Friday, July 31, 2020

Coverstone Dreams (2)

In my previous post, I explained that two things are really important when sharing dreams.

  • They should write down the dream in full detail as soon as possible after they received it. It is very easy to forget important bits or add glosses to the dream, if the description is being written later.

  • The dream and its interpretation should be kept separate. This is important for testing the interpretation of the dream.

The second problem occurs with the dreams shared by Dana Coverstone. In places, Dana mixes his interpretation with the description of the dream. That makes it hard to test the interpretation because it is not clear what is the dream and what is interpretation.

For example, in the second dream, Dana said that he saw Russian and Chinese soldiers, but he does not explain how he knew that was what they were. Was there something about them that showed their nationality, or was that his interpretation. This makes a big difference to the meaning of the dream.

In reality, it would be impossible for Chinese and Russian troops to be in the United States, even if a civil war was going on. The UN could not get involved, because the United States has veto power at the UN to prevent it. This means that the interpretation of this part of the dream must be symbolic, not literal.

This part of the dream came just after Trump was described as missing. The message of the dream could be that when Trump loses the 2020 election, his followers will blame the Chinese for interfering in the election, in the same way as the democrats blamed the Russians for Hillary losing in 2016. This could be represented by the Russians telling the Chinese what to do.

In his dream Dana saw men in Washington, sitting around laughing and slapping each other’s backs. I see these as representing the spiritual powers of evil that dominate America and the Washington establishment that they control. They are will be happy, regardless of the outcome of the election, because they are in control, regardless of who is elected.

Dana assumes that the fulfilment of the dream will be literal. However, a more symbolic interpretation of the dream is plausible. However, this is hard to assess when some of the interpretation is mixed up with the dream.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Coverstone Dreams

When Christians are sharing dreams that they believe are a message from God, two things are really important.

  • They should write down the dream in full detail as soon as possible after they received it. It is very easy to forget important bits or add glosses to the dream if the description is being written later.

  • The dream and its interpretation and application should be kept separate. This is important for testing the interpretation of the dream. Church leaders cannot test the dream itself, because they did not see it. Only the person who saw the dream knows what they saw. Leaders cannot say that the person did not see what they claim to have seen.

    Church leaders can test the source of a dream. If they believe that the dream was sent by evil spirits or was just a manifestation of the flesh or indigestion, they can legitimately assess that the dream was not inspired by God.

    The most important role of church leaders is to assess the interpretation of the dream. The person receiving the dream might get the interpretation wrong, even if the dream came from God. The interpretation can only be tested if it is kept separate from the description of the dream. If the description of the dream includes interpretations it is much harder to assess the interpretation.

An example of both these problems can be seen in the dreams recently shared by Dana Coverstone, a pastor from Burkesville Kentucky. He describes on YouTube a couple of dreams that warn of traumatic times for the United States. He claims that the first dream, which he received at the end of 2019 was a warning about the coronavirus and race riots from March to June. His second dream warns of even more traumatic events from September to November.

Dana’s announcement of these dreams has created immense interest amongst prophetic Christians. Some Christian leaders have come out directly and said that his warnings are wrong. I have listened to his description of the dreams several times, and am not certain of what to make of them.

The most serious problem with assessing these dreams is they are not recorded very clearly. I get the impression that he did not write the first dream down when he first saw it. Dana described a calendar and hand he saw very precisely, but the description of the rest of the dream was quite vague. He seemed to list a number of things that he had seen, as if he was reading a list of things recorded on his phone.

Dana gave no explanation of what he was doing in the dream when these events were occurring, ie was he there during the protests or at the hospital where the queues of people were waiting. He does not explain the transition from one scene to another. It sounded like he just saw a whole lot of scenes on a screen, with each one rolling into the next. That is fine if that is what he saw, but it is more usual in a dream for the person to be present among the things that are happening.

I suspect the paucity of his description of the dream on the video is because he was rushing to get through the dream quickly, but it makes it more difficult to test the interpretation. This makes it hard to be certain that the dream really was a description of the Covid19 outbreak.

  • The first dream began with protests. People were wearing masks, but it is not clear whether they were worried about disease, or wearing them to protect their identity. This means that it is not clear that the dream was a prediction of the Covid19 crisis.

  • It might be that the ambulances and the hospital were treating people injured in the protests. Likewise, the people queuing outside the hospital. Were they injured in the protests or were they sick? There was nothing in the description of the dream to suggest that they had a virus.

  • The same is true for the people in ventilators. They might have been sick; but they might also have been injured in the protests and the disruption that followed. There was nothing in the dream itself to indicate which was the case.

If the description of the dream was fuller, we might have gained a clearer understanding of its message.

Taken as a whole, the dream is more about violent protests than a viral epidemic. From Dana’s description of the dream, a listener would struggle to have predicted the coronavirus outbreak, and I presume that he did not. It is only looking back after the Covid19 has emerged that it would occur to him that the dream was about a new virus hitting the nation and the world. So, the claim that the dream predicted the epidemic is actually an interpretation imposed on the dream after the event, which is not the same as prophesying the epidemic in advance.

This distinction is important because Dana claims that because the first dream was an accurate prediction of Covid19 and the BLM protests, the second dream should be taken seriously. However, if the meaning of the first dream is uncertain, the validity and meaning of the second dream is undermined.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Mercy or Wrath

A commentator on the book of Romans says that Paul describes the “intersection between God’s wrath and mercy”, but that statement is illogical. God can be both faithful and true. He can be just and loving, although that will require immense wisdom. But he cannot be full of wrath and full of mercy. Likewise, he cannot be good and evil.

Although some theologians pretend otherwise, wrath and mercy are opposites. Wrath wants and demands vengeance. Mercy wants to put things right. A person cannot be full of wrath and full of mercy, even if they are God, because when wrath overwhelms, mercy inevitably gets squeezed out. When mercy prevails, anger has to dissipate. Wrath and mercy cannot remain together.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Romans Road-test

A few months ago, I posted my notes on Reading Romans. Here I explain how I arrived at the different view of Paul’s message described in that article.

Several years ago, I read a couple of reviews of Douglas Campbell’s book called the Deliverance of God. I learned that he took a Socratic reading of Romans 1-4, in which Paul challenges the views of a Jewish teacher, but I did not take his ideas seriously, and the book was too expensive for me to purchase, so I have not read it.

