Wednesday, August 21, 2019

God and Blood (10) Conclusion

God is gracious, loving and kind. He does not require the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins. He forgives freely. A clear confirmation is given in Eph 5:2.

Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Paul confirms that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to God. But it was not a blood sacrifice, equivalent to what was offered on the bronze altar outside the Tent of Meeting. Those blood sacrifices were to satisfy the spiritual powers of evil. Blood is demanded by the spiritual powers of evil. They love inflicting pain and death on humans, so they demand the shedding of blood whenever they can.

Jesus sacrifice to God was a sweet-smelling aroma. It is the equivalent of the incense offered on the golden altar inside the Tent of Meeting, which symbolised loving obedience. Jesus obeyed his father without complaining, because they loved him. Loving obedience was the sweet-smelling aroma that Jesus offered to his father on our behalf. God does not demand out blood. All he wants is our allegiance.

Our loving obedience is also a sweet-smelling aroma that pleases God (Rom 12:1).

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

God and Blood (9) Hebrews

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

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

a) 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).
b) He has redeemed us from captivity 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).
2. God forgave our sins 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).

Monday, August 19, 2019

God and Blood (8) Jesus

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

They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented him as a propitiation in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint, God passed over the sins previously committed.
There four main points in this passage.
  • In forbearance, God passed over sins previously committed (passed over, not punished). He did not need bloodshed to be able to forgive.

  • Declaring those who trust in him to be righteous. This is a gift. Being justified by his blood saves us from the accusations of the accuser (Rom 5:9).

  • 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).

God was happy to forgive human’s sin, because he is gracious and kind, and willing to give his people another chance. It was the spiritual powers of evil who demanded blood as a condition for letting the people go free.

God did these things to demonstrate his righteousness. He was generous and forgiving. In contrast, the powers of evil were cruel and unforgiving. They demanded the shedding of human blood.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

God and Blood (7) Tabernacle

The tabernacle was the place where God lived with his people. The purpose of the blood sacrifices was to satisfy the spiritual powers of evil as a confirmation of God’s deal to let them have the death of his son when he came in the future. The blood from the animal sacrifices was a guarantee that God would keep the deal that he had made for the rescue of his people. See Tabernacle.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

God and Blood (6) Passover

At the first Passover, the Israelites were rescued from slavery to Egypt and the spiritual powers of evil and became God’s possession.

  1. They had to be freed from Pharaoh’s power. If they went into the desert to worship God, they would be outside Pharaoh’s domain. They would be shifting their allegiance from him to God. That is why he did not want to let them go, and fought hard to prevent it. In the end, he had to give in to the greater power of God. The children of Israel were delivered from Pharaoh by force.

  2. God also did a deal with the spiritual powers of evil. The people belonged to them too. If God just took the people, he would be stealing what was theirs. This is the reason for the blood. They demanded a ransom of blood. They claimed that the price of a life is blood, and refused to let the people free unless a ransom was paid in blood.

I presume that God offered them the blood of his son as a ransom, with the blood of the lamb as down payment guaranteeing final payment when Jesus would die. The spiritual powers of evil must have accepted the deal and agreed to let the people go. Blood was the ransom price for one man. The blood of a god was the ransom price for all men.

Some of the powers of evil were upset, so they took the lives of the Egyptian children to get the blood that they wanted.

Friday, August 16, 2019

God and Blood (5) Isaac

The spiritual powers of evil tried to trick Abraham into killing his son Isaac. They wanted blood. God did not require it. I have explained this incident at Isaac.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

God and Blood (4) Abraham

Abraham was rescued by God when he changed his allegiance to him. He demonstrated his new allegiance by leaving his family and travelling towards Canaan. Abraham was justified by faith when he obeyed God. No blood was required (Gen 12:1-9).

The incident described in Genesis 15, where Abraham cut animals in half, he was not an offering of blood to God, rather he set them out so that God confirms the covenant by passing through between them. God did not require blood from Abraham. He offered his presence as confirmation of the covenant with Abraham that he had already confirmed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

God and Blood (3) Noah

The standard Christian teaching is that God’s covenant with Noah required the shedding of human blood, but this is misleading. After giving Noah permission to eat the plants and animals that grow on earth, God said that humans should not eat meat with blood in it (Gen 9:4). There were good health reasons for this command, because meat which has not had the blood drained from it will spoil quickly in the heat and go rotten.

Genesis 9:5-6 goes on to speak about the blood of humans. I have given a very literal translation.
The blood of your life

I will require
from the hand of every animal.
I shall require it
from the hand of the human
his brother
I shall require
the life of the human.

The one shedding the blood of a human
His blood shall be shared,
because he made him in the image of God.
These two verses are used to justify the death penalty for murder, but the passage has several problems.

First of all, the word usually translated as “require” is “darash”. Its basic meaning is tread or to frequent, and thus to seek or inquire. Require is not the usual meaning of the world. Most translators assume that inquire or frequent would not make sense, so they use “require” instead. I wonder if the word “inquire” is used because the spiritual powers of evil are inquiring or demanding a right from God.

These verses also stand out because they have a chiliastic format common in Hebrew poetry. Ideas are expressed forward and backwards, using the same words.

These words are not God’s standard. He loves life and does not take lives, unnecessarily. God does not want blood to be shed to pay for a person killed.

  • He established the penalty of community exclusion, not a death penalty. If the excluded person leaves freely, blood will not be shed.

  • God established a process by which the victims family request a ransom from the murderer, instead of excluding. God allowed this, so he did not demand blood.

The last phrase said that he created humans in the image of God implies that God is not speaking.

I believe that these two verses could be the spiritual powers of evil speaking; possibly through Noah perhaps without him realising. They demanded blood for anyone who died. If a person was murdered, they lost a slave. They would demand the payment of the of another slave, even though it made them worse off. This was their warped way of thinking. They love so much they will do anything to get it, even if it harms them. This was not God speaking.

God granted this concession to the spiritual powers of evil, because he had no choice. Humans had placed themselves in their power by disobeying God and submitting to them. Humans had not paid the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded, so he had to concede to their demand, but he did not approve.

Gen 9:5-6 was a concession to the spiritual powers of evil, not a command to humans. It was a statement of the current reality, not a command to implement the death penalty.

The uncertainty about the meaning of these verses means that we should be careful about using them as a basis for a claim that God requires blood from humans who sin. They should not be used as the basis for the death penalty.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

God and Blood (2) Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices to God. Abel offered fat to God (not blood). Cain offered some of the grain he had produced. God looked on Abel’s offering with favour. He was satisfied with fat, because he did not need blood. Cain was jealous of his brother, so he killed him. When God challenged Cain, he said,

What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (Gen 4:10).
This is interesting. Why was the ground crying out for blood? God created the earth and gave it to humans, but humans sinned and surrendered authority over the earth (the ground) to the spiritual powers of evil. So, the voice crying out from the ground was the spiritual powers of evil. They demanded blood in return for Abel’s death.

God did not require blood as a penalty for Cain’s crime. He said,

Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth” (Gen 4:11-12).
God explained that Cain was under a curse. His sin had given the spiritual powers of evil authority to work in his life and bring harm. They had enjoyed the spilling of Abel’s blood. They would enjoy harassing Cain.

God did not require Cain to pay with his blood. He actually put a mark on Cain to protect him. He acted to ensure that Cain’s blood would not be shed. Cain lived a long time and had many children.

Monday, August 12, 2019

God and Blood (1)

Does God desire the shedding of blood for sin? Many Christians believe that he does, but we need to check the scriptures.
According to Psalm 40:6, God does not require sacrifice and burnt offerings.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require (Hos 6:6).
This is blunt. God does not desire blood sacrifices.
The statement is repeated again in the letter of the letter to the Hebrews.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.

Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law (Heb 10:5-10).

Clearly, God does require the shedding of blood for offerings and sacrifices. Yet blood offerings were mandated by the Old Testament law, so what is going on?

God does not require the shedding of blood. Yet the law does. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that the law specified the shedding of blood for cleansing.

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no freedom (Heb 9:22).
This is interesting. The law requires blood, yet God does not require the shedding of blood. If God does not require blood, then someone else must. Who requires the blood shed for the tabernacle sacrifices? And more importantly, who required Jesus blood to be shed on the cross.

