Saturday, June 29, 2024

Aratere

Last weekend, the ferry Aratere that links the north and south islands of New Zealand ran aground about 3 kilometres out of Picton, the port at the southern end of its journey. The Maori name of the ferry means “quick path”. The loaded ferry was travelling slowly at about 3 knots when it unexpectedly turned sharply to the right and ploughed straight into the steep bank on the edge of Queen Charlotte Sound. I wondered if this event was a sign to the people of New Zealand about the state of our economy.

In an election a year ago, New Zealand turned to the right, by replacing a centre-left government with one from the centre-right. The new government promised that the changes they would bring would put the nation on a “quick path” to economic prosperity. However, since the election, the economy has stumbled along, not getting much worse, but not improving either.

The Aratere ran into the steep bank of the sound. The bank that is holding back the growth of the New Zealand economy is the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, our central bank. It has consistently held interest rates high (currently the official cash rate is 5.5 percent, and businesses are paying even higher rates). The bank has not committed to reducing these steep rates soon, despite the economy struggling and unemployment increasing.

I wonder if the actions of the Reserve Bank will become an obstacle causing the economy to grind to a halt, despite the turn to the right, and the promise of the quick path to prosperity.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Modern Politicians

Aurelien explains why most modern politicians are not up to the task.

They will know a great deal about how to make a good career, who to suck up to, and how to please important people. They will have effectively zero relevant experience as public servants...

This is important, because the skills needed to succeed in politics today have very little to do with the skills needed to be a good politician. That may sound odd, so let’s set out the differences. Traditionally, politicians seeking high office had to be fairly robust, managing on little sleep, largely foregoing real vacations, ready to give up evenings and weekends, able to absorb insults and invective without worrying about it. They had to be able to think on their feet, deal with an unscrupulous media, master detailed briefs quickly and sound at least half-way intelligent at seven in the morning or at midnight. As they advanced, they needed a sense of what their parliament and their public would accept, how to present themselves to the media, and how to retain the support of their colleagues. At a high level, they needed to be able to distinguish between causes that were hopeless, and causes worth fighting for.

Modern politicians are generally better educated (though not necessarily more intelligent) than those of previous generations, but they are not necessarily educated in the right things. It’s more important to have gone to the right University, and studied the right subject, than it is to know anything about anything. Their skills are those of survival and advancement inside an organisation... with the end of fundamental political differences between parties and the increasing homogenisation of the political class itself, it is the skills of advancement in an organisation that count. Belonging to the right faction, attaching yourself to rising stars, having the right opinions at a given moment: these are the skills to cultivate.

Almost by definition, such people are unprepared for the responsibility of running a Ministry, let alone a country. They have not done the kind of job, in politics, in business, in the media, even in academia, where they have to take responsibility for things. They do not know how to manage, and so they practice “management,” as ticking boxes and reciting slogans is now known. Unfamiliar with the need to engage with detail, they are obsessed with image and presentation...

The full article is here.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

European Politics

Alistair Crooke explains the reason for the political shift in recent European parliament elections.

The European MEP election outcome may come to be viewed as the ‘first swallow’ signalling a substantive change in the weather...

Many in the West now see only too clearly that the western ruling structure is no liberal project per se, but rather is an avowedly illiberal mechanical ‘control system’ (managerial technocracy) – that fraudulently poses as liberalism.

Clearly many in Europe are alienated from the Establishment. The causes may be multiple – Ukraine, immigration or falling living standards – yet all Europeans are versed in the narrative that history has bent to the long arc of liberalism (in the post-Cold War period).

Yet that has proved illusory. The reality has been control, surveillance, censorship, technocracy, lockdowns and climate emergency. Illiberalism, even quasi totalitarianism, in short.

He traces this back to when Zbig Brzezinski (who was to become National Security Adviser to President Carter) published a 1970 book entitled: Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era. In it, Brzezinski argued:
“The technetronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society…dominated by an √©lite, unrestrained by traditional values…[and practicing] continuous surveillance over every citizen … [together with] manipulation of the behaviour and intellectual functioning of all people … [would become the new norm].”

Elsewhere he argued that “the nation-state as a fundamental unit of man’s organised life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state”. (i.e. Business cosmopolitanism as the future.)

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Identity Politics

The latest article by Aurelien explains the emergence of “identity politics”, which dominates the Western wor’d. Other connections that unite people have been destroyed by liberalism.

I just want to discuss the damage that Liberalism has caused to the traditional intermediate structures of western societies, and that has provoked the disastrous attempts to make up for it through Identity Politics, or, as I would prefer to call it, the Politics of Grievance.

Some of these problems could legitimately be described as side-effects. The worship of property-ownership and the encouragement of speculation drove ordinary people out of cities, and scattered families around the country, to wherever they could afford to live. The financialisation of the economy destroyed entire industries, devastated entire communities, made health-care and education more difficult to obtain, and destroyed careers and the stability that went with them. The preference of governments for cars and motorways rather than public transport destroyed city centres, the abolition of barriers to movements of goods, capital and people produced a race to the bottom which has benefitted almost nobody.

Yet, whilst people have got rich from these developments, and whilst there were certainly those who saw political profit in some of them, most ordinary Liberals who went along with them did so because of a naive belief in “freedom,” and in the ability of the market to sort everything out. Even now, some hold desperately to the belief that “flexibility” of some kind, or more education, or information technology, or artificial intelligence, or something, will put things right again.

Liberalism was impatient with the past, and wanted to sweep away traditions, superstitions, religion, history, even nations, and replace everything with rational, mathematical calculations of the common good. So instead of compassion we get Quality-adjusted Life Years, instead of education being a public good and a means to personal betterment, it is a cold investment intended to produce a revenue stream later. Instead of citizens, with rights and responsibilities, we have residents who might as well be customers, paying fees to governments and benefiting from services, like shareholders in a company... Most of the points through which individuals were previously able to situate themselves with respect to others simply disappeared.

Read the full article to understand the implications of these changes.

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Israel or Judah

The prophet Jeremiah promised the restoration of both Judah and Israel. Here are a few examples.

In those days the people of Judah will join the people of Israel, and together they will come from a northern land to the land I gave your ancestors as an inheritance (3:18).
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety (Jer 23:6).
The days are coming, when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess (Jer 30:3).
The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah (Jer 31:31).
I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before (Jer 33:7).
The days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah (Jer 33:14).
"In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God" (Jer 50:4).
In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "search will be made for Israel's guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare (Jer 50:20).
Israel refers to all the descendants of Jacob (twelve tribes) or the ten northern tribes that broke away under Jeroboam. They were sometimes called Samaria. After Jeroboam and Ahab led them into sin, they exiled to Assyria where they were scattered and lost their identity after they mingled with the local people.
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes (2 Kings 17:6).
The southern kingdom based in Jerusalem lasted much longer. It included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (small) and the Levites living amongst them. They were exiled to Babylon, but returned to their land seventy years later under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah. Ezra records that those who returned consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and some priests and Levites (Ezra 1:5). These two tribes were referred to as the Jews in Jesus' time. They were exiled and scattered amongst the nations by the Romans in AD 70, as he had prophesied. They managed to keep their identity in exile.

The current state of Israel is actually the nation of Judea comprising Judah Benjamin and some Levites. More correctly, it should be called the state of the Jews. And they can only claim land in the south that God gave to them, ie Judea.

This means that the current state of Israel is not a fulfilment of the promises of Jeremiah cited above. For these words to be fulfilled, the twelve tribes of Israel will need to be restored to blessing and restored to their land, as Paul promised in Romans 9-11.

All Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26).

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

American Prophecy (4) Prophetic Blindness

American prophets have been blinded by two things.

1. Hatred of Iran
The American prophets hate and fear Iran, despite it not being a serious threat to the United States. Iran it is vastly weaker, both economically and militarily than the United States.

The reason that American prophets and the American people are so obsessed with Iran is that the Iranian people gave the United States a bloody nose in 1979. Following the Iranian revolution in 1978, when the Iranian people threw off the US-supported Shah and his cruel security forces, a group of Iranians seized the US embassy in Teheran and took 53 Americans captive. The hostages were held for 444 days. Teams of students put together shredded documents to show that the US had been involved in trying to undermine the revolution.

President Carter ordered the U.S. military to attempt a rescue mission, called Operation Eagle Claw. This attempt failed with great publicity and was a huge embarrassment the United States because eight servicemen were killed when one of the rescue helicopters crashed into a transport aircraft.

The American establishment has never got over this humiliation, and have had an irrational hatred of Iran ever since. The American prophets have absorbed this hatred and fear, too, and this makes them blind to the truth. This fear has caused them to believe that Iran is capable of doing things far beyond its capability.

2. Zionism
Zionism is an ideology that claims that the Jewish people have a right to the land of Palestine, and that the people of other ethnic groups that live in the land should be pushed out, or subjugated to a Jewish state. Absorption of this belief, along with end-times teaching, has blinded the American prophets.

