Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (8) Jesus and Kingdom

Preston Sprinkle explains in his book called Fight how Jesus refocussed the meaning of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus’s central message was not primarily about how to get to heaven when you die, or about becoming a better person. The central message of Jesus was about the coming of God’s kingdom.

But Jesus’s kingdom talk gets Him into hot water. The term kingdom isn’t invented by Jesus or the New Testament writers. Most people in Jesus’s day understand kingdom to mean the empire (kingdom) of Rome. Jewish people, as we have seen, tried to set up their own kingdom. So when Jesus talks about the kingdom, everyone already has a category to understand what He is saying. Jesus isn’t inventing a term or concept unknown to people. Rather, He takes a well-known concept, guts it, and stuffs it with new meaning. What God does with the concept of kingship in the Old Testament (for example in Deut. 17), Jesus does with kingdom throughout the Gospels. And one central feature of Jesus’s unkingdom-like kingdom is the issue of power and violence . Whereas all other kingdoms (Roman, Jewish, or whatever) are breaking in with force and violence, Jesus will erect the kingdom of peace without using violence. Put simply: Jesus preaches a demilitarized Deuteronomy 17-like kingdom.

So what does Jesus mean by “my kingdom is not of this world”? The answer comes in Jesus’s very next words: “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.” Nonviolence is at the heart of Jesus’s definition of kingdom (Fight chapter 5).

John uses the term world (kosmos) throughout his gospel and his letters to refer to “the systems of the world” or “social construction of reality.” 16 Put simply, world often means the way unbelievers do things. For instance, Jesus says that He has come to testify against the world that its deeds are evil (John 7: 7). Or as John will say elsewhere , “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2: 15). This does not refer to the material stuff on earth, nor does it refer to people, whom Jesus and John say we are to love. The “world” refers to the worldly systems that run against God’s way of doing things. Unjust economic systems, dehumanizing social classification, and advancing one’s kingdom through violence. These are all “of the world” (Fight chapter 5).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (7) Jesus

Preston Sprinkle explains in his book called Fight how Jesus was born in a time when militarism was strong.

The Prince of Peace was born into a world drowning in violence. The years between the Old and New Testaments were anything but silent, as kingdom rose up against kingdom, nation warred against nation, and the Jewish people hacked their way to freedom with swords baptized in blood.

The Maccabees reclaimed their religious and political freedom and set up a quasi-messianic kingdom through violent force. The success of Maccabean swords would shape the way Jewish people in Jesus’s day would understand—and anticipate—the kingdom of God.

This was the world Jesus entered, a world ruled by violence. Many Jews sought freedom through bloodshed. Others kept their swords close at hand, ready for a signal to rise up and conquer. During Jesus’s lifetime on earth, several messianic figures rose up to establish God’s kingdom through violent revolution.

Despite the failure of these many revolts, the earlier success of the Maccabees ensured that messianic zeal was not easily snuffed out. Hope still burned for the establishment of God’s kingdom through force.

Despite the widespread expectation of peace envisioned by the Hebrew prophets, history had gone a different direction. The Maccabean kingdom cultivated a thirst for political independence through the sword. Yet from birth to death, Jesus preached a non-Maccabean kingdom. He would bear a plowshare, not a sword, and set up God’s kingdom without using violence. And He would tell His followers to do the same.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (6) Solomon

Preston Sprinkle explains in his book called Fight how Solomon took Israel further down the road of militarism.

Israel’s march toward militarism continues with King Solomon. Though he is often presented as a good king who fell away in his old age, the Bible views Solomon’s kingship much more critically. First Kings 3:3 sums it up best: “Solomon loved the LORD... only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places.” Solomon loves God, but he also has a thing for pagan gods.

Solomon commits not only religious idolatry but political idolatry as well (the two go hand in hand). Contrary to God’s law for the king (Deut. 17), Solomon has a massive standing army and stockpiled superior weapons beyond imagination—forty thousand stalls of warhorses, fourteen hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen. One could say that stockpiling superior weaponry was the cause for much peace during Solomon’s reign. The same logic drove America to amass nuclear weapons during the Cold War. But the Old Testament doesn’t work like this. Solomon’s accumulation of warhorses and chariots blatantly violates Deuteronomy 17: 16, leading Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann to label Solomon’s reign “the quintessence of Canaanization in Israel.” In fact, the Bible makes clear that the peace during Solomon’s reign is not due to his military might, but to God’s covenant with David (1 Kings 11: 11– 12). Solomon’s military might serves only to condemn him Fight Chapter 5).