The answer to this question is the spiritual powers of evil who tricked Adam and Eve into surrendering their authority over the earth are obsessed with the shedding of blood. Because they are mean and vindictive, the spiritual powers of evil demand the shedding of blood on every occasion. This is why the tabernacle sacrifices involved shedding of blood. That is why Jesus had to shed his blood on the cross. So the centurion put a spear in Jesus side, and his blood flowed. The powers of evil could make these demands, because they had been given authority on earth by humans. Jesus had to shed blood to deliver us from their power.
The spiritual powers of evil are destroyers.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).
They love bloodshed and death.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Nuclear War

The world has forgotten the terrors of nuclear war. In an article called The Myths and the Silence and the Propaganda that keep Nuclear Weapons in Existence, David Swanson provides a good reminder of the dangers.

When the United States dropped those nuclear bombs on Japan, masses of people were in fact vaporized like water on a hot frying pan. They left so-called shadows on the ground that in some cases are still there today. But some didn’t die at once. Some walked or crawled. Some made it to hospitals where others could hear their exposed bones clacking on the floor like high heels. At the hospitals, maggots crawled into their wounds and their noses and ears. The maggots ate the patients alive from the inside out. The dead sounded metallic when thrown into trashcans and trucks, sometimes with their young children crying and moaning for them nearby.

The black rain fell for days, raining death and horror. Those who drank water died instantly. Those who thirsted dared not drink. Those untouched by illness sometimes developed red spots and died so quickly that you could watch the death seep over them. The living lived in terror. The dead were added to mountains of bones now viewed as lovely grass hills from which the smell has finally departed.

Some of those who were able to walk were unable to cease moaning and holding their arms out in front of them with the skin and flesh hanging off.

I cannot think of any political cause that would justify such terrible suffering.

Read the entire article.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Climate Change (5) Nuclear War

As I said in my first post, I consider that nuclear war is a far greater risk to human life on earth than climate change.

People seem to have forgotten that belligerent military personnel in several nations are constantly poised ready to push the nuclear button. A dozen countries have nuclear weapons. If anyone country launched, others are likely to respond quickly.

The United States has recently deliberately moved nuclear weapons into Europe closer to Russian. The problem with this is that it leaves very little time to decide if a radar signal is a genuine attack, or a false alarm. People will be tempted to launch quickly while they can to be on the safe side.

Modern nuclear weapons are far more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima. A nuclear war in which a couple of nations launched a few dozen weapons would have a terrible effect on the world. I am amazed that people see to mostly have stopped protesting against them.

Total war is prohibited by the Bible. Those engaged in war are prohibited from attacking and damaging the land (Deut 20:19-20). The land belongs to God, so it is not to be harmed (Lev 25:23). An attack on the land is an attack on God. The same protection would apply to women and children. Non-combatants should always be protected.

This prohibition makes nuclear war unacceptable. Nuclear weapons would harm the land and non-combatants. The same principle would rule out many modern weapons. Nuclear weapons and neutron bombs do so much damage that there will rarely be a cause that would justify their use.

The greatest danger is declining empires. When an empire is in decline, the risk of an insecure leader doing something stupid rises enormously. The world was lucky to get through the collapse of the Soviet Unction unscathed. We were fortunate that Mikhail Gorbachev was a good man.

The American empire now sees to be collapsing and its leader seem to be becoming more and more dysfunctional. This is a huge risk for the world. The risk that an insecure American President will lash out to preserve his failing empire is a serious risk. The US has such a large arsenal of weapons that this would be a disaster for the world. It also has a love of war that is dangerous.

I fear that more than if fear climate change.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Climate Change (4) God Missing

A problem with the climate change debate is that God is left out of all discussion. This is foolish, because the scriptures explain that God has a strong influence on the weather.

He provides rain for the earth;
he sends water on the countryside (Job 5:10).
Praise the LORD from the earth,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding (Psalm 148:7-8).
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills (Psalm 147:8).
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.

The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder (Deut 28:12,23-24).
God has a powerful influence upon the weather. So, if the climate changes, the first thing we should do is ask what God is doing. If the climate is deteriorating, it might because God has been aggrieved and has withdrawn his blessing. So instead of assuming that climate change is caused by humans, we should seek God and find out what he is saying about the situation.

When droughts and storms arise, it could be because we have opened ourselves up to the spiritual powers of evil. They love to kill and destroy. They sometimes use the weather to wreak destruction on earth. If that is the case, we should seek the deliverance of God.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Climate Change (3) Government Control

My main concern about the climate change movement is that it will lead to a massive increase in state power. Those who are concerned about climate change are not satisfied with changing their own practices and persuading others to change too. They want their government to force everyone to change what they buy and how the live. They want governments to force businesses to change the way that they operate. It is not totally clear what changes will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases the quickest. It is easy to point the finger at someone else and demand that the government force them to change.

I suspect the concern about climate change will result in a huge increase in the power of governments, which will spread into all aspects of life. No good will come from it.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Climate Change (2) Gradual

The most important thing is that climate change is gradual. This means that no matter how climate changes, humans will have time to adapt. That will be painful for some people who have to make the change. However, adapting to change is what humans are good at.

Farmers have always adapted to the climate. I grew up on a farm. In the 1960s, we experienced a decade of frequent droughts. We didn’t give up, but change the way we farmed. We stopped growing wheat crops, as there was insufficient moisture. And we got rid of our beef breeding cows, because during dry years there was insufficient grass to feed them. We adapted to a temporary change in the climate. That is what farmers do.

If sea levels rise, people living by the coast may find that their houses are uninhabitable. They will need to migrate to places where they are safe from coastal erosion. This should not be seen as unusual.

People have always migrated when the place where they were living becomes untenable. Abraham migrated from Ur to Canaan. Joseph and Mary migrated to Egypt when they were unsafe in Nazareth.

In the 19th century, crofting in Scotland became impossible due to the enclosure of land by large scale absentee farmers. My great grandparents migrated across the world to New Zealand to find a safer place to live.

More recently, many Americans migrated from the great lakes area to the south to get jobs when the auto industry declined.

Most of the people living in Europe are descendants of migrants, if they go back far enough. People have always migrated in response to trials of all kinds.

With climate change, some places will improve and other places will get worse. People will need to shift from the latter to the former. The dislocation will be painful, but it is what people do.

During the warm period around the year 1000, agriculture patterns in the UK and Europe changed dramatically. People adapted to the slowly changing climate condition. We will have to do the same, if the climate does change significantly.

  • Humans are skilled adapters.
  • Climate change comes slowly.
These factors will enable us to adapt to climate change. It will be painful, and incomes might drop significantly, but humans will adapt. The end of the world will not come.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Climate Change (1) Climate Forecasting

People are saying that climate change is the greatest threat to human life ever experienced. I don’t believe that is true. The greatest threat to life on earth is nuclear war, but more on that in a later post.

Like economic forecasting, climate forecasting is not a true science. The scientific method works by conducting repeatable experiments to test whether a well-defined hypothesis is true or not.

Climate change occurs over long periods of time and affects the whole world, so it is impossible to set up a repeatable experiment to determine if the hypothesis of anthropomorphic climate change is correct.

Climate scientists have to do what economists do. They set up models, with numerous assumptions and equations that approximate the real world to see what results the model produces. The problem is that models are only solvable if there are sufficient restrictive assumptions in place. But the more assumptions that are used, the less the model actually reflects the real world, and therefore the less unreliable the results.

Politicians claim that there is a scientific consensus about climate change, but science does not work by consensus; that’s what politicians try to do. Scientist work by testing well-defined hypotheses with repeatable experiments.
Economists have the same problem. Their models only work if the impose restrictive assumptions that make the models unrealistic. This is why economists disagree about everything.

The world economy and the climate system are both extremely complex, so it is almost impossible to create realistic computer models that reflect their workings accurately. Just as it is impossible to predict the effects of particular economic policies, it is impossible to accurately predict climate change. You can observe trends, but the direction of a trend usually depends on the length of the observation period. It is very difficult to separate the trend from the noise, especially in complex systems, like the weather. And you never know whether a trend will continue, or reverse.

So, we have to be open-minded about climate change. The climate is definitely changing because that is what climate does. Climate is defined as the small changes in the weather that occur over time. However, we cannot be certain whether the changes we observe over time.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Iran

I am not sure why American Christians are so hostile to Iran, because the record of the United States dealings with Iran is fairly ugly.

