Friday, October 22, 2021

Epochal Events (2) - Destruction of Jerusalem

The first big epochal event after the ministry of Jesus was the Destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus prophesied this event in Mathew 24:1-35. He explained that this disaster would happen within the lifetime of some of his listeners. I have a detailed explanation of this prophecy in Jesus Big Prophecy. This prophecy is not relevant to the season that we are living in now, so using it for that purpose will only create confusion.

Jesus perfect sacrifice on the cross made the animal sacrifices on the temple redundant. When the Jews persisted with the sacrifices after Jesus had died and rose again, they lost their purpose and become an insult to Jesus’ death. God had to bring these sacrifices to an end, so that people would realise that Jesus had done all that needed to be done and that his body had become the temple of the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem was also prophesied by Daniel. I give a detailed explanation of his prophecy in Seventy Weeks.

The Destruction of Jerusalem is also prophesied in Revelation 12. John’s revelation warned that the Jewish people would be scattered throughout the world. God would do this to keep them safe during the Times of the Gentiles. I give a detailed explanation of Revelation 12 in an article called the Woman and a Dragon.

The destruction of Jerusalem was an important event, but it is not the only event prophesied in the scriptures. Assuming that all of the book of Revelation is entirely about this event is a mistake.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Epochal Events - End Times (1)

I have listened to the sermons released by a number of churches in Aotearoa NZ and I note that most of them are saying that the Covid Virus is a sign that we are going into the End Times. The problem with this preaching is that the expression End Times does not exist in the scriptures. Looking for scriptures that describe a season/event that is not referred to in the Bible is problematic, because you can easily assume that a particular passage relates to a time period for which it is not relevant. This will lead to a confused understanding of what is happening.

Most of the preachers that I listened to based their sermon on Matthew 24, where they claimed to find signs of the End Times. This is a confusing way of interpreting Jesus’ Big Prophecy, because the expression End Times does not provide a clear way of understanding Jesus’ words.

The Bible describes a number of seasons and epochal events. Some have already occurred and others are still in the future. They are all named fairly clearly and it is also fairly clear which scriptures relate to each season/event. Unless we understand all these seasons/events and how they relate to each other, we will get confused about how and when various scriptural prophecies were fulfilled or will be fulfilled in the future.

Here is a list of some of the key events/seasons described in the scriptures.

  • Return from Exile
  • Messiah
  • Last Days
  • Destruction of Jerusalem
  • Times of the Gentiles
  • Time of Distress
  • Fullness of the Jews
  • Kingdom of God
  • Short Season
  • Last Day
  • Appearance of Jesus (Parousia).
  • Final Judgment
  • New Heavens and New Earth
We need to understand them and be clear about which of the various prophetic scriptures relate to each one. Rather than vaguely looking for so-called End Times scriptures, we should be looking for scriptures that apply to particular biblical events/seasons. Gathering prophetic scriptures and claiming that they refer to the end-times and therefore are relevant now will produce a misleading understanding of what is happening in the world now.

In the next few posts, I will look at some of the seasons listed above in more detail, and clarify which scriptures describe them.

Messiah
Many Old Testament prophecies looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah (Rescuer). These prophecies were fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem, was crucified, rose from the dead, and ascended into the presence of God. The coming of Jesus was the most important epochal event in the history of the world. It changed everything on earth.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Witnessing

Jesus commanded his followers to love one another as he loved us. He said that the world would be drawn to him by seeing our love. Being nice to people at the Sunday service and encouraging them is not what Jesus meant by loving one another. True love for one another can only be demonstrated in the rough and tumble of sharing life together in a much fuller way. The fullness of the Spirit can only be experienced in a group of people who love and trust each other.

Preachers tell Christians to be witnesses in their families and workplaces, but leave them feeling guilty because their best efforts mostly fail. Most pastors don’t realise how difficult is the task that they are urging their people to undertake. Pastors mostly function in the church building or offices attached to it. These spaces are controlled by the church and the subject of prayer, so they should be relatively spirit-free. Pastors will be subject to less intense spiritual pressure than the people they are urging to be witnesses.

In contrast, a workplace is often controlled by the spirits that have been given access by the owners or managers, and employees have to abide by the behaviour standards they require. Witnessing against such strong spiritual opposition while applying office rules is extremely hard.

Jesus told his people to go and witness in the home of the person of peace or in public places. The spiritual battle will be less intense under both of these options, because the person of peace will not be controlled by evil spirits. Public places are not subject to such to the direct control by anyone, so the activity of the spiritual powers of evil will have less intense there.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Individualism

Individualism is so pervasive in western culture that we don’t realise how much we have been entrapped by it. We are committed to doing our own thing in our way, with no one telling us what to do.

Jesus worked the other way round. When he sent his disciples to do even the most trivial tasks, he sent them in pairs. He was committed to teaching his disciples to work together with each other. And he reaped the benefit. When they went out in pairs, they were able to preach the gospel, heal the sick and cast out demons, just as he had done.

Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs because he knew they would spur each other on. Together they would have confidence to try things they would not normally do. Too many Christians are ineffective because they are trying to serve God on their own. They would achieve more if they were part of a pair. When Paul had a disagreement with Barnabas, he did not go out again till he had found Silas to work with. And Barnabas went out with Mark (see Power Pairs).

We can only reach our true fulfilment in Jesus if we are part of his body. That can only happen if we are joined together with other members of his body as the fingers are joined to the hand. This joining together cannot be achieved by meeting for an hour on Sundays; it will require the interaction of living life together. For that to happen, the place where we live will have to be determined by our place in the body, not by property values or proximity to good schools.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Discipleship not Preaching

Jesus never suggested that disciples can be trained by sitting and listing to an expert urging them to do things. Listening to sermons rarely changes a person’s behaviour and seldom changes their attitudes or character. The reality is that much modern preaching sets people onto a guilt trip. They are told that they are responsible for sharing the gospel and being witnesses to the world, but they don’t know how to do it. The urgency of the preacher just magnifies their guilt.

Jesus had a different way of training disciples.

  • He took people with him and did the things that he wanted them to do while they were with him observing. Sometimes they would get bold and join in.

  • Afterwards, he explained what he had done and why it was effective.

  • Once they understood his approach, he sent them out in pairs to do what he had shown them how to do.

  • Once these people were confident in doing his work, the pair could split and take two less experienced people out with them to learn how to do Jesus’ work.

Jesus’ method of discipleship frequently multiplied the number of his followers who knew to share the gospel in the same way as he did.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Go not Come

The modern church tells people to come to church at least once a week, ideally on Sunday, for their entire lifetime. It does all the important stuff at the front of the meeting on Sunday. The worship service has become the focal point of all its efforts. If people want to see God at work, they have to come to church to see the Holy Spirit moving through the pastor or guest preacher at the front of the meeting.

Most of the people of the world never see the Holy Spirit working, because they will never go to a church meeting. Putting a church service on television on streaming it on the internet is not witnessing to the world.

In contrast, Jesus told his disciples to go into the world and share the gospel in the way that he had taught them. They expected the people of the world to see what the Holy Spirit was doing amongst them and be drawn to Jesus. The early church always took the gospel into the streets and market places and the Holy Spirit confirmed their words with signs and wonders. This public visibility is why the gospel spread so quickly and the church grew so fast.

The only time when Jesus wants his people to wait is when they lack the power to go. We cannot go into the world without the fulness of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

The church says come.
Jesus says go.
He also said wait;
until you have received power from on high.
If we are not able to go out in his strength, we should wait together and cry out for him to fill us afresh. We should ask him to show us any obstacles that we need to remove. Gathering together to wait for the Holy Spirit is the only reason for not going into the world as Jesus commanded.

In modern life, a Christian is seen as someone who goes to church. Television evangelists tell those who say the sinners prayer with them to find a good church and go to it.

In contrast, Jesus would tell those who choose to follow him to look for someone who will take them with them into the world to teach them how to share the good news.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Pastor Problems

Many Christians are concerned about the increasing number of pastors who are falling from grace, due to broken marriages, accusations of child abuse and abusive behaviour. At the same time, there is growing concern about the hundreds of pastors who have stepped out of the role, because they are unable to cope with the pressures of ministry. Some commentators have suggested that the problem is lack of character and maturity. They suggest that charisma has got pastors into positions of power that their character could not handle. This misses the point.

The reason that pastors are failing or falling is that they are trying to do a job that is impossible, and a role that God never intended a human to do. Even Jesus did not attempt to pastor a church of several hundred people. He focussed on discipling twelve men and a small group of women who supported him. He trained them to do what he did, so that they could each do the same for another small group of people, allowing the movement to rapidly multiply.

The New Testament church was led by teams of elders with complementary gifts and callings. Some were pastors, some were prophets and some were evangelists. These elders replicated their ministry in the people they were discipling, raising up an ever-increasing supply of leaders for the rapidly growing church.

