Friday, November 29, 2019

Miracles (9) Words

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

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

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

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Miracles (9) Observing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Miracles (8) Angels

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Miracles (7) Evil Spirits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

Miracles (6) Holy Spirit

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

The Holy Spirit speaks.

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

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

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Miracles (5) Science

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

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

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

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Miracles (4) Interaction between Physical and Spiritual

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

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

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

Friday, November 22, 2019

Miracles (3) Physical and Spiritual Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Miracles (2) Laws of Nature

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Miracles (1) Materialistic World View

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Winning over the Invaders

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Marrying Unbelievers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Moses and the Midianites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 11, 2019


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

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

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

Friday, November 08, 2019

Preterism and Futurism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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