Saturday, September 22, 2018

Shepherds

According Ezekiel 34, the main task of a shepherd is to heal the sick and bind up the wounded. Yet churches everywhere are full of sick and broken people. Ezekiel says that this is because the shepherds have not cared for the sheep.

He says that the shepherds rule the sheep harshly and brutally. Preaching at people is one way this happens. (A challenging sermon, almost always leave some people feeling condemned). Healing the sheep should be a higher priority than preaching at them.

James 5 says that anyone who is sick should be able to go to the elders and be healed. The elders of a church should have the gift of healing among them.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Training

An army is not trained by gathering all the soldiers, from generals to privates for two hours a week and spending the first 30 minutes singing battle songs and the next hour listening to a general lecturing on tactics and the history of war. This would make a very ineffective army.

Soldiers need to learn discipline, obedience and weapon skills. These skills are learned by doing drills. They are not fully trained until they are battle hardened. Most soldiers are not trained by generals, but by NCOs. The generals concentrate on tactics and planning (Being Church Where We Live, p.95).

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Visions

When someone writes to me about a vision they have received, I suggest there are several questions that they need to answer.

Why?
Why do they get these visions? Are they for them to strengthen their prayer times. Or are they something that they need to share.

Who?
What are they for? There are many possible answers: them, their church, someone they know, the wider church, people in the world. They need to know who the vision is for.

How?
If a vision is for sharing, how does God want them to share it? He can tell them.

Format: The communication will be different from the revelation. They are not the same.

Medium: How does God want the communication spread. Preaching a sermon is just one possible way. A message can be shared in a variety of ways, depending on who is it for.

They need to get answers to all these questions.

Monday, September 17, 2018

New Season?

Reading prophetic websites, I see many prophetic people saying that we are entering a new season. I am not sure what that means. It suggests that God is going to do something new that he was not doing before. It suggests that the Holy Spirit is working in one place and not in another. It makes it seems like God stops and starts, or moves in one place and not in another.
God is not fickle or capricious. He is not lazy. God does not speak like this.

I am not going to do much in India for the next fifty years, because they have had a good run.

I am going to move now in Russia now, because I have not done much there for the last 200 years.

I am not going to much in the United States, because I can’t be bothered.

I am going to more in New Zealand, because I have not been doing much until now.

God has released his Holy Spirit into the world. He is always at work. He does not turn the flow on and off according to his whim.

God does not engage in trial and error. He does not try things to see if they will work. He has a plan. He has been implementing that plan ever since the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was released. He has not changed his plan.

The activity of the Holy Spirit depends on the degree of cooperation that he receives from humans. Humans have authority on earth, so he needs our permission to operate on earth. He has no arms and legs, so he needs people to work through. He has no mouth, so he needs people to speak through.

If the Holy Spirit begins to move in a place, it is because he has found people willing to do what he needs them to do. If the Holy Spirit stops moving in a place, it is because people have stopped cooperating with him. The problem is never with God. The problem is always with us.

So we should be careful about saying that a new season has started, because it makes it sound like God is going to start doing something that he was not doing before. It makes it sound like God is the reason why nothing was happening. This makes him the problem, which removes responsibility from us, but is not fair to God.

If a new level of activity begins in a place, it will be because people in that place have started cooperating with the Holy Spirit in a way that they were not before. It is not because God has changed his mind, and is doing something he was not doing before.

There are seasons in human history, but they are marked by epochal events that change the relationship between earth and heaven. For example, the giving of the law to Moses began a new season, because people on earth had something they did not have before. It gave God’s people the capability to live in peace with each other and with God. It also gave the spiritual powers of evil the right to accuse them of their failure to keep the law.

The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus was the ultimate epochal event that brought in a new season, because it totally changed the relationship between God and humans Sins have been forgiven, and the way opened for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on all who believe.

Because the Jews, rejected Jesus, we a currently in a season called the Times of the Gentiles. The epochal event that will end this season is the Calling of the Jews. I have explained this at Times and Seasons.

Until that event occurs, we must be careful about calling a new season, when nothing has changed in the spiritual realms to bring about change on earth. If there is no epochal event, there is unlikely to be a new season. The powers of evil are just as defeated as they have been since the cross. God has not defeated them further.

God always wants to do something better on earth. Calling a new season makes it sound like he is going to do something new, regardless of the response of his people. However, he can only do something different, if people on earth cooperate with him more than they did in the past. There could be a new season of cooperation, but God cannot force that to happen.

God will not be doing something new. If something different happens on earth, it will be because people have allowed him to do what he always wanted to do.

Christians looking for a new season should understand that God will not change his mind and bless what they were doing previously. Rather, they should be asking him what they need to do differently to receive his blessing.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Changing God's Mind

A person speaking on Christian radio suggested that prayer is changing the heart and mind of God. I am not sure about that.

God loves me. He knows everything that can be known. He knows what is best for me. If God wants something for me, it would be a mistake to get him to change his mind to align with what I want. I am often wrong about what I need, so if God gives in to what I want, I am probably going to get “second best”.

So, it probably better not to change God’s mind. That way I will get what is best for me.

Prayer is not changing God’s mind, or persuading him to do something that he does not want to do. It is giving him permission to do what he already wants to do.

One place where it might seem we could change God’s mind is about what he is planning to do for someone else. For example, Abraham thought that he changed God’s mind about what he was going to do about Sodom. But that is only part of the picture.

God gave authority over the earth to humans, so he can only intervene on earth, if we give him permission. Humans sinned and surrendered their authority on earth to the spiritual powers of evil. They used their stolen authority to get with wrecking and destroying everything that God had created ever since.

God needed to intervene and cut off the advance of evil in Sodom, but he could not do it without human permission. So, Abraham was not really changing God’s mind. He was giving God permission to do what he had already decided to do. God let Abraham think that he was persuading him to be merciful, so that he would give God the permission that he needed.

Prayer is not changing Gods mind. It is not persuading him to do things for us that he does not want to do. Prayer is people with authority on earth giving God permission to what he has already said that he wants to so. Therefore, a key to prayer is listening to God and discovering what he wants to do.

More at Prayer and Authority.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Role of a Prophet to a Nation

A prophet to a nation should understand that Jesus came to establish the Government of God. A nation cannot have to kings. A nation cannot have to governments. So, as the kingdom of God expands in a nation, its human government must shrink and fade away.

A prophet to a nation will understand that human governments are not part of God’s ultimate plan for his people. The people of Israel wanted to have a king to be like the surrounding nations, but was not God’s plan (1 Sam 8). God gave into them as a concession to their sinfulness, but he wanted to be their king. He wanted them to trust him for protection.

These prophets will realise that that human political power is a serious obstacle to the Kingdom of God because it undermines God’s authority and offers a false salvation. They will understand that trust in human political power will have to be swept away before the Kingdom of God can come to fullness on earth.

Prophets to the nation will provide guidance to their government when asked, but they will understand that all governments are living on borrowed time. They will be watching for the time when their government will collapse and disappear. When the time is right, their prophetic words will release the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy human government and open the way for the emergence of God’s government. When a human government collapses, the principalities and powers that have amplified their power through it will be shattered. Once the spiritual forces that have dominated the nation are fragmented and weak, the gospel will go forth in the power of the Spirit.

When human governments stop functioning, a power vacuum will exist. Those who have trusted human government will be desperate for something different and better. With their human government crushed by events that it could not control, people will be welcome the Kingdom of God.
The prophets to the nation will understand the nature of the Government of God and be prepared to teach people how to receive it in their midst. They will teach people how to form Kingdom Communities that can provide welfare, justice and protection for people who have lost hope. Political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around to people who trust Jesus and walk in the Spirit.

Kingdom Communities will transform their neighbourhoods. As the structures of society fall apart, they will demonstrate a way of life that appeals to a shaken world. Each Kingdom community will provide everything that human governments have failed to deliver, but without Imposed Authority. They will be united by love and service under Free Authority.

In the Government of God, justice will be provided by local judges who emerge in their community to apply God’s law. Defence will be provided Temporary Military Leaders that arise within their community. Prophets will have a key rule in teaching judges how to apply God’s law.

More at Prophet to a Nation.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Coming of the Kingdom

When did the Kingdom of God begin? Most theologians assume that Jesus inaugurated a kingdom, but that does not seem to be right. Jesus said that the Kingdom of God had come near, which implies that it already existed.