In contrast, the modern church has made an idol of the pastor-leader. It has become so normal to have one person as leader that people find it is hard to imagine a church that does not have one. The common cry in the church is "We need a strong leader". However, this desire for one man to lead is a consequence of the fall. Sinful people have a tendency to choose slavery and domination (1 Samuel 8:6-9), but those who have been redeemed should have the same mindset.

When Jesus ascended, he left his disciples with no one person to be the leader. He had carefully discipled them, and taught them to expect the Holy Spirit, but he deliberately avoided appointing a person to take charge. An attempt by two of the disciples to obtain a position of precedence was strongly challenged by Jesus (Mark 10:35-45). The new church did very well without a single leader.

The New Testament never states that a church should have "a pastor". Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in each church. They never left one man to run a church or singled out one elder to be a senior elder or pastor. They "committed them to the Lord in whom they put their trust" (Acts 14:23). In Antioch there were "prophets and teachers", not one pastor.

The pastor-leader is often given a different name: apostle senior pastor, senior leader, but it does not matter what they are called, because the role simply does not exist in the New Testament. Having a paid professional running programs to support the members of the church trains them to be passive and prevents them from doing what Jesus needs them to do.

The most serious consequence of relying on a single leader is dangerous is that it leaves leaders vulnerable during a season of spiritual struggle. When a man is at the top of an authority structure, he becomes the target of concentrated attacks by the spiritual powers of evil. If the church members submit to him, he has tremendous authority. But because he is not under the authority of anyone, he is vulnerable to demonic attack and deception. In most situations where Churches have failed, it is because, they were led by one man or one woman who got side-tracked by the spiritual powers of evil.

Over the last two decades, far too many leaders have fallen into immorality and had to step down from their ministry. This has been painful for them and their families. It has also done tremendous damage to the church and harm to the gospel. The fact that this has happened to so many good people confirms that modern church structures provide inadequate spiritual protection.

The current problem with falling pastors will not be resolved by finding pastors with better character. As long as the church persists with an unbiblical leadership structure, pastors will continue to be vulnerable to spiritual attack, and many will fall from grace.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Jeremiah and Revival

Over the last forty years, I have heard numerous and frequent prophesies that revival in New Zealand was just round the corner. My experience is not unique. Christians all over the western world are hungry for revival and the prophetic websites are full of prophecies that revival is coming and close. But despite all this hype, our hopes have been disappointed.

As I have pondered this problem, I have come to believe that we will not get the revival we are hoping for, because the leaders of the church are unwilling to follow the instructions that Jesus gave about his church should function. There is no sign of that changing, so I now doubt that revival will come in my lifetime.

I have been reading Jeremiah 5-8. It is relevant to our situation, because he was speaking to disappointed people. When troubles came, they had hoped God would rescue them from disaster and defeat, but instead things got worse.

Jeremiah would say something like this to those who are disappointed by lack of revival.

You hoped for things to go well,
but nothing good happens.
You are looking for light,
but you will find only darkness;
hard, cold, and lonely.
You are looking for revival,
but you will experience hostility,
because you have disobeyed God.
You hoped for a time of restoration,
but there was only fear and terror.
Jeremiah explained that God could not rescue the children of Israel from their troubles despite their desperate prayers. Their leaders had ignored the instructions that God had given to them.

The same is true of the modern church. The leaders of the church have ignored the instructions that Jesus gave about his church should function. The main reason our hopes of revival have been disappointed is not God is unwilling or slow to act. The reason for our disappointment is that we have not followed his instructions. It is as simple as that. You cannot ignore God’s wisdom and expect the blessing that it would bring.

A horrifying thing has happened: The prophets prophesy lies, the pastors manage according to their own ideas, and the people love it this way. But what will you do in the end (Jer 5:20-31)?
The leaders know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they have broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds (Jer 5:5).
From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain;
prophets and pastors alike, all practice deceit.
They have treated the brokenness of God’s people as though it were not serious.
They say all will be well, things will be well, when they are not well (Jer 6:14).
They have not heeded God’s words. They rejected his instructions (Jer 6:19).
They don’t listen to him, but they walk in their own wisdom and their own inclinations (Jer 7:24).
Jeremiah worried,
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed, so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it (Jer 6:10).
Jesus gave his disciples clear instructions about how he wanted his church to operate, and he showed them how to do it. The letters to the churches clarified some issues that were not covered clearly in the gospels. The early church applied Jesus’ instructions and had amazing success in reaching the world. However, once the church was successful, it gave up many of things that Jesus had instructed it to do, and replaced them with some human ideas about how it should operate.

Although, the human way of doing things has rarely given the church the success that it had when it complied with Jesus’ instructions, it has continued to ignore them and continued to follow human ideas about how it should function. Some of these human ways of operating have become so much part of the way the normal church operates that they now seem to be non-negotiable (idols). Most Christians would find it hard to imagine the church without them, but unless we give them up and choose to apply Jesus’ instructions for the church, we will not see the revival that we are longing for.

We make excuses for our lack of success, such as secularist thinking, materialistic culture or social media, but the reality is that sharing the gospel was much harder for the early church than it is for us. The reason for our failure is not due to the hard conditions that we face, but because we don’t apply Jesus’ instructions.

Several human constructs, which are contrary to Jesus’ instructions for the church, make it impossible for God to send revival to the western church. No prophets are challenging them, but these idols will need to be removed before we can experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Role of Prophets in New Zealand

In an article called Prophets and Rulers, I explained that prophets have quite a limited role in speaking to political leaders who have chosen not to follow Jesus. This is the situation in New Zealand.

There are almost no Christians in our government, so they are not really interested in God’s wisdom, so prophesying to political leaders will mostly be a waste of time. Key political leaders believe that they were persecuted by the church in the past, so they are angry with Christians and do not want to hear from them.

Prophets should mostly be speaking to church leaders to explain what is happening in the spiritual realms and what they should do to prepare for the inevitable future.

New Zealand has a mixed history, sometimes good, sometimes not so good, and sometimes really bad. However, for most of our 170-year history, a sufficient number of people have trusted in God and served him. This has released tremendous blessing in the land.

Unfortunately, in recent years the faith that sustained the nation has declined. In the past, a significant portion of the people trusted God, and those who didn’t trust him still honoured Jesus. Now there are far fewer people who trust him, but far worse, most of those who don’t trust him do not honour him either. A significant number now hate Jesus and those who follow him.

This change has given the spiritual powers of evil a stronghold in the nation. Because the people of the nation have not been taught about spiritual things, they do not even know what that means.

We live in 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. Most humans cannot see into the spiritual dimensions, so we can only observe the physical side of existence. However, events in our physical world are shaped by activities in the spiritual realm. When we look at the physical world in isolation, we miss much of what is happening in the universe (Kingdom Authority p.28).
A war is going on in the spiritual realms that most people in New Zealand are not even aware of, and many do not even know which side they are on. Much of what happens here on earth is the consequence of events in the spiritual realms, and what happens here, has a significant effect on the relative strength of the two sides in the spiritual struggle.

Over the last few decades, the people have squeezed God out of New Zealand because they thought that we did not need him, and they did not want him messing with our lives, but without realising it, they have given his place to the spiritual powers of evil. These forces are full of hatred, anger and violence. They love to kill, destroy and steal. By shutting out the God who was restraining them, we have strengthened their position here on earth. They held back for a while to give us a false sense of security, but now they are flexing their muscles and having a go to see what they can do with their power.

The situation in New Zealand is not as good as it once was because we have chosen the wrong side in a serious spiritual battle, and the good side is losing, while the bad side is winning. Therefore, we should not be surprised that anxiety, distress and fear are becoming more common. The reason that both personal pain and economic troubles are getting worse is that we have unwittingly placed ourselves under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil. Not surprisingly, they are doing what they always do when they get an opportunity. Until they are put back in the box, we can expect that they will continue to surprise us with more and more of their evil tricks. Things are likely to get worse before they get better.

The people of the nation have put their faith in political power to solve social and economic problems, but unless the spiritual problem is solved, the efforts of political leaders will fail. People who have trusted them will eventually become disillusioned.

The role of prophets in this context is to explain to church leaders what is happening and how to prepare their people for what lies ahead.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Jeremiah

I have been reading through Jeremiah. God’s people had been ignoring God’s requirements for them. Their disobedience allowed the spiritual powers of evil to attack them and bring powerful nations against them. The thing that struck me in reading Jeremiah’s challenge was that the leaders of the people understood God’s requirements and knew that they were being ignored by the people, but they assumed that it didn’t matter that much. Without coming out directly and say it, their behaviour suggested that some of God’s requirements could be ignored without harmful consequences.

