Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ten Reasons (3) Confederation of States

The Beast of Revelation had "ten horns" (Rev 17:13-18). Daniel also saw a Beast with ten horns (Dan 7:8). The most obvious interpretation of the beast with the ten horns is that a number of independent nation states hand over their sovereignty to become part of a single united nation. One-third of these nations refused to give up their sovereignty and are forced to join under threat of military force (Dan 7:20, 25).

America is the only place in recent history where this has happened. The thirteen states that gained independence from Britain were each independently-governed, autonomous nation-states. They united to fight for independence, but they remained politically independent. After the war of independence, these nation-states came together and established the United States. They created a federal system in which they handed over very limited powers (mostly defence) to the federal government. All other powers were retained by the states.

We sometimes get confused by the use of the word state in this context. These states were not provinces of a greater state, but legally independent states that gave some power to a federal government.

Because they joined freely, many states considered that they could also withdraw from the Union. At the beginning of the civil war, the southern states attempted to withdraw from the Union and establish a separate confederacy. Although slavery was the initial trigger, the civil war was primarily fought over the right of these states to secede from the Union. If they had been allowed to freely secede from the Union would have been significantly weakened and further fragmentation would have been inevitable.

The army of the twenty northern states (two thirds) destroyed the armies of the 11 southern states (one third). The victory of the union forces enabled them to maintain the union, eliminating the right of the states to secede. This opened the way for a gradual shift of power from the states to the federal government. During the following century, the United States became the greatest military and economic power in the entire world and the states are now just provinces within this greater entity.

Christian commentators looking for a powerful confederacy of nations forget that a powerful union called the "united states" already exists. Daniel saw a group of nations (ten horns) joining together to become one nation (a single horn). At first, the federal government had very limited power (a little horn), but it defeated a group of states that tried to withdraw from the union (three horns) and became very powerful (large beast).

The numbers ten and three should not be taken literally. Ten symbolises completeness, indicating that all the states joined freely. The number three indicates that 3/10 of these states would be defeated in their attempt to secede.

Ten minus three is seven. Seven symbolises divinity. This indicates that the conquering states would take attempt to take on sovereignty that belongs only to God. The Beast attempts to "try to change the set times and the laws". This represents a rejection of God's laws. Since the civil war, the United States government has become increasingly secular and humanistic. Whereas the thirteen original states had laws directly based on the Bible, American law is now dominated by pragmatism and humanism.

Forty Years Ago

Country of Sheep
New Zealand is a country with more sheep than people. The number of sheep peaked at 70 million in 1982. The human population at that time was just over 3 million. Twenty sheep for each person (fortunately, they did not live in the same places).

At the end of the Second World War, Britain was seriously short of food, so the UK government agreed to buy all the sheep meat that New Zealand could produce. Over the next twenty years, New Zealand farmers focussed on producing sheep meat for the British Market. That came to an end in 1973, when Britain joined the EU (then the EEC) and gave priority to imports of meat from Europe. At the end of a transition period, New Zealand meat companies were left with a limited quota that they could sell into their traditional market.

By the end of the 1970s, the meat exporting companies and the New Zealand Meat Producer Board, which controlled marketing of New Zealand meat, were desperate for new markets. They decided that Middle Eastern countries would be the best alternative market for the surplus meat. The only catch was that to sell into these markets, livestock had to be killed according to Islamic halal requirements, which meant the slaughter board must face Mecca, slaughterman must be a Moslem and say a Moslem prayer when each animal is slaughtered. The Meat Board and the government began to pressure the meat companies to get set up for halal slaughtering of livestock for export.

Out of Nowhere
In 1979, I was a young minister in a Presbyterian parish in the southern part of New Zealand. The parish was entirely rural and most of the parishioners were farmers. In October 1979 I saw a news item in the local newspaper that a contract for the supply of 200 thousand tons of sheep meat had been negotiated with Iran. The pressure came on the meat companies to adopt halal slaughtering of livestock. I was serious about making the Christian message relevant to the lives of the people, so I preached a sermon about the issue to help the farmers thing through their response. (The information in my message is here).

Each Sunday morning, I covered a circuit of three churches. The first service was in a small church at a place called Merino Downs (the small church and a community hall were the only buildings, as the school had closed many years earlier). The congregation was usually less than twenty people. On the morning that I spoke about halal slaughtering, a woman was there who did not often attend. She went home to her husband who never attended church, and told him he should have been there, because he would have been interested in what I had said. I did not know, but he was a director of a cooperative meat processing company called Alliance, which handled more than half of the livestock produced in the Southland region.

By the time I got to the third church on the circuit, two of his fellow directors, who were also parishioners, turned up to listen, one armed with a cassette recorder. He told me at the end of the service that he had recorded the sermon, and hoped that I did not mind.
Two days later, the board of the Alliance met in Invercargill. One of the directors, whose father had been instrumental in establishing the cooperative, played the cassette to the meeting. A rural reporter for the local radio station had attended the meeting (I don’t know if he had been warned) and by lunchtime, an item about a local clergyman’s concern about halal slaughtering was on the national news.

The outcome was that many Christian farmers, and there were large numbers in the area, refused to allow their sheep to be halal slaughtered. The meat processing companies killed livestock “on consignment” and they purchased the livestock after they had been processed, so that any that were defective could be rejected. This meant that when they were being slaughtered, the sheep still belonged to the farmer who had grown them. So, the Meat Board and the government were effectively forcing Christian farmers to pay for Moslems to pray over their livestock, a serious breach of their freedom.