I began to think about Campbell’s approach when I started reading through Romans again a few months ago. I was struck by a note that I had previously written in the margin of Romans 1:32, in which I noted this passage must have been addressed to the Jews because only they had a revelation that God had declared that the penalty for some sins was death. Looking at the verse in isolation, my note made sense.

However, when I read the entire passage, I realised that my note was wrong, so I rubbed it out. Roman 1:18-32 is addressed to all humans, not just to the Jews. But that does not make sense either. The passage says that God’s will is revealed through creation, and that all men know his will. That does not seem to be correct, because, the Jews had to receive the Torah through Moses to fully know his will. Furthermore, in Romans 1:32, the writer claims that God has revealed that sin is worthy of death, but this does not make sense, because there is nothing in creation that indicates that God has declared that death is the penalty for sin. In creation, death seems to be a normal part of life.

Trying to sort these contradictions, I thought again about Douglas Campbell’s view that Romans 1 as part of a debate between the teaching of Paul and the ideas of a Jewish teacher. Rather than buying Campbell's book and reading it, I decided that I would read Romans right though with an open mind. I assumed that if his view was correct, then the pattern of argument and counter-argument should be evident to an averagely intelligent person who had not been trained to understand Paul through the eyes of wrath.

I was surprised by what I found. Jarring contradictions seemed to stick out all through the letter and the most sensible way to deal with them was to read them as argument and counter-argument. To identify the parts of the letter that expressed the Jewish teacher's view, I looked for internal contradiction, contradictions with the Torah and contradictions with Paul’s teaching in the rest of the letter. Using this approach, the arguments of the Jewish teacher stood out quite clearly.

I wrote up what I discovered in an article called Reading Romans. In a way, I road-tested Douglas Campbell's thesis, and it came through really well.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Reading Romans (12) Wrath Intrudes

In My article on Reading Romans, I noted that the first chapter of Romans has a jarring intrusion between verse 17 and verse 18. Paul has been describing his gospel and explaining that it reveals the rightness of God's actions and character.

In the gospel the rightness of God is revealed (Rom 1:17).
God's response to the human condition is grace and mercy. He wants to rescue his people from the mess they have got into. The following verse is a shocking intrusion.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven (Rom 1:18)
This is not good news. The Jewish Judger sees humans as being under the wrath and condemnation of God and wants to ram that home. This is a harsh message compared to Paul's message of grace and salvation. Paul focusses on God being right in everything he does, whereas the judge claims that God is angry and hostile to the people of the world. This is a shocking distortion of the gospel, but modern Christians are not shocked, because we have been trained to be comfortable with the wrath of God.

I was once part of this problem, because when I first became a Christian and a preacher, I was comfortable speaking about the wrath of God. I think that I was a bit of a Pharisee, better at seeing other people’s faults, than see my own, especially my judgmental attitude. I presume that was driven by personal pride and a false belief that I was better than others whom I considered to be under the wrath of God. Strangely I had never felt that I was under God’s wrath before I had decided to follow Jesus.

The first jolt to my comfort with wrath was when a friend challenged me to read James 2:3.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.
I presume that he thought I was overly judgmental and lacking in mercy, and in hindsight, he was right, but it took a long time for this truth to sink in.

More recently, God gave me greater insight into the role of the spiritual powers of evil. I came to realise that Wrath is a powerful evil spirit that pretends to be doing God’s work, but he actually loves wrecking God’s earth and doing harm to humans. Seeing that really changed my thinking about wrath.

I realised that the common belief that we serve a God of Love, who is also a God of Wrath is an enormous contradiction. Love and Wrath are opposites. Wrath demands vengeance. Love motivates mercy and forgiveness. A person cannot be full of wrath and full of love, even if they are as big as God, because when wrath overwhelms, love inevitably gets squeezed out. When love prevails, anger has to dissipate. Wrath and love cannot remain together.

“Wrath” is not an aspect of God’s character. It is the name of an evil spiritual power that seeks to dominate the world.

Getting back to Romans 1:18, the claim that God’s wrath is being revealed through Jesus represents a massive graunch of the gears of anyone who has not become comfortable with the ugly idea of God’s wrath. It might not shock Jewish listeners, but it would be a huge shock to Roman listeners. Wrath was what the Roman Emperors and the Roman army did, and it was ugly. Their wrath was revealed when they killed and destroyed without qualms.

For Romans, wrath was cruel, so saying that God was doing what was right and that his wrath was being revealed in the next sentence was an enormous contradiction. It would have jarred the Romans. They only reason that it does not jar us is that we have been trained to be comfortable with the idea of God’s wrath, which is really sad, because it grossly misrepresents God’s love and mercy.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Prodigal Son

The gospel preached by the modern church is often different from the good news that Jesus proclaimed. Jesus illustrated his gospel with parables. To make them fit the modern gospel, we would need to modify some of his most important parables. The parable of the Prodigal Son is a good example. For the modern gospel, the parable would have to go something like this.

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them.

Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth on wild living. When his father heard what his son had done, he was outraged. He declared that he could never have anything to do with a son who had behaved so badly. The only way that the son could ever satisfy his father’s sense of justice was to give his life.

After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to suffer badly and his life was a mess. So he hired himself out to care for pigs, but he was so hungry that he felt like eating the rotten food he was feeding the pigs.

When he came to his senses, he thought, ‘My father’s servants are better off than me. Perhaps he would take me on as a servant. It would be humiliating, but at least I would have food to eat. So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with wrath. He wanted to receive his son, but his sense of justice prevented him. A servant ran and told the returning son to stay away until his father had calmed down.

So, the father sent for his older son who was working in the fields. When the older son arrived, the father drew a sword and killed him. He then sent a servant to meet the younger son and tell him that his older brother had paid the penalty for his bad behaviour. The younger servant was a bit nervous about returning to his father, but the servant persuaded him that his father standard of justice was now fully satisfied.

The father told his servants to bring a robe and put it on him. He put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. They killed a fattened calf and had a feast to celebrate the return of his son.

Obviously, this parable is a terrible distortion of the story that Jesus told. This suggests that we sometimes have a distorted understanding of the revelation of God’s character brought by Jesus’ gospel.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Abraham

Paul confirms that Abraham was special.

