When the empires took people from Israel into captivity, they bought prophets into their midst and gave them authority, which strengthened the power of the prophetic voice. Daniel was a prophet who ended up with immense authority within the empires that God planned to destroy. Protective judgments and the prophets continued to constrain political evil on earth.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Solomon made the same mistake as David when he chose several foreign wives. They brought hundreds of evil spirits back into Israel. Once this happened, the kingship was doomed. The kings led their people on various militaristic adventures that ended with the being dominated by their powerful neighbours.
God authority on earth was undermined.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
The kingship was a failure right from the start. David was the best person to be king. He had a man with a good heart and he had a great relationship with God as can be seen from the Psalms, yet he fell into adultery and then committed murder to cover it up. Worse still, he failed totally in providing justice. His own son was able to generate a revolt by providing justice for people who had been disappointed by the King (1 Sam 15:1-8).
David did finish the job that Joshua had begun. He drove out the last of the Canaanites. This was far too late, because they had already corrupted the Israelites. However, David allowed many of the Canaanites to remain as forced labour, so the evil spirits stayed too, and quickly jumped over to the people in control.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The reason that the recent Christchurch earthquake was such a shock was that, because the last two months had been quiet, people were hoping that the aftershocks were finished. They now realise that the quakes are not over and are bracing themselves to deal with further aftershocks. The cry from their hearts is “When will things return to normal”?
This desire will be disappointed, because we are not going to return to the old normal. The world has changed. When God is squeezed out of nation or city that has experienced his blessing, and his people do not share the gospel with sufficient power or passion to swing the people back, things will go on as normal for a while, but eventually the new reality will bite. Trouble and misfortune will become normal.
The Western world has experienced fifty years of blessing. Peace and prosperity have been normal, but the good times are over. The world is now entering a season of distress. During this season, trouble and distress will be normal.
Christians who understand the seasons should be using the current time as a season of preparation. We should be getting ready for the days ahead by learning to share and support each other. We should be learning what it means to love one another, as Jesus has loved us.
When the Time of Distress arrives, many Christians will look back and see the current time as a wasted opportunity. This time when wealth and freedom are abundant is the perfect time for developing new and better ways of living. It will be much harder to learn, when the time of distress comes.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Samuel knew that God wanted to be King of Israel, so he was reluctant to give Israel a King when the people demanded it (1 Sam 8). They wanted to be like the surrounding the nations with a human king, but God that a human king would reject his authority and squeeze him out of Israel. Temporary military commanders were a much safer option. The Kingship did not advance God’s strategy on earth.
Monday, December 26, 2011
Hannah had a really important role in bringing God back to earth. At first she cried out for a son, but without success. Eventually, she switched to praying for a son who would be under the authority of God. Hannah took her commitment seriously, and when her son Samuel was weaned she took him to live at the temple, so he could learn to serve under the authority of God. Her prayer was a prophetic declaration of God’s victory on earth (1 Sam 2).
When God spoke to Samuel, he said, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10). This set him on the path to a ministry as a prophet.
The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground (1 Sam 3:19).Samuel was the first big-time prophet since the time of Moses. He was followed by a succession of powerful prophets. I presume that each prophet prayed for the raising up of his successor. Hannah’s dedications and prayer opened the way for this long sequence of powerful prophets, who would release God to work on earth.
Mary had to be willing to care for a baby. This was a huge burden for a young women. Joseph had to listen to his dreams and be willing to obey them. He had to be willing to flee to Egypt for safety, which was scary for a Jewish family. Anna and Simeon had to be ready to pray and prophesy as required. The wise men would have to come and provide the Mary and Joseph with economic security. They did not give Jesus toys for his play. They provided his parents with commodities that could be sold in any economy at any time. They understood that precious commodities are essential for survival in troubled times.
Behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”(Matt 2:1-2).God took a huge risk in sending Jesus into the world as a baby, at a time when his authority on earth was still precarious. He was counting on various people being willing to listen to the Holy Spirit and do God’s will.
If any of these people had failed to fulfil their calling, God’s plan would have turned to custard. The devil could have come in and killed Jesus, and removed the son of God from the earth. The wise men nearly set the cat among the pigeons when they went to Herod to find the king, instead of following star to Bethelem.
Mary had to be willing to care for a baby. This was a huge burden for a young women.
Joseph had to listen to his dreams and be willing to obey them. He had to be willing to flee to Egypt for safety, which was scary for a Jewish family.
Anna and Simeon had to be ready to pray and prophesy as required.
The wise men would have to come and provide the Mary and Joseph with economic security. They did not give Jesus toys for his play. They provided his parents with commodities that could be sold in any economy at any time. They understood that precious commodities are essential for survival in troubled times.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The angel's message to Mary was interesting. He said nothing about salvation as we think of it.
But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end" (Luke 1:30-33).The angel did not talk about Jesus dying on the cross. He talked about him reigning as a king, in a kingdom that will never end. We got a King for Christmas. Unfortunately, most of us did not want a King, even those who take his name. We like to keep him in the manger where he is safe, and we are not challenged.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
I like this sentence by Matt Ritchie at Theoprudence.
For the New Testament writers, the gospel was the enunciation that God has placed Jesus in authority over our world, and that God’s grand project of setting the world to rights has now begun.This is the heart of the gospel, but it misses two important points. God did not have authority to place Jesus in authority over the world. He had given authority on earth to humans, but they had rebelled and kicked him out of the world. Because God keeps his word, he could not just intervene and give authority over the earth to Jesus.