These leaders were wrong, of course, and their corrupt behaviour opened the door to the spiritual powers of evil and invading nations eventually pushed them out of their land and into exile.

In some ways, the situation is similar today. Numerous things that are the heart of the way the modern church functions cannot be supported from the scriptures. Some are contrary to the teaching of the New Testament. Yet the leaders of the church (without saying it directly) seem to assume that this failure to comply with God’s requirements does not matter. This failure to comply with God’s requirement is far more serious than they realise.

Here are four fairly straightforward examples.

  • Most modern churches are led by a professional senior pastor. Yet the role of the senior pastor is never mentioned in the New Testament. In the numerous churches that Paul planted, he appointed elders. He never appointed a senior pastor.

  • Jesus prayed that the church would have the same unity as he and the Father (John 17:11). Paul wrote that there is “one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord (Eph 4:4). Yet church leaders are quite happy to split the body up into denominations, as if what Jesus requires is not important.

  • Modern churches usually buy a church building to meet in on Sundays. Yet there is no instruction in the New Testament to buy buildings. No church in the New Testament owned a building to meet in. The New Testament teaches that followers of Jesus are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so God does not need a temple to dwell in, yet these buildings are described as the house of God.

  • Jesus said that his followers would be known for their love for each other. However, the modern church supports a lifestyle where Christians live in isolation and drive to a meeting place, so the world usually does not see their love.

These four modern practices do not fit with the requirements of the gospel. Yet, most Christian leaders are not even uneasy about them, but they are far more serious failings than they realise.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Trade Routes

The United States is building billion-dollar nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers to keep its trade routes open, but something seems to have gone wrong at the other end.
See Pile up.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Revival Prophecies (7) Honest Voice

An honest prophetic voice would be warning that New Zealand is going into a season of relative darkness (not intense persecution or tribulation) when the resistance to the gospel will be stronger gospel, and hostility to Christian values will intensify. Pastors who speak out on social issues from a Christian perspective could be strongly criticised in an attempt to silence their voice.

An honest prophetic voice would be explaining that the spiritual powers of evil have seized territory throughout the nation and without facing much opposition. They have gained control of places of authority without any resistance.

In the face of this intensifying spiritual struggle, the church is floundering and confused, doing the same old things over and over again, but hoping for better outcomes this time, but knowing that it probably won’t work; knowing that they need more of the Holy Spirit, but unwilling to totally obey his voice.

At the same time, government leaders have been given more power than they have ever had, because they are expected to deliver us from evil and restore our lives to blessing, but they lack the wisdom to do what they promised.

An honest prophetic voice would be warning that the darkness rolling down on the land will be deeper and darker than anyone expect and it will take a long time for the light to penetrate and break it up. They should be warning that the opportunity for a traditional revival has passed and will not come back for some time. The spiritual powers of evil have entrenched their stronghold over the nation and they will not be pushed out easily.

At this time, an honest prophetic voice would be challenging God’s people to stop sitting around and waiting for revival prophecies to be fulfilled and use the time to get prepared so they can stand strong in a season of adversity. It would explain how they can position themselves in a place of strength, so they can share life and hope with those who are lost in the darkness.

Standing alone is the most dangerous place to be during an intense spiritual struggle. A church meeting and sermon once a week will not be sufficient to sustain Christians when they come under pressure. The Covid experience confirms that driving to a large church meeting on a Sunday to listen to teaching by a pastor might be a luxury that is not sustainable. The best possible protection during tough times is to be living close to other followers of Jesus who can provide emotional, spiritual and physical support when it is needed, not when the next meeting is due.

Followers of Jesus who live in close proximity to each other in a neighbourhood can stand together in prayer to establish an evil-spirit-free zone where the Holy Spirit is free to operate. This should not be a place to hide, but a base from which the kingdom of God can be expanded as the gospel is shared with those living around them who see the difference that the presence of the Holy Spirit makes. If these believers heal the sick and cast out demons in the power of the Spirit, the name of Jesus will be lifted up.

As these small kingdom communities grow, God will raise up elders from amongst them with balanced giftings, who will love one another and submit to each other to establish unity in the body. If one is taken out, or falls away, the others will continue to support each to watch over the flock to ensure that everyone is kept safe from evil and growing to maturity.

These kingdom communities will expand further by sending out their best elders as apostles (as others step up into their place) in a team with balanced giftings to establish a new community in another neighbourhood. They will carry on loving and serving each other, while listening and obeying the Holy Spirit, and he will keep doing what Jesus did.

An honest prophetic voice would explain that God’s plans for New Zealand have not changed. He still wants his people to take the good news of his Kingdom into the nation with sign and wonders following. He still wants us to show the world what Jesus meant when he said that his disciples would be known by their love for each other. God still wants New Zealand to be a light to the nations by demonstrating the fullness of his Kingdom by transforming society. He still wants Jesus to be acknowledged as king of New Zealand as the people freely choose to serve him and live together in obedience to his Spirit.

The main change is timing. Because opportunities have been missed, and the spiritual powers of evil are much more deeply entrenched in the authority structures of the nation, the spiritual struggle for the heart of New Zealand will be much tougher, and will take much longer. However, the outcome will be better and stronger, because it will it is established on a stronger foundation by being refined by fire.

For this to happen, God’s people will need strong prophetic guidance about how to deal with the pressure, and how to establish and grow kingdom communities, not vague promises about a coming revival that never comes.

This full series can be read at NZ Revival Prophecies.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Revival Prophecies (6) Real Community

During the 1970s, there was a massive buzz about real community. People were thinking seriously about Jesus new commandment and what it means to “Love one another as Jesus loved us”. They realised that this meant more than a meeting once a week. People were thinking about how the practices described in the first few chapters of Acts could be applied in the modern world.

This interest in developing real communities accompanied a hunger for deeper relationships, as the Holy Spirt inspired people to connect with and support other people. Various strands supported this interest.

  • Teaching about body ministry was popular.

  • Many Christians read Edith Shaeffer’s book called “L’Abrie”. While the nerds were reading Francis Shaeffer’s books about Truth and Reason, others were inspired by the story of their community in Switzerland.

  • Speakers from overseas were sharing at conferences in New Zealand about their experiences in developing intentional communities.

  • People were reading books about Christians who had developed a deeper community in their homes. One example was Love is an Open Home by Bill Bair.

  • A friend had a vision of four houses close together with Jesus standing above them and shining his light upon them. This type of vision was common.

I am certain that the Holy Spirit was the inspiration for this interest in community.

Quite a few people tried doing something different. Most found it too hard and eventually gave up. Their struggle is not surprising because they were pushing hard against the world and the spirit of the age. The eighties were a very materialistic decade when everybody seemed to be working hard to get ahead.

Unfortunately, there was very little prophetic guidance or encouragement about how the people of the Spirit should live. One reason is that despite Ephesians 4 being studied assiduously during this season, the prophetic ministry was not really nurtured. Churches that were touched by the Holy Spirit continued to be pastor-centric, so it is not surprising that the movement did not get the prophetic guidance it needed.

Inspiration and guidance for the future came mostly from books and visiting international speakers rather than from a home-grown prophetic voice.

When the Charismatic renewal petered out, the prophecies about revival coming soon kept on coming. Looking back, it seems like they had missed a season of opportunity.

Part of the role of a prophet is to interpret the events of history and explain to the people what was happening. However, when the Charismatic Renewal slowly died out, no prophetic voices examined the move to understand what had gone wrong because they still believed revival was coming. No one asked seriously why such a wonderful opportunity had been missed.

I believe that the hunger for a deeper community back then was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it is gone now. The buzz about community has died. This is a serious obstacle to revival coming at this time.

The next generation is watching The Block and other home renovation programmes on television and thinking about how they can progress up the property ladder. They are not thinking about what community means for those who have chosen to follow Jesus.

There is a lot of noise about the Kingdom of God, but it is mostly ephemeral, and there is no understanding that a kingdom is a social order, comprised of communities.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Revival Prophecies (5) What Went Wrong

In the 1970s, New Zealand was ripe for revival. The Holy Spirit was moving and touching people lives in dramatic ways. People were approaching friends and asking them to pray for them. They were asking them about the Holy Spirit. People were asking friends to tell them about Jesus.

It seemed that revival had started. Yet it didn’t kick on. It seemed like the revival was choked before it could get started. Recently, I have been thinking about why. The following are a few of the reasons.

  • The move of the Spirit started in people homes with people praying for each other for the presence of the Holy Spirit. Many leaders tried to shift the life of the Spirit away from people’s homes into church meetings, but the gifts of the Spirit had to be managed to avoid disruption, but this control tended to suffocate spiritual freedom. Gradually, as the decade progressed, the life of the Spirit was sucked up by the church and the move suffocated.