  • In 1957, the US helped to organise a coup that overthrew a democratically elected government and appointed a hereditary king (Shah=Caesar) to rule the nation.

  • The US helped organise and train Savak, the ruthless security forces that kept the Shah in power.

  • When the Iranian people overthrew the US-imposed dictator in 1978, the US responded by imposing economic sanctions on the new government, which are still in place today. So much for supporting democracy.

  • The US encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in 1982-88. (He was a US client back then). They supported him with satellite surveillance and missile guidance. 200,000 people were killed and half a million were injured. The US turned a blind eye when Saddam used chemical weapons against the Iranians defending their country.

  • The US guided-missile cruiser Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai on 3 July 1988 with a surface-to-air missile. The aircraft, an Airbus A300, was destroyed and all 290 people on board, including 66 children, were killed. The jet was hit while flying over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, along the flight's usual route. The US tried to lie about the position and direction of the flight.

  • The US has encouraged its allies to assassinate numerous Iranian scientists.

If the Iranian government did any of these things, the US media would be screaming for action against it.

I don’t like the religion of Islam. I believe that the gospel of Jesus is infinitely superior.

I don’t like the Iranian system of government, but I am not enthusiastic about a system that throws up a choice between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton either.

I do not see Iran as the great evil that many people suggest it is.

  • The people of Iran are kind and helpful people. Anyone who visits the nation will confirm that. The delegation of agriculture statisticians that I met were intelligent open people, keen to learn.

  • The people of Iran are Moslems from way back, so they are entitled to have a government based on Islam, just as many Americans want their government to be influenced by Christian values.

  • Iran is a democracy. It is not totally fair, but most democracies have flaws. Several Iranian governments have been voted out by the electors. This is different from US allies like Saudi Arabia, Oman and UAW, which are ruled by kings with absolute power.

  • The Iranians have chosen a political system that protects the role of the Koran by giving religious leaders a strong influence in their nation’s government. They are entitled to do that. This seems to be what many Christians want in the United States for their religion by appointing people sympathetic to Christian values to the Supreme Court.

  • Iran has not forcibly invaded another country in the last 300 years. During that time the United States has invaded dozens of nations with military force.

  • Iran has come to the support of its allies were facing an attack by hostile external powers, in Iraq, Syria, and South Lebanon. That is something that most nations have done.

  • The religion of Iran is Shia Islam. Most Islamic terrorism is conducted by Sunni Moslems, including Al Qaida and ISIS. Most Christians don’t understand the difference, but these to religious groups are sworn enemies. So claims that Iran is responsible for the things being done by Sunni Moslems is foolish.

  • Just as in 1776, Americans did not want their lives being controlled by the British, Iranians do not want the United States determining the way that they should live.

  • God has not given the United States permission to judge Iran and destroy it with nuclear weapons, although seems to be what some US political leaders want to do.

We must not forget that God loves the world so much that he sent Jesus to die on the cross. God loves the people of Iran, just as much as he loves the people of New Zealand. Like every nation, Iran needs the gospel of Jesus. They will not be won for the gospel by bullying and military power. They need to see God’s people demonstrating his love, by loving their neighbours.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Family Decisions

I do not agree with the common view of among Christians that men should make decisions and women should go along. My advice to couples (which I am still learning) is that husbands and wives should seek consensus on major decisions that will shape their lives. That should not be hard if they both want to do God's will, and they are both listening to his Spirit.

Husbands should listen to their wives, because wives often have insights that a man would miss. Adam did not sin by listening to Eve. His was his failure to check her suggestion with God. But I presume that Adam had already hardened his heart, before Eve spoke or her suggestion would not have appealed to him.

Abigail is a woman that spoke wisdom to a husband that he needed to hear (1 Sam 25). Nabal is a warning to husbands who do not like what their wife is saying. God could be speaking through her.

Small day to day decisions need to be made quickly. They don't need to be complicated by a complex decision-making process. They can be made by the person closest to hand and the greatest interest.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Last Judgment

During the times when kings ruled Israel, judgment was not like a modern courtroom, with prosecutor and defence lawyers, where guilt and innocence are decided on the basis of evidence.

People stood before the king. He would make a decision on the basis of allegiance. He rewarded the people who had given him allegiance and fought with him. He punished those who been disloyal or slacked off. An example is given in 2 Samuel 19. Shimei had mocked David, so he lost everything except his life, and he was lucky to retain that. Mephibosheth and Barzilai had blessed David and supported him, so they received gifts of land.

The great white throne judgment described in John’s vision was not a guilty or innocent judgment before judges. It was a reward scene after a great victory in battle, based on allegiance and service in support of the king. The victorious king is giving out his rewards to the people who have supported him consistently.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Plight and Solution

God created the earth as a place to have fun with the people that he created in his image. That desire has never changed. God still wants to make the earth a garden where he can frolic with his people.

The problem that Jesus came to solve was not human sins, although they had caused many of the problems that he came to resolve.

  • The problem is not God’s anger.
  • The problem was that humans had given up their authority on earth to the powers of evil by submitting to them.
  • Their shift in allegiance had changed the authority situation on earth.
The fall was a shift in allegiance.
  • Adam and Eve shifted their allegiance from God to themselves.
  • The wanted to pick and choose who and they would obey. The wanted to obey God some of the time, other voices at other times. The serpent was able to speak to them, because they had already shifted allegiance in their minds, and were willing to listen to voices other than God.
  • Unfortunately, they were tricked by the devil. Allegiance to self usually become allegiance to the spiritual powers of evil, often without realising what has happened.
Jesus came to earth to resolve a twofold problem created when human withdrew their allegiance to God.
  • The spiritual powers of evil owned the earth. Earth was still a mess, not a garden.
  • The spiritual powers of evil owned the people on the earth. They have the right to poke, deceive and push them into doing evil.
Jesus came to earth to resolve these problems by,
  • Getting back authority over the earth.
  • Getting back the allegiance of the people living on the earth.
The good news is that we are rescued by allegiance (faith).

Friday, July 26, 2019

Paul Apostling

Paul always had an apostolic impact, even when he was fighting against Jesus.
After Stephen was martyred a great persecution arose.

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria… Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison (Acts 8:1,3).
Paul’s persecution caused believers to go out from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria. This is what God had wanted to happen, but most believers and the apostles hung around in Jerusalem because they thought that was where the action was. Part of the problem was that the apostles had stayed when they should have gone.

Jesus had told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. Once they had received power, they were to go into the world and preach the good news, beginning in Judea and going to the ends of the world (Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). Instead of obeying Jesus’ challenge and going out, too many believers were still waiting in Jerusalem. Even the apostles were in danger of becoming bishops, because they were unwilling to be sent (apostled).

Paul’s persecution got the church going out to the places Jesus had told them to go to, although the apostles did not get the message.

The modern church has the same problem. See Governmental Apostles. Perhaps we need more Pauls, of the before and after type.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Love and Submission (7) The Father and the Son

Many people see authority as prior to submission, ie authority requires submission. God the Father has authority, so Jesus the Son must submit to him.

If they really understood authority, they would put it the other way around. Relations of submission and authority would be quite different.

Authority can be obtained in two ways.

  • Authority can be taken, usually taken with threats of force.
  • Authority can be given, by some agreeing to submit to the wisdom of another.
Authority is not something innate in a person’s character.

If the relationship between the Father and the Son begins with the authority of the Father, it cannot be something innate in the person of the Father. The Father would only have authority over the son, if he could force the Son to obey him. This would be domination of the Son by the Father, or Imposed Authority. The Son would be subordinate to the Father, so not truly divine.

The only way that the Father can have authority over the Son is if the Son freely submits to the Father, creating the authority of the Father. Free submission creates the authority of the person submitted to. This authority is temporary and limited. The person given authority only gets authority over the aspects of life that are submitted to them. If the person submitting withdraws their submission, the authority created disappears.

The relationship between the Father and the son must be a relationship of submission and authority, in which the Son gives authority to the Father by freely submitting to him. The submission of the Son would come first and create the authority of the Father.

If there is something innate in the God the Father that means that Jesus has to obey him, then that is not really authority. That would be domination of the Son, which would mean that he is not equal with the Father, but subordinate.

