Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ten Reasons (3) Confederation of States

The Beast of Revelation had "ten horns" (Rev 17:13-18). Daniel also saw a Beast with ten horns (Dan 7:8). The most obvious interpretation of the beast with the ten horns is that a number of independent nation states hand over their sovereignty to become part of a single united nation. One-third of these nations refused to give up their sovereignty and are forced to join under threat of military force (Dan 7:20, 25).

America is the only place in recent history where this has happened. The thirteen states that gained independence from Britain were each independently-governed, autonomous nation-states. They united to fight for independence, but they remained politically independent. After the war of independence, these nation-states came together and established the United States. They created a federal system in which they handed over very limited powers (mostly defence) to the federal government. All other powers were retained by the states.

We sometimes get confused by the use of the word state in this context. These states were not provinces of a greater state, but legally independent states that gave some power to a federal government.

Because they joined freely, many states considered that they could also withdraw from the Union. At the beginning of the civil war, the southern states attempted to withdraw from the Union and establish a separate confederacy. Although slavery was the initial trigger, the civil war was primarily fought over the right of these states to secede from the Union. If they had been allowed to freely secede from the Union would have been significantly weakened and further fragmentation would have been inevitable.

The army of the twenty northern states (two thirds) destroyed the armies of the 11 southern states (one third). The victory of the union forces enabled them to maintain the union, eliminating the right of the states to secede. This opened the way for a gradual shift of power from the states to the federal government. During the following century, the United States became the greatest military and economic power in the entire world and the states are now just provinces within this greater entity.

Christian commentators looking for a powerful confederacy of nations forget that a powerful union called the "united states" already exists. Daniel saw a group of nations (ten horns) joining together to become one nation (a single horn). At first, the federal government had very limited power (a little horn), but it defeated a group of states that tried to withdraw from the union (three horns) and became very powerful (large beast).

The numbers ten and three should not be taken literally. Ten symbolises completeness, indicating that all the states joined freely. The number three indicates that 3/10 of these states would be defeated in their attempt to secede.

Ten minus three is seven. Seven symbolises divinity. This indicates that the conquering states would take attempt to take on sovereignty that belongs only to God. The Beast attempts to "try to change the set times and the laws". This represents a rejection of God's laws. Since the civil war, the United States government has become increasingly secular and humanistic. Whereas the thirteen original states had laws directly based on the Bible, American law is now dominated by pragmatism and humanism.

Forty Years Ago

Country of Sheep
New Zealand is a country with more sheep than people. The number of sheep peaked at 70 million in 1982. The human population at that time was just over 3 million. Twenty sheep for each person (fortunately, they did not live in the same places).

At the end of the Second World War, Britain was seriously short of food, so the UK government agreed to buy all the sheep meat that New Zealand could produce. Over the next twenty years, New Zealand farmers focussed on producing sheep meat for the British Market. That came to an end in 1973, when Britain joined the EU (then the EEC) and gave priority to imports of meat from Europe. At the end of a transition period, New Zealand meat companies were left with a limited quota that they could sell into their traditional market.

By the end of the 1970s, the meat exporting companies and the New Zealand Meat Producer Board, which controlled marketing of New Zealand meat, were desperate for new markets. They decided that Middle Eastern countries would be the best alternative market for the surplus meat. The only catch was that to sell into these markets, livestock had to be killed according to Islamic halal requirements, which meant the slaughter board must face Mecca, slaughterman must be a Moslem and say a Moslem prayer when each animal is slaughtered. The Meat Board and the government began to pressure the meat companies to get set up for halal slaughtering of livestock for export.

Out of Nowhere
In 1979, I was a young minister in a Presbyterian parish in the southern part of New Zealand. The parish was entirely rural and most of the parishioners were farmers. In October 1979 I saw a news item in the local newspaper that a contract for the supply of 200 thousand tons of sheep meat had been negotiated with Iran. The pressure came on the meat companies to adopt halal slaughtering of livestock. I was serious about making the Christian message relevant to the lives of the people, so I preached a sermon about the issue to help the farmers thing through their response. (The information in my message is here).

Each Sunday morning, I covered a circuit of three churches. The first service was in a small church at a place called Merino Downs (the small church and a community hall were the only buildings, as the school had closed many years earlier). The congregation was usually less than twenty people. On the morning that I spoke about halal slaughtering, a woman was there who did not often attend. She went home to her husband who never attended church, and told him he should have been there, because he would have been interested in what I had said. I did not know, but he was a director of a cooperative meat processing company called Alliance, which handled more than half of the livestock produced in the Southland region.

By the time I got to the third church on the circuit, two of his fellow directors, who were also parishioners, turned up to listen, one armed with a cassette recorder. He told me at the end of the service that he had recorded the sermon, and hoped that I did not mind.
Two days later, the board of the Alliance met in Invercargill. One of the directors, whose father had been instrumental in establishing the cooperative, played the cassette to the meeting. A rural reporter for the local radio station had attended the meeting (I don’t know if he had been warned) and by lunchtime, an item about a local clergyman’s concern about halal slaughtering was on the national news.

The outcome was that many Christian farmers, and there were large numbers in the area, refused to allow their sheep to be halal slaughtered. The meat processing companies killed livestock “on consignment” and they purchased the livestock after they had been processed, so that any that were defective could be rejected. This meant that when they were being slaughtered, the sheep still belonged to the farmer who had grown them. So, the Meat Board and the government were effectively forcing Christian farmers to pay for Moslems to pray over their livestock, a serious breach of their freedom.

The spiritual implications were more serious, as by submitting to the process, farmers were submitting to the spiritual powers behind it.
That was forty years ago.

The Alliance cooperative kept halal slaughtering out of one of their plants for about ten years to allow their farmer-shareholder who were opposed to the change to continuing supply stock, but they eventually succumbed to the political pressure and began all halal processing. After being a very profitable operation, it had a number of very bad years and had to merge with some other meat companies to survive.

Halal slaughtering has become the norm in New Zealand, although only about 15 percent of sheep meat is exported to Moslem countries. The meat processing companies prefer to have all livestock halal slaughtered, so that they can send stock to any market. They say that people in other counties do not care that meat has been subject to a religious process when slaughtered.

A few small processing companies still have not adopted halal slaughtering, but the number is getting fewer. This leaves few options for farmers who object to their livestock being halal slaughtered. The same regulations have been applied to the slaughtering of beef.
A significant number of farmers have continued to refuse to have their livestock halal slaughtered, but this has significantly reduced the markets open to them. Over the forty years, they have paid a significant cost for their stand. I admire their courage and persistence in doing what is right.

Sheep farmers in New Zealand have had some very difficult years with low prices and difficult growing conditions. The number of sheep has dropped massively, as farmers in the South Island switched from sheep farming to dairy farming. Sheep numbers have more than halved to 27 million, while dairy cattle numbers have doubled to 6.5 million.

Questions
I have a couple of questions for readers in the US, UK and Europe.

  • Have Christians farmers in these countries been forced to have their livestock halal slaughtered in the same way as here (sheep or beef).
  • Do people in these countries care if the meat they buy has been halal slaughtered.
  • Are there meat wholesalers or importers in these countries, who specialise in meat that has not been halal slaughtered (there are plenty who specialise in halal meat). Is there a market for meat that has not been halal slaughtered?
If you know the answers to any of these questions, or know someone who does, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ten Reasons (2) Government that Died

The key to identifying the political empire called the Beast is that it seems to have died, but then comes back to life again. When it comes back to life, the entire world follows the Beast.

One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast (Rev 13:3).
One of the heads of the beast had been killed, but it came back to life, which caused great amazement throughout the world.

This Beast uses a form of human government that existed before John's time, but came to such a violent end that it seemed impossible that it would rise again. John saw a form of human government that seemed to be finished forever, coming into existence again. This is confirmed in a later vision.

The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come (Rev 17:8).
The Beast once existed, in John's time it did not exist, but in the future, it will come back into existence. People will be amazed when this type of government returns, because it seemed to have been obliterated.

John records the time when this government came to an end.

They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction (Rev 17:9,10).
The seven kings (or heads) are the seven forms of human government that ruled over Rome. Five did not exist during John's lifetime but had held power in previous times. The sixth form of government was ruling at the time when John received his vision. It is easy to identify, because the Roman Empire dominated the world throughout John's lifetime. The sixth head is the Roman empire.

The Beast has a form of government that did not exist during John lifetime, but had existed previously. Therefore, the key to identifying the Beast is identifying the form of human government that came to a violent end when the emperors came to power. The major form of human government that existed prior to the Roman Empire was the Roman Republic. It began in 500 BC and lasted for nearly five centuries. The Republic was led by consuls elected for a year. An elected Senate was responsible for passing laws and appointing government officials. Not everyone had the right to vote, but the Roman Republic was based on the principle of democracy, which had been developed in Greece, but had died there much earlier.