Loyalty to Israel has prompted American prophets to support the Israeli destruction of Gaza with American-made bombs. They have remained silent about the massacre of the residents of Gaza. They claim that those who support the people of Gaza are “empowered by the spirit of Amalek”. The prophets accuse their “people of holding anti-semitic and anti-Jewish ideas, and having hatred in their hearts”.

Their blatant support for this ugly massacre and cruel starvation of the people of Gaza is repulsive to the people to the people of the world, and to many Americans. This horrible behaviour will do immense harm to the gospel. In a detailed article called Israel and Gaza 2024, I explained the consequences of this support.

The blanket support of Israel by Christians, particularly in the United States, is disturbing. Thousands of bombs made and paid for by Christian America have been dropped on trapped civilians, but no one cares.

The euphoric and jubilant approval of this destructive violence by Christian leaders is disturbing. A steep price will be paid in increasing hostility to the gospel, particularly in the parts of the world where the deliverance from evil that Jesus died for is so desperately needed. God's people have become an embarrassment to God.

The dreadful silence of the American internet prophets is distressing, but not unexpected.

What happens spiritually to a nation whose prophets and spiritual leaders spill out hatred and anger, and suck in lies with keen willingness; especially when they don't realise that the hatred and anger is there, because they have been with them for so long that they have become their friend, and the lies have become so comfortable that they seem like the truth.
The shame that has been released is a blot that can never be covered up.
Blind support of a doctrine like Zionism, which must inevitably result in either apartheid or ethnic cleansing, is dangerous for Christian prophets.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

American Prophecy (3) Repentance

The prophetic message calls the church to repentance. However, the word does not really explain what sins the church and the nation must repent from. I have recently been reading Jeremiah, and the contrast is striking. He calls for repentance, but he spells out in detail the nature of the sins that they need to turn from.

This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right.
Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed.
Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow,
and do not shed innocent blood in this place (Jer 22:3).
Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,
his upper rooms by injustice,
making his own people work for nothing,
not paying them for their labor.
He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace
with spacious upper rooms.’
So he makes large windows in it,
panels it with cedar and decorates it in red (Jer 22:13-14).

But your eyes and your heart
are set only on dishonest gain,
on shedding innocent blood
and on oppression and extortion (Jer 22:16).

These verses are just an example from a single chapter, but Jeremiah lays out the failings of the people and the nation in great detail through many chapters.

In contrast, the American prophets are vague about the sins needing repentance. They are stirred up about sexual and emotional abuse in the church, but that is too late to be taken seriously. They also speak about apathy in the church.

They say that university students protesting against the violence against women and children in Gaza need to repent, which is bizarre. I can remember when students were protesting against the Vietnam War. Four students were killed at Kent State. History demonstrated that the students were right and those who persecuted them were wrong.

When it comes to the sins of their nation, the prophecy expresses concern about materialism, but ignores the harm to the poor being perpetuated by the rich and powerful in their nation.

The American prophets are mostly concerned about abortion. Every abortion that occurs is sad. In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of innocent children have been killed and injured all over the world by American-made bombs, but there is no call for repentance for the terror and pain that this has caused. I find this hypocritical. I am sure that if Jeremiah was alive in the United States at the current time, he would be calling out this slaughter of “innocent blood”.

A related problem with the word to the nations is the assumption that if the church in a nation repents, God will protect the nation from external attack. This promise cannot be validated from the scriptures. While the moral state of the church has an effect on the state of the nation, it is not always determinative. There are plenty of examples from history of situations where the church was purified, but the rulers of the nation went in the opposite direction and were subject to an external attack. The Jerusalem church in AD 70 is one example.

Followers of Jesus would be unwise to trust the promise of the American prophets that if the church repents, their nation will be kept safe from external attack.

Those who live by the sword will die by the sword. That includes prophets.

Friday, May 24, 2024

American Prophecy (2) External Threat

The first theme of the American prophecy is a bizarre claim that a caliphate led by Iran. (They don’t seem to realise that Iran is Shia Moslem, which is a heresy to the Sunni Moslem nations that dominate the Middle East. That would be like assuming that fundamentalist churches in the United States would accept the Pope as their spiritual and political leader. Neither group would ever submit to it). Iran is a weak nation with very limited capability. It would not risk a major attack on a state with nuclear powers.

In the comments she claimed that the United States needs a war president to resist this malign force. This stirring of fear and hatred is dangerous, as it empowers the military-industrial complex that dominates the US political system.

The irony that escapes these prophets is that all the nations that they see as threatening have been invaded or overthrown by the United States in recent times: The US fought a pointless but destructive twenty-year war against Afghanistan; US bombing of Libya destroyed a prosperous nation and released a destructive civil war; a US invasion of Iraq killed hundreds of thousands, destroyed a flourishing economy, and empowered Iran. The US fostered an illegal civil war in Syria, training and equipping groups linked to Al Qaeda and stealing oil. The United States organised a coup in Iran that overthrew a democratically-elected leader and imposed the Shah as dictator with the support of violent security services. The US is now facilitating another massacre and famine in Gaza. So, it is not surprising that the people in these nations are angry with the United States. If a nation goes around the world fighting and destroying, it should not be surprised that it is hated.

There has been no repentance for these immoral and disastrous US actions. The US prophets were cheerleaders for all these US wars and military actions, and they seem to want more.

The United States is a massive island, which has never been invaded (except by Europeans in the 18th century). The nations of the Middle East simply do not have the military capacity to invade the United States. If the US remains united, Islamic movements would not be capable of destabilising it. The American church has the best gospel ever, so if it can’t win migrants from the Middle East for Jesus, it should look at itself.

If the United States faces any threat, it comes from division within (not from external foes). The warmongering of successive presidents has released powerful spirits of violence and war in their nation. If these are not removed by genuine repentance, The US will experience increased internal violence and fighting between feuding factions that will severely weaken the nation.

The US prophets seem to be so blinded by fear and xenophobia that they are oblivious to these risks. Their warmongering actually empowers the violent/warring spirits that are attacking their nation.

In the last few decades, the United States has wrecked dozens of nations without regret: Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, and now Gaza. Using military force to do good, but creating evil and disasters seems to have become America’s forte.

The American prophets don’t seem to care about the people suffering in these nations (I presume they blame the people for not accepting America’s perverse generosity). They only seem to care about what happens in their own nation.

In this season, I find Jonathan Cook, a secular journalist living in Nazareth, and Chris Hedges, who pastured a small church while studying at Harvard Divinity School, to be far more prophetic than those who call themselves prophets.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

American Prophecy (1) Too Late

Cindy Jacobs from Generals International recently released a prophecy for the nations. I found it quite disturbing.

The prophecy had two main themes.

1. Too Late
The second theme is a fairly ceiled critique of sexual immorality and emotional and sexual abuse in the church. In my view, this is lame, and far too late. The Roys Report has been exposing this stuff for years. Secular journalists have been doing the same, with the church objecting strenuously. The prophetic movement is late to the party.

Sexual abuse in the prophetic movement and the prayer movement (eg IHOP) is only just being exposed now, with the leader of these movements kicking and screaming. I can't believe that the leaders of these movements, who meet regularly together, could not discern what was happening in these movements. These are people who claim it hear the voice of the Spirit.

If the prophet movement could not discern sexual and emotional abuse in its midst, it cannot be very prophetic.

My next post will comment on the substance of the prophecy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

New Caledonia

Our television news reports each night on the violent protests in New Caledonia. The presenters seem to be glad that France is sending gendarmes and soldiers to bring the situation under control. The New Zealand government is sending planes to rescue tourists. However, there is an elephant in the room, which everyone is ignoring.

What right does France have to be ruling a south pacific nation? I thought that the days of colonialism were over.

New Caledonia is the third-largest exporter of nickel, which is an important commodity for electric vehicle batteries, as well as stainless steel. The territory is home to the fifth-largest nickel reserve in the world, so it is not surprising that the French are so keen to keep control of their colony. I presume that the profits from nickel-smelting go to France and not to the local people.

And the French don’t have a great record in this part of the world. They tested their nuclear bombs on a south pacific atoll with no concern for the people living in the area, because it was too risky to do it in their own back yard. They deliberately bombed a protest ship in New Zealand (Rainbow Warrior) killing a crew member without remorse. The perpetrators were let off.

The French should get out of the South Pacific and let the Kanak people decide how they want to live. The French don’t have any right to be there.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Why No Action (2)

Although forty-five years have gone by, the Commando Vision has not yet been fulfilled. God tried to do it several times, in 1987 - share market crash, 1997 - Asian crisis, 2008 - global financial crisis, 2021 - Covid crisis, but in each case, he had to hold back because his people were not ready.

