Tuesday, January 30, 2018

JMP (9) Too Good to be a King

David was an extremely good man. He prefigured Jesus in the way he tried to forgive and restore those who rebelled against him. The problem is that forgives of enemies does not work in a kingdom, because it just encourages other usurpers to rebel and attempt to seize part of the kingdom.

In a way Joab understood the nature of political power based on military force better than David. Joab acted to prevent unnecessary bloodshed, but he was absolutely ruthless in dealing with those who tried to usurp the king's power.

Although he was skilled in maintaining a kings power, he is not a person anyone would want their sons to emulate. That is the irony of political power based on military force. It needs ugly people to make it successful. That is why God’s perfect system of government does not need political power and military force.

God had already given a perfect system of government through Moses that does not rely on political power and military force. It does not need permanent military commanders with all the problems that they bring.

David loved the law, but don’t know if understood what Moses had provided. However, he could not operate in it anyway, because the people of Israel has chosen to copy the surrounding nations and have a king. David was stuck with being a king, which was a sub-optimal form of government that does not work.

Because he had to be a king, he needed military force to maintain his position of top-down power. He needed a ruthless commander to establish his throne and to ensure his victories over all opposition. He needed military power, but it gave the spiritual powers of evil a hold on his kingdom. Human kingship and imposed authority never escapes the disruptive violence of military force.

Jesus is the perfect king, because he sent the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of his followers. They obey the Spirit, because they love Jesus, so there is no need for military force to protect his kingdom.

Jesus kingdom is a totally different kingdom. It expands and grows without any need for political or military power. I describe it more fully in Government of God.

Monday, January 29, 2018

JMP (8) David and Power

David was a very good man. He was chosen by God as a boy because he had a good heart. He had an amazing love for God and expressed this in the beautiful Psalms that he wrote.

As a boy and during his early battles and flight from King Saul he trusted in God, and refused to engage in unnecessary violence. He was able to say, “my hands are free from violence” (1 Chron 12:17). As his kingdom advanced he seemed to rely on military force more and more. To be successful in war, he needed a ruthless military commander. He disliked his nephew Joab, because he felt he was too violent, but he called on him again and again when he needed some violent work done.

I presume the tide turned when David committed adultery and used Joab to kill the husband that David had betrayed. This violence released violence within his family, and one of his sons raped a sister, another son killed his brother, and a third son used violence to push David off his throne. To deal with the situation, David relied on military force and trusted Joab to deliver it. His kingship was distorted by military power and none of his successors escaped from it.

Joab had real wisdom, but he seemed to be corrupted by violence after his younger brother was killed unnecessarily during a war. Joab tended to minimise unnecessary deaths of civilians and soldiers, but he was ruthless in dealing with political and military leaders who threatened the power of his King.

All kings rule by force. A king has to be the most powerful force in the land to maintain his position. David’s throne was kept safe, because Joab delivered the ruthless military force needed to protect it. Joab was ruthless, but he understood the reality of political power.

The foundation for all political power is military force. It can remain hidden for much of the time, but it must be brought out whenever political power is threatened. Those who hold political power have to be ruthless when their power is threatened. Like David, many political leaders pretend to dislike military force, but the reality is that force is the foundation for their power. If their power is threatened by rebellion, they have to deal with ruthlessly, or they will be defeated.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Joab and Military Power (7) Succession

Succession is important for the security of the kingdom, but David seemed to be reluctant to deal with the issue. He should have appointed one of his sons in his place to keep the kingdom.

The time of uncertainty when David was weak and dying was a dangerous time for his kingdom. An enemy kingdom could take advantage of the opportunity and attack. With David unable to get out of bed, organising the defence of the kingdom would be difficult. Joab was loyal to the kingdom, so he tried to resolve the problem by acting to have one of David’s sons recognised as king.

Joab also knew that David had a dozen sons who would all like to become king. If these men spent several years jockeying for power, the kingdom would be vulnerable. If a successor was not established, the kingdom could be divided, as happened after Solomon died.

David had not clarified his intentions, so Adonijah put himself forward.

Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, “I will be king.” So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom (1 Kings 1:5-6).
David gave no indication that he did not support Adonijah as his successor, and Joab knew that the first person to make a claim to the throne would probably be successful. He and Abiathar the High Priest gave him their support (1 Kings 1:5-6), because they knew that the kingdom needed a successor in place to be safe.