  • When church leaders tried to take the gifts of the Holy Spirit into their church meetings, things sometimes got unruly and important people got upset, so they were forced to establish control over the release of spiritual gifts in the church service. This eventually quenched the moving of the Holy Spirit, so the gifts of healing and deliverance became the prerogative of travelling ministries praying for needy people at the front of the church meeting, because they could be trusted to behave safely.

  • People with potential leadership spread themselves too thin to be effective. Things that had happened when they were together, stopped happening when they went out on their own.

  • Many of the leaders of the movement trained to be pastors and moved in the leadership of existing churches. They often had to compromise to keep everyone happy, which limited their freedom to follow the Holy Spirit and release his presence.

  • The move was too quickly captured by the church growth movement. The church started to rely on technique and good organisation rather than on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit. This brought order out of the disorder but probably dulled the move of the Spirit.

  • The influence of the megachurch movement in the United States created a sense that big meetings were of more value than house meetings.

  • The energy of people of the Spirit was put into worship in seeker-friendly services.

  • Many people who had been active in the renewal moved into Pentecostal churches. Their emphasis on leadership by a pastor reduced the ability of these lay people to continue what they had been doing to share the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and many ended up being frustrated.

  • Some laypeople tried to invigorate their established church, but this proved to be a hard slog, and the life of the Spirit was sucked out of them. There was no prophetic guidance about what was happening and what they should do; just the prophecies that revival was coming. Those who struggled in their dead churches assumed that these prophecies applied to their churches, so they kept trying, but with very little success.

  • Some existing church leaders saw the success and jumped on the charismatic bandwagon, without diving in and learning to walk in the fulness of the Spirit. They found it hard to keep churches that had experienced the life of the Spirit moving forward.

  • The spiritual powers of evil got up to all their usual tricks to weaken leaders with exhaustion in to disable them by pushing them into immorality. Some leaders were distracted into inappropriate roles. Others fell into adultery, and a few got caught up in sexual abuse. Some followers of Jesus were sucked into false teachings about end-times and political powers. The evil powers worked hard to bring division between people who should have been working together. The spiritual powers of evil do all they can do to snuff out a revival.

  • The leaders of the movement were over-confident and did not take spiritual warfare seriously enough. Too many key leaders were taken out in various ways. A controlling and manipulative spirit wiggled its way in some places, mostly where leaders were insecure. This spirit choked the life and the gifts of the Spirit.

  • Hunger for deeper community life was slowly stifled by the trials of life and gradually died. Failure to nurture this hunger and bring it through to fulfilment is one reason why we have not received the revival that was prophesied (more on this in my next post).

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Revival Prophecies (4) NZ 1970s

Looking back, the situation in New Zealand during the 1970s seemed to be ripe for revival.

  • Many people had attended Sunday School as children or had learned about Jesus and God in Bible and Schools programmes. So they already knew something about the truths of the gospel.

  • Many Members of Parliament were Christians. The leaders of some of the parties openly attended church. Christians had a voice in the government of the nation. This had a restraining effect on the spiritual powers of evil.

  • Churches were generally well respected.

  • Church ministers conducted most funerals and weddings, and they were often the counsellors people went to for advice when they were in trouble. They were generally respected and trusted.

  • People trusted the social support provided by Chrisitan organisations.

  • Most people still held a residual Christian worldview.

  • The Charismatic Renewal had refreshed many Christians. A large number were reinvigorated in their faith and stirred for action.

  • People who had come to faith during the Billy Graham crusades in 1959 were renewed by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • People were being healed when believers in Jesus prayed for them.

  • The effectiveness of deliverance from evil spirits was rediscovered.

  • Inspired by the Jesus Movement in the US, young people here were sharing their faith with their friends, and many were choosing to follow Jesus.

If there was going to be a revival in New Zealand, this was the time when it should have happened.

The conditions seemed to be right, but revival did not come. I will discuss some of the reasons in the next post, but getting an opportunity for revival like New Zealand received during the 1970s is a huge privilege. Having not taken the opportunity God offered during that season, we cannot just assume that another opportunity will happen again soon.

What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered (Matt 21:28-31).

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Revival Prophecies (3) Fifty Years

I have recently been thinking and writing about the numerous prophecies that revival would come to New Zealand. I first started hearing them when I became a Christian during the 1970s. At that time, the nation seemed to be far more open to the gospel than it is now (I will say more about that in a future post). The prophecies about revival have kept on coming since then, despite the situation in New Zealand becoming much more difficult for the advance of the gospel than it was when I first heard them. The difference between that season and now is striking. Winning the nation for the gospel has become much harder over the last fifty years.

  • Clergy are now openly mocked on television. If they appear in entertainment shows, they are made to look weak and foolish.

  • Most weddings and funerals are now conducted by secular celebrants. Christian content is mostly gone from these ceremonies.

  • The news media frequently report on sexual and physical abuse of children and women by church leaders and staff of Chrisitan organisations. Christians see these incidents as having nothing to do with Jesus, but that is not how the people of the world see it. They see Christian organisations condoning abuse. Christian leaders have lost respect, and some of the hostility attaches to Jesus.

  • Mainstream media readily publish articles mocking the church.

  • The culture has become increasingly secular. Many young people do not even know who Jesus is, and they know nothing about his life and ministry.

  • People now get their ideas about life and the world from television and social media. The influence of the church as a thought leader has declined dramatically.

  • People are used to listening to snippets on television and social media, so they don’t know how to listen to a sermon unless they are trained by church attendance. This means that preaching has become an ineffective tool for evangelism.

  • Many people see church services as strange events that they would be frightened to participate in. They are scared of being embarrassed because they would not know what to do.

  • Covid is going to limit the ability of the church to function in the way that it has in the past. It might be a long time before seeker-friendly services are practical.

  • Many people see the church as an institution that attempts to control people, not set them free. It is seen as desperately clinging to outdated and repressive values from the past.

  • When many people think of the church, they see an organisation that takes money off people who cannot afford it.

  • Many people now believe that all religions are valid and people should be free to choose which one they prefer. Some believe that eastern religions are better than Christianity because they are less violent.

  • When crises occur, people no longer look to God for deliverance. They look to friends and family, and government-funded social services.

  • Pressure from social media makes living a Christian life increasingly difficult.

  • The spiritual powers of evil have entrenched their authority in all aspects of the life of the nation.

  • There are very few Christians in parliament. A significant number of MPs are really hostile to Christianity, and many hate the church. The church no longer has a serious voice in the political world.

  • The current government is passing laws against Hate Speech and Conversion Therapy. The new laws do not define these concepts very clearly, so they have to be interpreted by judges. As social attitudes change, these laws could be used to silence outspoken pastors.

These changes make a revival that will transform the nation much less likely than it was when the prophecies of revival were first shared. So prophesying that revival is just around the corner, when it clearly wasnt when these prophecies were first made, doesn't make sense.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Revival Prophecies (2) Rare

Revival is rare, because it is not very easy for God to deliver. Getting the Holy Spirit to do his will is easy, but to bring a powerful revival in a nation, he has to get a whole lot of people doing what he wants them to do at the same time, and that does not happen that often. His people have to share the gospel when he wants them to. They need to pray for the sick when he wants them to. At the same time, he needs those who hear the gospel to respond quickly and gladly. It sounds easy, but he has made people free, so he cannot force people to do what he wants them to do.

For a crowd of people to do what God wants at the same time, they first of all need to hear what he is telling them to do. Unfortunately, God’s people are not always listening when he speaks. And even when his people hear what he is saying, they don’t always jump to obey it. Even if God has told people to do things that will trigger revival, there is no guarantee that they will be done.

I know that God often finds it hard to get me to do something important, so I presume that it is the same for most other Christians. Therefore, getting the followers of Jesus in a nation to unite and participate in revival is more difficult than we assume.

This difficulty is confirmed by a study of Christian history. Revivals that touch an entire nation and transform it have been relatively rare. The early church took off with the massive revival recorded in Acts 2. But it was not long before the church in Jerusalem was struggling with heresy. Paul received a great response when he preached the gospel and established churches in Asia Minor. However, not long after, he was struggling with opposition from political powers and people who wanted to shackle the gospel with Jewish traditions (2 Cor 11:23-27). By the time that John was writing his letters at the beginning of this Revelation, many of the churches that Paul had planted had slipped in lukewarmness.

Revival is not a normal condition for the church, not because God does not want it, but because he finds it difficult to obtain the level of obedience to the Holy Spirit that he needs to achieve a massive outworking of his blessing. For most of Christian history, the work of the church has been a hard slog, with a few people heeding his calling to move in the power of his Spirit to share the good news of Jesus with a hungry world, while many others have struggled to do what God wants them to do.