The spiritual implications were more serious, as by submitting to the process, farmers were submitting to the spiritual powers behind it.
That was forty years ago.

The Alliance cooperative kept halal slaughtering out of one of their plants for about ten years to allow their farmer-shareholder who were opposed to the change to continuing supply stock, but they eventually succumbed to the political pressure and began all halal processing. After being a very profitable operation, it had a number of very bad years and had to merge with some other meat companies to survive.

Halal slaughtering has become the norm in New Zealand, although only about 15 percent of sheep meat is exported to Moslem countries. The meat processing companies prefer to have all livestock halal slaughtered, so that they can send stock to any market. They say that people in other counties do not care that meat has been subject to a religious process when slaughtered.

A few small processing companies still have not adopted halal slaughtering, but the number is getting fewer. This leaves few options for farmers who object to their livestock being halal slaughtered. The same regulations have been applied to the slaughtering of beef.
A significant number of farmers have continued to refuse to have their livestock halal slaughtered, but this has significantly reduced the markets open to them. Over the forty years, they have paid a significant cost for their stand. I admire their courage and persistence in doing what is right.

Sheep farmers in New Zealand have had some very difficult years with low prices and difficult growing conditions. The number of sheep has dropped massively, as farmers in the South Island switched from sheep farming to dairy farming. Sheep numbers have more than halved to 27 million, while dairy cattle numbers have doubled to 6.5 million.

I have a couple of questions for readers in the US, UK and Europe.

  • Have Christians farmers in these countries been forced to have their livestock halal slaughtered in the same way as here (sheep or beef).
  • Do people in these countries care if the meat they buy has been halal slaughtered.
  • Are there meat wholesalers or importers in these countries, who specialise in meat that has not been halal slaughtered (there are plenty who specialise in halal meat). Is there a market for meat that has not been halal slaughtered?
If you know the answers to any of these questions, or know someone who does, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ten Reasons (2) Government that Died

The key to identifying the political empire called the Beast is that it seems to have died, but then comes back to life again. When it comes back to life, the entire world follows the Beast.

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast (Rev 13:3).
One of the heads of the beast had been killed, but it came back to life, which caused great amazement throughout the world.

This Beast uses a form of human government that existed before John's time, but came to such a violent end that it seemed impossible that it would rise again. John saw a form of human government that seemed to be finished forever, coming into existence again. This is confirmed in a later vision.

The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come (Rev 17:8).
The Beast once existed, in John's time it did not exist, but in the future, it will come back into existence. People will be amazed when this type of government returns, because it seemed to have been obliterated.

John records the time when this government came to an end.

They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction (Rev 17:9,10).
The seven kings (or heads) are the seven forms of human government that ruled over Rome. Five did not exist during John's lifetime but had held power in previous times. The sixth form of government was ruling at the time when John received his vision. It is easy to identify, because the Roman Empire dominated the world throughout John's lifetime. The sixth head is the Roman empire.

The Beast has a form of government that did not exist during John lifetime, but had existed previously. Therefore, the key to identifying the Beast is identifying the form of human government that came to a violent end when the emperors came to power. The major form of human government that existed prior to the Roman Empire was the Roman Republic. It began in 500 BC and lasted for nearly five centuries. The Republic was led by consuls elected for a year. An elected Senate was responsible for passing laws and appointing government officials. Not everyone had the right to vote, but the Roman Republic was based on the principle of democracy, which had been developed in Greece, but had died there much earlier.

The republic was an important form of government for several centuries, but by the time that John received his vision, the Republic appeared to be gone forever, having been fatally wounded by several Roman emperors. It came to a violent end about thirty years before Jesus was born, when Julius Caesar and his successor Augustus turned their armies against Rome and destroyed the Republic. By the time of Jesus, the Empire was fully entrenched in power.

John’s vision warns that the Republic would come back to life as an eighth king. The Beast with the "fatal wound had been healed' and the "beast who was wounded by the sword and lived" is a democratic republic. It is the fifth king that died just before the Kingdom of God was established.

The democratic republic came back to life ten centuries later when the leaders of the democratic movement in the United States looked back to the example of the Greek and Roman Republics. The government buildings in Washington used Greek and Roman designs. The eighth king is the restored democratic republic that was developed in the United States and copied in other parts of the world.

People of the modern world have enormous faith in the democratic government. Most people have more faith in the state than Christians have in God. They say that democracy is the best form of government, so very few people are interested in being governed by God. Democracy is the ultimate rebellion, because it consists of an entire society refusing to accept God's government.

The Gospel of Jesus

Bad News
When the spiritual powers of evil tricked humans into rejecting God, they set about making life miserable for them and wrecking the beautiful world that God had created.

Good News
God loved the world so much that he sent his son Jesus to live on earth and die to pay for us the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded. He raised Jesus from the dead to destroy their power and returned him to a place of honour in the spiritual realms. From there, Jesus sent a living Spirit to empower those who follow him and teach them how to live in peace and harmony.

Change sides and give your allegiance to Jesus and work with him and his Spirit to restore the good world that God created.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ten Reasons (1) Time of Distress

The Beast that Daniel saw in his vision is not a person, but a terrible empire that crushes and controls the nations of the world. This terrible beast emerges and dominates the world during a Time of Distress, when a season called the Times of the Gentiles is coming to an end. This beast causes the events that will eventually lead to the Fulness of the Jews, which opens the way for a massive advance of the gospel in the power of the spirit that releases the fulness of his Kingdom on earth.

