Friday, November 28, 2014

The Sutton Affair

Last week Roger Sutton the head of the of the Canterbury Earthquake Recover Authority (CERA) was forced to resign, after being found guilty of serious misconduct.

The incident turned into a fiasco, when two senior government officials, the States Services Commissioner and the Head of the Prime Minister Department and Cabinet organised a press conference to announce the decision, despite advice from their communications advisors that this would be unwise. Although he was bound by a confidentiality agreement, they allowed Sutton to speak to the gathered media people and attempt to minimise his guilt by claiming that all he had done was hug a few people. The victim of his offending could not defend herself, because she respected a confidentiality agreement.

The incident appeared like an Old Boys Club looking out for each other, but it revealed something about the spiritual state of Christchurch. Many Christians have suggested that the city is dominated by a Jezebel spirit. The strange event described above confirmed it.

Jezebel used sexual seduction as an effective weapon.

When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window (2 Kings 9:30).
Therefore, when Roger Sutton was appointed to a senior role in Christchurch city, it is not surprising that his seductive tendencies began to manifest in his work place.

What is much less understood is that this spirit manifests more frequently in political manipulation and control. Jezebel was an expert at exercising control and power through political manipulation. She demonstrated this she got Naboth’s vineyard for Ahab.
She wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; and seat two scoundrels beside him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death (1 Kings 21:8-10).
When Naboth was dead, Ahab took possession of the vinyard.

Political critics and employment experts were shocked by the way that the Roger Sutton affair was managed. They could not believe that experienced officials would be so unwise as to attend a press conference with a man who was guilty of serious misconduct. However, these two officials were acting out of the Jezebel handbook. Replace the dinner for elders and noble with a news conference the story read likes this.
Call a press conference and put Sutton up in front of the people on television. Place two scoundrels beside him and get them to testify in his favour (Christchurch Translation).
The goal was to build up, rather than destroy, but the process was the same.

The critics could not understand why the Head of the Prime Minister Department was present, and why he hugged Roger Sutton at the end of the press conference. Of course, there had to be two scoundrels present to complete the Jezebel script.

Until the spiritual climate in Christchurch changes, we can expect to see more of these political manipulations.

The interesting question in this situation is where was the Ahab Complex that is always present before the Jezebel spirit manifests. I suspect that he had gone to its home in Washington to visit Chuck Hagel.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

God and Violence (1)

In the Old Testament, God seems to be a warring God, but that is an earthly perspective. God will not impose his authority on humans. He does not want his people on earth using war to accomplish his purposes. He wants his followers on earth to be people of peace.

In the Old Testament age, God had only a few people who walked in the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit could not be released in fullness until after the cross. However, there is a massive battle going on in the spiritual realms. God does not use imposed authority and power to constrain the evil spiritual powers. He uses his authority in the spiritual realms to release his angels to manipulate the struggles between the evil spiritual powers to accomplish his purposes. God does not start wars. He manipulates the outcomes of the wars that have been started by evil spiritual powers.

The powers of evil are not united. They often fight against each other to get better positions in the hierarchy of evil. The Prince of Persia and his followers fought against the Assyrian Spirit and his cohorts.

God mostly accomplished his purposes by sending his angels to fight against the principalities and powers and not letting a different one win. He fought against the spiritual power of Babylon, which allowed the spiritual Prince of Persia to defeat it. This allowed the Persian armies to conquer and destroy Babylon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Institutions and the Kingdom

The Kingdom of God is often described as people obeying Jesus. This is too narrow. The Kingdom of God covers human institutions too.

A Kingdom is a complete society. It has farms and families, carpenters and courts, houses and horses, roads and schools, engineers and entertainment, work and wells, merchants and midwives, artists and gardens. The scope of a kingdom covers every aspect of life. The whole of society is controlled by the king. There is no society apart from the kingdom. A new kingdom with a new king means a new society. Every aspect of that society will be under the authority of the king.

Jesus came to establish a new kingdom. This new kingdom requires a new society structured and organised in a way that reflects his character and will......

A kingdom is not just the people ruled by a king, but all the economic, legal and social institutions that support their lives. The Bad Authority Shift corrupted all human institutions, so as the Kingdom comes, they will need to be restored. When people receive the gospel, the institutions that make up their society will need to be transformed to align with God’s will.

