The difference between my situation and the situation experienced by my parents as an indicator of the change that has taken place in our society. In one generation, we have gone from a society that could effortlessly care for people like Alex and Jack (community care, not family care) to a society where people like Alex and Jack tend to be shut out of our communities.
We have gone from a situation where caring for Alex and Jack was normal to one where the possibility is not even on the radar. The change has been immense, yet it has hardly been noticed.
The technical name for this is social connectedness. Social scientists attempt to measure it. It is a more useful indicator of what is going on in our society than benefit numbers, because it gets to the cause of the problem and points to a solution. The problem in most western nations over the last generation is that there has been a huge collapse in social connectedness.
The state has facilitated this loss of social connectedness, but it is not the cause. The primary cause is people’s choices about the way that they will live. This is important to understand, because it means the process can be reversed by people making different choices.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
The difference between my situation and the situation experienced by my parents as an indicator of the change that has taken place in our society. In one generation, we have gone from a society that could effortlessly care for people like Alex and Jack (community care, not family care) to a society where people like Alex and Jack tend to be shut out of our communities.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Statistics show that the number of people on welfare benefits is increasing. Some people see this as a problem and want to roll back entitlements. Unfortunately, the statistics only tell part of the story. They do not describe the changes that have taken place in the way that our society functions.
When I was growing up, a man called Alex lived in our neighbourhood. He had lung problems and could not do physical work. He was also a bit simple. Although he was in his late forties, he still lived with his parents. People in the neighbourhood would give him odd jobs to do. He would not have earned much, but it gave him pocket money. Someone had given an old car that they did not need, so he was able to get around a bit. He took responsibility for keeping and area of garden in the neighbourhood tidy.
Alex had quite a good life. By living simply, he had enough to get by. He would have felt that he made a contribution to the community that he lived in. These days, Alex would be on an invalids benefit. I don't know where he would live. He would be ostracised by society, because he related best to teenage boys, so would be considered to be a pervert. (He was not a pervert. It was just that he talked a lot of rubbish, and any person over the age of sixteen soon got tired of listening to him).
I also think of Jack Kleim. He was a very capable man, who could turn his hand to anything. However, most of his business ventures had collapsed, so he had lost his confidence. He had also been affected by hostile treatment as a boy, for having a German name and he drunk too much. Most people would say he was a "no hoper".
A few men who had known his father made sure that he had work, often taking turns to employ him. One man gave Jack a small cottage to live in, in return in for some work. He had a portable record player and would visit people and play music in return for an evening meal. This made him feel accepted in the community.
Unfortunately, in the late seventies, most of the people who watched out for him had moved away or died, so he got forgotten. He eventually committed suicide. These days, Jack Kleim would be on the unemployment benefit. I doubt that he would have any better life.
Behind the welfare statistics, there is a story about the way our society has changed. We no longer have communities that can care for people who do not cope or do not fit, so the state has had to step into the breach. That is not ideal, but it is better than what happened to Jack Kleim once the community that protected him collapsed.
Rolling back benefit entitlements is not the solution. If we do not like the way our society works now, we have to work towards creating something better. If we do not have a vision and commitment to changing society from the bottom up, we are irrelevant, and should just stop complaining and pay our taxes.
Welfare statistics are a useful barometers of the changes that are occurring in our society. Unfortunately, some people think that whacking the barometer changes the weather.
The more important barometer for me is the fact that in my parents world, there were lots of Alexs and Jacks, whereas in my world, they are all segmented away, where they can be ignored.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Earlier this month, I spent a week in America. Most of the time I was in Washington DC, looking for the Beast. Americans talk very loud. Many American men are seriously overweight. American people are really friendly and helpful America is an incredibly militaristic nation.
Here are some of the things that struck me about America.
Americans talk very loud.
Many American men are seriously overweight.
American people are really friendly and helpful
America is an incredibly militaristic nation.
Monday, December 28, 2009
On Boxing Day, many people go back to the shops to exchange their Christmas presents for something they like better or need more. The problem is that no matter how hard we try to buy an appropriate gift for someone we love, we often get it wrong. We buy something that they already have or something that they do not need. And even if we do not exchange our gifts, we are often disappointed in them, because we would have chosen a different brand or a different colour. The perfect gift is quite rare.
This illustrates an important principle of economics: the concept of “self interest”. This idea does not get a very good press among Christians, because we think it smacks of selfishness. However, the concept of “self interest” means an economy functions better when people are able to decide what they want for themselves.