Hearers of the vision picked up on the economic crisis, but they ignored the message about the Commando Armies. The latter were the key to victory and without them the church would be swamped. God has been unable to fulfil the vision because the commando units have not formed and prepared. His people never got ready, so he has been unable to complete his plans.

People listened, but they did not hear
A word that is not heard,
cannot be fulfilled.
God shared his strategy,
and people listened,
but they did not hear
Crash, Crash, Amen, Amen! they said,
but no one got ready.
So God could do nothing,
he could not fulfil his word.
A word that is not heard,
cannot be fulfilled.
The church has had forty years to prepare, but has done very little. Most Christians are still not in a place where they could cope with a real economic crisis. Very few could be strong during a time of disaster. Despite the advance warnings, we are not ready.

God still has the same plan, but an easy victory is no longer possible, because during the last 35 years, evil has become far more entrenched in the nation. A few years ago, I wrote an article that explains more clearly what is happening. I suggested that the next economic crisis will be the "Devil’s Depression", because the spiritual powers of evil now realise that they can cement in their position further while the church is unprepared. See Economic Turning Point.

Why has the Commando Unit message been missed? My thoughts are as follows.

  • The Holy Spirit has done an amazing job of spreading this message. I am just amazed at how far it travelled. I used to get letters from people who had read or heard it saying that it resonated with them. These days, it is by email. And it still seems to get shared by someone on a platform every few years. For example, the operator of Inspirational Tapes did a special article on it, before he wound up his tape library. God certainly got it out there right from the beginning.

  • There is always a gap between hearing and acting. We all hear tons of things that resonate with us, but we only act on a few of them. It often takes something extra to get people to take action. One vision might not be enough.

  • Our society is extremely individualistic. I suspect that most people who received the vision did not have anyone with whom they could work together to form a commando unit. In a way, that was true of us. I presumed that someone would eventually come along, and waited for that to happen, but they never came, so we never did anything.

  • I suspect that many people who received the vision did not know what to do with it. They might have wanted to respond, but they were confused about how to do it. This confusion might be the reason they did not act. I suspect that people needed clearer instructions or guidelines about how they should get started and how they should go on.

  • Looking back, I suspect that the vision was not very clearly written. I mixed the vision up with the interpretation, which is not good practice. I suspect that the explanation of the commando units was not clear enough. Many people understood the economic crisis, but they did not understand how the commando units were relevant.

  • I wrote the book called "Bride of Christ" and its sequel, Being Church Where We Live, to explain how the Commando Vision could be implemented in practice, but I suspect those links were not clear to people who understood the vision.

I believe that the biggest issue was the lack of people stepping up to be leaders of commando units. In any move of God, leadership is critical.
  • Lots of people have heard or read the vision, but it might not be the people with influence. I only ever heard of one person who said that it was not from God. I suspect that the vision resonated with the people on the fringe, and they probably share it amongst themselves, but maybe it has not got to the leaders who could implement it. The leaders of the church possibly never heard it, and if they did, it probably did not resonate with them.

  • Peter Drucker, the management guru, noted that visionary people assume that “ideas move mountains”, but they are wrong. He said that it is “bulldozers move mountains”. That is so true. Ideas don’t change things. In the Christian context, it is apostles who make things happen. There is a desperate shortage of real apostles in the modern church. There was an absence of people stepping up and looking to lead a commando unit. I suspect that most Christians expected someone else to do it.

  • What Peter Drucker said made sense to me. I have written seven books that fit together to describe the church and the Kingdom of God. When I go back and read them, I am amazed at some of the insights and wonder where they have come from. No one has ever pointed out anything in them that is contrary to the scriptures. Yet, they have had almost no influence on the church in New Zealand. (Although they are being implemented by people in a few poorer nations). I just trust that they will be ready for the church remnant when the time comes that they need them.

  • Strangely enough, I was recognized as a visionary in the government agency where I worked for many years. It had no eternal significance but the work provided sufficient income to support my family while I was doing the task I believe that God had called me to. I was asked by the head of this agency to write a vision for how it could do its work more efficiently in the modern world where information technology has become ubiquitous. When I shared my forty-page document, the senior managers were impressed and decided to implement the vision. Even though I have retired, some of my ex-colleagues are still working on the full implication of that vision. The big difference with this vision was that there were leaders/managers who committed to its implementation.

  • Furthermore, when I shared the same vision at an international conference, people were amazed and thought it made sense. I was invited to one Asian nation to share the vision, and within a few years, they were well on the way to implementing it. Again, the difference was leaders stepping up to lead the implementation of the vision.

Leadership is essential for fulfilment of vision.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Why No Action (1)

I received a vision about a Commando Army in 1977. I can't remember the process by which I received it, but I have the version of the vision that I recorded on paper at that time. Usually, when I receive a vision, I do not actually see it with my eyes, but I can remember it, as if I had seen it. The Holy Spirit lodges the picture in my memory. Accordingly, I can still remember the vision.

I did not know what to do with this vision, but a few years later, when I was preaching on wealth and poverty at a church where a friend was the pastor, I shared the vision. My friend asked for a copy of it.

In 1982, David Pawson, an evangelist from the UK, was invited to speak in New Zealand. He had a reputation as a bible teacher, so people the people of Wellington were surprised when he said that he had a prophecy to share. He carried two burdens that God had given him for our nation. One burden was as follows:

God wants New Zealand back.
He wants New Zealand back as
a nation that will be a model to the nations
of a people who are living under the government of God.
God intends New Zealand to be one of those nations
where he demonstrates his Kingdom.
God wants New Zealand back.
He is wanting his people to reign with him.
Don't wait for eternity to begin to reign with him.
He is looking for a queen to reign with him now,
because New Zealand has a king and his name is King Jesus.
This country needs a change of government.
New Zealand is a nation that could be brought
under the government of God
and be a light to the nations.
This first burden was not understood; his second burden was simple:
God wants to bring revival to New Zealand for the first time.
God will bring revival through economic ruin.
He then asked, "Who is willing to pray for economic ruin, to make revival possible". This burden was not well received in Wellington.

I was unable to get to hear David Pawson in Dunedin, but my friend handed him a copy of the vision of a Commando Army because he believed that it confirmed his burden. David Pawson took the message of "revival through economic ruin" to some of his meetings in New Zealand. I did not know that David had shared it until another friend gave me a copy of a talk that he had given in Auckland, where he read out the commando vision before he spoke in a talk called "God Wants New Zealand Back".

David Pawson was well known in New Zealand through his Bible teaching tapes, so his authority was widely acknowledged. He took the Commando Army vision around New Zealand without me having anything to do with it.

The burden of David Pawson contained four important points.

  • God will establish his kingdom in New Zealand
  • This will be a model that other nations can follow
  • A great revival will advance the kingdom of God rapidly
  • The revival will come through economic ruin.
The burden he shared has mostly been misunderstood or forgotten. This is sad, because God was providing a wonderful strategy by which he could bring about a great victory. He was challenging and warning his people, so they could prepare in advance.

In my next post, I will explain why this vision has not been fulfilled.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Proving the Existence of God

Many Christians are sharing this interview of Stephen Meyer by Piers Morgan. It is a very interesting discussion. Stephen Meyer does a good job of exposing the weakness in modern cosmogonies and the theory of evolution.

My only concern is that I think it is too strong to say that he has proved that God exists. Proof is a fairly slippery concept. Mathematical proof is different from scientific proof, which is different from the legal concept of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

The scientific method uses repeatable experiments to confirm or disprove concepts. This method cannot tell us anything about the origins of the universe, or the origins of animal life, or the existence of God, because it is not possible to do an experiment that would test any of these theories. The best that can be done is to establish an experiment to test various small steps in the evolutionary process, but scientists can never test the whole thing to prove that the entire process works. Likewise, it is not possible to create an experiment replicating the origin of the universe or the existence of God.

So scientists fall back on adopting a theory that explains all facts about the world as we currently have them (subject to Occam’s razor). But that is not sufficient to establish the truth. Most current theories cannot explain everything, hence the need for dark matter. Worse still, a theory that provides a plausible explanation for every fact currently known could prove to be inadequate when further facts about the universe emerge. Plausibility does not equate to truth.

A general definition of proof is evidence sufficient to establish the truth of a proposition. The problem with the evidence that Stephen Meyer produces is that it might be sufficient to persuade a Christian, but it is probably not sufficient to persuade someone who has not received a revelation from God.

Stephen Meyer does not prove the existence of a Christian God. All he can do is point to the existence of a very powerful being, who is personal in some way. But judging on the history of human life, this God could be capricious, rather than good. We can only get to a God of love through revelation by the Holy Spirit.