The republic was an important form of government for several centuries, but by the time that John received his vision, the Republic appeared to be gone forever, having been fatally wounded by several Roman emperors. It came to a violent end about thirty years before Jesus was born, when Julius Caesar and his successor Augustus turned their armies against Rome and destroyed the Republic. By the time of Jesus, the Empire was fully entrenched in power.

John’s vision warns that the Republic would come back to life as an eighth king. The Beast with the "fatal wound had been healed' and the "beast who was wounded by the sword and lived" is a democratic republic. It is the fifth king that died just before the Kingdom of God was established.

The democratic republic came back to life ten centuries later when the leaders of the democratic movement in the United States looked back to the example of the Greek and Roman Republics. The government buildings in Washington used Greek and Roman designs. The eighth king is the restored democratic republic that was developed in the United States and copied in other parts of the world.

People of the modern world have enormous faith in the democratic government. Most people have more faith in the state than Christians have in God. They say that democracy is the best form of government, so very few people are interested in being governed by God. Democracy is the ultimate rebellion, because it consists of an entire society refusing to accept God's government.

The Gospel of Jesus

Bad News
When the spiritual powers of evil tricked humans into rejecting God, they set about making life miserable for them and wrecking the beautiful world that God had created.

Good News
God loved the world so much that he sent his son Jesus to live on earth and die to pay for us the ransom that the spiritual powers of evil demanded. He raised Jesus from the dead to destroy their power and returned him to a place of honour in the spiritual realms. From there, Jesus sent a living Spirit to empower those who follow him and teach them how to live in peace and harmony.

Challenge
Change sides and give your allegiance to Jesus and work with him and his Spirit to restore the good world that God created.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ten Reasons (1) Time of Distress

The Beast that Daniel saw in his vision is not a person, but a terrible empire that crushes and controls the nations of the world. This terrible beast emerges and dominates the world during a Time of Distress, when a season called the Times of the Gentiles is coming to an end. This beast causes the events that will eventually lead to the Fulness of the Jews, which opens the way for a massive advance of the gospel in the power of the spirit that releases the fulness of his Kingdom on earth.

I have described this change of season in my book Times and Seasons. More detail is given at Times and Seasons. I believe that the world has already entered the Time of Distress, so the events that will bring in a new season are now underway. This means that the Beast of Daniel must already be in existence somewhere. It must have already emerged, even if it has not reached the apex of its power.

When I look around the modern world for a powerful empire, only one nation fits the brief. The only really powerful modern world empire is controlled by the United States. The European Union looked like a candidate for a while. Many biblical commentators expected it to grow into a super-state, like a restored Roman empire. but the European economy is now failing and several countries want to break out of the union. When Britain goes, more will follow. Europe is economically weak and its population is declining. European military forces are very limited and the anti-war sentiments of the population make a military build-up difficult. Therefore, if the prophecy of the Beast is being fulfilled in our time, we must look outside Europe.

The collapse of the Soviet Union confirmed that it is not the Beast. Russia now has an economy about the size of Portugal or New York state, so its opportunity to become a world empire is gone. China is getting strong economically, but it does not have sufficient military power to become a dominant world empire within the next couple of decades. So, if the Beast is active in our world, it must be the United States of America.

The United States is the most powerful empire the world has ever known, with the strongest economy and military bases all over the world. Many nations are dominated by its power, and no other nation can challenge its role as superpower. The US economy is the largest that has ever existed. No other nation could sustain two wars on the other side of the world at the same time without collapsing under the strain. The United States is definitely a world empire.

Most Americans would agree that their nation is an empire, but they believe that it is a good empire. However, the evidence tells a different story. The United States has wrecked many nations while pretending to do good. Some examples are the Philippines, North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. Daniel said that the Beast would crush many nations.

The beast is dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it (Dan 7:7).
Daniel's Beasts rose to power when the four winds of heaven had churned up the sea (Dan 7:2-3). The sea is a symbol of the multitudes of people living on the earth (Rev 17:15). The beast arrives at a time when the people of the world are stirred up.

The Beast is active throughout the Time of Distress.

He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place (Dan 11:36).
This beast will collapse when the time of distress is complete and the next season emergences.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Ten Reasons

My working assumption (until history proves it wrong) is that the United States is the Beast described in Daniel and Revelation. This assumption helps me make sense of many events that are occurring on earth.

My assumption is not a vain guess, but is based on a detailed study of the scriptures over many years. In the next ten posts, I will give ten reasons why I believe this assumption could be true.

Christians and the entire US nation are deeply divided over Donald Trump. Some are immensely hostile to him, and others see him as God’s gift to the nation. Both sides of this debater are missing the point. Donald Trump is a sideshow. While Christians are fighting over him, the enemy has been at a work through political parties and the Washington bureaucracy transforming the nation into a Beast that can be used for the purposes of evil.

Donald Trump is no more important than many of his predecessors. The process of transition from Republic to Beast has been going on for many decades, even or most of the twenty-first century. Most presidents and many members of congress have contributed to this transition. Donald Trump is just carrying on down the same path as his predecessors. The only difference is that the starkness of current events is revealing changes that were previously hidden.

Predictions for 2020

Many prophets are gearing up to release their message about God’s plans for the next year. On important thing is often missing from these words. They fail to distinguish between:

  • God’s intentions – what he would like to do, if he could human cooperation (but often doesn’t).
  • God’s plans – What he is definitely going to do, because has everything in place ready to do it.
I believe that much of what the prophets will predict falls into the first category. They describe what God wants to do. He tells his people what he would like to do in order to encourage them to get prepared and act boldly. Usually, these predictions fail, not because God has changed his mind, but because his people fail to do their part.

The other thing that is often missing from these declarations about what God wants to do is his strategy for bringing his plans about. This is important, because the people God need to know they need to do, and how they need to get prepared, in order receive the blessing that God would like to give to them.

This season, I would like to see more about God’s strategy and tactics for accomplishing his plans and less to emphasis on the outcomes. Without the former, the latter is just an intention that might never happen. Outcomes are nothing without strategies to accomplish them.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Political Power is a False Hope

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 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). These spirits have immense authority on earth, despite their defeat on the cross, because people submit to the leaders they control. 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 feeble power by attacking people with political authority.

The population of the world is greater than it has ever been, more than 7 billion people. The number of evil spirits at work in the world has not increased, so they should now be weaker than they have ever been, as they have to spread themselves more thinly across the world. However, they have amplified their limited authority by aligning themselves with political power.

Because political power is more controlling and more widespread than it has ever been, this strategy has more than compensated them for their limited numbers. Consequently, they are probably more powerful than they have ever been.
The powers of evil are not very creative, so they usually find a method that works and stick with it. Manipulating and controlling political leaders has been their best tactic, and it will continue to be effective as long as people willingly submit to political leaders.

By trusting political power, humans have strengthened the powers of evil at a time when they should be weak. The power of evil is mostly an illusion, but concentrating on a few powerful people has allowed the forces of evil to leverage their pathetic power. Controlling human political power has amplified their authority out of proportion to their strength.

It does not matter how political leaders gain their power by democratic election or military coup, once they hold power, they will be attacked by the government-spirit that manipulates and controls their nation and the numerous spirits that support it. Unless they are spiritually strong, they will find themselves deceived and controlled by the government-spirit. Most think they are the best person for the job, so they immediately open the door by succumbing to pride. A political leader needs to exert control to achieve their goals, so they quickly succumb to a spirit of deception and control. This gives the government-spirit the power that they need to expand their control.

A democracy is no better than a dictatorship, if it is controlled by a government-spirit, and most are, because it is the best way for the powers of evil to leverage their feeble power.

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. Evil gains huge power on earth by deploying a few strong spirits to get control of the leaders of large powerful nations. By controlling these leaders, the government-spirits get authority over everyone submitted to the leaders. Concentration of human political power gives vast power to the government-spirits that control it.

Government-spirits love to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). We are seeing this now in many parts of the world. Wars and economic crashes are not God’s judgements, but are a sign that evil powers have been given a free hand.
Political power is a huge obstacle to the Kingdom of God, because it is so vulnerable to evil. Political evil cannot be defeated by political power. Many Christians have unwittingly supported the enemy and held back the Kingdom by supporting political power. Instead, we must wait until God destroys human government by bringing judgment against it when the time is right.

When the time is right, Christian prophets will also announce God's judgement on political power. Their prophetic words will release the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy human government and political empires throughout the world. Big powerful government will sink like a millstone thrown into the sea, never to be seen again (Rev 18:21). Its destruction will be so horrifying that the people of the world will never trust it again.

Confidence in political power will be shaken.

  • Human government will be exposed as a false hope.
  • Faith in democracy will be crushed.
  • Trust in force will be betrayed.
  • Political power will crumble, collapse and sneak away.
  • Faith in political power will vanish from human hearts.
When human rulers and empires collapse, the principalities and powers that have amplified their power through them will be shattered. With no place to stand, they will become common evil spirits defeated by the cross. When political leaders lose their power, the spiritual forces will be fragmented and weak.