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gal 3:6).
We do not know why God called Abraham rather than someone else. Maybe God has called his father Terah first, because he set out to go to Canaan, but only got as far as Harran, which is north of the Euphrates River (Gen 11:31).
Anyway, God call Abraham and told him to move to Canaan.
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you... So Abram went, as the LORD had told him (Gen 12:1-4).
Abraham trusted God when he was called, and he obeyed the Lord’s calling and took his family and herds to Canaan. This was an amazing step, because Abraham knew nothing about the place that he was going. He obeyed God anyway.

The scriptures say that Abraham’s trust in God was sufficient for him to be right with God. I think we have forgotten what that means. Abraham was put right with God because he trusted him; nothing more.

The interesting thing is that Abraham did not have to make an offering to appease God for his sins, before declared him to be right. No doubt, Abraham had sinned, but his sins did not prevent God from calling him. God forgave him, because he loved him. His wrath did not need to be appeased. Abraham did not need to shed blood. God forgave Abraham and Abraham trusted God. That was sufficient for God.

I presume that Abraham escaped the spiritual powers of evil when he moved away from Ur and Harran. They let him go, because they thought he was unimportant, but God uses outsiders who are ignored by the powers of the world ignore.

Our gospel should reflect this truth. God loves the people he created. He is calling out to them to trust him and serve him. Jesus death on the cross paid a ransom to redeem those who are enslaved by the powers of evil. People should not let their shame full them into thinking that the problem is that God’s anger is the problem. The problem is the spiritual powers of evil who manipulate and control those who have rejected God. The good news is that Jesus defeated them on the cross.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Many prophetic bulletin boards are calling Christians nations to prayer. This is good, but prayer on its own will not change the nation. Christians will have to change their actions and behaviour. The church will have to change the way that it operates.

The danger with intercession is that it can seem like God is the problem, and that we need to get him to change, when the truth is that we are always the problem, and he is powerless if we are unwilling to change.

Prayer can be a way out for Christians who want others to change, but will not change themselves. If prayer distracts the church from real change, then it will fail to achieve the result it is praying for.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Dostoyevsky’s Demons

Martin Sieff wonders why a nation with a dysfunctional political system and deeply divided culture, still believes that it can decide what is best for other nations, while knowing very little about them.

...the manic American obsession with lecturing other nations around the world and then intervening recklessly and without end to topple governments and remake entire societies. Over the past half century these endless misadventures in so-called “nation building” (in reality the exact opposite, the destruction of nations) have failed catastrophically wherever they have been tried.
He asks,
Why the genuine universally held confidence that the United States is the most prosperous, fairest, least violent, most secure and plain happiest society anywhere in the world — universally shared by those who have never been to any other ones?
Why the charming but bizarre resistance to learning true facts about daily life in other countries among all those who have never actually visited them — and have no intention of ever doing so?

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Stress Test

When the Covid19 lockdowns began, some prophetic Christians declared that this was a season of reset and the church would be transformed. At the time, I wrote in an article called Church Reset that I doubted this would happen.

I sense that despite the call for a reset, most Christian leaders are only interested in tweaking the existing church model. I do not detect an appetite for serious change, even amongst followers who “like” prophetic posts.
Recently my fears were confirmed. The lockdown finished in New Zealand about a month ago. On a wet cold Sunday, two weeks ago, I watched five different televised church services in a row to see what had happened. The pastors were delighted to be back at the front of their church preaching, but nothing had really changed. They said that were glad that things were getting back to normal (not a new normal).

One pastor announced a message on radical community, but then preached that people who had left the church should return. He said this would be hard and implied that the people who had left were the ones who had fallen out with people in the church. This did not seem like radical community to me.

What has been evident from the shutdown is that the modern church operating model is not viable in a quite mild crisis. The modern approach to discipling by watching a concert-style service worship service and listening to a weekly sermon by a pastor proved to be unsustainable during the Covid19 lockdown. Pastors quite quickly got their messages on to social media to fill the gap, but many of their people did not bother listening to them. No wonder they were glad to be back in their pulpits, despite this being an inadequate method of discipling.

Banks do stress tests to establish if they have enough capital to get them through different types of crises. I see the shutdown as a stress test for churches. Unfortunately, this stress test showed that many churches could not cope with a crisis that brought really serious pressure.

The government of New Zealand probably has less Christian influence now than at any time in the nation’s history. This gives the spiritual powers of evil more sway in here than they have ever had before. The Covid19 crisis is not their best efforts. They are flexing their muscles and have worse evil in mind for the nation. One of their next tricks might be persecution of churches that take a strong stand on the big four social issues during the next election campaign.

The political and spiritual situation in New Zealand has changed significantly for the worst, and there is no obvious path back. However, the church is totally unprepared for this new situation. The pastor-centric, building-dependent operating model adopted by the modern church is incredibly vulnerable to either an economic crisis or state persecution. The lockdown has been a wake-up call that put the church to sleep at a time when it should be preparing for what lies ahead.

Having lost the battle for the heart of the nation, the church should be preparing to be effective during the crises that will inevitably follow. An operating model that lost the battle during the best times ever is not adequate for a season of darkness. Hankering for the good times to return again, so we can do better next time is not a solution. The church should be equipped for victory, but prepared for distress.

I explain how to get ready at Prepare and at Church Reset.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Democracy and Christianity

Democracy imposes the views of the majority of people on the rest of the people. In reality, the way that party politics works means that the government often only represents a minority of the population. The system allows a minority with political power to impose their will on the majority of the people.

  • This is a huge problem for Christians. Political power is coercive power. The state has the power to make people do things that they do not want to do. Christians are not interested in coercion, because God wants people to be free.

  • When Christians held a majority position in society, they were quite happy to use democracy to impose their views on the rest of society. Now the boot is on the other foot, we do not like a secular majority imposing their ungodly laws on us. This sounds like sour grapes.

  • Being in the minority is now giving us an understanding of what it felt like for people who disliked Christianity when they had Christian views imposed on them by Christians using democratic power.

  • The only way back in a democratic system is for Christians is to win the struggle in the marketplace of ideas. If we could get back to where Christians are the majority of people in the society, then secular people in parliament would not be able to impose their views on us. However, we probably don’t want to go back there, as we understand now that it is not right for one group in society to impose their views on others. Now we know what it feels like, we should avoid a situation where we are imposing our views about how society should be organised on people who have different ideas (I suspect many Christians would still like to do that).

  • The only solution to this conundrum is to find the lowest common denominator, ie set of ideas that everyone in society can agree on. Then no one will have rules that they do not agree with imposed on them.