My view is that it is impossible for a finite human to prove or disprove the existence of an infinite God. I believe that we should be humble about the origins of the universe, because we cannot know that much about it origins without revelation from God, and he has not given us much detail about how he did it. Because we are finite, and our thinking is distorted by sin, we cannot know God apart from revelation from him.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Esther

The book of Esther is interesting because, throughout the book, God is not mentioned, although he is clearly behind some of the events described. God rescues Esther and her Uncle Mordecai from an evil political leader called Haman. This is an inspiring event, but there are a couple of difficulties with the book.

The first tricky issue is that Esther was chosen to be a member of the king’s harem (Esther 2:8) As an exile in Persia, Esther only had the rights of a slave. If she had refused to join the harem, she would have been killed. She chose to save her life and submit to the king. God blessed her decision, so we have to assume that he did not have a problem with her choice. He understood that she had very limited scope for action.

The second problem is more difficult, due to unjustified violence. Haman told the King of Persia that the Jews were keeping themselves separate and were a risk to his empire. He claimed that they did not obey the king’s commands (Est 3:8). Haman persuaded the king to issue a decree that the Jews could be massacred on a particular day without any recriminations.

The royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day (Est 3:12-14).
This was a terrible menace to the future of God’s people. Fortunately, Esther was able to intervene with the king and explain that her life and the lives of her people were in jeopardy. The king was enraged, and Haman was hung (Est 7:5-10). The king issued a new edict giving the Jews the right to defend themselves against any attack on them or their property.

The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children and to plunder the property of their enemies... A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality (Est 8:11,13).
This new edict turned the situation around. The people of Persia became afraid of the Jews, and any who had planned to attack them quickly changed their minds. On the day when they were due to be attacked, the Jews gathered together to protect themselves (Est 9:2-3). The Jewish response was extremely harsh.
The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them,and they did what they pleased to those who hated them (Est 9:5).
Eight hundred people were killed in the Citadel of Suza, where the king lived. Seventy-five thousand people were killed in the rest of Persia on the 13th and 14th day of the month of Adar.

Mordicai established these days as a feast for the Jews.

Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor (Est 9:20-21).
This feast is called Purim, and it is celebrated by the Jews to this day. However, it is different from the main feasts of Israel (Passover, Weeks, Trumpets, Tabernacles). These were formally instituted by God (Lev 23), whereas Purim was instituted by a human appointed by a pagan king (not by God). The decree was confirmed by Queen Esther (Est 9:32). Feasts initiated by God have more vailidity.

Several things should be noted about the events behind this nasty event in Persia.

  • Standards of justice were low in the Persian Empire. As exiles in the land, the Jews were bound to obey the decrees of the Persian king, but they also subject to a higher law. They were not entitled to act according to the commands of the king, if they were contrary to the Torah.

  • God did not command the Jewish people to attack and kill their enemies in Persia. The king had given an edict that allowed this response, but the decision to attack and kill people was taken by the people themselves. They effectively chose to become a lynch mob.

  • The violent action of the people could not be justified by the Jewish law. The Torah allows people to defend themselves if they are attacked, but it does not allow pre-emptive attacks against potential enemies.

  • The Jews organised for the ten sons of Haman to be killed on the gallows. According to the Torah, children are not to be punished for the sins of fathers (Deut 24:16; Ezek 18:17-18).

  • Celebration of unjustified violence is a dangerous practice for a nation, as it opens it up to spirits of violence.

  • The Purim event is used by modern Israel to justify pre-emptive violence against its enemies. This practice is wrong because it is contrary to the Torah’s teaching on Defence and War.

The book of Esther must not be used as a justification for pre-emptive military strikes. For God's people, war must always be a last resort, preceded by strenuous to make peace.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Jeremiah

Jeremiah said about Judah,

This is the nation that has not listened to the voice of Yahweh its God...
Truthfulness has perished... (Jer 7:28 Goldingay).
Apt for this time.

Saturday, May 04, 2024

Rampant Militarism

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said recently,

Defending against Russia’s brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe. If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border.
Many western politicians are saying something similar. This is part of a shocking militaristic shift is taking place across the Western world. It is the most serious in Europe. Most of the fear is unjustified, but it could make politicians do stupid things.

New Zealand is isolated, so there is not much to fear here. However, the government is talking about the need to buy big ticket military equipment from the United States to protect us. They would get far better bang for the buck if they bought a few dozen Iranian drones of the type that the Houthis are using in the Red Sea. They would protect us from invading ships with minimal cost. Modern technology makes defence much cheaper than it was, but the big weapons companies prefer to push expensive boondoggles.

Military fever is stronger in Australia, where people seem to be looking for a war with China. This is odd because Australia is working flat out to dig minerals out and ship them to China, so I can't see why they would want to invade Australia. The Chinese are already getting everything that they need from Australia cheaply without the need to rule unruly Australians. I don’t think that they are stupid enough to take that on.

Australia has formed an AUKUS partnership with the US and the UK. I am not sure why Australians would trust the United Kingdom to protect them. The Brits cannot even get its aircraft carriers out of port without them breaking down, so I don’t see how they can have much influence in the soutehern Pacific.

In the United States, the militiarismic fears are far worse. Many Americans seem to believe that war with China is inevitable. Given that they could not win in Vietnam, Korea, Syria, Afghanistan or Ukraine, I am not sure why they think that they could beat China.

I believe that most political leaders don’t believe their narrative about the Russian threat. However, they are all under serious political pressure, so touting an external bogeyman is a good way to increase their political support. For example, Rishi Sunak is predicted to massively lose in the upcoming UK parliamentary election, but he understands that a war in the Falklands helped Margaret Thatcher get re-elected, so he is trying the next best thing.

I believe that western political leaders are being cynical. They know the Russian threat is not real, but they talk it up anyway to maintain political power. That is a dangerous game.

The truth is that Russia has no interest in invading Europe. James Richard summed this up well in an article that I read today.

First off, the theory that Putin will invade other countries if he wins in Ukraine is nonsense. The Russian army lacks the men and materiel to occupy Ukraine while simultaneously invading other countries.

This isn’t the Soviet Union with its massive tank armies poised to roll over Western Europe. And Soviet communism is long dead, so there’s no ideological basis for Russia to invade Europe. These days, Russia is a conservative, Orthodox Christian nation.

But more importantly, Putin has absolutely no incentive to invade any of these nations, which are NATO members. What do they have that he wants?

All it would do is trigger Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which stipulates that an attack on one member is an attack on all, inviting a massive NATO response. At that point, you’re on the fast track to nuclear war.
Putin is fully aware of that.

Fearmongers like to point to what Putin once said in a speech:
“Whoever doesn’t miss the Soviet Union doesn’t have a heart.”
They take that as proof that he wants to recreate the Soviet Union.

But they conveniently omit what he said next:
“Whoever wants it back doesn’t have a brain.”
Whatever you think of Putin, he definitely has a brain. He has no intention to restore the Soviet Union.

To reach Germany, Russia would have to cross Poland. That involves crossing at least two large rivers (Oder and Bug). It took the Soviet Union two years of violent war with the loss of millions of soldiers (that sapped Hitler’s military power) before it could get to the place where it could invade Germany during World War 2. The Soviet Union had far greater population and economic resources than Russia. So an invasion of Germany is probably an impossibility, especially with modern satellite surveillance, missiles and drones, which makes it impossible to concentrate a large force for an attack.

If Russia gets control of the four Eastern oblasts that have voted to join it, it will need to station large numbers of troops there for a long time to protect against terrorist attacks. It will need a de-militarised zone between it and the Dnieper to protect those oblasts from artillery and missile attacks. This would make any invasion further west almost impossible.

As Putin has said (I have read his speeches, and he is clear about his objectives), Europe has nothing that Russia needs. It already has the biggest territory of any country in the world. It has all the minerals, oil and grain-growing land that it needs. There is no benefit to it in trying to control hostile nations. Putin learnt that when he was posted to Germany.

On the other side of the equation, the West is incapable of fighting a war against Russia. They have run out of artillery tubes and shells for the support of Ukraine. They don’t have the industrial capacity to produce sufficient for Ukraine, let alone a peer-to-peer war.

Western nations just don’t have the military capacity to fight a serious war. The UK military is the smallest it has been since 1720. Many of its soldiers are only suitable for guarding Buckingham Palace. I gather Germany’s forces are equally weak. I understand that French forces are only fit for beating up rebels in its old colonies in Africa.

The United States is having difficulty recruiting into its military, and polls say many people do not want to fight in a war in Europe. Many of its troops are on foreign bases where they tend to get soft because Mcdonald's and Coke are available on the base, along with other junk food. The United States probably has the military equipment needed for a war, but the task of getting it to Europe in sufficient quantities would be almost impossible.

European leaders say that they want to build up their military, but they do not have the financial resources to achieve that goal. Without increasing taxation, which would not be accepted, they don’t have the ability to seriously re-arm. They are struggling to find money to support Ukraine, given all the other pressing problems that they have to deal with. I understand that Germany is borrowing money to get to two percent of its GDP on defence spending. That is not sustainable.

