the one we have known so far. We will enter as spiritual infants and we will go on learning about it, and about God, for the rest of eternity. It's going to be exciting folks!
This discussion would not be complete, though, if I didn't include something about the other possibility for many people as they leave this world. According to the Bible, for many death here will be like an abortion. Instead of being 'born' into Heaven, their dismembered spiritual bodies will be scraped out of this world, and thrown into garbage cans. There they will live, for the rest of eternity, in the terrible pain of existence without God.
If you don't know God yourself, dear friend, is it worth risking that terrible eternal future? If you're sitting on the fence -- even if you think there's only a slight possibility that Christianity is true -- isn't it worth saying a simple prayer: "Dear God, if you exist, please show me!"
You could go on to pray: "If Jesus Christ really is King of kings, and Lord of lords, please show me. If He died on the cross so that I can be forgiven ... if He rose again so that I can have eternal life ... please show me!"
If you pray that prayer in sincerity I believe God will answer you, and over the coming weeks and months you will find Him speaking to you through many things. In your heart and mind you will find yourself becoming more and more convinced that what the Bible says about Jesus Christ is true ... especially if you read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in a modern translation, and if you read the works of Christian authors like C.S.Lewis.
Lewis himself said that he was dragged kicking and screaming into the Kingdom of God! He did NOT want to become a Christian! But the truth of Christianity became so clearly evident to him that He could no longer push it aside. Read his book, "Surprised by Joy" for details about his conversion.
C.S.Lewis also wrote a remarkable book called The Great Divorce. He wrote it in answer to William Blake's famous book, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In his book Lewis depicts a bus load of people who take a trip from Hell to Heaven. When they arrive they step out of the bus onto grass. But they immediately experience great pain. Why? Because the grass does not bend under their naked feet!
In Lewis' allegory, the people from Hell are like shadows, or ghosts, compared to the people in Heaven. The grass doesn't bend under their feet, and they can't eat the food or drink the water of Heaven. All they can do is talk and listen to what the Heavenly people have to say.
It's the same here on earth today. Those who's lives are on a trajectory for Hell can't grasp what going on with those who's lives are on a trajectory for Heaven. It requires the supernatural power of God, through His Holy Spirit, to speak the truths of God into their hearts and minds. You have to be prepared to open your heart and open your mind and let God speak to you – the still small voice of God – if you want to know what's really what.
If you don't open your mind to hear from God – if you don't consciously ask Him to speak to you – then all you will hear is the loud and brash voice of Satan who is constantly broadcasting His messages of doubt and unbelief into the minds of those who simply don't want to know the truth.
Have you ever seen videos of Adolph Hitler speaking to huge rallies in Germany before the Second World War? (If not go to YouTube and watch some of them.) That's how the devil speaks to the people of this world. He's not interested in the truth. He just wants to dominate your mind and your emotions. It's up to you whether or not you go on listening to him. You can't sit on the fence for ever in this world. Today or tomorrow might be your last!
To get back to my story, I believe the reason I've had these experiences was not primarily for my own sake, but so that I could share them with you. I hope after reading this that you'll find the concept of spiritual beings less scary and airy-fairy, and more of a real possibility. I especially hope that you'll find the concept of God – the three supreme spiritual beings, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – something worth thinking about and taking on board, if you don't already.
I've also written this so that Christians and others steeped in Western materialism may learn something about the nature of the spiritual warfare that's going on all around us, all the time. Satan and his demons are very real, and they're out to either deceive you and lull you into spiritual sleep, or they're out for your guts!
Remember this though – the angels of light who serve our Father God are hugely superior to the minions of darkness in every way. If you love Father God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, there are angels protecting you every day of your life. Never doubt it!
Remember, though, that Scripture tells us we mustn't worship angels (Colossians 2:18). I do hope, however, that one day we will be able to commune with them. I very much want to meet those beautiful beings who showed themselves to me, that day in Brockwell Park, South London. I want to thank them for protecting me and showing me that I am not alone, but that God and His powerful agents of light have got my back!
© John Jenkins, August 2002 (with recent edits)
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