  • There are two principles that the majority of people in a society agree on.
    • Assaulting another person is wrong.
    • Stealing is wrong.
    These two principles represent a consensus on which everyone can agree. This means that human governments should limit themselves to dealing with assault and theft.

  • Not surprisingly, these two principles are the heart of the laws for society that God gave to Moses.

See Political Space.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Christians in a Secular Parliament

I understand that in the United States, there are still many Christians in the House of Representatives, but in NZ, Australia and the UK, Christians are now a minority in their respective parliaments. This makes the role of Christian members of parliament quite difficult.

  • A Christian does not have to leave their faith at the door when they enter parliament. Politicians of every persuasion have an underlying world view that informs their views on many issues. Provided they are transparent about their views when standing for election, they should be welcome to bring them to the parliament. In the same way, if a Christian is open about their views when they are standing for election, they can allow their Christian beliefs to influence their voting behaviour.

  • The problem is that Christians are now a minority in society, so few will be elected if they are open about their faith. They will find it easier to get elected if they join a political party and keep their statements about their faith subdued. The problem with this approach as it leaves them compromised from the beginning. Most of the time they will have to go along with their party’s policies. They will not be able to be totally loyal to Jesus.

  • To get elected to their parliament, Christians have to get stirred up about the big four social issues: abortion, euthanasia, cannabis and sexuality. However, this limits their ability to have influence on other issues, because they are perceived as negative people, without a vision for how society could be transformed for the benefit of everyone.

  • In a country where Christians are a small percentage of the population, the Christian MP represents a minority view. Their view on any issue will be just one of many going into the melting pot of ideas presented to the parliament. They will only be accepted if they are better than other ideas put forward by other people. Their ideas will only rise to the top, if they have greater wisdom by the grace of God.

  • If Christians have better ideas because they are in touch with God’s wisdom, they do not have to be in parliament for their ideas to rise to the top. Ideas can be shared in many ways and in many different forums. If the main thing that Christians have to offer is better ideas, they should have influence anyway. Their wisdom will be recognised as superior, in the same way as Daniel’s wisdom was acknowledged by Nebuchadnezzar. Unfortunately, most of the ideas being propagated by Christian politicians and parties are the regurgitated policies of secular parties.

  • Christian MPs will only be effective if they can form a coalition with other MPs with similar views on an issue. They will often find themselves going along with other parties, who are known for positions that are an embarrassment to a Christian.

  • Christian MPs cannot pull out the God Card to give their views a privileged status. I heard a UK MP giving some apologetic arguments for Jesus being the son of God. He claimed that because Jesus’s ideas were God’s views, people in Parliament should give them a greater weight. That idea does not work for people who do not believe in the Christian god. In a secular society, claims to speak on God’s behalf have no credibility.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Statues

All over the western world, angry people are a tearing down statues of famous people from the past, who are not perceived to be compromised, due to their racism, misogyny or some other sin. Other people are getting really upset about what they call the destruction of the past. However, the past is what it was and statues do not change it.

I would get rid of all statues, as they are redundant in our modern world. I will explain why.

In the past, the only way that a king or powerful person could ensure that they would be remembered was to put up a statue of themselves in the centre of an important city. Nearly every town in Europe has a statue of a king riding on a horse, put there in an attempt to prevent people from forgetting them. That mostly failed, because I noted that most people that I met knew nothing about the person in the statue, apart from what was engraved on the statue plinth. So, despite the statue, they really have been forgotten.

When I look at the statues scattered around the city where I live, I know very little about the men that were important during the city’s founding back in the 19th century. They are forgotten men, despite the statues.

These days, we do not need statues to remind us of important people from the past. The past is recorded in history books. If a person thinks they are important the best way to be sure that they are not forgotten is to have a biography written or a film made about them. Their activities are recorded in newspapers and television programmes. History will assess their contribution and record it, if it was really important. Benjamin Franklin summed this up well.

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing.
We have history books now, so we do not need statues to remind us of people from the past who were important. The good thing about history books, it that they can be updated and corrected if more information about the important people comes to hand. If hindsight reveals that our heroes were morally flawed the history books can be updated.

The idea that destroying removing statues is an attack on our culture is a bit foolish. A statue cannot encapsulate the history of a nation. A statue cannot fully embody a culture. Most statues honour the winners of cultural wars so they often reflect a distorted view of history. On the other hand, culture exists in the hearts and minds of people, so it will can carry on even when all statues are gone.

A statue of a human, even if they were important leaders, verges on being an idol prohibited by the second commandment. We are not to honour the images created by men.

Statues are idolatrous and unnecessary, so I would remove them all. If people want to decorate their towns and cities, planting a tree or some bright-coloured flowers would be far more appropriate.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (8) Romans v Ephesians

Many Christians live with a contradiction between their understanding of Romans 13:1 and Ephesians 6:10. The latter passage explains that our struggle is against principalities and powers and world rulers in the spiritual realms. These words are political terms. A principality is a territory ruled by a prince. These characters are spiritual powers who work on earth by manipulating and controlling political power on earth. (Because no one knows what a principality is, I call them government-spirits to describe their role more accurately).

Many Christians realise that government-spirits can dominate and control governments in places like Nigeria, North Korea and Iran. However, they seem to assume that government-spirits cannot control the governments in places like the USA, UK and New Zealand. Yet Paul says that we are all struggling against government-spirits (principalities and powers). The proof that this is true is the reality that when a change of government occurs, most things carry on the same. The reason they don’t change in the way promised by the politicians is that the same government-spirits remain in control.

Submitting to the authority of a government that is controlled by government-spirits is extremely dangerous for Christians. This means that the common understanding of Romans 13:1, that everyone should submit to their government cannot be true (Christians in Hitler’s Germany discovered their mistake too late). If government-spirits in the spiritual realms control a government on earth, Paul would not urge followers of Jesus to submit to it, because that would leave them vulnerable to these evil spiritual powers.

I have explained in Understanding Romans 13 that Paul was reiterating God’s way of government, based on local judges applying his law. He was telling Christians they should submit to every government, regardless of their situation.

Christians should review their understanding of Romans 13:1 in the light of Eph 6:10. The government-spirits that control our nations have had too much power for too long, given that they were defeated on the cross. So, it is foolish for Christians to submit their power by submitting to the human governments that they control, in a vain hope that political power can make the world a better place.

