Yom Kippur War

Yom Kippur War

 For decades I told no one except my spouse about this experience. There are many different concepts of and experiences of “spiritual warfare,” a term commonly used to refer to believers’ encounters with invisible forces of evil in this world. I understand why many Christians “demythologize” Paul’s descriptions in Ephesians 6:12 ff., just as they are tempted to deny nearly anything that appears “supernatural” in scripture or in contemporary life. Along with millions of others, however, I am bold to proclaim that the spiritual world is real—that there is a separate dimension of existence whose denizens impinge on our “natural” world immeasurably more than most people imagine. Our inability to see them does not imply that they are not real.


I was driving in moderately heavy traffic on Interstate 35 the entire time. At no time did I experience anything closely resembling an altered state of consciousness. It was like watching a movie for which I held the remote control. If I needed to freeze the action because of a particularly dicey traffic situation, I simply did so. The experience in no way felt “numinous”; it was emotionally neutral and rational. I saw pictures in my mind, and I entered into the action of those images; but I was in no way engulfed by them. My eyes and attention were more focused on my driving and my physical surroundings than on the images in my brain.

It was about a week and a half (maybe?) into October, 1973. The “Yom Kippur War” between Israel and several of her Arab neighbors was going fast and hot. I was driving from my home in North Dallas to use the library at North Texas State University in Denton (now the University of North Texas). Shortly after I left my apartment, the Holy Spirit began speaking to me, explaining that I needed to intercede for Israel in this war. My reply was not particularly positive. I believed that Israel’s existence, as well as her possession of Jerusalem, was a fulfillment of prophecy dating back to biblical passages from the sixth century B.C., if not before, and to the 21st chapter of Luke’s gospel. But I also felt very strongly that the leaders of Israel were short-sighted and contemptuous of biblical principles, and frankly were a bunch of bigoted jerks. I had no sympathy for Israel, given its tyranny over the Palestinians (which continues to this day). I don’t recall my specific reply to God’s message to me, but it included the observation that Israel was extremely unrighteous according to the Torah and according to the prophets, and that it deserved whatever punishment it might receive.

God replied that he wasn’t interested in my opinions. I just needed to do what he said. Period.

I have no desire to extrapolate from my experience in October, 1973 to any discussion of contemporary Israel’s virtue or lack thereof. So let us dismiss any such ideas right now. I will describe only what I experienced. I leave up to God questions of the rightness or wrongness of Israel.

Here’s what happened:

In my mind I saw a map of the Sinai Peninsula. There was a battle line running roughly north-south, with Israeli forces on the east and Egyptian forces on the west. There were multitudes of tanks and multitudes of soldiers on each side (please keep in mind that I had not been reading about the war, and had no idea where forces were located and what kinds of weaponry was in use at any given location).

In addition to tanks and personnel, in this vision I saw demonic beings strung along the western battle line. It was revealed to me that these spiritual beings energized the minds and spirits of the Egyptian soldiers, giving them courage, inspiring them and spurring them on to press the battle eastward. God showed me that the outcome of this battle was in part a function of the courage of the Egyptian soldiers, and that the demonic beings I saw distributed among the soldiers were instilling in them the courage and imagination to press forward against the Israelis. My task was to eliminate the spiritual underpinnings of the Egyptian forces. Without such underpinnings, the soldiers would be ineffective and fearful.

I was told that under no circumstances could I even touch an Egyptian soldier. They were off limits. My battle was only against the spiritual powers that emboldened the human forces—as well as against tanks, which I often disabled when it seemed the right thing to do (but without hurting any humans). I was to begin south of the northern end of the battle line I saw in my mind, fighting against demonic beings and disabling tanks in one specific spot. According to the map in my mind, there were three distinct areas of the battle line where I was instructed to engage in spiritual battle, the idea being to punch holes in the Egyptian lines in those three places. And so I did. I carried on some extremely intense spiritual battles as I continued to drive northwest on Interstate 35.

This activity was highly exhausting and painful to my spirit. On the one hand, I remained able to drive and to operate quite smoothly on the plane of this world. On the other hand, I was being wounded in my spirit and almost could not continue the battle. On several occasions, angels came to me in this vision and ministered healing and health and refreshment to me, until I felt re-energized. Surprisingly, they did not participate in the battle. That task was solely mine. Their only function was to touch me and to heal me as appropriate when I felt I could do no more. For whatever it’s worth, I recall that they were very friendly.

Once I reached the NTSU library, I parked and went about the business for which I had driven there, largely forgetting about the vision. It took less than an hour. Once I was back in my car, the Spirit pushed “Play” once again on the controller (as it were) for the battle. I continued where I had left off, focusing on the second and third locations where God had said I needed to concentrate my efforts, dispatching spiritual beings that were empowering Egyptian soldiers to press the battle, and zapping many Egyptian tanks.

The vision lasted until I reached our quiet apartment on Turtle Creek Boulevard in Dallas, by which time I had cleared the spiritual enemy from the three spots the Spirit had shown me. Then it was over.

As has been true of every encounter I have had with God and the spiritual world, this experience was dispassionate. No emotions. No psychedelic sense that I was tangibly encountering another world (unless you consider Interstate 35 through North Dallas another world!). Like hundreds of other spiritual encounters, this one was similar to what might happen if someone were reading a story to me: In my imagination I pictured the realities being presented, but I never felt existentially drawn into those realities. Anytime I wanted, I could step out of the story, go about my business, etc.

These feelings are typical for me, leaving me skeptical about most spiritual encounters. Some people have deep, other-worldly adventures that unambiguously convince them of the reality of their experiences. Not me. My encounters with the Holy Spirit might occur when I’m slicing onions for dinner, or taking a shower, or digging potatoes in my garden. They never involve strong emotion or altered cognitive states. And I’m always completely in charge—if I need to take time out to go pee, that’s cool, the vision can resume when I’m ready.

As with so many previous encounters with the Holy Spirit, in retrospect I could not avoid asking, Did I make up all that stuff? That’s my go-to question after any significant spiritual event. And it’s the way many such encounters remain: I simply shrug my shoulders and say to God, “If that was you, Thanks! It was cool! And if that was just my imagination? Sorry ‘bout that!”

This time it was different.

On the front page of the Dallas paper the next day (I don’t recall whether it was the Times Herald or the Morning News), there was a graphic that nearly pulled my eyeballs out of their sockets. It was a map of the Sinai Peninsula, with a battle line drawn down the western edge right where the line had been in my vision. It showed three breaches in the line—approximately where, in my vision, God had directed me to destroy the capacity of evil spiritual beings to motivate and empower Egyptian soldiers (and also to zap a bunch of tanks). Arrows within the graphic described how Israeli forces, led by their tanks, had poured through the Egyptian lines at those three locations, had zoomed north, crossed the Suez Canal, and had begun heading west toward Cairo (but then they stopped for political reasons). [N.B. My memory is poor at best. It is possible that I am combining the graphic in question with what happened on the following day; if that is the case, then maybe the Israeli forces hadn’t yet crossed the canal according to that first graphic.]

The vision was real, in spite of its being so fleeting and intangible!

I have nothing more to say about this incident. It’s completely useless to speculate about how many other people God had tapped or not tapped to join this spiritual expedition. I want only to quote the New Testament passage that all experienced believers will have connected with this story from the very beginning:

Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. 
—Ephesians 6:12-18 NRS