Unfortunately for Joab, Bethsheba pushed forward her own son and gained David’s support. Nathan the prophet probably knew who God wanted to be David’s successor, whereas Joab a man of war did not (1 Kings 1:11-27). Solomon was appointed as king and the security of the kingdom was established. So Joab got what he wanted for the kingdom, even though it cost him his life.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Joab and Military Power (6) Death

David gave his backing to Solomon, because he was Bathsheba’s son. Joab knew that Solomon was conceived in adultery and murder, so I presume he did not expect him to become King. However, Nathan and Bathsheba manipulated David to ensure that Solomon gained the throne (1 Kings 1:1-40).

David told Solomon to kill Joab.

Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me—what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt around his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his grey head go down to the grave in peace (1 Kings 2:5-6).
This was a bit ungrateful. David had benefit hugely from Joab’s violence and brutality. He relied on Joab’s violence when it suited him, but claimed to be upset by it. This was a bit hypocritical. David had killed Uriah at a time when he was not engaged in war. Abner and Amasa both died as a consequence of their actions during wartime, so David was a bit mischievous to claim that they were killed during peacetime.

David frequently killed people who were not a war. When he had defeated the Moabites, he took a ruthless action.

David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David (2 Sam 8:2).
The Moabites were already defeated, so this was not an act of war. It was a brutal act of intimidation to keep the Moabites down. In contrast, Joab had often ended a war quickly to prevent unnecessary bloodshed (2 Sam 2:28; 8:16; 20:20; 21:3). David had one standard for himself and a different standard for others.

David had cursed Joab and prayed that he would die (2 Sam 3:28-29). However, God had not answered his prayer and Joab lived on. Because God had not done what he wanted, David instructed Solomon to take matters into his own hand and kill him.

Maybe David wanted to protect Solomon from Joab’s violence, but he then encouraged Solomon to use violence against. Using violence to deal with violence, creates more violence. Solomon began his kingship with violence, so it affected his entire reign and his successors.

Solomon sent Benaiah son of Jehoiada, who was one of David’s mighty men to kill Joab while he was holding the altar in the temple. It was supposed to be a place of sanctuary for people in trouble. This would have been a distasteful task for a man whom he had served with Joab for many years, but political power is a ruthless business.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country. The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position (1 Kings 2:34-35).
There is huge irony here. David disliked Joab because the used the sword during peacetime (1 Kings 2:5-6). Yet the first act of his successor was to kill a man without trial during peacetime. Solomon was unwittingly releasing the violent spirit that he feared into his own administration.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Joab and Military Power (5) Amasa

David abused Joab’s loyalty responded by appointing Amasa to be commander of his army in Joab’s place (2 Sam 19:13). This was a strange thing to do, as Amasa had already betrayed David once, so he probably could not be trusted not to do it again. By rewarding those who rebelled against him David, was giving the wrong message to those who opposed him. The outcome was another revolt and further violence.

A dispute broke out between the armies of Israel and the armies of Judah. I presume that the armies of Israel were annoyed that Joab had become commander over them.

The people of Judah spoke more harshly than the people of Israel. (2 Sam 19:43).
Inevitably, a troublemaker called Sheba son of Bicri started a rebellion against David (2 Sam 20:1-2). David instructed Amasa to gather the armies of Israel to put down the rebellion, but Amasa was too slow. Maybe he was already looking for another opportunity to undermine David.

David responded to Amasa’s failure by sending Abishai, Joab’s brother, to raise the army. He was loyal to his brother, so he took Joab with him ((2 Sam 18:14-15). When they came across Amasa, Joab killed him because he considered him to be a traitor to David (2 Sam 20:9-10).

Joab pursued Sheba and trapped him in a town of Ephraim. He persuaded the people of the town to kill him. This saved many unnecessary lives (2 Sam 20:22).

Once Joab has restored the security of David’s throne, David had no option to establish him as commander of his army (2 Sam 20:23).

David played power games between Joab and Amasa, but his machinations failed. In the end, he needed the brutality of Joab to keep his kingdom safe. Joab could be relied on to do what needed to be done, when things went wrong.

David seemed to be scared of his military commanders. The risk was real because one of them could seize his throne. David tried to play one off against the other, but it did not work. Joab was too tough and saw off all opposition to his power. He understood the realities of kingship and military power. Fortunately for David, Joab remained loyal to him, until nearly the end of his life, despite often being treated badly by him.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Joab and Military Power (4) Absalom

David had problems in his family right from the beginning. I presume his disloyalty to his wives released a spirit of division. A son called Ammon’s raped his half-sister Tamar.

