My first nightmare as a child occurred after watching an episode of In Search Of with my father. This particular documentary starring Leonard Nimoy featured Bigfoot and Sasquatch encounters with interviews of eyewitnesses. While drifting off to sleep later that night, all of sudden I found myself running for my life. Bigfoot was chasing me around my neighbor’s backyard as a sprinted, gasping for air as I woke up, sweating from my first nightmare.
When the sun was setting, a deep sleep overcame Abram, and a horror (a terror, a shuddering fear) of great darkness assailed and oppressed him. 13 And [God] said to Abram, Know positively that your descendants will be strangers dwelling as temporary residents in a land that is not theirs [Egypt], and they will be slaves there and will be afflicted and oppressed for 400 years. [Fulfilled in Exod. 12:40,] Genesis 15:12-13.
The book of Genesis contains several firsts in the Bible. According to Moses, Abram has the first nightmare recorded in the Old Testament. As this nightmare was passed down orally from generation to generation, horror and terror are associated with the raw emotions Abram experienced in the passage above. As a great darkness assailed and oppressed Abram in his sleep, God comes to the rescue to explain the meaning of Abram’s first nightmare.
On the same day the Lord made a covenant (promise, pledge) with Abram, saying, To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river Euphrates—Genesis 15:18
As an adult, I try not to read too much into my dreams. Yet, sometimes dreams serve as a warning to prevent you from doing something God doesn’t want you to do. However, this first nightmare is a foreshadowing of a future event which the author Moses experienced firsthand. Following 400 years of living as slaves in Egypt, God raised up Moses to free Israel from this dark period. The next time you find yourself shaking in your sleep, turn to the Lord in prayer so that you can escape the darkness of future nightmares.
by Jay Mankus