  • People are born into the Kingdom by repenting and submitting to the authority of Jesus.
  • Institutions shift into the Kingdom when the people with authority over them submit their authority to Jesus by obeying his word and his Holy Spirit.
(Kingdom Authority pp.13,135)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kings and Jesus

A king kneeling and giving liege to a stronger king is resigning his kingship. He is agreeing to become a vassal, so he is no longer a real king. His role was totally changed. He lost his authority and became a ambassador or governor enforcing the will of the conquering king. He went from being a king to being a puppet.

Some surrendering kings were allowed to keep their title, but this done was to keep the people of the conquered nation under control. They would resist a foreign governor, like the Iraqi people hated Paul Bremer. The defeated people would often give up their resistance, if their previous king took the governor role, because foreign domination was easier to accept if it had a local face..

Herod was allowed to call himself king, but he was just a puppet. He had to go to Rome and plead for the role. If he did not carry out the directions of Rome he lost the Rome. He was not a real king. His role in Galilee was equivalent to the role of Pontius Pilate in Judea.

If kings surrender to Jesus, he does not need to keep them on as puppets to be the acceptable face of his kingship, because the Holy Spirit is his ambassador, conveying his instructions. The same applies to Presidents and Prime Ministers.

Authority Questions

The gospel of the Kingdom raises a couple of serious questions.

  1. Jesus prayed that God’s authority would be done on earth as it is in heaven. This raises a big question. How did the God who created the universe end up losing authority over the earth? What happened on earth and in heaven that meant his authority on earth has to be restored?

  2. Why has God taken so long? Things went wrong on earth right at the beginning. Yet God let thousands of years go by before he sent Jesus to put things right. Why did he let evil go on for so long, before he did something about it?

To understand these questions, we must understand the working of authority and the big shifts in authority that have shaped history on earth. These big authority shifts that have shaped history are the theme of this Kingdom Authority.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reigning

The scriptures often describe God as reigning over the earth.

God is the King of all the earth;
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne (Ps 47:7-8).
These passages are description of the way things should be, not the way they are. God created the entire creation, so he owns it all and is entitled to complete sovereignty over it. The scriptures also acknowledge that he gave authority over the earth to human and many people now refuse to acknowledge his sovereignty, but they look forward to the time when his sovereignty will be restored.

God created the universe, so he owns it. He established the rules and principles under which it will operate. That is what makes him sovereign. He decided that humans should have authority over the earth. This was his will and decision, so while humans control the earth, he is still reigning , because his decree is still being implemented. He is in reigning, because he wanted humans to have a period of history when they are in control on earth (Kingdom Authority p.43).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shredded

I have just read a book called Shredded: Inside the Royal Bank of Scotland, The Bank that Broke Britain by Ian Fraser. RBS was one of the Too-Big-To-Fail Banks in the UK. Fraser tells an incredible story. The greed, incompetence and immorality of some of the bankers is amazing.

  • The bank sent millions of pounds on a corporate jet, but its IT systems were so shaky that bank managers had very inadequate information for making decisions.
  • The bank engaged in devious activities to suck people and businesses into increased debt.
  • Although bank had to be bailed out, it was ruthless in dealing with small business that owed it money. Many people lost their businesses and were ruined.
  • Senior managers contused to accept million dollar bonuses, while the bank was reporting massive losses.
  • The managers who had overseen the disaster continued to receive million dollar pensions, while junior staff who lost their jobs wore forced to give up their redundancy payments.
  • After being rescued by the government, the culture in the bank did not change. RBS continued to manipulate the LIBOR rate in ways that cost business huge amounts of money.
  • The men who destroyed the Royal bank of Scotland continue to deny responsibility, pretending it was bad luck, or blaming it on wider economic events.
  • The politicians were out of their depth and made serious makes. People who were surprised by the crisis are now trying to resolve it.
The culture of banking is still seriously rotten.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

God's Soverignty

God’s sovereignty is often presented as if he directs events on earth by remote control, but that would be a breach of his gift of authority to humans, and would turn us into puppets. He has the power to control people, but he limits himself to influencing people into freely choosing to do his will. He uses a variety of means to get people who do not know want to obey him to do what he wants.

