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185. What Are the Scariest Ghost Stories in Scripture?

From a king who inquired of the dead, to a party-crashing disembodied hand, to a “ghost” walking on the waves, all of Scripture’s spooky accounts point to Christ.
Fantastical Truth on Oct 24, 2023 · 3 comments

Twelve men on a boat are besieged by a storm. Suddenly they see, amongst the lightning, a spectral shape. Hundreds of years earlier, a king throws a party that’s interrupted by some thing that’s not on the guest list: a ghostly hand that scrawls a haunting message on the palace wall. Generations before that, another king with a tragic backstory sneaks into a darkened tent to inquire of the dead, not his parents, or his wife, but the very prophet who doomed his royal house. What are the scariest ghost stories in the Bible, and why?

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Concession stand

  • Just in case, if we say “story” about these narratives, we mean true story.
  • It’s better to say the word “accounts” to remove all doubt: this is history.
  • Some folks like to find spooky/outrageous takes on parts of the Bible.
  • But the Bible is best read not piecemeal but within redemptive history.
  • Don’t go to the Bible treating it like Spirit Halloween, looking for decor!
  • The Scripture’s main Hero is not nephilim, angels, demons, or monsters.
  • The Hero is Jesus Christ. We must not chase monsters and ignore him.

1. Beware the king who inquired of the dead (1 Samuel 28)

2. Beware the floating hand that inscribes doom (Daniel 5)

3. Beware the Savior himself (Matt. 14:24–33, Mark 6:45–52)

Com station

  1. How scary did you find your first exposure to these accounts?
  2. Do you think Samuel in 1 Samuel 28 was a real “ghost”?
  3. Do you feel fearful or excited by “the fear of the Lord”?

Mission update

Next on Fantastical Truth

This holiday season, when people celebrate either evil or the Reformation, it may help to remember Martin Luther’s reminder that “Even the devil is God’s devil.” And yet Satan is still prowling the Earth, looking for souls to steal. We know people don’t think the Devil exists, yet even some Christians act as “functional materialists” who ignore the threat of demonic deception. Marian Jacobs, author of that forthcoming book about fictional magic versus real magic, rejoins us to engage today’s real threats from real witchcraft.

Fantastical Truth
Fantastical Truth

Lorehaven explores fantastical stories for God's glory: fantasy, sci-fi, and beyond.

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    In the Fantastical Truth podcast from Lorehaven, hosts E. Stephen Burnett and Zackary Russell explore fantastical stories for God's glory and apply their wonders to the real world Jesus calls us to serve.
    1. So many.
      The man who rose from the dead when Elisha’s bones were dropped on his grave.
      The saints who rose from the dead and ‘appeared to many’ after Jesus died on the cross.
      How about Elijah and Moses appearing with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration?
      And what about all the times angels appeared to people and terrified them?
      The followers of Peter thought he was a ghost when he was freed from being chained between two guards.
      I suppose these weren’t technically ‘ghosts’ but people sure thought they were. Which means ghosts were a plausible enough thing even in those days, that people were aware of the concept and terrified of them. Makes you wonder.

    2. Growing up I didn’t really find the stuff in the Bible scary in a direct sense, even if, back then, it used to be pretty easy for me to be afraid of dark spiritual things in shows. I guess part of why the Bible didn’t scare me as much was because reading text is different than seeing something visually, and the Bible isn’t super detailed and descriptive. Also, the Bible is written from the narrative perspective of God (a powerful entity that I care about and trust) being present and acting in the situation. So it feels different than a random show where some random creepy witchcraft is the only thing happening.

      I somewhat had fear while engaging with the Bible and Christianity in certain instances, but that mostly had to do with doubts about my salvation. That kind of fear is mostly different than what I’d experience from watching a scary show or Biblical scene.

      Recently my church read The Awe of God by John Bevere, and that book mirrors a lot of my viewpoints and perspectives on the basics of salvation and ‘the fear of God’. I highly recommend it as something to either challenge where people are at in their walk with God, remind them and get them back on track, or at least something that can summarize salvation and the awe of God so they can explain it to others.

    3. For a long time, it never occurred to me to think of anything in the Bible as ‘scary’ (at least not in a ghostly-scare sense of the word). The first time I thought that way of any Bible story was when I first took notice of where it says other people also came out of their graves when Jesus rose from the dead as Angela mentioned. I’m sure that scared people in real life.

    What say you?