Friday, November 17, 2017

Finances - A Paradigm Shift

Back in 2010, while attending a conference on Christian Economics, I met Gottfried Hetzer. He has been a missionary in Namibia and a business leader in Germany. He struck me as a man of integrity who has allowed God to do a deep work in his life.

A couple of years after I met him, he published a book called Finances - A Paradigm Shift. This is one of the best books on finance and money that I have ever read.

Part 6 of the book is called Kingdom Approach. Gottfried deals with topics like bribery, corruption, integrity, motivation, partnerships, reliability, retirement. Most books do not cover these issues.

I recommend this book to every follower of Jesus, who wants a better understanding of the challenges of finance.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Spiritual Battle (3) Spiritual Forces of Wickedness

The fourth term that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 is literally "spirituals of wickedness" (pneumatikos pomeria). To makes sense, this expression needs a noun. Either “forces” or “powers” can be used. I mostly refer to the spiritual powers of evil, but spiritual forces of wickedness is also fine. These are all the bad spirits that attack humans in various ways. They are controlled by the Cosmos Dominators or the political-spirits and government-spirits that control their nation or city.

The spiritual forces of wickedness were created to listen and obey, so they just do what they are told by the closest legitimate authority. They do not have the capability to evaluate plans, or make moral assessments, so they just implement any suggestion that is given to them. Unlike humans, they do not know the difference between good and evil. All they know is the difference between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority. They do whatever a voice of authority tells them to do.

These follower spirits are not very innovative. They were created to be doers, so they often do the same thing over and over again, until an authority tells them to do something different. Unlike humans, who are made in the image of God, and have inherited his creativity, they just do what they have always done.

Bad spirits find it hard to come up with new ways to do things. They are not creative because they were created to follow instructions and obey authority. If they are told to harass a person, an impure spirit just keeps on doing it until someone with authority tells them to do something different. For example, a spirit of fear is not different from other spirits, it is just a spirit that has been told to do fear. If it gets cast out of one person, it just finds another and keeps on creating fear in them.

Casting out Bad Spirits
These are the spirits that Christians mostly encounter. When the cast out impure spirits, they often do not know where to send them. Some command them to go to hell, but others are uneasy about this because Jesus did not tell us to do it.

Jesus never told impure spirits where to go. He simply commanded them to leave the person they were harassing. In the case of the Gadarene man, he allowed a legion of spirits to go into a herd of pigs. The bible does not say where they went after the pigs drowned (Mark 5:11-13). I presume that they stayed in the same area.

When impure spirits are cast out, they wander around looking for a voice of authority to tell them what to do. They are followers, so they become confused if no one tells them what to do.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it (Luke 11:24).
In most situations, the area will be controlled by a political-spirit or government-spirit. I presume this spirit tells the impure spirit what to do. It will usually send it to harass another person in a similar way.

Jesus could not do anything different, as the political-spirits and government-spirits working through the Roman and Jewish authorities still dominated the region. Once an impure spirit left his presence, it fell under their authority again.

The same is true now. If we cast out a spirit now, it comes under the authority of the political-spirit that controls the region where we live

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Spiritual Battle (2) Political-Spirits and Government-Spirits

The first two Greek words that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 are “arche” and “exousia”. These are words that are associated with politics and government. To make this clear, I translate them as political-spirits and government-spirits. These spirits are traditionally called “principalities and powers”, but political-spirit and government-spirit are more informative names.

Although the Cosmos Dominators were defeated by the cross, they maintained their authority on earth by using political-spirits and government-spirits to control political systems, governments and empires on earth. A political-spirit or government-spirit in the spiritual realms controls every town, city, nation and region on earth. Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of power.

  • Political-spirits and government-spirits in the spiritual realms control human political powers, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The people may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.

  • Kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives political-spirits and government-spirits immense authority on earth.

  • Most people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They are unwittingly submitting to the political-spirits and government-spirits that control their political leaders. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.

  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives political-spirits and government-spirits their power an point of entrance to control them.

This hierarchy of power allows the big controlling spirits to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by Jesus.

Paul used the Greek words “arche” and “exousia” to describe spiritual powers (Eph 3:10; 6:12). The same words are used in the New Testament for government agencies on earth. Luke and Paul both referred to Roman governors and magistrates as “arche” and “exousia” (Luke 12:11; 20:20; Tit 3:1). This confirms the link between political-spirits and government-spirits and human government.

The Prince of Persia is a government-spirit that controlled the Persian empire during the time of Daniel (Dan 10:13). The Prince of Greece is another political-spirit operating at that time (Dan 10:21). The King of the South and the King of the North are government-spirits that will arise in the future (Dan 11).

Most modern nations and cities are controlled by a government-spirit or political-spirit. They gain control because people trust in political power for their salvation. The greater the faith in political power and government, the stronger the political-spirits and government-spirits will be.

The political-spirits and government-spirits controlling a city, region or nation rule over all the spirits living in the city, region or nation they control. They direct them where to go and what to do. The follower spirits listen and obey the commands of the political-spirit that controls the area that they are operating in.

According to the New Testament, Jesus has been raised up in the spiritual realms, far above all political-spirits and government-spirits (Eph 1:21; Col 2:10). He will use his church to demonstrate his wisdom to them (Eph 3:10). They will be fully defeated at the end of the age (1 Cor 15:24).

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spiritual Battle (1) Cosmos Dominators

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the nature of our spiritual battle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the spiritual realms (Eph 6:12).
I dislike the common translation of this verse because the terms used do not mean much in the modern world.

It is common for people to talk of “principalities and powers”, but it is not clear what that means. Some people use the term to describe worldly political systems, but that does not make sense, as Paul is referring to spiritual realities. Even for those who understand the spiritual side of life, these terms do not make sense, because we do not have principalities anymore.

In medieval Europe, a principality was a small territory ruled by a prince. They have now all been absorbed into nation-states, so principality is not a helpful word.

Ruler is another anachronistic word that is not used much these days. Power is too vague to be useful. Greek has a different word “dunamis”, which is used for raw power. This word is applied to the force used by the spiritual powers of evil in 1 Cor 15:24.

Cosmos Dominators
The third expression that Paul uses is rulers of darkness. The Greek word is “kosmoskrator”. To capture the sense of this word, I prefer the expression “Cosmos Dominators of this Darkness”. These are the really big spirits that rebelled against God and rule armies of follower spirits. These archangels want to control the entire cosmos.

Archangels (arche = ruling; angelos = messenger) are big ruling angels/spirits with the ability to instruct other angels. Michael is the name of one who serves God (Jude 1:9). I am not sure why God needed them, because the Holy Spirit can speak to any angel and tell it God’s will. I presume that he needed archangels to control large groups of angels working together on tasks needing concentrated power.

A big spirit called Accuser (satan) tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. He is also called Slanderer (devil) because he slanders God’s name. I do not like the names satan and devil, because it makes this spirit seem greater than he is. I prefer to name him according to his character. He gets no glory from these words.

Once Adam and Eve had sinned, Accuser and a few of his powerful mates could claim legitimate authority over the earth. The others took on new roles as Death, Wrath, Destruction, Beast, and False Prophet. These big spirits worked together, but they also struggled with each other for power.

Most of the other spirits that stopped serving God are listeners and followers, so they obey anyone with authority over the place where they are operating. They naturally obeyed the big spirits who had seized authority on earth.

About a third of the angels were operating on earth at the time of the rebellion. They were waiting for Adam and Eve to give them instructions to care for the earth. When the archangels who had rebelled began to give them instructions, they obeyed because that is what they were created to do. They recognise authority, but they cannot distinguish between good and evil. The big rebellious angels had gained legitimate authority on earth, so they naturally obeyed them.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Marrying a Prophetess

A correspondent in Africa asked me the follow question.

Can a prophet marry a prophetess?
What are the advantages and disadvantages.
Here is my answer.

I see no reason why a prophet cannot marry a prophetess.

There is one danger: that you get into a prophetic competition with each other, to see who has the most powerful ministry. It is really important that you love and care for your wife. Are you willing to lay down some of your ministry so that your wife's ministry may grow. If you are assuming that having a prophetess as your wife will build you ministry, you might have the wrong attitude. A prophetess might be better off married to a man who will cherish, guard and protect her ministry.

When to people marry in God, they become one. That means that a woman who marries a prophet, effectively becomes a prophetess, because she and her husband are one. She shares in his ministry. That means that a prophet does not need to marry a prophetess to get one.