When human governments stop functioning, a power vacuum will exist. Those who have trusted in democratic government will be desperate for something different and better. With human government crushed by events it could not control, people will be desperate for a saviour who keeps his promises. They will welcome the Kingdom of God.

As human political powers are swept away, authority will return to families and local communities. Political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around to people who trust Jesus and walk in the Spirit. The kingdoms of the world will disappear and be replaced by the Kingdom of God (Rev 11:15).

From Government of God.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Prophesying to Nations (5) People Trusting Politicians

The message to the Christians who trust politicians would be something like this.

You have put your faith in political power
and looked to politicians for solutions
to the problems of the nation
You voted them in
because they promised to make things better,
but you do not realise that political power
empowers the spiritual powers of evil.

Political powers are manipulated by spiritual powers.
Every human government is dominated and controlled
by a government spirit (principality or power)
that exercises control over the nation,
regardless of what government is in power.

A change in government changes nothing,
because the same spiritual powers remain in control.
So it does not matter who you vote for,
because government-spirits cannot be voted out.
They can only be removed by the people of the nation
turning back to God
and forcing them out in the name of Jesus
and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Political power is a trap.
It promises solutions to the problems that people fear,
but it gives evil spiritual powers a home
and allows them to leverage their authority
and increase evil.

Political power is an illusion,
because it is controlled by spiritual powers
who use it to amplify their evil power
and take the nation further away
from peace and blessing.

See Political Power is a False Hope.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Prophesying to Nations (4) Rulers

The message to rulers of all Stripes would be something like this.

Despite your claims, you are not the answer
you are part of the problem;
You do not have solutions
to the problems that the people fear.

Your best efforts will not make things better,
they will only make things worse.
Your plans and policies will produce greater problems
and you will not understand why
or what to do to change it.

The situation will get worse and worse under your watch
and you will be powerless to do anything about it.
Nothing that you try will succeed.
The people will realise that your platforms
and manifestos are empty promises
with no foundation in truth and life.

When you wake up to what has happened,
You will sneak away and hide
Your power will be broken, and no one will want it.
No one will be willing to take your place.
You have taken authority over the nation,
but you have no spiritual protection,
so the spiritual powers of evil are free to work in this land
because you opened the door for them.

They have authority over you,
but you do not understand how
you do not even know what they are doing.
And you certainly can’t stop them.
Nothing you do will make things better,
they will just make things worse.
because the powers of evil are free
to work through everything that you touch.

The powers of evil are at home in everything that you do
and everything you control,
they control.
They use nothing for good
and everything for evil.

You say that there is no god.
and that we don’t need God
but you have opened yourself up to thousands of non-gods;
evil spirits, who are opposed to God
and you cannot see what they are doing
and have no way to stop them.

So evil will follow evil
and confusion will follow confusion
and muddle and mess will remain.

See Political Power is a False Hope.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Prophesying to the Nations (3) Message

During a season of rapid spiritual decline, the role of prophets is to describe to their nation the consequences of giving greater authority to the spiritual powers of evil. The scope and direction of their message will vary according to the situation.

  • Prophets will primarily address the people of God. Because they are people of hope, they will often be assuming that their nation will turn around and return to a place of blessing. The prophets will warn them what will happen if these hopes are not fulfilled. This type of prophecy is sometimes not fulfilled, because the warning spurs God people to pray and share the gospel effectively, which leads their nation back to blessing as they hoped (Jonah’s prophecy to Nineveh is an example).

  • Prophets will teach the people of God to be prepared for the troubles that the decline in faith is bringing. They will explain the strategies that God has to protect his people during the time of distress that is coming. They will tell them what they must to do to be prepared for a time of disruption. This is important, because if they are not prepared, the people of God could be swept away by troubles that they do not deserve. God wants his people to stand together while everything around them is being shaken. They will be able to support each other while the foundations that everyone trusts are being swept away.

  • Sometimes, God will get the prophets to speak to the leaders of the nation and warn them of the dangerous consequences that their decisions will have. The prophets will explain that what they think is good is bad in God’s eyes and that they are responsible for the outcome. They will explain that the leaders’ decisions and actions are increasing the authority of the spiritual powers of evil, so the harm that follows will be out of proportion to the scope of their mistakes. They need to know, that whatever their intentions, the consequence will be far worse than they expect, and they are mostly responsible. The message of the prophets will probably not be received by the leaders of the nation, but because they have taken up authority and placed responsibility on themselves, God will want them to understand the consequences.

  • During the spiritual decline of a nation, God is unlikely to tell his prophets to speak to the unbelievers living in the nation, even if their numbers are growing. They do not believe in God, so they are unlikely to receive a message from him. Many do not understand the working of the powers of evil, so a prophetic message would confuse them.

    And it is not fair to blame non-Christians for the state of the world. If there has been a spiritual decline, it is because followers of Jesus have not been doing their job, so they are responsible for the consequences.

    The people of the world need to hear the gospel of Jesus, so God is more likely to send evangelists to carry the message of his love to those who don’t know him. He will send people to heal the sick and cast out demons and tell them that he loves them and wants to rescue them from their troubles.

Prophesying to Nations


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Prophesying to Nations (2) After the Gospel

Since the coming of Jesus, the situation is as follows.

Israel mostly rejected the new covenant, so is still under the covenant with Moses. If they fail to keep that covenant, they can expect to experience troubles. Prophets to Israel should be warning about this danger.

The growth of the church changes the situation for the nations of the world. God has promised to bless and protect the people who have chosen to follow Jesus. If there is a large number of people following Jesus in a nation, the blessing of God will flow a long way out to the rest of the nation. The believers will push back against the spiritual powers of evil in prayer. Blessings will flow to those who engage with them in various ways. The poor and infirm will be cared for. The vulnerable will be protected from harm. Those who submit to a Christian employer, share his/her blessings. The wisdom that God gives to his people will be copied by the people of the world. Everyone in the nation benefits when more people choose to follow Jesus.

The real problem occurs in a nation when there is a substantial drop in the number of Christians living within it; everyone suffers. The prayers of the saints will have restrained the spiritual powers of evil. When their number declines, the authority and influence of their prayers will decline too, so the spiritual powers of evil get greater freedom to operate.

People who have lived in a country with many Christians get a false sense of security. They benefit spiritually from the prayers of the saints and the blessings that flow towards them, even if they do not acknowledge Jesus themselves. When the influence of the Holy Spirit in a nation declines, the decline in the state of the nation is not proportional. The amplification of the power and authority of the spiritual powers of evil means that evil gets worse out of proportion to the influence of the gospel in the nation.

This is the situation in New Zealand. The number of Christians and the influence of the Holy Spirit has declined significantly. Here are results from the last population census.

This is a disturbing picture. The Christian influence in New Zealand has declined significantly, but Christians and non-Christians both assume that things can go on mostly as normal. Christians tend to assume that revival is just around the corner. Unbelievers assume the residual blessing from the faithful past will continue, even if they do not acknowledge its source.

The reality is that the influence of the spiritual powers of evil in New Zealand has increased much faster and further than the blue line in the picture would indicate. They are now rampant in our nation. We should expect to see the impact of their greater activity, if there is not an increase in allegiance to Jesus.

The role of a prophet in a secular nation with a declining gospel influence is to warn the nation of the harm that the spiritual powers of evil are planning to do. This is the fourth task in the list in the previous post.

God may sometimes allow Warning Events to wake the people of the nation up. At every stage, the prophets should be warning what the spiritual powers of evil want to do in the nation. The believers will often not have the spiritual authority to prevent it from happening, because unbelievers have given the spiritual powers of evil much greater authority in the nation. I describe this situation in Prophetic Events. If the influence of the gospel declines massively, the control of the spiritual powers of evil will become huge.

If the nation where this is happening is powerful, they might use it to do great evil in the world. When this happens, God might have to bring a Protective Judgment against the nation to restrain it from evil. This is what happened to the Babylonian empire. See Protective Judgments for more on how this works. Warning of the collapse of a powerful empire is role number 4 in the previous post.

The influence of the gospel in the United States is declining so God will need prophets in the United States to undertake this role.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Prophesying to the Nations (1)

God made a covenant with Israel through Moses that promised blessings on obedience and curses on disobedience (Deut 28). The covenant provided spiritual protection and cleansing of sin through the tabernacle sacrifices. The curse produced agricultural failure and military defeat. The ultimate curse was exile from the land.

The Old Testament prophets challenged the children of Israel to keep the covenant and warned that the curse of the covenant would come upon them if they continued to reject God and lived like the surrounding the nations.

The other nations never signed up to the Mosaic covenant, so the curses and blessing it specifies do not apply to them. The Old Testament prophets never challenged the nations to comply with the covenant and never warned of the curses that it specifies.