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (5) David

I really liked the way that Preston Sprinkle dealt with David in his book called Fight. Many Christians assume that because he had a heart for God as a youth that he could do know wrong. Preston explains that David got a lot of things wrong.

Israel’s descent into secular militarism hits rock bottom in 1 Samuel 8. It’s here that Israel explicitly demands a king, “that we also may be like all the nations” (v. 20).

Through and through, Saul represents yet another step away from God’s qualified warfare policy toward a militaristic, king-centered blank check for violence. Samuel’s nightmare about having a king like the surrounding nations becomes a reality. David is Israel’s second king in the monarchy, and in many ways he is God’s corrective for the wayward monarchy. He doesn’t multiply horses or chariots, and he humbly submits to God. In the early stages of David’s reign, God is clearly in charge of Israel’s warfare. Early on, David seems to wage war only at God’s command, as in his early battles with the Philistines (2 Sam. 5: 17– 25).

But something changes with David, though it’s more delayed and subtle than with Saul. Power breeds violence, which breeds more violence and more power. As David continues to wage war against his enemies, he slowly— like Saul— becomes a “me-centered” warrior-king. In later battles with the Philistines, instead of God striking down David’s enemies (2 Sam. 5: 24), it’s now “David” who “defeated the Philistines and subdued them” (8: 1). In fact, 2 Samuel 8’s summary of David’s wars is “a delicate balance between human aggression and divine blessing.” God is mentioned only two times in the chapter. By now David has built a professional army, including a few chariots (vv. 4, 16), and uses excessive violence toward the Moabites in battle (v. 2) even though his own great-grandmother was a Moabite. David has become less concerned with defending the land and more concerned with extending his kingdom to make a name for himself (vv. 13– 14). And in 2 Samuel 10, another summary of David’s wars, God’s name is completely left out. The wars are no longer sanctioned by God. By 2 Samuel 11– 12, David is now waging wars just like the nations— besieging a city outside the land, boasting in his kingly might, and possibly even torturing the city’s inhabitants . The king who once affirmed that “the L ORD saves not with sword and spear” (1 Sam. 17: 47) has now turned to sword and spear, instead of to God, for his military strength. Like Saul before him, David becomes a warrior-king like the kings of the surrounding nations.

Toward the end of David’s life, God confronts him for taking a census. But it’s not just any census— it’s a military census: “Joab, the commander of the army” and “the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel” (2 Sam. 24: 2, 4 ). And when they returned , they counted “800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000” (v. 9). With the census, David wants to “mobilize military power .” And King Yahweh punishes him for it by killing seventy thousand of his people. Once again, God is a warrior against, not for, those who are Canaanized and militaristic. Should we look approvingly on David’s militarism when God opposes it?

Using David’s military exploits to sanction modern warfare— as some Christians do— is a haphazard use of the Bible. Just because it happened (e.g., David torturing his enemies) doesn’t mean it ought to happen. Professional armies, wars unrelated to the land, and king-centered wars do not reflect God’s warfare policy for Israel. God’s critical assessment of David’s military prowess is therefore fitting: “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars. You shall not build a house to my name, because you have shed so much blood before me on the earth” (1 Chron. 22: 8; cf. 28: 3). To be clear, David was “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13: 14). I’m not suggesting that David was wicked or that God had no purpose for him. But I am saying that David was flawed and in need of grace, just as every other character in the Bible was . And his flawed nature shows up particularly in his later approach to warfare. God used David to further His purposes, but setting David’s militarism as an example for the ages was never God’s intention. (Fight Chapter 5)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (4) Offensive Weapons

Preston Sprinkle explains why Israel was not allowed offensive weapons.

Other nations will therefore see that Israel marches to the beat of a different military drum. They have a God in the heavens who guides and protects, who defends and delivers. They don’t need to supplement God with a human army. And when they do actually fight, God wants them to remain a ragtag group of weekend warriors. This way, when they win (if they have faith in God) it will be clear to them and everyone else that victory belongs to Israel’s God, not to Israel’s military. This is why in several instances Israel was commanded to hamstring their enemies’ horses and burn their chariots.