The other difficulty with revival is that the spiritual powers of evil fight against it tooth and nail. They work hard to weaken leaders with exhaustion and to disable them by pushing them into immorality. They work hard to deceive the followers of Jesus with false teachings. They try hard to bring division between people who should be on the side. The spiritual powers of evil do all they can do to snuff out a revival before it gets underway and becomes impossible to stop. I presume that far more revivals are smothered by the powers of evil than flow on to fulness in the power of the Spirit.

For a church and a nation to be ready to receive revival is relatively rare. So those who do experience it are relatively privileged and should appreciate the opportunity.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Revival Prophecies (1)

Soon after I became a follower of Jesus nearly forty years ago, I heard Christian leaders declaring that God would send a massive revival to New Zealand. This message of hope has continued to be proclaimed right up to the present day. Visiting speakers who flew into New Zealand would speak of seeing visions of angels, or bright lights, or something similar. They often declared that New Zealand has a special place in God’s eyes and that revival is just around the corner.

I have always believed in these promises, as they made sense in terms of my experience. I had been living as an atheist when God reached out and grabbed me with the gospel and prompted me to chose to follow Jesus. A year later when I was spiritually hungry, the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me and gave me a heavenly language to enlighten my prayer and praise. I have seen people healed and broken lives restored by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I do not consider myself special, so I have always assumed that if God could do these things for me, he could do them for other people just as easily. Consequently, I have always expected that God would visit us soon and bring revival to our nation. I have trusted the promises of revival given by the prophetic people and recommended them to others.

For the last forty years, this has been axiomatic for me. Humans are invigorated by hope, so we naturally cling to promises of hope. The hope of revival inspired much of what I did for God.

No Longer
After forty years, I still trust God as much as ever, but I am no longer convinced that the prophecies of revival will be fulfilled. I see no signs that revival is getting closer; in fact, it seems to be further away than ever (I will explain why in a future post).

Instead of just assuming that revival is coming soon, I am pondering why these promises have not been fulfilled, especially if they reflect the heart of God. I am certain that God is not the problem. I still believe that he is capable of sending revival if he chooses, but it has not come. If he is not the problem, it must be us. I assume that God’s people are the problem, not God.

I have now arrived at the conclusion that most of the promises/prophecies about a move of God were a true reflection of his heart, but he has been unable to achieve his purposes because his church was unwilling to do what needed to be done.

To contain a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit on their nation, the church would have to make significant changes to the way that it operates. But the church and its leaders have not been willing to make those changes, so the hoped-for move of God has not come.

I see no end to his chokepoint. God knows what needs to be done to bring revival to the nation, but he can’t get his church to do what needs to be done first. I have very little hope that the situation will change soon, so the promised revival is probably further away than ever.

One role of the Old Testament prophets was to explain why promised blessings did not arrive as expected. When things went wrong in Israel, people wanted to know why, and the prophets were expected to provide the answers.

I am not very attentive to prophecies that restate the same promises of revival that have been repeated over and over again for the last fifty years. After all this time waiting, I am looking for prophecies that can explain why they have not been fulfilled.

I believe that repeated prophecies of revival are distracting God's people from hearing what he is really saying to them.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Technical Mangerialism fails in Afghanistan

Alistair Crooke has written one of the best explanations of the failure of the US military intervention in Afghanistan (read the full article here). He says that the war intended to demonstrate the success of technical managerialism.

Afghanistan turned into a testbed for every single innovation in technocratic project management – with each innovation heralded as precursor to our wider future. Funds poured in: Buildings were thrown up, and an army of globalised technocrats arrived to oversee the process. Big data, AI and the utilization of ever expanding sets of technical and statistical metrics, were to topple old ‘stodgy’ ideas. Military sociology in the form of Human Terrain Teams and other innovative creations, were unleashed to bring order to chaos. Here, the full force of the entire NGO world, the brightest minds of that international government-in-waiting, were given a playground with nearly infinite resources at their disposal.

This was to be a showcase for technical managerialism. It presumed that a properly technical, and scientific way of understanding war and nation-building would be able to mobilize reason and progress to accomplish what everyone else could not, and so create a post-modern society, out of a complex tribal one, with its own storied history.

Of course, these efforts turned into a disaster. The consequences will be far-reaching. Crooke quotes the Swedish intellectual Malcolm Kyeyune, who explains why managerialism is failing.
Western society today is openly ruled by a managerial class...

Our managerial leaders deserve to rule us, because managerialism as a world ethos is the only means of effecting functional rule in the context of a modern, international, post-national, information driven, knowledge economy, rules-based… well, you probably already know all the familiar buzzwords beloved by this class of people.

Put plainly: managers, through the power of managerialism, were once believed to be able to mobilize science and reason and progress to accomplish what everyone else could not, and so only they could secure a just and functional society for their subjects...

I suspect we are currently witnessing the catastrophic end of this metaphysical power of legitimacy that has shielded the managerial ruling class for decades...

It is not just that the elite class is incompetent; it is that they are so grossly, spectacularly incompetent that they walk around among us as living rebuttals of meritocracy itself...

To make the situation worse, the current elites seem almost serene in their willful destruction of the very fields they rely on for legitimacy...

In modern America, it is the meritocrats who now openly lack any merit or ability to rule, quickly undermining the ability of the average person to believe in the very foundational claims behind the managerial order...

Still, it is quite obvious that the epoch of the liberal technocrat is now over. The bell has well and truly tolled for mankind’s belief in their ability to do anything else than enrich themselves and ruin things for everyone else...

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Deferred Hope

I chose to become a follower of Jesus in 1974. Soon afterwards, I began to hear/read prophecies that God was going to send revival to New Zealand. Similar prophecies were common right up to the present day. Many visiting international speakers would say that God is going to do something big in New Zealand. For all of my life as a follower of Jesus, we have had this promise in front of us that revival is coming soon.

Humans need hope, so when we get a message that gives hope, we naturally cling to it. The hope that we have in Jesus gives us purpose for life. A hope that is true, strengthens our faith.

On the other hand, trust in a false hope can sustain us for a time, but because it does not deliver, a false hope eventually leads to disappointment. The well-known proverb says,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Prov 13:12).
A hope that never comes weakens the faith of those who trust in it. In contrast, a hope that is fulfilled strengthens their lives. A hope of imminent revival has been around for most of my adult life without being fulfilled. I have been wondering about the effect of a hope that is promised continuously throughout a lifetime, but is also constantly deferred. I presume that many Christians would say that it has inspired them to keep going in serving Jesus.

However, there is another side to this issue. The message to the church has been that revival is coming soon. The hope that has been declared is that a visitation of God is near. A hope that better times are coming soon can cause us to put off doing activities that are demanding until our situation improves. We can unconsciously slip into the habit of deferring tough changes that are urgently needed until the time when the visitation of God comes, because they will be easier then.

I cannot help wondering if the prophecies that revival is coming soon prevented Christians from doing some of the things that God was calling them to do, because they assumed that it would be easier to do them when the revival had come.

We can’t know the answer, but what would have happened instead, if we had had prophecies for the past forty years declaring that we are going into a tough season when hostility to the gospel would massively increase, our society would be increasingly secularised and that many of the common activities of the church would cease to be effective. Would some Christians have given up? I doubt it. Maybe it would have inspired those who were serious about the gospel to work harder at sharing it? Maybe it would have inspired those who were interested in becoming a real community to strive harder to love one another as Jesus loved us.

The prophecies that a visitation of God would bring a massive revival very soon were not really totally true. Maybe they lulled the people of God into a false sense of security that everything would be fine, although they were not. We still assume they were good because they were encouraging, even though the expected fulfilment did not come; but maybe they did more harm than good.

In 1974, a prophecy that revival was not coming soon but was a long way off would have been truer than what we got. That might have spurred people on to greater zeal for Jesus than a hope that seems to have been repeatedly deferred. If I had known in the 1980s that the promises of revival would not be fulfilled during the next thirty years, I might have done some things differently.

This is also a challenge to prophetic people making declarations about what God is going to do. Timing is important. If their promises are for a distant future, they should be careful not to give the impression that the fulfilment is close, because they could be creating a hope that will soon be deferred. Repeating the promise again is not the solution to a deferred hope.

The modern church needs a more realistic diagnosis of the current situation. It needs a prophetic voice that will stop talking about what God is going to do soon and focus instead on what God wants his people to do now.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Testing of Time

Jeremiah did not sit down and write the book of Jeremiah. Isaiah did not sit down and write the book of Isaiah. They both gave prophecies at various times during their lives, and they or someone wrote them down. At a later time, they or some of their disciples (Baruch in the case of Jeremiah) compiled them into a book (Jer 1:1-3; 36:1-7,37;51:63; Isaiah 1:1).

In each case, various words would have been assessed for inclusion decades after they had first been spoken to the people. Some would be discarded because they had been fulfilled and were no longer relevant. Others would not make the cut because they no longer seemed relevant to the situation in Israel. I presume that the words included were chosen because they still had a ring of truth (despite not yet being fulfilled) in the situation as it had developed in the nation.