The only covenant that God made with all the nations was the Adamic covenant that promised that the people of the world would be safe if they trusted in him, but warned that they would be enslaved by the spiritual powers of evil if they rejected him. The nations of the world continuously rejected God, so they are under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. These powers have authority to harm these disobedient nations and to attack and destroy them if they choose.

The other covenant that applies to all the nations is the Rainbow Covenant made with Noah that gives God authority to destroy any nation that becomes so powerful and so evil that it begins to seriously harm his earth, putting its survival in jeopardy. In this situation, God can judge and destroy the political leaders of these nations to prevent them from continuing to harm the earth.

When the Old Testament prophets prophesied against a nation (other than Israel), they challenged them on the basis of these two covenants. Reading through prophecies against nations recorded by the Old Testament prophets reveals four basic messages.

  1. Describes how God will use nations against each other to accomplish his purposes – stirring up nation against nation, or stirring up people within a nation against its rulers.

  2. Describes how he will use the nations to bring judgment against his people: Israel and the church.

  3. Describes what the spiritual powers of evil want to do, because, or when, they hold power over the nation.

  4. Describes how God will destroy a nation because its rulers have raised themselves up as gods, or because they have begun to do too much harm on the earth (This was Jeremiah’s message to Babylon — Jer 50,51).


Friday, November 29, 2019

Miracles (9) Words

The English word “miracle” is often used to describe a rare event. The word does not really exist in that sense in the New Testament. Four words are used in this to describe interventions from the spiritual realms.

ergion — works (John 5:20; 7:3).
dunamis — power (Mark 9:39; 13:58, Gal 3:5, 1 Cor 2:28).
semeion — signs (John 4:54; Luke 23:8).
teras — wonder (John 4:48; Acts 2:22).
They are sometimes combined together as in works of power (Mark 9:39) or signs and wonders (John 4:48) or signs, wonders and different powers (Heb 2:4).

Jesus worked miracles wherever he went, as a sign that he is the messiah of God. Once he had ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit continued to do signs wherever his disciples went to confirm their good news that Jesus is our rescuer/messiah. He wants to continue doing this all over the world, so signs will continue everywhere. They are “works of power” to prove that Jesus said that he is.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Miracles (9) Observing

Scientists measure events that occur in the physical world. This raises the question: what would they see if a spiritual being made changes to the physical world. If they made observations before and after, they would see how the world was before the change and how it was after the change, but they could not see what caused the change. The previous second observation would show a situation which was not sufficient to cause the change recorded in the second observation. The second observation would show a situation that the conditions in the first observation could not produce.

For example, an observation of Jesus body just prior to the resurrection would show a body that was dead. All physical functions would have ceased. There would be no possibility of further life. An observation just after the resurrection would show a person that was alive. There would be no physical explanation for this dramatic change.

The problem is that in most cases, the impact of the spiritual intervention does not become evident immediately, so observations are not made until well afterwards, when the symptoms of the spiritual interaction become evident. We mostly do not observe a spiritual interaction, because we do not know it has happened. By the time scientists realise what has occurred, it is too late to begin making observations.

If an evil spirit caused a woman’s spine to begin collapsing, a physical examination prior to the event would show a healthy spine. If the collapse was slow and gradual, then a physical examination just after the evil spirit had begun doing the damage probably would not show much difference. The beginning of a collapse might be evident, but they change would look very similar to what would be observed with normal osteoporosis, if it were observed when it was first beginning.

If an evil spirit caused a few cells in a person’s lungs to mutate and become cancerous, the immediate effect would be hard to observe. An observation prior to the event would show healthy lungs. An observation after the spiritual intervention would show a very small number of cancerous cells. This would be very similar to what would be observed if the cancer was due to natural causes. In both cases, the existence of the cancer would not be known to until it had grown sufficiently to produce more serious symptoms, so these observations would be unlikely to occur. So the immediate change would not be observed, even with modern medical diagnostic equipment.

If a modern pathologist had undertaken an autopsy of the body of King Herod after he had been killed by an angel (Acts 12:23), the pathologist would discover evidence of the cause of his death. Perhaps he had had a heart attack or a serious stroke. However, the pathologist would not be able to see that the death was triggered by an angel, because it would look just like any other heart attack or stroke. The physical examination of a pathologist cannot identify spiritual causes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Miracles (8) Angels

Angels can speak in a way that humans can hear (Judges 2:1; Acts 27:33).

  • Mary and Joseph, the shepherds heard angels telling them what to do.
  • Angels comforted Jesus (Matt 4:11).
  • Angels can give people dreams.
  • An angel spoke to Abraham (Gen 22:11).
  • Angels can put thoughts in the mind of humans.
  • Angels speak to prophets (2 Kings 1:3).
  • Angels can speak to people who are rejecting God (Gen 16:8-10).
  • Angels can speak to people who are seeking God (Acts 10:7).
Angels can change things in the physical world.
  • When the angels appeared to the shepherd, they filled the sky with a bright light (Luke 2:9).
  • An angel can open a locked door (Acts 12:8-10).
  • Angels can rescue and protect people from human attackers (Gen 19:10).
  • An angel can lead a person travelling on a long journey (Gen 24:40; Ex 23:30).
  • Angels can destroy the enemies of the people of God (Ex 23:30 (2 Kings 19:35)).
  • An angel can appear to animals (Num 22:22-26).
  • An angel can help a human see into the spiritual world ((Num 22:31).
  • Angels can destroy a plate of meat and bread by causing fire to come out of a rock (Jud 6:21).
  • Angels can appear and disappear from view (Jud 6:21).
  • An angel could destroy a city (1 Sam 24:16).
  • Angels made and spread manna in the wilderness (Psalm 78:24-26).
  • Angels can change the behaviour of animals (Dan 6:22).
  • Angel’s can kill evil rulers (Acts 12:23).
  • An angel can stir up water (John 5:4).
  • Angels can shift large stones (Matt 28:2).
  • Angels can release disasters on earth (Rev 8:7-12).
These things that angels can do are not examples of the laws of nature being suspended, they are examples of the normal interaction that occurs between the spiritual and physical world.

Large numbers of angels can gather together to exert immense power. Unlike the evil spirits that hate each other and fight against each other, angels are glad to join with other angels to obey Jesus.

Angels are servants, so they cannot make humans do things that they do not want to do. They have to wait until humans are willing to be served by them while doing God’s will. The angels are released to act and serve when God’s people are gladly following and obeying Jesus.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Miracles (7) Evil Spirits

Evil Spirits have the ability to move in the spiritual realms but change things in the physical world. They operate on the boundary between the physical and spiritual.

Evil Spirits can speak.
  • Many people have heard evil spirits speak. If they submit to the voice, they give the evil spirit power in their life.

  • Sometimes they speak with a voice of deception. That is what happened to Jesus. The tempter spoke lies to him to try and deceive him into submitting to his power. The solution to the voice of deception is to speak the word of God, under the leading of the Holy Spirits.

  • Evil spirits can drop thoughts into the minds of people. This applies to people in the world and those who are following Jesus.

Evil spirits have physical power. They have the ability to make changes in the physical world. They can change the nature of physical things.

  • When God had finished his creative activity, everything was good. There were no earthquakes, volcanoes, droughts, tornados, tsunamis, fatal diseases and floods. When humans sinned, the powers of evil were free to attack God’s creation. They hate him, so they delighted in finding ways to harm his world. The powers of evil changed the way that the earth functions.

    Once human sin had squeezed God out of his universe, the powers of evil got to work and really messed it up. Earthquakes, floods, droughts, tsunamis, tornados, volcanoes and other destructive forces appeared on earth for the first time.

    For the first millennium of human history, there were far more evil spirits working on earth than there were humans. They attacked these people, but they focussed on harming and destroying the creation. They made changes to the way that the physical world functions. They changed some animal species to make them violent. They played with genetic material to manipulate species and destroy God’s good creation. Animals, insects and plants changed into dangerous forms that had not existed when the world was good. Bacteria and viruses that cause sickness and disease emerged and began to spread. A vast army went to work in the universe creating evil species, wreaking havoc and spoiling the beautiful world that God created.

    The powers of evil had more than a thousand years rampaging through God’s beautiful world. After the flood, when the numbers of humans on earth had increased, evil spirits no longer had numeric superiority. They shifted their focus from harming creation to using political power to control and harm the people of the world.

  • Evil spirits can make people physically sick. In the case of one woman that Jesus had healed, the powers of evil had changed the functioning of her spine or given her osteoporosis (Luke 13:16). They seem to be able to shift bacteria and cause cells to mutate to become cancerous cells. They seem to be able to create or release viruses.