When King David heard all this, he was furious (2 Sam 13:21).
However, David did nothing about it, although he knew what had happened was wrong. Maybe his own adultery prevented him from dealing with his son’s sin.
Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar (2 Sam 13:21-22).
Absalom eventually killed Ammon and fled into exile. Again, David did nothing, I presume, because the felt that rough justice had been done.

David later criticised Joab for taking revenge on the person who had killed his brother, but David allowed his own son to do the same thing.

Absalom wanted to reconcile with his father, but he was forced to remain in exile. He was left in a situation of being forgiven, but not accepted (2 Sam 13:38). He lived with a hostile king, so naturally started working against David.

David never dealt with Absalom’s attitude, so he eventually rebelled against him and pushed David out of the kingdom. Being betrayed by a favourite son was the worst thing that could happen to a king. Joab and Abishai went into exile with David, when Absolam seized the throne (2 Sam 16:9).

Absalom appointed Amasa as commander of the army (2 Sam 17:25). Amasa was the son of David’s other sister Abigail and Joab’s cousin (1 Chron 2:17). By joining with the rebellion, Amasa was betraying his Uncle David.

Joab led the troops of Judah who remained loyal to David into battle against the armies of Absalom. When Absalom was captured, Joab killed him. This death was justified, because Absalom was a murderer and usurper (2 Sam 13:28-29).

Absalom’s death allowed David to get back his throne over Israel (2 Sam 18:14-15). This was necessary, because a king could no allow a rival to remain and threaten his kingship. David wept for Absalom, but Joab knew what had to be done to save the kingdom.

Joab was ruthless, but he understood the reality of political power. Those who hold political power have to be ruthless when it is threatened, or they can quickly lose their place. Like David, many political leaders pretend to dislike military force, but the reality is that is the basis for their power. If their power is threatened by rebellion, they have to deal with ruthlessly, or they could be defeated.

The foundation for political power is military force. It can remain hidden for much of the time, but it must be brought out when political power needs it.

When Absalom was dead, Joab sounded a trumpet to end the battle and prevent any more unnecessary bloodshed (2 Sam 18:16-17). Absalom’s soldiers were followers not rebels, so they did not need to die. Although Joab could be ruthless when necessary, he prevented unnecessary death whenever possible. He knew that the leaders were the problem, not the people who followed them.

Joab understood loyalty. He understood that it is not unlimited, so he challenged David about his disrespect for the men who had supported him.

Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you… Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the LORD that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall (2 Sam 19:5-7).
Joab challenged David to thank the men who had risked their lives for David when he was in trouble. By being disloyal to his men, David was putting their loyalty at risk. Joab understood loyalty. He knew that if David did not acknowledge their loyalty, he could face another rebellion.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Joab and Military Power (3) Ruthless Force

The problem was that David relied on military force to remain on the throne. This is the nature of kingship. Here are some of the tasks that Joab did for him.

  • Joab conquered Jerusalem for David.

    David had said, “Whoever leads the attack on the Jebusites will become commander-in-chief.” Joab son of Zeruiah went up first, and so he received the command (1 Chron 11:6).
    David had promised that whoever conquered the city would become his army commander. This was a foolish promise, because he did not know who it would be. David broke this promise several times by trying to take the command off by Joab.

  • Joab would often lead the army to war while David remained in Jerusalem.

    In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins (1 Chron 20:1).

  • When he committed adultery, David used Joab’s to deliberately kill Bathsheba’s husband. He wrote a letter to Joab.

    Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die (2 Sam 11:15).
    Joab obeyed his king and Uriah was killed (2 Sam 11:17). He was one of David’s most loyal soldiers. He seemed to dislike Joab’s brutality, but he was happy to use it when it suited him.

  • Once when David joined his army to fight the Philistines, he became exhausted and was nearly killed. Joab’s brother Abishai rescued him.

    David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. And Ishbi-Benob said he would kill David. But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle (2 Sam 21:15-17).
    Joab’s brother rescued David when was in trouble.

  • Several of David’s victories were actually won Joab or his brother.

    Abishai son of Zeruiah struck down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. He put garrisons in Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David (1 Chron 18:12-13).

  • In his early days, David tended to trust the Lord when going into battle.