I have described this change of season in my book Times and Seasons. More detail is given at Times and Seasons. I believe that the world has already entered the Time of Distress, so the events that will bring in a new season are now underway. This means that the Beast of Daniel must already be in existence somewhere. It must have already emerged, even if it has not reached the apex of its power.

When I look around the modern world for a powerful empire, only one nation fits the brief. The only really powerful modern world empire is controlled by the United States. The European Union looked like a candidate for a while. Many biblical commentators expected it to grow into a super-state, like a restored Roman empire. but the European economy is now failing and several countries want to break out of the union. When Britain goes, more will follow. Europe is economically weak and its population is declining. European military forces are very limited and the anti-war sentiments of the population make a military build-up difficult. Therefore, if the prophecy of the Beast is being fulfilled in our time, we must look outside Europe.

The collapse of the Soviet Union confirmed that it is not the Beast. Russia now has an economy about the size of Portugal or New York state, so its opportunity to become a world empire is gone. China is getting strong economically, but it does not have sufficient military power to become a dominant world empire within the next couple of decades. So, if the Beast is active in our world, it must be the United States of America.

The United States is the most powerful empire the world has ever known, with the strongest economy and military bases all over the world. Many nations are dominated by its power, and no other nation can challenge its role as superpower. The US economy is the largest that has ever existed. No other nation could sustain two wars on the other side of the world at the same time without collapsing under the strain. The United States is definitely a world empire.

Most Americans would agree that their nation is an empire, but they believe that it is a good empire. However, the evidence tells a different story. The United States has wrecked many nations while pretending to do good. Some examples are the Philippines, North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. Daniel said that the Beast would crush many nations.

The beast is dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it (Dan 7:7).
Daniel's Beasts rose to power when the four winds of heaven had churned up the sea (Dan 7:2-3). The sea is a symbol of the multitudes of people living on the earth (Rev 17:15). The beast arrives at a time when the people of the world are stirred up.

The Beast is active throughout the Time of Distress.

He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place (Dan 11:36).
This beast will collapse when the time of distress is complete and the next season emergences.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Ten Reasons

My working assumption (until history proves it wrong) is that the United States is the Beast described in Daniel and Revelation. This assumption helps me make sense of many events that are occurring on earth.

My assumption is not a vain guess, but is based on a detailed study of the scriptures over many years. In the next ten posts, I will give ten reasons why I believe this assumption could be true.

Christians and the entire US nation are deeply divided over Donald Trump. Some are immensely hostile to him, and others see him as God’s gift to the nation. Both sides of this debater are missing the point. Donald Trump is a sideshow. While Christians are fighting over him, the enemy has been at a work through political parties and the Washington bureaucracy transforming the nation into a Beast that can be used for the purposes of evil.

Donald Trump is no more important than many of his predecessors. The process of transition from Republic to Beast has been going on for many decades, even or most of the twenty-first century. Most presidents and many members of congress have contributed to this transition. Donald Trump is just carrying on down the same path as his predecessors. The only difference is that the starkness of current events is revealing changes that were previously hidden.

Predictions for 2020

Many prophets are gearing up to release their message about God’s plans for the next year. On important thing is often missing from these words. They fail to distinguish between:

  • God’s intentions – what he would like to do, if he could human cooperation (but often doesn’t).
  • God’s plans – What he is definitely going to do, because has everything in place ready to do it.
I believe that much of what the prophets will predict falls into the first category. They describe what God wants to do. He tells his people what he would like to do in order to encourage them to get prepared and act boldly. Usually, these predictions fail, not because God has changed his mind, but because his people fail to do their part.

The other thing that is often missing from these declarations about what God wants to do is his strategy for bringing his plans about. This is important, because the people God need to know they need to do, and how they need to get prepared, in order receive the blessing that God would like to give to them.

This season, I would like to see more about God’s strategy and tactics for accomplishing his plans and less to emphasis on the outcomes. Without the former, the latter is just an intention that might never happen. Outcomes are nothing without strategies to accomplish them.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Political Power is a False Hope

When the people of a city or nation submit to their political leaders, they give them authority over their lives. If the powers of evil get to control the people at the top of the political hierarchy, they gain authority over all the people submitted to them. Concentration of political power leverages the authority of the powers of evil.

The spiritual powers that control political leaders are called "government-spirits" in the Bible Bible (this is better a translation of the Greek words than the popular expression principalities and powers). Some, like Prince of Persia, take the name of their nation (Dan 10:20). These spirits have immense authority on earth, despite their defeat on the cross, because people submit to the leaders they control. Political leaders have legal authority over their people, so attacking them gives the government-spirits control over cities and nations.

Focusing on individual people is a very inefficient way for the powers of evil to use their shrinking power. If an evil spirit gains control over one person, it can make that person's life miserable, but that is all. By getting control over a political leader, the same spirit can make an entire nation miserable. The powers of evil amplify their feeble power by attacking people with political authority.

The population of the world is greater than it has ever been, more than 7 billion people. The number of evil spirits at work in the world has not increased, so they should now be weaker than they have ever been, as they have to spread themselves more thinly across the world. However, they have amplified their limited authority by aligning themselves with political power.

Because political power is more controlling and more widespread than it has ever been, this strategy has more than compensated them for their limited numbers. Consequently, they are probably more powerful than they have ever been.
The powers of evil are not very creative, so they usually find a method that works and stick with it. Manipulating and controlling political leaders has been their best tactic, and it will continue to be effective as long as people willingly submit to political leaders.

