She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. (1 Samuel 4:21)
In early spring of 2009, I had a very unique dream. The setting was in a large city somewhere in the United States, but the exact city is inconsequential. What was important was the whole atmosphere and the characteristics of it. It was indicative of our current church situation in this country.
In this dream, I was more than just an observer; I was able to interact with others somewhat. I arrived at the front entry of a very large and ornate church; more like a cathedral, with a tall steep pitch roof and stained glass windows. There were twenty foot high, double entry doors made of fine walnut or mahogany; decorated with detailed hand carvings. I passed through the entry and found myself in an elaborate foyer of immense size; approximately eighty by two hundred fifty feet. There were many people, too numerous to count, all talking in small clique like arrangements with a few loosely mingling about. Most of the conversations were gossip and small talk.
The floors were of fine decorative plush carpet; the walls adorned with huge exquisite paintings with elaborate frames; from the ceiling was suspended the most beautiful crystal chandeliers I have ever seen. There were multiple doors leading to the auditorium. I ventured through one of them and discovered a gigantic auditorium with dim lighting and incredible interior architecture. The floor slanted down toward the front stage which contained musical instruments of many kinds and a state of the art sound system. The podium appeared to be made of real gold. The floor and furnishing were beyond plush. The carpet was so soft and cushiony; I was not totally sure what it was I was standing on. The chairs were actually not ordinary chairs at all, but fine recliners–and there were seemingly hundreds, perhaps thousands of them. I proceeded to sit down on one of them near the back row, and immediately I was greeted by an usher that handed me a pillow for my head. He then asked me if he could get me anything else.
As I was sitting there, quite comfortable I might add, the music started with soft soothing melodies at first, slowly building to a very loud crescendo that was more reminiscent of a rock concert. After about half an hour passed, the entertainment ended, and what seemed to be the pastor, ascended the platform and approached the podium. He was a middle aged man, dressed in much worn blue jeans and a pull-over shirt. He began to speak: first reciting a poem, then a famous quote, followed by a “psychobabble” teaching. He ended his “sermon” with, “and remember, Jesus loves you”. All this took about twenty minutes. I cannot recall a time when actual scripture was quoted, or read for that matter.
Everyone was then dismissed; the foyer was filled with people again, slowly filtering out the main doors to the outside walkways and parking lot. I noticed everyone’s conversations and attitudes had changed. They were all talking about how good they felt about themselves and everyone else. They marveled at how the “pastor” brought out such a profound message, and how he projected so much love, and his words transformed the entire atmosphere, saturating it with peace and tranquility. They all felt so good that day. But of course, it was a Sunday.
As I left the building, walking a fair distance from the entry, I turned and noticed a sign above the double doors which read “ICHABOD.” I was incredulous of this whole event and thought to myself, “How could this even be called a church?”
I then found myself driving down the street, and much to my dismay; I noticed another “church,” also having a sign above the entry doors with the word “ICHABOD”, almost identical to the previous one; right next door, then another, and another, and another. There was a whole block of them; as a matter of fact many blocks of them. As I drove down the boulevard there seemed to be an endless amount of these “false churches.”
After what appeared to be miles of this, there at the very end, was a tiny white building, plain and unassuming. It resembled a small house. But it was not a house, it was a church; and what a church indeed!
I got out of the car and walked up the narrow concrete walkway and entered the building. Inside was just a single room, aside from the small restroom and closet in the back. The floor was plain gray colored tile over concrete with metal chairs arranged in neat rows. There was enough seating for about forty people, but there were only thirty present.
I sat down in the back in order to observe all that went on. The well dressed pastor walked to the front where a small wooden podium stood. He immediately bowed his head in prayer and everybody else followed his lead. He prayed for all his parishioners, then various family members of the church body, and finally the people of the unsaved world outside. This followed by him leading everyone in singing. All the songs were praise and adoration to the Lord only, and with no instruments; not that they were against such music in the church, there simply wasn’t anyone there that was musically inclined. Most of them were standing with hands raised to the Lord with such great enthusiasm; I was hard pressed to remember a time like it.
After this part of the service was over, the pastor delivered the most powerful sermon I have ever witnessed. His preaching was one of conviction. He talked of the need for repentance and holy living; to clean up one’s life and really desire to do God’s will out of love for Him. He recited many scriptures from memory and others he read directly from his well worn Bible which contained many tabs, markers, and highlighted text. He concluded his message with a call for salvation. There were three young people that immediately came forward. They were in tears and almost ran to the front. The pastor and his wife prayed for them, they then prayed for salvation with utmost sincerity; pouring out themselves to the Lord.
After some time, the pastor dismissed the people with this scripture passage:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
As I was leaving the small quaint looking church, I saw a sign on the interior above the door which read “Entering the mission field.” All the people slowly meandered out into that mission field with great joy and renewed purpose to “win souls for Christ.”
Through this dream, God showed me not only the immense contrast between the false church and true church, but also the vast difference in numbers between the two.
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Author: Michael Furman
Michael Furman is President of Freedom’s Hope Ministry, Inc. a nondenominational ministry committed to bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations. Freedom’s Hope cooperates with numerous ministries around the world to help Christians grow in their faith and share the Gospel message with their fellow countrymen. God is using Freedom’s Hope to reach multitudes of people and meeting their needs in currently over 35 countries around the world.
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