by Femi Aribisala
A nightmare occurs when an invisible person presses us down on the bed while we are sleeping. Literally, it means someone rides us like a mare at night. According to European myth and legend, a nightmare is a demon or evil spirit that harasses and suffocates people in their sleep.
Nightmares are real and they often betray our weak spiritual conditions. They indicate that we need to be better nourished with the word of God, and walk accordingly. Thus, David plea-bargains with God: “O LORD, do not rebuke me in your wrath, nor chasten me in your hot displeasure! For your arrows pierce me deeply, and your hand presses me down.” (Psalm 38:1-2).
This does not mean it is God himself who literally presses us down on the bed. But he allows the enemy to do this in order to alert us of the need for repentance and to pay more attention to spiritual matters. One thing is certain, no one presses down on us when we are on fire for the Lord. If they dare, they will get burnt.
In effect, nightmares are clarion calls to spiritual revival. They tell us: “Wake up, wake up, O Zion! Clothe yourselves with strength. Put on your beautiful clothes, O holy city of Jerusalem, for unclean and godless people will no longer enter your gates.” (Isaiah 52:1).
There was a recurring nightmare I had been having ever since I was a little child. This continued for the better part of thirty years. I would wake up in the middle of the night and discover that someone, some invisible person, was pressing me down on the bed. I would struggle, but no matter how hard I fought, I would not be able to overcome him.
Initially, I was afraid he would someday choke me to death. But later, I realised it was simply oppressive and not life-threatening; so I stopped struggling. After a while, my adversary would leave me alone, but only to revisit me again and again. Then one day, after I had just met the Lord as a repentant believer at the age of 41, he attacked me again.
I was reading a spiritual book far into the night. So as not to disturb my wife, I was in the spare bedroom. Much later, I switched off the bedside lamp and dozed off. I could not have slept for more than ten or fifteen minutes, when I heard someone open the door. I opened my eyes to see who it was and was shocked. The person who opened my door was a demon.
At the time, I did not believe demons exist. As far as I was concerned, the devil himself was one big joke. I used to make fun of my Christian colleagues at work. They attributed all kinds of things to the devil, which I deemed nonsensical. But then there I was, on my bed in my flat. I was not asleep and I was not dreaming. My eyes were wide open. Somebody physically opened my door. He did not pass through the wall. And when I looked to see who it was, I discovered it was a demon.
Scent of a demon
How did I know it was a demon? Everything about it was exactly how I had been led to believe a demon would look like. If I could put my finger on it, I would say it bore a striking resemblance to Darth Vader of the Star Wars films. It was tall; the head practically touched the lintel of the door. It was all black, with a head but without a face or eyes. It was covered in what seemed to be shredded rags. And, wait for it; it had an acrid body odour, reminiscent of rotten eggs.
Does a spirit smell? Don’t ask me because I don’t know. One thing I know; the one I saw did. Does a spirit have to open a door to enter a room? I have absolutely no idea. But the one I saw opened the door. Indeed, it was in his opening of the door that I was awakened. Can you see a spirit in an open vision with your naked eyes? I don’t know. What I know is that I did.
The demon I saw had no legs. It seemed to glide on hidden wheels. I was mesmerised on my bed as I watched it coming towards me. I was so scared; I couldn’t even move my lips. It came slowly until it got to my bedside table. Then it started to shrink in height gradually until it disappeared completely into the floor. Once it disappeared, I noticed a familiar scene. Somebody started pressing me down on the bed. Then I decided to cry for help.
Our strong tower
The first mistake I made was in trying to form a complete sentence. Instead of just shouting “Jesus,” I tried to say “in the name of Jesus.” But I discovered that something or someone was also impeding my tongue. By the time I struggled to get through “in the name,” I found I could not continue.
The second mistake I made was to start all over again instead of continuing from where I had been stopped. But this time I succeeded. On getting to “in the name of Je..,” I heard a loud whoosh, and for the very first time, my oppressor quickly released me and literally ran away.
I became momentarily crazy on my bed. I started shouting. I started boasting, even though I was addressing someone invisible: “You can’t do me anything. You can’t touch me. I have Jesus.” Then I started laughing hysterically. I had suddenly discovered practically the power in the name of Jesus for the very first time.
It was like boasting because you now have a fearsome bodyguard. Or you discovered that your brother is the new world heavyweight-boxing champion of the world, so nobody dares threaten you again in the school-yard.
Spirit of prophecy
The prophecy of Joel finds fulfilment in all true disciples of Jesus, just as it did in those in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost: “It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17).
When this happens, we are sometimes privileged to get glimpses into the realms of the spirit. This gives us better understanding of some things happening to us in the physical. The in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit situates the battle of Armageddon in our hearts. It is a battle for supremacy between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. In this battle, a great deal depends on our spiritual fervency. The more attention we pay to spiritual matters; the better we prevail.
In any case, we have a mighty weapon that makes demons fear and tremble. That mighty weapon is the name of Jesus. Solomon says: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10).