During the first few thousand years of human history, God was working to gain a foothold on earth and establish his authority in Israel in preparation for the time when he would send Jesus to earth. I am currently describing the story of how God worked his way back into the world in a series of posts called God’s OT Strategy. God’s project to put the world to rights began many thousands of years before Jesus was born.
The second problem with the statement by Matt Ritchie is that God was not immediately able to give Jesus authority over our world. The devil and the forces of evil had gained authority over the world when humans sinned. Jesus death on the cross destroyed the penalty of sin and sets those who believe in Jesus free from the powers of evil. When this happens, authority on earth goes back to the humans who are set free, not to Jesus. Authority only gets to Jesus, when those who believe in him to surrender to his will. When Christians obey Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus becomes King and God’s plan to clean up the mess in the world really gets underway.
When I was praying last night, I made the following declaration.
The enemy can and rant and rave,
and shake and shudder,
but he cannot prevent God from accomplishing his purposes for this city.
God will establish his Kingdom in Christchurch,
And the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
The Lord has planned it,
so it will be.
He has purposed it,
who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out,
Who can turn it back?
We have just been for a walk round our neighbourhood. The liquefaction is quite bad in places. The earthmoving machinery has moved much of it. Great that these men are willing to work on the Christmas Eve Saturday.
There does not seem to be much additional damage to the structures of the houses.
The insurance companies call it an act of God, but they are wrong.
Jesus was born as the prince of peace.
The thief comes to steal and destroy.
The master thief has timed the earthquake perfectly to rob Christchurch people of their peace this Christmas.
Friday, December 23, 2011
We have had several nasty earthquakes today. The first struck just out to sea at 1.58pm and was magnitude 5.8 quake. A larger magnitude 6 quake struck at 3.18pm. It was centered on New Brighton just a few kilometers from here, so we were really rocked around. There have been smaller aftershocks throughout the afternoon and evening.
A large cupboard fell over in our garage. A scotch chest in our bed room fell over. Other stuff fell off the shelves, but nothing much seems to have broken.
No one was seriously injured in the city. The CBD is mostly closed to the public, while buildings damaged in previous earthquakes are demolished. I presume that the demolition crews would have stopped work for the Christmas break. Many other businesses had closed about lunch time, so people were heading home from work when the quake struck.
The suburban shopping malls were full of people, but the buildings stood up the shaking well.
People are feeling really stressed and fearful. Things had been quiet for the last two months and we had hoped that the aftershocks were over, but now the cycle will start over again. I expect we will have aftershocks for the next few months.
God planted Israel in the playground of empires in the middle of the world to provide himself with a prophetic voice to announce protective judgments against emerging evil in the surrounding empires and nations. The strategic position of Israel in the Middle East meant that any emerging empire would eventually pass through it on the way to do battle with its enemies. The rampaging of the empires gave the prophets of Israel authority to speak God’s protective judgments against them. God was able to use this authority to work out his purposes in many nations.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
God commanded Israel to drive the people of Canaan out of the land and destroy their idols and temples (Deut 7:1). If Israel had obeyed God, the Canaanites would have carried all their evil spirits out of the land with them. If they had destroyed the shrines and idols, the evil spirits working in them would have fled to the people who had created them. God’s plan was to bring an evil-spirit-free people into an evil-spirit-free land. Unfortunately, Joshua disobeyed God and killed many of the Canaanites instead of driving them out. When the Israelites killed the Canaanites, they the evil spirits move to the people doing the slaying, as their fear and anger made them vulnerable. Contrary to God’s plan, the Israelites allowed a host of evil spirits to remain in the land.
This was an immediate setback to God's plan to re-gain more authority on earth.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Moses was a prophet. God gave the law through Moses to restrain personal and social evil by preventing violence and theft. God intended that other nations would copy Israel and get a similar reduction in personal and social evil by applying God’s law. The law should have constrained personal evil in Israel and throughout the world. Unfortunately, Israel chose to copy the nations and have a king, so they never demonstrated the benefits of God’s law to the nations.
Moses also released the ministry of the judge. These judges recognised for wisdom by their families and tribes applied God’s law to social and community disputes. They functioned within their local communities. This was an important step in God’s strategy, because it provided a way for larger communities to live in peace with each other. The law could not eliminate sins, but it provided a way for removing the worst effects of sin.
The Jubilee laws proved a tool for ensuring that the income distribution was fair. Concentration of wealth was prevented.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Aaron was the first priest. He dealt with sin by offering sacrifices. This was not a permanent solution to sin, as only Jesus could do that, but it did free the people from the burden of sin, which protected them from demonic attack. The tabernacle sacrifices were the first form of spiritual protection, because it reduced their vulnerability to evil spirit. A person had made a sacrifice for their sins, reduced their vulnerability to demonic attacks. Unfortunately, it did not do enough to allow them to be come temples of the Holy Spirit.
The tabernacle was God’s first dwelling place on earth. This gave him a place that belonged to him alone. Moses and Aaron had given him permission to be there. Nothing evil was allowed in. This gave God his first small zone of control on earth. He hoped the people would see his glory and allow him to expand this zone of control out into all the land of Canaan.