God often puts together two people who complement each other. He often gives a prophet a wife with a gentle and merciful spirit. If he loves her, this will act as a restraint on the harshness that can sometimes corrupt a prophet beginning in their ministry. A prophet might be better with a wife, who tempers his ministry for good. Mercy triumphs over justice.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Done

I have just completed a long series of posts called Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil. As I have worked on the series my understanding has developed, so I have rewritten some of the earlier posts to clarify some issues that were not clear. The fully revised posts can be read in one article at Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil.

I have also realised that the modern English translations of Ephesians 6:12 are not very informative, because they use anachronistic terms like “principality” and vague terms like “powers”. This led me to dig into this passage and try and get a better understanding of what it is meant by “principalities and powers”.

I am a bit tired of writing about evil, because it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I want followers of Jesus to know what they are up against, and how God will defeat them. Therefore, I am going to do three more posts next week called Spiritual Battle in which I set out what I have learned. This will explain why I am changing the terms that I use to describe the spiritual powers of evil.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Reconciling SPEs (12) Abyss and Lake of Fire

The scriptures refer to two different places where bad spirits are sent.

  • The Abyss is a spiritual holding pen where spirits are kept out of action for a period of time.

  • The Lake of Fire is a place of final destruction where bad spirits lose their existence (Rev 20:14).

The order of their use is as follows.
  • A number of bad angels were locked up in the abyss after the flood in Noah’s time (1 Pet 3:19-20;2 Pet 2:4). They were led by a spirit called Destroyer

  • Destroyer and his followers are released from the Abyss during the Time of Distress at the end of the Times of the Gentiles. They cause the distress.

  • At the end of the Time of Distress and after the Fulness of the Jews, spirits called Beast and False Prophet are placed in the Lake of Fire and cease to exist (Rev 19:20). The ends dominance through political power forever.

  • At the same time, Satan the Accuser is locked up in the Abyss (Rev 20:2). He remains powerless during the Times of the Kingdom, because followers of Jesus claim the power his blood to cover their sin. This leaves the accuser powerless.

  • At the end of the Kingdom age, Satan is released from the Abyss for a short season (Rev 20:7). He gathers some spiritual followers and encourages them to rebel against God again. This last attempt fails and he is quickly defeated.

  • Following the last judgment, Death and Hades are destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). They are active at the beginning the Times of Distress (Rev 6:8). They had killed millions of people with wars, famines and plagues.

  • Leading a rebellion, despite being given a second chance, proves that Satan is incorrigible. He is placed in the lake of fire and his existence ceases.

It seems that the only bad spirits that have to be destroyed, because they not reconcilable are Beast, False Prophet, Death, Hades and Satan. I presume that the remainder were reconciled to God and serve him into eternity.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Reconciling SPEs (11) Final Defeat

Only a few really evil spiritual powers will persist with evil, but they will be so outnumbered that they become powerless and feeble. Incorrigible spirits like Beast, False Prophet, Wrath, Death, Destruction and Satan will refuse to be reconciled with God and will continue to oppose him. They will be captured and thrown into the lake of fire, which represents total destruction. It is the destination of the last few spirits that hold out against God.

The powerful ruling spirits are bound and lose their authority on earth. The ordinary spirits recognise that it is gone. They stop listening to them because they are created to only listen to a voice with authority. Once Beast and False Prophet, and other big spirits are defeated, the rebellion collapses, because the other spirits no longer have a voice of authority to obey. They become confused and do nothing because there is no voice of evil to obey.

The blood of Jesus took us from under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil and sets us free to serve God. The victory of the gospel restores authority on earth back to the people that God gave it to at the beginning. The confused spirits begin listening to the voice of God’s people. They obey followers of Jesus, because they recognise their genuine authority on earth.

As the numbers of people following Jesus increase, bad spirits will get less negative commands to act on. More and more will obey followers of Jesus. This switch of allegiance will bring massive transformation on earth. Evil will disappear and good will reign in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God will advance on earth and become a reality that is unimaginable today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

SPEs (10) Last Spiritual Battle

I have always seen last battle in Revelation 19 as a spiritual struggle, not a physical war, but I never realised that most of the spiritual powers of evil would shift allegiance and surrender to Jesus.

Revelation describes what happens after political power is destroyed. Jesus has crowns on his head. This means that all authority on earth will at last be fully surrendered to him.

Jesus was given authority on earth by the whose follow him. They were dressed in white linen, which is their righteous deeds (Rev 19:8). They had come to the place of victory through their love and suffering for Jesus.

Jesus rides out to meet the spiritual powers that have used kings, generals and mighty men to control the earth. They will be destroyed and surrender their power to him.

The name on Jesus' thigh is King of Kings and Lord of Lord. This reflects the fullness of the Kingdom of God and the demise of human political power. All authority and power on earth will be surrender to Jesus, as the principalities and powers that have controlled the earth are destroyed.

Jesus is wearing a blood-stained garment, which is a reminder of his mercy and love. His followers are riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen. White symbolises pure and persevering faith. The fine linen represents faith and trust.

The blood on his robe is a sign that the blood brings deliverance for the spiritual powers of evil too. Jesus establishes this victory in two steps.

Firstly, the collapse of political power on earth eliminates the authority of the principalities and powers in the spiritual realms. Beast and False Prophet are captured. They are spiritual powers that controlled the earth through a final powerful political empire, that eclipses all previous empires. Beast makes all political powers submit to a powerful empire. This significantly reduces their power. When Beast is destroyed, all other political power will disappear too. This collapse of political power will destroy the authority of the spiritual principalities and powers.

The spiritual beast and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. It symbolises destruction. These powerful spirits refuse to be reconciled with God, so they give themselves over to destruction.

Secondly, the rest of the spiritual powers of evil will be exposed by the truth and be reconciled to God. Jesus has a sword coming out of his mouth, which represents the truth. He speaks the truth to the spiritual power of evil. They are convicted by the truth and return to serving God.

The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Rev 19:21).
This sword is not physical, but spiritual. It is a word of truth which eliminates the rebellion from the rest of the spiritual powers of evil. They are not destroyed, because they are not thrown into the lake of fire. Rather they are totally defeated. The birds eating their flesh symbolises total and certain victory. They will be convicted by the truth and will submit to Jesus when they recognise the authority of his words. The massive army that they have been part of will cease to exist. All that will remain will be the damage that they have done on earth (represented by the discarded flesh).

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

SPEs (9) Our Choice

The powers of evil will ask, “Can we leave our evil life behind and return to following God.”

Jesus will say, “You can, but my followers will make the final decision. The Father said that those who follow me will judge the angels”.

Do you not know that we shall judge angels (1 Cor 6:3)?
Christians who know that verse and are looking forward to condemning evil angels to hell have not understood it. What God was saying is that we will decide their fate. We will decide whether they are allowed to come back onto his side. We will have to decide if we will trust them to work with us again, after all they have done to us.

We have authority to decide the fate of the spiritual powers of evil because they operated on earth and authority on earth has been given to humans. Once that authority has been restored by the advance of the gospel, we will have authority over all spiritual power operating on earth.

God’s plan to reconcile everything in heaven to him will fail if we refuse, because we do not trust those who have done evil. For his purposes to be fulfilled, we will have to forgive follower spirits and welcome them back to serving God.

The scriptures say that we will judge the angels. This is not a moral judgement, like the one we will face. Rather, when the spirits hear Jesus voice and decide to return to his Kingdom, humans will have to decide if they should be allowed back, given that they have done so much evil. Our natural inclination will be to say “no”, because we do not trust them.

If we are going to welcome them back, we will need to love them as God loves them. I suspect that we have prevented many spirits from returning to the fold because we are ungracious towards them. If we love them, we would have reconciled many of them already.

Love
If we are going to welcome follower spirits back, we will need to love them as God loves them. I suspect that we have prevented many of them from returning to the fold because we hate them. If we loved them, we would have reconciled many of them already.

God loves all the angels and spirits that he created, even though many opposed his plans. He understands that they have been tricked into hearing and obeying the wrong voice. He has a plan to rescue them and bring them back into his kingdom (Col 1:20).

We hate bad spirits because they do evil; We find it hard to imagine that they could be reconciled with God. We just assume that they will be evil forever. However, God has never stopped loving them. He created them and is sad to see them hearing and obeying a different voice. He wants to rescue them.