An economy based on people deciding what is good for other people does not function so well, because none of us really know what other people want. The strength of the market system is that it allows people to buy what they want, because they are in the best place to decide what they need.
The Christmas present problem illustrates this neatly. Even if we know the person well and really care about them, we can still buy them the wrong gift. Imagine how many mistakes we would make for if we were buying for people we do know and do not care about. We would buy the wrong thing many times. This does not mean they are a selfish. Rather, they just have different tastes, or they have a greater need for something else. Self interest assumes that consumers know best what they need. People can decide what they want for themselves, better than other people can decide for them.
Producers face a different problem. If consumers are free to buy what they want, producers will only be successful if they are producing things that consumers want. To be successful, producers have to do better than most of us do at buying gifts, because the free market system rewards those who are the most skilled at guessing what other people want. A producer will earn a profit if they supply what people want, at a price they will pay. Producers who guess wrong will end up with full warehouses and no profits. To be successful, a producer has to do much better at deciding what other people want, than most buyers of Christmas presents.
Self interest means that consumers can choose what they want , but producers must supply what other people want. The free market places power in the hands of consumers and makes producers into servants.
Labels: Self Interest
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
We have allowed evil into our economy and society, and when it turns against us, we will be powerless against it.
The economy will nearly go “belly up”. Order might be restored, at the last minute. Many will be seriously hurt, whether they bail out or jump.
The crisis will bring a serious fuel shortage. Some fuel will be available, but supplies will be stop-start.
The crisis will cause food shortages. Some people will have plenty, others will have none. Some hard working people will face long delays without food. They will become angry and may get violent.
Most Christians are totally unprepared for the next crisis. Many are travelling on in isolation, totally unaware that a huge disaster is going to cut into their path. Most will survive, but they will be distressed and shaken.
Christian pride and complacency will be exposed.
Christians must learn to live more simply. The smaller option will often be the best.
Some Christians will be betrayed. People that they have risked their lives to help will turn against them and take advantage of their generosity.
There will be no quick fixes for this crisis. We will be stuck in the mess for quite a while. The disaster might last longer than the good times that went before.
When we get through the crisis, we will have progressed much further towards the kingdom than most people expected.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Christians should be preparing for this next crisis, but most have been lulled into a false sense of security by the mild impact effects of the current crisis. People are heaving a sigh of relief, as the economic signs and statistics indicate the crisis has ended and recovery is underway. Most Christians are thinking:
If this is the worst depressionThis widespread sense of relief is based on a misunderstanding of what has happened. Most Christians came through the financial crisis unscathed, but not because they were prepared to cope. God turned back the crisis, because were not prepared.
since the 1930s,
its not too bad
I can cope.
Things are tight,
but I am alright.
A greater danger now lurks, but casual chatter has created a dangerous complacency amongst Christians. In face of danger, we plunge on, because things look rosy on the surface.
Most Christians could not cope with a real economic crisis. The independence and individualism that characterise modern western Christianity will not “cut it”. Christians should be establishing connections with other Christians who will support them when times get tough. Some should be moving closer together to create zones of security in a chaotic world.
Monday, December 21, 2009
The financial crisis was not that bad in New Zealand.
God was going to work the crisis for good by using it to shake the nation, but his people were not ready, so he turned back the evil. The crisis was not as severe as expected, because God held back the economic tide to protect careless people from unnecessary suffering. The entire world benefited from this mercy,
It will not happen again
In recent years, a power shift has taken place in New Zealand. We have unwittingly handed control over many aspects of our culture, our society and our economy to the forces of evil. Our nation has progressed so far down the wrong road that the forces of evil now have a much freer hand. God’s ability to turn back evil is now severely limited. By choosing to cast off restraint, we have left evil unrestrained.
So far the consequences have not been that serious, but the evil one is now flexing his muscles ready to show what he can do. He has been watching the world financial crisis and thinking, “I can do better than that”. His is planning a strike against our export industries that will devastate the New Zealand economy and plunge us into a serious disaster. This crisis will not be constrained by the hand of God, but will be the devil’s depression.
The current financial crisis will be followed by a worse depression worked by the devil’s fury for the purposes of evil. A crisis made over by God could have brought revival and blessing, if we had been prepared, but the devil’s depression will bring collapse and destruction that is deeper and darker than anything that this generation has seen.