The scriptures teach that the Kingdom of God began when God rescued the children of Israel from Israel and Moses led them into the promised land. God spoke to the people through Israel.

Now if you will carefully listen to me and keep my covenant, you will be my own possession out of all the peoples, although the whole earth is mine, and you will be my kingdom of priests and my set-apart people (Ex 19:5-6).

God promised that if they kept his covenant and obeyed his word, they would be a kingdom of priests and people set apart for God. They would be a kingdom with God as their king. When they accepted the covenant, the Kingdom of God began.

The Kingdom of God was established in Moses time, but it quickly slipped away. The fullness of the Holy Spirit had not come, so the people struggled to live with God as their king. They quickly shifted to trusting in political and military power. This choice was cemented in place in Samuel’s time when the people demanded a king like the nations. God explained to Samuel that they had rejected his kingship (1 Sam 8).

The Kingdom came again with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. However, it has waxed and waned. It advanced quickly, but in the third century, it became emerged in political and military power.

A kingdom has laws. People who assume that the Kingdom of God began with Jesus claim that the Sermon on the Mount is the law of the Kingdom. That is a mistake because it turns a description of behaviour that flows out of life in the Spirit into a set of rules that are impossible to keep. The gospel is life in the Spirit not a tougher set of rules.

The laws of the Kingdom are the laws of Moses. Their purpose is to restrain the behaviour of people who have rejected the gospel and the Spirit and help the people of God to live together in peace. I explain how these apply in my books called Government of God and God’s Economy.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Looking Ahead

Plenty of people are warning of difficult times ahead, but anyone with their eyes open can see that the world faces many problems. The challenge is to prepare God's people to remain strong through the times of distress and to be victorious out the other side.

The Church should be explaining how Christians can remain strong while the world is crumbling and weak. It should explain how Christians would be able to reach out to the people of the world who are struggling and draw them into a place of safety. It should be telling them how to start building the new thing that God wants to establish in the middle of the world's troubles.

We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.

The Bible describes the "men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chron 12:32). Every society needs people who understand the times and know what God's people should do. Most of the time this gift has been lacking from the church.
When Rome fell, Christians were shocked. The Roman Empire had been around for 500 years, so they assumed that it would be around forever. Christians believed that it was part of God's plan for expanding his Kingdom. They were so used to it being there, that they could not imagine life without it.

Worse still, church structures had aligned with imperial power structures, so Christians found it hard to cope without the order of the empire. No one prepared Christians for the collapse of Rome. They had not prepared Christians to live in a world without an empire, so they struggled to cope, an enormous opportunity was lost. It took the church a 1000 years to regain the ground that was lost.

We have the same problem in the modern world. Democratic political power and the nation-state have dominated life in the West for so long that we find it hard to imagine life without them. However, they are not part of God's plan of salvation so they will not last forever.
Many Christians have identified democratic capitalism with the Kingdom of God. When the evils of democratic capitalism are exposed, they will be totally shocked. Just like the Christians shocked by the collapse of Rome.

When the western political system collapses, will Christians be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, or will we be stunned and confused like the Christians in the Roman Empire. Unless the quality of our prophetic ministry improves, we will be stuck in the headlights of disaster, just like them.

We do not need more warnings of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Church Dysfunction

The main reason that the prophetic ministry is not functioning correctly in the modern church is that the leadership is not functioning correctly. Most churches are led by a pastor-leader, so many prophets have become pastors to find a place of ministry. This is not a solution, because the church operates best when elders are functioning in their true ministry and not trying to be something they are not.

Without a prophet, a Church will be prone to sin. One reason that we have so many immature and weak churches is that prophets are missing from the leadership of the church.

A strong Church needs the righteousness that only comes when prophets are present. The modern church has millions of pastors, but only a few prophets. This serious imbalance has severely weakened the church.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Salvation in Hebrews

The letter to the Hebrews speaks about what happened on the cross.

Jesus did all that had to be done.

He carried our sins (anaphero).

Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many (Heb 9:28).

He saves us (sozo).

He is able to save completely those who come to God through him (Heb 7:25).

Eternal salvation for us (soteria).

After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Heb 5:9).

Guarantor (bondsman) of a better covenant on our behalf (egguos).

Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant (Heb 7:22).

Dealt with powers of evil – both their accusations and their ransom demands

Propitiation of the spiritual powers of evil (hilaskomai)

He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb 2:17).

Jesus put away sin for us (cancelled) (athetesis).

He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Heb 9:26).

He has redeemed from capitivity to the spiritual powers of evil ( apolutrosis).

He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15).

Jesus dealt with our guilt and shame.

Cleansed our conciences (kartharizo).

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God (Heb 9:16)?
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water (Heb 10:22).

We can draw near to God (eggizo)

A better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (Heb 7:19).

Purification of sins for us (karthimosis).

After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven (Heb 1:3).

We have been made holy (hagiazo).

We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Heb 10:10).
Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood (Heb 13:12).

We have been made perfect/complete (teleioo).

By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Heb 10:14).

God forgave our sin and forgot them.

Sins were forgotten by God (mnaomai).

Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more (Heb 10:16-17).

Sins were forgiven by God (put away) (aphesis).

And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary (Heb 10:16-17).

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Preparing for the Next Season

Three of my books have a common purpose. They are Being Church Where We Live, Government of God and God's Economy. Some readers think that these books are unrealistic and impractical. In a way that is true. Although these books contain a great deal of wisdom that is relevant now, they are not for this time. I have written them to help people prepare for the new season that will emerge soon (I explain the changing seasons in Kingdom Authority).

When a culture collapses, there is no time to think about options to replace it. It is too late to think about what to do next, when next is already here. That needs to be done in advance, especially if the transition is a time of distress.

The church always struggles to be ready the next season it faces. When the gospel conquered the Roman Empire, the church had not thought clearly about the implication, so it embraced political power with no understanding of the dangers.

When the Rome Empire collapsed, the church was totally unprepared. Christians saw Rome as an instrument of Gods plan to bring in his kingdom. When Rome expanded, the Kingdom of God expanded. The Kingdom was so bound up with the Roman Empire that they could not see how church life could go on without it. When the empire collapsed, they were shattered and confused, and many fell away. It took more than 500 years for the church to recover from the Dark Age that followed the collapse of Rome.

I believe that we are close to the end of another season. Democratic government and industrial capitalism have provided unprecedented peace and prosperity for the Western World. Unfortunately, this great social and cultural development is running out of steam. The main source of democratic and economic power has been the United States, but it has lost its way. Despite many recent moves by the Holy Spirit, the strength of the gospel that has been the source of its strength has lost its way.

Without the life of God to sustain it, the strength of the United States will fail. The nation could go two ways. It could fragment and break into numerous tribal groupings as happened it many other nations. Or it could become a totalitarian empire in an effort to hold back the tide of decay. Either way, it will be nasty for the US and for the rest of the world that gets caught in the crossfire.

Like the Roman Christians, God’s people in our time have confused democracy and industrial capitalism with the Kingdom of God. When they collapse, they will believe that the Kingdom of God has failed too. God’s people will need a vision that can sustain them through the darkness and inspire them to build something new.

I have written these three books so that when our culture collapses, at least some of God’s people will be prepared with a new way of living. If enough people are prepared for the change of season, God will use them to build something better and establish his government in the world.

So, if you have bought any of these books, and don’t like them, don’t throw them away, but give them to one of your children and tell them to get them out and study them when the season is changing.

And if you are a forerunner and want to be prepared for the next season, you should get these books and read them carefully.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (11) United States

I sense that the United States is close to a turning point.

Many prophets are prophesying that revival is close. That is certainly what God wants, but the outcome depends on whether his people do what he needs to be done to achieve his purposes. The outcome depends on the response of his people. Will they take his call seriously? Most American prophets assume that revival will come, but that outcome is not automatic. It depends on how God’s people respond to his call.

Thirty years ago, the situation in New Zealand was similar to that in America today. The Billy Graham crusades and the Jesus movement had increased the number of serious Christians. The bible was taught in most state primary schools. The Prime Minister carried a copy of the ten commandments in his briefcase. Numerous prophecies announced that revival was coming to New Zealand. We all believed it would happen. But it didn’t.

I believe that God wanted revival, but it seems that his people were not ready to take up the challenge. The revival prophesied has not come yet.