The Levites were given responsibility for teaching the people about God and how to live under the law. This was God’s first mass education program on earth.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
The covenant God made with Moses on Mt Sinai marked a big change in authority on earth. God had rescued the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt and brought them into a new land. He promised to protect them and bless them in the future. In return for these blessings, they agreed to submit to God’s authority. This was a big change. Under the covenant with Adam and Eve, humans had absolute authority on earth. They could boot God out of the world if they chose. The covenant with Moses offered similar blessings, but human authority was significantly constrained. The terms of the covenant with Moses meant that he Israelites could no longer reject God’s authority and push him out of the world. The covenant provided that if they rebelled against God, they could be ejected from the land, not God.
God had worked away for more than 2000 years to get a foothold of authority on earth. He now had a piece of land where he was free to operate and a people to work through. This was not perfect. God could not be certain that his people would obey him. He knew they would eventually rebel. He also knew that if he exiled the chosen people from the land, he could lose control of it. Other people would move in who did not have a covenant with him. They could exclude him again, if he were not careful. God had to be sure that he had a way to bring his people back from exile at the right time. Cyrus was critical for that reason. Daniel was important too, because he had sufficient authority in Babylon to pray the return to the land into being. Nehemiah had a key role too. God had to raise the right people up and make sure that they are there at the right time.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
The Exodus was the first big rescue executed by God. The Israelite slaves were all descendants of Abraham, so they knew about God, even if they did not always obey him. They cried out to him for deliverance, which gave him authority to act on their behalf. I presume God let Joseph and Jacob go to Egypt, so this would happen. The people of Canaan had filled up their sins, so God had authority under the rainbow covenant to remove them from the land.
Establishing the children of Israel in the land of Canaan was a really important step forward in God‘s plan. For the first time in history, God had authority over a piece of the earth on which he was free to operate. Humans could not take it off him. He also had a people he could sometimes count on to release his power on earth. With some land and a people, he could now start some serious work on earth. His goal was to expand from Canaan into the rest of the earth.
Friday, December 16, 2011
22. Joseph and his family were sent in to the empire of Egypt. This was a sneaky move by God. When Satan saw Abraham’s faith, he knew that God was up to something, so he wanted to nip it in the bud. He carried Jacob and his family into Egypt, so he could keep them under control and stamp them out if they got out of hand. God allowed this to happen, because he knew the people of Israel would eventually cry out to him when they became slave and give him authority to rescue them. This authority gave freedom set his plan of redemption in place.
The bonus was that that Moses learned the wisdom of Egypt and the children of Israel gained access to the latest agricultural and communications technology. Moses knew how to read and write, yet he was not corrupted by it (Acts 7:22).
The other reason that God sent the children of Israel into slavery was to cleanse them from evil. Evil spirits are not interested in slaves, because they have no power. They always move towards the masters and rulers to gain more power. When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they were evil spirit free, because most of the evil spirits would have stayed with the Egyptians.
This could be why Moses had to spend forty years in the wilderness. Living in the household of Pharaoh, he would have picked up some of the spirits that dwelt in that house (one was a spirit of anger). When Moses fled to the wilderness for forty years, these spirits would have got of sick of watching sheep and wandered off to find someone more important to influence.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Abraham was the first person who lived by faith. He believed the promise and obeyed Gods call to move to Palestine which would become the centre of the playground of empires (Gen 12:1). This was an important step in God's strategy, because it gave him a place from which to challenge empires.
Abraham was the first military commander. The resources of his family were sufficient that he could defend his family from attack (Gen 14:15-16). Abraham and his family could serve God without being overcome by the evil forces around them. For the first time in the history of the world, God had a group of people on earth that he could work through. This was a major step i God strategy.
Abraham was a prophet (Deut 34:10). The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a protective judgment. Abraham was the prophet who released God to achieve this result. It prevented a malicious evil from emerging in this important region.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
After the flood and the destruction of Babel, the forces of evil changed their way of working. Before the flood, their number were sufficient to attack every person on earth. The flood reduced their numbers, which limited the effectiveness of the old strategy. To leverage their power, they began working through political empires. Hierarchies of power expand the influence and power of evil. The forces of evil could concentrate their activities and control on the emperor and the empire would control the rest of the people on earth. By operating as principalities and powers controlling empires, the demonic powers could get more bang for their buck.
Many empires emerged. The first was Egypt. It was followed by Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and the ultimate empire Rome.
God's strategy would eventually have to deal with empires and bring them down.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The Tower of Babel was a terrible threat to the purposes of God. We read about some crazy people building a huge tower and think they were stupid, but something more serious was going on (Gen 11:4). Some people on earth had got together with the spiritual forces of evil in an attempt to wrest control of the heavenly realms from God. A gang of evil spirits that had been thrown down on earth, planned to use evil people on earth to regain their position in heaven. This was serious stuff. God sent a Protective Judgment to put the forces of evil back in their place. The evil was constrained by sending confusion of language, that made combining for a common purpose more difficult.
It seems that no prophet existed to give God permission, but conditions were so bad, that the permission of the Rainbow covenant applied.
Monday, December 12, 2011
The Rainbow Covenant was a promise to prevent evil from getting too strong. This covenant was the first crack in the wall of the defence that the powers of evil had placed round the world. They had shut God out of his creation, and stuffed it up. Noah opened the door a chink, and let God back in.
God used Noah to make put in place another important tool for dealing with evil. The covenant that God made with Noah allows him to bring protective judgments on earth, during times of serious evil, without getting permission from a prophet. This allows God to act against evil in a season when there are no prophets.