The full series is at Prophets and Rulers.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (7) Political and Spiritual Power

When prophets explain what is going on to rulers and their people, they will explain that the next big thing in the modern world is the failure of political power and the collapse of human governments.

Modern rulers have amassed an amazing range of responsibilities. In addition to defending their nation’s borders, they have committed to:

  • eliminating economic recessions or depressions and ensuring economic stability;
  • ensuring that businesses are able to thrive, and survive through tough times;
  • providing cradle-to-grave social security for all citizens;
  • educating all children to their full potential;
  • ensuring that everyone behaves nicely towards everyone else in society;
  • providing the best possible health care for everyone who needs it;
  • and so on.
All political parties in most nations commit to these objectives.

In the golden years following the end of World War 2, it began to seem like these objectives were a possible achievement, although no ancient rulers or emperors had ever tried to do these things. The Roman Empire focussed on protecting its borders and enriching the powerful people in Rome. They did nothing for the ordinary people, except to extract as much revenue out of them as possible, and leave them impoverished.

Now, the truth about the grandiose promises of political leaders is emerging. Events are demonstrating that attempts to achieve all these things by political power is a false dream and a promise that is fading.

  • The first big failure was the Global Financial Crisis. Governments showed their true colours by rescuing the big banks, but leaving ordinary people to suffer as the real economy tanked and took years to recover from the damage they had done.

  • The arrival of Covid-19 has further exposed the inability of governments to do the things that they have promised to do. They have been unable to prevent the spread of the virus, or prevent an economic recession from developing.

The problem is that governments are the main vehicle that the principalities and powers in the spiritual realms (government-spirits) use to exercise their authority and power. So, when humans put their faith in governments to restore blessing to their lives, and governments increase their powers to accomplish their excessive promises, the power of the government-spirits is amplified.

As human governments become more powerful on earth, the government-spirits in the spiritual realms gain more authority and are able to work greater evil one earth. This means that reliance on political power is self-defeating. As governments have taken greater responsibilities, the powers of evil have been working greater evil on earth. The Global Financial Crisis and the Coronavirus are not their best efforts. They will do worse on earth before they are done, and governments will be powerless to deal with the problems they create, even though that have promised to deliver their people from every evil.

Unfortunately, God is the only one can deliver the people of the world from evil, but he can only do that if they put their trust in him, surrender their allegiance to Jesus, and free the Holy Spirit to work on earth. If they keep shutting Jesus out, the world will continue to experience more of the same, and worse.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (6) New Zealand

New Zealand is a secular nation with a declining Christian memory. The Prime Minister is not a Christian. There are almost no Christians in the labour government and only a few Christians in the opposition. When thinking about prophetic proclamation, this puts New Zealand in the category of a non-Christian ruler. Prophetic people who are called to speak to the nation should keep this in mind.

  • Telling the ruler what to do.

    The Prime Minister is not a Christian, so she does is not seeking the wisdom of God. Prophets would be wasting their time if they gave her advice about what to do. There is no reason why she would trust people who claim to be speaking for God. She has plenty of human advisors whom she trusts, so she does not want the advice of Christian prophets.

  • Calling out the ruler’s sins.

    Our ruler is not a follower of God, so we should not expect her to obey his standards. If she sins, that is just what sinners do. Indicting her for failing to live according to God’s standards is unfair.

  • Explaining what is going on in the physical and spiritual realms with respect to New Zealand.

    • Our Prime Minister probably does not believe in the existence of the spiritual realms, so she will not be interested in what is happening in that space.

    • The truth is that the government does not know what is going on and what it should do. It is stumbling from mistake to mistake, claiming to be basing its decision on science, at a time when the best science is trying to reach firm conclusions, and many critical issues have not been decided. The government has boxed itself into a corner and does not know how to get out.

    • The leader has been left with the futile task of covering up the mistakes while explaining what the governments are doing for the nation. They are ignoring the spiritual causes of the problems, so they will eventually fail. When their failure is eventually exposed, the leader will have to take the blame.

    • The people of the nation need to understand what is going on, so prophets should be explaining to them what is happening in the spiritual realms. The message could be summed up with the warning that getting caught on the wrong side in a war you do not understand is a serious mistake.

  • Warning of Danger

    • Along with the adulation of most of the people, the Prime Minister is really hated by some Christians. Some who are not Christians hate her even more. I presume that her people and her minders are aware of this hatred from the email she receives and the comments on social media, so she does not need prophets to warn her of any danger that she faces.

    • The Christians who really hate their ruler, should be aware that when she goes, and that might be sooner than they expect if she is drawn back to her children, she will probably be succeeded by someone who has less compassion and is far more hostile to judgmental Christianity. The men who make the decisions will have to come out from hiding behind her and face the public. If that happens, some Christians will be wishing that they had her back again.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (5) Warning of Danger

Some dangers will be physical threats. In Old Testament times, communications were slower than today, so prophets would warn of attacking armies before the military watchmen had seen them coming.

In the modern world, the threats of danger will more like be spiritually based, even if the ultimate effect is physical, ie death or injury.

  • The prophets warned covenant kings when dangers were threatening.

    • Jeremiah warned King Zedekiah what would happen to him because the spiritual powers of evil had gained authority to destroy Jerusalem (Jer 34:2-3; 39:6) He gave a similar warning to King Jehoiachin (Jer 35:30-31).

    • Elisha warned when the King of Aram as attacking Israel, before he got there (2 Kings 6:9-10).

  • The Old Testament prophets did not usually warn the pagan kings about threats of danger to them.

    • Isaiah did not warn Sennacherib that his armies would be struck down by a plague (Is 19).

    • The one exception is Nebuchadnezzar, who was warned of a massive spiritual collapse that would strike him down (Daniel 4). I think God did this to demonstrate his sovereignty over pagan kings in a very public way. We should not happen this to happen very often.

    • Belshazzar got about 12 hours warning about an invasion by the Medes (Dan 5:22-30). This warning was probably more to raise Daniel up before the new emperor than to warn the Babylonian king.

  • Non-Christian rulers will be vulnerable to spiritual attack. These spiritual attacks might sometimes translate into physical threats. God is not obliged to warn rulers who have rejected his grace about troubles that are coming against them. However, if God does reveal to a Christian prophet that a non-Christian ruler is threatened by spiritual or physical danger, the prophet should share as the Holy Spirit leads. The ruler might not be willing to heed a warning from a Christian prophet, but sounding an alarm is the gracious thing to do.