There is no place for Imposed Authority in the Trinity. The Father would never impose his will on the Son. He would not threaten him, if he chose not to obey.

If the Son submits to the Father, it will be because he loves him. Therefore, at the point where the Father tells the Son what to do, he has no authority. Rather, the Son creates authority for the Father by freely submitting to his command. There is no need for the Father to “exert authority” or “express authority” because the Son loves him. Instead, the Father receives authority from the Son, when he freely submits to his will.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Love and Submission (6) Business

Business authority is free authority. A business begins when some people with skills and spare assets hand authority over them to a business organisation that they create. Pooling assets increases their effectiveness.

Businesses have limited and temporary authority. Investors can sell their shares in the business, at any time. Lenders can terminate their loans, when they fall due. Employees can resign from their employment. No one has to buy the goods and services produced. The temporary authority over wealth and life that has been submitted to the business can be withdrawn at any time. If the business is liquidated, the authority it exercised evaporates.

Employees have to submit to their employer’s authority, but that is the condition of their accepting employment with the business. They agree to submit to their employer for a specific part of their week in exchange for a specific wage or salary. The employer pays for the submission of their employees, so the employees do not have to love their employer. If the employer gets violent, or loses their respect, employees can resign from their position.

Many people feel like their employer has imposed authority over them, but that is not true. An employee can end their employer’s authority in their life at any time, by resigning. This is the difference between an employee and a slave. Slaves cannot resign from their owners. They are stuck under their authority. An employee can resign. It might be economically painful, if they have difficulty getting new employment, but they do have that freedom.

Businesses operate under Free Authority, which is the best type of authority. They can give instructions to their staff, but they cannot use physical force to make them do things against their will. Only governments have that power. A business can only exercise Imposed Authority if it is empowered by a government.

In the modern world, business have colluded with their government to gain additional authority that God has not given. Limited liability and other corporate laws have allowed businesses to become very large with enormous hierarchies of monopoly power. These huge conglomerates provide great opportunities for the powers of darkness. They concentrate their efforts on the senior management, because it gives them control over vast resources. These people tend to have big egos, so the power plays are usually successful.

God prefers family businesses. As the Kingdom of God advances, large businesses will be chopped up and spread around. Smaller family-owned business will abound.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Love and Submission (5) Fathers and Sons

The relationship between a father and a son begins with love, not authority. When a baby is born, all the father can do is love and provide for his son. He has no authority to tell his baby son what to do, because the son cannot speak or understand commands.

As he grows the son submits to his father authority, because recognises his father’s love. The father can reinforce his authority by picking up the son and carrying where he wants him to go. He can also strengthen his authority with sanctions, such as timeout or loss of privileges.

If the father threatens physical force, he might obey his father out of fear, but that is not ideal. Physical discipline creates imposed authority, because the resulting submission is due to fear, not love.

When the son gets older, he realises that he does not have to obey his father, if he does not want to. The father’s authority can disappear, if his son does not understand his father’s love.

Adult sons usually leave their father’s home. They will continue to appreciate their father’s advice, so the father still has limited authority in his son’s life.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Love and Submission (4) Elders and Husbands

The scriptures do not give elders authority. Elders are commanded to watch over people, serve them and protect them. But they are not given authority to control them.

Because we are engaged in a spiritual battle, new Jesus-followers are encouraged to submit to elders. This free action gives authority to the elder (an elder does not have an innate authority). They only have authority that is created when someone submits to them. If the people submitting lose their respect for the elder and withdraw their submission, the elder loses their authority.

Elders often demand that people in their church submit to them. This is a false understanding of authority. If people must obey them, they are exercising domination and control, which is a distortion of true authority. True authority is given freely by submission, it cannot be demanded.

The same applies to husbands and wives. Wives are urged to submit to their husbands (just as husbands have to submit to the will of their wives, because they love them). Husbands do not have an innate authority that allows them to demand that their wives obey them. Demanded obedience is actually domination.

Submission that cannot be freely withdrawn at any time, is domination and control, not true authority.

Christians should stop claiming that they have authority, because they are male or mature, or have been appointed to a particular role. They should earn authority, by loving, serving and demonstrating wisdom.

A person with authority can issue a command and know that it will be acted on. This can occur for two reasons.

  • The person with authority has power or the ability to compel the person to obey. The soldier obeyed the centurion, because he knew that if he disobeyed, the whole wait of the Roman Empire would come down on him. This is Imposed Authority.

  • The person receiving the command loves and trusts, the person issuing the command and has freely chosen to submit to them. I call this Free Authority. A person gains authority when someone freely submits to them, because they love them. The person submitting actually creates the authority of the person they submit to. That means that they can take the authority away, if they lose their trust, and stop submitting.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Love and Submission (3) Active not Passive

Submission in the New Testament is active, not passive. The Greek word “upotasso” means to place yourself under another. The person submitting actively places themselves under the person that they have chosen to submit to. This is a free action. This gives the person that they submit to authority in their life. It also means that they can remove the authority if they decide not to submit.

Christians often present submission as passive. They assume that a person with authority can demand that others submit to them, but this is a distortion of true authority. Submission is a choice.

If a person has to submit, then they do not have a choice, and they have lost the freedom that God created in them. Demanded submission is domination.

True biblical submission is voluntary. If the person with authority is unreasonable, immoral, or unlawful, the people who have submitted to them are free to withdraw their submission.

Submission has to be earned with love and service. If they person with authority stops loving and serving, they will lose their authority, because people will stop submitting to them.

A person who submits creates the authority of another person. This gives them the power to destroy the authority too, if it goes wrong. Allowing people with authority to demand submission, eliminates this protection, and encourages domination and control. This is wrong. Authority must be controlled by the people submitting. This is the best protection against tyranny.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Love and Submission (2) Why

Love and submission are inseparably entwined.

It is obvious that husband and wives should love each other. This means that they will also to submit to each other. Which is what Paul said.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21).
So why does Paul say that wives should submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22) and that wives should submit to their husbands (Eph 5:25)?

I believe that Paul’s presentation reflects their weaknesses, not their strength.

Many men tend to be so task focussed that they can easily become so absorbed in their calling that they begin to sacrifice their wives and families to the cause. They need to be reminded to love their wives. They often get puffed up about their wisdom, so they think they know what is best for their wives. The solution is love. Because they are strong, the natural sin of men is to slip into domination. In the worst case, this becomes violence. The antidote is love.

Women usually understand much better how relationships work, so they can slip into manipulating a relationship to get what they want. The antidote for manipulation is submission. Women love their children, so they can be inclined to put their needs before God’s work. If they love God and their husbands, they will sometimes need to submit to what God is doing, even if it has a cost for their family.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Love and Submission (1)

Love and submission are inseparably entwined. The common teaching that husbands love and wives submit fails to understand that there is no love without submission.

Love is not self-seeking (1 Cor 13:5).
When you love someone, you want what they want, more than what you want. You cannot help yourself. So when you love someone, you find yourself submitting to their will more often than to your own will. If you don’t, you probably do not love as much as you think you do.

Likewise, Christian submission is freely given out of love. Submission that is demanded by someone because they are superior or higher in the hierarchy is not true submission. True submission is a free response to love and wisdom. Demanded submission is domination.

Submitting to someone who loves you is easy, because they want what is good for you. This is why it is easy to submit to Jesus.

Jesus was the wisdom (word) that was there at the beginning and created all things (John 1:1-3). He did not need anyone to tell him what to do. Yet he loved to submit to the will of the Father (John 5:19).

Love and submission are different sides of the same coin.

  • You cannot truly love without submitting.
  • True submission requires love.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Meritocracy Trap

I listen to some of the podcasts released by the London School of Economics. They have guest lectures from many leading economists, so it is a good way to catch up on what economists are up to.

The best lecture I have heard in the last few years was a talk by Daniel Markovitz called the Meritocracy Trap. Anyone who wants to understand what is happening in the modern economy and society should listen to it. He is not an economist, so he is easy to understand.

During the nineteenth century, a clash occurred between the traditional aristocracy, who lived on inherited wealth, the capitalists, who became rich with new businesses that emerged during Industrial Revolution, and the working classes who moved to the cities for low-paid hard work. This struggle between land, capital and labour dominated the next century.