Although political leaders are talking a big game and calling for preparation for war, I believe the leaders of their military will tell them that it cannot be done. So, we are in a situation where there is much talk about war for political gain, but either side is capable of doing it.

I presume that these militarily weak nations, if they want to go to war, will pick a fight with weak African nations that they know they can beat. I suspect the United States is more likely to invade Mexico than pick a fight with China that it probably cannot win.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

United States Invades Israel

The entire world is outraged by the behaviour of Israel. The callous slaughter of women and children is brutal. The destruction of buildings and land is barbaric. I believe that the time will come when the United States will be forced to invade its favourite ally to rein it in and stop the wanton violence. I am not sure how soon.

Daniel explains that the King of the North (the United States) will respond to the outrageous behaviour of the Israeli government by sending military forces against it in an attempt to recover the situation and restore peace.

Then the King of the North will come and spread out, and he will seize the fortifications of an armed fortress. The military forces of the South will not be able to stand, even their special services will not have the strength to resist (Dan 11:15).
The United States will come to the Middle East. It will either invade Gaza directly to establish a beachhead, or it will enter Egypt and take over a military base on the Egyptian side of the border with Israel.
The one who comes against him will do as he pleases, and no one will be able to stand against him; he will be able to stand in the Glorious Land, but with destruction in his hand (Dan 11:16).
The military forces encountered will be unable to resist. The President of the United States will be able to do as he pleases, ignoring pressure from other nations and flouting the decisions of international organisations. The "Glorious Land" is a reference to Israel.

The United States will establish a military base in Israel, possibly in Gaza. Daniel explains that the Israeli Defence Forces will have to surrender the President of the United States because “destruction in his hand”. This is a reference to overwhelming military power. It might even be a threat to use nuclear power against Israel if it does not submit to the President’s demands.

The United States will have all of its massive power behind its demands. Israel could be surrounded by a dozen aircraft carriers with their supporting fleet. The President has the power to destroy Israel.

He will set his face to come with the power of his whole kingdom, bringing with him a proposal of peace which he will put into effect (Dan 11:17a).
Some English translations describe this peace proposal as “equitable conditions”. This could be a reference to a peace plan that would provide equity between the Jewish and Palestinian people. The President of the United States will be determined to “put this plan into effect”.

In an attempt to establish the peace deal, the United States will create a formal alliance with Israel, which it has not previously had.

And he shall make the daughter into a wife to weaken her position, but this will not succeed, nor will she be for him (Dan 11:17b).
The United States will formalise an alliance with Israel in return for peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people. It will be hoped that this will weaken Israeli hostility to the Palestinian people.

The United States will attempt to bring peace to the Middle East peace through this alliance (In traditional cultures, alliances were cemented by the marriage of sons and daughters). However, these plans will fail when Israel refuses to go along with the Western plans for peace. They will twist the treaty and continue oppressing the Palestinian people.

More at Whats Going On.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Zelensky Ukraine and Biden

Zelensky has not acted with truthfulness and integrity
His lies will be exposed
A bad spirit will come between Zelensky and the western news media.
When they realise that he has duped them
They will be filled with scorn,
They will turn on him and attack him with a vengeance.

They will accuse him of doing the things
that he has accused his enemies of doing.
His false accusations will turn back on his head,
and he will lose his place.

A bad spirit will come between Z and his people.
When they realise that he has lied to them,
making false promises that he cannot deliver
and used their men as cannon fodder for no benefit,
destroying their country
and wrecking their economy,
while stealing their wealth.
They will hate him, and he will lose his place.

The battle has been heavy
but he did not acknowledge it
so something bad will close in on them.
Some of the soldiers whom he betrayed
will be so angry
that they return to Kiev
and destroy him.

Ukraine will be given into the hands
of the people who have plundered them.
The oligarchs and neo-nazis who rule the country
will be exposed
when they openly seize control.
Their true character will be revealed.

God will surrender them in the hands of the nation they hate
His hand will be against them
so they cannot stand against it.
Things will go badly for them
as they come under intense pressure.

Western military and political leaders
will be embarrassed when they realise
who they have been supporting
and will turn against them with a vengeance.
They will break faith with each other,
and blame each other for their failures.

Joe Biden has not acted with truthfulness and integrity
so God will release a season of fire in his nation:
His funding and equipping of bloodshed
to strengthen the hand of evil
will come back on his head
Violence will come home on him
and release a spirit of violence amongst his people.
Fire will come out and devour him.
A flood of violence will sweep across the land.

God will send a bad spirit between Biden and his people,
His bad actions will be turned back on his head.
He is playing God, and trying to weaken Russia,
but his nation will be divided and weakened under his rule.

God will be against Biden
He will not be able to stand against the flood
moving across the southern border.

Biden He will believe he is winning,
but it is just chasing the shadows of mountains.
God will be against him.
A woman will fracture his authority
and his power will be destroyed.

(December 1922)

Friday, April 26, 2024

Shoah

The term “Holocaust” is derived from a Greek word meaning "burnt offering" (the Hebrew equivalent is “olah”). It has become the most common word used in English to describe the Nazi extermination of Jews. The word Holocaust is sometimes used to refer to the persecution of other groups that the Nazis targeted, In contrast, The Hebrew word Shoah, which means "catastrophic destruction", refers exclusively to Jewish victims.

A correspondent asked me if the Shoah (Holocaust) was prophesied in the Bible. This was not a question that I had thought about, so it started me thinking. I began with a study of the Hebrew word “shoah”. It is used in the Old Testament about a dozen times, meaning calamity, disaster or ruination. It is applied to Job a couple of times. David uses the word shoah three times in Psalm 35 to describe the terrible afflictions that had come upon him.

Shoah is used for the future in Zech 1:15 for a day of rage and a day of distress and ruination. However, as far as I know, there is no specific prophecy about the Shoah that the Jews experienced due to the Nazi movement in the 1930s and 1940s.

However, the experience in Europe fits within the general prophecy given in Deuteronomy 28, where Moses describes the blessings that come with keeping the covenant and the curses that come with breaking it. These curses are the consequence of losing God's protection from evil. Deut 28:65-67 describes the last most awful stage of disobedience in this way.

Among those nations, you will find no peace, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul. So your lives will be hanging in doubt before you; and you will be terrified night and day, and have no assurance of your life. In the morning you will say, 'If only it were evening!' And at evening you will say, 'If only it were morning!' because of the terror of your heart which you fear, and the sight of your eyes which you will see.
This is a good description of what the Jews in Germany and Eastern Europe felt, but what actually happened is far worse.

This might be a bit controversial, and difficult for many Christians to accept, but the Shoah (holocaust) was not announced by God through his prophets because he did not plan it. It was far more horrendous than the curse of the law required. The Shoah was far worse than specified by Deuteronomy 28:65-67, which is the culmination of the curse.

I believe that the Shoah was planned by the spiritual powers of evil as part of a bigger plan to develop Zionism and circumvent God's plan for restoring Israel by bringing about a return to the land before the right time had come.

I also believe that the Calling of the Jews and their return to the land is an epochal event in New Testament history that opens the way for the fullness of the Kingdom of God because God's team will be complete.

The spiritual powers of evil could not prevent God from completing his plan, so they tried to disrupt it by pre-empting it.

The restoration of Israel described in the Old Testament is a glorious event, with a massive outpouring of the Spirit, tears of repentance, joy in the Lord, and the nations graciously opening the way for God's people to return. We have not seen the fulfilment of these scriptures yet. The land has not been restored to the “milk and honey promised”. Instead, a massive amount of water has been used on a few parts of the land.

The return that we have seen is what Ezekiel called a "return by the sword". The spiritual powers of evil implemented a plan where the Jews were returned using political manoeuvring and military power. The nation of Israel relies on political scheming for its security. This dependence on political and military power has given a place to angry and violent spiritual powers. We can see the ugly consequence of this spiritual problem being outworked right before our eyes in the current disaster in Gaza.

The spiritual powers of evil planned the Shoah because without the guilt that it created, the Western nations would not have supported the creation of the State of Israel. So, the Shoah and the establishment of the state of Israel was a package developed by the spiritual powers of evil to invigorate their evil plans. They planned to disrupt God's plan for the calling of the Jews, the restoration of Israel and the coming of the Kingdom. This is why it was not prophesied by God and his prophesied.

However, God is God, so he will not be circumvented. He will complete his purpose, and millions of people who are descendants of Jacob (many without realising it) will awake and return to a restored land. This will open the way for the collapse of political power and the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

However, God's plan might take a little longer because many of the Jews bought into the false plan developed by the spiritual powers of evil. Their plan will produce great hostility to Israel amongst the nation. It may end with an invasion of Israel by Western military powers.