  • The Holy Spirit can put thoughts into the minds of hostile people. If they accept his ideas, they voluntarily do God’s will without understanding that they are being guided by him.
  • He will often give the same thought to several people, so they spur each other on.
  • The Holy Spirit makes his suggestions well in advance, at a time when the person is receptive. He often repeats the thought until it is accepted.
  • The Holy Spirit presents his thoughts in a way that appeals to people, so they think it is their own idea.
  • When dealing with kings, he takes advantage of their pride. God was able to use King Cyrus to accomplish his purposes, because Cyrus accepted the suggestions of the Holy Spirit. He was led by God without realising it (Is 45:1).
  • When dealing with ordinary people, the Holy Spirit often stirs up emotions like fear or anger (Deut 2:25). Many Canaanites fled their land when they bought into the fear that he stirred up.
  • God sometimes uses evil spirits to deceive evil people (1 Kings 22:19-20). These spirits do not want to do his will, but if he makes a suggestion, they will often do it, because they do not have many original ideas. Unlike humans, angels were created to obey another person, so they are not very creative.
  • God uses physical events to prevent powerful people from doing evil things. He used the Red Sea to destroy Pharaoh’s army (Ex 14:27-28).
God does not control events on earth. He accomplishes his purposes by superior wisdom and the ability of the Holy Spirit to influence people, often despite their opposition, and without their understanding (Kingdom Authority, p.44)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kingdom Gospel

Jesus announced the gospel of the Kingdom of God, but his message is hard for us to understand, because real kingdoms no longer exist. Modern kings are just ceremonial figureheads trotted out for special occasions and the covers of women’s magazines. These rock star kings give a distorted view of the Kingdom of God, because they are worshipped, but they have no authority.

Real kings had absolute authority over every person and thing within their kingdom. A king without authority was not a real king. He is a pretender.

Authority is the heart of a kingdom. If there is no authority, there is no kingdom, so to understand the Kingdom of God, we must understand the nature of authority, and how it interacts between heaven and on earth.

Most kings imposed their authority with military force. God has a totally different approach. He uses Free authority to accomplish his purposes on earth. My book Kingdom Authority describes the difference between Imposed Authority and Free Authority and explains why this has constrained God’s ability to work on earth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holy Spirit and Authority

Over the last fifty years, Christians have rediscovered the power of the Holy Spirit. Power is really important, so we need the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. However, the Holy Spirit has not had a free hand to bring in the Kingdom of God. He is often constrained by lack of authority. If we want to experience the fullness of the Spirit and see him working to accomplish God’s purposes on earth, we must understand the working of authority. That is why the New Testament speaks about authority, as much as power.

Jesus has given us the keys of the kingdom. He said that what we bind or release on earth will be bound or released in the spiritual realms. Understanding the nature of authority transforms intercessory prayer. Prayer is not pleading with God to do things that he is reluctant to do, it is finding out what he wants to do and giving him authority to do it.

We have a marvellous gospel and the Holy Spirit is up to the job, but the Kingdom of God has still not come in the fullness that Jesus promised. The reason is authority. Two big authority obstacles stand into its way. My book called Kingdom Authority explains how they will be removed, so that God’s Kingdom can come as Jesus promised.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Kingdom Authority

My latest book is now available at Amazon.com. I think it is the most important book I have written.

For many years, I have wanted to write a book about the Kingdom of God, but I found that it was too hard. My problem is that the kingdom is so glorious that a thousand books could not describe its fullness. I have chosen instead to write a couple of shorter ones that describe important aspects of the Kingdom of God. That is all I can manage.

Kingdom Authority comes first. Authority is the heart of every kingdom. If there is no authority, there is no kingdom. Therefore, to understand the Kingdom of God, we must understand how authority works, in heaven and on earth.

(The book is a prequel to a book called The Government of God that I am working on now. It will show how the principles in Kingdom Authority are applied in practice. I hope to have it completed sometime in 2015.)

Kingdom Authority
Everything in this universe is shaped by authority. In the beginning God said, “Let it be” and it was. He had authority over everything. Two chapters later, God said, “Let us give authority to humans”. Why on earth did he do that? When Jesus was being tempted, the devil said, “I have authority over all the kingdoms of the world”. How did that happen? When Jesus preached the gospel, the people recognised his authority. Who gave him authority? By the end of the gospel Jesus was saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. How did that happen? The Book of Revelation says that Jesus has authority to open the scrolls that release God’s activity on earth. How does that work?

Kingdom Authority describes the history of authority in both the spiritual and physical realms. It explains the big authority shifts that have had massive impacts on earth. Most theologies jump from the fall straight to the cross, without much need for the stuff in between. That is a mistake, as if we ignore the events described in the Old Testament, we will fail to understand everything God is doing, and the big authority shifts that have constrained him.