  • An individual spirit is not strong enough to create a storm, a tornado or an earthquake. However, a large group of them can join together to release a storm or an earthquake, if the conditions are right. They are not strong enough to create an earthquake, but if geological pressures have built up sufficiently on a fault, they can trigger the timing of a quake. The same applies to storms. They are not strong enough to create a storm, but if the conditions are building, they can nudge them to release a storm.

    The storm that struck the disciples when they were sailing across the Sea of Galilee seemed to have been triggered by the spiritual powers of evil. Mark describes it as a "great storm of wind" (Mark 4:37). Matthew says a great shaking (seismos) occurred in the sea. (Matt 8:24). The men in the boat were experienced sailors, but they were filled with terror because they realised they could be destroyed.
    The forces of darkness understood that Jesus was a risk to them. Now he had started his ministry the risk was becoming clear. He was casting out demons, and they were powerless. He was healing the people they had inflicted with sickness. They knew that they had to deal with him, before he really got going. so they stirred up the sea and the wind in an effort to kill Jesus.

    When the disciples woke Jesus, he understood what was happening. He rebuked wind in the same way as he rebuked evil spirits that he was casting out. He spoke to the said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still" (Mark 4:39)! Speaking to an "act of nature" is a pointless waste of time, but Jesus knew the storm was demonic. He seemed to be speaking to the wind and the waves, but he was actually speaking to the evil spirits who were at work in both.

    The disciples just saw a storm. Jesus realised that in the spiritual realms, a host of evil spirits had stirred up the wind and the sea in an effort to destroy him. There were other boats on the Sea of Galilee that night (Mk 4:36), but the spirits focussed the attack on his boat. Jesus understood his authority, so he rebuked the evil spirits. I presume that when he spoke, a host of powerful angels forced the evil spirits off the lake. That is why the wind and the waves instantly calmed.

    Unlike a natural storm, this storm came without warning and ended suddenly. Much is made of the unpredictability of storms on the Galilee, but Jesus disciples knew how to read the weather signs (Luke 12:54) and would not have gone out if a storm was brewing. This storm ended as quickly as it started, because its source was demonic.

  • Most storms are caused by strong winds, not by demonic powers. The same applies to earthquakes and bush fires. Most are just natural events caused by the workings of nature. Only a few are the word of the demonic powers. The natural and spiritual events look the same, so spiritual discernment is needed to tell the difference.

  • Evil spirits are always fighting each other, so they find it hard to work together. This means that situations where the join together to something big in the physical world are rare. It only happens, when they are bullied by a more powerful controlling spirit, such as the spirit called Destruction (Rev 9:11).

  • Evil spirits can pretend to be something that they are not.

Evil spirits are not very creative, so they usually try to find something that works and do it over and over again. They spent the first millennium attacking the physical earth. When the flood and the Rainbow Covenant put an end to that method, they have switched to using political power and human empires to leverage their influence on earth.

Since the cross, the spiritual powers of evil have concentrated on using political power to control people. A government-spirit working with a few powerful spirits can control an entire city or nation, but that is another story.



Monday, November 25, 2019

Miracles (6) Holy Spirit

The physical world was created out of nothing by the Holy Spirit. We know now that physical matter is energy in a different form. The energy that is the basis of the matter which comprises the universe came from the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit speaks.

  • He reaches out to people who have rejected God and speaks of his love in an attempt to draw them to Jesus.
  • He convicts people who are making bad decisions.
  • He speaks to people who love Jesus so that they get to know better.
  • He speaks to people who listen to him and ask questions.
  • He speaks the gospel to the world through his evangelists.
  • He speaks to the people of the world through prophets.
  • The Holy Spirit gives his people words of knowledge and wisdom (1 Cor 12:8).
The Holy Spirit frequently intervenes in the physical world to make changes for the benefit of God’s people.
  • The Holy Spirit intervened to bring about the blessings of the covenant that God made with his people (Deut 28:1-13). He causes the rain to fall for the benefit of his people. He causes their crops to grow better. These covenant interventions are only for his covenant people, not for the people of the world.
  • The Holy Spirit intervened to protect God’s people when the surrounding nations attacked them. He blinded some armies (2 Kings 6:18). He caused others to fight against each other (Jud 7:22). Others he filled with terror and caused them to flee (Deut 7:20-21; Ex 23:27).
  • The Holy Spirit can heal people who are sick (Acts 8:10).
  • The Holy Spirit can force out an evil spirit that is physically harming a person (Mark 9:18-25).
  • The Holy Spirit can raise people from the dead (Acts 20:10-12).
God gave authority on the earth to humans, so the Holy Spirit can only intervene if he is given permission by humans. This explains why the people of the world only experience the Holy Spirit infrequently. Most of the time they have shut him out and refused to give him authority to work in their lives. This is also why it is important for unbelievers to become hungry for God. They are more likely to give the Holy Spirit permission to work as a consequence of their hunger.

The authority situation on earth means that his activity is often constrained by inadequate prayer. Christians do not experience the fullness of his work, because they do not give him permission to act in their lives. When we keep control over our lives he is shut out from working for us.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Miracles (5) Science

Scientists focus on the physical world alone, so they do not observe interventions from the spiritual realm. I presume that angels and evil spirits do not intervene in situations where scientists are conducting experiments. There are good reasons for this. Evil spirits do not disrupt their experiments of scientists because they prefer to remain hidden from their eyes. They want scientists to continue believing that the spiritual world is not real. God’s angels do not play tricks, so they do not intervene in a way that would confuse the scientists, because they only intervene to bring glory to God. Therefore, the experiments of scientists will not be affected by interventions from the spiritual realms.

Of course, if a spiritual intervention did occur and disrupt the expected result, for example, by causing water to boil at a different temperature, the scientist would treat the outcome as a rogue result and discard it. For these reasons, scientists do not see the interventions from the spiritual world that are occurring all the time.

In the next few posts, I will outline some of the ways that beings in the spiritual realms intervene to affect events in the physical world. The spiritual world is full of spiritual beings: Holy Spirit, angels, evil spirits that have rebelled against God. The Scriptures explain the various ways that they intervene in the physical world.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Miracles (4) Interaction between Physical and Spiritual

The materialistic world view assumes that the spiritual world does not exist. The more popular world view acknowledges the existence of the spiritual realm, but assumes that the interaction between these two realms is rare.

  • People occasionally see ghosts.
  • A few nice people get to see angels.
  • God is a long way away. Even if he created the world, he is now watching from a distance. People have to get on with life without him.
  • Miracles are rare, because God has to suspend the laws of nature to intervene in the spiritual world.
  • The Holy Spirit is only experienced in a meeting at a religious place.
  • People go to heaven when they die. It is a place that it a long way away.
These views are all wrong. The spiritual and physical worlds are closely linked. Interaction between these realms is happening all the time. People who ignore events in the spiritual realms will fail to understand what is happening on earth.

The word miracle is not helpful, because it implies that intervention from the spiritual into the physical are rare. That is not correct. Interactions between the spiritual and the physical world are occurring all the time. The problem is that we have been so immersed in the physical world that we do not see or recognise interventions from the spiritual world.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Miracles (3) Physical and Spiritual Reality

The materialistic world view that has been adopted by modern people is incorrect, because it leaves out a huge chunk of reality. The physical world is not all that there is. Scientists who study the physical world in isolation will miss out on much of what happens in the world. The physical world is overlaid by a spiritual world, which is more complex, and probably more important for what happens in history.

Physical
The physical realms consist of the earth, the sea and the sky. It includes people, and the things they have made. God created the physical world and everything that is in it. When he had completed his creation, he saw that it was good.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Gen 1:31).
We are familiar with the physical world, because we live in it and our senses are attuned to the physical things that surround us. Because sin has made us spiritually blind, we assume the physical world makes up most of the universe. This distortion is reinforced by the scientific approach to life, which claims that things that cannot be scientifically observed are not real. The spiritual world is sometimes acknowledged, but we tend to live as if the physical world is the centre of modern life.

Spiritual
Our experience on earth causes us to think that the authority systems on earth are important, so we miss the parallel authority systems that exist in the spiritual realms and interact with the authority systems on earth. To understand the functioning of authority on earth, we need a thorough understanding of the way that authority flows out of the spiritual realms.

When they were created, Adam and Eve could see into the spiritual world. They were able to walk with God in the cool of the evenings and speak directly to him (Gen 3:8,9). They lost this ability after they disobeyed God. We need spiritual insight to understand what is happening in the spiritual world. People with faith in Jesus have their spiritual eyes opened, so they can see into the spiritual realms. That is why Paul prayed for “the eyes of our hearts” to be enlightened (Eph 1:18).

Most humans cannot see into the spiritual dimensions, so they can only observe the physical side of existence. However, events in our physical world are often shaped by activities in the spiritual realms. When we look at the physical world in isolation, we miss much of what is happening in the universe. “The heavens” is the biblical name for the spiritual world that exists in parallel to the physical world.