By trusting political power, humans have strengthened the powers of evil at a time when they should be weak. The power of evil is mostly an illusion, but concentrating on a few powerful people has allowed the forces of evil to leverage their pathetic power. Controlling human political power has amplified their authority out of proportion to their strength.

It does not matter how political leaders gain their power by democratic election or military coup, once they hold power, they will be attacked by the government-spirit that manipulates and controls their nation and the numerous spirits that support it. Unless they are spiritually strong, they will find themselves deceived and controlled by the government-spirit. Most think they are the best person for the job, so they immediately open the door by succumbing to pride. A political leader needs to exert control to achieve their goals, so they quickly succumb to a spirit of deception and control. This gives the government-spirit the power that they need to expand their control.

A democracy is no better than a dictatorship, if it is controlled by a government-spirit, and most are, because it is the best way for the powers of evil to leverage their feeble power.

In the modern world, political power has been centralised and consolidated as never before. The leader of a modern democratic nation has greater power and authority than an emperor in Old Testament times, because they can control every aspect of life in their city or nation.

The political systems of great nations are extremely dangerous, because one person has control over hundreds of millions of people. Evil gains huge power on earth by deploying a few strong spirits to get control of the leaders of large powerful nations. By controlling these leaders, the government-spirits get authority over everyone submitted to the leaders. Concentration of human political power gives vast power to the government-spirits that control it.

Government-spirits love to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). We are seeing this now in many parts of the world. Wars and economic crashes are not God’s judgements, but are a sign that evil powers have been given a free hand.
Political power is a huge obstacle to the Kingdom of God, because it is so vulnerable to evil. Political evil cannot be defeated by political power. Many Christians have unwittingly supported the enemy and held back the Kingdom by supporting political power. Instead, we must wait until God destroys human government by bringing judgment against it when the time is right.

When the time is right, Christian prophets will also announce God's judgement on political power. Their prophetic words will release the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy human government and political empires throughout the world. Big powerful government will sink like a millstone thrown into the sea, never to be seen again (Rev 18:21). Its destruction will be so horrifying that the people of the world will never trust it again.

Confidence in political power will be shaken.

  • Human government will be exposed as a false hope.
  • Faith in democracy will be crushed.
  • Trust in force will be betrayed.
  • Political power will crumble, collapse and sneak away.
  • Faith in political power will vanish from human hearts.
When human rulers and empires collapse, the principalities and powers that have amplified their power through them will be shattered. With no place to stand, they will become common evil spirits defeated by the cross. When political leaders lose their power, the spiritual forces will be fragmented and weak.

When human governments stop functioning, a power vacuum will exist. Those who have trusted in democratic government will be desperate for something different and better. With human government crushed by events it could not control, people will be desperate for a saviour who keeps his promises. They will welcome the Kingdom of God.

As human political powers are swept away, authority will return to families and local communities. Political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around to people who trust Jesus and walk in the Spirit. The kingdoms of the world will disappear and be replaced by the Kingdom of God (Rev 11:15).

From Government of God.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Prophesying to Nations (5) People Trusting Politicians

The message to the Christians who trust politicians would be something like this.

You have put your faith in political power
and looked to politicians for solutions
to the problems of the nation
You voted them in
because they promised to make things better,
but you do not realise that political power
empowers the spiritual powers of evil.

Political powers are manipulated by spiritual powers.
Every human government is dominated and controlled
by a government spirit (principality or power)
that exercises control over the nation,
regardless of what government is in power.

A change in government changes nothing,
because the same spiritual powers remain in control.
So it does not matter who you vote for,
because government-spirits cannot be voted out.
They can only be removed by the people of the nation
turning back to God
and forcing them out in the name of Jesus
and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Political power is a trap.
It promises solutions to the problems that people fear,
but it gives evil spiritual powers a home
and allows them to leverage their authority
and increase evil.

Political power is an illusion,
because it is controlled by spiritual powers
who use it to amplify their evil power
and take the nation further away
from peace and blessing.

See Political Power is a False Hope.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Prophesying to Nations (4) Rulers

The message to rulers of all Stripes would be something like this.

Despite your claims, you are not the answer
you are part of the problem;
You do not have solutions
to the problems that the people fear.

Your best efforts will not make things better,
they will only make things worse.
Your plans and policies will produce greater problems
and you will not understand why
or what to do to change it.

The situation will get worse and worse under your watch
and you will be powerless to do anything about it.
Nothing that you try will succeed.
The people will realise that your platforms
and manifestos are empty promises
with no foundation in truth and life.

When you wake up to what has happened,
You will sneak away and hide
Your power will be broken, and no one will want it.
No one will be willing to take your place.
You have taken authority over the nation,
but you have no spiritual protection,
so the spiritual powers of evil are free to work in this land
because you opened the door for them.

They have authority over you,
but you do not understand how
you do not even know what they are doing.
And you certainly can’t stop them.
Nothing you do will make things better,
they will just make things worse.
because the powers of evil are free
to work through everything that you touch.

The powers of evil are at home in everything that you do
and everything you control,
they control.
They use nothing for good
and everything for evil.

You say that there is no god.
and that we don’t need God
but you have opened yourself up to thousands of non-gods;
evil spirits, who are opposed to God
and you cannot see what they are doing
and have no way to stop them.

So evil will follow evil
and confusion will follow confusion
and muddle and mess will remain.