Horses and chariots were the ancient version of tanks. They were superior weapons. The army with the most horses and chariots was bound to win the war. So when Joshua (and others) hamstrings horses and burns chariots , he destroys their potential usefulness to Israel in further battles. It’s like killing an enemy with a knife and not taking his gun. And the reason is clear: “Superior weaponry was rejected, in order to demonstrate trust in Yahweh as warrior.”

When chariots are mentioned in a positive light, they are God’s chariots, not Israel’s. God rides on the chariots of the clouds (Hab. 3: 8; Deut. 32: 13), surrounds His people with angelic chariots (2 Kings 7: 6), and takes His prophet home in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2: 11). Who needs earthly chariots when God fights with heavenly ones? The prophets themselves are even called “the chariots of Israel and its horsemen” (2 Kings 13: 14; cf. 2: 12)— they are bearers of the word of God, who alone secures Israel’s existence.

In contrast to Israel’s comical military policy, the surrounding nations stockpiled horses, chariots, and other superior weapons. Such military strength was essential for their survival and domination. The Assyrians boasted about their enemies being “afraid in the face of my terrible weapons” (Fight, chapter 3).
Preston has some strong words for American Christians, who have more faith in military power than in God.
America’s excessive militarism is inconceivable apart from “the support offered by several tens of millions of evangelicals.” This is unbelievable. Most of all—as we’ve seen in this chapter— it’s unbiblical.

What the Old Testament does do is critique the massive wave of Christian support for America’s unbridled militarism. Such allegiance is misplaced; such support is unbiblical. The nations— like Assyria— were ruled by militarism, but God’s people should never celebrate military power, and we certainly shouldn’t find our hope and security in it. If God warned Israel against having a strong military— and it was God’s nation— how much more should God’s people today not put stock in the military prowess of a secular country?

Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s kingdom, and no band of terrorists, fascist government, oppressive dictator, or disarmament program will trump Jesus’s promise. Seeing America’s military strength as the hope of the world is an affront to God’s rule over the world. It’s idolatry (Fight, chapter 3).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (3) Laws of War

The laws for war are set out in Deuteronomy 20: 1– 14, 19– 20. Preston Sprinkle explains the main points of this passage.

  • First, God— not military might— determines the victory (v. 4).
  • Second, Israel’s army is made up of volunteers at the time of battle. In other words, there isn’t to be a professional standing army. 10 If anyone has recently built a house, planted a vineyard, betrothed a wife, or is simply “fearful and fainthearted,” he doesn’t have to go to war (vv. 5– 9).
  • Third, if the Israelites do go to war, they are to first offer peace to the city (vv. 10– 11) before they fight against it.
  • Fourth, only if the city rejects peace is Israel sanctioned to go to war (v. 12).
  • Fifth, noncombatants are not to be killed during war (vv. 13– 15).
  • Lastly, even fruit trees aren’t to be destroyed (vv. 19– 20).
Talk about limited objectives!... For now it’s important to underscore the point: Israel’s “army” is deliberately weak so that God will be shown to be unquestionably strong. The intentional weakness of Israel’s army is put on bold display in Deuteronomy 17. God is Israel’s King. However , God will allow Israel to have a human king under certain conditions, and Deuteronomy 17 spells out those conditions—one of which is stripping the king of all military might. Namely, the king is not allowed to build a professional army (“ he must not acquire many horses for himself”) nor can he make military alliances with other nations (Deut. 17: 16– 17). God will shed the king of all military strength so that his faith will be in God, not in military power (Fight, chapter 3).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sprinkle - Fight (2) - Part-time Army

In Chapter 3 of Fight, Preston Sprinkle explains that God deliberately limited Israel to a part-time, non-professional, peace-time army. This was different from the nations that controlled Canaan, and every other nation since.This is not well understood, so the chapter is really important.

Canaan was ruled by a set of warrior kings.