  • Prophets should warn a Christian ruler about any threats of danger that God reveals to them.

    • The warning is most likely to come from a prophet who is fellowship with the ruler.

    • The prophet Agabus warned Paul about the danger that would face him when he arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-11). I presume that he would have done the same for a believing ruler if he had encountered one.


Thursday, July 09, 2020

Prophet and Ruler (4) Explaining the Situation

Explaining what is happening in the spiritual realms and how it is affecting events on earth is probably the main role of prophets speaking to rulers of any type. (See political authority and spiritual power in a subsequent post).

In the Old Testament, prophets did not fully understand the working of the spiritual realms. They saw God and humans as the main actors on earth. They lived in a two-agent universe. So when warning of bad things coming, prophets said that God was sending judgement against rebellious people. This is how they saw the world, but their vision was incomplete. (What they said is true, because ultimately God is responsible for everything and he does not shirk responsibility for what he has done).

Since the coming of Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have a fuller understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and physical realms. We understand that we live in a three-agent universe. The three actors on earth are God, humans and the spiritual powers of evil.

When modern prophets warn about bad stuff that is coming, they should not usually be declaring God’s judgment. Instead, they will mostly be describing what the spiritual powers of evil are planning to do because the people have lost God’s protection.

  • The OT prophets explained what was going on to pagan kings.

    • Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel all prophesied to the nations surrounding Israel and explained to them what was going to happen to them in the future. Of course, there is no evidence that they listened.

  • The Old Testament prophets explained to covenant kings what was going on in their world.

    • All the Old Testament prophets spoke to the kings of Israel and Judah and warned them about what would happen when they displeased God and lost his protection.

  • Modern Christian prophets will sometimes explain to non-Christian rulers what is going on in their nation. They will explain what the spiritual powers of evil are attempting to do.

    • Many of these rulers will not be interested in the prophet’s understanding of what is happening in the nation. They might not believe that the spiritual realm is real. Even if they do, they might not welcome the prophet’s wisdom.

    • Most modern rulers will prefer their own explanation of what is happening, especially if it was the basis for their political campaigns. They might prefer to blame all the problems in their nation on the previous government, or on a bogeyman nation, so they will not be interested in spiritual causes of their nations problem.

    • If their understanding of what is happening will not be welcome, the prophet might have to remain silent, and speak to intercessors who will receive it. They should wait for the prompting of the Holy Spirit before sharing the insights he has given them with unbelieving rulers. Prophets should not cast their pearls before swine.

    • Messages explaining what is going on will be more for the people than the rulers. Every citizen needs to understand what is happening in their nations so they can make good decisions.

    • A nation usually gets the rulers it deserves. If a nation has a non-Christian ruler, that probably reflects the character of their nation. This situation requires a change of heart amongst the people, not just the ruler. The ruler will not be able to change things until the people of the nation change to. The gospel of Jesus is the best way to make that happen.

    In this situation, evangelists will be more important than prophets. Of course, as they share the gospel of Jesus, they will explain what the prophets have revealed what is going on in their nation. They will proclaim that Jesus can rescue the people from the troubles that the spiritual powers of evil are wanting to bring if they put their trust in him. This will allow God to change the nation from the bottom up.

  • Christian prophets should share their understanding of what is happening in the spiritual realms with any Christian rulers.

    • This understanding will usually come prophets who belong to the same body of believers as the ruler, or prophets who have a close relationship with the ruler.

    • Christian rulers might be wise to establish relationships with several independent prophets, so they can sure of getting a clear word in every situation.

Christian prophets who are explaining the spiritual situation on earth will need to understand discerning seasons and the role of prophetic events.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (3) Calling out Sins

  • The Old Testament prophets called out the sins of the covenant kings (of Judah and Israel).
    • Nathan challenged King David’s adultery and murder (1 Kings 12).
    • Miciah challenged King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22).
    • Samuel challenged King Saul (1 Sam 13:1-14).
    • John the Baptist challenged King Herod’s immorality (Matt 14:3-5).

  • The Old Testament prophets did not call out the sins of pagan rulers. There was no point, because they expected these kings to sin.
    • Daniel knew about Nebuchadnezzar’s sins, and told his son about them, but he did not challenge him about his immoral behaviour (Dan 5:1-20). Nebuchadnezzar’s was just doing what pagan kings have always done.

    • Ezekiel called out the pride of the King of Tyre (Ezek 28:1-19). This was a rare situation where a prophet did call out the sins of a pagan king. I could not find any other examples.

    • The Old Testament prophets prophesied against pagan kingdoms and warned them that they would collapse, but they did not usually call out their ruler’s sins.


  • In our time, Christian prophets should not call out the sins of non-Christian rulers, because they have not committed to following Jesus and they do not have the Holy Spirit helping them to live God’s way. They will expect them to sin from time to time, because that is what sinners do. Prophets should not condemn them for being who they are.

  • Christian prophets will sometimes call out the sins of Christian rulers, but this should be rare, because the prophet will not always understand the circumstances the ruler is dealing with. What appears to be sin might actually be a political compromise.

    • The challenge will usually come from a prophet who belongs to the same body of believers as the rulers.

    • The prophet will have a strong relationship with the ruler. God is not likely to use an unknown prophet from the other side of the earth.

    • The prophet will use the Matthew 18 process for challenging another believer (Matt 18:15-17). They will raise the issue in private first. If that does not work, the prophet might share with the ruler’s elders in their church. They would only go public if the challenge of the elders was rejected. Even then, they would often keep the sin to themselves, and leave God to sort out the issue.

    • God might send a prophet who is not connected with the ruler’s church, if the Christian ruler is being misled by court prophets (1 Kings 22).


Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (2) Telling Rulers what to Do

Prophets have the ability to give advice to rulers. They can share God’s wisdom with them and tell them what to do, if the ruler wants to obey God and align with him.

  • The Old Testament prophets shared their wisdom with the covenant kings of Israel and Judah.

    • Elisha gave his king tactics for defeating the King of Aram in battle (2 Kings 2:8-23).

    • Elisha told Jehu what to do once he became king (2 Kings 9:1-3).

  • The Old Testament prophets did not give advice to pagan kings. They rarely shared God’s wisdom with them.

    • Elisha told Hazael of Damascus that he would kill the King of Aram, but he did not give him advice about what he should do once he became king (2 Kings 8:7-15).