Satan is not as powerful as we like to think. He is having difficulty getting together the capability to cause a disaster, but he will eventually succeed.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Isaiah prophesied boldly about Jesus. For to us a child is born,
The government will be on his shoulder.
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
Of the increase of his
government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign … over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
The simple reading of this text is that Jesus will be the government
from that time forward and forever.
So why does Barack Obama think that he should be the government?
or Gordon Brown, or Angela Merkel, or Nicolas Sarkozy, or Kevin Rudd, or John Key?
Herod understood Isaiah's prophecy.
He knew that his government was a goner,
so he tried to kill Jesus,
but he was still a goner.
Mary understood it too. That is why she said,
Kings would be thrown down from their thrones
and the humble raised up.
Satan understood the threat.
That is why he came up with clever deception that
this prophecy is "Not for now, but for later",
"Jesus government comes at the end of the age."
You could trust Satan to thrust his shoulder in.
The government is on Jesus shoulder.
He will govern with justice and righteousness.
and his government will never shop increasing.
The Zeal of the Lord will do it.
Not in the future.
From that time on and forever.
We had better work out what this means.
For to us a child is born,
Saturday, December 19, 2009
We do not know exactly when these ephocal events will take place, but there are are the signs that will indicate that this season is getting close. These signs kickstart a Time of Desolation that crushs human power, and eventually wipes out all nation state. A brief description of each birth pang follows. Islam Advancing - The first birth pang in this age of transition is the resurgence of Islam. This is described in the First Seal in Revelation 6:2. Islamic nations will experience a revival of religious fervour and political power. Daniel 7:4 describes the United States tangle with these nations. Ethnic Wars - The revival of Islam leads to an increase in wars between different ethnic groups through many parts of the world. The second seal in Revelation 6:3-4 describes a time when ethnic disputes become so common that the resources of the United Nations will not be able to cope. Big Bear - Daniel saw a big bear crushing and devouring (Dan 7:5). This bear could be Russia expanding its power in Eastern Europe. The word also has an economic meaning. A "bear market" is a collapsing market. Daniel’s may represent economic collapse. Terrorism - An increase in terrorism will be a sign that the Times of Distress has come. Fear and terror are likely to grow as terrorism spreads. Terrorism of any kind is very difficult to control. It will often be used as a justification for governments taking greater power for themselves. Famine - John saw a famine on the earth caused by a serious economic collapse (Rev 6:5,6). Disease and Death - Widespread disease and death are the usual consequence of poverty. This is described in the four seal in Revelation 6:7-8. Political Power - Fear and uncertainty leads to a climax of human poltical power. The world will hand over their freedom to human governments in the hope of finding peace from a troubled world. Persecution - Many Christians will be unwilling to submit to human authorities. They will be persecuted for their faith (Rev 6:9-11).
These little events have nothing to do with the second coming. They are signs that the four big ones described in the previous post are getting close.
Islam Advancing - The first birth pang in this age of transition is the resurgence of Islam. This is described in the First Seal in Revelation 6:2. Islamic nations will experience a revival of religious fervour and political power. Daniel 7:4 describes the United States tangle with these nations.
Ethnic Wars - The revival of Islam leads to an increase in wars between different ethnic groups through many parts of the world. The second seal in Revelation 6:3-4 describes a time when ethnic disputes become so common that the resources of the United Nations will not be able to cope.
Big Bear - Daniel saw a big bear crushing and devouring (Dan 7:5). This bear could be Russia expanding its power in Eastern Europe. The word also has an economic meaning. A "bear market" is a collapsing market. Daniel’s may represent economic collapse.
Terrorism - An increase in terrorism will be a sign that the Times of Distress has come. Fear and terror are likely to grow as terrorism spreads. Terrorism of any kind is very difficult to control. It will often be used as a justification for governments taking greater power for themselves.
Famine - John saw a famine on the earth caused by a serious economic collapse (Rev 6:5,6).
Disease and Death - Widespread disease and death are the usual consequence of poverty. This is described in the four seal in Revelation 6:7-8.
Political Power - Fear and uncertainty leads to a climax of human poltical power. The world will hand over their freedom to human governments in the hope of finding peace from a troubled world.
Persecution - Many Christians will be unwilling to submit to human authorities. They will be persecuted for their faith (Rev 6:9-11).