Canaan was a collection of city-states— mini empires spread throughout the land. Both Egypt and Canaan were structured along the same hierarchical paradigm. The king and his posse owned it all…

In Canaan, the kings and nobles were able to maintain control over the land through a professional army— a highly trained group of warriors who stockpiled many weapons: swords, spears, chariots, and horses. They were paid a good salary through taxation and were honored with land that the peasants cultivated for them. Such an army would cost a lot of money, but a professional army was essential for the king and nobles to maintain power and secure their space in the land. The stronger the military, the better the “homeland security.” External attacks were halted by a strong military; internal revolts were kept at bay by the same force.

The very existence of the king-centered feudal system depended upon the strength of the army. Without it, the king would not maintain ownership over the land for very long. Having a king meant having a warrior who wielded absolute power through his military (Fight, chapter 3.
Israel was organized in a totally different way.
Israel, quite shockingly, was an egalitarian (think “equal”) society, meaning that all families were entitled to own land. Everyone had equal access to gain wealth. It was not a monarchy (originally ), where the king owned it all. And it was not a feudal system, where a few elite nobles controlled the land while the rest lived as peasants. This is shocking, because no other society in the ancient world operated this way. Every other society was hierarchical. They were ruled by kings and nobles who pretty much did whatever they wanted.

But Israel is different. Yahweh is their King who owns all the land (Lev. 25: 23), and He will be their army. God doesn’t need a human army to protect His land. He is quite capable of defending the land Himself, as He demonstrates time and time again. Later on, in fact, Israel is condemned for wanting a militaristic king who will fight its battles, as the other nations have (1 Sam. 8: 20). Such misplaced trust befits pagans, not God’s people. To ensure Israel’s trust in Him rather than in a human king, God gives Israel an economic system that can’t support a professional army. After all, somebody has to fund the army. But not in Israel. No taxes are supposed to be collected to support a military— God wants excess money to be given to the poor, not to fund a military (e.g., Deut. 14: 29).

And when Israel does end up choosing a king, God does not allow him to have the financial means to support an army (Deut. 17). Israel’s economic system, therefore, is set up so that the nation can’t sustain a standing army without violating the system itself. Israel’s “army”— if we can even call it an army— is a group of weekend warriors whose skills, or lack thereof, testify to the power of God, who alone ensures victory.

Israel’s egalitarian society, then, is different from and critical of the Canaanite society it is to drive out. The Canaanite hierarchical system, held together by the power of the king and his military might, is to be abolished. While the other nations place much faith in their king and the power of his army, Israel is called to have faith in its King and His power. All other forms of “homeland security”—professional army, superior weapons, alliances with other nations—are considered idolatry.

Israel’s lack of, and inability to sustain, a professional army is one of the most bizarre aspects of its society. None of this would make sense to modern or ancient military tactics. Against all human logic, intuition, and desire to secure oneself by military might, Israel flaunts its weak and outdated military regime (Fight, chapter 3)
The challenge is to explain how this would work in a kingdom culture.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Preston Sprinkle - Fight (1)

I have just read Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence by Preston Sprinkle. It is a really good book, except that it does not go far enough for me. However, it is not written for people like me who are already persuaded. The book is written for Americans who are locked in a military culture. Most American Christians will think that he has gone too far. So I guess that he has got it about right.

Chapter 2 looks at the book of Genesis. He shows that influence for peace was there right from the beginning. For example, he shows how Abraham chose to suffer loss, rather than fight to protect his rights.

Preston Sprinkle takes a narrative approach to Old Testament law. He says that God allowed violence because the culture of the time was violent. That narrative approach does not work. We live in a culture that feeds on TV violence. Does that mean that we can ignore Jesus teaching on violence in our time?

There are two things that he misses.

  1. Prior to the cross, the children of Israel had no spiritual protection. The commands of Leviticus were designed to separate them from the surrounding culture, so they would not be overwhelmed by the spiritual forces that dominated that culture. Some of the laws were given to provide spiritual protection. They have been made redundant by the cross.

  2. The Israelites misunderstood the law and never applied it. Preston says there is not evidence of this. I think there is plenty. The book of Joshua is a record of how Joshua undertook terrible wars, because he misunderstood what Moses had said. I explain this at http://kingwatch.co.nz/Law_Government/violenz.htm.