    David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?” The LORD answered him, “Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands”(2 Sam 5:19).
    However, as his kingdom advanced, he seemed to rely more on his military commanders. This made him dependent on ruthless men like Joab and his brother Abishai.

  • Joab allowed David some easy victories.

    Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, “I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I will take the city, and it will be named after me.” So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head (2 Sam 12:26-30).
    Joab did not seek his own glory, even though he established the victory. He called David in, so that he would get the glory.

A king is a permanent military leader. All kings rule by force. A king has to be the most powerful force in the land to maintain his position. Joab removed all potential threats to David's power. David tried to stand apart from these struggles, but he would not have survived as king, if Joab had not removed all the opposition.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Joab and Military Power (2) Wisdom

Joab was a wise man. On several occasions, Joab’s wisdom prevented David from making serious mistakes.

  • When David’s relationship with his son Absolam had broken down, Joab tried to make peace between them, but without much success (2 Sam 14). During the process, Absolam burned Joab’s field wheat (2 Sam 14:30).

    Absalom wanted to reconcile with his father, but he was forced to remain in exile. He was left in a situation of being forgiven, but not accepted, so he eventually rebelled against David.

  • Joab and Abishai went into exile with David, when Absolam seized the throne. They had the wisdom to back David, even though it appeared that he was finished (2 Sam 16:9).

  • When Absolam died, David put his grieve ahead of the men who had supported him. Joab warned him that he risked offending the soldiers who had supported him. Joab said to the king,

    Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines (2 Sam 19:5).
    David wanted to be the nice guy, but he did not realise that a king has to be ruthless to remain in power. Joab protected David’s kingdom at a time when it was fragile.

  • Joab developed a wise strategy for dealing with a joint attack by the Arameans an Ammonites (2 Sam 10:9-10).

  • When Satan incited David to take a census of fighting-age men, Joab tried to talk him out of it.

    But Joab replied, “May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel (1 Chron 21:3-4).
    This was real wisdom, but it was ignored. Joab was loyal, so he carried out David’s instructions even though he did not agree with them.

Unfortunately, Joab’s wisdom was corrupted by the brutal and violent spirit that that got hold of him. This is what happens to those who gain military power. The hatred and fear of war opens the way for bad spirits to enter. They make a home for violence and force.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Joab and Military Power (1)

When a person gains an important military position, the spiritual powers of evil concentrate against them to establish control over them. They will usually know where they are vulnerable. The spiritual powers of evil also take advantage of the fear and anger of battle to gains access and control.

David had problems with his own family. His sons rebelled against him and fought with each other. He also had problems with fighting between his military leaders, who were mostly his cousins, sons of his sisters.

Joab and his brothers were good men loyal to David. Their history shows how military power corrupts good people.

Joab, Abishai and Asahel were brothers. Their mother Zeruiah was a sister of David 1 Chron 2:16) They had served David faithfully right from when he was being persecuted by Saul, before he became king. When Saul died, the brothers helped David defeat the remnant of Saul’s army.

Joab was the commander of David’s armies (2 Sam 8:16; 21:23).

Abner, who had commanded Saul’s army, had installed Ishbosheth as king of Israel (2 Sam 2:10-11) while David was king in Judah.

When war broke out between David and Ishbosheth, Abner killed Asahel when he pursued Abner after Ishbosheth’s army had been defeated (2 Sam 2:23). Joab and Abishai chased Abner seeking revenge, but Joab stopped the bloodshed when Abner asked for mercy.

Abner called out to Joab, “Must the sword devour forever? Don’t you realize that this will end in bitterness? How long before you order your men to stop pursuing their fellow Israelites?”

Joab answered, “As surely as God lives, if you had not spoken, the men would have continued pursuing them until morning.”

So Joab blew the trumpet, and all the troops came to a halt; they no longer pursued Israel, nor did they fight anymore (2 Sam 2:26-28).
Joab called off the chase, but the war continued.
The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker (2 Sam 3:1).
Abner fell out with Ishbosheth and tried to gain a place of influence in David’s kingdom (2 Sam 3:19-21). Joab did not trust Abner and killed him in revenge for his brother’s death (2 Sam 3:27).

Although it was foolish dealing with Abner without telling Joab, David claimed to be innocent of Abner’s death.