If we were as gracious as God, we would love them and want to see them reconciled with the Father. If we loved them instead of hating them, we would have more authority over them, because our voice would be clearer with more authority (hate obscures authority).
We should be praying for the time when the spirits in the spiritual realms will be reconciled with the Father. We have been forgiven much, so we must be willing to forgive those that have done great evil.

Monday, November 06, 2017

SPEs (8) Truth

As the gospel advances, Jesus will regain authority over areas of the earth (I explain this further in my book called Kingdom Authority). The spiritual powers at work earth will hear his voice again and begin to follow him. Many will switch allegiance, as they acknowledge the authority of his voice and obey him.

The spiritual powers of evil will be convicted by the truth when Jesus speaks to them about the suffering, perseverance and joy of his followers. It will be the reverse of the interview with Job. Jesus will say something like this to the spiritual powers of evil.

Have you seen my church? You have thrown every weapon you have got at my people and they are still rejoicing and trusting in me. You have destroyed their wealth and killed them, but they have not denied me. You have tried to destroy my body, but you have failed. The more intense your attacks, the stronger my body has become.

When you rebelled against my Father, way back in the time of Adam and Eve, Accuser lied to you. He promised that you would be victorious and have great fun. He promised that you would get to destroy God’s creation.

You have failed. The principalities and powers that control the nations have collapsed. Beast and False Prophet have been bound and thrown into the lake of fire. They have lost their power. You are being beaten by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, wherever you tried to operate. All you evil schemes are failing.

You are not having fun. Being defeated and divided is a miserable existence. Look at the joy of those who are following me and worshipping the father. You could have that joy if you repented and decided to serve God again.

Remember the purpose for which you were created. God made each of you for a special purpose. If you switched sides, you could serve him again.

When the gospel is successful, followers of Jesus will give him authority over their part of the earth. This will allow him to speak with authority and his voice to be heard. The spirits that have pursued evil will hear Jesus speak. They will recognise his authority and the authority of those following him, and obey Jesus' voice. They will switch sides and begin doing his will.

Prophecy is important because impure spirits will often act on it, if they recognise the authority of the prophet and obey his/her words. They do not realise that the judgement prophesied will often set back their plans of their leaders. When prophets speak with authority, impure spirits will often implement their prophetic words, because spirits are listeners and observers, not discerners of right and wrong.

As the Kingdom of God advances, and Jesus’ authority on earth expands, more and more impure spirits will begin following him again. The blood of Jesus releases us from their power and allows the Holy Spirit to fill us for victory. Our witness to the powers of evil shows them that they have chosen the wrong side. They will hear the voice of truth and obey.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

SPEs (7) Jesus Victory

Jesus’ death on the cross opened the way for the spiritual powers of evil to be reconciled with God. That could not happen while they were holding humans to ransom. Once the people of God were redeemed by his blood, the spiritual powers of evil lost their power. They could be called to obedience and offered forgiveness.

The spiritual powers operating on earth had been deceived by the deceiver and led into opposing God. Their natural intent is to obey, so when one of their own called them, they followed, as they were created to do. Once humans are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and become the authoritative voice on earth by the advance of the gospel, the spiritual powers of evil will listen to them and be able to return to obeying God and carrying out their previous role on earth.

The reconciliation of the spiritual powers of evil was promised by Paul to the Ephesians.

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 spiritual powers of evil will be amazed by the witness of the church. They will see people rejoicing despite suffering and persecution. They will see people moving in the power of the Spirit and defeating evil. They will realise that they have chosen the wrong side. When they see the joy of the body of Jesus and their wondrous victory, the spiritual powers of evil will desert the powers of wrath, death and destruction and decide to serve God again. This massive switch of allegiance will change the power situation on earth.

Political Change
The Book of Revelation describes the collapse of political power and empire during a time of distress and persecution. These events destroy the hierarchy of power that has been used by the spiritual powers of evil to amplify their authority and maintain control of the earth. When kings and politicians disappear, the power of spiritual principalities and powers will evaporate. Their role will disappear and they will become ordinary impure spirits without control over places and regions on earth.

Once this hierarchy of power is gone from an area, followers of Jesus will be able to expand the territory that is under the authority of Jesus. This will lead to a massive defeat of the spiritual powers of evil, as they are picked off one at a time. When they are cast out of the person they have been harassing, there will be no other ruling authority to tell them what to do. They will recognise the genuine authority of the followers of Jesus and submit to the truth they are speaking. They will stop obeying the dethroned spiritual powers and give their allegiance to Jesus. This switch of allegiance will dramatically undermine the power of evil on earth.

Casting out Demons

When Christians cast out impure spirits, they do not know where to send them. Some command them to go to hell, but others are uneasy about this, because Jesus did not tell them to do that.

Jesus never told impure spirits where to go. He simply commanded them to leave the person they were harassing. In the case of the Gadarene man, he allowed the legion of spirits to go into a heard of pigs. The bible does not say where they went after the pigs drowned (Mark 5:11-13). I presume that they stayed in the same area.

When impure spirits are cast out, they wander around looking for a voice of authority to tell them what to do.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it (Luke 11:24).
In most situations, the area will be controlled by a spiritual principality or power. I presume that controlling spirit tells the impure spirit what to do. It will usually send it to harass another person in a similar way.

Jesus could not do anything different, as the principalities and powers working through the Roman and Jewish authorities still dominated the region. Once an impure spirit left his presence, they fell under that authority again.

The same is true now. If we cast out a spirit now, it comes under the authority of the principality that controls the region where we live. Fortunately, the time will come when the power of the principalities and power will be broken, as political power collapses. Once they lose their authority, there will be no regional principalities and powers to control the impure spirits that are cast out.

Followers of Jesus will be able to command impure spirits to shift allegiance and go and obey Jesus and the ones he has given his authority too. Then as impure spirits are cast out, they will be switched into the Kingdom of God and become servants of Jesus.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

SPEs (6) Nimrod

The principalities and powers learned about military power from humans. Nimrod was the first powerful man on earth (Gen10:8). He began as a strong hunter. When he had become skilled at trapping and killing strong animals, he started to threaten and control humans with his weapons. He eventually gained control of a large group of people. He used his physical strength to become a mighty ruler. His kingdom started in Babylon in the land of Shinar. He later went to Assyria and built Nineveh. Through Babylon and Nineveh he was the founder of all human empires.

The angels watched Nimrod and learned how political power could be used to control large numbers of people. They copied what they had learned from him and established spiritual-political control over every town, city and nation where people had gathered on earth.
They learned that they could amplify their power by using political authority. The beasts of the earth were born. They took what they learned from Nimrod and used it to control the people of the earth.

The principalities and powers are the most powerful of the spiritual powers of evil on earth. They learned about political power from humans. This is why the mark of the beast is a human number. The beast learned how to use political and military power from Nimrod, the first powerful man on earth.

Isaiah’s Prophecy
Isaiah describes the rebellion of a spirit that used political power to wreak havoc on earth. This was probably the spirit called Beast. He said in his heart:

I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High (Is 14:13-14).
This rebellious spirit gained power by controlling kings and nations through principalities and powers.
All the unseen rulers on earth, he raises their thrones from all the kings of the nations (Is 14:9).
Isaiah prophesied that a time would come when they would all be weak and helpless.
They will all respond,
they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us” (Is 14:10).

Friday, November 03, 2017

Reconciling the SPEs (5) Political Power

Although they were defeated by the cross, the spiritual powers of evil maintained their authority on earth by using spiritual principalities and powers to control political power and empires on earth. Every town, city, nation and region on earth is controlled by a principality or power in the spiritual realms.

Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of authority.

  • The principalities and powers in the spiritual realms control the political powers on earth, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The personalities may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.

  • These kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives them immense authority on earth.

  • The people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.

  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives the principalities their power an point of entrance to control them.

This hierarchy of authority allows the spiritual powers of evil to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by the cross.

The principalities and powers have authority over all the spirits living in the nation or region they control. These follower spirits listen and obey their commands.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Reconciling the SPEs (4) Bad not Evil

Most English translations of the Bible refer to “evil spirits”. That translation is a bit misleading. The Hebrew expression is “raah ruach” (1 Sam 16:14), which means bad spirit, rather than evil spirit. They are spirits that have gone bad by listening to the wrong voice, rather than being inherently evil.

The New Testament expression is “akathartos pneuma”. The adjective coming from the Greek word “kathairo” means to be cleansed. The King James Version was closer to the truth when it translated this as “unclean spirits”. The best modern translation is probably “impure spirit”. These spirits have been lured over to the wrong side, so they are bad or impure. They are not inherently evil, but have become bad.