Labels: Birth Pangs
During December, consumers in most Western nations will spend double what they spend in a normal month. They will spend about a twelfth of all that they earn in a year celebrating Christmas. To paraphrase,
Never before in human historyWhat a waste! We spend a twelfth of all we earn
have so many people
spent so much money they do not have
on gifts they do not like
for people who do not need them.
celebrating a materialism,
that cannot give peace and joy,
but always disappoints.
We put tremendous effort into putting Christ back into Christmas,
but no one asks him whether he wants to be there or not.
Maybe he would sooner be among the hurt and the poor.
Friday, December 18, 2009
To understand what will happen next in human history, we must understand four epochal events. The two big world-changing events that I have described will happen soon. The two biggest obstacles to the Kingdom of God will be removed:
Thursday, December 17, 2009
In the Book of Revelation, John describes a time when the governments of man will be replaced by the true government of God (not Jesus returning). The first five seals describe the birth pangs of this new age. The opening of the sixth seal describes the collapse of human government and democratic power.
I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place (Rev 6:13-14).These events are not literal. The Old Testament prophets often described the collapse of a great nation in the same language. One example is found in Ezekiel 32:7,
When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light.Ezekiel is speaking about the defeat of Egypt by the armies of Babylon. His words are a graphic description of the collapse of Egypt at the hand of a greater power. The sun continued to shine, but the prophecy fulfilled when Egypt collapsed.
Other prophets used similar language to describe the collapse of a nation or empire. They described the collapse of a human government as the sun and moon falling from the sky. Examples are Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4-5.
References to the sun, moon and starts turning to blood or falling from the sky describe the collapse of human government and political power.
Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:15-16).The fact that many stars are falling confirms that all kings an rulers will lose their power. Instead of strutting on the world stage, politicians and kings will hide under the rocks and caves. Those who have trusted in politicl power will be filled with fear.
As the empire of man is nearing its last gasp, the governments of the world will collapse and evaporate. When human governments stop functioning, the people be ready for godly justice administered by wise judges applying God’s law. Then Jesus will truly be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
The kingdom of the worldThe kingdoms of the world will disappear and be replaced by the Kingdom of God.
has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign for ever and ever (Rev 11:15).
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Once human political power is obliterated and demonic power is smashed, the last obstacle to the Kingdom of God will have been removed.
His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom,The collapse of Human Political Power will open up the way for the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.
and all rulers will worship and obey him (Dan 7:27b).
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
At this time, the evil spiritual powers will be defeated and the Kingdom of God established. The principalities and powers in the heavenly realm will be disarmed by removing the centralised political and power structures that are the foundation of their power.
Wherever emperors, kings and presidents have been give authority, evil spiritual forces have attached themselves to that authority. When political power evaporates, principalities and powers will be reduced to common evil spirits defeated by the cross. They gained their spiritual power by taking advantage of political power, so the collapse of political power and authority will leave them with no place to stand.
When political and religious control collapses, demonic power will be greatly diminished. As they disperse to deal with authority that is diffused throughout society, they will become fragmented and powerless. When confined to one-on-one battle, they will be easily defeated. As Big Government collapses, a spiritual victory will occur and the Kingdom of God will come to fruition.
The Church is commissioned to preach the gospel and teach people everywhere to exercise authority in obedience to Jesus. The gospel destroys allegiance to human authorities, who demand authority for themselves and gives it back to people who trust Jesus. This robs the spiritual powers of influence.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10).The church will defeat these spiritual powers by taking authority off political authorities and giving it back to ordinary people.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Jesus received dominion and authority over the entire creation. In the climax of the vision, an angel explained to Daniel what this means for life on earth.
Then the sovereignty,This is a stunning promise. When Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father, power and sovereignty were handed back to the people of god. Most Christians do not understand this promise, because they think it applies to the second coming.
power and greatness of the kingdoms
under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints,
the people of the Most High (Dan 7:27a).
When rulers and kingdoms collapse, political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around the ordinary people who trust God and serve him. The kingdom will come when power and authority is handed back to the people of God as they join together voluntarily in Tens and Hundreds. God will replace human rulers with local judges applying his law.
The angels promise to Daniel reads like the Great Commission.
All sovereignty in heaven on earth has been given to me. When the Holy Spirit has renewed the hearts of all the nations, teach them to obey what I have commanded you.This sounds similar, because it is. The gospel will transform human hearts, so that all people can exercise the authority that God has given to them.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Daniel’s entire vision is a description of the collapse of human political power. For all of human history, the people of the world have been controlled by kings, emperors and sundry political powers. Over the last few centuries, various democratic demagogues have taken over this controlling role.