This war might result in serious destruction and contamination of the land by the nasty weapons that are used by both sides (warned in many Old Testament prophecies, eg Jer 4:20). God might need to wait for the land to recover before he can bring the descendants of Jacob back in the glorious and joyful restoration prophesied in the Old Testament.

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Presidential Immunity

Someone posted this video on Instagram of John Stewart commenting on Presidential Immunity. With typical American arrogance and ignorance, he insulted the millions of people whose system of government includes a constitutional monarch/king. But that is a side issue.

Presidential immunity is too important an issue for joking. The United States has always offered “implicit presidential immunity” to its leaders so that they have freedom to act boldly in the exercise of the duties of their office.

From my reading of history, almost all US presidents have committed crimes, and none have ever been prosecuted (except possibly one). For example, I am currently reading a history of the CIA. It tells a shocking story of presidential behaviour. President Eisenhower, assumed to be one of the best, ordered the CIA to bomb the military forces of Indonesia in an attempt to overthrow its democratically elected president. John Kennedy asked the CIA to eliminate the president of Vietnam. Robert Kennedy, who was allowed to stand for the presidency, had ordered the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro. None of these actions were authorised by Congress. None of these crimes were prosecuted.

In the current situation, there is a strong case for the Supreme Court to re-define the scope of presidential immunity, which currently seems to work as follows.

  • Crimes committed before the person becomes president don’t matter if the electors know about them, and voted for him/her anyway.

  • Crimes committed during the presidential term are not prosecuted if they are done in the pursuit of American interests.

  • Crimes committed during the presidential term that are done in the personal interest of the president are generally not prosecuted because this would damage the prestige of the presidency. The investigations into President Nixon weakened the presidency, so he was pardoned. President Kennedy’s adultery was tolerated, even though it created a security risk, because Americans like their president to be virile. President Clinton was impeached, not prosecuted for his crimes.

  • Crimes committed after the presidential term are not prosecuted unless they are really serious because that would undermine the reputation of the presidency. A serious crime like murder would be prosecuted, but theft or fraud might be tolerated because most Americans want a president who is sharp at doing business. Consequently, most ex-presidents get rich, often by means that are marginally legal.

The standard remedy for presidential crimes is to vote them out at the next election. If the problem is more urgent, then the remedy is impeachment. It is a better process for investigating and dealing with a presidential crime.

The Supreme Court will need to be careful about tightening the scope of presidential immunity because it will fear weakening the presidency, at a time when its status is already fragile.

The real problem is that the US election process has thrown up two ugly, fairly incompetent, old men for the next presidential election. Both have been involved in embarrassingly dodgy dealings. The reality that one of these two uninspiring leaders will be elected is hardly a sign of a great nation.

The solution to this very serious problem is not getting politically-appointed district attorneys or special prosecutors to twist the law and charge one of them before judges with strong political loyalties to hamper his election campaign. Nor is attempting to impeach the other. These solutions will both undermine democracy and trust in the law. The only genuine solution is to trust the voters. The fact that political leaders are stooping to these underhand solutions confirms that they don’t trust the voters, but what does that say for the state of their democracy?

Friday, April 19, 2024

Political Power

Most Christians still trust political power. They will often criticise the abuse of power, but that often smuggle it in the backdoor so it can be used to advance the Kingdom of God.

The hard truth is that Jesus renounced power. He refused to use it to advance his kingdom, or even to do good. Paul also renounced political power, although he couched his critique carefully, to avoid putting his followers at risk from Roman power.

In Revelation, John went hard out, and explained that the spiritual powers of evil use political to advance their cause. Paul had said the same in Ephesians 6, but in a slightly veiled way, that modern people often miss.

To fully understand the Kingdom of God, we need to fully renounce the use of political power to advance God’s work on earth.

In my book called Government of God, I explain how God will establish his Kingdom without the need for political power. The church can retreat for safety while engaging in prophetic challenge and social transformation to advance God’s kingdom. Kingdom communities that are outward looking, inclusive of people who are not followers of Jesus, can provide protection, welfare, and justice (plus whatever else the modern state promises but fails to deliver) voluntarily without the need for the use of political power.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Power and Authority

The Bible makes a helpful distinction between “authority” and “power”. Some disagreements would disappear, if the terms were defined more clearly and “power” was more carefully delineated.

Jesus had authority due to the wisdom of his teaching, but he had no power to enforce his decisions. He had the power to force out out demons and heal the sick.

The Jewish leaders had authority over religious issues. They had a little bit of power, due to their ability to throw dissenters out of the synagogue, but people could choose to ignore them if they wanted to. The real power was exercised by the Romans. The Jewish leaders needed Roman power to kill Jesus.

The preaching of the gospel led to a shift of authority from the religious leaders to Jesus. However, Jesus had no power, so he had to use his authority cleverly to influence people and challenge them to change their thinking. The authority that Jesus had been given did not last, because when the chips were down prior to the crucifixion, many people gave authority back to the Jewish leaders.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Emotions

I read an article recently that was very good, but I had a quibble with the statement that “emotions have no moral value”. I understood what was being said, but it is not quite right. I think it depends on where the emotion comes from. I have just read in Zechariah where God says that he has a “great passion” for his people. God is good, so that emotion must be good.

Some human emotions can be good. If I am angry at injustice because the Holy Spirit stirred me, that emotion is good. The compassion that the Good Samaritan felt for the wounded man was good. We need to get better at experiencing that kind of emotion and responding to it with positive actions. On the other hand, the glee that some of the crowd felt when Jesus was dying on the cross was probably stirred up by the bad spirits they carried, so it was evil. Some emotions can be good or evil, depending on where they come from.

Then again, emotions that come out of hurts that have been done to me by people in the past, or trauma that I have experienced as a child, just tell me what is happening within me and how my memories of those events are affecting me now. These emotions are unpleasant or uncomfortable, but they are not good or evil. They are neutral; just an indication of who I am, although they might be teaching me something about myself which is uncomfortable, but true.

The most important point is that our emotions tell us nothing about our value in God’s sight. We were all created good, in his image. His heart is always towards us for our good, no matter how we are feeling.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Second Coming

My hope at this time is not the second coming. My hope is in the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus will return at the end of the age, but he will not return until the church has completed its work, cooperating with the Holy Spirit. He will not return to rescue a church that is failing. Many Christians are currently hoping that Jesus will return soon, but that is actually an escapist hope. It is a hope that Jesus will return and do what we can’t be bothered doing.

This type of hope is part of what is wrong with the church. Instead of doing what God is telling us to do, we would prefer that Jesus do it for us, either by returning, or by doing it for us by sending revival. An old lady that I once knew said that prophecies about revival are the hope of the lazy. I think she was right.

My hope is greater than the second coming. My hope is that the Holy Spirit will bring in the Kingdom of God by working through his body here on earth. That is a far greater task and will produce a far more beautiful kingdom than the ugly, brutal kingdom prophesied by those who hope for Jesus’ return.

I am absolutely certain that the Holy Spirit will do what he has promised to do, but it will take some time, because he will not force people to change. He is patient, but he will eventually get he work done.

Friday, April 05, 2024

US Commercial Real Estate

The US commercial real estate sector is under considerable stress. Will it become the next subprime?

  • Despite every effort, downtown businesses have not been able to get all their workers back because they liked foregoing the long commute.

  • Commercial real estate valuations are falling and properties are difficult to sell.

  • The number of properties with negative equity is increasing.

  • Commercial real estate delinquency rates have already jumped to 6 1/2 percent—up 30 percent in a matter of months. Rates of distress in office loans just hit 11 percent.

  • $929 billion of commercial real estate debt is coming due before the end of the year. That’s up 28 percent from the previous year.

  • National Bureau of Economic Research has estimated that up to 385 American banks could fail over commercial real estate loans alone.

  • The FDIC is essentially guaranteeing more than $20 trillion in deposits with just more than $100 billion in reserves.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

US Debt - Warning

Some disturbing financial information is coming out of the United States.

US budget deficits are having a huge effect on US debt levels.

  • The federal budget deficit, one source of increasing debt, is tracking at $1.7 trillion for 2024.

  • Federal debt has been recently increasing by $1 trillion every 100 days.

  • At the current pace, US federal debt will surpass $35 trillion by the end of April, and reach $40 trillion some time in 2025.

  • Projections indicate that federal debt could reach $60 trillion by 2034.

  • After hitting 1 trillion in late 2023, interest expense on US debt has risen to 1.1 trillion.

  • If debt continues to grow and interest rates continue at the current level, annual interest costs could rise to 1.6 trillion by the end of the year.

  • In 1970 the figure stood at $378 billion of public debt outstanding, which represented 34.9% of GDP.