Learned Evil
Bad spirits have learned most of their evil from humans. Cain taught them how to kill and destroy by killing his brother. They learnt how to deceive and lie when Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit. Bad spirits learned how to do intimidate and control people by watching men use their physical strength, emotional force, and threats of rejection to control their wives. Others learned how to manipulate and control by watching women use their emotional understanding and skills with words to manipulate their husbands. Most evil was created first in human hearts. The bad spirits copied what humans did and became skilled at it.

They had worked with God to create the animals and plants of the earth. Once they had learned from Cain and other humans that living things could be destroyed, they used their knowledge to set about destroying God’s creation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Reconciling the SPEs (3) Third Misled

About a third of the angels were operating on earth at the time of the rebellion. They were waiting for Adam and Eve to give them instructions to care for the earth. When the archangels who had rebelled began to give them instructions, they obeyed, because that is what they were created to do. They recognise authority, but they cannot distinguish between good and evil. The rebellious archangels had legitimate authority on earth, so they naturally obeyed them.

Only a third of the spirits fell. This was not because they were morally inferior. They just happened to be on the earth when Satan gained authority there. Once he had legitimate authority, they had no choice but to obey him. It was not a moral choice, deliberately made like the one made by Adam and Eve.

The other two-thirds of angels did not fall, because they were operating in the higher heaven close to the Father, so they continued to hear his voice. They were not superior or better, just closer to a true voice. Both groups did what they were created to do, they just listened and followed the voice that they heard. Unfortunately, one group heard the wrong voice and were led into evil.

Followers
The spiritual powers of evil were created to listen and obey, so they just do what they are told by the closest legitimate authority. They do not have the capability to evaluate plans, or make moral assessments, so they just implement any suggestion that is given to them. Unlike humans, they do not know the difference between good and evil. All they know is the difference between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority. They do whatever a voice of authority tells them to do. That is why they often implement actions suggested by God (eg 1 Kings 22:20).

Bad spirits are not very innovative. They were created to be doers, so they often do the same thing over and over again, until an authority tells them to do something different. Unlike humans, who are made in the image of God, and have inherited his creativity, they just do what they have always done.

Bad spirits find it hard to come up with new ways to do things. They are not creative because they were created to follow instructions and obey authority. If they are told to harass a person, and impure spirit just keeps on doing it until someone with authority tells them to do something different. For example, a spirit of fear is not different from other spirits, it is just a spirit that has been told to do fear, so it keeps on doing it.

The impure spirits recognised Jesus authority, so they naturally obeyed him. The same was true of Paul. The spirits recognised that he had authority, and obeyed him. They knew that the sons of Sceva did not have authority, so they did not obey them (Acts 19:13-15).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reconciling the SPE (2) Listeners and Followers

To understand how the spiritual powers of evil will be reconciled to God, we need to understand their nature and how they fell. Most spirits, like the angels, are listeners and followers. They were created by God to hear, obey and do. The angels listen and obey the voice of God. They sometimes hear and obey the voice of his people.

Angels are not moral beings, like humans. They are listeners and doers. They listen to anyone with real authority that is near to them. They recognise authority, like the Roman soldier who talked with Jesus. When they hear a voice with authority, they obey.

When the angels were created, they all obeyed the voice of God. They did what the Holy Spirit commanded them to do.

A few angels are archangels (arche = ruling; angelos = messenger). They are ruling angels with the ability to instruct other angels. Michael is the name of one who serves God (Jude 1:9). I am not sure why God needed them, because the Holy Spirit can speak to an angel and tell it God’s will. I presume that he needed archangels to control large groups of angels working together on tasks needing concentrated power and structure.

The bad spirits that gained control when Satan led the angels on earth into a rebellion against God, were probably archangels, used to organising and controlling other angels. Only a few spirits revolted against God. They had special roles and knowledge of what was happening.

They said, “We did all the work creating the world, while God just sat and talked. Why should he control it, when we made it”? A few of them decided to take control of the earth they had helped create.

Only a few spirits rebelled against God. Once Satan had tricked Adam and Eve, he and a few of his powerful mates could claim legitimate authority over the earth. They took on new roles as Death, Wrath, Destruction, Beast, and False Prophet. They worked together but also struggled with each other for power.

The spirits that led the rebellion tricked Adam and Eve into giving them authority over the earth. The other spirits that stopped serving God must remain in contact with the earth to have a place to operate. They are listeners and followers, so they obey anyone with authority over the place where they are operating. They naturally obey the ruling spirits who seized authority over the earth.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil (1)

Sometimes, if you ask a different question, it leads you down an amazing path. That happened a few weeks ago, when I was reading Colossians, I was struck by something that I had not noticed before. It really set me thinking. Paul wrote these words.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Col 1:19-20).
Paul explains that God has reconciled all things on earth and in heaven to himself through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. I have always known that Jesus blood reconciled people living on earth to God, but I began to wonder what things in the heavens or spiritual realms needed to be reconciled to him. Clearly, the angels do not need to be reconciled to God, because they have been his faithful servants. That leaves the spiritual powers of evil as the only beings in the spiritual realms that need to be reconciled with God.

I began to wonder how the spiritual powers of evil could be reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus. I had not thought about that before. I just assumed that they were irretrievably lost and would be destroyed at the end of the age. However, Paul seems to be suggesting that they could be reconciled with God. That possibility set me thinking.

I discovered that the spiritual powers of evil will shift their allegiance and go back to serving God, when they hear the truth proclaimed by Jesus. I will explain what I found in the next few posts.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Catalan Red

The Catalan parliament has declared independence from Spain. The Spanish president has dissolved the Catalan parliament.

The response of the European powers is amusing. The British and French foreign ministers have declared that Spanish borders are sacrosanct, so the Catalan independence is illegal. This is hypocritical for two reasons. Politicians claim that a social contract with their people gives them authority to govern, but they will not allow people to withdraw from that contract. The people can give permission, but they cannot take it away. That is inconsistent.

Secondly, the UK and France were quite happy to peel Montenegro and Kosovo off Serbia. They have spent the last few years trying without success to tear Syria apart. Clearly, national borders are only sacrosanct when it suits great power interests. Spain is too close too home to allow independence movements because it might encourage similar movements in their own countries.

Red Horse
The Catalan independence movement is another manifestation of the Red Horse of Revelation 6. This horseman represents inter-tribal conflicts leading to the boundaries of nations being torn asunder.

Red is the colour of Esau and his descendants the Edomites. Esau was red when was born (Gen 25:25). The name Esau comes from a root meaning "to press or to squeeze". The word Edom, which is the name given to the nation which he founded, comes from a root word meaning "red".

The life of Esau and the experience of Edom is the key to understanding the rider on the fiery red horse. Their history is a story of conflict between two families or tribes who live together in the same land. It started with the conflict between Esau and Jacob. It continued when Edom obstructed Israel on its return from Egypt to the promised land (Num 20). The conflict between Israel and Edom continued until both nations were conquered by Babylon.

The rider on the red horse had a large sword with which to take peace from the earth and make men kill each other (Rev 6:4). Esau was told that he would live by the sword (Gen 27:40; Num 20:18). The advance of the rider on the fiery red horse represents an outbreak of inter-tribal warfare in many nations all over the world. Tribes which have lived together in an uneasy peace will go to war with each other. Old disputes which have been festering for hundreds of years will come to the surface. The new generation will turn weapons onto their neighbours to settle the old grievances

The tribal groups who go to war may often be quite closely related, as were Israel and Edom. They will often have intermingled through marriage. This will add to the bitterness of the struggles.

The nature of the spiritual forces released by the rider on the fiery red horse can be discovered by reading the story of Esau and Jacob. The same spiritual forces continued to work between Edom and Israel. The grievance will often be the result of deception (Gen 27:36). The dispute may relate to a disagreement over the inheritance of land (Gen 25:54). One tribe may have dominated the other, but they will become restless and cast off their yoke (Gen 27:40). They will have held onto a grudge from the past, consoling themselves for many years with the thought of killing the other They will make a vow to obtain revenge (Gen 27:41; Num 20:20). These situations will be characterised by:

  • bitterness (Gen 27:34)
  • revenge (Gen 27:41)
  • fury (Gen 27:44)
  • betrayal of former friends (1 Samuel 22)
  • retaliation (Ez 25:12)
  • concealment (Jer 49:10)
  • lack of wisdom (Jer 48:7)
  • rebellion against parents (Gen 28:9)
  • grief (Gen 27:35)

In many cases the war will begin with a guerrilla army fighting against government forces (Gen 25:27). They will be so ruthless that they will inspire great terror (Jer 49:6). They will plunder with glee and with malice in their hearts (Ez 36:5), often shedding innocent blood (Joel 3:19). Amos said of Edom:

He pursued his brother with a sword,
stifling all compassion,
because his anger raged continually
and his fury flamed unchecked
(Amos 1:10).
This is a good description of what the fiery red colour of the red horse represents.