Preston argues that Joshua is hyperbole. I don’t think that works. I prefer my approach in God and Violence.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Prophecy and Evil

The spiritual powers of evil are not very creative, so they mostly just repeat what they have done in the past. That is why they are trying to use the Islamic Revival to do what Persia and Babylon did in the past, and Isis to be another Assyria.

Pride and Hubris makes the spiritual powers of evil blind. When they read the prophetic scriptures, they think they describe them winning. When they read the book of Revelation, they think it describes them being victorious, so they are keen to do the things that they read about there.

The powers of evil hope that the events described in the book of Revelation will lead to their success, so they have been trying to get the seven seals started for a long time, but God has been holding them back until the time is right. He has been able to do that because enough people have been praying and calling on him for peace.

So when Jesus opens the first of the seven seals in heaven (Rev 6:1), God removes his restraint, and the powers of evil get straight into it, without God having to do anything. They want to fulfil their warped understanding of God’s plan, so he does not need permission to bring these events to pass.

The same applies with many other prophecies. The powers of evil are looking for new ideas and they think the events described by the prophecy will bring them victory, so they are keen to fulfil them. They usually try to fulfil prophecies too early, so God’s main challenge is to prevent them going to soon. He does this by prompting other groups of spiritual powers to oppose them. The Holy Spirit is skilled at bringing division between them by slipping new ideas into their minds.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

God’s Will and Authority

Although humans have authority on earth, and they have surrendered their authority to the powers of evil, God still manages to get his will done. The Holy Spirit uses whatever authority humans give with such wisdom and power that he achieves more than we would expect.

Although only a limited number of Christians are praying according to his will, many others are crying out to him. Their prayers often align with God’s will by serendipity. Even non-Christians sometimes cry out to God unwittingly, eg “God help me”. The Holy Spirit acts on all these prayers, if they are helpful for his purposes.

More at Prayer and Authority.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Seeing in the Spirit Made Simple

I have just started reading Seeing in the Spirit Made Easy by the Praying Medic. I have just read a couple of chapters but I am really impressed.

In my book Kingdom Authority I explain why understanding the spiritual realms is important. They interact with the physical realms in which we live, so understanding what is happening in the spiritual realms is absolutely essential for understanding what is happening on earth. God has given authority on earth to humans, so he needs us to give him authority on earth to complete his plans. We can only do that if we can see what he is wanting to do.

In Kingdom Authority, I did not go into how to see into the spiritual realms, because that was outside the scope of the book. Praying Medic has filled that gap. Chapter 4 of Seeing in the Spirit is the most straightforward, practical teaching on the topic I have ever read. Most important, he brings it down to earth, and makes it relevant for every Christian. Anyone wanting to grow in this area should read this book.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Fighting Against God (5) Israel

Israel does not need military power for its protection.
Israel does not need the protection of American military power.
Israel could have God’s protection, which is much better.

God’s covenant with Israel still stands. The covenant promised protection from its enemies (Deut 28:7). God is still capable of fulfilling his covenant. The problem is that Israel has refused to live under their covenant (Num:15-16; Deut 17:16; Deut 20:19). They have deliberately rejected the condition of the covenant, so they have lost its protection. That is why they have had to rely on military power and alliances with evil nations.

God warns that those who trust in military power and alliances will be disappointed.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
or seek help from the Lord
But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God;
their horses are flesh and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
those who help will stumble,
those who are helped will fall;
all will perish together (Is 31:1,3).
Those who rely on an alliance with a superpower will be put to shame.
“Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;
who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
But Pharaoh’s protection will be to your shame,
Egypt’s shade will bring you disgrace (Is 30:1-3).
Those who rely on military power and nuclear weapons will be embarrassed. They will find themselves fighting against the Lord.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Fighting Against God's Plan (4) Violence

The Western media have frequent discussions about whether Islam is a violent religion or not. Even Barack Obama has been drawn into the debate. As usual, the media are asking the wrong question.

Religion is not the cause of violence. The cause of violence is the spiritual powers of wickedness. They love violence and death.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).
The spiritual powers of evil love to steal, kill and destroy. When humans sinned, the spiritual powers of evil gained authority on earth. They are the cause of violence in the world.

No religion can protect its adherents from the spiritual powers of evil. Religion does not provide spiritual protection. The only protection from the spiritual powers of evil comes through Jesus. He defeated them on the cross. Those who believe in Jesus and walk in the Spirit have full spiritual protection. If they are part of body of believers with discernment and authority, the powers of evil cannot touch them.