  • On the eve of the 2008 crisis, U.S. federal debt to GDP was around 64 percent, the same level as in 1995. This allowed some flexibility. As of the most recent quarter, the ratio of debt to GDP is now nearly double that, at 122 percent. On this measure, the United States is now among the top 10 most indebted countries in the world.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Update on Digital Currencies

A few weeks ago, I published an article about money called Money Developments. Readers who want an update on what is happening around the world with digital currencies should read this article called On the Brink of Change: The Digitization of Money by Efrat Fenigson, an independent journalist.

I will give a few interesting quotes as a taste.

Stablecoins could be the way in which the US is further globalizing the dollar, spreading its adoption directly to the world’s general public in order to continue increasing its debt and encourage uptake and usage of the dollar”, says Mark Goodwin. He suggests that the politician’s outcry of de-dollarization and the weakening of the dollar are a distraction from perpetuating the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

“While CBDCs are what people are becoming fearful and aware of, it may just be the red herring, and the real strategy of the US dollar's survival is highly regulated stablecoins (such as Tether), which can easily be programmable, even more than CBDCs, as well as seized, regulated and controlled indirectly by governments. 100 billion dollars in treasuries were already purchased by Tether, its subsidiaries and owners. Tether is positioned alongside the top 20 nation states buying debt from the US, with around one tenth of China or Japan that have a trillion dollars debt to the US”.

One to watch.
Ripple, a digital payment network and transaction protocol that owns the cryptocurrency XRP, is considered one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, and is strategically positioning itself at the heart of government financial innovation, aiming to be the cornerstone of future CBDCs. The company is in talks with about twenty governments around the world to develop their CBDCs using Ripple's technology. In May 2023, Ripple launched a dedicated CBDC platform to assist central banks, governments and financial institutions around the world in issuing CBDCs and stablecoins. To date, Ripple has partnered with six governments for CBDC pilot projects.

Promoting its platform as an infrastructure for a CBDC, Ripple advocates for government regulation of cryptocurrencies, and tries to position itself as the preferred solution for CBDC projects. Its claim to fame of being the ideal CBDC partner for governments is the combination of speed, efficiency, a sustainable and "green" blockchain network that uses little energy (compared to the Bitcoin network), and interoperability - the ability to communicate and work with CBDC solutions in other countries on the Ripple infrastructure.

In my article, I noted that governments do not have the skills to develop the technical infrastructure needed to support a digital currency. It had not occurred to me that large corporates would see this as a gap to move into and exploit, but I should have expected it. A large corporate could shift technology between countries to reduce the cost of CBDCs. Ripple is the first to have a go, but others will follow. Giving large multinational corporations authority to develop and maintain the computing infrastructure needed to operate a CBDC could create risks for economic security and privacy.

Privacy is related to anonymity.

In a discussion at the European Union Council in 2023, Christine Lagarde emphasizes a point: the digital euro will not be anonymous. Privacy will exist in the system, but not anonymity. Let’s break this up in a different way: for the banks, the key to surveillance and control is identification. The bank must know who the citizen is and verify their identity, in order to exercise law enforcement or regulations, through technological restrictions. Lagarde's claim that the technology will allow privacy but not anonymity is unfounded: apparently the central bank considers itself and the financial service providers some kind of god, since in front of them the citizen will be identified, and therefore it is not clear what kind of privacy can exist, without anonymity.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Good News

The good news is that Jesus totally and fully dealt with sin and defeated evil when he died on the cross.
He was raised from the dead and ascended into the spiritual realms where he was crowned as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
He released the Holy Spirit to work in the world and clean up the dreadful mess caused by sin and evil.

Friday, March 29, 2024

The Cross

God forgave all our sins.
He redeemed us from death and sickness and gave us life.
In Jesus, he cancelled the charge that condemns us
by nailing it to the cross.
Jesus has disarmed the powers and authorities that control us
by triumphing over them on the cross.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Hope

I don’t have much hope in the church as it exists in New Zealand at the current time. I observe an unwillingness to change and do things differently that has become entrenched over many years. God will not force the church to change. He has been urging change for many years, but no one is listening.

The reality is that a church that is unwilling to change cannot be revived. It actually needs a radical reformation, but there are no leaders working towards that. I have described a few of the changes that need to take place in Twelve Big Ones.

The truth is that if a real revival came to New Zealand right now, the church would not be capable of discipling thousands of the new believers so many would eventually be lost. If 100,000 people chose to follow Jesus in Christchurch this year, the church would know what to do with them. God will not send revival now while it is too risky.

When people pray for revival, they don't think about what they will need to differently. They think about what they expect God to do, and perhaps what they expect other people to do. That is an ingredient for nothing happening.

I have heard people prophesying that God will send revival to New Zealand for fifty years, and these prophecies have failed. Prophesies about what God is going to do are pointless because he will not force himself on his church. We actually need more prophecies telling the church how it should change, but unfortunately, those are not so popular.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Money Developments (5c) Compulsory Change

The nature of money and banking would change dramatically if the government made it compulsory for people and businesses to use the CBDC for all transactions requiring payment of money. Such a change would be really concerning for everyone, as it would give the government much greater control over the buying and selling of both people and businesses. It would represent a significant loss of freedom.

If people and businesses were forced to use the CBDC for all transactions, the existing retail banks would probably fight hard to prevent it from happening, as it would be a serious constraint on their business. They would lose several very profitable activities. I am not sure how effective these institutions would be in preventing the government from making the change if it was determined.

Implanted Microchips
If a smartphone app is used to initiate CBDC transactions, security will be important. Processes for identification using fingerprints, voice prints, face recognition or iris scanning are already operational. These should provide sufficient security for a CBDC. Some Christians are suggesting that a microchip under the skin on the wrist or forehead will be introduced to increase the security of the CBDC, but this does not seem to be necessary, given that existing methods of security are effective.

The problem with an implanted microchip is that it could be accessed without authorisation. If a microchip can be read by an ATM or a terminal in a retail shop, criminals would be able to develop scanners that would be able to read the information on the microchip. They would also be able to write to the microchip and change the information on it. So having an implanted microchip would be less secure than using a smartphone.

If a person was kidnapped by criminals, the microchip under their skin could easily be removed by force. It is not hard to imagine groups of thugs mugging people and holding them down while they cut out their microchip so they could use it to make transactions.

An implanted microchip is a fairly useless technology. Without a power supply, its computing activity would be very limited, and its hardware would quickly get out of date. A chip under the skin cannot have a display screen or keypad for data entry. It would not be able to link to a mobile or wireless network, so it would be useless for communication or computing activities.

The flood of Christian books warning of the dangers of a microchip under the skin for financial transactions were written back in the days before smartphones when a microchip under the skin seemed like the only realistic way to make digital transactions. Now that most people have smartphones and they are accustomed to keeping them secure, a chip under the skin is unnecessary.

Government Control
Modern governments claim the right to control every aspect of life if they think they can do good. They claim the right to freeze the assets of people, companies and nations if they don’t approve their activities. They also claim the right to prevent people and businesses from buying or selling if they do not approve of their activities. This power is usually enforced through instructions to the banking system. Banks are dependent on the government for their license to operate, so they usually comply with government requirements.

A CBDC would make government control easier to achieve because they would only have to work through one agency. However, they are already able to achieve control through their influence on the banking system as a whole, so their ability to control would not be greatly enhanced if a CBDC was introduced. However, it could make their monitoring and control easier if they enforced the use of the CBDC for all payments.

The limits on government will always be legal, not capability. A CBDC would just make it easier to do things that governments mostly already have the legal authority to do.

Modern governments believe they have a responsibility to manage everyone’s behaviour, and they have a variety of technologies to control people effectively. Whatever their money system, modern governments have the power to prevent people from buying and selling. There are risks to digital transactions, but there are risks with all aspects of life. Holding wads of notes would provide very little protection.

This full series can be read on Substack in an article called Money Developments

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Money Developments (5b) Problems for Central Bank Digital Currencies

Developing, implementing and maintaining a digital currency presents central banks with several problems. The following are just some of the issues that need to be considered and remediated.

  • Hacking and tampering – If the CBDC increases in popularity, huge amounts of important data will have to be managed and kept secure by the central bank. Hackers and thieves will be tempted to penetrate the system to steal funds or manipulate the accounts of people they dislike. Keeping the system secure will be costly for the central bank.

  • Monetary policy transmission mechanism – Modern central banks attempt to control the supply of money available in their economy. Most do this by controlling interest rates. Experts are concerned that the growth of CBDCs will restrict the transmission mechanism for monetary policy.

  • Interoperability with existing payment networks, including commercial bank and e-money networks and ATM machines. – Money is important for the operation of an economy. If the CBDC becomes the dominant currency, the central bank will be responsible for ensuring interoperability with all the other computer systems that use money transactions. This interoperability is currently maintained by banks and other private businesses. A central bank might not want to take this responsibility over from them.

  • Money laws and regulations, including data protection laws – if a CBDC is introduced, the central bank must ensure that all laws about money and credit will continue to function effectively. This might be a big task.