If we do not know about authority, we will not understand why evil has been so active on earth. God gave authority over the earth to humans. The forces of evil have been active on earth, because humans gave them authority, while God did not have the authority he needed to deal with evil. It took a special human do that, and until he came the powers of evil had a ball.

Big Questions
Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This raises a couple of serious questions.

  1. Jesus prayed that God’s authority would be done on earth and it is in heaven. How did the God who created the universe end up losing authority over the earth? What happened on earth and in heaven that meant his authority on earth has to be restored?
  2. Why has God taken so long? Things went wrong on earth right at the beginning. Yet God let thousands of years go by before he sent Jesus to put things right. Why did he let evil go on for so long, before something about it?
To understand these questions, we must understand the working of authority and the big shifts in authority that have shaped history on earth. The big shifts in authority are described in Kingdom Authority.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What is MCX

Many are called to the far shores of distant and foreign lands, but increasingly God is awakening a new breed of ‘missionary’ called to bring change right where they live.

They say the hardest mission field in the world is the one you live in right now and in an increasingly post-Christian world that couldn’t be more true. There is a growing need for us to re-learn what it looks like to live as followers of Jesus, as leaders and as disciple-makers in every sphere of modern society. From politics, to business, to the arts, media, and entertainment, the Kingdom of God is breaking in and we’ve got to be the ones leading the way.

The Missional Community Experience (or MCX) is a ground-breaking immersive learning environment and launching platform built specifically for this new kind of missionary. Because we believe that community (the spiritual family of God) is at the heart of global change, you will live together in shared housing, practice sustainable rhythms of prayer, work, mission and rest, and develop your gifts and calling alongside like-minded pioneers. Following the learning phase, you will put your skills and passion into action right here in Christchurch or individually in the location of your choosing.

If your heart longs for community, craves authenticity and wants to get equipped to make a lasting impact on the world around you, then MCX is for you!

This will be a great experience. To find out more go to MCX.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Weak Economy

I listened recently to a talk that Jason Furman gave at the London School of Economics on the United States Economy. He is the Charman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Furman presented some interesting statistics. He explained that between 1945 and 1973, the income of the bottom 90 percent of households increased by 2.9 percent per year. With this growth, their income doubled every 24 years, which means that each generation could expect to have an income twice as good as their parents, on average.

Three things contributed to the growth: substantial increases in productivity (2.8 percent per year), diminishing inequality (as the top ten percent got a significantly reduced share), and greater labour participation as woman moved into the work force (from 33 to 50 percent of working age women).

Between 1973 and 1995, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent fell slightly on average, as productivity growth halved and inequality rose. These negatives were almost compensated by continued growth in worker participation of women (to 75 percent).

Between 1995 and 2013, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent rose very slightly. Productivity grew slightly, inequality worsened and workforce participation dropped slightly. Female particpation plateaued and male participation declined.

The change increase in inequality was significant. In 1973, the bottom 90 percent of households gained 68 percent of income. By 2013, their share had dropped to 53 percent.

No wonder many Americans feel bad about their economy. Many younger Americans are going to be worse off than their parents.

Jason Furmon had no effective solutions to offer. Nothing tried since 1973 has worked.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Poiltical Theory and Romans 13

Most people come to Romans 13 looking for a Christian political theory. I come at in a very different way. God gave a Israel a perfect system of government when they entered the promised land. They did not need a system of government while they were slaves, but once they began to live together in a small piece of territory, they did. The perfect system that God gave Moses was his law applied by local judges. I describe it in more detail at Law and Judges.

God’s perfect system of government was recorded in the books of Moses, so God did not need to give it again though Jesus or Paul.

I stumbled on the key to Romans 13 when I was pondering its meaning. My father always referred to the government as “the powers that be” It took me a while to realise this was a quote from Rom 13:1. One day I was wondering about this odd expression, and the conjunction of the plural “powers” with a singular verb “be”. I realised that it could be translated as “the judges that are”. I then thought “Where?” and “How come they just are, and are not appointed?”. It then clicked that Paul was referring back to two verses Deuteronomy.

Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand... before the priests and the judges that shall be in those days (Deut 19:17 ASV).
Thou shalt come unto the judge that shall be in those days: and thou shalt inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment (Deut 17:9 ASV).
The modern translations refer to the judges that are in office in those days, but the word office does not exist in the Hebrew text. A literal translations would is "the judges that shall be in those days" or the "the judges that are in those days". Paul would have been familiar with these texts. When he started thinking about justice and government, the Holy Spirit brought this expression to his mind.