If you visit Moslem people in Iran or Indonesia, you will find them just like other people. Most will just be getting on with their lives, earning a living and caring for their families. They are created in the image of God, so they naturally tend to be peaceful. A proportion of the population will have come under the influence of the spiritual powers of evil and becomes violent. Some will beat their wives and others will get violent if provoked. A few will come under intense attack by the spiritual powers of evil and becomes extremely violent and evil, just like in any other culture.

Some cultures seem to have times when they are more violent than others. This is not the consequence of their religion. It is the consequence of the way that the spiritual powers of evil have chosen to attack them. Sometimes they choose to use violence exert their influence in a culture. At other times, they are more subtle and use more deceptive methods for controlling the society. They are free to choose how they will attack, and the consequences will be different. You do not want to be living in a society where the spiritual powers of evil have decided on the full-scale use of violence.

I am not surprised that some Moslems are violent. Islam does not provide spiritual protection against the powers of evil, so whatever the influence of their religion, some Moslems will be violent. They have no tools for getting free from the influence of evil spiritual powers, so it is not surprising that they can be violent.

What surprises me is that Christian cultures are so violent. Those following Jesus have been set free from the spiritual powers of evil. These powers still attack us, but we have the spiritual armour to deal them. Christians have access to spiritual protection. Yet there is not much evidence of this in Christian cultures. During the twentieth century, millions of people were killed in Europe in two wars between the main Christian empires.

The United States is the most Christian country in the world, yet it also seems to be the most violent nation. It is constantly at war. In this century, American fiascos in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have killed more than a million people, without counting, or caring. Violence permeates its culture and society.

I am not surprised that some Moslem cultures are violent, because they have no spiritual protection. What really surprises me is that America is so violent, given that so many American people do have access to spiritual protection. Maybe it’s spiritual protection is not working, because the people of the United States are so committed to the use of military force and to violent entertainment.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fighting Against God's Plan (3)

Some Christians have more faith in military power than in the power of the spirit and the victory of the cross. Despite Jesus amazing victory on the cross and the awesome power of the Holy Spirit, they expect the gospel to be unsuccessful. Reaching the Moslem world with the gospel is too hard.

Yet the same Christians believe that military power can preserve peace. The marines could bring Syria under control, quite easily.

This faith in military power is wrong. Military power always fails, because it releases the powers of evil. War releases a spirit of violence, which undermines the kingdom.

When we respond to evil with violence and war, we stir up more anger, which grieves the Holy Spirit and releases the powers of evil. Spirits of anger and hatred get control of the people that we resist. Military power cannot defeat evil.

  • When we rely on military power, the Holy Spirit flees.
  • When we use coercion against evil, he is squeezed out.
  • Whenever we resist evil with force, spirits of anger and hatred are empowered.
The Kingdom of God cannot be established by war, because as soon as war starts, the Holy Spirit has to withdraw. This creates a spiritual vacuum, which allows the principalities and powers to move in. War always makes a situation worse, even if the cause appears to be good. The forces of evil gain a stronghold on those who participate in the fighting, which allows them to steal the victory.

Christians with faith in military power tend to believe the following statements.

  • We must resist evil, or be overcome by evil.
  • Violence must be destroyed, before it destroys us.
  • We must defend our way of life, or be forced to surrender our faith.
  • We must use force against those who hate the gospel, or it might be lost.
  • We must defeat those who want to harm us, before they destroy us.
At the physical level, these statements appear to be true, but at the spiritual level, they are wrong. Violent people often harm good people. Evil nations sometimes invade peaceful nations. However, when we use force to defend our way of life, we may gain a temporary victory, but the Holy Spirit pulls back and the Kingdom of God goes into retreat.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fighting Against God's Plan (2)

The advance of Islam, together with the other three horsemen of Revelation are events that God allows in order to expose the hubris of political and military power. The powerful nations of the world respond to these events by seizing immense political powers for themselves. By gorging on political power, they allow the Terrible Beast described in Revelation and Daniel to emerge.