  • Resilience – The design of all aspects of the CBDC system will need to exceed the established resiliency and security standards of financial market infrastructures. It will need to provide instant transaction settlement around the clock all year long and be able to recover quickly from any disruption.

  • Scalable – CBDC systems will need to be developed with scalability in mind and be able to handle rapidly increasing volumes of transactions without running into operational difficulties.

  • Upgradable – A CBDC system will have to be easily upgradable to take account of developments in the software and hardware used by the various computer systems that need to interact with it. The system would need to be future-proofed to handle all technological developments. It will need to be upgraded continually. Most central banks do not have the skills to do this.

  • Two-tier system – Most central banks will adopt a two-tier approach in which they maintain the central system, but leave many other functions to other businesses. This might be a more practical solution, but the central bank will need to maintain relationships with a range of private-sector intermediaries.

  • Privacy – When developing a CBDC, the central bank will comply with all the existing standards for protecting privacy and the use of personal data.

  • Capital Flow Management – Many governments choose to control capital flows in and out of the country. These measures are mostly operated by the banks that organise international payments and receipts. If the CBDC can be used for international transactions, the central bank will need to build software constraints into the CBDC system to implement the government’s capital flow management measures. This may be quite complicated to achieve.

Credit Creation
If the role of the CBDC accounts at the central bank is extended to paying interest on deposits and making loans to businesses and households (mortgages), the situation changes significantly. Under the existing monetary system, commercial banks create money by giving loans to their customers. They can do this because the money they loan is eventually deposited in an account within the banking system. I describe how this “money creation” process operates in Credit Creation.

If the central bank gets involved in lending and borrowing by paying interest on deposits and lending money to businesses and households, they will get the ability to create credit in the same ways as commercial banks are currently doing it. If the central bank makes a loan to a customer (business or personal) the money will eventually be paid into the recipient's account at the commercial bank. They end up with a loan and a matching deposit, which balance each other.

The only limit on credit creation by the central bank would be supply and demand at the prevailing interest rate. Modern central banks control interest rates, so they would be able to manage interest rates and the volume of loans to achieve their goals.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Money Developments (5a) Central Bank Digital Currencies

Many central banks are worried that changes in the use of money will make it more difficult for them to control the money supply in their nation. In response to these developments, they are establishing central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

Most CBDCs will be established by allowing people and businesses to open an account at the central bank (for example, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand here, or the Bank of England in the UK). People could get their wages or salary paid into this account. Using a digital wallet of some kind, they can also use the digital currency to make or receive payments when buying or selling, in the same way as they now use debit or credit cards.

The digital wallet could be an electronic card or other portable token, but these would not be very secure. Most people and businesses would be more likely to use an app on a smartphone to make economic transactions with money in their digital account at the central bank of their nation. They mostly know how to keep their phones secure, so this should be safe.

At this stage, it is unclear how great the demand for central bank digital currencies will be. From what I have read, the experts in the central banks developing these currencies are not sure that people and businesses will use the digital currency they create. Many will prefer to continue using the payment services and bank accounts provided by their existing retail bank. There might be a lack of trust in a service provided by the government. (I note from the discussion papers issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand that they don’t seem to be very enthusiastic about a CBDC. They seem to be uncertain if there would be widespread take-up).

Some nations are establishing a CBDC to facilitate international transactions for people who are travelling, or businesses trading with businesses in other countries. If a CBDC makes international transactions simpler and cheaper than the service offered by existing banks and credit card companies, they are more likely to switch to using it.

CBDCs are the fastest and easiest way for nations wanting to use their own currencies when conducting international trade to operate currency swaps. These swaps will become more important because they eliminate the need to hold reserves of currencies that a nation uses for trade.

Payment Service Only
Most central banks seem to be planning to limit their CBDC offering to a payments service. They are not planning to provide all the other services that are typically offered by retail banks. The transactions account they are offering will be like a cheque account that does not pay interest, but can be used to make payments to other people and businesses. Most central banks do not intend to get into competition with retail banks by offering to pay interest on deposits. If they offered interest returns that are greater than those offered by retail banks, the flow of money into the CBDC would increase significantly.

Most of the accounts at the central bank will not provide overdrafts, mortgage-based loans, business loans, seasonal finance or insurance services. This means that most people and businesses will have to maintain their relationship with their existing retail bank. That would change dramatically if the central bank offered loans that are cheaper and easier to access than those offered by retail banks.

If there is uncertainty about the stability of a retail bank, causing depositors to fear a bank run, they might believe that their money is safer as a CBDC in their account at the central bank. However, if the government is guaranteeing deposits in the retail banks, then this advantage might not exist.

I will look at the problems with CBDCs in my next post

Saturday, March 09, 2024

Money Developments (4) Cryptocurrencies

A big development over the last few decades is the emergency of cryptocurrencies. The main feature of these is that they are created without any involvement of a government, so they cannot be traced or controlled by governments. The best-known cryptocurrency is Bitcoin. It uses a technology called Blockchain to record transactions.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that operates free of any central control or the oversight of banks or governments. Instead, it relies on peer-to-peer software and cryptography. A public ledger records all Bitcoin transactions, and copies of it are held on computers around the world. Anyone with a spare computer can set up one of these servers, known as a node. Every transaction is publicly broadcast to the network. Consensus on who owns which coins is reached cryptographically across these nodes rather than relying on a central source of trust like a bank.

In much the same way you would keep traditional coins in a physical wallet, virtual currencies are held in digital wallets and can be accessed from client software or a range of online and hardware tools. A private Bitcoin key is a 64-character string of letters and numbers. It might look something like this: E9873D79C6D87DC0FB6A5778633389F4462313303DA61F20BD67FC233AA. Most of us could not remember a number like that, so would have to record it in some way. Owners of Bitcoin addresses are not explicitly identified, but all transactions are public.

A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin has numerous benefits.

  • Financial transfers between two accounts are fast.
  • International transfers are a lot cheaper than using banks.
  • The Bitcoin ledger is public; anybody can store it on a computer.
  • Bitcoin is pseudonymous because funds are not tied to real-world entities but to Bitcoin addresses.
  • Bitcoin is decentralized, so it does not have a central controlling authority.
  • The Bitcoin network is peer-to-peer, so it does not have central servers that can be hacked.
  • Anybody can send a transaction to the network without needing any approval; the network merely confirms that the transaction is legitimate. 
  • Buying and selling is as simple as scanning a QR code and sending an email.
  • The additions to the ledger are maintained through competition. 
  • The issuance of new bitcoins is decentralized via an electronic mining process.
There are some problems with cryptocurrencies.
  • Users of a cryptocurrency must keep their address key secret. If they lose it, it cannot be recovered. If someone steals it, they have access to all their victims’ Bitcoin. Tools are available for storing an address key, but the process depends on users being diligent.

  • A growing economy needs a growing supply of currency. The electronic process for generating new Bitcoin mimics the process for mining gold. New bitcoins are generated in a process that those who do the most work get the most new bitcoins.

  • The process for generating new Bitcoin is very energy intensive.

  • The changing relationship between supply and demand for Bitcoin caused the price to increase dramatically when it was first introduced. Many people saw it as an investment that could produce rapid returns. These people did very well in the early days, but more recently, the value of Bitcoin has dropped significantly.

  • Many people have invested in companies promising to make cryptocurrency easier to use. Unfortunately, these companies have carried all the usual risks, because they are usually controlled by a few people, eliminating the distributed security provided by the cryptocurrency. Many investors have got into financial trouble and lost their wealth. The best-known example is perhaps FTX, which operated a cryptocurrency exchange and crypto hedge fund. It eventually went bankrupt.

  • Price fluctuations can be a problem for some uses. A stablecoin is a type of cryptocurrency where the value of the digital asset is supposed to be pegged to a reference asset such as the US dollar. They have been developed to provide stability, long-term purchasing power and the predictability of a fiat currency along with the benefits of cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, many companies that have developed a product and called it a stablecoin have crashed to zero due to inadequate design, inadequate collateral or bad management. The stablecoin with the highest market capitalization value is Tether, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar as its fiat-backed currency.

If Christians are worried about being persecuted by their government and losing their ability to buy and sell (I am not currently in that situation), cryptocurrency is a practical option. However, they should be careful about a couple of the problems.
  • Christians holding a cryptocurrency for security reasons should not expect to make massive returns. If they are holding to ensure they can buy and sell when they want to, this should not matter to them. The value of their account will go up and down, but they will have the benefit of always being able to spend it when they choose. This problem is unavoidable, as notes and coins also lose value with inflation.

  • Christians should probably buy the cryptocurrency themselves rather than relying on companies that buy them on their behalf. These companies are only as good as the people who run them, so they cannot provide real security. If Christians purchase a stablecoin to gain the benefit of price stability, they should monitor its financial viability very carefully.