Before the Kingdom of God can come to fullness on earth, and before the principalities and accept their defeat on the cross, human political power must be swept away. Daniel describes how this will happen. God allows four beasts or empires to emerge in order to accomplish his purpose. The fourth of these beasts is the “last hurrah” for human political power. Enormous political clout will be given into a united states in order to resist God’s shaking of the world. This terrible human empire will collapse into such a mess that the people of the world will never trust human political power again. Confidence in politics and democracy will crumble and collapse forever.
But the court will sit for judgment,God will annihilate all human political power from the world forever. More importantly he will drive the desire for political power from human hearts.
and his dominion will be taken away,
annihilated and destroyed forever (Dan 7:26).
All human power and control will be swept away and destroyed forever. Once we get this, we can understand Daniel’s vision. Excessive human political power always lead to disaster. The great rush of hubris in this age will climax in an attempt to create the ideal human government and spread its influence throughout the world. Unfortunately, , this last grand endeavour will collapse into chaos. This turmoil will leave people throughout the world disillusioned with what man can do. Hopes for political salvation will be be annihilated.
Christians do not need to fight human political power. God will sweep away human political power by coming against it in judgment. Economic collapse and fourth generation warfare will undermine the power of the human political system and cause its disintegrate. They will collapse from within.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Daniel saw Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
One like a Son of Man was coming,Jesus is the Son of Man, but this is not a description of the second coming. Daniel saw Jesus arriving in heaven, so this must be his ascension and enthronement, not his second coming. After ascending into heaven, Jesus came into the presence of the Father where he was given the power and authority that he had earned through this death and resurrection.
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom (Dan 7:13,14).
Jesus victory will be worked out in four steps.
This seems impossible, but an angel explains these four steps.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Jesus’ death on the cross was a victory over all powers and authorities.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col 2:15).Paul was referring to defeat of the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, but that spiritual victory must also lead to the defeat of earthly power and authority, as the kingdom of God advances. Paul confirms the victory that God achieved for Jesus in his letter to the Ephesians.
He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Eph 1:20).This is a completed action. Jesus has already ascended into heaven far above all human power and authority—in this present age. Therefore, we should expect to see the political powers coming under his power now. Daniel explains how this will happen.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The second biggest obstacle to the kingdom of God is human political power. This comes in many forms, but it always opposes and undermines the Kingdom of God. Political power has been given greater impetus in recent years by the spread of democracy. Before the Holy Spirit can bring the Kingdom of God to fullness, human political power must be swept away.
One danger with human political power is the false hope that blindspeople to the glory of the Kingodm of God. The more serious problem with political power is its impact on spiritual warfare. The concentration of human political power, generates a dramatic shift in spiritual power towards the “principalities and powers” that we struggle against. They could not exist, if there were no equivalent human rulers and powers. Their power will not be broken until human rulers and empires collapse and disappear.
Spiritual power and political power go together. The leaders of nation have authority to enforce their will on any citizen of their domain. Everyone living in a nation must accept their authority their king or president. The mayor, the council and the council officers have authority to act on behalf of anyone resident in their town or city. This power and authority creates a serious spiritual problem, because these political leaders are vulnerable to spiritual attack, and any attack affects everyone under their authority.
Spiritual evil follows political authority. When a political leader is influenced by demonic powers, the people under his authority are vulnerable to a similar attack. When we submit to political leaders, we open ourselves up to spiritual forces at work in their lives. When demonic forces attach themselves to a king or president, they become “principalities and powers”, because they now have authority over many of the people in that nation (Eph 6:12).
Political leaders come under spiritual pressure, because they hold authority over the people in their nation. When a powerful leader falls into sin, everyone in their realm is vulnerable to the same spirit. If the enemy gets control over a leader, he gains spiritual access to everyone in their political realm. The enemy concentrates his forces against those with political power, so he can win an easy victory over their city or nation.
Centralised political or religious authority is dangerous, because it makes principalities and powers possible. Once the enemy gains control over those with power and authority, he has easier access to all those under that authority. As a political leader accumulates more authority, the principality or power that controls him gains greater power over more people. This is how principalities and powers gain influence (Dan 10:13). If an evil spirit gains control over one person, he can make that person’s life miserable. If the same spirit were to gain control over a king or president, he can control a nation.