A similar process of testing would be useful today for dealing with the prophecies not yet fulfilled many years after they were spoken/released. Prophets and discerning friends should review their prophecies and decide if they are still correct and relevant for the season as it has developed.

Testing prophecies is not something that should be done once, and then assumed to be settled forever. A word can be tested again if many years have gone by without it being fulfilled to assess if it still seems to be true and relevant.

Time tests prophecies in two ways. Some are confirmed when they are fulfilled. Others continue to be relevant to the situation that has developed in the church or nation (despite not being fulfilled). Others that have not been fulfilled might be exposed as no longer of value if they are not relevant in the new situation that has emerged.

Humility is the key. Letting go of words that fail is not easy, but we need to do it to grow in the prophetic.

If God has warned of troubles through a prophecy, he sometimes changes his mind if the people concerned repent and change their ways. However, he does not change his mind when he has promised to send blessing (unless his people have wandered from the true path).

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Testing Prophecies

When I first heard these prophecies by Cindy Jacobs and Ben Hughes, my heart was stirred, but my second thought was, "I have heard this before; many times." Then I began to wonder.

How much do these people really know about the spiritual state of New Zealand?
I have heard dozens of words like these over the last forty years
many from overseas speakers,
but none have been fulfilled.

I realise that some prophecies take time to be fulfilled,
but I never heard any prophets saying,
“Hunker down and get prepared because revival is still twenty years away”.
Maybe it is time for some accountability
or at least an explanation of why.

I worry that these words talk about what God is going to do
(telling God what to do is a mug’s game).
I would take them more seriously,
if they had told God’s people what they need to do,
so that he can do what he wants to do here.

Some prophets are saying that their prophecies were not fulfilled because the people have not prayed enough. But my observation is that there has been more intercessors, prayer, intercession, and crying to God in the last thirty years than ever before, so the “Not Enough Prayer” explanation is beginning to wear a bit thin. I note that most of the prophets who have spoken to New Zealand sounded definite about what they were promising. I don’t recall any saying, “God will send revival if people pray enough,” and none said how much prayer would be enough. Prophets don’t have the right to dump the “You did not pray enough” excuse on the people when their prophecies are not fulfilled.

I am not dumping on prophetic ministry, and I am not anti-prophetic. I want the ministry to develop and mature so that God can speak clearly to his people. When I became a follower of Jesus, I was delighted to discover that the prophetic gifting and the ministry of the prophet had been restored to the church. The first book that I bought on the prophetic ministry was published in 1976. I am an early adopter. I wrote a book to help young prophets grow in their ministry. Most of that material is available free at the Ministry of the Prophet.

I have taken a keen interest in the development of the prophetic and have always wanted to know what God is saying about the situation in New Zealand. I have a folder, an inch thick, full of prophecies that have been spoken about New Zealand. The first one is dated from 1952. I also have a folder on the hard drive of my computer with some of the more recent ones, which I received in electronic form. I even typed out a couple that came on MP3 so I could study them more carefully.

I have lived my life in the light of the hope these prophecies provided. I have believed that these words reflected God’s heart and what he wanted to do.

I note looking back at them that a few of the prophecies that I have collected were conditional, but the conditions got lost in the presentation, as the prophet focussed on the promised blessing and played sown the condition aspects of their word.

I understand that some promises of God are for a time way in the future and that we often have to wait patiently for him to act. Daniel had to wait for seventy years for Jeremiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled. The difference is that Jeremiah declared that the nation would not return for seventy years. He prophesied the waiting time precisely. No prophets said to New Zealand that we would have to wait for 30+ years for revival. They always made it sound imminent. One prophecy released in 2020 used the word “imminent” repeatedly. Others have said, “This is the time”.

The scriptures say that we should test prophecy and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thes 5:20). We should do that when a prophecy is first released, but that might not be enough. When a prophecy is given as if it is for the current season, and it has not happened after twenty years, the prophet should be asking why for their own learning. More important, the need to be able to tell the people who trusted their word what is going on, given that their word has not been fulfilled.

I believe that prophets also have a responsibility to ask "Why?” if thirty or more years have gone by without their prophecy being fulfilled so they can learn how to hear God better. Being defensive helps no one. And those who have received prophecies that have not been fulfilled after many years should test them again in the light of how history and the current situation have changed.

The accountability of the prophetic became a big issue last year after the kerfuffle over the prophecies about Donald Trump’s re-election, but the issue is far wider than that. The prophetic movement has been going strong for at least forty years. This is great, but there is a massive number of prophecies lying around that people received in good faith and trusted, but which have not been fulfilled. Maybe it is time to review some of these and clear away the junk, so we can hear clearly what God is saying this season.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Battle of the Elites

Charles Hugh Smith has written an important article called The Elites' Battle for the Future America. He writes,

The most dangerous elites are the ones clinging to the perverse but compelling faith that the Federal Reserve and Treasury can conjure endless trillions of U.S. dollars without any consequence other than continued global hegemony, the faith that the Federal Reserve has god-like powers to tweak the dials so that 1) the U.S. dollar remains the pre-eminent reserve currency 2) but not so strong that it sinks the emerging market economies and 3) magical enough that there are no limits on how many can be absorbed by global stock, bond, debt, risk and commodity markets and 4) remains the primary method of limiting the global financial leverage of geopolitical rivals. Uh, sure. No problem, the Fed is all-powerful, right?

The fundamental problem for the Imperial Project is the dollar must serve both the domestic elites profiting from Federal Reserve expansion of asset bubbles and the global markets that rely on a stable dollar for reserves, credit and transactional liquidity. While America's billionaires are cheering the Fed's endless largesse to the already wealthy, those tasked with maintaining hegemony are looking ahead and seeing the debauchery of the U.S. dollar as the Fed and Treasury spew trillions, very little of which is actually flowing into productive investments, i.e. the ultimate foundation of hegemony.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Clever Virus

All the experts are saying that the delta variant is extremely clever. The evolutionary biologists said that viruses like Covid generally mutate to become less virulent over time because the sickest people die, and their version of the virus dies with them. The reality has been the opposite. The delta version is more infectious, spreads to children and possibly has worse symptoms for those who get it. That is very clever.

However, a virus is non-living molecular material, so it has no capacity to be clever. So, we need to think about where the cleverness comes from. A better explanation is needed.

  • Obviously, our God did not create this virus, so he is not the cause of the cleverness.

  • It is very unlikely that the cleverness comes from malicious humans because humans are not that clever.

  • The cleverness behind this virus comes from the spiritual powers of evil.

I assume that the latter is the explanation. I see this disease as a spiritual attack on the people of the earth, that does what the spiritual powers of evil love to do; kill, rob, and destroy.

Humans are using vaccines to try and roll back a spiritual attack, because they no longer trust God, but they are up against an enemy that is cleverer and more powerful than they are. So, it is not surprising that this solution is producing problems.

In a post back in September 2020, I wrote the following words.

Over the last fifty years, there has been a massive decline of faith. Things still seem to be OK on the surface, but as God has been squeezed out, the spiritual powers of evil have been inadvertently allowed in. They are getting greater freedom and ability to work evil in this part of the world, so they are unlikely to stop.

Unfortunately, the spiritual powers of evil are not content with distracting people from God. They love to steal, kill and destroy, so they will have a go at achieving this whenever they get an opportunity. They were behind the GFC and the coronavirus, and have noticed how effective these events were for hurting people and disrupting society. These were not by any means their best efforts, so I expect that if there is a return to “peace and security”, it will not last long, because they will have another crack at destruction and harm.

From their perspective, the coronavirus has been really successful, so they will try it again when the time is right. They might try something different first, but they will try an epidemic again sometime, and it will probably be worse.

Whereas most viruses fade over time, the Delta variant of covid seems to be much worse than what went before. This version is more infectious, spreads to children and possibly has worse symptoms for those who get it. This suggests that the spiritual powers of evil are upping the ante.

Nothing big happens on earth by accident. If we don't understand that, we will fail to understand what is happening in the world.

  • A secular materialistic world view assumes that all events are the result of physical causes.

  • People who believe in meticulous providence assume that every event is totally controlled by God.

Both of these views result in a distorted understanding and confusion. All serious events are the result of interactions between the spiritual realms and the physical world that we see.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Covid and Popular Theology

I am interested that much of the Christian discussion about Covid focusses on the infectiousness and morbidity of the disease and the effectiveness of vaccination. While some of this discussion is helpful, this discussion takes place in a materialistic/naturalistic framework without any consideration of whether the cause of, or solutions to, Covid are spiritual. I am struck that my worldview seems to be very different from that of many other Christians.