Zechariah indicates that each of the horsemen will ride in a different direction. However, he gives no direction for the red horse. This indicates that it will go all over the world. When the horseman is released this kind of warfare will spread all over the world.

I suspect that we are already seen the second horseman at work in many places in the world. We are probably seeing it at work in the Catalan area of Spain.

United States
We are currently seeing the Red Horseman at work in the United States. There it is not traditional tribes that are fighting, but political-social tribes at war with each other. Despite the tension, the country will not divide easily, because military-political power will use force to hold it together. They did this the last time there was a big division in the 1860s, so they will do it again if a similar conflict occurs again.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Foolish Words

Bad spirits obey authority. Sometimes they obey other bad spirits. Quite often they obey the authority of parents as they exercise authority their children and wives. When a parent makes a statement about their children, an impure spirit can obey it. If a parent says, “He is always sick”, it tells a spirit of sickness what to do.

If a parent says, “He is always angry” that gives a spirit of anger the right to attack. If a husband says that his wife is always afraid, it gives a spirit of fear the right to attack. Parents and husbands should be careful about what they say about wives and children, because spirits looking for authority to obey will hear their words and implement them.

When we say things about people over whom we have influence, impure spirits will often obey because they recognise our authority. If I say, “I hope he will get sick”, I am giving an impure spirit the authority it needs to attack. If I say about a friend, “His business will fail”, I give a spirit of destruction instructions about what to do. I should not be surprised if it happens, because I have given an impure spirit authority to do it. When Elisha rebuked the young men, he told the impure spirits that control the two bears to destroy them (2 Kings 2:24).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Humble Yourselves and Pray

Christians in America love to quote and claim the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 (albeit out of context). The problem is that the promise has a condition: “if my people humble themselves”. This is a problem because although the people of America have many great characteristics, such as generosity, enterprise, hard work, they seem to have a great of difficulty looking honestly and critically at their nation’s past.

I read a great deal of history. Some of what I read about America is really ugly. The invasion of the Philippines in 1899 that killed hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions is an example. I have just read a history of the early years of the CIA during the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the things they did, ostensibly to advance democracy, but often just to protect American business, were despicable: killing heads of state, using propaganda to destroy others and installing dictators.

There are many nasty actions. Dropping 400,000 tons of napalm on the villages of Vietnam and destroying the lives of people, whose only crime was wanting independent from their Japanese and French colonial masters. Bombing everything that moved in North Korea until all buildings and infrastructure were destroyed and the land was flooded. More recently, the trashing of the nations of Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Historians can write about these incidents because they are not widely read. However, I notice that when people write about them in more popular magazines and blogs, they are slagged off for being un-American. At best, they are accused of having failed to understand that America has to do evil stuff because it was fighting against evil. When I write about these things, I get comments suggesting that I ungrateful for what America has done for me.

It seems that many Christians are so committed to the myth of America as the exceptional nation, that they cannot look honestly at their own history. They are free to think that way, but it is the opposite of “humbling yourselves”. We cannot humble ourselves because we are a great nation does match 2 Chronicles 7:14. And of course, the promised blessing does not follow.

Here in New Zealand, the treatment of the indigenous Maori people was ugly. The British government made a treaty to protect them in 1850 and then used legal military means to systematically seize their land and destroy their culture. While Maori men were fighting overseas for the British during World War 1, some had their land back home alienated.

It has taken a hundred years, but successive governments have now acknowledged that actions of early governments were wrong. They have made restitution to the people who lost their land and mana. This has had a massive positive effect on race relations in this country.

I cannot see something like that happening in the United States of America, because it requires a government to humble themselves and admit that their forebears were wrong, and acknowledge they benefitted from it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Imputed Righteousness

The other side of original sin is imputed righteousness. Some of the reformers argued that because Adam’s sin was imputed to us, Jesus righteousness can be imputed to us too. We share the guilt for Adam’s sin though we did not do it, so we can share Jesus righteousness, even though we are sinful.

The flaw in this argument is that justification is a legal term associated with the courtroom. A judge who has led a good life cannot make a man he has found guilty of a crime to be innocent by giving him some of his own goodness. The goodness of one man cannot cancel out another man’s crime. The judge’s goodness cannot be imputed to the criminal to nullify his crime.

What the judge can do is pay the penalty for the crimes of the guilty man. He could agree to pay the fines for the criminal. In the extreme case, he could offer to die in the criminal’s place, if the sentence was the death penalty. A judge cannot give a criminal his goodness, but he can pay the penalties for his crime.

This is what Jesus did. He could not transfer his goodness to us, but he could pay the penalty for our sin. The accuser and the rest of the spiritual powers of evil demanded blood for human sins. Jesus offered his blood shed on the cross. They had to accept it, because it was human blood.

Once the penalty was paid, our sin is cancelled out and we become righteous again, because there is no charge of sin against us. The accuser has no basis for accusing us, because all past and future sins were covered by Jesus’ blood. God the judge can declare us to be righteous.

“Impute” is an accounting term, not a legal term. It means that something is counted as if it were something else. Once the penalty for our sin has been paid, we are counted as being righteous, because Jesus has paid the penalty, not because his righteousness has been put into us.

Note: Jesus death was directed primarily towards the spiritual powers of evil. Hey demand blood, so God gave it to them to salience them. God was happy to forgive humans because he loved us, but the spiritual powers of evil, and especially Satan, demanded the implementation of full justice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Original Sin

Romans 5:12 is an interesting verse.

Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
Many Reformation churches believed that when Adam sinned God attributed the guilt to all of his descendants. This means that everyone is guilty of his sin. The Westminster Confession has a federal theology, in which Adam is the covenant head of all humanity. When he sinned, everyone sinned. This is original sin.

This understanding of sin was first developed by Augustine. He was reinforced in his view by the Latin translation of the New Testament (Vulgate), which incorrectly translated Romans 5:12, as saying of Adam, “in whom all sinned”. This seemed to confirm that all people had participated in Adam’s original sin.

A more correct translation is “in that all sinned”. Everyone sinned because Adam sinned, but that is not the same as saying that everyone is guilty of Adam’s sin.

The idea that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin does not seem fair, as it implies that God punishes humans for a sin that they did not commit. It is also contrary to the scriptures that suggest that children should not be punished for their father sin.

Of course, the Bible is also clear that when parents mess up, their children's lives are usually messed up too. This points to the answer to some important questions.

  • Why did all sin?
  • Why do all die?
The answer is that Adam’s sin gave the spiritual powers of evil authority over the earth. They attacked everyone on earth and tempted them into sin. They outnumbered humans at first, so by concentrating their power, they ensured that they succeeded. They may even have corrupted human spiritual DNA, giving us a propensity to sin. So, everyone on earth sins, not by sharing in Adams sin, but following his example and allowing the spiritual powers of evil to influence their lives to do wrong. Paul explained, “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners (Rom 5:19).

Everyone dies because eternal life comes from God. Sin separates from God, cutting us from the source of eternal life. Therefore, it is true that because Adam sinned, every human sins, as the spiritual powers of evil ensure that they do.

God had said that if you sin, you will die. Because God is merciful, he only excluded Adam from the garden and his presence, rather than causing him to die. The spiritual powers of evil demanded the full implementation of God’s statement that the penalty for sin is death. It gave them authority to inflict death on every human.

Death was a particular evil spirit who controlled many of the spiritual powers of evil from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. The giving of the law strengthened Satan as the accuser, because it gives him a more solid basis for accusing people of sin. It enabled him to demand the punishment specified in the law for all sins. Paul could say that “Sin is not counted because there is no law” (Rom 5:13).

Prior to the giving of the law, humans did not have a clear definition of righteousness. They knew murder was wrong because God had told Cain it was. They probably knew that stealing was wrong. But Satan could not always accuse them of sin, because it was not clear that the people knew they were sinning or understood the penalty. The law resolved that problem by specifying God’s requirements and the consequences for not meeting them. This is why Paul said sin reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:14). Satan used the law to gain control after it had been given.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Great Nations

I recently listened to a video clip of a well-known Christian leading prayer in the Washington Mall. He prefaced his prayer by saying, “To become great again, America must turn back to the God that made it great in the first place”. While many Christians believe this statement to be true, it is seriously flawed.