It has amazed me how quickly a nation with a Christian worldview can turn secular if it does not fulfil God's calling. The news and entertainment media in New Zealand are now openly hostile to Christianity. There are no Christian politicians in the cabinet and very few in Parliament. This is sad, but it confirms that revival is not automatic, just because Christians want it and prophesy it. They also have to obey the call and do what God requires.

There is still a strong Christian influence in the United States, but it is waning. The nation might turn back to God, but it could just as easily go the other way. The prophecies about revival and the Holy Spirit moving describe what God wants to achieve, but the fulfilment depends on whether the people respond to his call. The faith of previous generations does not guarantee it.

If the people of God listen to his Spirit and obey his word, there could be a mighty revival that turns the nation back to God and brings great blessing to the earth. But that outcome is no automatic. God does not force people to change.

People could just as easily harden their hearts to the gospel and reject the calling of the Holy Spirit. The influence of the spiritual powers of evil seems to be growing. The spirits of political and military power seem to be throwing their weight around to expand the American empire. In the worst-case scenario, America has the potential to become the Beast described in the Book of Revelation. It certainly has sufficient economic and military power to take on this role.

The American nation faces two very different futures.

  • Revival leading to blessing and reconciliation.
  • Rejection of God leading to political, economic and military power.
Looking from the outside, the outcome is not obvious.

In this situation, the role of prophets to the nation is incredibly important. They should be explaining the situation to the nation and warning of the consequence of the choices that are being made. Speaking only of reconciliation is misleading, because it might not happen. People need to understand the other possibilities, too.

Instead of giving a clear trumpet call, prophetic people in America seem to be obsessed with Donald Trump. Most seem to blind supporters, but a few are really hostile. This is a serious distraction, because a political leader cannot bring in the Kingdom of God. Donald Trump can wreck a few things, but he cannot build the Kingdom of God. Nor can a conservative Supreme Court. Salvation comes from grace, not law-keeping.

God explained to Samuel the prophet that when the people of God seek a human ruler, they are rejecting God as king. That is not changed by giving the ruler a different name.

They have rejected me as their king (1 Sam 8:7).
When the Kingdom of God comes, God will be king, not a powerful human ruler.

The United States urgently needs prophets to give a clear message to the nation. They will

  • Describe to the nation the different outcomes that lie before it.
  • Explain to the nation the consequences of the choices being made.
  • Warn what the powers of evil are planning to do.
  • Describe what will happen if the nation continues on its currents path.
  • Tell the people of God what they must do to bring the nation back under God.
  • Tell political and business leaders what the need to do to bring the nation back on to God’s path.
  • Tell the people of God how to be a remnant that he can use, if the nation continues to go in the wrong way.
Irony
The irony is that if revival does come to America, the nation will not become great again in the way that many people expect. God does not work through political domains. He works through local communities that trust him. So if the revival comes, the nation might break up into smaller kingdom communities, as human political power and military force become redundant. This is a vision that American prophets should be proclaiming.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (10) Relevant Message

The message of a prophet to a nation changes according to the season.

  • During a season of blessing, a prophet will encourage the people to press on further. After they had crossed the Red Sea, Moses gave the people a song of victory to sing (Ex 15). He gave the people laws to enable them to live together in peace in a new land (Ex 21:1). He showed them how to build and operate the tabernacle for spiritual protection (Ex 25:40). Moses was a prophet who led the people from blessing to blessing (Deut 34:10). The prophets of Israel prophesied victory when the nation was attacked without reason (2 Chron 20:15-17).

  • If the people open a door to evil by forgetting God, prophets to a nation will warn of the dangers. They will encourage the people who remain faithful and explain to them what to do to turn their nation around. For example, Moses warned the children of Israel not to forget God was the source of all their blessings (Deut 8:10-11).

  • If the nation is getting close to a turning point, the prophets to a nation will explain to the people how the seasons are changing. They will warn of the consequences of rejecting God’s ways. They will interpret Warning Events that might be occurring.

    Jeremiah warned the people not to deceive themselves by assuming that everything will be all right (Jer 37:9). This is the greatest danger when approaching a turning point. People assume that the situation will improve, although nothing has happened to cause it.

    The OT prophets mostly operated in this season. Because the fullness of the spirit has not come, the nation of Israel was in decline and turning away from God for most of OT history. This is why they often seem to be doom and gloom. They were negative, but they lived in a negative season.

  • When God is being squeezed out, the prophets to a nation will focus on encouraging and equipping a remnant. They tell them how to live and keep safe during a season of judgment.

    Jeremiah had this role. He wrote a letter to the remnant telling them what they should do – go to Babylon and make homes there (Jer 29:4-7). He gave the remnant hope for the future – God will bring them back when seventy years are complete (Jer 23:6-9; 29:10).

    The prophets to a nation will also warn their political leaders about what is happening and tell them what to do. Jeremiah spoke to King Jehoiakim and told him what to do, but the King refused to listen, so he was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 36:30-31). Jeremiah also spoke to King Zedekiah, his successor and promised that he would live to old age, if he surrendered to the king of Babylon(Jer 34:2-5).

The OT prophets were not doom and gloom merchants. They discerned the changing seasons, and their words changed according to the season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (9) Discerning Seasons

I have described how judgments and seasons work in an article called Discerning Seasons. In this article, I set out a framework for understanding events on earth. A nation where people have followed God can go through five stages.

  1. Blessing
    When a large number of Christians live in a city or country, God has considerable authority in that place. He is able to determine most of what happens there.

  2. Door opened
    When the number of Christians in the population declines, God's authority on earth shrinks. As the number of people rejecting God increases, a door is opened to the evil political-spirits and government-spirits (principalities and powers). More of what happens is the result of their influence.

  3. Tipping point
    There is a tipping point where the authority of the political-spirits and government-spirits on earth exceeds the authority of God. When the proportion of Christian on earth reaches this tipping point, the powers of evil have a much greater influence on earth. More and more events will be the consequence of their activities.

  4. God squeezed out
    When the tipping point is passed and the number of Christians shrinks dramatically, God's authority is squeezed out. The forces of evil begin to get a free hand on earth. They get to determine what happens on earth and God has very little influence.

  5. Remnant arises
    When the tipping point is passed and the world is flooded with evil, God raises a remnant. They will be in the world, so they will not escape the pain, but by standing together, they will rise above it to do God's work. He can accomplish more through a small committed than the forces of evil can accomplish with a free hand.

These stages are fully described in Discerning Seasons. As a nation goes through these stages, different types of judgement are experienced. These are described in an article called Prophetic Events. There are four types of event.
  1. Shaking Event
    God does not actually send the shaking. He just withdraws his protection and allows people to experience some of the consequences of their behaviour for a short time. The event occurs when God temporarily lifts his protection in a particular time and place, rather than because he decides to do something evil.

  2. Warning Events
    When the Christian influence declines and society is close to the tipping point, the powers of evil begin to show off. The devil is not very creative, so he just does on a smaller scale, what he would like to do, if he had much more authority, but does not. These events are warning signs for those who alert. Christians who understand their times will able to discern these signs and get an early warning of what is going to happen, if society continues in the way that it is going.

  3. Evil Events
    Once a society has moved past the tipping point, political-spirits and government-spirits have the freedom to do their stuff. God is no longer on the throne, so he is powerless to intervene. He has given authority on earth to humans, so if they have passed it on to the forces of evil, rather than to him, he can do nothing about the situation in the short term.

  4. Protective Judgments
    God sometimes assesses a nation and decides that it has become so evil that it is beyond saving. In this situation, he then has no choice but to allow its destruction to minimise evil. I refer to these as protective judgments, because their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. God does not engage in mindless destruction. He always destroys empires when that it is the best way to constrain evil.

These are brief summaries. Read the articles to get a full understanding. The first and the last types are the only ones for which God is directly responsible.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (8) Prophetic Role

Prophets to cities and nations should be discerning the seasons and warning nations about the decisions that their leaders are making.

  • They should explain what is happening in the nation.
  • They should describe the choices that they have.
  • The should be describing what will occur if the city or nation continues on its currents path.
  • They should be describing the change of season if that is occurring.
  • They should be telling the leaders what they need to do to bring a change of direction.
  • They should be speaking to the people of God and telling them what they can do to help their city or nation turn back to the right path.
  • They should be teaching the people of God how they can survive as a remnant, if their city or nation continues down the wrong path.
Revelation
The book of Revelation is a new covenant prophecy that attempts to answer the questions that prophets should be asking about the destiny of nations.
  • It describes what the spiritual powers of evil want to do.
  • It explains what will happen when the nations reject God’s wisdom and trust in human political power.
  • It describes plan for turning the situation around and establishing his Kingdom.
  • It tells the people of God what they must do to survive the shaking and be ready for Gods victory.