See Political Power is a False Hope.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Prophesying to the Nations (3) Message

During a season of rapid spiritual decline, the role of prophets is to describe to their nation the consequences of giving greater authority to the spiritual powers of evil. The scope and direction of their message will vary according to the situation.

  • Prophets will primarily address the people of God. Because they are people of hope, they will often be assuming that their nation will turn around and return to a place of blessing. The prophets will warn them what will happen if these hopes are not fulfilled. This type of prophecy is sometimes not fulfilled, because the warning spurs God people to pray and share the gospel effectively, which leads their nation back to blessing as they hoped (Jonah’s prophecy to Nineveh is an example).

  • Prophets will teach the people of God to be prepared for the troubles that the decline in faith is bringing. They will explain the strategies that God has to protect his people during the time of distress that is coming. They will tell them what they must to do to be prepared for a time of disruption. This is important, because if they are not prepared, the people of God could be swept away by troubles that they do not deserve. God wants his people to stand together while everything around them is being shaken. They will be able to support each other while the foundations that everyone trusts are being swept away.

  • Sometimes, God will get the prophets to speak to the leaders of the nation and warn them of the dangerous consequences that their decisions will have. The prophets will explain that what they think is good is bad in God’s eyes and that they are responsible for the outcome. They will explain that the leaders’ decisions and actions are increasing the authority of the spiritual powers of evil, so the harm that follows will be out of proportion to the scope of their mistakes. They need to know, that whatever their intentions, the consequence will be far worse than they expect, and they are mostly responsible. The message of the prophets will probably not be received by the leaders of the nation, but because they have taken up authority and placed responsibility on themselves, God will want them to understand the consequences.

  • During the spiritual decline of a nation, God is unlikely to tell his prophets to speak to the unbelievers living in the nation, even if their numbers are growing. They do not believe in God, so they are unlikely to receive a message from him. Many do not understand the working of the powers of evil, so a prophetic message would confuse them.

    And it is not fair to blame non-Christians for the state of the world. If there has been a spiritual decline, it is because followers of Jesus have not been doing their job, so they are responsible for the consequences.

    The people of the world need to hear the gospel of Jesus, so God is more likely to send evangelists to carry the message of his love to those who don’t know him. He will send people to heal the sick and cast out demons and tell them that he loves them and wants to rescue them from their troubles.

Prophesying to Nations

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Prophesying to Nations (2) After the Gospel

Since the coming of Jesus, the situation is as follows.

Israel mostly rejected the new covenant, so is still under the covenant with Moses. If they fail to keep that covenant, they can expect to experience troubles. Prophets to Israel should be warning about this danger.

The growth of the church changes the situation for the nations of the world. God has promised to bless and protect the people who have chosen to follow Jesus. If there is a large number of people following Jesus in a nation, the blessing of God will flow a long way out to the rest of the nation. The believers will push back against the spiritual powers of evil in prayer. Blessings will flow to those who engage with them in various ways. The poor and infirm will be cared for. The vulnerable will be protected from harm. Those who submit to a Christian employer, share his/her blessings. The wisdom that God gives to his people will be copied by the people of the world. Everyone in the nation benefits when more people choose to follow Jesus.

The real problem occurs in a nation when there is a substantial drop in the number of Christians living within it; everyone suffers. The prayers of the saints will have restrained the spiritual powers of evil. When their number declines, the authority and influence of their prayers will decline too, so the spiritual powers of evil get greater freedom to operate.

People who have lived in a country with many Christians get a false sense of security. They benefit spiritually from the prayers of the saints and the blessings that flow towards them, even if they do not acknowledge Jesus themselves. When the influence of the Holy Spirit in a nation declines, the decline in the state of the nation is not proportional. The amplification of the power and authority of the spiritual powers of evil means that evil gets worse out of proportion to the influence of the gospel in the nation.

This is the situation in New Zealand. The number of Christians and the influence of the Holy Spirit has declined significantly. Here are results from the last population census.

This is a disturbing picture. The Christian influence in New Zealand has declined significantly, but Christians and non-Christians both assume that things can go on mostly as normal. Christians tend to assume that revival is just around the corner. Unbelievers assume the residual blessing from the faithful past will continue, even if they do not acknowledge its source.

The reality is that the influence of the spiritual powers of evil in New Zealand has increased much faster and further than the blue line in the picture would indicate. They are now rampant in our nation. We should expect to see the impact of their greater activity, if there is not an increase in allegiance to Jesus.

The role of a prophet in a secular nation with a declining gospel influence is to warn the nation of the harm that the spiritual powers of evil are planning to do. This is the fourth task in the list in the previous post.

God may sometimes allow Warning Events to wake the people of the nation up. At every stage, the prophets should be warning what the spiritual powers of evil want to do in the nation. The believers will often not have the spiritual authority to prevent it from happening, because unbelievers have given the spiritual powers of evil much greater authority in the nation. I describe this situation in Prophetic Events. If the influence of the gospel declines massively, the control of the spiritual powers of evil will become huge.

If the nation where this is happening is powerful, they might use it to do great evil in the world. When this happens, God might have to bring a Protective Judgment against the nation to restrain it from evil. This is what happened to the Babylonian empire. See Protective Judgments for more on how this works. Warning of the collapse of a powerful empire is role number 4 in the previous post.