The speaker assumes that God wants “great nations” and that he uses “great nations” to fulfil his plans. The “great nations” in the scriptures are called “beasts”. They are energised by the spiritual powers of evil, not by God. He sometimes uses great nations to accomplish purposes, by destroying another great nation, or by chastening the people of God by attacking them, but they are not the main vehicle for the accomplishment of his purposes.

I challenge anyone to show me from the New Testament that God has plans to use great nations to accomplish his purposes. Rather, it says that God is creating a new nation of people who trust in him. Jesus did not say that he was establishing a great nation to fulfil his work. Rather, he spoke incessantly about the Kingdom of God. He came to establish the Kingdom of God, not a great nation.

Persuading a group of states to unite and become a greater one and then making it bigger by conquering territory is not part of Jesus plan for redeeming the world. According to my reading of Revelation, this is the strategy of the dragon (Rev 13:1).

There is no doubt that the United States has become the most powerful and wealthy and powerful nation that has ever existed. It was made great by hard work, enterprise, and political power. But that does not make it pivotal for Jesus plans to establish his kingdom.

150 years ago, many Christians believed that the British Empire would be instrumental in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. Historians say that the British did much that was good, but they also did great harm. That is the best that a great nation can do. No one now claims that the British Empire brought the Kingdom of God closer. In fifty years, I suspect that historians will make the same judgment about the American empire.

The message of book of Revelation is that all great nations will have to collapse and fall, before the Kingdom of God can come in fullness.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Patriotism or Religious Devotion

When being interviewed by Ben Witherington about his biography of the great German theologian Karl Barth, Mark Galli made an interesting comment about religious experience.

Karl Barth believed that basing theology on feeling inevitably confuses us, as it did liberal theologians at the beginning of World War 1. They were so taken with their feeling of patriotism, they confused it with a divine experience, and found themselves justifying German’s entrance into an unjust war. A theology grounded in experience will sooner or later go astray in significant ways...
Galli explained Barth’s position more clearly.
German liberal theologians could not separate their patriotism from their devotion. Experiential religion is not merely personally dangerous but socially and even nationally dangerous. He believed it was one of the main reasons the German Christians were attracted to Adolf Hitler. They were deeply moved by Hitler’s oratory and ideas, and they equated those with the movement of God. That was, to say the least, a disastrous move at an unprecedented scale.
Christians in the United States are getting really stirred up about kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games. Look from the outside the strength of feeling seems odd.

Civil religion is stronger in America than true faith. I suspect that many Christians are confusing their feelings of patriotism with the presence of God. It seems like patriotism and devotion to God are being confused.

The German example warns how dangerous this confusion can be. I presume that many Americans experience the same feelings of religious devotion at Trump campaign meetings.

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Political History (4)

The next big shock was realising that there is no Executive in the Torah. There was no one appointed to implement government programs. There was no bureaucracy to carry out political programs.

One reason why there is no Executive is that there is no compulsory taxation in the Torah. All giving to the community was voluntary. There was an expectation that people would be generous to the poor and needy, but there was no agency to enforce that.

This means that two of the three standard arms of government in most political theologies, the legislative body and the executive, are missing from God system of government.

An important step was realising that God does not want kings. He allowed Samuel to appoint a king for Israel, but he was clear that they were copying the surrounding nations, not doing something that God commanded (1 Samuel 8). Samuel warned that the king would do harm and the people would suffer.

I discovered that Moses role, apart from being a prophet, was to be a temporary military leader. When the nation was attacked and the people gathered to defend it, they would agree on a person to lead them. That was a temporary role. When the enemy was defeated, the military leader would go back to their home and become an ordinary person.

Kings are really permanent military leaders. They tend to become dangerous, because they are tainted by war, but gain lots of power.

I have put all these ideas together in my book called Government of God. I explain how it can work in the modern world. If you are interested in politics, political theology, the Kingdom of God, or how to form a new society, then you should read this book.

Readers looking for solutions through political power will find it hard to receive this book. Written down here, the key insights seem fairly simple, and perhaps obvious, but it took me twenty years to understand their significance. I had to give up my faith in politics, all politics, and that is hard for a politics junky.

I had wanted to write this book for a long time, but I could not do it until I got the full picture that God wanted to give me. It might take almost as long for God’s people to lose their faith in politics, and are ready to receive it. Some big names and nations might have to fall before that happens.

New Government

Several weeks after the general election, New Zealand now has a new government,
a government of confusion.

The new, young Prime Minister has spent the last decade in Wellington,
surrounded by people who are confident about everything,
but understand nothing.
That is long enough to gain many illusions about what is possible,
and confusion about what should be done.

The previous Prime Minister, Bill English had to go. He was not perfect (he wrongly believes that more money can solve most problems, including winning elections), but he carries grace and faith that drew blessing from God. New Zealand does not deserve that blessing at this time, so Bill had to go.

A spirit of destruction has come from the north
and set up a throne at the gate of the city.
Confusion has arisen within the city.
Confusion will reign in the nation.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

My Political History (3)

The next big step was understanding that the spiritual powers of evil have used politics to leverage their power on earth. Although they were defeated by the cross, they have maintained their authority on earth by using spiritual principalities and powers to control political power and empires on earth. Every town, city, nation and region on earth is controlled by a principality or power in the spiritual realms.

Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of authority.

  • The principalities and powers in the spiritual realms control the political powers on earth, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The personalities may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.
  • These kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives them immense authority on earth.
  • The people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.
  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives the principalities their power an point of entrance to control them.
This hierarchy of authority allows the spiritual powers of evil to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by the cross. The principalities and powers have authority over all the spirits living in the nation or region they control. These follower spirits listen and obey their commands.

Christians frequently talk about principalities and powers, but they have not understood the implications of their power. Kings and political leader are easy for principalities and are dominated by a principality or power, because they are vulnerable to pride and control. They make it easy for the spiritual powers of evil to control a nation. Many Christians assume that other nations are controlled by principalities and powers (Iran and North Korea) but they do not understand that a principality or power controls their own nation by manipulating political power. This is why political action always disappoints.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Political History (2)

The next big insight was that there is no parliament or congress in the Torah. This dramatically changes political theology. God does not want parliaments writing laws, even if the parliamentarians are believers trying to seek God’s will. Law is such an important issue that God decided to cut out the middle man. When Israel was becoming a nation in the new land they needed a set of laws, so they could live together in peace.

God revealed his Laws for Society directly to his people through Moses. He spoke to Moses on the mountain and he wrote down God’s laws. God is perfectly wise, so the laws that he gives will be the best possible laws that could exist. Because we have his laws, we do not need any other laws. We do not need a parliament or congress to make up new laws.

The laws were applied by local judges who emerged within their communities. They were not appointed by someone from outside. Their wisdom was recognised in their community, so people would ask them to apply God’s law to their disagreement.

The judging processes were voluntary. Judges could not enforce their decisions. There was no process for that in the Torah. People would accept a judge’s decision because they accepted their wisdom. If they rejected the judge's verdict, the judge could not make them comply with it.

Discerning the law was important. We need to know which parts of God’s law are universal and permanent, and which were just for the children of Israel. The key is a set of laws in Exodus 21:1 to Exodus 22:15 which are addressed to every person. I call these the Laws for Society, as they provide a basis for people to live together in relative harmony. All societies need these laws.

The remainder of the Torah is cases illustrating the application of the Laws for Society, or laws that were specific to the children of Israel. I doubt that I would have discovered the Laws for Society if I had not committed to loving God’s law, as Psalm 119 suggests.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Political History (1)

When I was young I was very interested in politics. I went to my first political meeting in my late teens. Many of the problems in the world are caused by politics. It seemed like solutions would be political.

When I went to university, I studied political science for a couple of years, but I found it was a dry well. There are a huge variety of political systems, but none seem to work well. The common answer was that we should persist with the government we have, because anything else would be worst. This was disappointing.

Once I became a Christian, I realised that the solution had to involve Jesus. Every society needs laws, so I spent a long time thinking about how a parliament could produce laws that were consistent with God’s will. The only way that seemed possible, if most of the members of the parliament were followers of Jesus. If that did happen, and it is not common, the people who were not Christians would hate having Christian laws imposes upon them. I realised that imposing Christian laws cannot work, but without them, society will deteriorate. There seemed to be no workable solution.