The is what new covenant prophets should be doing.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (7) Words to a Nation

Although nations are not bound by God’s covenant with Israel, they are accountable to the covenant established with humans at creation. When God had finished creating humans, he explained the way that world works. He promised that if people obeyed him and followed his wisdom, they would receive blessing (the tree of life). He warned that if they rejected him, they would lose that blessing. God would not inflict a curse on them. The spiritual powers of evil would attack them and it would seem like they are cursed.

God has created a world with judgment built in and inevitable, because it is intrinsic to the way that the world works.

  • Those who obey God do not just get the benefit of their goodness and wisdom. It is amplified by the blessing of the Holy Spirit. This is grace.
  • Anyone who rejects God does not just experience the consequences of their lack of wisdom, the effect is amplified by the attack of the spiritual powers of evil taking advantage of their lack of spiritual protection.
So when a city or nation turns away from God, the consequences can be nasty. The new covenant does not change that.

When the Old Testament prophets spoke to the surrounding nations, they did not call them to account for their failure to comply with the covenant that God made with Israel. Rather, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned the nations of what would happen to them because they had rejected God ways (see Isaiah 13-21). They had given up his protection, so they were vulnerable to the spiritual powers of evil. These powers might build them up for a while, but they would eventually destroy them, because that is what they love violence and destruction.

Most of the judgments announced by the OT prophets were not initiated by God, but were the work of the spiritual powers of evil. The warnings of the Old Testament prophets were not God’s plan. They describe what will occur when cities and nations reject God and lose his protection.

Prophets to the nations should still be warning the nations about what will happen if they continue on their current path. They should not be saying that God will destroy them. They should be saying that they have opened themselves to the spiritual powers of evil and the consequences will not be good.

The word “judgment” is used to describe what happens, but could just as easily be described as “consequences” or "feedback loop". The word judgment is appropriate as it the consequence of the moral decisions made by the people and leaders of the city or nation, particularly those in authority. Their decisions are tested by the spiritual powers of evil and found wanting.

God does not initiate the consequence directly, but he created a world in which it would be possible for the spiritual powers of evil to gain a foothold. He does not shirk from that responsibility. That is why the scriptures often describe these events as God’s judgment.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (6) Prophets to the Nations

I agree with Dan McCollam that we should not appeal to the old covenant when prophesying to the nations. It was a covenant with the children of Israel. The modern nations have never agreed to the terms of the old covenant, so they are not accountable to it.

However, we need a clearer understanding of the role of the Prophet to a Nation. This is a different role from the prophet speaking to people or to a church. As Dan says, the latter should be imparting courage, strength and comfort to the body of Jesus so they can take hold of their earth-shaking destinies. They should be imparting courage, strength and comfort to transform the world with kingdom realities. They should be releasing the grace that transforms the earth with a message of reconciliation, because the role of the church is reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19).

The role of a prophet to a nation is different. I have described it more fully in Prophet to a Nation. 1 Cor 14 is directed to prophecy in the church. If we apply it to prophecy to nations we will get a limited view. To understand the role, we need to learn from the OT prophets, but do it with careful discernment.

Nations and their leaders have a strong tendency to turn away from God, so they often need warning and correction. Christians living within them need a clear trumpet sound, so they know what they should do.

If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound,
who will prepare for battle? (1 Cor 15:8).
If a Christian prophet is called to bring prophecies to their nation, they must make a transition to the different level of operation. They must not bring spiritual warm fuzzies when the nation really needs a clear trumpet call. They should be answering the following questions.
  • What is going on in this nation?
  • What are the spiritual powers of evil planning to do?
  • Has the season changed?
  • What are the signs of a turning point?
  • What do the people of the nation or its leaders need to do to turn things around?
  • What is God doing in the nation?
  • What do the people of God need to do, to be a part of what the Lord is doing?
A calling to speak to the nation will be rare. Most prophets will function as an elder in a Church and only a few will become a Prophet to the Nation. We should not confuse these two roles. Most prophetic people will never get beyond the ordinary role of elder in their Church. Those with a ministry in a Church should not presume to be a Jeremiah or an Amos. God will need to much work in their lives, before they are ready for this difficult task.

Friday, August 24, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (5) Using the Old Covenant

Dan McCollam notes that some people point out that Jesus prophesied judgments on Jerusalem and its people. However, when he announced the destruction of Jerusalem, he was warning of what would happen to the people who rejected his new covenant chosen to stay under the old.

Dan said that some people say that the same is true for a city or nation that has rejected God. We can pronounce judgment over it, because they have rejected God. However, they have not rejected his covenant, because they did not know about his covenants. They are not the people of the covenant. The people of Jerusalem were the people of the covenant. They chose to reject the new, despite the signs and wonders that Jesus did in their midst.

Jesus judgments are not a model for new covenant prophecy. They are what is the finality of old covenant prophecy looked like. They do not apply to a pre-Christian person, city or nation.

Dan says that we cannot use the standards of the old covenant when prophesying to modern people who have not accepted the gospel. They never signed up to the old covenant with God, so we cannot judge them for failing to comply with it.

I agree with this, but I think we need to be careful about saying that Jesus is not the model for new covenant prophecy. He must be the model for new covenant prophets. He announced a judgment on Jerusalem, but did it with tears (Matt 23:27-39). He said that he would much rather draw the people to himself for protection, but knew that they would not accept that option.

Modern prophets should follow Jesus example and use the old covenant when prophesying to the Jewish people, especially those in Israel. The people of Israel have chosen to live under the old covenant and are claiming the privileges and blessing of the old covenant while failing to comply with the standards of God’s covenant.

Most modern prophets seem to be cheerleaders for the Israeli nation. Their standard for assessing Israel seems to come from the textbooks of military and political power, not the old covenant. This failure to challenge Israel for failing to comply with their covenant with God is limiting the power of the gospel. It is holding back the time when all Israel comes to faith, which is the key to blessing the world (Rom 11:12,26).

More at Prophetic Voice.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (4) Prophesying Disaster

Dan McCollam is concerned that prophets on the internet are prophesying tsunamis, fires, storms and other types of destruction and associating them with the judgment of God. They often feel validated when their prophecies of destruction come true and loss of life and destruction occur.

I agree with him. We should be validated by our Christlikeness. We should glory in nothing but the cross of Jesus. The pain and death of suffering people should not make us glad. Jesus came into the world so people would not perish (John 3:16).

A prophet can receive three types of vision for the future of a nation.

  • Some visions show what the people deserve. They show what the justice of God demands. Eg Amos 7:1.

  • The Holy Spirit sometimes shows his people what the spiritual powers of evil want to do. When people turn away from God, they give them authority to fulfil his plans. The devil is a destroyer, so these visions are often destructive. Spiritual people who are not Christians may also receive these visions, but from a different source.

  • Some visions show what God is going to do to turn his people back to him, as his justice is tempered by his mercy. The purpose of these events is restoring and purifying (Amos 7:7-9).

Notes
  • The first two types may be the same. Satan demands the right to execute the judgements that justice requires.

  • The first type of visions should be prayed against. The mercy of God should be claimed. (Jer 18:20; Jer 14:21; Dan 9:4-19; Ps 106:23).

  • The first type should not be proclaimed as if it were God's will, as this would give the devil permission to do it. If it is announced, it should be conditional. "This is what will happen, if you keep on the way that you are going".

  • The second type should be prayed against. We resist the enemy by disagreeing with his words and visions and declaring. "That is not God's will" (Eph 6:10-18).

  • The second type of vision should not be proclaimed as this would give glory to Satan. If Christians agree with this vision, it gives him authority to implement his plans, even if they are contrary to God's will.

  • The third type of vision should be prayed into being. It might still be scary, but because its purpose it mercy, it is right to pray for it. It is part of God's plans for restoration. When we declare these visions, it gives God's authority to do his will on earth.

  • A prophet who always looks to wrath is imitating Satan. A true prophet must centre on God's mercy.