The influence of the gospel in the United States is declining so God will need prophets in the United States to undertake this role.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Prophesying to the Nations (1)

God made a covenant with Israel through Moses that promised blessings on obedience and curses on disobedience (Deut 28). The covenant provided spiritual protection and cleansing of sin through the tabernacle sacrifices. The curse produced agricultural failure and military defeat. The ultimate curse was exile from the land.

The Old Testament prophets challenged the children of Israel to keep the covenant and warned that the curse of the covenant would come upon them if they continued to reject God and lived like the surrounding the nations.

The other nations never signed up to the Mosaic covenant, so the curses and blessing it specifies do not apply to them. The Old Testament prophets never challenged the nations to comply with the covenant and never warned of the curses that it specifies.

The only covenant that God made with all the nations was the Adamic covenant that promised that the people of the world would be safe if they trusted in him, but warned that they would be enslaved by the spiritual powers of evil if they rejected him. The nations of the world continuously rejected God, so they are under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. These powers have authority to harm these disobedient nations and to attack and destroy them if they choose.

The other covenant that applies to all the nations is the Rainbow Covenant made with Noah that gives God authority to destroy any nation that becomes so powerful and so evil that it begins to seriously harm his earth, putting its survival in jeopardy. In this situation, God can judge and destroy the political leaders of these nations to prevent them from continuing to harm the earth.

When the Old Testament prophets prophesied against a nation (other than Israel), they challenged them on the basis of these two covenants. Reading through prophecies against nations recorded by the Old Testament prophets reveals four basic messages.

  1. Describes how God will use nations against each other to accomplish his purposes – stirring up nation against nation, or stirring up people within a nation against its rulers.

  2. Describes how he will use the nations to bring judgment against his people: Israel and the church.

  3. Describes what the spiritual powers of evil want to do, because, or when, they hold power over the nation.

  4. Describes how God will destroy a nation because its rulers have raised themselves up as gods, or because they have begun to do too much harm on the earth (This was Jeremiah’s message to Babylon — Jer 50,51).

Friday, November 29, 2019

Miracles (9) Words

The English word “miracle” is often used to describe a rare event. The word does not really exist in that sense in the New Testament. Four words are used in this to describe interventions from the spiritual realms.

ergion — works (John 5:20; 7:3).
dunamis — power (Mark 9:39; 13:58, Gal 3:5, 1 Cor 2:28).
semeion — signs (John 4:54; Luke 23:8).
teras — wonder (John 4:48; Acts 2:22).
They are sometimes combined together as in works of power (Mark 9:39) or signs and wonders (John 4:48) or signs, wonders and different powers (Heb 2:4).

Jesus worked miracles wherever he went, as a sign that he is the messiah of God. Once he had ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit continued to do signs wherever his disciples went to confirm their good news that Jesus is our rescuer/messiah. He wants to continue doing this all over the world, so signs will continue everywhere. They are “works of power” to prove that Jesus said that he is.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Miracles (9) Observing

Scientists measure events that occur in the physical world. This raises the question: what would they see if a spiritual being made changes to the physical world. If they made observations before and after, they would see how the world was before the change and how it was after the change, but they could not see what caused the change. The previous second observation would show a situation which was not sufficient to cause the change recorded in the second observation. The second observation would show a situation that the conditions in the first observation could not produce.

For example, an observation of Jesus body just prior to the resurrection would show a body that was dead. All physical functions would have ceased. There would be no possibility of further life. An observation just after the resurrection would show a person that was alive. There would be no physical explanation for this dramatic change.

The problem is that in most cases, the impact of the spiritual intervention does not become evident immediately, so observations are not made until well afterwards, when the symptoms of the spiritual interaction become evident. We mostly do not observe a spiritual interaction, because we do not know it has happened. By the time scientists realise what has occurred, it is too late to begin making observations.

If an evil spirit caused a woman’s spine to begin collapsing, a physical examination prior to the event would show a healthy spine. If the collapse was slow and gradual, then a physical examination just after the evil spirit had begun doing the damage probably would not show much difference. The beginning of a collapse might be evident, but they change would look very similar to what would be observed with normal osteoporosis, if it were observed when it was first beginning.

If an evil spirit caused a few cells in a person’s lungs to mutate and become cancerous, the immediate effect would be hard to observe. An observation prior to the event would show healthy lungs. An observation after the spiritual intervention would show a very small number of cancerous cells. This would be very similar to what would be observed if the cancer was due to natural causes. In both cases, the existence of the cancer would not be known to until it had grown sufficiently to produce more serious symptoms, so these observations would be unlikely to occur. So the immediate change would not be observed, even with modern medical diagnostic equipment.

If a modern pathologist had undertaken an autopsy of the body of King Herod after he had been killed by an angel (Acts 12:23), the pathologist would discover evidence of the cause of his death. Perhaps he had had a heart attack or a serious stroke. However, the pathologist would not be able to see that the death was triggered by an angel, because it would look just like any other heart attack or stroke. The physical examination of a pathologist cannot identify spiritual causes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Miracles (8) Angels

Angels can speak in a way that humans can hear (Judges 2:1; Acts 27:33).