Many Christians have an overinflated view of the enemy’s power. They believe that our struggle is against spiritual forces that are almost as powerful as the Holy Spirit. The truth is that Satan’s power is an illusion. Evil forces have leveraged their power by gaining control over political and religious leaders with authority over many people. Political power has magnified the authority of spiritual evil. The judgement of the Jews is one source of our enemy’s power. Human political power is the other source of his power.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Many Christians believe that the Jews will be converted when Jesus returns to Jerusalem. This is not true. Seeing is not believing. The Jews saw Jesus for three years while he exercised his ministry on earth, but they did not believe in him, because their hearts were hard (Rom 11:8). Nothing has changed, so they would not believe, even if they saw Jesus again. Israel’s problem is still hardness of heart (Rom 11:7). They are spiritually blind to the truth. The only cure for spiritual blindness is the Holy Spirit changing hearts.
The Jewish people will not come to salvation by Jesus returning to Jerusalem. Their hearts will be changed when the Holy Spirit moves upon them. The spiritual eyes of all Israel will be opened and they will see that Jesus really is our saviour and Lord. This is confirmed by the prophet Ezekiel.
I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD (Ezek 39:29).A great outpouring of the Holy Spirit will bring about the Fullness of Israel (not the Second Coming of Jesus). The Jews will be converted by an outpouring of the Spirit and the preaching of a prophetic church.
When the season of Jewish desolation comes to an end, Satan’s last legal authority on earth will be gone. His power to do evil will be massively curtailed. Christians will be empowered to bind his authority. He will become as weak and feeble as he really is.
The end of the Times of the Gentiles will bring a rapid decline in evil and open the way for an equally rapid advance of the Kingdom of God.
But if their transgression means riches for the world,
and their loss means riches for the Gentiles,
how much greater riches will their fullness bring (Rom 11:12).
The fullness of Israel brings great blessing to the earth, because Satan has lost his last authority to work on earth, God will then be free to pour out his Spirit and bring the Kingdom to its promised fulfilment. The times of the Kingdom begin when the Times of the Gentiles come to an end and the fullness of Israel comes in.
The end of the Times of the Gentiles is one of several several major epochal events that must happen on earth. Every Christian should be working and praying for the Fullness of Israel to come to faith in Jesus. I believe that this event is coming soon.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
The calling of the Jews will be a major turning point in history. Christians should be working and praying for the Jews to be restored to a place of blessing. This will happen when they acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah they have been seeking. When they come to faith in Christ, blessing will return to the entire world (Rom 11:12). (The state of Israel does not fulfil this promise.)
The Jewish problem is "seeing". Their eyes have been blinded, so they cannot see the truth (Rom 11:8,10) and their hearts have been hardened (Rom 11:25). To come to salvation their spiritual eyes will have to be opened and their hearts cracked. This is the only way they can come to salvation (this is the only way anyone can come to salvation).
Zechariah promised that God would pour out his Spirit on Israel.
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zech 12:10).This is the moment of Israel’s conversion. At the end of Times of the Gentiles, the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out on the hearts of all Israel. They will receive a Spirit of Supplication that causes them to cry out to Jesus for salvation. The Spirit of grace will give them faith to receive the salvation that comes through grace.
The Holy Spirit will open the eyes of the hearts of all Israel, so they can see Jesus. They will stop looking for a warlike Messiah and realise that Jesus who died on the cross and "who was pieced" by a spear is their Messiah. This realisation will produce a great flood of repentance. When Israel realises that Jesus reigns at the right hand of God and that they have been saved by the prayers in his name, the whole land will be filled with tears. As they come to realise what Jesus has done, they will all weep with sadness and joy (Zech 12:11-14).
Monday, December 07, 2009
Understanding why the Times of the Gentiles are an obstacle to the coming of the Kingdom is important. When Jesus died upon the cross, the devil was totally and fully defeated. He was cast out of heaven (Rev 12:13) and became a trespasser on earth. To gain authority on earth, he has to deceive people into rejecting the gospel and submitting to him.
Despite his defeat on the cross, Satan does have one remaining legal right on earth. Because Jews are under judgment (Matt 23:39), Satan has had the legal right to execute this judgment by working evil to harm them. By deliberately scattered the Jews among the nations, he has expanded this power to work all over the world.
Whenever, Satan wants to work evil in a nation, he incites an attack on the Jews, because this gives him greater authority to do his work. For example, Satan incited both Hitler and Stalin to attack the Jews, which enabled him to do great evil through them.