  • When a vision is received, we must pray to find what type of vision it is. We must get God's perspective, before we proclaim the vision.

More at Watchmen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (3) Violent Prophets

During his talk at the School of Prophets, Dan McCollam describes some of the prophets he worked with when he first began to follow Jesus. It seems that there was a cohort of prophets at that time who would go into public places, expose the sins of the people they encountered, and prophesy judgments over them. They would use their prophetic gift to reveal people’s sin and tell them that they were going to hell as a way of getting them to accept the gospel. They would scare people to come to Jesus.

I understand that this type of behaviour needs to be left behind. Hearing Dan’s stories helped me understand why he and Kris Vallotton are so insistent that new covenant prophecy must be different. It helps me understand where their urgency about this comes from. However, when we discover that something we were close to was wrong, we need to be careful that we do not overreact, and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I wonder if the problem is more a lack of understanding of the gospel than the consequence of following an old covenant prophetic style. We need to understand the old covenant prophets were sometimes wrong in the way they behaved. This was not surprising, given that they did not have a revelation of Jesus that we have. No one should blindly follow the example of the Old Testament prophets, without testing their actions against the standard of Jesus.

As far as I know, we did not have this type of prophecy in New Zealand, so I have not seen this kind of behaviour. The worst that we had was evangelists who could persuade anyone who drew near that they had broken at least one of the ten commandments. They would tell them they are going to hell, because they have broken God’s commands. This type of evangelism needs to be left behind too. We should not be scaring people into the Kingdom of God. Our gospel must be good news, not bad news. Our preaching must not convey God as being harsh or cruel. Prophetic Evangelism should stir up the receiver's heart by revealing God's love for them.

With regard to people following Jesus, correction should come from pastoral people, if needed. Only in rare cases will a jolt from a prophetic word be needed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (2) Validation?

We must not validate the violence and cruelty of the Old Testament prophets. If we do, we create a problem with introducing people to God. Modern people react negatively to the cruel and violent God that they believe that they find in the Old Testament. They are unwilling to trust and follow a God that behaves that way. The only way to deal with that problem is to review the Old Testament in the light of the new covenant.

A revelation of Jesus changes our understanding of God and how he works. Looking back, we can see that the people of Old Testament times, including the prophets, misunderstood the nature and character of God. They blamed stuff done by the spiritual powers of evil onto God and caused the people to believe that God is harsh and cruel. They also failed to understand the extent of his love.

The Old Testament prophets had a limited understanding of God. They often used the power that God had entrusted to them in ways that did not reflect a true revelation of his character. Jesus rebuked James and John for wanting to call down fire on villages that opposed him. He explained that this is not God’s way. He does not use violence to enforce his word.

The Old Testament prophets often got things wrong. When Elisha stirred up bears to kill the youths that mocked him, he was not being led by the Spirit (1 Kings 2:23-24). God honoured his gift, but that does not make Elisha’s behaviour right. The incident confirms the power of a curse spoken by a prophet, but it does not reveal God’s ways. Samuel often got things wrong too. For example, when he murdered an enemy king, he was not doing God’s will (1 Sam 15:33). I have written about this more in God and Violence.

God does not approve of all the actions of the Old Testament prophets, so we must not do that either. They did not comply with the standard of the Torah, which was to love your neighbour.

Love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord (Lev 19:18).
Therefore, it is not enough to say that their behaviour was appropriate for the old covenant, but is not appropriate now. Some of their behaviour was never appropriate. We must review the behaviour of the OT prophets in the light of our revelation of Jesus and acknowledge their failings. Once we do that, we will not need to defend all their behaviour, but can sift the good from the bad, understanding that they did not have that benefit of the revelation of Jesus that we have received.

The only difference is that they did not have the spiritual protection that we have through the blood of Jesus. The only way they had to protect themselves from people carrying evil spirits was to exclude them from their communities. They needed to push them out of their communities by force to be safe from spiritual attack. This meant they sometimes needed to be ruthless in excluding people who could carry evil spirits into their community. Their violence was sometimes essential for their spiritual protection, but we do not need to behave in that way, because we are protected by the cross of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament prophets did not have the revelation of Jesus that we have. They did not have the fullness of the Holy Spirit poured out that we have. Therefore, we should not be surprised that they got it wrong. Rather we should look at them with sympathy, and attempt to build on what they achieved. We should not model our behaviour on their behaviour, but learn from their example to become more like Jesus.

The Old Testament prophets had a thankless task. Their role was to watch over the covenant between God and Israel. Israel broke the covenant over and over again, so the prophets seemed to be full of doom and gloom. Israel did not have the fulness of the Spirit, so it was mostly in disobedience. The prophets spent most of their time warning of the consequence of this disobedience. They could not be nice, because the prognosis for Israel was usually nasty. Jeremiah hated his role, because he constantly had to nag the people of God (Jer 9:1-2).

In New Testament times, the church is the people of the new covenant. The prophetic role of watching over the covenant continues, but their focus shifts. Watching over the church and warning if it breaks the covenant of Jesus is not a doom and gloom ministry. The victory of the cross and the spirit means that the church mostly walks in blessing. However, there will be times when a church leaves God's path and needs to be challenged by a prophet. John's letters to the seven churches are examples of a prophetic challenge to a church that has lost the plot.

Monday, August 20, 2018

New Covenant Prophecy (1)

Living in New Zealand, I have never been to the Bethel School of Prophets, so it was interesting to listen to a video of Dan McCollam speaking at it. His focus was on new covenant prophecy.

I really like what he had to say. He spoke about four big transitions that God is bringing about.

  1. Transition from demonstrators to equippers

    We are experiencing the greatest prophetic move in history. More people are prophesying now than at any time in history. It is not just a fad, but part of the dream of God being fulfilled on earth in this time.

    I agree with this sentiment. We have an abundance of prophecy, but judging from the prophetic bulletins and lists, we also have an abundance of prophetic mush. We also need to see a refining of prophecy. I would prefer less quantity and greater quality (1 Cor 14:24-25) I am sure that Dan would agree with that.

  2. Transition from old covenant (judgment-based) to new covenant (reconciliation-based) prophecy.

    There must be a transition from exposing sin and announcing judgment to reconciliation and restoration. Our focus is not to create a greater sin-consciousness on earth, but to create a greater God-consciousness on earth. Our goal is not to point out what is wrong with the earth, but to fix what is wrong on the earth through the answer of the Lord Jesus Christ and the treasures of wisdom that are hidden for such a time as this. We need prophets that are firmly established in the new covenant prophetic purpose and protocols.

    New covenant prophecy is an impartation of courage, strength and comfort to take hold of earth-shaking destinies… so that people have the courage and strength and comfort to transform the world with kingdom realities. Releasing the grace that transforms the earth. We have a message of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19) so our ministry must be a ministry of reconciliation.

    God died so he could write a new covenant. He made that covenant with his son, so we could not mess it up. Jesus invites us into the covenant he has with the father.

    We must explore the glories of the new covenant. If we are going to see the manifestation of his glory in this realm, we must be fully committed to the new covenant pattern. We must not bring some of the old over with it.

    I agree with the desired outcome, but disagree with the basis for it. I will explain this in my next few posts.

  3. Transition from consumer to contributor

    Gods dream for the prophetic is not just to give us words for each other, but to confirm our access to the heart and mind of Christ. We can use this access to find treasures of wisdom and knowledge to release and manifest the Kingdom of God (Col 2:2-3). Wisdom is being revealed by prophetic innovation.

    We can only get God’s wisdom in a body. Each person gets a bit. We must be the generation that gets it together to receive everything God has for us.

    Our assignment is not going to heaven, it is bringing heaven to earth. The question is not how often we go to heaven, but what we are bringing from heaven to earth. We have a wonderful opportunity to change what the prophetic looks like on in earth in this generation.

  4. Transition from prophetic celebrities to raising prophetic communities

    It is not enough to train good prophets, we must build prophetic communities. Our call is to re-establish the company of the prophets and the culture of the prophetic.

    We have a wonderful opportunity. We must change what the prophetic looks like on the earth. In this generation, we must rewrite the DNA of the prophetic. What we pass on will be greater than what we have received. If we join together, we will rise together.

We live under the new covenant, so I agree with Dan McCollam that we need new covenant prophecy, but we must think a bit more about what that means. I will do that in my next few posts.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Community 101

Willow Creek Church has been in the news. I don’t know much about it, except that some years ago, Bill Hybels came to Christchurch in New Zealand. I was not really interested in his ministry model, but my Dad asked me to go with him. He was only going because his pastor said he should go.