These two verses summarise the perfect form of government that God gave through the Mosaic covenant: God's law applied by godly judges. So Paul was referring back to God’s ideal government. He was not creating a new political theory in Romans 13:1, he was simply referring back to the perfect system of government that God has already given to Moses and confirming that God's will for government had not changed.

Paul affirmed the system of law and judges that God had already given, just as Jesus did (Matt 5:17-18). (That is why Jesus had nothing much to say about laws and structures of government.). Paul follows his affirmation of “Gods law applied by local judges” by giving a few applications for life in the Roman empire, building on the more important behavioural stuff in Romans 12. (Law and government is always secondary for Christians.)

So if we want a Christian political theory, we cannot go to Romans 13, instead we must begin with Deuteronomy and Gods law and local judges. I have not found any biblical commentary or Christian political theorist who has seen the link between Romans 13:1 and Deut 19:17 and Deut 17:9. But that does not surprise me, because most Christians who are interested in political theory hate God’s law. However, they are missing an essential key, which explains why there has been so much confusion on this topic. (PS There is a masters thesis there for someone is wanting one).

More at Understanding Romans 13.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Bad Banks

I have just read a book called Bad Banks written by Alex Brummer, a journalist from the United Kingdom. He describes the shenanigans in US and UK banks since the Global Financial Crisis. The subtitle is Incompetence and the Next Global Crisis. It is a disturbing book. He warns that the problems that caused the crisis have not been resolved and that banks have continued the same bad behaviour since, despite needing to be rescued.

He quotes Marin Taylor, who sits on the Bank of England Financial policy Committee, who says,

You cannot tell people to operate to professional stands on Monday and then, on Tuesday, give them the kind of sales targets that requires them not to operate to such standards.
The message of the book is summed up in the last couple of paragraphs.
The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who spent 11 years as an oil executive and sat on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, reflected on the financial system from the pulpit of St Paul’s in the summer of 2013: “The biggest weakness of all in the analysis of the failure of banks to be good banks has been round understanding about human beings”, he said, adding that “at the heart of good banks have to be good people”.

Welby had listened to months of testimony from the bankers responsible for Libor rigging, the wrongful selling of PPI, and the collapse of HBOS. He had heard nothing to convince him that the bankers were contrite, that the institutions they served had truly changed their nature, or that there had been a revolution in banking practice. On that much there still seems to be widespread agreement among moral leaders, politicians, regulators, investors and the more thoughtful bankers. That there is still so much unfinished business, after the trauma of the worst financial crisis for a century, must be an enormous cause for concern. The era of bad banks is a long way from being fixed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Where are the Evangelists?

I have written a lot about the prophetic ministry, because I want to see it restored to the Church. However, the ministry that we need restored more urgently is the Evangelist. Lack of evangelist is the greatest weakness in the modern church.

I do not mean that we need another Billy Graham. That old style of mass evangelism does not work in our modern secular culture.

By an evangelist, I mean a person who can meet a stranger in a shopping small or park and quickly establish rapport with them, and share the gospel in a natural conversational way. The evangelist that I am describing can ask a sick person that the Lord wants to heal for the opportunity to pray for them without causing offence. They can teach other Christians to do the same.

The house Church movement in China grew rapidly, because it had plenty of evangelists, who could share the gospel with the people they met. The house church in the west has plateaued due to a lack of evangelists. Without a constant stream of new converts, a house church turns inward and eventually stagnates.

Every church needs an evangelist to have a balanced leadership team. They evangelist can share the gospel effectively in a variety of situations and teach other Christians to do the same. This is essential for a growing church.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Being Prepared

Living through the Christchurch earthquake I have learned one thing about preparing for troubled times. We had no electricity, no reticulated water and sewerage for sixteen days. This is not very long in the overall scheme of things. If Western culture collapses, the disaster will last much longer and more painful, but the lesson is still relevant.

During the days following a disaster, the only people who can help you are the neighbours living close to you.

  • The government will be too busy trying to restore its operations to care about helping individuals. In a big crisis, it might be broke, anyway.

  • They city council will be too busy trying to get roads open and infrastructure restored to worry about ordinary people. They will look after the important people anyway.

  • The modern church cannot help. The leaders will be focussed on sorting out the problems with their builds and getting their church services restored.

  • The people you meet when you drive to church will be too far away to provide assistance. They will have their own set of problems and will be too busy to worry about you.

