Friday, September 24, 2010

Power Shift (4) - Signs of the Shift

When the balance of power in a nation shifts back towards the powers of darkness, signs of the change will be obvious to people with eyes to see. Jesus rebuked the people of Jerusalem because they could read weather signs, but they could not discern the times in which they were living. They knew that when the south wind blew, the weather would be hot, but they did not understand what was happening in their own city (Luke 12:55-56).

This strange comment roused their curiosity, so some of those present asked Jesus about two recent events. In the first, some Galileans had been killed by Pilate and their blood mingled with Roman sacrifice. In the second, eighteen people had been killed when the Tower of Siloam had fallen on them. He explained that these events were an indicator of their spiritual status.

Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish" (Luke 13:2-5).
Jesus was clear that the sins of the people killed in these tragedies were no worse than those of other Galileans, or other people living in Jerusalem, but he warned that unless they all repented, everyone would perish.

When the people who followed Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, began to reject him, the authority to the forces of evil was increased. As the city of Jerusalem hardened its heart against the one whom God had sent as their messiah, the authority of the Holy Spirit and the angels was reduced, so they were unable to prevent the devil from flexing his muscles. He is no respecter of persons, so he does not limit his attacks to sinful people, but uses his new authority to have a go at anyone in the way.

The forces of evil showed off their extra authority by inspiring the Romans to kill some Galileans and mix their blood with their sacrifices. They also caused a stone from to Tower of Siloam to fall on eighteen men and kill them. The men killed were no worse than anyone else in Israel. They just happened to be in the way when the forces of evil got busy and began pushing their new powers.

The message for Israel was clear. If they continued to reject Jesus, they would be handing greater authority to the powers of evil, so worse destruction was inevitable. If they pursued their opposition right to the end, the Holy Spirit and the angels would be seriously restrained and the nation would be totally exposed to evil.

The tipping point came when Israel fell into unbelief and called for their messiah to be crucified. This spiritual desolation shifted the spiritual balance of power in favour of the forces of evil and they were able to come in like a flood. In AD 70, the Roman army besieged Jerusalem, smashed down its walls and slaughtered those who survived.

The spiritual forces of wickedness are not very creative. The small scale evils that that occur when their spiritual authority begins to increase are often a sign of what they intend to do, if they can gain even greater authority. Being abnormal and unusual, these events are noticed by everyone.

Minor occurrences of evil are often a warning of worst disasters to follow, because they reveal the mind of the devil. This was the case in Israel. The events that Jesus was questioned about were a foretaste of what would happen when the real destruction of Jerusalem came.

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