Markovitz explains that a dramatic change has occurred in the last half century making the old struggles irrelevant. He explains that super-elite incomes now come from work and not from capital. The richest people in society now work for their incomes. They get and increasing share of their income from work and effort.

Most of the income in the elite groups share has not come from a shift of income from labour to capital but from a shift of income from one kind of labour to another. From the middle-class labour to elite labour.
The poor always worked long hours. In the past, elites did not work hard. Now it is elite labour that works long hours.
The top quintile works four to five hours more a day longer than it did mid-century. This represents a shift in work towards the elite.
This change brings a huge change in the way inheritance works. He explains.
The way that elites transfer their privileged status to the next generation has changed from bequests to adult children on the death of parents to through investment in human capital of young children while parents are living.
Markovitz explains that although the super-elite think they deserve their status, the system is stacked in their favour. For example, the education of their children at elite universities is almost fully subsidised. They also exercise considerable political power.
The top percentile has political influence, the bottom quintile has none. A massive complex of income and wealth defence has emerged. The super-rich has substantial influence over the laws that regular them and how they comply with the law. In the past, people got rich by working for the state. Today professionals get rich by working for people who are fighting the state to protect the wealth.
This change is a problem because the super-elites have distorted the direction of national economies for their benefit, to the detriment of other groups in society.

Markovitz is effective at diagnosing the problem, but his solutions are not really useful, because they rely on government interventions. That only solution is Jesus teaching on Unrighteous Wealth and the implementation of his solutions.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Freedom and the Gospel

Our freedom is in Jesus. The only freedom that really counts is the deliverance from the spiritual powers of evil that he wrought for us on the cross.

War rarely establishes true freedom, because the tumult and violence of war allow the spiritual powers of evil to have a field day, so people on both sides are made worse off.

I don’t know of any situations where economic sanctions have produced freedom and advanced the gospel. The ordinary people suffer, and the powerful get rich on the black market.

The efforts of the United States to impose freedom and democracy by war have a pretty ugly record. An honest observer cannot pretend otherwise. Iraq is still a wreck. The Iraqi church has been dramatically weakened, because Christians have been forced to leave the country. Libya has gone from having the best health care and education in Africa to been a disaster. Yemen is currently being wrecked with US support and weapons. The twenty-year war in Afghanistan has produced terrible suffering and very little peace. The gospel has gone backwards. Bombing Vietnam produced a disaster in Cambodia.

Relying on governments to provide freedom is a mistake. Even in the United States, government surveillance and controls are reducing freedom.

The gospel can prosper in places where dictators rule. In the twentieth century, the gospel has been far more effective in China with limited political freedom, than in the United States with greater political freedom.

In the nations like Iraq, which the United States has invaded or imposed sanctions, the gospel has done badly, because the local people see their nations being attacked by a Christian nation and resent it. You can go with a gun and the gospel and expect to be taken seriously.

My confidence is in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God cannot be established by political and military power.

I have written about these themes in more detail in my books Kingdom Authority and Government of God.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Kingdom of God

The Kingdom is not an adjective that can be applied to church programmes.

“Kingdom” is a noun. We need a vision of a different kingdom.

  • The Kingdom of God is a different government.

  • The Kingdom of God is a transformed society.

  • The Kingdom of God is a different way of living.

A kingdom is a people living in a territory controlled by a king. They serve him and obey his laws.

The Kingdom of God is a group of people living in the same area and committed to obeying and serving Jesus.

So what does the Kingdom of God look like in practice?

  • The building block of the kingdom is a group of people who have chosen to follow Jesus. They listen to the Holy Spirit and follow his leading and guidance.

  • They choose to become a community of people living in the same neighbourhood, so they can support each other.

  • They love one another. They serve each other, because they love one another.

  • The people of the community love and serve everyone in their neighbourhood. Most of the people who have not chosen to follow Jesus are drawn to him, or get pulled into the community’s activities.

  • The leaders are wise people that provide guidance, without using control, intimidation or manipulation.

  • It is not clear how they became leaders, but everyone trusts them, because the love and serve the community. People submit to them because they trust them.

  • The leaders love each other and submit to each other. They check with each other before making decision that will affect the rest of the community.

  • The leaders have balanced giftings that enable them to complement each other. One is quite black and white. Another is good at establishing connecting with people they do not know. Several had a shepherd’s heart.

  • People who choose to follow Jesus give away their unrighteous wealth. This is used to support people in need and to pay restitution to people who are the victims of crime.

  • The community provides social support for anyone in the community who falls into trouble. They do the same for everyone living in the neighbourhood.

  • Deacons use the money that is given away to support the poor. They teach them how to live more responsibility and support themselves.

  • The community protects everyone in their neighbourhood from spiritual attack by standing against the spiritual powers of evil.

  • The community provides protection for everyone in their neighbour against attacks of violence, by prayer and solidarity.

  • Leaders of the community find or provide employment for their neighbours.

  • People who follow Jesus, save more and spend less. This frees resources for starting businesses that benefit the community and neighbourhood.

  • Leaders provide wise and fair decisions to solve legal disputes over property for everyone in the neighbourhood, including those who do not follow Jesus.

  • The leaders provide justice for everyone in their neighbourhood, who experienced theft or violence.

  • They ensure that criminals provide restitution. The community pays the restitution to the victim, if the criminal refuses to pay it.

  • Different groups of people meet together frequently to pray.

  • Different groups of people gather together to worship.

  • The leaders send teams of people out to start new communities in other neighbourhoods. This is how the Kingdom of God expands.

More at Kingdom of God.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Spiritual Authority (7) Dealing with Government Spirits

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

The spiritual powers that control political leaders are called government-spirits in the Bible (this is better a translation of the Greek words than the popular expression principalities and powers).  Some, like Prince of Persia, take the name of their nation (Dan 10:20).  They have immense authority on earth, despite their defeat on the cross, because people submit to the leaders controlled by them.  Political leaders have legal authority over their people, so attacking them gives the government-spirits control over cities and nations.

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

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

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

The political systems of great nations are extremely dangerous, because one person has control over hundreds of millions of people.  The devil can gain huge power on earth, by deploying a few strong spirits to get control of the president of China, Russia or the United States.  By getting control of these leaders, the government-spirits get authority over everyone submitted to them.  Concentration of human political power gives vast power to the government-spirits that control it.

In an excerpt from chapter 14 of my book Kingdom Authority called Dealing with Government Spirits, I list seven tools for dealing with these powerful spirits.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Spiritual Authority (6) Obstacles to Spiritual Victory

Although Jesus defeated the spiritual powers of evil, they have persisted in power for more than two thousand years. Christians need to understand the reasons why, and realise that it is not always going to be that way.

Scraps of Power
Since the cross, the powers of evil have lived on scraps of authority by retaining control over people who do not believe they are defeated. Two big obstacles allow them to retain authority on earth. These must be removed before the Kingdom can come in its fullness. These two obstacles are described more fully in my article called Obstacles to Spiritual Victory. This article is an excerpt from chapter 14 of my book called Kingdom Authority.



Saturday, July 06, 2019

Spiritual Authority (5) Solution

The solution is to form a community that can remain as separate from the power of the political leaders as possible. If a body of believers submit to each and pray for each other, most of the authority in their lives has been given to those believers and to Jesus, so they will be relatively safe. This is why it is so important to form Kingdom Communities.

People living in Kingdom Communities do not need the resources or authority of the state, so political leaders have very little authority over them. They only submit when they are forced to, but they do it unwillingly for the sake of peace. This keeps them relatively free.

The key is to love and serve people. The people you will serve will learn to trust you and will gradually submit to your wisdom. If a group of people are doing this together and submitting to each other, they will relatively free. The greater the love, and the more effective the service (without control), the greater will be the submission, and the greater the authority.

The full series is here.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Spiritual Authority (4) Winning the Victory

We cannot defeat a spirit that we are indirectly submitted to through submitting to leaders. Because were submitted indirectly, the spirit has authority over us, so we cannot tell it what to do. This is why the same government-spirits have remained in control of nations for a long time, despite the prayers of godly Christians. The leaders of the nation have more authority than the godly people praying.

This problem can be beaten in two ways:

  • These government-spirits will lose their authority when people stop trusting them and withdraw their submission to them. The book of Revelation describes this happening at a time when the Jews come to faith in Jesus again. Events will occur that destroy the faith that people have in the power of human governments. They will withdraw their submission from the governments that control them. The authority of political power will evaporate. When this authority is withdrawn, the power of government-spirits will collapse, and along with that much of their power of evil spirits over human institutions.