Ideally, Christians should be able to support each other in times of distress. However, they will only be able to do that if they live within easy walking distance of each other. If Christians lived close together, they would be able to support each other in times of distress. They would be able to reach out together and effectively support other struggling people around them. The body of Christ could be a great blessing to the world. Unfortunately the modern petrol-driven church is so dispersed that this could not happen.

A distinctive thing about my book Being Church Where Live is that it explains how this could change.


Friday, November 07, 2014

Useful Prophets (2)

The Bible describes the “men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). Every society needs prophets who understand the times and know what God’s people should do. Most of the time this gift has been lacking from the church.

When Rome fell, Christians were shocked. The Roman Empire had been around for 500 years, so they assume that it would be around forever. Christians believed that it was part of God’s plan for expanding his Kingdom. They were so used to it being there, that they could not imagine life without it. Worse still, church structures had aligned with imperial power structures, so Christians found it hard to cope without the order of the empire.

No prophets prepared Christians for the collapse of Rome. They had not warned Christians how to live in a world without an empire, so they struggled to cope, and enormous opportunity was lost. It took the church a 1000 years to regain the ground that was lost.

Murray Rothbard observed ruefully after 1991 that nobody in the libertarian movement had ever sat down and developed a transition program for the Soviet Union, on the assumption that Soviet communism would collapse and need to transition to a free market economy. No one saw the need, so the Russian economy was taken over by the oligarchs.

In the same way, Christian prophets did not see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, so they did not teach Russian Christians how to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, American Christians tried to plant an inappropriate megachurch model in the foreign soil of Russia, so political and economic powers remained strong and the church remains weak and irrelevant.

We have the same problem in the modern world. Democratic political power and the nation state have dominated life in the West that we find it hard to imagine life without them. However, they are not part of God’s plan of salvation, so they will not last forever. When the western political system collapses, will Christians be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, or will we be stunned and confused like the Christians in the Roman Empire. Unless the quality of our prophetic ministry improves, we will be stuck in the headlights of disaster, just like them.

We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Useful Prophets

Last week I had a dream in which I was standing among mountains, waiting to catch a plane out of the area. I saw a small jet plane come in and try to land, but the wind was so rough that it got blown off course and had to go round and try again.

When the plane came in for the second attempt, it was hit by an enormous gust of wind that flipped it round, so it was flying the opposite way. As it was being tossed around, the fuselage twisted and seemed to bend. It dropped from sight behind the mountain and I thought it was a goner. However it came and into sight again and flew in from the opposite direction and landed safely on a runway further away from the mountain ridge.

In my dream, I then saw a crowd sitting on wooden tiered seating (bleachers). They had gathered to watch the plane land, but they saw nothing from where they were sitting.

The crowd in the dream reminded me of the church. Important changes are taking all around, but the church is sitting on the side-lines irrelevant, waiting to see what will happen.

Plenty of prophets are warning of difficult times ahead, but you do not have to be a prophet to do that. Anyone with their eyes open can see that the world phases many problems.

Warning of trouble is only a minor part of the prophetic role. The more important and difficult role of the prophet is to prepare God’s people to remain strong through the times of distress and to be victorious out the other side.

Prophets should be telling God’s people what to do, so they will be ready when troubles come. They should be explaining how Christians can remain strong while the world is crumbling and weak. They should explain how Christians would be able to reach out to the people of the world who are struggling and draw them into a place of safety. They should be telling them how to started building the new thing that God want to establish in the middle of the world’s troubles.

We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Ransom for Murder

A reader asked the following question.

In your discussion of the death penalty under law and government, you state that Num. 35:31 allows for the payment of "blood money" or a ransom in lieu of the death penalty. It actually says "you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death." ESV Can you explain?
He is referring to my article Crime and Punishment. My answer is follows.

The first reference to financial compensation for crime in Exodus 21:22-25, includes “life”, so financial compensation is appropriate where a life has been taken. In a world without state social welfare, this provides financial sustenance for the victim’s family, so I am fine with that.

In Num 35:31, the subject of the command, which is the murderer, is qualified, so it does not apply to all murderers. It does not come out in the English translatons, but the qualification uses the Hebrew word “rasha”, which means “wicked”. I infer this to mean that no ransom is allowable for murderers that are staunch in their wickedness. This makes sense to me. Some murderers are so evil and incorrigible that the death penalty is the only realistic solution.

Generally, I take a minimalist approach to death. God loves life. So I assume that interpretations, that minimise the taking of a life are the correct ones. Violent cultures love taking lives. The prefer interpretations that maximise the taking of life.