by Mark Swarbrick
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. “(Proverbs 22:3)
“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17)
“Stop! Don’t go in there! You don’t belong here.” It was not a voice that spoke to me, but it may as well have been, the impression was that strong. It was a bright spring morning and I was out for a ride on my motorcycle. A friend was riding on the back of my bike. Just north of town I had turned onto a dirt road that ran into some gnarly overgrown woods alongside the river. A short way to the north was the long-term mental hospital where insane and severely mentally handicapped people lived out their entire lives. Behind that was the cemetery where they buried all the hospital residents when they died. Behind that was the brushy woods I was driving into.
“Cool,” I thought, “I wonder where this road goes.” The dirt road turned into a two-track grassy lane. The feeling hit me again. I had the strongest conviction that I should not be there. I tried to figure out why. There were not any “no trespassing” signs. It was not marked as private land. It was broad daylight. There was just no reason not to explore this interesting trail that followed the river through the woods.
With no logical reason to stop, I ignored my fear and kept going, deeper into the woods. These were strange looking woods – a tangled briar patch of thistles, thorns and dead trees. The farther we went, the “deader” things looked. It felt like the creepiest place I had ever been.
I slowed my motorcycle as the lane wound through the trees and brambles. Up ahead I could see that the trees thinned out and the dirt road opened up into a small meadow. I drove out of the trees into the large clearing of tall grass and scattered weeds. The cleared area was about the size of football field.
But what was that? As I drove into the clearing, I saw that up ahead there was some thing in the middle of the field. Was that a person? I slowed down some more and approached cautiously as the irrational fear in my heart reached a crescendo.
It was a person. A man was standing in the middle of this grassy field. This was rather odd. Someone was just standing there in the weeds, stock still, with his back to us, doing absolutely nothing. Why, I wondered, would someone be way back here, on foot, in this tangled wilderness? What were they doing back here, all alone, and just standing there and not moving? He had certainly heard the sound of my motorcycle, yet he did not turn to look at us. This was just plain weird. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I’m not normally afraid of anything, but my sixth sense was settings off alarms in my head that were telling me to be very afraid.
As I approached, I swerved to the right to give a wide berth to whoever this was. The clearing was circular and apparently this was a dead end to the road. I began a circle through the weeds around this person in order to turn around while keeping my distance. As we got close I could see it was a man dressed in very strange garb. As incredible as it sounds, he seemed to have a long black cape and a high collar. He looked like he was straight off the set of a horror movie. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
As I continued to complete my circle around him he maintained his erect stance in the middle of the field, but as I came around him he turned his body so that he was facing us the entire time. We were about 30 feet away from him. His eyes bored into me with a sinister self-assured malevolent glare. I was looking into the eyes of evil and his return stare pierced my soul.
He made no movement whatsoever, except to turn his body and face us as I circled. My mind searched for some logical explanation and found none. Why was this person here, in the middle of nowhere, alone, just standing there and acting so odd and dressed so strangely? I had no plans for getting acquainted with this strange fellow. I would just slowly go around him and be on our merry way. I didn’t know it at that moment, but things were about to go to a whole new level.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more bizarre, it happened. The corners of his mouth very slowly curled up into a slight smile, a wicked and sinister grin. And as I watched his lips slowly curl upward, to my horror, they gradually revealed two sharp fangs. His eyes bored into me with a look that said, “I know what you don’t – that I can do whatever I want to you.”
Suddenly, I twisted the throttle all the way, my engine roared as we rocketed away as fast as my motorcycle could carry us. I hollered at my friend, “Did you see that?”
“Yes,” he answered breathlessly, “Get us out of here!”
We flew back down the path, through the woods at top speed, all the while feeling like that thing, whatever it was, could reach out and grab us. I navigated the turns, leaning into them, as we raced down the twisting lane, throwing dust and gravel while squeezing every bit of speed I could out of my screaming engine. I didn’t slow down until we were back in town.
To this day I still don’t know what we saw. I’ve run every possible idea through my mind. A man dressed up like Dracula, for a prank? Why? Why would someone do that, back there where no one was likely to go? Was it someone from the mental hospital? That couldn’t be. I worked there twice over the years. They don’t let people get away and they certainly would not be allowed to have such clothing.