I don’t remember much of Bill’s teaching, but at the book table I picked up a book by Gilbert Bilezikian called Community 101. I had not heard of him, but the book says that he was one of the founders of Willow Creek Church.This was topic that I was interested in, so I grabbed a copy and later read it.

The book has some good theological teaching on the nature of Christian community. I found it helpful, but I thought there was too much hierarchy in some of the teachings on ministry.

In the final pages of the book, Gilbert tells a story that he says illustrates the nature of community at Willow Creek. A woman told him the story of her plight.

A year and a half ago, my husband left me without warning and ran away with a woman he knew from work. He took the car and left us with two months’ rent due on the apartment. The telephone had already been cut off. There was no money and almost no food. I was alone with two mall kids.

I went through a very hard time. I could not call anyone or go anywhere. I had never been on welfare before. I didn’t even know who to talk to. Our neighbours went to work every day. The three of us sat alone in that empty building, crying all the time. Soon, we became hungry. The children were asking for food. I became sad and could do nothing. All that came in the mail was bill and letters from lawyers asking for money. It dawned on me one day that we might die. I was only hoping that the three of us would die at the same time.

One evening I had an idea. I waited for the building to become quiet and, in the middle of the night, I went out to the garbage bins. I learned to move my neighbour’s garbage from one bin to another and gather leftovers that we could eat. But I felt depressed and wanted to die.

Then a miracle happened. One evening the buzzer rang. When I opened the door, an angel of the Lord was standing there. She came in, saw my predicament, and left. That same evening, some people came in and bought a beautiful hot meal. A man and his son brought bags of groceries and children’s clothes. They said it was all from the church’s food pantry. Two people came with a stack of twenty-dollar bills and said the money was ours. I could not believe my eyes for they were complete strangers.

The next day, the rent was paid and the phone reconnected. Two ladies came in and put a set of keys on the table, and said there was a car parked outside that was provided by the car ministry of the church and it was mine (Community 101, p185).

Gilbert explained how the help came.
I learned that the angel was none other than the Sunday School teacher of one of the children. She had noticed the child’s absence and had tried to reach the family over the phone. Upon learning that the phone had been disconnected, she assumed that they moved away and removed the card from the file. She had established the habit of praying through the roster of children periodically. Each time she came to the name of this child, she felt a strange unrest within her. Although the toddler and his family were out of her life, she could not bring the matter to closure. She tried to call again but without results. Finally, she got up one morning pulled out the family’s address, located it on a map and in the evening after work, drove over, just in case (Community 101, p186).
Gilbert describes the incident as a “real-life account that will illustrate the values and working of a biblically functioning community”. This is a powerful story, but it left me disappointed. I wrote in the margin of my copy of the book.
This is not community. He husband left her in distress and no one in the church knew. She was discovered by someone that she did not know. It was an efficient social welfare system, not a community.
If the woman had been part of a strong community, they would have known that her husband had left. She would have been able to tell friends about her debts and lack of food. If she had been part of a strong community, her friends in the community who loved here would have provided help.

In this story, the Sunday School teacher is the hero. She initially just followed the process, but then listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and acted. The woman that she helped was not part of her community. The help when it came was effective and generous, but it was delivered by a welfare program, not by a community of friends.

Jesus set a higher standard for assessing the quality of a community. He called his followers to love one another as he loved us. That is the kind of community that he wants to build. When his people love one another, broken people will not slip through the cracks.

Friday, August 17, 2018

True Tabernacle

The tabernacle built by Moses was a copy of the real tabernacle established in the spiritual realms.

Jesus sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being (Heb 8:1-2).
The true tabernacle was set up by the Lord in the heavenly places at the right hand of God. Moses tabernacle was a copy. It was a,
copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Heb 8:5).
When he was on the mountain, Moses was given a vision of the spiritual tabernacle. God required him to build a tabernacle on earth according to the pattern shown to him.

Jesus ministry made a tabernacle or temple on earth unnecessary. He entered the true tabernacle which is in the heavenly realm at the right hand of God.

He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. (Heb 9:11).
The true tabernacle already existed in the heavenly realms.
Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself (Heb 9:24-26).
Jesus’ perfect sacrifice dealt with all the problems that arose as a consequence of human sin.
  • When he entered the heavenly tabernacle he had already obtained eternal redemption by his blood.

    He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption (Heb 9:12).
    He had already paid the ransom to set us free from the spiritual powers of evil.

  • His blood cleansed our consciences.

    How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we can serve the living God (Heb 9:14).
    The blood of Jesus offered in the heavenly tabernacle cleansed our consciences. This enables us to move from dead works to serving and worshipping the living God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

God's Economy

A carton of my latest book has now just arrived in New Zealand. Readers living in New Zealand can purchase the book for $NZ12.00 including postage from Kingwatch Books. Go to the following link and choose the option for New Zealand customers.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Trade Wars

Donald Trump thinks like a businessman, when it comes to trade. One wins at the expense of another. This struggle between direct competitors is real. If another hotel chain lures away some regular patrons of Trump Hotel by undercutting the room rate, Trump Hotel loses. The other hotel chains win. If one building contractor undercuts another to get the contract to build Trump Towers, the former wins and the latter loses.

However, most trade does not work like that. Most other businesses are not direct competitors, but are suppliers and customers of each other. Trade between businesses that are suppliers and customers of each other benefit the entire community (while the few that are direct competitors win and lose against each other).

Donald Trump seems to take his win-lose business experience over into international trade. He assumes that if China has benefited, the US must have suffered. Consequently, he assumes that if he can make China lose, America will win again. This flawed thinking.

International trade is not a zero-sum game. All nations can benefit from an expansion of trade. When trade expands, a few suffer, but most people get richer. Expanded trade means bigger markets with more competition, with more specialisation, more choices, gains from scale, more innovation and more investment.

Businesses in different nations are good at doing different things. Nations have different resources, knowledge and skills. Trade between nations usually makes people better off.

It is true that the people of China who have moved from rural areas to work in manufacturing have benefited hugely from more open trade. However, many American businesses have made immense profits by getting their manufacturing done in China. People employed in dying American industries have suffered, but most Americans have benefited by being able to buy cheap consumer goods imported from China (phones and televisions) that they could not afford if they had to be manufactured in the United States.

Donald Trump assumes that America can win a trade war. Unfortunately, no nation wins a trade war. The problem is that all nations export and import. One nation’s imports are another nation’s imports. If a nation’s exports are reduced by trade sanctions, its capacity to import is goods and services is also constrained. This means that any change that limits a nation's exports also limits its ability to pay for the exports of other nations. Some smaller nations may be affected worse than others.

The American companies that are protected from competition by tariffs on imports will benefit. Those that have invested in manufacturing capacity overseas might lose. Many Americans will be worse off because they have to buy more than they consume.

Donald Trump believes that the US can win a trade war. That is mistaken. Everyone nation loses in a trade war. The best that Trump can hope for is to suffer less than other nations. Given that the US is a large market and depends on exports less than most nations, that could be the result.

But the fly in the ointment is that the US is running a massive budget deficit. In the past,, it has been able to fund this deficit by borrowing (selling treasury bills) from trading nations that needed US dollars for reserves. Most this funding from nations that Trump is fighting the trade war against. If a trade war goes too far, this source of cheap funding might disappear, with serious consequences. The US might lose more in a trade war than it expects./p>

The leaders of the EU, US, China and Canada are incredibly stubborn. I do not see any of them backing down. They are more likely to up the ante and get into a tit for tat struggle by the raising tariffs and imposing financial penalties. Each one hoping that one more hit will win if for them. This is what I call a trade war./p>

In a world that has not recovered from the GFC, but just papered over the cracks, that would be high risk. The US would be hurt the least, but it would be painful for the world.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Big Picture - My Books

My book called God’s Economy is the last in a series of five books that all fit together to tell God’s plan for his people and his earth.

Being Church Where We Live explains how a group of people who have chosen to follow Jesus can support each other in a neighbourhood church by giving and sharing. By living close together, they will establish a place where the authority of Jesus is acknowledged and the spiritual powers of evil are squeezed out.