    • Jesus did not give advice to King Herod or Pontius Pilate. He did not share the wisdom of God with them or tell them how they should exercise their power.

    • Prophets occasionally interpreted dreams for pagan kings. God sometimes uses dreams when he wants to speak to a pagan ruler.

      • Joseph explained Pharaoh’s dream to him. God had given the dream to Pharaoh to provide food security for Jacob’s family and to prepare the way for his chosen people to be led into the promised land. The dream was not meant for Pharaoh’s benefit.

        Joseph became Pharaoh’s administrator. In this role he had to carry out Pharaoh’s instructions. Pharaoh used Joseph to enrich himself and to enslave the Egyptian people. Joseph was not able to share God’s advice about how to be a good king.

      • Daniel interpreted a dream for the king of Babylon (Daniel 4). God wanted him to understand that he is sovereign and controls the rising and falling of kings. Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel governor over the province of Babylon. He had to carry out Nebuchadnezzar’s instructions. He was not advising the king how to obey God’s will. Nebuchadnezzar actually continued to be evil. Daniel later explained this to his son.

        All the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. But his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride (Dan 5:19-20).
        Neither Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar drew on prophetic wisdom to become good kings. They used the prophet’s administrative skills to advance their own purposes, power and wealth.

  • Modern rulers who are not followers of Jesus will not usually be seeking the wisdom of God. They are unlikely to be interested in seeking the advice of Christian prophets. They will not be wanting to do God’s will, so they will not listen to prophets who can speak God’s wisdom.

    If God challenges a non-Christian ruler through a dream, a Christian prophet might receive the interpretation of the dream. They should pass it on if the Holy Spirit provides an opportunity.

  • Advising Christian rulers what to do is probably an acceptable activity for Christian prophets, although there is no example of it in the New Testament (because there were no Christians rulers). The role is akin to the OT prophets advising covenant kings.

    Democratically-elected Christian rulers do not have absolute authority like the ancient pagan kings. They are accountable to their electorates and the existing laws of their nation. They are also bound by their party’s principles and other political conventions, so they are not always free to do God’s will for their nation.

    A Christian prime minister or president is still bound by their cabinet and parliament (congress), who may not be Christians. If the prophet speaks God’s wisdom for a situation to them, they may not be able to act upon it.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Prophets and Rulers (1)

Prophets who are dealing with rulers have four main roles.

  • Telling rulers what to do by sharing the wisdom of God.

  • Calling out the sins of rulers.

  • Telling rulers what is going on in their world, including:

    • physical level – what their enemies are doing.
    • Spiritual realms – understanding spiritual events is more important.

  • Warning rulers of threats to their personal safety, including:

    • physical attack
    • spiritual destruction

Categories of Ruler
Rulers can be kings, presidents or prime ministers. For simplicity, I will refer to them all as rulers, regardless of their current title.

Prophets will respond to rulers depending on how they fit within the following four categories. The first two are described in the Old Testament. The second two relate to the New Testament age. Some of the scriptures about the first two groups will be applicable to the second two groups, respectively.

  • Covenant kings – these were the kings of Israel and Judah who were accountable to the covenant that Moses initiated between God and his people. The OT prophets dealt with covenant kings in terms of the requirements of the covenant.

  • Pagan rulers – the nations were controlled by pagan kings and emperors during the times of the OT Prophets. The OT covenant does not apply to them, because they have never committed to serving God.

  • Christians rulers – in the New Testament age, there have been many Christian kings, prime ministers and presidents. They have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour so they are bound by God’s standards.

  • In the current season, there are more non-Christian rulers than there were in the past: Christian kings, prime ministers and presidents. They have never committed to obeying God. They feel no obligation to him.

Prophets will have a different interaction with each of these different categories of ruler. I will describe them separately in more detail in the next few posts.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Normal America

Many American evangelicals are getting stirred up about President Trump. They think the nation that is being ruined by a highly abnormal president. They see the next presidential election as pivotal because they fear that the President has set the nation on a dangerous path from which it will struggle to recover.

The reality is that Donald Trump will be gone in four years’ time, and quite likely in six months’ time. I suspect that nothing much will change when he goes because he is a symptom of a problem, not the underlying problem itself. That problem has been there for a long time, so it will remain for a long time after he as gone.

Changing a president does not change a nation's behaviour, because the government-spirits that controlled the election of the president will still be in place when he is gone. The United States has been dominated by spirits of war and violence and power from its inception, partly because it was birthed out of war. These violent and warring spirits ensure that the nation elects a president who loves war and military dominance. If a peace-loving person like Obama is elected president, these spirits will transform him/her into a warmonger.

Donald Trump claimed that he would withdraw America from unnecessary wars, but he has not succeeded. The violent and warring spirits that control the nation have worked with the establishment to keep the nation involved in wars all over the world.

Donald Trump was not an aberration. He was a perfect choice for the government-spirits that control the United States. A brash bully is just what they wanted to lead an arrogant nation that they use to bully the other nations of the world.

Caitlin Johnston has a perceptive article, despite not understanding the spiritual powers behind what she observed. She says that “Donald Trump is a very normal US president”.

Trump is a very normal president, the media just yell about this president a lot more than usual because he puts an ugly face on the horrific normal that was already there. Sure he makes rude tweets and says dumb things and has made a mess of the pandemic response, but by and large when you strip away the narrative overlay Trump has been a reliable establishment lapdog advancing more or less all the same status quo imperialist and oligarchic agendas as the presidents who came before him. There are just a lot of establishment loyalists with a vested interest in spinning the ugliness his oafishness is exposing as caused by and unique to him.
If people could only open their eyes, the President is revealing the heart of the nation and the government spirits at work in it.
It isn’t Trump’s abnormality that makes him truly heinous, it’s his normality. It’s his perpetuation of a status quo which is brutal, corrupt, and utterly fascistic. And which got there long before he did.

Going back to how it was before Trump was elected is not the solution, because that was just as bad.

Wanting America to go back to how it was before Trump is wanting the conditions which gave rise to Trump. This is like landing at the bottom of a well and wishing you could go back in time to a few moments earlier when you were merely falling down the well. Wanting the same status quo austerity, exploitation, oppression and warmongering that made people so angry they wanted an obnoxious demagogue to come knock over the whole apple cart in the first place is just rewinding the same horror movie to the scene right before the scene that’s scaring you.