  • One thing that can destroy their power is the leaders withdrawing their submission to the government-spirit that controls them. If they repent of the sin that holds them under the Spirit's power, that spirit will lose control over them. Usually, these spirits use pride and love of power and control to keep a hold on political leaders. If the leaders repent of these sins, and in a united way, renounce any activities motivated by those sins, the government-spirit that controlled them loses their power.

This is unlikely to happen in the short-term, because the government spirit and its helpers keep the political leaders under their control. Even if one repents, they others are likely to follow.

Removal of submission destroys authority. The authority of government-spirit can be broken, either by the people withdrawing trust and submission, or the leaders withdrawing submission. The latter is more likely than the former.

Getting into the government is not a solution. People need to compromise with political power to get political power. This compromise would put them under the power of the spiritual powers of evil that control the nation or city, so they would be no better off.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Spiritual Authority (3) Empowered by People

The spirits that control an institution such as a government have been given authority over it by its leaders. When the leaders submit to the leading of evil spirits, they give those spirits authority in their lives. However, because the members of the institutions are submitted to their leaders, the spirits get authority over them too. The spirits have authority over the leaders, who have authority over the people, so the spirits have authority over the people. Put the other way, the people submit to the leaders, who submit to the evil powers, so they are implicitly submitting to the evil powers to, often without realising it.

The only way they can escape from this control is by withdrawing their submission from their leaders. This removes the leader’s authority over them, and eliminates the power of the spirits controlling the leaders, over their lives. The problem is that it is hard to leave a nation-state. The only way to escape the authority of the government is to migrate and go to another nation-state, but that just puts you under the authority of other controlling spirits. If you remain in the nation-state where you were born, then the leaders and the spirits that control them have some authority over you. The best thing is to stand apart as much as possible from the power of the state.

When Christians start praying against the government-spirit that controls their nation the situation gets tricky. They have the authority that Jesus has given them, but his authority is still not recognised in much of the earth. The problem is that if the Christian binds the government-spirit and commands it to leave, the leaders of the nations are speaking words or taking actions that invite the spirit back. One person is saying the spirit must leave, but the leaders are staying it can say. The leaders of the nation have more authority in the nation than the Christian praying, so in these struggles, the leaders win, without realising it, and the government-spirit remains.

Getting lots of Christians to pray against a government-spirit does not make much difference, because all the Christian’s are indirectly under its authority, so they will be unable to defeat him. In these situations, numbers do not count. It is authority that wins the day. One person with authority outweighs hundreds with none. The political leaders have far more authority in their nation or city than any group of leaders, especially if they are submitted to them.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Spiritual Authority (2) Michael and Prince of Persia

The evil spirits that get control of nations are called government-spirits (principalities). The Prince of Persia was a spirit who gained control over Persia in Daniel’s time. This spirit had authority in the Persian empire. He controlled the Persian emperor.

When Daniel prayed, the Prince of Persia was able to hold back the angel that was coming to Daniel with an answer for twenty-one days. This was not because the Prince of Persia was physically stronger, it was because he had authority in Persia where Daniel was living. Daniel was submitted to the ruler of Persia, so he was indirectly submitted to the Prince of Persia (Dan 12-14).

God sent an angel called Michael to assist the angel with the message. They did not win, because two are stronger than one. Rather, Michael is a ruler-angel with authority over the Jewish people. The message the angel had was for the Jewish people. It did not affect the current emperor of Persia, because it applied to the future. It was a religious message rather than a political one. In this context, Michael’s authority was greater than the authority of the Prince of Persia, so the message went through to Daniel.

This was not a power struggle, but an issue of authority. The message was for the Jews, so Michael had more authority over it. The message of this passage is not persistence in prayer, although is important, but understanding authority.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Spiritual Authority (1)

Before engaging in spiritual warfare, we must understand the truth about the reality in which we live. The first of our weapons of spiritual warfare is the belt of truth.

Take your stand with the truth like a belt around your waist (Eph 6:14).
If we don’t understand the truth about spiritual reality, we will lose the battle. If we stand in the truth that God has revealed, we will go onto victory.

The second spiritual weapon is justice.

and putting on the breastplate of justice (Eph 6:14).
To achieve spiritual victory, we must have an understanding of God’s justice as outlined in the law of Moses. If we do not understand the nature of true justice, we will be defeated again and again.

The truth is that we need to understand that we are involved in an intense spiritual war. There are no easy victories. If there were, then evil would have been driven out of the world a few hundred years after Jesus completed his ministry. The battle is tough. The spiritual powers of evil know that they are defeated, but are fighting hard to desperately hold onto power. They know that their days are getting short, but they will not give up, because the alternative is total defeat.

The spiritual powers of evil are using their two best weapons, Israel and political power, to hold to power. As long a the Jews reject the gospel of Jesus, and humans trust in political power, they will be able to hold onto a place of power.

In many local situations, there is not Christian with sufficient authority to deal with some of the challenges that arise. The politicians usually have greater authority than an individual Christian or group of Christians.

The spiritual powers of evil usually concentrate their forces to attack the leaders of an institution. If they can get the leader or leaders to participate frequently in a particular sin, the leaders are submitting to the spirits that are seeking to control them. If several leaders engage in the same sin, over time, the evil spirits get serious control over the institution. Often it will be a spirit of pride or a spirit that loves power and control.

Once government-spirits get control over the leaders of a nation, they do not let go, so the same spirit will control a nation down through the ages. This why governments often carry on in the same way, even when elections put one human government out and another in. The parties have different policies, but they are controlled by the same government-spirit, so they behave in the same way.

The powers of evil prefer working through nation-states, because they are the institutions with the most authority. Governments exercise enormous authority, so the spiritual powers of evil get a better bang for their buck. They can really leverage their power.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Abortion

Prior to the 1960s, most young people lived with their families and were always chaperoned when single boys and girls were together. This reduced the likelihood of unwanted pregnancies, but the system was not perfect. Some girls were pressured into getting married, or giving the baby up for adoption, and few chose to have an abortion.

Towards the end of the 1950s, dramatic social change occurred.

  • The restraints of so-called traditional morality were thrown off. Young people were free to meet together unsupervised.

  • Boys could afford to buy and run cars, so it was easy for a young couple to get away on their own.

  • Many young people moved away from home and began living together in flats.

  • Advanced methods of contraception, such as the pill, were cheaper and easy to obtain.

  • Music, television and film portrayed and encouraged casual sex.

These social changes created unprecedented sexual freedom.

A sexual revolution followed. It gave young men and women much greater freedom to engage in sexual activities.

Most young people welcomed the change. However, if things went wrong, it was the girls who were left holding the baby, sometimes literally. It is well-documented that single mothers have lower living standards than other young women, and their children suffer, too.

The sexual revolution was a two-sided revolution. Men gained the sexual benefits, with very few costs. Women gained freedom too, but if things went wrong, they had to carry the can.

To deal with these problems, abortion laws were relaxed, and abortion became the standard way to deal with the problem.

However, this was putting an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. It dealt with the unwanted problems, but it did not deal with the real problem, which was the new social freedom and the casual sexual practices that went with it.

Now in American, there is huge pressure to tighten the abortion laws again, but again that does not deal with the underlying problem caused by the social and sexual revolution. It is an attempt at using law to deal with a social and moral problem.

Some of the greatest pressure to change the law comes from Christians. They say that they live under grace, not under the law. They agree that laws cannot change human hearts. Yet here again, they are demanding changes in the law to solve a social problem, which they know the law cannot do. History shows that salvation by law does not work, especially when the culture is still going the other way (Casual sex is still the norm on popular television shows and films and Christians watch them without realising what they are absorbing).

Rather than using law, which is a very blunt instrument, they should be wondering why society changed so much at a time when the church was supposedly strong. They should be thinking about different ways of living in society that would keep young people, and particularly young woman safe. That would require radical change in the way we live. I suspect that most men are not willing to pay that price. It is easier to change the law and keep the benefits of the sexual revolution.