Multi-dimensional Universe
God created a multi-dimensional universe in which the spiritual dimensions exist in parallel to our three-dimensional physical world. The spiritual realms operate in continuity with the physical/natural world that we observe.

The spiritual realms are not limited to three dimensions like our physical world. The Bible does not tell us how many, but it is far more than three. We think naturally in three dimensions, so we find it hard to conceive of a multi-dimensional world. The spiritual world is not another world in another place, but a set of dimensions additional to the physical world we observe.

The spiritual world is more real than the physical world. We find that hard to believe, because our eyes are calibrated for a physical world. If we could perceive the spiritual world clearly, we would be amazed at how wonderful it is.

God lives and operates in the spiritual dimensions of reality, but he also created and sustains the physical world. After the creation, the Holy Spirit remained close to the earth (Gen 1:2). The Holy Spirit was not isolated in a distant place. The spiritual realms where he operates hover over the earth, not way out at the edge of the universe. He moves easily between both worlds.

Angels and demons are personal beings without bodies who can speak and act. They live in the spiritual realms, but have the ability to move into the physical world. They can touch people and things in the physical world to complete their work. Angels and demons can only intervene in the physical world in one place at a time. This limits what they can do on earth.

In contrast, the Holy Spirit is present in the spiritual realms and everywhere on earth at any time. This gives him unlimited power and makes him far greater than any angel or evil spirit.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Miracles (2) Laws of Nature

The so-called laws of nature are not laws in the sense that the word is used in the scriptures. A law is a revelation by God. It describes an action or behaviour that God does not approve. These actions are forbidden by God. A law is distinguished from a sin by the fact, that the law contains a penalty for breaking the law.

In the scriptures, laws are normative, not positive. They describe the things that God wants people to avoid doing, because they mess up relationships and harm the earth. They do not describe how the world works or what must happen on earth. They describe things that God does not want done.

The so-called laws of nature are not laws. They are just a description of how the world works. This understanding has been developed by observing the way the world functions.

  • When water is heated to 100 degrees at sea level, it boils (changes to steam).
  • When an apple loses its connection to the tree, it falls to the ground.
  • If an arrow is shot into the air, it rises for a time, then falls to the ground.
These understandings have been developed by observing the behaviour of objects in the physical world. By testing hypotheses, scientists have developed a huge amount of detail about the way the physical world functions. These understandings have been tested over time, in many places. However, they are not really laws in a biblical sense. They are not rules. They are descriptions of what will happen to physical objects if they are subjected to stimuli in a particular situation. They describe what will usually happen, but they do not describe what must happen. They capture cause and effect in the physical world.

God has created the world so that it functions in a consistent way. That means an understanding of how the world works will be true, wherever and whenever it is tested, provided the conditions are the same. So, water boils at 100 degrees Celsius in New Zealand and Norway. However, it boils at a different temperature on Mount Everest, because the atmospheric pressure is different.

This consistency with which God created the world is the reason that many people refer to their understanding of the way the world works as laws of nature. If there is no God, it still nice to have laws, and this is a good way to get them. But it is not what they really are.

The so-called laws of nature are a description, not a prescription. Though they are called “laws”, in a rigid and prescriptive sense, they are not. Rather, they are universal inductive generalizations.

The laws of nature do not define an outcome, but a process. They tell you not what must happen but what will happen in the natural course of events. If I lift a porcelain vase over my head and then let go of it, the law of gravity says that it will fall to the ground and shatter—but not that it must do these things.

If, one second before the vase hits the ground, my other hand swoops down and catches it, the vase will not shatter. Have I broken the law of gravity? Of course not. I have merely suspended it by adding a new, outside factor into the equation. If I let go of it again, it will fall and shatter.

A miracle is an event which natural causes at a particular time and place cannot bring about.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Miracles (1) Materialistic World View

The modern secular world view assumes that the physical world that can be observed by science is all that exists. For this reason, it is often referred to as materialism, because only material things count.

Most modern people, including many Christians, tend to believe that miracles can only occur if God puts the laws that govern the physical world on hold, so that he can intervene. Some believe that the physical laws are so strong that miracles are not possible. This view was first articulated by the Scottish philosopher David Hume, who wrote,

A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws.
Hume believed that miracles are impossible. Most modern people are not quite as staunch as Hume, but they believe that miracles will be very rare. For a miracle to occur, the laws of nature must be temporarily suspended, so God can reach into the world and do what he wants to do. Breaking a law of nature is such a serious action, that God will only do it in very rare situations.

This materialistic world view makes it harder to believe in miracles, but fortunately, this understanding of reality is mistaken. I will explain the problem in the next few posts.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Winning over the Invaders

I have just been reading a book by Rodney Stark called the Triumph of Christianity.

I was especially interested in the period after the collapse of Rome, often referred to as the Dark Ages. During this season, the part of Europe that had been controlled by the Roman Empire was successively invaded by so-called barbarian peoples from the East. Over several centuries, Europe was conquered by the Goths, Visigoths, Vandals, Huns, Franks, Saxons, Vikings, Burgundians and many other groups.

The amazing thing is that most of these groups were won by the gospel and eventually became Christians. Sometimes, it was just there leaders who converted. And sometimes they held heretical ideas, such as Arianism. However, despite the weakness of the church after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the invading peoples chose to become Christian. This confirms the glory of the gospel and power of the Holy Spirit.

Europe is still being invaded by new people groups. However, the modern church does not have the confidence to win them over. They are afraid that they will be defeated by invading cultures and religions. This suggests that the church has lost faith in the power of the gospel.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Marrying Unbelievers

I have just been reading a book by Rodney Stark called the Triumph of Christianity. The book explains the growth of the church throughout history.

Something that surprised me is that Stark says that the early church was far more tolerant of mixed marriages than is the modern church. On the basis of statistical analysis of graves, he says that in the early church, there were far more women than men. The result was that many women had to remain single, which made life impossible in the ancient world, or marry men who were not Christians.

Stark says that the church leaders encouraged mixed marriage, because the husband would provide for their wife. They believed that the husband would come to faith, and even if they did not, they and their children would be saved anyway. He says that large numbers of men came to faith when they were influenced by a Christian wife.

The early church had faith that the believer would influence the unbeliever, whereas the modern church assumes that the unbeliever will influence the believer. We seem to have this the wrong way around.

Encouraging mixed marriages seems to be consistent with the scriptures, which urged young women to get married, except in times of tribulation. Paul said that an unbelieving spouse might come to faith through the witness to the love of Jesus of their spouse (1 Cor 7:16). We have not given sufficient  weight to this promise .

The passage promises that an unbelieving spouse will be saved through the faith of their believing spouse.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy (1 Cor 7:14).
This is another good promise.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Moses and the Midianites

God’s treatment of Midian in Numbers 25 seems harsh, but we need to understand that a serious spiritual battle was going on. If the spiritual powers of evil had been able to win this one, God’s plans for Israel would have been seriously set back. The background information relevant to this issue can be found in Old Testament Violence and God and War. My book called Kingdom Authority is important too.

The Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea was an not just a military victory, it was an important spiritual victory. The Egyptians chased the Israelites out of their land. Spiritual powers were not interested in slaves, so they had ignored the Israelites. So when they were shut out of the land, they were mostly evil-spirit free. God wanted them to stay that way.

The attacks by Sihon of the Amorites and Og of Bashan were military attacks. With the Lord’s help, the people were able to defend themselves and defeat the attackers.

Numbers 22-25 describes a much more serious battle. The Midianites with support of the Moabites launched a spiritual attack against the children of Israel. They first bought in a prophet called Balaam and paid him to put a curse on the Israelites. However, Balaam was slightly honest, and open to the Lord’s voice. When the Lord told him to bless Israel and not to curse them he did as he was told. When Balaam had completed his last oracle/prophecy, it seemed like the Lord has achieved a mighty victory over the spiritual powers of evil that controlled Midian (Num 23-24).

Unfortunately, these spiritual powers had another trick up their sleeve (Num 25). They sent attractive Moabite and Midianite women to seduce the Israelite men. One of the women was a daughter of one of the leading men of the Midianites (Num 25:15)Then once they had engaged in sexual immorality, they persuaded them to join in the worship of Baal of Peor, an evil spiritual power. This incident was not just an orgy that got out of control. It was an intense spiritual attack. When they committed adultery and worshipped Baal of Peor, they gave the Cosmos Dominator that controlled this false god and the spirits that worked with him permission to enter their lives and control them. This would have been a disaster, because Israel would have gone from being relatively evil-spirit free to being controlled by powerful spirits.

Because Jesus had not yet died on the cross, Moses did not have the ability to cast these demonic powers out. So God had to do the only thing that he could do to defeat the spiritual powers. He told Moses to kill the leaders of the people who had committed adultery and expose them in daylight. Once these men had died, the evil spirit that had entered them left and went back to where they had come from. The people of Israel stayed away from them to keep spiritually false.