I committed to solving this conundrum. I went to theological college for three years to get a sound understanding of theology. I learned NT Greek. I read several histories of political thought to understand how we had got to where we are today. I worked for thirty years on the edge of the political system; close enough to see how it worked, but not close enough to be distracted by power. Over several decades God showed me the answers to the questions that were bugging me. I was totally surprised by where he led me.

Over many years of study, a few insights radically changed my thinking about politics.

1. The first thing I discovered was that the New Testament does not contain a political theology. There are a few relevant verses, but they only hint at what God wants. If you want a political theology you need to go back to the Torah in Exodus and Deuteronomy. If we want God’s political theology, if we have to study God’s law.

2. Secondly, I needed a change in attitude to the Torah. I read it, but I was quite ambivalent about it, because I assumed that Jesus had made it redundant (although point 1 means that is not the case). One time, I was reading Psalm 119, the penny dropped. I always understood it as applying to the whole of God’s law, but I suddenly realised it was a Psalm in honour of God’s law.

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me (Psalm 119:57-102).
These verses stunned me. I wanted to be wise in the political space. This Psalm explained that I would only get wisdom if I loved God’s law.

I resolved that I would love God’s law. I understand the love is not a feeling, but a decision, so I decided I would love God’s law and look for the good in it. I put all the laws into a spreadsheet, so that I could sort them by topic and theme to see how they fitted together and when they applied.

I would seek for the precious insights it contains. I believed that everything that had been put in the Torah by the Holy Spirit for a purpose. If I found something, I did not like, I would ask the Holy Spirit to show me what he was saying when he put the passage in the Torah. I did a three-year course in Old Testament Hebrew to understand the Torah better. Over a time, I began to understand God’s law in a totally different way. Loving it became natural. More important, the Holy Spirit gave me some amazing new insights. (I will describe them in my next post).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Different Weapons

In the Book of Revelation, followers of Jesus do not have guns. Their only weapons are love, faithfulness and truth (Rev 14:5). The only protection is white linen robes, which represents their righteous deeds (Rev 19:8).

The only sword that followers of Jesus carry is the word of God, spoken clearly (Rev 19:13,15).

The enemies of God do have weapons (Rev 6:2,4,8; 9:17-19).

Many of those who follow Jesus will be killed because they trust God and proclaim his words (Rev 6:9). They do not fight back with guns. They overcome evil by love, faithfulness, mercy and suffering. Just like Jesus did.

The Kingdom of God comes through their suffering and patient endurance (Rev 1:9).

God is looking for people who will trust in him, and not in guns, so he can give his Kingdom to them.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Passchendaele

This week is one hundred years since the battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. Memorial services have been broadcast on our television.

Eight hundred young men from New Zealand died in one day. It is good that the huge numbers of deaths and casualties are being remembered, but I do not like the way it is done. I dislike the way that the media try to ennoble the disaster by describing it as a “sacrifice”.

A true sacrifice is free and costly, but worthwhile because it achieves something beneficial for real people. Jesus death was a real sacrifice, because he saved billions of people free from the power of sin and death and rescued them from the spiritual powers of evil.

The First World War achieved nothing. It was a foolish and pointless war. Historians have difficulty explaining why it was started, apart from the stupidity of political leaders at that time. The war tore apart thousands of families, weakened economies, and destroyed the Christian empires of Europe. It made the second world war inevitable. It was not a true sacrifice, because it achieved nothing for anyone.

Passchendaele was a betrayal, not a sacrifice.

The men who died did not choose the sacrifice their lives. They actually hoped to survive and go back to their homes and families far away. They had been told that the war would only last a few weeks and that it would be a great adventure. They were betrayed by their political leaders, who led them into a long, pointless and ugly war that was none of their business.

They were also betrayed by their commanders and officers who made them get out of their trenches and run across muddy fields and barbed wire, straight into a hail of machine gun bullets, even though the generals new before it started that the attack would probably fail. The generals needed to do be doing something because the stalemate was making them look incompetent. The troops had no choice but to obey the command to attack, because they had seen men shot by a firing squad for disobeying stupid orders.

Passchendaele was a slaughter, not a true sacrifice.

When I was young, we were told that they died fighting for our freedom. No one says that now because it was obviously not true. The people of Europe were freer before the First World War than they are now. Back then you could walk across Europe without a passport. There were no income taxes or GST. The thousands of Africans and Indians (many of them Moslems) from the colonies who fought died for the British were not set free by the war. The British colonies would persist for another 40 years.

I dislike the way that the front seats at the memorial services are filled with politicians, royalty and military people. It would be fine if they politicians came clean and admitted that the First World War was a terrible political mistake; but politicians do not admit mistakes. It would be fine if the generals and military leaders would admit that they were badly underprepared and disorganised at Passchendaele, yet they sent the troops to die anyway; but generals never admit that kind of mistake.

They royals would be entitled to a front row seat if they would admit that their grandparents did not speak up to protect the people who trusted them, because war is good for their brand. Instead, the royals flatter us by talking of the bravery of the colonial troops, as if that makes up for their moral failure.

When remembering Passchendaele, it would be good if people remember the terrible waste and decide to never again trust and believe the political and military leaders urging another war, but that does not happen, because the media spin the tragedy into something glorious.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Corruptible

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.
― Frank Herbert

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fading Empires


While rising empires are often judicious, even rational in their application of armed force for conquest and control of overseas dominions, fading empires are inclined to ill-considered displays of power, dreaming of bold military masterstrokes that would somehow recoup lost prestige and power (Alfred W McCoy)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Empires in Decay

Empires in decay embrace an almost willful suicide. Blinded by their hubris and unable to face the reality of their diminishing power, they retreat into a fantasy world where hard and unpleasant facts no longer intrude. They replace diplomacy, multilateralism and politics with unilateral threats and the blunt instrument of war (Chris Hedges).
We have seen quite a bit of this recently.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Voting for Principalities and Powers

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

The spiritual powers that control political leaders are called “principalities and powers” in the Bible (Eph 1:21). Some, like Prince of Persia, take the name of their nation (Dan 10:20). They have immense authority on earth, despite their defeat on the cross, because people submit to the leaders controlled by them. Political leaders have legal authority over their people, so attacking them gives the principalities and powers control over cities and nations.

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

The power of evil is mostly an illusion, but concentrating on a few powerful people has allowed the forces of evil to magnify their pathetic power. Controlling human political power has amplified their authority out of proportion to their strength.

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

When we vote, we submit to the political powers of our nation. We are saying to them, “You can rule me and the rest of the nation”. At the same time, we are legitimising the power of the principalities and powers that control them, which gives them authority in our lives. Voting gives them power.

I refuse to submit to the principalities and powers that control this nation, by voting for the political leaders that they manipulate and control.

Spring Colour in Christchurch

Monday, October 09, 2017

General Election

A few weeks ago, an election was held in New Zealand. A new parliament of one hundred and twenty men and women will get absolute authority over everyone and everything in New Zealand. They will claim their authority is legitimate, because the country was given an opportunity to vote in an election. I do not accept that claim.

I did not participate in the voting charade, because it legitimises an immoral process. I do not recognise their authority as legitimate.

The people elected to parliament will say that the other people who voted gave them the authority to govern me. That is absurd. Another person cannot give someone else authority over me. God made me a free person, so I am the only one who can give someone else authority over me. Anyone who imposes their authority over my life without my permission is a bully and a thug, whatever they pretend to be.

I only recognise the authority of one person. That is Jesus. He earned his authority by dying on the cross, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven. God has made him king of heaven and earth. Any other person or group who claims authority over me is a usurper or rebel against Jesus. I do not acknowledge their authority.

I can see that the power of the parliament is real. They have the power to take a significant share of the money I earn, and spend it how they like. They can make me do things that I do not want to do, and they can impose serious penalties, if I refuse to do them. I unwillingly recognise their power, but I do not acknowledge their authority as legitimate.

I am not going to submit to them, or give their power system credibility, by voting for any of them. I am not going give them authority by voting for them.

Voting is a lie. The politicians pretend it is a process for the people to have their say, but it is actually a process for giving authority away. The voter is saying to the candidates, “you can have authority over me”. When we vote, we are agreeing to submit to the people who win the election, regardless of who they are. By submitting to them we are giving them authority over our lives.