Later, when David heard about this, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever innocent before the LORD concerning the blood of Abner son of Ner. May his blood fall on the head of Joab and on his whole family! May Joab’s family never be without someone who has a running sore or leprosy or who leans on a crutch or who falls by the sword or who lacks food” (2 Sam 3:28-29).
David was being devious. Joab was ruthless, but David had relied on him for protection against Saul, and for defeating the opposition to his kingship. He could not have it both ways. He could not rely on Joab’s military prowess, and then disavow it when it suited him.

David put a curse on Joab and his family. This was extremely foolish, given that Joab would continue to be the commander of his armies. David was giving the spiritual powers of evil permission to manipulate and control his military commander. He was giving them authority to introduce violence and sickness into his own house.

David attended Abner’s funeral procession, which really impressed the people.

All the people took note, and it pleased them, since whatever the king did pleased all the people (2 Sam 3:36).
This is what happens with a king. The people become infatuated with his power, and trust everything he does.
For all the people came to understood that day that the king had no part in the murder of Abner (2 Sam 3:37).
I am not sure that the people’s understanding was quite right. David had got Abner involved without telling Joab. While Abner was commanding Saul’s army, he had tried to kill David. David would never be able to trust him, so he would probably have to kill him, as all kings dealt with those who opposed them. David benefited the most from Abner’s death.

David spoke to his army.

Today, though I am the anointed king, I am weak, and these sons of Zeruiah are too strong for me (2 Sam 2:39).
This was a fairly feeble excuse. David was king, so he had responsibility for his soldiers. He had used Zeruiah’s sons to gain power. He had given them authority in his army. David was in this difficult situation, because he had relied on military force to establish his kingship, rather than waiting on God. David prayed that God would deal with Joab.
May the LORD repay the evildoer according to his evil deeds (2 Sam 2:39).
However, David did not trust God to answer his prayer. Before he died, he instructed Solomon to kill Joab (1 Kings 2:6).

When Ishbosheth was killed by a couple of his commanders, David killed them. He took the moral high ground, but he benefited from Ishbosheth’s death, because it cleared the way for him to be made king of the northern Kingdom.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Political Power

In an article on the US Presidential election, Brandon Colbert wrote,

Progressive evangelicals often are the ones who like to talk about the significance of living in a post-Christendom context. Whereas, the religious right clings to the idea that specifically Christian values and ideas can be imposed on the rest of society with the help of government, progressive evangelicals point out that that quest is misguided, at best, and damaging to the church, at worst.
This is correct, but he should not have stopped there. Progressive evangelicals also want to impose Christians values on the rest of society with the help of the government. The only difference is that they want to impose a different set of values.

Attempting to agree on values will not help. Rather, we must give up trying to impose our values on society using the power of government.

Serving society by living our values is the better way.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Just Judge

According to Paul, the cross has a legal effect in a heavenly court. (The clever people use the word forensic to describe it). Understanding the different characters in the court is important.

The father is the judge. His role is to decide if people brought before him are guilty or innocent, and if they are guilty what the penalty should be. A judge does not lay charges or make accusations.

The Holy Spirit is the “paraclete”, the one who stands in the court beside the person accused and assists them to bring their defence. He does not make accusations either.

Jesus said that he does not accuse (John 5:45; 12:47).

We are the ones appearing in the court. If it were up to God, there would be no accusations brought against us.

As well as being judge, God is also our father. We have all rebelled against him more than once. We have offended him many times, but that is not unusual. Children offend their father all the time. They often rebel against them or lie to them. Provided his children admit mistakes, a father is happy to forgive his children. He will often forgive his children, even if they do not admit their mistakes.

The problem in the heavenly court is that there is also an accuser. The name Satan means accuser. He accuses us before our judge. He can call the people who we have sinned against as witnesses, because they will probably be criticising us on earth.

The accuser says that it would be unfair if God forgave us, because he will not forgive him. However, Satan and his mates have not admitted their mistakes, so God cannot forgive them, although he is like a father to them. The spiritual powers of evil persist in holding power over God’s children who have wandered away from their father. He has power over God’s people, so he cannot just ignore him.

The accuser demands blood, because the penalty for disobedience is death. The spiritual powers of evil demand blood as the price for allowing the people they control to be redeemed and set free.