The judgment of Israel has given Satan a legal right to continue working in the world, despite his defeat. While he has this freedom to act in the world, the advance of the Kingdom of God can be obstructed.
While the Jews are shut out of the kingdom, the devil has authority to continue his activity on earth, because Christians do not have authority to totally bind his power. Therefore, the Kingdom of God cannot come to fulfilment until the times of the Gentiles are complete. Over the last two millennia, the battle for the Kingdom has been very hard. The continued extension of the Times of the Gentiles has allowed the devil extra time to do his work in resisting the Kingdom.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Jesus explained how the Times of the Gentiles would come to an end.
For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matt 23:39).The Times of the Gentiles end when the majority of the Jewish accept the gospel and acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. They will be restored to blessing, when they bless those who bring the good news of Jesus.
Paul explains the reason for the Times of the Gentiles in the book of Romans. In Romans 10:21 he describes Israel as a disobedient nation. Their hearts have been hardened (Rom 11:25), made enemies of the gospel (Rom 11:28) committed to disobedience (Rom 11:31) and broken out of the vine (Rom 11:17). Paul also promised that their stumble was not beyond recovery (Rom 11:11). He promised that a time will come when Israel is reconciled to the Lord and grafted back into his olive tree. God has promised that all Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26). They will be restored to the kingdom of God, when they accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
The Times of the Gentiles have now lasted for 2000 years, far longer than God intended. The delay occurred because Christians have failed to share the gospel to the Jewish people. For most of the Times of the Gentiles, Christians persecuted Jews, which was wrong. In more recent times, they have encouraged Israeli militarism, which is no better. The proper response is to share the good news of Jesus with the Jewish people.
The Times of the Gentiles have been extended by the Jewish people looking to military power for their security. Many have placed their hope for safety in the Israeli state. This is a false hope that prevents Jewish people from looking to their true hope. Unfortunately, many Christians have ecouraged them to pursue this false hope. The idea that the Jewish people will be safe in the state of Israel is a lie.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Despite many prophecies about the glory of the Kingdom of God, we have not yet seen the victory promised. Many Christians implicitly believe that the Holy Spirit is too weak to bring in the Kingdom of God and that Jesus will have to return to do the job. This is not true. The reason the Holy Spirit has not yet brought in the Kingdom of God is that he has not yet been given the freedom to go hard out. He is restrained until the current season is complete.
Putting this another way, we have not seen the fullness of the Kingdom of God is that we are still living in the season called the Times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). During this season, the kingdom rises and falls, but cannot reach complete fulfilment. The Holy Spirit cannot establish the Kingdom of God until the Times of the Gentiles are filled up.
Jesus warned the people of Israel that their nation would be left desolate, if they rejected him.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate (Matt 23:37-38).He followed up with a prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down" (Matt 24:1,2).Jesus crucifixion set these prophetic warnings in motion. In AD 70, the Roman armies invaded Israel and destroyed the city of Jerusalem. The Jewish people were slaughtered, expelled and scattered among the nations. Luke’s record of this prophetic warning called it the Times of the Gentiles.
Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).The destruction of Jerusalem marked the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles. Jesus used this name, because during this season, most Jews will be absent from his Kingdom. They have rejected their Messiah and are under judgment of God.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Most Christians have a totally distorted view of what is going to happen next. They believe that a few signs will be fulfilled, a nasty European Anti-Christ will pop up, then Jesus will return to rule as the divine demagogue. We just have to hang on a bit longer till he returns. Christians with these views love signs and they do not mind failure, because it means that Jesus is getting closer. The Kingdom of God cannot come to fullness during the Times of the Gentiles. Trust in human government undermines the Kingdom of God.
The scriptures teach something quite different. Jesus had a mighty victory over evil on the cross. He rose again from the dead and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. From there, he poured out the Holy Spirit on the Church. The Holy Spirit is now working on earth through his Church to establish the Kingdom that Jesus inaugurated. He will not return until that task is complete.
Jesus will not return to rescue us. He is returning to receive a kingdom that we (the Holy Spirit and the church) have prepared for him. A little bit of evil will not bring Jesus back. He will not come back to save a struggling church. The only way to speed Jesus return is to allow the Holy Spirit to establish a Kingdom that is a gift worthy of Jesus.
God gave us Daniel and Revelation, so we can understand how the Holy Spirit will bring the Kingdom of God to victory. These books teach that two serious obstacles must be cleared away before the Holy Spirit can establish the Kingdom of God.