The popular theology these days seems to be that God created the world and set it going (so everything that happens is his will); he sent Jesus to die and get us to heaven, but apart from that, we should not expect him to do too much in our world. I call this theology that we have imbibed from our culture “practical deism” with a bit of fatalism thrown in. Most prayer and thanksgiving is for things that could happen anyway; my daughter will find a nice man to marry (not surprising if she is nice), the surgeon will do a good job on my mother’s bowel (which he has trained for years to do), but we don’t expect too much more. Some hope that God will dramatically intervene in the world to bring revival, but they don’t really expect it.

In parallel to this is an implicit materialism/naturalism that says that everything important happens in the physical world we can observe and that the spiritual powers of evil do not influence the big events of life (also imbibed from the culture). The assumption seems to be that the billions of evil spirits that the Bible describes are in Africa working with the witch doctors or doing trivial things like tempting me to eat an extra chocolate biscuit (actually just my flesh). In the scriptures, the spiritual powers of evil are very strategic, working cleverly at pivotal times to shape history and shift the balance of power on earth in their favour.

I am concerned that many of the Christians I encounter are more willing to blame evil on human conspiracies than on the spiritual powers of evil: eg, the dastardly Chinese released the virus to destroy us, the medical organisations and governments are suppressing information about vaccine side effects, drug companies are suppressing good news about Ivermectin, the Democrats stole the election from Trump. Many Christians seem to be willing to believe that human conspirators are responsible for most evil in the world but choose to ignore the works of the spiritual powers of evil.

If it is assumed that the spiritual powers of evil are involved in situations where they are active, it appears as if the materialistic/naturalistic worldview assumption is correct. This is risky for the future of the church.

When Christians think about what is going on with Covid, they need to rise above the naturalistic assumptions that we have imbibed from our culture. I see the Covid pandemic as a spiritual attack on the people of the earth, that does what the spiritual powers of evil love to do; kill, rob, and destroy.

Luke records Jesus healing a woman crippled by an evil spirit that had done its best to rob and destroy her life.

A woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all (Luke 18:11).
If the powers of evil could damage a woman’s spine and prevent her from raising her head for eighteen years, it must be easy for a few evil spirits to meddle with the DNA of a bat virus so that it can infect humans, or to tamper with the Covid virus and create a Delta variant so that it becomes more virulent and infectious.

War is Ugly

In Afghanistan, nasty stuff was done by all sides fighting in the war.

As the United States desperately searched for an exit strategy in Afghanistan, the war itself descended into a hopelessness that strained the laws of land warfare to the breaking point with targeted killings that, on the surface, appear as the murder of civilians, but were institutionalized and deemed legal by the U.S. military.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Climate Change

Christians who are concerned about climate change need to understand that it is part of the spiritual battle that we are engaged in. The battle for the climate is described in the Seven Trumpets of Revelation 8 and 9. I explain this further in an article called Seven Trumpets.

God has appointed four angels to watch the earth and its atmosphere to protect it from being harmed prior to the fulness of the Kingdom of God (Rev 7:1-2).

An army of evil spirits is trying to destroy God’s creation because they hate him. In the last century, they have been empowered by the reckless use of fossil fuels and rampant consumerism of Christians, particularly in the western world.

When God’s people fail to care for the world that God entrusted to us, the spiritual powers of evil who want to destroy it are empowered. The damage done to our climate in the last 200 years is partly the result of Christian’s unwitting complicity with the spiritual powers of evil who are trying to disrupt it.

Followers of Jesus have an important role in this spiritual battle for the climate. Our prayers can bind the spiritual powers of evil trying to harm the world and release the power of the four angels that God’s angels who are protecting the earth (Rev 8:3,4). However, we only have authority to pray for the creation if we are being good stewards of the part of the earth that God has entrusted to us.

If we are using the earth ruthlessly for our own benefit without caring about the harm our activity is doing, the authority of our prayers will be nullified. The spiritual powers of evil can mock us and say they don’t respect the authority of the prayers of people who don’t practice what they preach.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Bowman in Afghanistan

In previous articles called “The Bowman” and “Islam Advances”, I explained that the Bowman riding on the white horse in Revelation 6 represents a resurgence of Islam that has been developing all around the world, and particularly towards the West.

This resurgence began with the Islamic Revolution in 1978, and has been progressing ever since. The replacement of a secular Baathist government in Iraq with an Islamic government following the US invasion was another step in this resurgence.

I presume that the defeat of US forces in Afghanistan is also a sign that the bowman is still at work in the world.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Afghanistan Economy

While the world media is focussed on the shambles at Kabul International Airport, I am far more concerned about the Afghanistan economy and the effect that the twenty-year war and the sudden US withdrawal will have on the economic well-being of the people.

  • Two-thirds of the population of Afghanistan live below the poverty-line of $1.90 per day. They don’t have the capacity to cope with the serious economic shock that is inevitable.

  • The Afghanistan government, which has collapsed, had 300,000 people in its armed forces. Those 300,000 people no longer have a job and have lost their source of income. That is a huge increase in unemployment in one hit. Some will be able to go back to the countryside from where they come and live on their family farm, but most won't have any income until they find new employment.

  • Many people in Kabul worked as cleaners, cooks, drivers, child care, security, etc. for the wealthy, western diplomats and business people who have now fled the city. These people will have lost their employment.

  • Five million people live in Kabul.

  • Eighty percent of the Afghan population lives in rural areas. The average land-holding is 1.4 hectares. Nearly half the workforce is involved with agriculture, and 60 percent of households derive some of their income from agriculture.

  • Estimates are that three-quarters of the spending of the collapsed government was funded by foreign aid. If Western governments are peeved by their defeat by the Taliban and cut of their financial support to the nation, it will have a serious impact on the local people. The US has already frozen billions of reserves owned by the Afghan central bank. The IMF has already withheld $450 million of aid that was due to be sent.

  • Afghanistan is not self-sufficient in food. It relies on imports for about twenty percent of its food supply. With a weakened economy and devaluation of the currency, it might struggle to import sufficient food to meet the needs of everyone.

  • Only an eighth of the land is arable. Much of the land is only suitable for pastoral activities, and a huge amount of land is mountainous or arid or semi-arid, so agricultural activities are tough going.

  • Afghanistan is rich in mineral deposits, including iron, copper, gold, lithium, chromium, lead, zinc, and many of the rare earth minerals needed for modern electronics and electric cars, but they are not easily accessible. Unfortunately, most of the income from efforts to extract minerals usually goes to the large mining companies and rarely benefits the local population. It is hard to see how Afghanistan will be different.

  • Afghanistan has low levels of debt, but increased borrowing might not be a wise option.

  • Opium poppies have been the best-paying crop for many Afghan farmers. When the Taliban came to power the first time, they banned the production of opium, but when the North Alliance took control with US support, opium production got underway again. It is not clear what the Taliban will do about opium production this time around.

Even if the war is over, and I hope it is, the suffering of the Afghan people is like to continue for some time.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Revenge

Western media organisations are on the lookout for the Taliban taking revenge against the people who opposed them during the war. This is a bit naïve as the destruction of war always produces desires for revenge. War and revenge have always fed on each other and always will.

The war in Afghanistan was started because many people in the United States wanted revenge for the 9/11 attacks. So, if Americans are allowed revenge for attacks on their cities, why are the Taliban not allowed revenge on people who betrayed them. Expecting otherwise is a double standard of morality.

Of course, many Afghans who worked with the American and NATO forces will be afraid. However, choosing to work with an invading army (even the US or NATO) is a risky business, even if the money they offer for collaboration is good. You need to be sure that the side you have chosen will win in the long term.

I suppose that most of those who worked for the Americans assumed they would win, so that working for them was a sure thing. That has proved to be a mistake (Given the developing pattern of withdrawals from the wars it started, working for American forces anywhere is likely to be a mistake). No doubt, a few assumed that by working for the American forces, they were on the side of good, but that is a doubtful proposition.

The news media assume that the people wanting to escape Afghanistan are choosing to flee to freedom. I suspect that it is simpler than that. Most are wanting to flee because they know they will now be seen as collaborators with an invading enemy army. Some will be especially fearful because they have betrayed their villages or families to the US-backed security forces. Some will be really afraid because they supplied information to the Americans that resulted in villages or groups of people being bombed. Some will be afraid because they dobbed in their enemies to settle old scores.

I feel sorry for those who chose to collaborate with the losing side in the Afghan War, but some choices have serious consequences. Losing armies rarely care about the locals that supported them when they retreat. The US people want to forget this war, so they don’t want a huge influx of Afghan refugees into their nation, even though it was their political leaders who started and perpetuated this war.

The large number of people wanting to leave Afghanistan is a consequence of the modern way of fighting a war. Traditional armies took cooks, drivers, and other supporters with them into the battle zone (officers had their orderlies and the ordinary troops fended for themselves). So, when they withdrew, everyone who fought could return home, provided they survived the fighting.