God is a just judge, who he has to be fair to everyone, so he has to listen to the accusations and demands of the accuser. He would have to declare all humans guilty and acknowledge that the penalty the accuser demands is correct, but Jesus steps up in the court before the judge and says,

These people belong to me. I shed my blood and died on their behalf. I am not guilty of any sin, so my blood counts for anyone who claims it.
The accusations of the accuser are defeated, because although we are guilty, the penalty that the accuser demands has already been paid. That gives us a “clean slate” before the judge of the heavenly court. The spiritual powers accusing us are defeated.

The other bit of good news is that once the penalty for our disobedience has been accepted by God, the rights of the spiritual powers of evil to dominate us are broken. We are declared righteous and redeemed from the power of evil at the same time.

Friday, January 19, 2018

King Herod

We think of King Herod as a baddy, but for many in Israel he was a hero. Although the Romans had conquered them, Herod had been able to retain his role as king.

He had rebuilt the temple and made it into one of the wonders of the ancient world. Many people hoped that God would come and make his dwelling place, as he had done for Solomon. A group of people called the Herodians saw Herod as a sign of God’s blessing (Mark 3:6; 12:13).

Yet when the wise men from the East came to inquire about a new king, Herod flew into a rage and killed hundreds of baby boys. Why so ruthless? When he gained authority, Herod came under intense spiritual attacks by the spiritual powers of evil, who were able to control him for their purposes. This is what always happens to politicians. They often start out good, but come under spiritual attack and become evil.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


God allowed Israel to have king, so that they would learn that political and military power is not a solution.

Saul started off as a humble honest man. He seemed like a perfect person to be king. Yet he was quickly corrupted by political power.
David was a good man with good heart. His love for God was amazing. He wrote very beautiful Psalms. He could only have done that by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

David was a successful military leader. He defeated the Jebusites and freed Jerusalem (2 Sam 4:6-10). He expanded Israel’s borders and defeated all of its enemies.

The LORD gave David victory wherever he went (2 Sam 8:14).
David was accepted as king by everyone.
David reigned over all Israel (2 Sam 8:15).
Unfortunately, military and political power usually corrupts a good person, so David was a disaster as a king.
  • David took responsibility for administering justice in Israel. That was not his role, because God had entrusted justice to judges that he would raise up from among the people.

    David administered judgment and justice to all his people (2 Sam 8:15).
    David was a military leader, not a judge. (Some translations insert the word “fairness” or “right” in 2 Sam 8:15, but the word is not there in the Hebrew text).

    Kings like to control justice, because it means that if they harm their people, they have no legal redress, because the king decides the case, and he will not decide against himself. This is not God’s way.

    The people of Judah struggled to obtain justice while David was king (2 Sam 15:2-6). Absalom made himself popular by promising the people justice.

  • David used the “forced labour” of his people to advance his building projects.

    Adoram was in charge of forced labour (2 Sam 20:24).
    This enforced slavery was forbidden by the law of Moses.

  • David imposed harsh taxes to fund his building projects (2 Sam 8:2,6). One reason for this census was to measure the potential for raising taxes (2 Sam 24:2).

  • David engaged in random killing of the soldiers that he defeated.

    David also defeated the Moabites. Then he made their soldiers lie down on the ground, and he measured them off with a rope. He would measure off two lengths of the rope and have those men killed, then he would measure off one length and let those men live (2 Sam 8:2).

  • David’s produced a dysfunctional family. One son raped his half-sister. Another son killed the culprit (2 Sam 13). David avoided these family issues and the bad behaviour continued after his death.

  • David stole the wife of one of a David betrayed a loyal soldier who was away from home fighting and committed adultery with his wife (2 Sam 11:2-4).

  • David arranged for the soldier he betrayed to be murdered, so that his own sin would not be exposed. He got his victim to carry the letter with instructions to arrange his death (2 Sam 11:12-18).

  • When David organised a census to count the men of fighting age, he was putting his trust his own power, rather than God. When the prophet offered him a choice in the consequences of this sin, he chose a plague upon his people, rather than harm for himself (2 Sam 24:11). Only when he saw the people suffering did he realise this was wrong, because he was the one who had sinned (2 Sam 24:17).

A president or prime minister who did all these things would be chucked out at the next election.

When people gain political power, the spiritual powers of evil come in force against them. They identify their weaknesses and turn it to their advantage. By manipulating a political leader, they amplify their power in the nation.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Political Divide

American evangelicalism is addicted to political power. The movement is politically divided; it probably always was but the disunity was suppressed for the sake of power. Now as evangelicalism is being pushed to the sidelines, its divisions have emerged again. As long as American evangelicalism pursues political power its disunity will become more and more exposed.