Abortion has become a hot-button issue for Christians, but they do not seem to care so much about divorce, which has become rampant in the church, even amongst pastors. The prevalence of divorce in the church shows that that sexual revolution is deeply entrenched amongst Christians, despite their horror at abortion. Divorce and abortion are both symptoms of the sexual revolution. Both are covered by the Ten Commandments, but Christian attitudes to the two issues are very different, which is a bit hypocritical. It seems to be easier to point to the sins of the world.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Economic Sanctions (3) Number of the Beast

People get obsessed with the number of the Beast in Revelation. The number was just a technique by which political power accomplish the outcome that John visualised. We should be focusing on the outcome, and the identity of the political power that imposes it, not on the technique, which would depend on the legal and financial institutions at the time.

The United States is currently the most powerful nation and the strongest economy that the world has ever seen. It controls the financial and banking systems that are used by all the nations of the world. In addition to exercising military power in many nations, it uses its place at the centre of the world financial system to control other nations. Presidents have begun preventing people and nations from using the SWIFT system for interbank transactions, which prevents them from trading.

Nations that do not submit to the American Beast are not allowed to trade. Sanctions are imposed on nations that will not submit to the dictates of the United States to prevent them from trading. Nothing like this has been done before. The irony is that the nation that claims to be the champion of free-market economics is blocking people from buying and selling. This suggests that the Mark of the Beast is already being put in place.

These sanctions are directed at nations, but they are imposed on people and businesses. The list of people and businesses that are banned is thousands of pages long. Some of the bans have been in place for nearly fifty years. Businesses in other nations are also prevented from trading with them too. The United States uses control of the financial system to prevent people and companies from other nations trading with the nations on the list of baddies. This change is spreading the net of sanctions much wider.

The Church provided moral support for this behaviour by declaring that the sanctioned nations are evil. Many churches advocate the full use of economic power to implement American power in the world, but their selection of targets is highly selective. The Beast decides which nations can buy and sell.

Recently, the United States has begun a trade war with some of its allies. It is imposing heavy tariffs on China, Canada and the European Union with the aim of preventing certain types of buying and selling. It is also imposing controls on the transfer of intellectual property.

John said that the people of the world would be deceived. The United States claims to be a leader of the free world and claims to be a staunch advocate of free trade, yet it is acting to limit the free flow of trade. This is probably what John saw in his vision?

I hope the American Christians will wake up and stop their nation from going to a place that they do not want to go.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Economic Sanctions (2) Economic Power

The Beast of Revelation manifests in various ways. One manifestation is an Economic Empire, in which the beast controls all buying and selling. The nations are unable to buy or sell without the permission of the beast (Rev 13:17).

Controlling buy and selling ▶ Powerful government controlling the world economy.

The Mark of the beast symbolises political management of the economy. Traditional empires imposed massive taxes and collected them harshly, but they did not attempt to control other aspects of economic activity. They let businesses do what they liked, but made sure they captured a big share of the profits. They did not care if businesses were dishonest, because they could demand a bigger share of any corrupt gains.

In contrast, this beast seeks to control every aspect of economic life. It sets prices and sets rules that businesses must comply with. Over the last century, we have seen a vast increase in interference in the economy by human governments.

Economic and Financial Control
When studying the Mark of the Beast, Christians focus on the technique used (the mark) rather than the outcome. The outcome is clear. People and nations are unable to buy and sell without the permission of the democrat beast (liberal hegemon). John described this outcome clearly. This is the important message of the vision. He saw a great political power waging war and controlling the world using economic weapons.

The technique by which control is accomplished is less important, because it is determined by the legal situation at the time when it will be fulfilled. John did not know how societies would change over time, so he did not understand the techniques by which this vision could be achieved in the future. So, he described it in terms of words and images that he understands.

Marking people with an image/stamp was the way that empires and slaveowners controlled people in John’s time. So that is the way that John described the techniques used by the empire to impose control.

Focussing on the technique is a mistake, because the Beast will use whatever tools that are available at the time when the vision is being fulfilled. A modern empire can use tariffs, import controls, quality standards and documentation requirements to limit trade. The United States can also use the SWIFT system that banks use for international transfers to control trade. These are a practical implementation of the Mark of the Beast.

The number is an important clue, because it suggests that the vision will be fulfilled in a time when people, businesses and nations are represented by numbers, or more importantly digits in a computer program. The beast has a number. Every other person has a number. This is the situation in the modern world. When buying and selling in trade, people and business are represented by a number issued by their bank or credit card company. John saw a situation where a powerful political power used the numbers issued in replace of names to prevent people and business from buying and selling.

The democratic beast takes economic control a step further and determines which nations can buy and sell. The government of the United States is able to do this using the SWIFT system. No previous empire has had that power.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Economic Sanctions (1) Black Horse

When Jesus opened the third seal in John’s vision, a horseman rode out on a black horse.

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a yoke in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine” (Rev 6:5-7).
The colour black indicates the character of this ruler. He is intent on doing evil and inflicting harm on people.

Most English translations say that the rider on the black horse carried a pair of scales. This is misleading. The Greek word is “zugon”. It comes from a root that means “joining”. It can refer to “scales”, but it can also mean “yoke”. When Jesus called us to take his yoke upon him, the gospels use the same word “zugon” (Matt 11:29). 1 Tim 6:1 used the word to describe a yoke of slavery. In Acts 15:10, Paul challenges that Christian leaders not to put a yoke on the neck of new disciples that they cannot bear.

Translating the word “zugon” as “yoke” gives a different insight into the rider on the black horse. He held a yoke in “his hand”. That hand is a symbol of political power. The rider on the black horse uses political power to impose an economic yoke on peoples and nations. This powerful ruler uses trade sanction, trade regulations and tariffs to control other nations.

The results of these sanctions are made very clear. The Greek measure, translated here as a quart, was a "choinix". It was the daily ration for a soldier in active service. The coin mentioned is a denarius, which was the equivalent of a day's wages. John says that the shortage of food will be so severe that a daily ration of wheat will cost a day's wages. Barley was a little cheaper as it was considered to be of poorer quality. The situation will be so severe that ordinary people will need all that they can earn to buy food.

The wealthy will not be affected. Luxury items like oil and wine are not to be damaged. They are not essentials but will be more readily available. The real shortage will be for basic food items.

Economic sanctions are immoral. No person or nation has the right to prevent other people or nations from buying and selling. The person who owns something does not have to sell it if they choose not to, regardless of the price that is offered. But if they choose to sell to someone, they are free to sell. No political power has authority to prevent them from selling. All economic sanctions are immoral. It is ironic that the nations, which claim to believe in free trade, are the most active in enforcing economic sanctions against others.

Economic sanctions are a nasty and ineffective way to bring political change. They inflict pain on ordinary people, while the political leaders they are directed against, usually find ways to get around them. Some even become rich through trading in the black market. The ugliness of sanctions as a political weapon is reflected in the colour of the black horse. They are a form of blackmail.

Christians in the nations that impose them most often like to pretend that economic sanctions are more humane than military weapons, but that is hypocritical. Military weapons theoretically strike military targets, whereas economic sanctions kill innocent people. They deliberately try to starve children. Being malnourished gives children a terrible start in life. I amazed that Christians support governments that impose economic sanctions to achieve political goals.

Zechariah tells us that the black horses move towards the north. The economic attacks of this ruler will begin against the weaker nations of the earth, but it will eventually attack the wealthy nations of the north.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Appearance of Angels

I believe that we cannot really understand what angels look like when they are operating in the spiritual realms. Our eyes and minds can only cope with a three-dimensional world. The spiritual realms are multi-dimensional, so we can’t even conceive what they look like.

When God lets humans see angels, he reveals them in a way that we can understand, and often the way that we expect them to be, so that we recognise them. Elijah’s servant saw riders on horses (2 Kings 6:17) That does not mean that angels ride horses. Rather God showed him the angels that way so that he would understand their power in battle. Isaiah saw them with three pairs of wings (Is 6:1). John in Revelation saw creatures that looked like a lion, an ox, a flying eagle. One had the face of a man (Rev 4:7-8). We see what God enables us to see, rather than what they are really like in the spiritual world.

When they operate on earth angels seem to take human appearance (Gen 18:2-8). They were able to walk, stand, eat food and eat, which suggests that they had legs, hands and mouths. Many of the biblical records of angelic visits to earth suggest that they appeared like humans. They were sometimes distinguished by bright clothing (John 20:12).