The Roman Empire was not something odd. It was just a typical empire from that time, but more effective, more ruthless and more powerful than others. The Beast of Revelation will not be something different or unusual in its time. It will not be something totally new and different, like in the in the Left Behind series. The Beast will just be a very powerful nation that uses military, economic and political power to control events all over the world. It will gather an alliance of smaller nations to assist it accomplish its purposes.

Christians who understand what is happening will oppose the Beast, but they will not fight it with military or political power, because that would be playing into its strength, because in a political contest, power will always win. They will speak against it prophetically, and the response will be savage. Many Christians will be martyred for challenging the militaristic and political heart of the Beast.

These prophetic Christians will be among the martyrs John saw under the altar, crying out for justice, when the fifth seal was opened (Rev 6:9=11). The first four seals cause trouble that allows Beast to emerge. The opening of the fifth seal allows it to persecute Christians.

A state of Israel based on political and military power is not God’s purpose for his people. He wants Israel to export wisdom, peace and law (Is 2:2-4), not military hardware. The current militaristic state will have to be swept away before God’s purposes can be fulfilled.

The Israeli people who have chosen military and power for their salvation will get what they want. The Beast of Revelation, which is the ultimate political and military power will invade Israel, and they will get such a dose of extreme military and political power that they will hate it forever (Dan 11:13-16).

God has allowed ISIS to emerge in the Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria, so that the Beast will invade the Middle East. This will take a while to happen, but the identify of the Beast will be revealed, when it invades the Middle East to try and destroy ISIS. American Christians who want to send the marines in against ISIS, are implicitly wanting America to the Beast of Revelation.

Christians who are advocating military force against Iran and ISIS will find themselves operating as cheerleaders for the Beast as it emerges. They will find themselves operating as horned prophets, advocating their enemy and opposing the purposes of God. Many will get sucked into deception and will not realise until too late that they cannot escape.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fighting Against God's Plan (1)

Many American Christians see Islam as a threat to their peace. They want to engage in war against the forces of Islam in the Middle East. Some are keen to bomb Iran. Others want to send the marines against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They do not understand that they are fighting against God’s purposes.

God has allowed the revival of Islam as part of his plan for history. The seven seals of Revelation mark a transition from an old season to a new one. When Jesus opened the first of the seven seals, a man on a white horse carrying a bow rode forth (Rev 6:1-2). This horseman represents the revival and advance of Islam. (I explain this more fully at White Horseman).

The advance of Islam got underway with the Islamic Revolution in 1978 that overthrew a dictator that had been put in place by the CIA. This was also a fulfilment of Daniel’s vision of the two-horned ram (Dan 8:1-4).

Although this transitional event was part of God’s plan, the United States continued to engage in economic and political wars with Iran, but unsurprisingly they all failed. Jimmy Carter sent an invading force in attempt to rescue some hostages, but it crashed in the desert. In 1980, the US encouraged and supported an Iraqi invasion of Iran, but this failed too. Since then the US has continued a trade war against Iran but without success.

The US is currently using economic sanction to prevent Iran from refining uranium for nuclear power, something that they are entitled to do under international law. The US will fail in this effort too, because it needs Iranian support against ISIS in northern Iraq.

Each attempt to exert military power in the Middle East has strengthened the very forces that it has opposed. The reason that has happened is that they are fighting against God’s purpose. That will always end in failure, no matter how strong the military power.

The disastrous US invasion of Iraq not only destroyed the country, but established Iranian political influence in Iraq. The US did the dirty work to allow Iran to expand its power.

The US drone war against Yemen has brought Houti people to power in that Nation. They are a Shia group, which will more naturally align with Iran.

The persistent pointless US-supported, Israeli invasions of southern Lebanon lead to the emergence of Hezbollah as the most powerful political force in Lebanon. It is a Shia group sympathetic to Iran.

The US fight against Iran has failed, and actually made Iran into one of the most powerful influences in the Middle East. Fighting against a force that was released when Jesus opened a seal was a mistake. Fighting against God’s purposes is always unwise.

Iran will not invade Israel. It simply does not have the military capability to invade a country 3000 kilometres away across a desert. The possibility is only taken seriously by political leaders who need a bogeyman to justify their own political power and military expansion.

Iran will join with a military coalition that attacks the Beast in Israel in a battle that will be so bad that it will destroy the military and political power as a moral force forever. But that is well in the future.