Monday, January 15, 2018


Immigration debates bring out a lot of hypocrisy.

Those whose forebears came to America when entry was unrestricted often seem to be the most strident in wanting immigration restrictions now. "I am in, so shut the door and keep the rest out".

On the other hand, I doubt that many of the Christians who are shocked by Donald Trump's rude comments would invite a hundred Haitians or Nigerians to come and live in their neighbourhood.

I notice that the people who are most enthusiastic about immigration reside in neighbourhoods where refugees cannot afford to live. Very convenient.

We claim glibly that all people are equal, but immigration laws ensure that all people are not equal.

If modern migration laws were in place, Jesus parents would not have been able to take him to safety in Egypt, unless he had got lucky in the green card lottery. Ruth would not have been able to marry Boaz, unless she had "essential skills".

Mass migrations of people have occurred throughout history.

God’s Instructions for Economic Life put no limits on migration. That only requirement was that justice should be the same for the migrants as for local people.

The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you (Ex 12:49).
You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God (Lev 24:22).
Migrants must be treated well.
Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt (Ex 22:21).
Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice (Deut 24:17).
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God (Lev 19:33-34).
There are no restrictions on this command. You cannot love people by shutting them out. God did not say to only love those with essential skills.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Prophets and Pastors

I get emails from people claiming to be the prophet in Rev 11, the next Elijah or something big like that 😏. I usually just ignore them.

I get many more emails from people who are more humble. They believe they have a prophet gift, but are not trusted by their pastor. This seems to be a universal problem for people with a prophetic calling. And there is no easy solution, especially when they get a word for their pastor.

These situations tend to end in tears, because pastors have all the power. How far it will go depends on how good the prophetic person’s relationship with their pastor is, and how far they are willing to push it.

The problem is with the pastor role, not the prophetic role. The one-man band pastor role is impossible for any person to do, so most pastors are living on the edge of failure. That makes them very insecure, but of course, they cannot acknowledge it. Therefore, having a prophet around, who might know stuff about them is really scary. It is worse, when the prophetic person claims to have a word for them.

A prophetic person is responsible to God for their words, not to their pastor. They should feel free to speak what God is saying, subject the following.

  • They need to be sure that their word is from the Lord. Do they have other people in the church that they trust whom can bounce things off.

  • They need to know how, when and to whom they should share the word. God can show that stuff, if he can give the word.

  • They need to be sure that their heart is right. A true word is killed by a wrong heart. When they have been rejected by a pastor and it seems like he is obstructing their ministry, it is really hard to keep their attitude right. They need to have a really strong love for the person receiving the word.

  • They need to be very clear about whom the word is to be spoken to. God might not want them all spoken to their pastor. For many words, just declaring them in quiet prophetic intercession will be sufficient. It releases the Holy Spirit and the angels to implement the declared word.

Having done all these, the word might still not be accepted. That is something a prophetic person has to get used to.

A question they need to be constantly asking is the following. Why do they need to speak to the pastor? Does he need to hear the word, or do they need the recognition he could give?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thank you Mr President

In an article called Thank you Mr President, Bill Bonner has an amusing take on Donald Trump.

What “The Donald” understood better than the professional politicians was that democratic politics is basically a form of entertainment. It’s a sordid part of show biz – all hocus pocus… suspension of disbelief… and performance art – closer to nude mud wrestling than The Crown.

Trump, a lifelong celebrity, sensed that the role of president has little to do with geopolitical facts, mastery of the federal budget, or knowledge of history. It’s more like a reality TV show or a WWE wrestling match – with put downs, posturing and fake fights. In other words, it was right up his alley...

Mr. Trump understood, too, that the real task of government – bossing people around and ripping them off – is done by the Deep State, the cronies, the elite, and the lifers in D.C.

Bill Bonner is an astute observer. There is more than an ounce of truth to his observation that the role of the president is to provide entertainment while the real power of government is worked by the professionals in Washington. They carry on regardless of who wins the election.

However, Bill misses one key point. He does not seem to realise that the spiritual powers of evil are deeply imbedded in the Washington swamp. They control what happens, regardless of who is the Entertainer-in-Chief.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Hierarchy of Power

A political-spirit or government-spirit in the spiritual realms controls every town, city, nation and region on earth. Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of power.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Engaging the Culture

Christians have been uncertain about how they should engage with the culture of the world.