Each neighbourhood church will be led by a team of elders with complementary and balanced giftings: one will be prophetic, at least one will be an evangelist and several will have a shepherd gifting. They will be bound together by love and submitted to each other for spiritual protection. They will watch over those who have chosen to follow Jesus.

Neighbourhood churches grow and multiply by sending apostles into a new neighbourhood to establish a new community. These communities of love are the essential foundation that makes possible everything described in subsequent books.

Kingdom Authority describes God’s plan for getting back the authority lost to the spiritual powers of evil and establishing his Kingdom on earth. Human politics are an obstacle to the Kingdom of God because they use Imposed Authority which empowers the powers of evil. Government-spirits have leveraged their feeble power by controlling political and military authorities. In contrast, God refuses to impose his authority on earth using force and coercion. He rejects all forms of political and military power. Instead, he calls people to serve him and freely submit to his will because they love Jesus. This is Free Authority.

Times and Seasons describes how human governments seize more and more power to deal with the economic and social crises that their mistakes have created. They will collapse under the weight of their pride and hubris, which will provide an opportunity for God’s people who are prepared. During a season of distress, they will work with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel and bring in the Kingdom of God.

Government of God explains the perfect system of government that God gave through Moses when he was leading the children of Israel into the promised land. This alternative system of justice, welfare and defence relies on Free Authority. It does not need the coercion and force of Imposed Authority. The book describes how God’s people can prepare for the collapse of
human government by applying these principles within Kingdom Communities.

A neighbourhood church becomes a Kingdom Community by providing everyone living in their neighbourhood with the services that governments promise, but fail to deliver. They will provide social support, justice and protection for everyone in their neighbourhood, regardless of whether they have chosen to follow Jesus. When people submit to the wisdom of the elders of a Kingdom Community to obtain these benefits, they are part of the Kingdom of God even though they have not chosen to follow Jesus.

The Kingdom of God is the goal of everything, but there are no kingdoms left on earth, so the word “kingdom” is not very helpful to modern people. The best way to understand the nature of a kingdom is to think of it as a “government”, so I often refer to it as the “Government of God” to make its role and nature clear. This explains the title of this book.

God’s Economy is the final book in this series. Everything on earth belongs to God, so all our economic activity is part of his economy, whether we acknowledge him or not. This book describes the Instructions for Economic Life that God gave through Moses. Jesus confirmed this guidance and adapted it for people who are loving one another in a Kingdom Community.

All economic and business activity is part of God’s Economy. Applying the Instructions for Economic Life will completely transform our economic behaviour and business activity.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Good Question


I grew up on a farm, so I left school early to work in farming. After a couple of years, I realised that I did not have the strength and stamina that farming needs, so I decided to go to university. While working with sheep and driving the tractor, I had plenty of time to think about the poverty and suffering that were rampant throughout the world. The problems seemed to be economic and political, so I enrolled to study economics and politics.

After four years of study, I realised that I was digging a dry well. The assumptions that economists have to make to ensure their models work are so unrealistic that their theories are irrelevant to the real world. It seemed that during the first three years of economics, they told you all the solutions, but in the fourth year, they explained why they would not work. (I noted that my fellow students who went into politics, often only did the three-year course, so they went out boldly assuming they had effective policies).

While growing up, our family had gone to church every Sunday, but for me, it was just a habit. When I reached university and encountered modern philosophy, I gave up my religious habit. However, just when I became disillusioned with economics, I heard the gospel of Jesus clearly for the first time. I surrendered to him and committed to living by his word and Spirit.

A few months later, I had an exam for a post-graduate course on comparative economics. The lecturer was a staunch Marxist. Full of my new-found faith, I wrote in my paper that Marx has no solution to human problems and that Jesus is the answer. I gave a similar response in a paper on macroeconomics.

Surprisingly, I passed the course with first class honours. However, at the beginning of the following year, one of my professors asked to meet with me. He disclosed that he was an atheist, but acknowledged that my faith seemed to be genuine. He told me that it was not enough to say that Jesus is the answer. I needed to explain how he could be a solution to the problems that concerned me. He concluded with a telling question: “What would the economy and society look like if everyone was a Christian”.

I could not answer his question, but I knew that I had to find the answer to it. I did not know enough about God, or his solutions to economic problems, but I made it my goal to find out.

I went to seminary for three years and studied theology and New Testament Greek. Later I studied Hebrew for two years to get a better understanding of the Old Testament. While employed as an economist, I read every book and article that I could find that is relevant to economics and the gospel. Forty years later I believe I am ready to provide an answer.

My new book God's Economy describes the changes to economic activity that will occur as the Government of God comes to fullness. It seeks to answer the following question: “What would an economy look like if most people chose to follow Jesus and the Holy Spirit was able to establish the Government of God?”. This is the question my economics teacher asked me back in 1975.

Monday, August 06, 2018

God's Economy

My latest book God’s Economy is now available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle versions. (A paperback version will be available for sale to NZ readers later in the month.)

I have attempted to write a book on economics that ordinary people can understand. Anyone who thinks about economic issues will gain useful and challenging insights for living out their daily life in obedience to Jesus.

The book also provides wisdom for God’s people who want to be prepared for the collapse of the global economy, should that occur.

At the same time, I have written about the issues that concern economists. The book deals with poverty, debt, trade, economic development, money, banking. By drawing on the wisdom of God, I have some fresh insights on these issues.

And of course, Gods Economy all about the Kingdom of God.


Saturday, August 04, 2018

Outside the City

Jesus prophesied that he would be handed over the Gentiles and killed (Luke 18:32). If he had to die to satisfy God’s anger, he would have been arrested and killed by the priests on the altar in the temple in Jerusalem. That did not happen, because God did not need to be appeased.

Jesus was handed over to the Gentiles and killed outside Jerusalem, where the spiritual powers of evil were in control, because they were the ones that demanded his death. They needed to be propitiated, because humans had given them authority on earth and they demanded death and blood to be satisfied.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Salvation in Jesus

In Romans 3:24-25, Paul summarises the achievements of Jesus’ death on the cross. There four main points.

  • Declaring those who trust in him to be righteous. This is a gift.
  • Redemption that is in Jesus the anointed (setting us free from the bondage of the spiritual powers of evil).
  • God set forth Jesus as a propitiation (not for himself, but for the spiritual powers of evil who demanded death and blood for sin).
  • In forbearance, God passed over sins previously committed (passed over, not punished).
God did these things to demonstrate his righteousness. He was generous and forgiving.

In contrast, the powers of evil were cruel and unforgiving.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

God's Economy

My latest book is nearly complete. I have some final corrections to make and it will be ready for publication.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Sacrifice (9) Moses and David

Moses and David were able to go close to the covenant box and hear God speak.

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as to a friend.

The LORD would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend (Ex 33:11).
This happened before any sacrifices had been offered.

David was able to draw near to the covenant box once it had been placed in a tent in Jerusalem (Ps 84:1; Ps 15:1).

Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool.
Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place,
You and the box of your strength (Ps 132:7-8).
David was able to be close to the covenant box, even though no sacrifices had been offered. How was this possible.

David answers this question in a couple of his Psalms. He explained that God did not really need the sacrifices.

You do not delight in sacrifice and offering;
you open my ears to listen.
You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering…
I delight to do your will, my God,
and your law is within my heart (Ps 40:6-8).
God does not delight in sacrifices. He looks for the person who delights to do his will.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise (Ps 51:17).
A broken and contrite heart is more pleasing to God than sacrifices.

Moses had a broken spirit. He had grown up in the palace of Pharaoh and was educated to be a leader. His mother and sister had taught him that he was put in a privileged place so he could rescue his people. His dreams collapsed when he killed a man, and the people threatened to report him. He fled to another land and spent forty years watching the sheep of his father-in-law. Moses thought he was someone special, but his spirit was broken as his talents were wasted on ungrateful sheep. When God came to the burning bush, Moses was able to draw near, because the had a humble and contrite heart. He was not harmed in the presence of God.

This continued in the wilderness. Moses was able to continue meeting with God in the tabernacle of meeting.

As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses (Ex 33:9).
This was possible because Moses remained humble.
Moses was a very humble man, more so than anyone on the face of the earth (Num 12:3).
A humble heart does not need sacrifice.