Worse still, we give authority to the spiritual powers that manipulate them. I will explain this in next post. It will deal with the spiritual implications of voting.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Jesus' Offering to God

Here is another interesting sentence from Ephesians that describes the nature of Jesus sacrifice on the cross.

Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Eph 5:2).
Jesus’ sacrifice was a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God.

The Old Testament tabernacle had two types of altar.

Outside the tabernacle was a bronze altar. Burnt offerings were offered on the bronze altar. The altar was bronze, because it was not directed towards God, but towards the spiritual forces of evil. The blood was for them too. The primary purpose of these offerings was to appease the spiritual powers of evil, who demanded blood for every sin. They demanded the right to impose the curses of the covenant on the children of evil. The sacrifices were offered to satisfy them. They were not entirely happy, but they had no choice but to accept them, because God said they must be satisfied with the blood of animals, because the animals belonged to humans. Jesus final sacrifice of blood on the cross, completely satisfied their demands, and silenced them.

Just outside the Holy of Holies, but still within the tabernacle, was the golden altar. Incense was placed on this altar as a pleasant aroma. There was very little blood in the Holy of Holies. A little was dabbed on the horns of the altar, once a year on the day of Atonement (Exodus 30:1-10). God is easy to please and a pleasant aroma was all he required.

Paul reminds the us that Jesus sacrifice was not made to satisfy God’s demand for blood. All that God required was a pleasant aroma. The perfect love that motivated Jesus’ death rose as a pleasant aroma to God.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Redemption and Mercy

Ephesians contains an interesting promise.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Eph 1:7).
1. Redemption
We have redemption through his blood (a person is redeemed from someone who holds them captive). Jesus' blood satisfies the accuser who demanded blood for our sins. It frees us from the clutches of the powers of evil by paying the ransom that they demand for our release.

2. Forgiveness
We have forgiveness through the riches of his grace. God loves us and was glad to forgive us. He did not need someone to pay a penalty for sin before he could forgive us. He is loving and kind, so he is glad to forgive us.

We are forgiven by God’s grace, not his blood.

War Weapons

Last night Television New Zealand news, I saw an operator of a Second Amendment Gun shop in the United States being interviewed. He explained that American citizens needed to own the same guns as the government, so that if it ever came to get them, they could fight back. Looking from the other side of the world this sounds bizarre.

Americans who think this way do not realise that they are already ruled and controlled by the most powerful government that has ever existed (a real beast if ever there was one). By the democracy that they believe in, they have already given up a huge range of freedoms. They have paid for the bailout of the enormous state-supported banks that are sucking the wealth out of their communities.

Worse still, they have submitted to the spirits of war and violence, that already control their government.

Ironically, they love the way their government tramps round the world using military force to impose democracy and American values on unwilling peoples. They do not seem to see care that their government has wrecked societies and economies in places like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

If the people who buy military weapons ever did fight back against their government, it would result in a similar pointless destruction of the communities that they love.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Response to Power

Christian responses to political power boil down to two options.

The first option is to avoid all political power avoid being contaminated by it. Unfortunately, this leaves authority over force in the hands of the people of the world. Their political power is often used badly and society suffers. Evil people often rise to the top and Christians are persecuted for their loyalty to Jesus. The spiritual powers of evil have used secular political power to leverage their power on earth.

The other option is to co-opt political power and use it to advance the Kingdom of God. During the Middle Ages, the church attempted to control kings and empires to bring them under God’s authority. More recently, Christians have used democratic elections to gain power and impose their agenda. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the gospel is diluted, as Christians attempt to transform the world by changing laws and implementing various political programs. The people of the world hate being controlled by the church and tend to reject God too.

Government of God cuts across both these options by declaring that the use of force and coercion are always wrong, even when it is used by governments claiming legitimate right to use it for the common good. Who controls political power and how they exercise it is irrelevant, because the problem is political power itself. Political power is morally wrong, regardless of how it is exercised. God created humans to be free, so he does not want governments forcing people to behave in a particular way.

Political power because amplifies the power of the spiritual powers of evil. The only solution is to get eliminate political power. This book explains how a society can function without any need for the need for force and coercion. Justice and safety can be provided with a person or group of people having the right to impose their will on the rest of society. Political power has no place in the Kingdom of God, so as it comes to fullness, political power will shrivel away.

Christians hate being told what they can and cannot do by secular governments. Yet they often try to use political power to impose Christian morality on this world. This is an impossible contradiction. The only viable solution is a society that does not use force or coercion. I describe how this can occur in Government of God.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Live or Perish

The world that God created is amazing.

One way that it is amazing is that it is possible to live on earth, while hating and disobeying God. We take this for granted, but it is amazing that God continues to sustain the earth, while people living on it hate and mock him. If God stopped sustaining his creation, the world and the people he made would cease to exist in an instant.

In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).
A God who would continue to sustain the lives people who have rebelled against him to pursue evil and destroy his universe is mind-blowing.

This explains the final destination of those who reject the gospel and continue to oppose God. After the final judgment, this earth will disappear and be replaced by a new heavens and a new earth in which God fully dwells (Rev 21:1). Those who reject God will have no place to go where they can escape the presence of God. He will be everywhere in the new heaven and earth. With the old earth gone, there will not place left where people can continue to live and oppose God.

People who have not made peace with him through the cross will not be able to tolerate the holiness of his presence. His presence is so glorious that those who have not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus will need to flee the awe of his presence. This leaves them with an impossible dilemma. They need God to sustain their existence, but they can bear to be near him. They need him to give them life, but they hate being near him.

People who have rejected Jesus and continued to rebel against God will face a choice. They will choose to lose his sustaining power, because they hate his presence. If the stops sustaining their life, they will cease to exist.

Jesus said that those who do not believe in him will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The fate of those who to refuse to trust Jesus is to perish. Perish is a more accurate word than “annihilation”, because the latter word implies that God does the annihilating. He does not do this.

Rather, people choose to perish, because they cannot bear to remain in the presence of God, and there is no place away from his presence where they can continue to exist. The will tell God to stop sustaining their existence, because they cannot bear to be in his presence. They will perish when God agrees to their request and stops giving them life. He does not force people to exist against their will. They will perish, because life apart from God is not possible in the new heavens and new earth.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Healthcare and Medical Insurance (4)

Holding back the Curse
The key problem with every system of health care is that sickness is a curse resulting from sin. We cannot turn back this curse with by putting more money into professional health care.

As medical professionals deal with one problem, the curse pops out in another sickness that is worse. Modern medicine has solved diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox, but they now face more serious diseases like dementia and cancer.

People who are following Jesus should cut out the middlemen by praying for the sick to be healed. If the Spirit is moving, the need for funded health care should rapidly diminish. We have the authority to break this curse. More at Healing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Healthcare and Insurance (3)

Longitudinal Dimension
People tend to assume they are taking our insurance over their lifetime. They assume their no claim years when they are young entitle them to make big claims when they are older. However, insurance companies work on an annual basis. They use the premiums from the no-claim people in any year, to pay for the high claim people in that year. They do not hold reserves to meet the needs of no-claims people in their later years.

People view their insurance longitudinally, but insurance companies manage risk year by year. That creates confusion about entitlement. The person who says, “I have paid premiums all my life, so I am entitled to something back now I am old” does not understand the way insurance companies do their accounting.

Followers of Jesus
The insurance model does not work, because medical risk is hard to share. The single-payer model is compulsory sharing, which is hard to justify. Jesus model was voluntary sharing in a community united by love.

The members of Kingdom Community could commit to paying for the healthcare of everyone living within their neighbourhood, regardless whether they are following Jesus or not. Everyone in the community should commit to paying for the healthcare of others living within it, according as they have need, and means. That would be loving one another, as Jesus loved us.

The good Samaritan showed how it could be done. He rescued the wounded man from where he lay on the side of the road. He took him to an inn and paid for him to be cared for until he was well.

Christians should be seeking creative ways to pay for the healthcare of people of living in their neighbourhoods.

The inter-generational sharing needed for healthcare should take place within families, because they have the commitment and loyalty needed to manage costs across time. This sharing is better done within a wider family, as a nuclear family will not have sufficient resources.

Most health care expenses occur towards the end of life. The best place for managing risk across time is within a wider family. Children have significant expenses for education. When they are first married, a couple have significant expenses for setting up their home and raising their family. Late middle age is a time when earning power is greatest and expenses have reduced because children have left home. Old age is a period of significant expenses for health care. Families can manage expenses across time, by caring for elderly parents when they are at the stage of peak earning.