  • Mary and Joseph, the shepherds heard angels telling them what to do.
  • Angels comforted Jesus (Matt 4:11).
  • Angels can give people dreams.
  • An angel spoke to Abraham (Gen 22:11).
  • Angels can put thoughts in the mind of humans.
  • Angels speak to prophets (2 Kings 1:3).
  • Angels can speak to people who are rejecting God (Gen 16:8-10).
  • Angels can speak to people who are seeking God (Acts 10:7).
Angels can change things in the physical world.
  • When the angels appeared to the shepherd, they filled the sky with a bright light (Luke 2:9).
  • An angel can open a locked door (Acts 12:8-10).
  • Angels can rescue and protect people from human attackers (Gen 19:10).
  • An angel can lead a person travelling on a long journey (Gen 24:40; Ex 23:30).
  • Angels can destroy the enemies of the people of God (Ex 23:30 (2 Kings 19:35)).
  • An angel can appear to animals (Num 22:22-26).
  • An angel can help a human see into the spiritual world ((Num 22:31).
  • Angels can destroy a plate of meat and bread by causing fire to come out of a rock (Jud 6:21).
  • Angels can appear and disappear from view (Jud 6:21).
  • An angel could destroy a city (1 Sam 24:16).
  • Angels made and spread manna in the wilderness (Psalm 78:24-26).
  • Angels can change the behaviour of animals (Dan 6:22).
  • Angel’s can kill evil rulers (Acts 12:23).
  • An angel can stir up water (John 5:4).
  • Angels can shift large stones (Matt 28:2).
  • Angels can release disasters on earth (Rev 8:7-12).
These things that angels can do are not examples of the laws of nature being suspended, they are examples of the normal interaction that occurs between the spiritual and physical world.

Large numbers of angels can gather together to exert immense power. Unlike the evil spirits that hate each other and fight against each other, angels are glad to join with other angels to obey Jesus.

Angels are servants, so they cannot make humans do things that they do not want to do. They have to wait until humans are willing to be served by them while doing God’s will. The angels are released to act and serve when God’s people are gladly following and obeying Jesus.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Miracles (7) Evil Spirits

Evil Spirits have the ability to move in the spiritual realms but change things in the physical world. They operate on the boundary between the physical and spiritual.

Evil Spirits can speak.
  • Many people have heard evil spirits speak. If they submit to the voice, they give the evil spirit power in their life.

  • Sometimes they speak with a voice of deception. That is what happened to Jesus. The tempter spoke lies to him to try and deceive him into submitting to his power. The solution to the voice of deception is to speak the word of God, under the leading of the Holy Spirits.

  • Evil spirits can drop thoughts into the minds of people. This applies to people in the world and those who are following Jesus.

Evil spirits have physical power. They have the ability to make changes in the physical world. They can change the nature of physical things.

  • When God had finished his creative activity, everything was good. There were no earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, tornados, tsunamis, fatal diseases and floods. When humans sinned, the powers of evil were free to attack God’s creation. They hate him, so they delighted in finding ways to harm his world. The powers of evil changed the way that the earth functions.

    Once human sin had squeezed God out of his universe, the powers of evil got to work and really messed it up. Earthquakes, floods, droughts, tsunamis, tornados, volcanoes and other destructive forces appeared on earth for the first time.

    For the first millennium of human history, there were far more evil spirits working on earth than there were humans. They attacked these people, but they focussed on harming and destroying the creation. They made changes to the way that the physical world functions. They changed some animal species to make them violent. They played with genetic material to manipulate species and destroy God’s good creation. Animals, insects and plants changed into dangerous forms that had not existed when the world was good. Bacteria and viruses that cause sickness and disease emerged and began to spread. A vast army went to work in the universe creating evil species, wreaking havoc and spoiling the beautiful world that God created.

    The powers of evil had more than a thousand years rampaging through God’s beautiful world. After the flood, when the numbers of humans on earth had increased, evil spirits no longer had numeric superiority. They shifted their focus from harming creation to using political power to control and harm the people of the world.

  • Evil spirits can make people physically sick. In the case of one woman that Jesus had healed, the powers of evil had changed the functioning of her spine or given her osteoporosis (Luke 13:16). They seem to be able to shift bacteria and cause cells to mutate to become cancerous cells. They seem to be able to create or release viruses.

  • An individual spirit is not strong enough to create a storm, a tornado or an earthquake. However, a large group of them can join together to release a storm or an earthquake, if the conditions are right. They are not strong enough to create an earthquake, but if geological pressures have built up sufficiently on a fault, they can trigger the timing of a quake. The same applies to storms. They are not strong enough to create a storm, but if the conditions are building, they can nudge them to release a storm.

    The storm that struck the disciples when they were sailing across the Sea of Galilee seemed to have been triggered by the spiritual powers of evil. Mark describes it as a "great storm of wind" (Mark 4:37). Matthew says a great shaking (seismos) occurred in the sea. (Matt 8:24). The men in the boat were experienced sailors, but they were filled with terror because they realised they could be destroyed.
    The forces of darkness understood that Jesus was a risk to them. Now he had started his ministry the risk was becoming clear. He was casting out demons, and they were powerless. He was healing the people they had inflicted with sickness. They knew that they had to deal with him, before he really got going. so they stirred up the sea and the wind in an effort to kill Jesus.

    When the disciples woke Jesus, he understood what was happening. He rebuked wind in the same way as he rebuked evil spirits that he was casting out. He spoke to the said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still" (Mark 4:39)! Speaking to an "act of nature" is a pointless waste of time, but Jesus knew the storm was demonic. He seemed to be speaking to the wind and the waves, but he was actually speaking to the evil spirits who were at work in both.

    The disciples just saw a storm. Jesus realised that in the spiritual realms, a host of evil spirits had stirred up the wind and the sea in an effort to destroy him. There were other boats on the Sea of Galilee that night (Mk 4:36), but the spirits focussed the attack on his boat. Jesus understood his authority, so he rebuked the evil spirits. I presume that when he spoke, a host of powerful angels forced the evil spirits off the lake. That is why the wind and the waves instantly calmed.