This rainbow covenant is different from other covenants, because it was not exclusive, but applies to all people and animals on the earth.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth (Gen 9:16).The rainbow reminds us of covenant with all people forever. The rainbow covenant is unconditional. No conditions are specified for fulfilling the covenant. No consequences were specified for failure to keep the covenant. The covenant with Noah is and unconditional promise to all the people of the earth through all time.
The common understanding is that God was promising not to destroy the earth by another flood. This does not seem very likely anyway, so this view makes the covenant seem irrelevant. We do not see a rainbow and think, “Wow, I am glad that God is keeping his covenant”. Christians assume we have a better covenant and do not need this old one, but we have missed the significance of God’s promise. God was not promising there would never be another flood. He was actually promising that he would not need to send another flood, because he would never let conditions get so bad on earth that it needed to be destroyed. God promised to prevent evil from getting so strong that it has potential to destroy the entire earth.
God was able to make this promise, because the covenant with Noah increased God’s authority on earth. God had given authority over the earth to man, so he could not intervene on earth without getting permission. The Rainbow Covenant God gave him permission to intervene on earth when evil was getting out of hand. This covenant was a serious crack in the wall of the defence that the powers of evil had placed round the world. They had shut God out of his creation, and stuffed it up. Noah opened the door a chink, and let God back in.
Noah was the father of all who would live on earth after him, so his covenant binds everyone on earth. Speaking on behalf of his descendants, Noah gave God permission to intervene when evil is rampant. The Covenant of the Rainbow gave God long-term permission to act on earth, if things got really bad. This was not much of a constraint on human authority on earth, because it does not apply most of the time, but it give a God authority to act on earth, if becomes strong and destructive. This permission still applies several thousand years later.
This was a long-term permission, because Noah agreed and gave God permission on behalf of his descendants. God still has permission to intervene in the world when evil gets out of hand. This is the promise of the rainbow. It was not much of a constraint on human authority on earth, because it did not apply most of the time, but it gave God authority to act on earth, when things got really bad.
The rainbow covenant was a huge step in the battle against evil. Until the time of Noah, God was shut out of the world and could do nothing to prevent evil from destroying the world. The rainbow covenant did not give God a free hand on earth. Most of the time, it does not apply, because the situation is not bad enough. However, it does give God permission to intervene on earth when evil gets really bad. This is a great improvement over the situation that existed before the Flood.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The Flood was the first judgement that God was able to bring against the evil that had become rampant on earth. God was able to send this judgment because Enoch and Noah had prophesied to release his power. This was the first big push-back against evil.
The Flood was a huge victory over evil. Evil spirits do not seem to be very mobile, and when their hosts were drown, millions seemed to get trapped in one place. They were probably hiding together in a dark place. God sent his hosts of angels and they were able to lock them up and take them out of action on earth. We do not know how he achieved this, but the results are confirmed in the New Testament. God shut them away where they could do no harm on earth (1 Peter 3:19; 2 Pet 2:4-5). This dramatically reduced the number of evil spirits working on earth.
The capture and shutting up of a huge number of evil spirits was a huge advance for God strategic plan. It tilted the playing field against evil for the first time.
Friday, December 09, 2011
Noah was born just a few years after Enoch had prophesied. He was the first step in the fulfilment of Enoch’s prophecy. Enoch’s grandson Lamech was Noah’s father. He carried on the influence of Enoch and prophesied at Noah’s birth.
He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed” (Gen 5:29).This prophecy seems trivial, but it released Noah into a prophetic ministry. It set Noah on track to fulfil the role that God had for him.
By the time of Noah was an adult, the situation on earth had become abysmal.
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways (Gen 6:11-12).The Hebrew word translated “corrupt” is “shachath”. This word is used through the record of Noah’s covenant. It means “destroy” or “ruin”. God looked upon the earth and saw that it was being ruined by the evil in human hearts.
Noah was also a prophet. Peter called him a preacher of righteousness, which is the same thing (2 Pet 2:5). His actions to build a boat were a prophecy of the flood, even when he did not speak. He had a family to protect him. Because he was building a crazy boat miles from the water, people did not harm him.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
The first sign of life in the Old Testament Age was Enoch. Towards the end of his life, he began to walk with God, but it seems that the situation of earth was so terrible, that a man walking with God was not safe. God had to take him out, because he was not safe on earth.
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Gen 5:24).
Before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God (Heb 11:5).Enoch did something pivotal before he left the earth.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones (Jude 1:14).Enoch was the first person in the scriptures to be called a prophet. He was speaking about the people living on earth during his time and warning that God would send thousands and thousands of angels to bring judgment against them. This prophecy was a pivotal, because God was given authority to intervene on earth for the first time in a very long time. Nearly a thousand years had gone by since Adam and Eve rebelled, shutting God out of the world.
This spiritual powers of evil did not want God getting involved on earth, so they would have been really annoyed by this prophecy. They would have attacked Enoch with a vengeance, because he was the first person in a thousand years who had betrayed their cause and turned to God. This is why God had to take him out for his own protection.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
For the first few thousand years, earth was controlled by evil. Evil spirits had a free hand. Everyone ignored or hated God, so he received no invitations to act on earth. With no one praying, the Holy Spirit was entirely shut out of the earth. Under these conditions, evil advanced in a terrible way. All human developments were twisted for evil purposes.