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Terrible Beast

If the Terrible Beast described in Daniel and the book of Revelation were to emerge in this season, you would expect to see the following.

  • A nation that claims to be a force for good, while doing much evil. Most of its people would be deceived by this claim.

  • A nation that is the strongest military power that has ever existed. It would love using military power.

  • It would use military power to trample down nations that oppose it.

  • A nation that would claim to be a force for peace, but have been at war for most of its history.

  • A nation with the strongest and richest economy that the world has ever seen.

  • It will use economic power to control other nations.

  • It would pretend to support free enterprise, but would use its economic power to prevent companies and peoples who will not submit to its power from buying and selling.

  • This nation would be an amalgam of independent states kept together by military force after a civil war.

  • A nation that tracks its legal and political lineage back to Greece and the Rome.

As this nation enjoys bullying weaker nations, so you would expect a bully to gain control over it.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Donald Trump in Daniel

If the Times of the Gentiles are to come to an end during our time (I am not certain that they will) then Daniel 11 needs to be fulfilled in our time too.

I take a “understand, wait and see” approach to Daniel’s prophecy. I try to understand what Daniel was saying in terms of our context, and then wait and see.

Christians should be familiar with these texts, so that they will realise if they are being fulfilled. You will not “see”, if you do not understand.

Last week, I was updating my study of Daniel 11 (see What Is Going On). I was surprised to come across Donald Trump in Daniel’s vision. I am not completely certain, but the parallels are disturbing. Have a look at what I found here.

I may be reading to much into Daniel 11 when I thought I saw Daniel Trump, but even if I am wrong, it confirms one thing, which is really scary. When the detestable ruler eventually comes out on the world stage, he will be supported by many evangelical Christians. Some liberal Christians will oppose him, but plenty of prophetic Christians will honour him. They have supported a man like this once, so there is no reason why they will not do it again.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Holy Spirit and Angels (5) Authority

The spiritual powers of evil get their authority to act from the people. The people with the greatest authority in nations can give them the greatest authority. That is why they work through political leaders and human governments. If a human government has given them permission to be there, the prayers of the saints cannot force them out.

The prophets and intercessors give the Holy Spirit and the angels authority to work. If they are a minority and they are rejected and persecuted by the people of the nation, they have very little earthly authority. This means that the Holy Spirit and the angels only have limited authority to work. This is why, at times, evil is able to dominate a nation.

Before the spiritual change can occur on earth, there has to be a switch in authority. The political leaders who are giving authority to the spiritual powers of evil have to give up and lose their place. The people of the nation have to respect the prophets and intercessors and give them authority. This shift in authority on earth will allow a shift in the balance of power in the spiritual realms. The spiritual powers of evil lose authority and the Holy Spirit and the angels gain authority.

The key is to understand that authority flows from earth to the spiritual realms. The battle in the spiritual realms is not a power game. The Holy Spirit always has more power. There are always twice as many angels as there are evils spirits. The battle in the spiritual realms is an authority battle. The outcomes in the spiritual realms are the consequence of the authority situation on earth.

Christians assume that powers in the spiritual realm determine what happens on earth and so they pray against them. Their premise is true, but misleading. The outcome of the spiritual struggle is determined by the authority situation on earth. The people with the greatest authority on earth determine the outcome of the spiritual struggle in the heavenlies.

Political leaders have the greatest authority in the modern world, because almost everyone submits to their government. That empowers the spiritual powers that control and manipulate them, because by agreeing with them, they give them authority. They currently have more authority than Christian prophets and intercessors. This stalemate will be broken when human faith in their governments and their coercive and military power collapse. The result will be a power shift in the spiritual realm that releases the Holy Spirit and the angels to do great things on earth.

See Collapse of Human Government.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Holy Spirit and Angels (4) Spiritual Powers of Evil

The spiritual powers of evil work in a totally different way. Groups of spirits are controlled by government-spirits (attached to a nation) or by a ruler spirit (attached to a sin, like destruction, death). They use anger, power, force and fear to bully and manipulate the spirits they control. In turn, they are controlled by cosmos dominators, which control even larger groups of spirits that are fighting with each other.

Evil spirits and grouping of evil spirits are always shifting loyalties. The hierarchies are massive and oppressive, but they are also fluid, as disputes occur and loyalties and fears shift. There are constraint intrigues and wars at all levels in the hierarchies. The only thing that unites them is hatred of Jesus and his people, but they often get distracted by hatred and fear of each other.

The dominant emotions are anger, fear, jealousy and hatred. They manifest works of the flesh in Gal 5:19-21. Every bad attitude warned against in the NT exits amongst them.

The spiritual powers of evil have a communication problem. Spirits at the bottom level only know what to do as a message comes down the hierarchy, so they just do their own thing. The spirits at the top of the hierarchies are limited to place and time, so they are not all-knowing and omnipresent like the Holy Spirit, which means their communication and organisation is totally different. They have to use hierarchies of control. However, they cannot always see what their armies are doing, so their commands are often wrong. Their commands are often distorted by the time they pass down the hierarchy. It is easy for clever deceiving angels from God to slip in wrong commands. Communication is difficult, and lines of communications are often broken as loyalties shift.

The contrast between the operation of angels and the works of the spiritual powers of evil is stark. If more Christians understood the difference, they would realise how feeble their enemy really is.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Holy Spirit and the Angels (3)

The Holy Spirit and the angels operate in perfect unity. The Holy Spirit speaks to the angels and they gladly do what he asks them to do.

There is no hierarchy or control amongst the angels of God, as it is not needed.

Archangels are not ruler-angels. They are angels that specialise in dealing with ruler/government spirits, like Michael dealt with the Prince of Persia (Jude 1:9 and Dan 10:13). A hierarchy is not needed because the Holy Spirit is not constrained by space and time, so he can speak to any angel any place any time. He can always get an angel to do what he wants done. He knows where they are and what they are all doing.

Angels work together in teams as the Holy Spirit guides them along the same path. He puts them in teams with complementary skills and tells them how to work together.

Gods angels are peaceful and happy in doing their work. They constantly praise God and have fun working together with each other.

There is harmony of purpose and peace between them. They manifest the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22).

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Holy Spirit and the Angels (2) Angels

Angels respond to the prayers and prophecies of the saints. They act when given authority by a person with authority on earth. Frank Peretti’s Piercing the Darkness is wrong when it gives the impression at the end of the book that more Christians shouting louder gives angels more power. One person with authority in a situation is sufficient to release angels to do the will of God. (The problem is that in many situations, there is no Christian with sufficient authority).

Whereas the Holy Spirit is spirit and needs a person to work through on earth, angels are spirits with the ability to do things in the physical world. In this context:

  • Angels can prevent evil spirits of various kinds from acting (Dan 10:13).

  • They can provide for protection for servants of Jesus (Dan 12:1).

  • Some evil spirits can prevent angels from operating, if they have greater rank, ie many evil spirits are working for them (Dan 10:12).

  • Angels can carry messages to God’s people.

  • They can strengthen God’s people in their struggle (Matt 4:11). I presume by physically strengthening and chasing away harassing evil spirits.

  • Angels can provide food and other physical needs for Gods people (1 Kings (19:6).

  • Angels can deceive the enemies of God, people and evil spirits (1 Kings 22:22). The angels that gather the nations for battle are deceiving angels. They deceive the spiritual powers that control the nations. They also deceive the leaders of the nations.

  • During a physical war, angels can disrupt the enemies of God’s people (2 Kings 6:17).

    • Blind them, so they go to the wrong place (2 Kings 6:18).
    • Stir up wild animals and dangerous insects (Deut 7:20)
    • Send down hailstones and other forms of bad weather (Jos 10:11).
    • Direct their weapons accurately (1 Sam 17:49).
    • Do things to makes soldiers fear and flee (Jud 7:13).
    • Cause soldiers to fight against each other (Jud 7;22; 2 Chron 20:23)).
    • Confuse military leaders to think the defenders are stronger than they are (2 Sam 5:24)/
    • Angels can set up ambushes (2 Chron 20:22)
    • Send sickness and plague amongst the enemy army (Is 37:36)
    • Cause rebellion against political leaders (2 Chron 32:21).
    • Angels can strike down enemy soldiers (2 Sam 5:24)