    Unlike a natural storm, this storm came without warning and ended suddenly. Much is made of the unpredictability of storms on the Galilee, but Jesus disciples knew how to read the weather signs (Luke 12:54) and would not have gone out if a storm was brewing. This storm ended as quickly as it started, because its source was demonic.

  • Most storms are caused by strong winds, not by demonic powers. The same applies to earthquakes and bush fires. Most are just natural events caused by the workings of nature. Only a few are the word of the demonic powers. The natural and spiritual events look the same, so spiritual discernment is needed to tell the difference.

  • Evil spirits are always fighting each other, so they find it hard to work together. This means that situations where the join together to something big in the physical world are rare. It only happens, when they are bullied by a more powerful controlling spirit, such as the spirit called Destruction (Rev 9:11).

  • Evil spirits can pretend to be something that they are not.

Evil spirits are not very creative, so they usually try to find something that works and do it over and over again. They spent the first millennium attacking the physical earth. When the flood and the Rainbow Covenant put an end to that method, they have switched to using political power and human empires to leverage their influence on earth.

Since the cross, the spiritual powers of evil have concentrated on using political power to control people. A government-spirit working with a few powerful spirits can control an entire city or nation, but that is another story.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Miracles (6) Holy Spirit

The physical world was created out of nothing by the Holy Spirit. We know now that physical matter is energy in a different form. The energy that is the basis of the matter which comprises the universe came from the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit speaks.

  • He reaches out to people who have rejected God and speaks of his love in an attempt to draw them to Jesus.
  • He convicts people who are making bad decisions.
  • He speaks to people who love Jesus so that they get to know better.
  • He speaks to people who listen to him and ask questions.
  • He speaks the gospel to the world through his evangelists.
  • He speaks to the people of the world through prophets.
  • The Holy Spirit gives his people words of knowledge and wisdom (1 Cor 12:8).
The Holy Spirit frequently intervenes in the physical world to make changes for the benefit of God’s people.
  • The Holy Spirit intervened to bring about the blessings of the covenant that God made with his people (Deut 28:1-13). He causes the rain to fall for the benefit of his people. He causes their crops to grow better. These covenant interventions are only for his covenant people, not for the people of the world.
  • The Holy Spirit intervened to protect God’s people when the surrounding nations attacked them. He blinded some armies (2 Kings 6:18). He caused others to fight against each other (Jud 7:22). Others he filled with terror and caused them to flee (Deut 7:20-21; Ex 23:27).
  • The Holy Spirit can heal people who are sick (Acts 8:10).
  • The Holy Spirit can force out an evil spirit that is physically harming a person (Mark 9:18-25).
  • The Holy Spirit can raise people from the dead (Acts 20:10-12).
God gave authority on the earth to humans, so the Holy Spirit can only intervene if he is given permission by humans. This explains why the people of the world only experience the Holy Spirit infrequently. Most of the time they have shut him out and refused to give him authority to work in their lives. This is also why it is important for unbelievers to become hungry for God. They are more likely to give the Holy Spirit permission to work as a consequence of their hunger.

The authority situation on earth means that his activity is often constrained by inadequate prayer. Christians do not experience the fullness of his work, because they do not give him permission to act in their lives. When we keep control over our lives he is shut out from working for us.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Miracles (5) Science

Scientists focus on the physical world alone, so they do not observe interventions from the spiritual realm. I presume that angels and evil spirits do not intervene in situations where scientists are conducting experiments. There are good reasons for this. Evil spirits do not disrupt their experiments of scientists because they prefer to remain hidden from their eyes. They want scientists to continue believing that the spiritual world is not real. God’s angels do not play tricks, so they do not intervene in a way that would confuse the scientists, because they only intervene to bring glory to God. Therefore, the experiments of scientists will not be affected by interventions from the spiritual realms.

Of course, if a spiritual intervention did occur and disrupt the expected result, for example, by causing water to boil at a different temperature, the scientist would treat the outcome as a rogue result and discard it. For these reasons, scientists do not see the interventions from the spiritual world that are occurring all the time.

In the next few posts, I will outline some of the ways that beings in the spiritual realms intervene to affect events in the physical world. The spiritual world is full of spiritual beings: Holy Spirit, angels, evil spirits that have rebelled against God. The Scriptures explain the various ways that they intervene in the physical world.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Miracles (4) Interaction between Physical and Spiritual

The materialistic world view assumes that the spiritual world does not exist. The more popular world view acknowledges the existence of the spiritual realm, but assumes that the interaction between these two realms is rare.

  • People occasionally see ghosts.
  • A few nice people get to see angels.
  • God is a long way away. Even if he created the world, he is now watching from a distance. People have to get on with life without him.
  • Miracles are rare, because God has to suspend the laws of nature to intervene in the spiritual world.
  • The Holy Spirit is only experienced in a meeting at a religious place.
  • People go to heaven when they die. It is a place that it a long way away.
These views are all wrong. The spiritual and physical worlds are closely linked. Interaction between these realms is happening all the time. People who ignore events in the spiritual realms will fail to understand what is happening on earth.

The word miracle is not helpful, because it implies that intervention from the spiritual into the physical are rare. That is not correct. Interactions between the spiritual and the physical world are occurring all the time. The problem is that we have been so immersed in the physical world that we do not see or recognise interventions from the spiritual world.