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time (Gen 6:5).Many Christians are expecting a time of great evil on earth in the future. They do not realise that this has already occurred, and that God is not going to let things go backwards. He has a strategy that is moving towards a goal: the restoration of all things.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
The first thousand years of history were a terrible time. This barren period of history described in Genesis 5 begins with the final verse of the previous chapter.
At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD (Gen 4:26).The English translations put a positive spin on these words, but that is a bit misleading. The word translated “began” is “chalal”. Begin is a secondary meaning. The primary meaning is “pierce” or “profane”. A more realistic translation of the verse follows:
Men called out the name of the Lord as a profanity.The barren period gets underway when men begin to curse God.
Monday, December 05, 2011
When we look at Genesis 5 and see the genealogies and ages, we try to work out the age of the earth. This misses the point. The chapter is explaining what life was like on earth in the centuries after the fall. For nearly a thousand years, nothing of spiritual importance happened on earth. God was shut out of his creation, so he could not hold back the forces of evil. He had no choice but to leave the people of the earth to their own devices.
During this period, thousands of people died without any opportunity to hear the gospel or receive salvation. This was not God’s fault, although he is often blamed for it. Humans created the situation where these people were shut out from salvation.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
The common view is that when Adam and Eve were sent out into the world, he expected them to do what they had failed to do in the Garden of Eden. That was not possible. They were still on the path leading away from God. Adam lived for nearly a thousand years, but there is no indication in the scriptures that he ever did anything to help God get a foothold back on earth. God continued to be shut out of the earth. He needed a strategy that would restore his influence on earth. That would take time to achieve.
God could not act on earth, unless a human person called out and asked for help. Eve had called on God when her Cain was born.
She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man (Gen 4:1).We do not know how long she lived after Seth was born, but this was the last record of her praying to God. It seems that prayer stopped once Cain was born.
Friday, December 02, 2011
After God had sent Adam and Eve out of the garden, a cherubim with a fiery sword began to guard the tree of life.
He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24).We assume that God put a guard round the tree of life, but the translation of this verse is not certain. The word translated "flashing back and forth" is “haphak”. The primary meaning of this word is overturn or pervert. The message of this verse may be that “perverted” cherubim had seized control of the tree of life, because God no longer had authority on earth.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
God had given Adam and Eve dominion over the earth. That was a big call, because once dominion and authority is given, it cannot be taken back. God understood the risk. He said that if they rebelled, “they would be as gods” (Gen 2:5). They would not just have the power to decide good and evil. They would control a world that had previously been controlled by God.
When they Adam and Eve sinned, they handed authority over the earth to the spiritual forces of evil. God lost control of the world. The fall was a huge disaster, because it left God powerless on earth. He still had authority in the spiritual dimension, but his authority on earth was gone. This was painful. God had to continue sustaining the earth daily, but he could not get involved on the earth that he loved. It took all the wisdom and power of God to turn things around.
Most Christians have quite a small fall in their theology. I suppose it makes us feel better.
The impact of the fall was far greater than we often assume. The reality is that God was squeezed out of his universe and evil was let in. The powers of evil stuffed up everything in the entire universe.
A big fall needs a big salvation, which is exactly what God achieved through Jesus. However, he had a lot of patient work to do, before he could bring that to pass.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
God created a beautiful world in a wonderful universe. Evil came (we do not know how) and messed it up. The following took hold on the earth. God needed people on earth to give him authority to act. He needs place free from evil, where is free to move. He needs people to carry the Holy Spirit He can only act through people.
Jesus died and was raised to life. He paid penalty for sin and destroyed evil. He then sent the Holy Spirit to clean up the mess. This leads to an important Question. Why did God take so long to send Jesus to earth? Why did he not send Jesus straight after the fall? Why did he muck round with Israel, if he knew it could not do the job.
When Adam and Eve sinned, things went seriously wrong on earth. God could not just send Jesus straight after the fall, because he did not have permission. Evil might have destroyed Jesus before he had completed his full work. God has to slowly start rolling back evil and putting a long time strategy in place. He needed tools to constrain evil and release good. He needed loyal people in place on earth that he could work through.
God put in place a long-term strategy to put the things he needs in place. The first few thousand years were a hard struggle. During this period, God only received a few small opportunities have an influence on earth. He used each of these very wisely, but was not able to make much progress. He was only able to make real ground when Noah came on the scene.
God needed people on earth to give him authority to act.
He needs place free from evil, where is free to move.
He needs people to carry the Holy Spirit He can only act through people.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
In his book called “The King Jesus Gospel”, Scot McKnight writes that the New Testament gospel sees Israel’s history comeing to fulfilment in the kingship of Jesus. He does not really develop this theme, but it got me thinking about this question.
If things were mucked up so badly by the fall, and only Jesus could clean up the mess, why did God wait more than four thousand years to send him to earth? What was God up to during the Old Testament period?During the latter part of the Old Testament age, God worked through Israel, but he knew that they would not cut the mustard. So what was he up to. When I studied the Old Testament to answer this question, I discovered some amazing answers. I will describe these in this series of posts.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Scot McKnight has written an interesting book about the content of the gospel called the King Jesus gospel. This is an important book. He makes the excellent point that the normal gospel of personal salvation is to narrow.
I think that my gospel is even broader than Scot’s. Here is my definition of the gospel.
The gospel is the good news 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.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The election is over. The national party (oxymoron) gained the most votes, but not quite enough to govern alone. They will need to form a coalition with several smaller parties to form of government. That is good because it makes them slightly less dangerous.
When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers,
but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order (Proverbs 28:2).