The spiritual powers of evil over-reacted and attacked the rest of the people who had sinned with a pestilence/plague. Once these 24000 had died, these spirits had to leave them, because the rest of the people had chosen to stay loyal to God, so they could not enter their lives.

God told the Israelites to treat the Midianites harshly. This is not the way he likes working, but he had to deal with a situation where his plans were under threat due to an intense spiritual attack. He said to Moses,

Harass the Midianites, and attack them; for they harassed you with their tricks by which they seduced you in the matter of Peor and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a leader of Midian (Num 25:17-18).
Moses was not just defending the people of Israel against a military attack. He was dealing with a clever spiritual attack, with very few spiritual weapons, because he was operating prior to cross when the spiritual powers of evil had not yet been defeated. His people were being spiritually harassed. They only way that he could deal with this was to use physical force against the leaders who had made the people vulnerable to this attack.

God then told Moses to engage in war against the Midianites (Num 31:1-2). They would be living close to the Israelites and would continue to be a spiritual threat to the Israelites. The last thing did before he died was to organise a battle against the Midianites. They killed the kings of Midian and the women who had tried to seduce them into the ways of evil.

After the battle, the men who had fought had to cleanse themselves to protect themselves from picking up evil spirits (Num 31:19-24). Eleazer, the priest, told them what to do. Any soldier who killed anyone, or had touched anyone who was killed had to remain outside the camp for a week. On the third and the seventh day, they had to purify themselves and their clothing. They did this to ensure that they did not carry any evil spirits back into the camp.

Any gold, silver, bronze, iron tin and lead that they had captured had to be passed through a fire. This burning purified the metal and ensured that evil spirits did not come into the camp on the metal that had been used to make idols.

This battle was one of the few which was not started in response to a physical attack. However, it was a defensive battle. It was fought to overcome a serious spiritual attack that put God’s purposes for Israel at risk. Harsh tough action was needed because the threat was serious, and the consequences of losing were terrible.

Since the cross, we have powerful weapons for dealing with the spiritual powers of evil. So we no longer need to engage in this kind of war. Christians who use war for spiritual purposes have failed to understand the cross. We now use spiritual weapons for resisting spiritual attacks.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Intercession

Intercession can be hard, but it is never a waste of time. Praying opens the way for the Lord to do things that he could not do if he was not given permission by someone with authority in a situation (See Keys to Effective Prayer).

Unfortunately, with intercession, there is no guarantee of success. God has made people free, so he cannot get them to act if they choose not to. He cannot make people do things that the intercessors are praying. All he can do is speak to their hearts by the Holy Spirit, but if they refuse to act on the voice of the Spirit, there is nothing that God can do. He can make asses speak and move, but he cannot make humans do what they do not want to do, because he has made them free.

The frustration that intercessors often feel is the same frustration that the Lord feels. He wants his people to be moving on in the full power of the Spirit, but that can only happen, if they do things his way. He can speak, over and over again, but he is often ignored. This is even more frustrating for him, than it is for his intercessors.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Preterism and Futurism

I am not a futurist or a preterist. I do not like these labels, and they do not fit me. I find that people put them on you so they can ignore what you are saying.

The problem with both the futurist and the preterist approaches is that they apply a blanket rule to all prophetic scriptures, when clearly some have been fulfilled, and others have not. Rather than applying a single rule, we need to examine each passage in its context.

The preterists throw the baby out with the bathwater. The futurist loses sight of the baby, because they are obsessed with the dirty bathwater.

Dispensationalism is another flawed method for interpreting prophetic scriptures that produces incorrect readings.

The following scriptures have been fulfilled.
  • Is 53:1-12 – Jesus death and resurrection
  • Dan 7:9 – Jesus ascension
  • Matt 24:1-35 – Destruction of Jerusalem
  • Dan 9:20-27 – Jesus’ ministry and the collapse of Jerusalem
  • Rev 12 – Birth of Jesus and Jewish rejection of the gospel
The following are a few prophetic scriptures that have not been fulfilled, so we can look for their fulfilment in the future.
  • Is 9:7 – Jesus government extends into the entire world.
  • Is 2:3-4 – The nations submit to God’s law.
  • Is 65:17-25 Lion lies down with the Lamb
  • Ezek 37:1-12 – Dry bones come to life.
  • Ezek 38,39 – Battle for Jerusalem.
  • Dan 7:19–25 – Terrible Beast
  • Dan 7:26-27 Kingdoms of the world surrender to the people of God.
  • Matt 24:36-51 – Jesus return
  • Rom 11:12,25-29 – Fulness of the Jews
Readers can quibble about my reading of some of them, but both a preterist and a futurist approach would get half of these scriptures wrong. The only difference is which set they get wrong.

Pushing all the prophetic scriptures back to the first century is foolish. On the other hand, pushing them all into the future is equally unwise. If Peter described an event as happening before his eyes (Acts 2:16-17) it would be unwise claim it will happen in the future. If Jesus says an event will be experienced by the generation listening to him (Matt 24:34), we should be careful about twisting his words to shift them into the future.

A common-sense approach allows the scriptures to speak as they were written. Some will be fulfilled already, and others await fulfilment in the future. Context and comparison will explain when they apply.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Old Testament Evil (3) Tense Time

When the spiritual powers of evil tricked Adam and Eve into surrendering their authority on to them, they gained a huge victory against God, because they could prevent him from intervening on earth. Understanding this shift in the balance of power explains much of the violence in the Old Testament. God could only act if humans gave him permission, and that did not happen often, so the spiritual powers of evil had a free hand to work their evil.

Whenever God gained authority to act on earth, they reacted with dreadful violence on earth. The intensity of their evil attack often left God with no option but to use violence against them. This was the only tool that he had to restrain them. God would have preferred to use better methods for dealing with evil, but he could not do that until Jesus had come and defeated the spiritual powers of evil by dying on the cross. And God could not send Jesus until all the necessary preparation was complete. Otherwise, Jesus would have been destroyed as soon as he was born on earth (See God’s Big Strategy).

The Old Testament age was a desperate time. The spiritual powers of evil had gained a great victory, and God’s ability to respond was severely constrained. In this situation, God had to use violence from time to time, because that was the only way he could constrain the spiritual powers who were intent on using evil to wrecking God’s world.

Jesus victory on the cross changed everything. He destroyed the authority on earth of the spiritual powers of evil. The best way to defeat them is to preach the good news of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. They can be defeated with the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith. These are God’s preferred method for dealing with evil.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Old Testament Violence (2) Sub-optimal

God had to behave differently in the Old Testament age, because he was fighting against ruthless spiritual enemies with limited authority to act freely. In this constrained situation, he often had to use violence to keep the spiritual powers of evil from getting out of hand. The cross changed the nature of this battle. Once the powers of evil were defeated by Jesus, God no longer needed to use violence to deal with spiritual evil. His people could defeat the powers of evil by preaching the gospel in the power of the spirit and forces them to retreat in his name.

Until Jesus came and died on the cross and defeated the spiritual powers of evil, God was constrained in how he could deal with evil and restrain its harm. He often had to use violence to restrain evil from getting out of hand. He used his authority in the spiritual realms to release his angels to manipulate the struggles between the evil spiritual powers to accomplish his purposes. That sometimes resulted in violence. After Jesus, that violence was less necessary, because his people could defeat the spiritual powers of evil by the power of his blood and his word.

  • Before the flood, humans had wrecked the earth, but they were not alone. The spiritual powers of evil were working through them to wreck it because they hated God’s creation. During their fall, Adam and Eve unwittingly surrendered the authority on earth that God had given them to the spiritual powers of evil. The evil powers had gone to work to lead humans astray and wreck God’s good earth.

  • By the time of Noah, the spiritual powers of evil were so strong that the earth was in danger of being totally destroyed. The only way to prevent this from happening was to destroy life on earth. The flood limited the ability of the powers of evil to work evil on earth, and many were locked up where they could do no harm. (See Rainbow covenant.)

  • Prior to the cross, the only way for people following God to deal with evil spirits was to keep separate from the people and things carrying them. People who chose to follow God did not have the blood of Jesus to protect them, so they were vulnerable to attack by the evil powers. The best form of protection was to remain separate from people carrying evil spirits. This is why God told the Israelites to drive the Canaanites out of the land. They would carry the evil spirits out with them. Allowing the Canaanites to remain in the land would leave the land full of evil spirits.

  • During the time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, a host of evil spirits flooded the land of Canaan, because they knew God had promised it to Abraham, and they wanted to get there first. God did not want to start a war with the Canaanites, but he had to drive the evil spirits out of the land. The only way to do this was to drive out the Canaanites possessed and controlled by them.

    God's plan was to send his angels to stir up natural events that would fill the Canaanites with fear and terror, collapsing city wall and massive hailstones from the sky, dangerous hornets (Joshua 6:20; 10:11; Deut 7:20). The people living in the land would be filled with such fear and terror, that they would flee the land, carrying their evil spirits with them.