Modern military forces don’t work like that. They send trained fighters, but employ the local people in the country they have invaded to provide logistical support. The modern army needs huge numbers of cooks, cleaners, translators, drivers, loaders, mechanics and office staff to support. Sending them from the home country is too expensive, so they choose to hire local people who are much cheaper to employ.

The invading nation uses its greater wealth to seduce local people into supporting their cause. These people do extremely well if the invading army wins the war, but if the invading army has to retreat, they find themselves being treated as collaborators with the enemy of their nation.

This practice is hugely dishonest. By paying local people to provide logistical support for their military forces, western nations are effectively bribing people to betray their own people, which is not fair. If Western nations are unwilling to send people from home to support their armies, or train their own people to speak the local language, they probably shouldn’t be there. War on the cheap is immoral.

For countries like New Zealand, Australia and the US to send military forces to a foreign country and recruit locals to support them without a plan to extract them if the war turns bad is morally irresponsible. The lack of planning by the US and its NATO allies that has created the shambles at Kabul International Airport shows that they did not really care about the people that they paid to collaborate with them.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Crocodile Tears

I get a bit frustrated with the commentators in the western news media crying crocodile tears for the women and children of Afghanistan.

The truth is that living in a US-created war zone for the last twenty years has not been great for Afghan women and children.

  • Fighters on all sides of the war have been abusive of women.

  • The US did not bother counting civilian casualties (because they did not want to know about them) but estimates are that 70,000 to 100,000 civilians were killed during the twenty-year war. Many of these were women and children.

  • About 100,000 Afghan fighters were killed during the war. A far greater number were received permanent, crippling injuries. Many of these casualties would have had wives and children, who are now facing permanent suffering as a consequence of their loss.

  • During the twenty-year war, the US military dropped at least 50,000 bombs on the country. Many of these would have fallen on, or near villages. We know that weddings were bombed and other gatherings of people were targeted. This was awful for the women and children affected.

  • Those who weep for the women and children of Afghanistan should think about what it was like for a young person to grow up to the age of twenty-five and not be able to remember a time when there was not a war going on around them. Living an entire childhood, not knowing when a bomb would fall from the sky. Going to bed, wondering if they would be woken by an artillery shell or grenade hitting their village during the night. Being kept awake by nightmares about the time when US marines knocked the door down in the night and took away two young men living in the house for interrogation. Living an entire childhood with the noise of bombers flying high overhead and drones circling above them. War is always terrible.

The last twenty years have been terrible for the women and children of Afghanistan, so those who assume their situation will get suddenly worse because the Americans have fled are a bit naïve.

Most Afghan women and children will be hugely relieved that the war is over (provided that the CIA does not try to stir it up again).

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Lost War, Lost Lessons

The United States has lost the war for control of Afghanistan, but have the lessons been learnt?

The foreign policy experts who advocated for the invasion and futile nation-building efforts are still in their think-tanks earning big salaries and will sign up for government jobs when they get a chance.

The generals who lied that they were on the verge of winning when the Taliban was growing stronger have retired and gone into lucrative roles in the military.

The security experts who claimed to understand how victory could be achieved, but failed to predict that Kabul would fall in four days are still in their roles telling the government what should be done.

Unfortunately, the belief that the United States is the greatest military and economic power in the world and that it has the responsibility to use that power to remake the world in its image is so deeply ingrained in the political culture that the same mistake will almost certainly be made again.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Prophets and Nationalism

Nationalism makes it difficult for prophets to speak to the sins of their nation. They find it much easier to call out the sins of other nations; especially if that nation is the favourite bogeyman of their political leaders.

I saw an example in a recent article on Elijah List called We’re Here to Rescue You that warns about ungodly leadership in China. The writer says that they are going to “start offering rescue plans to poverty-stricken nations giving them incentives of finances and governmental help... but the fine print says: You just gave us your nation, it's ours, and we are going to make it a communist country and make you slaves to us. We are going to degrade your people even more than your current situation.”

When I read this, I couldn’t help thinking about the numerous times the United States has said to poor countries, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to wreck that nation. However, the prophets in the US always remained silent.

  • The prophets were silent when the US said to the people of Vietnam, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to bomb the crap out of their nation.

  • The prophets were silent when the US said to the people of Afghanistan, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to wreck their nation.

  • The prophets were silent when the US said to the people of Iraq, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to wreck their nation.

  • The prophets were silent when the US said to the people of Syria, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to wreck their nation.

  • The prophets were silent when the US said to the people of Libya, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to wreck their nation.

  • The prophets were silent when the US said to the people of Yemen, “We will rescue you”; but then proceeded to wreck their nation with bombs and missiles.

I do not know what is in the hearts of the Chinese leaders, but I cannot think of any nation where they have done what the US has done in any of those listed above. So why is God suddenly speaking about this issue; or were the prophets prevented from hearing by their nationalism.

The irony is that the Chinese seem to be involved in many poor nations building infrastructure, such as railways, roads, bridges, airports and ports. They might be doing this in exchange for unaffordable debt, but sovereign nations can repudiate debt, if they choose. Whereas the Chinese cannot remove the roads, bridges and other infrastructure that they have built.

In contrast, the buildings, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, airports and ports wrecked by American bombs are not instantly restored, when the US decides that the war is unwinnable, and withdraws from their rescue efforts.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Angrynomics (3)

In their book called Angrynomics, Eric Lonergan and Mark Blyth write about the problem with seeing labour as commodity.

In such a world the domestic political process becomes seen as a sham. You can have an election, but you can’t change anything. The local political elites may know this – and they may not even like it – but when you don’t have your own currency and central bank, what can they do? You can neither devalue nor inflate nor default, so you have to cut your way to prosperity, which doesn’t work. It is entirely logical under such conditions that electorates will get angry and seek alternative solutions. 45

The United States is an interesting contrast insofar as while it now has full employment, the benefits to growth are far from evenly spread and the recovery, has not really been a recovery except in terms of the employment rate. Or take healthcare as another stressor: In the United States you really have to worry about healthcare, it’s a personal consumption expenditure. Your employer, if you’re lucky to have one that still does this, pays for a bit of it and you pay for a bit of it, and increasingly the employers have been paying less and less of it.

In that type of labour market, you’ve got much more sensitivity among workers to their real wages than in, for example, Italy where you can get by on €1,200 a month, because healthcare is not something you have to worry about as an impoverishing out-of-pocket expense. You simply cannot get by in metropolitan areas in the United States on $1,200 a month without falling into poverty. So although there are common global themes behind the public reaction to perceived economic injustice, there are very different micro-stressors at work in different geographies. 47

Current political trends are, in part, a confused reassertion of the nation-state to mitigate the consequences of unconstrained capital flows and the power of business more generally- But the deep economic sources of legitimate public anger remain unaddressed – our failure to deal quickly and powerfully with recessions despite knowing how to do so, and the major surge in inequality in income and wealth that has happened across the developed world as capital prospered as labour stagnated. 49

Polanyi s insight boils down to this simple point; the more that you try to treat wages as a price, as just another cost to minimize, the greater the social reaction against market exchange it provokes. 65

To sustain the economic fiction of labour as a commodity coming up against a political reality which is that if you treat people like a sack of potatoes, they end up throwing the system into the fryer. 66

Allowing capital to be free to find its highest return has costs. Huge flows of capital, and rapid reversals, caused a series of increasingly severe booms and busts across the developing world. 77

Capital would be more efficiently allocated, and at one level, it was. But what that means in real terms is that investment leaves capital-rich countries and ends up in capital-poor countries, such as China. Western firms benefit from this, as do their shareholders. Consumers in western countries benefit from cheaper goods, but the investment that would have happened in their country now happens elsewhere, which is a cost. This is why trade is now such a contentious issue. 78

The bottom 80 per cent were effectively paying for the mistakes of the top one per cent, while in the process bailing out the assets and incomes of the top 20 per cent – right across the world. It was, as I described it at the time, “the greatest bait and switch in human history” as the private sector liabilities of the banking system ended up being put on the public balance sheet of states as more public debt, which was then blamed by the political classes that had allowed all this to happen on a crisis of “overspending” by states that simply didn’t happen in tie first place. 85

Technology has been a huge facilitator of competition and disruption in lots of industries, not just in telecoms, but increasingly in retail and other sectors. So, the inequality we see in income and wealth has a mirror in the returns to capital itself. Rapid innovation, scale economies, and competitive markets push down one end of the distribution to be sure, but they also generate big winners at the other end. 99

Globalization, technological change, margin suppression, the reclassification of employees as contractors as firms face stiffer competition, and the intensification of competition all increase the uncertainty felt by workers, even in supposedly well-paid and secure employment. One does not have to be a member of the precariat to feel precarious. And feeling precarious as a permanent state is a giant insecurity generator. 101