Friday, November 25, 2011
Americans are getting all stirred up about Iran again. A candidate for the republican presidential nomination would not be taken seriously, if he does not promise to bomb Iran within two weeks of his inauguration, even if he cannot find Iran on a map of the world. Obama is being as hawkish as Novel peace prize winner can be without looking hypocritical. Many Christians are getting excited because they believe that bombing Iran would bring the rapture closer.
What those who are beating the war drums do not realise is that God has raised up Iran for a purpose. The Islamic revolution in Iran was an important marker on the prophetic timetable (Rev 6:1-2). This was confirmed by when an American invasion of Iran called Eagles Claw turned into a disaster in 1980.
The immediate role of Iran is to provoke the emergence of the Beast that will dominate the world. Those who belong to the Beast are already exposed themselves to people with their eyes open.
The ultimate role of Iran is to act as a foil for Beast that is currently emerging. When it has completed its shenanigans, God will bring Iran and some other nations against it, to engineer its destruction.
It seems like American politicians understand, without knowing, and instinctively want to bring Iran down now, so God cannot accomplish his purposes in the future.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Many commentators say that the Euro is failing because a common currency cannot work without political union. That view is not correct.
The common currency is under pressure because banks lent to the weaker countries at a rate similar to that offered to the frugal Germans. They assumed that sovereign risk had disappeared. This was a huge mistake. The low rates allowed the governments of these countries to borrow like crazy. The banks should have seen this coming . Lending to Greece was always more risky than lending to Germany, so the interest rates should have reflected the difference.
Sovereign risk has been discovered again, so riskier countries like Greece and Italy, are now facing high interest rates. Provide that continues into the future, there is no reason why a currency union cannot continue without political union.
The big difference is that individual countries can no longer inflate their own currencies to get rid of their debts. That is a good thing, because it will put a constraint on government spending. The countries in the Eurozone now understand that excessive spending and borrowing has a huge cost, with no easy escape.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Many commentators assume that Greece will have to leave the Euro. They do not understand how costly such a move would be. Here are some of the problems they would face. The Greeks will lose the benefits of free cross border trade. Being able to buy and sell in other parts of Europe is a huge advantage for most businesses. An alternative currency would have to be established. If this could not be done quickly, a massive disruption of economic life would occur. The powerful people would get their wealth out of the country, before the new currency devalues. This flight of capital would cause huge shortfalls of capital. The new currency would rapidly depreciate in value, which would destroy all wealth. People living off their savings would be plunged into poverty. The price of imported goods would rise dramatically. The local banks would collapse, as their capital disappeared. A new banking system would have to be established. Businesses would have difficulty getting loans to funds the on-going operation of their businesses. The economy would be weakened significantly.
The political powers understand these costs, so they will do whatever they can to prevent this from happening. They may eventually fail, but they will not give up in a hurry.
The long-term trend is towards decentralisation, so the Euro will eventually collapse, but the politicians will hold it back for a long time.
The Greeks will lose the benefits of free cross border trade. Being able to buy and sell in other parts of Europe is a huge advantage for most businesses.
An alternative currency would have to be established. If this could not be done quickly, a massive disruption of economic life would occur.
The powerful people would get their wealth out of the country, before the new currency devalues. This flight of capital would cause huge shortfalls of capital.
The new currency would rapidly depreciate in value, which would destroy all wealth.
People living off their savings would be plunged into poverty.
The price of imported goods would rise dramatically.
The local banks would collapse, as their capital disappeared. A new banking system would have to be established.
Businesses would have difficulty getting loans to funds the on-going operation of their businesses.
The economy would be weakened significantly.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Over the last year, economists and political commentators have been writing the obituary of the Euro. They claim it is about to collapse and disappear. This has not happened yet, and it may not happen for a long time.
Political power usually trumps economic reality.
Many of the members of the EU have built up high levels of debt, as politicians borrowed to pay for political promises that they could not afford. When interest rates were low, the burden was just bearable, but now interest rates are blowing out, the load is too heavy to bear. We could be forgiven for expecting them to default on their debt.
European banks have lent huge amounts to countries who could not afford. That practice would usually lead to the banks taking a huge loss when their clients default.
However, the politicians do not want that to happen. They will come up with all sorts of solutions to prevent economic conditions from become the economic reality. None of the solutions will solve the problem, but they will keep things going until a better political solution can be put together.
If the situation gets really bad, the politicians will force the ECB into quantitative easing (the economically correct name for printing money). This may lead to massive inflation, but politicians have always preferred inflation to spending cuts as a tool for eliminating debt.
Modern banking system and modern money systems are rotten. They will eventually collapse, but do not hold your breath. Political power will need to collapse first.
Friday, November 18, 2011
The problem for the world economy is that households have shut up shop and stopped spending. After a couple of decades of borrow and spend, they had far too much debt and need to get their balance sheets in order. This creates a problem for business that produce consumer goods.
In a free economy, this falling demand would not be a problem. When households stop spending, interest rates usually fall. If households are saving more, banks can offer lower interest rates and still get the funding they need. If households stop borrowing, banks have to lower interest rates to attract borrowers. Increasing supply and falling demand both push interest rates down.
When interest rates fall, numerous investments projects, which previously could not make a reasonable return, suddenly become viable. The result is increasing demand for investment goods. Some businesses will respond to that demand by shifting resources from the production of consumer goods to the production of investment goods. This adjustment may take a couple of quarters, but by shifting the mix of production away from consumption to investment, the slack in the economy is quickly taken up.