The only solution is real change.
This is what your government is, America. This is what it’s always been. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t just try to put a nicer mask on it so you can go back to sleep. Change it. Change your normal. Create a new normal.

Trump is everything America is. As one reader recently put it, “Trump didn’t make things the way they are, he is the personification of the situation. If the United States was a suit, then it was tailor-made for Trump.”

Trump is normal. If you don’t like your normal, America, then push for real change, not cosmetic change. It’s not going to come from any president. It’s going to have to come from you.

That change will require a change of heart that frees it from the powerful government-spirit that controls it.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Big Banks Again

Frank Partnoy a law professor at UC Berkley has a disturbing article in the Atlantic Magazine called the Looming Bank Collapse. The article is worth reading. Partnoy reminds us that the underly cause of the 2009 Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was default on home mortgage debt. Big banks had sliced and diced mortgages into collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) that were sold on to a variety of financial institutions.

At the time, the experts at the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve claimed that this strengthened the financial system because the risk was carried by those organisations that could afford to carry it. Of course, that claim proved to be a joke. The risk had been chopped up and shifted around so much that no one no who was carrying it, and in the end, taxpayers found themselves carrying most of the risk.

Frank Partnoy suggests that a similar situation has emerged with collateralised corporate. The big banks have been slicing and dicing some fairly dodgy corporate debt into Collateralised Loan Obligation (CLOs) with the same techniques that they used for house mortgages. The value of outstanding corporate debt CLOs is now greater than mortgage-based CDOs prior to the GFC. The experts say that this is good because the risk has been shifted around and is now held by financial institutions that are best placed to carry it. We have heard that one before.

The other so-called advantage of CLOs is what the insiders call “default correlation”. They rely on avoiding it The idea is that even during a recession, different industries and regions will perform better than others. The CLOs are supposedly constructed in a way that should spread the regional and industry coverage to ensure that a negative event will only affect some of the loans. Remember when they used to say that the house prices have never fallen right across the United States at the same time. Same story.

Default correlation might be a useful tool in normal times when even if some businesses are struggling, others will be prospering. Unfortunately, that does not apply during a global pandemic when businesses in most regions and sectors are badly affected, so we will soon see how bad default correlation can bite.

I am not sure how serious this problem is, but it sounds ugly. Frank Partnoy ends his article with a dire warning for the big banks.

It is a distasteful fact that the present situation is so dire in part because the banks fell right back into bad behavior after the last crash—taking too many risks, hiding debt in complex instruments and off-balance-sheet entities, and generally exploiting loopholes in laws intended to rein in their greed. Sparing them for a second time this century will be that much harder.
And the ordinary taxpayer will pay the price.

Shifting Risk

A company that operates 128 early childhood education centres across New Zealand tried to impose new employment contracts on its staff. The new contract states that hours of work will be between 20 and 40 hours a week, with a guaranteed minimum of only 20 hours.

The company claims that it has had to take this action because a significant percentage of children have not returned to child care following the coronavirus shutdown. It said that when the children return, they will give their existing staff additional hours. However, the contracts were not temporary, so they change the situation so that staff would lose out, rather than the company, if the numbers of children decline in the future.

Although the company backed down, after pressure from the unions and the government, which provides much of their funding, this type of contract is becoming more and more and more common.

According to economic theory, businesses are entitled to profit to compensate them for the risk that they run in starting and operating a business in an uncertain world. That is correct, but in recent years, we have seen more and more businesses shifting the cost of risks of doing business onto their employees, who cannot afford to carry the risk of losing their income. Of course, the business still expect to make the same volume of profits, despite not carrying so much risk. This is dishonest.

In recent years, many businesses have done something similar. The worst example is putting employees on zero-hour contracts, which requires them to be available when the business wants them to work, but with no guaranteed hours. No one can live like that. The practice of using contract employment agencies to provide staff rather than employing them directly is another example because staff can be removed with no cost at any time. This pushes business risk onto poorly-paid employees.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Staff Shortages

I get tired of hearing business owners complain on television that they cannot get staff because the border is closed to migrants. These are people who vote for right-wing political parties because they supposedly believe in free markets.

In a free market, there is a simple way for businesses to get staff. Pay a better wage than other employers are paying.

But businesses are mostly unwilling to practice what they preach. Instead, they ask the government to bring in migrants who will work for the minimum wage.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

International Tourism

Since the collapse of the demand for wool in the 1960s and 1970s, New Zealand has been looking for an alternative way of paying for the imports that we need for a modern lifestyle. For many, international tourism was seen as the solution, but even after significant investment by the government, tourism directly contributes a bit less than 6 percent of our GDP, and about half that comes from international tourism. International tourism is more important for providing employment, as most tourism activities are labour intensive. About a fifth of the workforce is directly involved in tourism.

The closure of the border to keep out Covid19 has had a serious impact on businesses who depend on international tourist. And due to the uncertainty about when the border will be opened again, there is serious uncertainty about when international tourism will get underway again. I hope that when the tourists do return, the industry will be re-established on a sounder basis.

  • Although international tourism has provided employment for large numbers of people, the wages are poor. Many of the employees who serve tourists are only paid the minimum wage. Many of the jobs are part-time and some are seasonal, so they are inadequate for supporting a family.

  • Because many of the jobs offered are poorly paid, tourism-related businesses often find it difficult to attract New Zealander to work for them. Consequently, they depend on migrant labour, because only migrants are willing to work unsocial hours on a seasonal basis for poor pay. Following the coronavirus shutdown, large numbers of migrants are stuck in tourist towns, with expired visas and no income, because they can’t afford to go home.

  • Tourism places a big load on public infrastructure without contributing to the costs. The industry wants airport expansion, cruise ship terminals, and better roads. They expect accommodation to available where and when they need it. Tourists want to be able to travel in National Parks without contributing to the costs. When they get sick, they need medical services, but they do not always pay for it.

  • Most tourists are stingy with their spending. I know I was when I have travelled overseas. It is their choice to keep their spending controlled while visiting the country, but that means that they are not going to be the solution to countries problems.

If international tourism starts up again, I hope that it will be established on a sounder economic basis. New Zealand needs tourism businesses that:
  • contribute to the cost of the infrastructure that they use;
  • pay wages or salaries that provide enough income to support a family
  • are not dependent on the exploitation of migrants to be profitable.