    I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run (Ex 23:27).
    This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you (Deut 2:25).
    You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear. Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God (Deut 7:19-21).
    No one will be able to stand against you. The Lord your God, as he promised you, will put the terror and fear of you on the whole land, wherever you go (Deut 11:25).
    Unfortunately, Joshua did not understand God's plan and started a war against the Canaanite kings. This tight contact allowed the evil spirits to stay in the land by jumping across to the victorious invading armies (see Violence and the Old Testament).

  • Prior to the cross, the people of Israel had to keep away from people with skin diseases. The disease was a sign that they might have been attacked by an evil spirit. Remaining separate reduced the risk that the evil spirit would attack them. Many of the instructions in Leviticus were designed to keep people separate.

  • Jesus began his ministry by reaching out and embracing a person with skin disease. He told his followers to lay hands on them and pray for them. His ministry changed the method for dealing with evil spirits. (More at Clean/Unclean)

  • God sometimes used wars to accomplish his purposes, but does not start wars. He manipulates the outcomes of the wars that have been started by evil spiritual powers to achieve his purposes. Political-spirits and government-spirits used military empires to control the world. The only way that God could constrain them was to stir up other military power against them.

    The powers of evil are not united. They often fight against each other to get better positions in the hierarchy of evil. The Prince of Persia and his followers fought against the Assyrian Spirit and his cohorts. God used his authority in the spiritual realms to release his angels to manipulate these struggles between the evil spiritual powers to accomplish his purposes.

    God mostly accomplished his purposes by sending his angels to fight against the political-spirits and government-spirits (principalities and powers) and not letting a different one win. He fought against the spiritual power of Babylon, which allowed the spiritual Prince of Persia to defeat it. This allowed the Persian armies to conquer and destroy Babylon.

    Since the ministry of Jesus, God does not want his people on earth using war to accomplish his purposes. He wants his followers on earth to be people of peace. Preaching the gospel in the Spirit is a more effective tool for defeating evil. More at God and War).

Monday, October 28, 2019

Old Testament Evil (1) God Stymied

Many serious Christians are concerned about the violence that permeates the Old Testament. They believe that it is inconsistent with the message of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus suffered in the face of evil and violence. He did not fight against it. Engaging in violence seems to be inconsistent with his teaching and behaviour. This makes the violence of the Old Testament hard to explain.

I believe that the key understanding that is missing from most discussions on this topic is and understanding of spiritual warfare and the precariousness of the battle that God was fighting.

God Stymied

When Adam and Eve sinned against God, they handed authority over the earth to the spiritual forces of evil. The consequence of this authority shift was that God was shut out of the wonderful world he had created. He could not act on earth, unless a human called out and gave him authority to help.

When God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, he meant what he said. He was not half-heartedly giving authority, thinking that he could take it back if things turned sour. That would have been dishonest, and God does not work like that.

God had a long-term strategy to restore his creation, but the first few thousand years were a hard struggle. He could not act on earth, unless humans asked for help. He can only act on earth, if humans give him authority, so he needed loyal people and a place to work. He needed humans to give him authority to act on earth. God had a plan to restore his influence, but it would take time.

For most of the Old Testament age, God was shut out of the world that he had created. During this long season, he only received rare opportunities to gain influence on earth. He used each of these very wisely, but could not make much progress. The spiritual powers of evil virtually had a free hand to work their evil on earth. God keeps his word, so when they lost it, he did not take back the authority over the earth that he had given to humans. He had to find other sub-optimal methods to accomplish his purposes. This sometimes made violence necessary.

In the Old Testament age, God had only a few people who walked in the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit could not be released in fullness until after the cross. However, there was a massive battle going on in the spiritual realms. Because humans had given the spiritual powers of evil authority over the earth, God had limited ability to fight against them. This was a serious struggle, and God had only limited authority to act to restrain them.

Friday, October 25, 2019

To Change the World

The most important event in US history was the Great Awakening. Many of the settlers who came to America were Christians, and the awakening reinforced that influence, meaning the republic was established when the majority of people were Christian. if not in faith, at least in world view. This opened the way for Christian influence in the culture, education, government, law and most of society. The second awakening and later revivals reinforced that situation. The clergy had a strong voice into society.

That strong Christian influence is now mostly gone. The change was confirmed when the Moral Majority (not a majority) turned evangelical Christians into just another political segment. The politicians don’t give to much influence to any one segment, because that would offend others, which are equally important.

The United States now has a culture, education system, government, laws, etc, which is secular, and often anti-Christian. Politicians give a nod to God to keep this political segment on side, but they are not really serious.

Unless American Christians can bring in third great awakening (it does not seem likely, as Christians are hiding in their sanctuaries singing Halleluiah.), that is the way it will remain. Trying to return to the previous situation using political power or military force will fail. You cannot change hearts with a stick.

In his book called To Change the World, James Davison Hunter explains why recovering this situation will be much harder, due to the realities of modern pluralism. The following quotes are relevant.

Pluralism in its most basic expression is nothing more than the simultaneous presence of multiple cultures and those who inhabit those cultures. For most of human history communities and societies existed in relative isolation and thus were insulated from exogenous social and cultural influences. The operative word here is “relative” because pluralism, in fact, has existed for millennia all around the world. Ancient cities and trade routes were the meeting places of a remarkable diversity of people and culture. People did not live in cities or along trade routes, but were based in agriculture communities that tended to be very small in the number of people and limited in their geographic reach.

Yet beginning with the age of modern exploration, followed by western industrialization and urbanization and most recently the powerful forces of globalization, pluralism has emerged as one of the defining features of the contemporary world order. Pluralism has become so prominent in part because of the extraordinary growth of cities, in both their size and their number. The majority of people in the world now live in and around cities. Yet global urbanization has occurred simultaneously with the stunning growth in technologies of transportation, not only making travel easier, but rapidly increasing the mix of cultures regionally and internationally. Perhaps more significant than urbanisation and travel has been the growth of communications technologies— television, newspapers, film, and the Internet— and with it a massive flow of information. These technologies and the concomitant flow of communication and information make it impossible to avoid the plurality of cultures.

All this together means that instead of just a small minority of any given society coming into sustained contact with the differences represented by competing cultures, now the vast majority does—indeed the majority is constituted by precisely those differences... the incidence of pluralism has increased massively, which means that average people experience it more frequently and more intensely than ever before in human history.

In most times and places in human history, pluralism was the exception to the rule, where it exists, it operated with the framework of a strong dominant culture. If one were a part of a minority community, one understood the governing assumptions, conventions and practices of social life and learned how to operate with them. Because of the relative insular nature of social life, whether in the majority or the minority, one could be convinced of the superiority of one’s own believes and way of life and never really have to seriously face up to the claims of another’s...

Pluralism today—at least in America—exists without a dominant culture, at least not one of overwhelming credibility or one that is beyond challenge (p.200-201).

Pluralism make it much harder to sustain Chrisitan faith.
There is a direct relation between the cohesion of institutions and the cohesiveness of beliefs, values and world views. Strong and coherent beliefs require strong institutions enveloping those who aspire to believe. These are the conditions that turn beliefs into settled convictions. And when social conditions are unstable or when the cohesion of social life is fragmented, then the constituency and intelligibility of belief is undermined.

The social conditions supporting any particular belief system are necessarily weaker. Belief is certainly possible, but it is necessarily different. The confidence borne from beliefs that are taken for granted typically gives way to belief plagued by ambivalence and certainty. The uncertainty is not a matter of insufficient will or deficient commitment, but a natural psychological reaction to weakened plausibility structures. The social situation obligates one to choose, but once the choice is made— given the ubiquitous presence of alternatives in a market culture orientated toward consumer choice-one must reaffirm that choice again and again. These are social conditions that make faithfulness difficult and faithlessness almost natural.

Another way to describe the dilemma for religious faith is that pluralism creates social conditions in which God is not long an inevitability. While it is possible to believe in god, one has to work must charter at it because the framework of belief is no longer present to sustain it. The presumption of God and of God and his active presence in the world cannot be easily sustained because the most important symbols of social, economic, political and aesthetic life no longer point to Him.

While it is possible to be a faithful Christian believer, it requires an act of will much greater than in the past because the reminders of God’s love and judgment or his purposes in daily experience may not have disappeared, but they receded from shared public life (p.203).

A revival will not be enough to take the United States back to what it was. Massive cultural change will be necessary to make that real.

Two things will key.

  • A powerful display of the Holy Spirits power will be needed to blow open the aridity of modern pluralism.

  • Christians will need to establish strong communities that can sustain a different life in the midst of pluralistic pressures. Small groups of people will join together to support each other through the storm. This will enable them to stand together in Jesus while everything around them is being shaken. I describe how this can happen in my books called Being Church Where We Live and the Government of God.