Christian nations will not defeat the advance of Islam by engaging in a military war against it. The best defence against militant Islam is the gospel of Jesus preached in the power of the Spirit. The gospel will win whereas military and political power will lose with unexpected consequences.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Not Dominionism

A reader suggested that I am a proponent of Dominionism or Kingdom Now. Nothing could be further from the truth. The supporters of these views want to get control of the political and legal system, so they can establish the Kingdom of God by enforcing God's standards. They want to use imposed authority, which is anathema to God. It scares the people of the world, because they do not want the church, or Christians, telling them what to do. Fair enough, too.

What I advocate is the opposite of dominionism. It does not rely on political control or imposed authority. It is entirely voluntary and depends on people freely choosing to follow Jesus in response to the gospel and the prompting of the Spirit (this is Free Authority).

The big question is: Will the gospel be successful? Will the Holy Spirit be successful? I realise that I am a minority on this one, but I believe that the clear teaching of the scriptures is that the gospel and the Holy Spirit will be successful. That raises the question of why they have not been successful so far. Which is why authority is so important. The gospel and the Holy Spirit are currently constrained, due to the authority situation on earth, but that will change. When that happens the gospel and the Holy Spirit will be amazingly effective.

May book called Kingdom Authority deals with this issue. The first part describes how authority was lost. We can see the evidence of that. The latter part describes how it will be restored. God has a plan to achieve that, and the result will be amazing, but we do not see it yet.

The book of Revelation is relevant to this issue. Most Christians see it as a doom and gloom, with possibly a rescue, but that is wrong. Revelation is a book about authority. It describe the rise and accumulation of political power. However, one of the main themes of the book is that this power will be destroyed, not temporarily, but forever. It will not be destroyed by power, but by a shift in authority that releases the church to preach the gospel in the power of the Spirit.

So it all comes back to the same question. Will the Holy Spirit and the church be successful in accomplishing the purposes of God on earth? Most Christians say No, but Revelation answers with a resounding, Yes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Having a Ministry

A prophetic ministry is not something that we can have. All that we can have is the prompting of the spirit and relationships with people that give us opportunity to speak. Prompting and opportunity. That is all we can have.

We need to be ready for the opportunities, but in between them, we have nothing but potential and reputation. Potential is only of value if we keep our hearts right. Reputation might help others, but it is of no value to us.

When Daniel spoke to the King of Babylon he was a prophet. In between, these opportunities, he was just a bureaucrat working for a pagan government. In between, he did not have a prophetic ministry, he just had a job (as a slave) that gave him contacts with important people and a few opportunities to speak.

In between promptings, a prophet is just a man or women seeking to walk with God and hear him speak.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spiritual Gifts

The gifts of the Spirit manifest the power of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:7). When a gift occurs, his power is shown. His power shows in different ways depending on the gift.

  • Some gifts manifest in the mind of the person receiving the gift and gives them words to speak.
    • Word of wisdom
    • Word of knowledge
    • Prophecy
    • Interpretation of languages
  • The gift of language by passes the mind to manifest in words we do not understand.


  • The gift of faith attaches to words spoken to anoint them with power.


  • The gift of healing manifests in power flowing out of the person with the gift to heal another person who is sick. Often the power flows through the hand with which the person is being touched


  • The gift of miracles manifests in the same way. Power flows out of us to transform an object in the physical world.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Authority and Power (2)

For a Christian, getting rid of sickness has two phases. The first requires authority. We command the sickness to leave. The authority we have in Jesus causes the evil spirit that was inflicting the sickness to leave (Act 10:38).

The problem is that when evil spirits leave or stop harassing, they do not clean up their mess before they go. They leave a lot of garbage behind. They do no kill their viruses, before they leave. They do not take their arthritis with them, when they have been commanded to leave. We need the Holy Spirit to come in and restore the body that was sick to the way that God created it to be. He has the power to do that.

If the junk that the evil spirits leave behind is genetic damage or viruses, they can be passed onto subsequent generations.

In many situations, the command “Be healed in Jesus name” will be sufficient to complete both phases of healing. Sometimes we will need to specifically invite the Holy Spirit in to do the full complete clean up.

More at Healing.