  • One response has been to withdraw from culture to escape its evil influence, but this leaves society unleavened.

  • The other common response is to engage with culture and attempt to control it from the top down by controlling the institutions that shape culture. Unfortunately, the world hates being controlled by Christians.

The best option is cultural engagement from the bottom up at the local level. Christians should be involved at every aspect of life, but on a voluntary basis. If we serve our community at street level and provide quality service with no demands, we will sometimes have influence. I explain how this works in Government of God.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


Bill Bonner has an interesting comment about wealth transfer under loose monetary policy.

Wealth can be increased or decreased. But it takes work, savings, and time. And at any given moment, the quantities of tractors, ham sandwiches, and Van Gogh paintings are fixed.

So if the stock market added $10 trillion to the wealth of equity owners, it had to subtract $10 trillion from the wealth of people who don’t own equities. That is the essential scam, and injustice, of the fake-money system.

In an honest market, if the price of some things go up, the price of others will fall in response to the shift in demand. Under monetary expansion, the compensating price decline does not occur. Those on fixed incomes are made worse off. Also those whose wages do not keep up. I explain more at Inflation.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Problem of Evil

Young men and philosophers like to raise the problem of evil when explaining why they do not like God.

The argument goes like this.

Evil exists on earth
If God is good
and all-powerful
he would remove evil from the earth.

Evil does exist on earth,
so either God is not good
or he is not all-powerful.

Therefore, a good all-powerful God does not exist.

This argument leaves out a couple of important steps.

An all-powerful God who is a creator
can constrain his power
by giving the people he created
control over part of his creation.

Therefore, it is not surprising
that there is evil on earth,
if the people he created
decided to reject him
and allow the powers of evil access into his creation.

God is good
so he does not take back the authority
that he has given to the people he created
when they mess it up.

We should be surprised that there is evil on earth
given that humans were given authority over it
and we should not expect that a good God
who keeps his word to constrain his power
would act immediately to eliminate the evil
that the people to whom he gave authority
allowed into the earth.

We would expect him to wait
until he is given permission by the people
that he created and gave authority,
before releasing his unlimited-power
that he had constrained
to give authority to the people he had created.

Saturday, January 06, 2018


They will not admit it, but many men find “going to church” boring.

  • Standing for half an hour to sing songs is boring if you cannot sing.
  • Listening to a person without a life lecturing about life for half an hour is also boring.
  • Passing a few crumbs of bread and a thimbleful of grape juice is boring for those who knew how to party.
  • And the cup of tea afterwards is not every man’s cup of tea.
Men need action. If they go where the Holy Spirit is at work they should get action.

Philip was never bored, because he went where the Holy Spirit was moving (Acts 8:4-8).

Thursday, January 04, 2018


I have been reading The Story of Christianity of Christianity by Justo L Gonzalez. The first twenty chapters cover the Reformation in detail.

When I first read about the Reformation, forty years ago at Theological College, I still trusted political power. I realised that they got things wrong, but thought the situation just needed a little tweaking because the wrong political powers won in some places.

Reading about the Reformation again, having lost faith in politics, I am struck by how much this period was shaped by political power and how much harm it did to the cause of God. When politics gets involved, God always loses.

The reformers relied on emperors, kings and princes for their physical protection, so they all compromised with political power to survive.

Political leaders believed that they could decide what version of Christianity their citizens should follow.

Confessions of faith were adjusted to please political leaders.

New translations of the Bible were tweaked to provide a justification for political power.

People who rejected the state religion were hounded and killed. Many thousands from all sides (Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic, Anabaptists, etc) were killed for their faith.

Economies were wrecked by war. Even the Anabaptists, who rejected political power, often resorted to military force to advance their cause.

The Thirty Years War was fought to decide whether Germany should be Catholic or Protestant. The Kings of Sweden and France joined in because they wanted to constrain the power of Habsburgs emperors.

Many Christians are wanting another reformation. They are wanting to use political power to advance the Kingdom of God. The lesson of the Reformation is that this is the wrong path. We need a restructuring of society that does not depend on political and military power.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018


When an army loses a good soldier in battle, it works out what went wrong, and tries to prevent it happening again.

If a wolf captured one of his sheep, the shepherd protects his remaining sheep so the wolf cannot get at them again.

When the church loses a good soldier in spiritual battle, it says, “That was unlucky!” “Probably their fault”. And then carries on without changing anything.