As a young man, David had an amazing trust in God. He had been put down by the harsh treatment of his older brothers. He became overconfident when bringing the covenant box to Jerusalem and did not follow God’s instruction for moving it (1 Chron 15:13). As a consequence, Uzzah was killed by Wrath. A man died, but David humbled himself and got an answer from God. He took responsibility and admitted that he had was the cause of the accident.

David made many mistakes during his life, but he knew that God was merciful. He relied on God’s mercy because he knew that he needed it.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin (Ps 51:1-2).
God’s mercy can cleanse a humble heart.

Moses and David were men with humble and contrite hearts. Both were broken by their failings, but they had discovered the mercy of God. They received the forgiveness of God. Because they were forgiven, they also gained spiritual protection. The spirit of Wrath was not able to attack them. They were safe in the presence of God at the entrance of his Tabernacle because their spirits were broken and they had discovered God’s mercy. God’s mercy is the safest place in the world.

God does not need sacrifices. He is able to forgive those who are humble and contrite

  • Sacrifices were needed to satisfy the demands of the Accuser and the other spiritual powers of evil. They demanded blood for sin, so the sacrifices silenced their accusations and condemnation.
  • Sacrifices were necessary for human guilt. Guilt causes shame, which makes it is impossible for us to relate to god. We cannot hear God speak when we are weighed down with guilt and shame.
Moses and David had experienced God’s mercy.
  • God’s mercy wiped away their guilt and shame. This allowed them to stand in his presence and hear him speak.
  • God’s mercy silenced the accuser, so the spirit of Wrath could not attack them. Their spiritual protection was strong.
The rest of their people were not broken in the same way, so they did not understand the depth of God’s mercy. They continued to be afraid of him.
  • The people had to rely on sacrifices to deal with their guilt. Even then, they were mostly afraid to go into his presence, and they rarely heard him speak.
  • The people had to rely on sacrifices for spiritual protection.

This full series can be found at Kingdom Watcher.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Sacrifice (8) Dangerous Place

The spirit called Wrath made tabernacle of God a dangerous place to be.

The Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the testimony, so that there will be no Wrath on the Israelite community. So the Levites shall keep charge of the tabernacle of the testimony (Num 1:53).
God dwelt in the Holy of Holies because the Covenant with Moses gave him the right to be there.

The spiritual powers of evil hated this intrusion because they thought the earth belonged to them. They didn’t want the children of Israel being close to God, so they gathered there and did their best to harm those who went near. These evil powers were led by a spirit called Wrath.
God had put spiritual protection in place for the Priests and Levites, by specific sacrifices and keeping them away from activities that could open them up to spiritual attack. They camped around the tabernacle, because they were the only ones who were safe in this dangerous place. They put up their standards to mark the safe area (Num 1:52).

The time when the tabernacle was being packed up was a dangerous time because the boundaries and safe places were less clear.

Whenever the tabernacle is to move, the Levites are to take it down, and whenever the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall do it. Anyone else who approaches it is put to death (Num 1:51).
It is usually assumed that God would put them to death, but that is wrong. Wrath and his evil angels would put people to death, if they got caught in the wrong place.

When Samuel was a boy, the Philistines captured the covenant box, but they experienced terrible sickness. People in the vicinity came out with awful tumours (1 Sam 5:1-10). They had been attacked by the Spirit of Wrath, so the sent the covenant box back to Israel. At Beth Shemesh some men looked into the covenant box, but many were killed.

Then he struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the covenant box of the Lord (1 Sam 6:19).
They thought it was God, but they were most likely struck down by the spirit called Wrath. This spirit hated people drawing near to God’s presence.

When David was taking the covenant box back to Jerusalem, he forgot to involve the Levites. Uzzah touched the covenant box, when the oxen stumbled, and he died beside it. Most English translations imply that God struck him down, but that is misleading. The Hebrew text says that Wrath of God struck him, because he was careless with the things of God. David had failed to follow the instructions that God had given Moses, so the powers of evil got at one of his men.

The spiritual powers of evil hated the covenant box, because it was the place where God met with his people. They wanted to make the people fear it and be unwilling to meet with God.

This raises an interesting question. If the covenant box was so dangerous, how were Moses and David able to draw near to it without being harmed. I will answer that question in my next post.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Sacrifice (7) Davids Tabernacle

During the time of Samuel, the Philistines conquered Israel and stole the covenant box and took it to Ekron, because they thought that it was a god. However, tumours broke out amongst them, so they wanted to get rid of it (1 Sam 5). They place it on a wagon and hitched up two cows that had just calved (1 Sam 6). The carried it to Beth Shemesh in Israel. Later it was taken Kiriath Jearim, a town in Judah where Caleb had settled. It remained there for twenty years (1 Sam 7:1-2).

When David became King, he brought the covenant box to Jerusalem and placed it in a tent there.

They brought the covenant box of God and placed it inside the tent David had pitched for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings in God’s presence (1 Chron 16:1).
The tabernacle of the Lord remained at Gibeon, where it had been since the victories of Joshua.
David left Asaph and his associates before the covenant box of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements...
David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon (1 Chron 16:37-39).
God does not seem to have told David to take this action, but he split the tabernacle role. The covenant box was in Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies and the altars remained in Gibeon.

The reason for this is given in Chronicles. David had sinned by counting his “fighting men”. He was given a choice of judgment and had chosen a plague. When it struck, he realised that he deserved the judgment, not the people, and pleaded with God to stop it. David saw an angel with a sword standing over Jerusalem. When the angel sheathed his sword, David knew that God had heard his prayer.

The tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time on the high place at Gibeon. But David could not go before it to inquire of God, because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the LORD (1 Chron 21:29-30).
It seems that David kept the tabernacle of the Lord in Gibeon, because he was afraid of the angel of judgment..

Interestingly, God continue to meet with people in the Tent of the Meeting at Gibeon.

Now David had brought up the covenant box of God from Kiriath Jearim to the place he had prepared for it, because he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem. But the bronze altar that Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made was in Gibeon in front of the tabernacle of the LORD; so Solomon and the assembly inquired of him there. Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the LORD in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it. That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you (2 Chron 1:4-7).
The bronze altar was still at Gibeon. Solomon went there when he became king and God spoke to him about his role. Solomon chose the gift of wisdom. It seems that God still wanted to meet with people in the Tent of the Meeting.

I wonder if David got it wrong. He had a marvellous relationship with God and loved to worship, but towards the end of his life, things turned sour. God never told him to build a temple, because he was happy living in a tent, but David decided to do it anyway. The temple was built in a way that supported worship and the offering of sacrifices. It was not specifically designed to make it easy to meet with God and hear him speak.

Before:

the tabernacle of Moses was designed for meeting with God. Offering sacrifices was a secondary purpose.

After:

The Jerusalem temple was designed for offering sacrifices. Meeting with God became less practical.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sacrifice (6) Tent of Meeting

After God had given Moses the law, he told him how to set up the tabernacle that he required (Ex 25-30). While the tabernacle and the furniture were being made, Moses set up a tent outside the camp.

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “Tent of Meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp (Ex 33:7).
This tent was outside the camp, because the people could not cope with God’s presence amongst them.

When Moses went into the tent, the cloud came down and stayed outside the entrance to the tent.

As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses (Ex 33:9).
The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as to a friend.
The LORD would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend (Ex 33:11).
No sacrifices had been offered yet, but Moses had escaped from the guilt that prevents people from hearing God, through his faith in him.

God was happy to come to Moses and speak with him, even though no sacrifice had been made for sin. God was able to receive him, because he trusted him. This is grace.

Once the tabernacle had been established and the sacrifices became operational, the situation changed. God called it the Tent of Meeting.

The LORD spoke to Moses: You are to set up the tabernacle, the tent of meeting” (Ex 40:1).
This is important. We think of the Tabernacle as a place where humans offered sacrifices to appease God. That is wrong. It was a Tent of Meeting where God met with his people.

When the Tabernacle was completed, the glory of God filled the Tent so strongly that Moses could not enter.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35).
God still met with Moses, and Moses still heard God speak, so I presume that he waited at the entrance to hear God speak.

Before:

Moses was in the tent and God stood at the entrance. The Tent of Meeting was Moses’ home.

After:

God was in the tent and Moses stood at the entrance. The Tent of Meeting was God’s home.

The difference was that God had made his home among his people. He continued to speak to Moses face to face, as he had done before the Tabernacle was established (Num 12:8).

The Tent of the Meeting was not set up to appease God. It was a place where God made his home, so he could be with his people.