More important, the resulting build up of capital goods tends to make the economy even more productive in the future. Then when household start consuming again, the extra capital makes the economy more productive, so the demand for extra goods is easily met. There is no need to have a demand driven recession.
Unfortunately, America is not a free economy and interest rates are fixed by the Fed. Although households and businesses are saving more, the Fed has left interest rates unchanged, so the signal that declining interest rates should give to businesses has not gone through. Worse still, the Fed held interest too low during much of the decade. This sent the wrong signal to businesses, and may investment projects were undertaken that would not have been viable, if interest rates had been at an appropriate level. The housing boom was part of that.
Artificially low interest rates caused households to borrow too much and business to produce too many investment goods. Debt eventually catches up, and people and businesses realise that they need to reduce debt. Households stop buying consumer good to get out of debt. This is the cause of the current recession.
In a free market, business would switch to producing investment goods. The problem is that there is already a glut of capital goods, due to past overproduction in response to artificially low interest rates. Demand for investment is also goods declining, which exacerbates the recession.
The politicians are trying to solve the problems caused by too much debt, by encouraging households and businesses to take on more debt. They are trying to solve a problem of too much debt, by creating more debt. It may improve the economy in the short term, but it will store up problem for the future.
When a heroin addict goings into withdrawal, things get messy. One solution is to put them on methadone. It gets rid of the DTs, but it does not solve the underlying problem.
Expanding debt is a methadone solution. It may provide temporary relief, but it will make the future worse.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The age of debt is over reaching a climax. It began following the collapse of the IT bubble, when Alan Greenspan reduced interest rates to the keep the tech wreck from affecting the rest of the economy. The period of sustained low interest rates led to a massive debt binge all around the world. Everyone got in on the game.
Businesses moved from equity funding to debt funding to expand their activities. The advantage to business of debt financing was that they could control more assets with a smaller investment of equity.
Households went crazy buying houses. The real income of most households has been declining for the last few decades. They were able to compensate for this loss by leveraging their houses to fund a consumption splurge. This debt expansion also created housing bubbles all over the world.
Politicians need to spend to buy votes, so they love debt. They can buy more votes without raising taxes. Sovereign debt (the fancy name for government debt) grew rapidly all over the world, as politicians spent like there was no tomorrow.
Debt has a place, if it is used to buy assets that will produce sufficient return to cover the interest.
Most business debt was used to buy assets, so although business debt increased significantly, most businesses held assets that could be sold to pay off the debt if necessary.
Households and government used their debt to fund consumption. (Some households thought they were buying real estate assets, but when house prices collapsed, they realise that they had been buying increased consumption after all).
Borrowing to fund consumption seems wonderful at the time, because you can consume more than you can afford. However, when the consumption is finished, everything that you bought is gone, but the debt remains. It has to be repaid at some time in the future, and until that day comes, you have to pay interest over and over again. Debt is always a blight on the future.
Now interest rates are rising, the pain of debt is biting all over the world.
Households are trying to reduce their debt, but the only way they can do so is by reducing their consumption in the present. That is painful.
Governments are trying to reduce their debt, but the only way they can do this is by taxing more or spending less. Politicians hate both options, and their citizens feel the pain either way.
This all creates problems for the productive sector. When governments and households both cut back, there is no one left to buy their output. Some businesses that borrowed to buy productive assets are finding their assets are not producing the return they expected when they agreed to pay the interest on their loans. So businesses are putting off staff and unemployment is increasing. This makes it harder for struggling households to repay their debt. Government collect less tax, so their debt reduction becomes more difficult too. Glorious debt has become a vicious circle.
A decade ago, they whole world thought that debt was the way to go. Now the fun is over, but the debt still has to be repaid. This curse of debt will be an overhang on the world economy for most of the next decade.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The first chapter of Revelation is a really important vision. John looked into the spiritual realms and saw Jesus at the right hand of God. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he did not sit on a couch twiddling his thumbs, while waiting to return to the earth and get on with the business he had not finished. John saw Jesus standing at the centre of the throne. He is directing the Holy Spirit, as he works in the world to release the kingdom. Millions of angels are waiting, eager to do his bidding. Jesus releases the events that bring in the time of distress and bring in the fullness of the Kingdom. His work on earth was finished, but his working in the spiritual realms had just begun.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Many Jews see the Holocaust as the pivotal event in their history. The problem with looking back to this event is that causes the people of Israel to see themselves as victims. In a bad case of the ends justify the means, defence of the Jewish people has been used to justify extreme force and violence.
The holocaust is not the pivotal event in Jewish history. Israel has two pivotal events. The first pivotal event was Jesus, the Son of God, declaring that Israel was left desolate. The second pivotal event will be the day when the people of Israel say,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Matt 24:39).The blessing of God is the only thing that can secure a safe future for the Jewish people. Those who trust in military power and political alliances will be disappointed.
Hugging the holocaust has led the nation into a moral quagmire. The holocaust has become a justification for immoral actions, particularly by the Jewish state. Fear of another holocaust justifies faith in violence and war. Anger about the holocaust is a justification for propaganda, deception and lies. Fear of what might happen is being used to justify ruthless and violent state power. The holocaust may eventually be used as a justification for ethnic cleansing.
In this moral abyss, violence is good, deception is necessary, propaganda is truth. The prophets warned of the dangers of moral confusion.