Both these obstacles give power to the forces of evil that must be taken away. I will explain them in more detail and explain how they will be removed in the next few posts.
The Kingdom of God cannot come to fullness during the Times of the Gentiles.
Trust in human government undermines the Kingdom of God.
All over the world, government have spent huge amounts of money on stimulus packages to rescue their economies from the financial crisis. As a consequence, many are now facing humongous budget deficits. They are looking for efficient ways to increase taxes to pay off some of the debt. Is person A morally justified in using force to take money from Person B to give to a cause that person A thinks is important. Is there a moral justification for person A, person C and person D to come together and vote to forcibly take money from person B to give it to person Z, who is poor.
An efficient tax is one that raises large amounts of money, but does not cause taxpayers to shifting their efforts and resources into unproductive activities. If a tax becomes too onerous, taxpayers will find ways to avoid paying the tax by investing in activities that are not taxed, but are less beneficial to the nation.
Economists put a lot of effort into identifying efficient taxes. Unfortunately, they are missing the point. Taxation is not an issue of efficiency. Taxation is a moral issue.
The basic moral questions is quite simple.
Putting this another way, stealing is taking things that belong to others without their permission. Stealing is morally wrong. Is stealing morally right, if the thief is stealing for a good cause? Is stealing justified, if the thief gives the proceeds to someone who is poor?
From the scriptures, I cannot see any justification for income or wealth to be taken from one person by force and given to another.
If these moral issues are not resolved, discussing efficient taxation is irrelevant. Developing efficient taxation is no different from Robin Hood replacing his bow and arrow with a machine gun.
See Voluntary Taxation for more.
Is person A morally justified in using force to take money from Person B to give to a cause that person A thinks is important.
Is there a moral justification for person A, person C and person D to come together and vote to forcibly take money from person B to give it to person Z, who is poor.
Labels: Efficient Taxation
Obama is a good sport. You can say what you like about Americans, but they always play fair.
The United States has more than 50.000 in Afghanistan. Al Qaida has less 200 fighters. That is not a fair fight. Even if you pretend that the Taliban are members of Al Qaida, any battle would be totally one-sided. Thumping the feeble is not the American way.
Obama the peace-maker has a cunning ideal to make this a fair fight. He is sending another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to destroy Afghan villages and slaughter woman and children. They will train thousands of Afghan soldiers, who when their training is complete will swap to the other side. Obama will launch more drones to bomb Afghan wedding parties. His coalition partners in Pakistan will destroy hundreds of Pashtun villages with their heavy artillery and helicopters.
These efforts will produce thousands of new recruits for Al Qaida. That is a good, because it will even up the numbers and make the fight fair.
That is the American way.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
I have just read Its Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle Blower by Michela Wrong. This is the story of John Githongo, who was appointed to the position of Permanent Secretary in Charge of Governance and Ethics. He was eventually forced to leave the country after discovering corruption.
This book proves that democracy does not work. In countries with a tribal culture, democracy fosters corruption and racial intolerance.
Labels: Michela Wrong
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Subsequent verses give even greater protection to bonded servants.
If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth (Ex 21:26-27).The previous verses had explained that a person who assaults another, must make full financial compensation to the victim. These verses clarify any confusion about whether these requirements apply to bonded servants.
God’s law actually imposes an even higher standard on people with bonded servants. If a citizen has a tooth knocked out, they must receive full restitution equivalent to the value of the tooth. The value of the tooth would not be that great. If a man assaults his servant and knocks out a tooth, he must let the bonded servant go free by writing off the total debt that was owed.
In most cases, the debt being cancelled would be worth far more than the tooth. This means that the punishment for a assaulting a bonded servant was greater than for assaulting another citizen. Biblical law recognises the fact that bonded servants are in a vulnerable position, so it provides them with greater protection. If man is violent and inflicts physical harm on a bonded a servant, he must release him from his debt. This could be a very severe penalty.
Exodus 21 does not justify slavery, it is actually the opposite. It explains that the laws against assault apply equally to servants, as to citizens. The only exception is that bonded servants receive even greater protection, because they are in a defenceless situation. Exodus provides protection for the weak, it does not take away their rights.
Exodus 21 is a passage specifying punishments for crimes. Therefore it is the last place that you would expect a theology of slavery. Building a justification for chattel slavery on an obtuse translation of a verse that is difficult to translate is quite unwise.
Labels: Chattel Slavery