And even if there is a logical explanation, how could I explain the fear we both felt? Two strapping teenage boys would not fear someone dressed up in a costume. What could explain my strange fear and premonition not to go into that place? And if you had seen his eyes, you would not have thought it was a practical joke. There was something evil standing in that meadow. My friend and I both felt it. There was something in that meadow that was more than what we saw with our eyes. There was a palpable sense of evil that we detected even before we saw anything.
Was the mental hospital in some way associated with the phenomenon we experienced? I know that some mentally ill patients are suffering from demonic oppression and, according to the Bible, some demons prefer graveyards and wild desolate places (Mark 5:5). Was this area – near the mental hospital cemetery and a wilderness of tangled thorny trees – a haven for demonic spirits? I don’t know.
The only thing I know for sure is that I was warned not to go in there and I ignored the warning. I was young then. Often God will warn us of danger in our path. Now that I am older and wiser, I have learned not to ignore those warnings.
That happened over fifty years ago. It was at a time in my life when I was wandering away from God into areas of sin that would bring me a lot of heartache. Perhaps God allowed this bizarre occurrence to happen as a warning not to walk out from under His loving and protective hand. Was God giving me a glimpse into the spirit realm where there is warfare between angels and demons over the souls of men? Scripture does tell us:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)
I eventually came back to God and was filled with His Spirt. In my ministry, I have witnessed people delivered from demonic oppression. I have learned these beings flee at the name of Jesus. I am confident that a believer walking with the Lord would never have such an encounter, for evil spirits fear Spirit-filled believers.
If that was something supernatural, the tables have now turned. When such beings encounter a Christian, they are the ones that fear, and run. Just as the demoniac said to Jesus, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29) Jesus gave his followers the same power over the enemy as He had. In Luke 10:17-19 we read:
“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.’”
There is a war going on in this fallen world and there are evil spiritual forces out there that are harming people that don’t have the protection of God on their lives. These evil spirits are deceiving people to disobey God’s laws. They are oppressing and possessing people. They are drawing them farther and farther into lives of sin and depravity.
They are tempting men and women to lust, to hate, to kill each other and to kill themselves. Demons are influencing and using evil people to twist the minds of young children. Public Libraries and school libraries across the nation are displaying child pornography in the form of comic books for children in an attempt to seduce children into a sinful lifestyle. Evil is a very real thing. And now we are not just dealing with a lone demon in a field. Entire legions of demon spirits are behind this.
There are things that go on in this world that defy explanation. The government is now telling us that our military is encountering UFOs that seem to violate the laws of physics. Some of the most popular shows on television are about people’s experiences with ghosts, hauntings, bigfoot, UFOs, people mysteriously disappearing, and bizarre malevolent half-man/ half-animal creatures. Reports of such sightings are increasing and interest in them has skyrocketed. And if that’s not weird enough, just wait until the stability of the solar system goes haywire. Jesus said that in the end, “The powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Matthew 24:29)
We have seen an increase in school shootings. Murder and crime of all kinds is rampant. A man-made corona virus has been turned loose on the world. Monkey Pox has become rampant in the homosexual community. Food shortages and skyrocketing inflation are upon us. Russia has invaded Ukraine. China is buying up farm land in America, especially land around our military bases, while they position themselves to invade Taiwan. We teeter upon the brink of World War III.
Little children are being seduced and sexualized by “woke” teachers. Government leaders are trying to introduce socialism and totalitarianism. Let’s be clear: We do not have a gun problem. We do not have a mental health problem, and we do not have a climate change problem.
We have a spiritual problem. People have embraced evil and the consequences are upon us. Being “woke” won’t stop the evil. Ending fossil fuels and destroying our energy sector will not save us. Socialism will not help us, but will only enslave us into further poverty.
Toying with transgenderism and flirting with homosexual behavior won’t help people discover their true selves. That is impure deception from evil entities who are deceiving people into breaking God’s laws so that they will lose their very own souls.
If people don’t turn back to God in repentance and put their faith in Jesus Christ, things will get worse. Much worse. Jesus Christ is the only one who has the power to stop the forces of darkness around us. Those who don’t have Christ are vulnerable to spiritual attack.
In spite of the spiritual warfare raging around us, the believer can rest in perfect peace. We have the Spirit of Christ living in us, and He is more powerful than Satan himself. Christians need not fear. 1 John 4:4 discusses the spirit of Antichrist and the myriads of evil spirits loose in the world, and that passage tells us: “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)