Woe to those who call evil goodBy defining itself in terms of the holocaust, Israel has fallen into moral confusion. Worse still, the spirit of the nation has been captured by the evil spiritual forces that perpetrated the holocaust.
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter (Is 5:20).
This is the end of this series on Israel. Some readers may have concluded that I am negative about Israel. That is not true. I believe that the descendants of Israel have a wonderful future and a critical role in bringing in the Kingdom. I describe these events in a series of posts called Fulness of Israel.
To bring in the Fullness of Israel, God’s will need his people working with him, not away on wild goose chase. Unfortunately, a lot of garbage will have to be cut out of the way before that can happen. That is what I have tried to do here.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Some Christians have developed a huge passion for Israel. In many cases, the passion is so strong that I wonder if these people are descendants of Israel without knowing it. This could also explain it is not universal amongst Christians. It does not seem to be mandatory, so Christians who do not share it should not be condemned.
I believe that God is stirring up this passion to get Christians praying for the Jewish people to come to faith in Jesus. A great flood of prayer is essential, because the fullness of the Jews is the next big event in spiritual history. It opens the way for a massive advance of the gospel and a huge victory of the Kingdom of God. God needs a host of Christians praying for this pivotal event.
However, the problem with this passion is that it makes Christians vulnerable to false teachings about Israel. Consequently, most of these Christians do not understand what God is doing in the Middle East. Their desire to see Israel blessed leads them to assume that Israel has returned to the place blessing. They forget that Israel can only return to blessing when they recognise Jesus as their saviour and messiah. Until that happens, Israel is stuck on the downside of the Mosaic covenant.
Christians who should be praying in the events that will bring the descendants of Israel to faith in Jesus, are actually praying that God will bless the nation of Israel in its current situation on the wrong side of the covenant. Unfortunately, they are praying and believing for something that cannot happen. Worst still, they are encouraging their governments to take actions that could disrupt God’s plans. These Christians have made a huge commitment to the nation of Israel, so they will be bitterly disappointed and disillusioned by the way that events play out.
The scriptures require Christians to bless Israel and pray for the Jews, but blessing the Jewish people is not the same as blind support for Israel. The Israeli state is not God’s vehicle for blessing the Jewish people. It will eventually become a curse for the Jewish people, because it offers a false security that takes them away from faith in Jesus. God will bless Israel by the cross and the Spirit.
To achieve his purposes for the children of Israel, God needs a cohort of Christian prophets who can speak his prophetic word at exactly the right time. He also needs evangelists to take the gospel in the right way at the right time. Unfortunately, most of those who are being called to these roles have disqualified themselves to committing themselves to teachings that do not fit with God’s plan for bringing about the Fullness of Israel. It would be sad if a lack of prophets held back his plans.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Another strange belief that has emerged in recent years is the doctrine that prayers prayed in Jerusalem are more effective than other prayers. The doctrine is based on the idea that Jerusalem is built on land that it is holy. In the Old Testament, the activity of the Holy Spirit was sporadic, so God used special places and special people. The Cross and Pentecost made the concept of a holy land redundant.
Every Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so he does not need a temple or special city as his dwelling place. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, so we do not need to go to a special place to meet with him.
Jesus sacrifice on the cross was perfect and complete. God does not want sacrifices re-instituted in Jerusalem, whether exemplary or memorial.
We are kingdom of priests, so God does not need to re-establish a Levitic or Aaronic priesthood in Jerusalem. Jesus is the perfect high priest who has finished the job that they could not do.
The Holy Spirit is present wherever two or three followers gather in unity.
Jesus does not have to come back to Jerusalem to rule the world, as he is already reigning as King of Kings. If people would obey the voice of the Spirit, his rule can be complete now. Jesus appears at the end of time when the spiritual world is opened wide to the people on earth. Those who believe that he must return Jerusalem to reign do not understand the glory of his appearance.
Friday, November 11, 2011
A strange doctrine has taken hold among Christians that claims that God blesses nations that support the nation of Israel. The biblical basis for this doctrine is Genesis 12:3.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.The verse is quoted as final proof, without any discussion of who should be blessed. It is not clear that it would apply to a desolate house. There no discussion of what blessing means. Providing military support may not be what God had in mind.
The historic proof of this doctrine is that Britain lost its empire when it stopped supporting Israel. America has been blessed, because it has provided military and political support for Israel.
A closer look at history shows that this doctrine depends on a re-write of history. The British were always ambivalent about the Jewish people, so how did they get such a large empire in the first place? If their policy did not change, why did they lose their empire. For most of the twentieth, the United States was ambivalent about the Jewish cause. During the 1930s, many Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany were refused entry in to the United States. Some of them died later in the death camps. During the Second World Ward did very little to stop they death camps. They could have bombed the rail lines going to them, but chose not to. During the 1950s and 1960s, America was not the main supporter of Israel. Israel's strongest support came from France, trying to perpetuate their role as a big noise in the Levant. The Israel Air Force flew French Mirage fighter planes. Israeli tanks were armed with French guns. If God blesses nations that support the nation of Israel, France should be humming. Instead, they have continued the decline that began earlier in the century and has never stopped.
American support for Israel only got serious in the 1970, when Evangelical Christians got stirred up about the issue and the Middle East became an important theatre of conflict in the Cold War. The Russians were getting involved in many Arab countries, so America supported Israel as a counterweight. America experienced a huge grow in military and economic power during the period from 1917 to 1965 when its support for Israel was weak. The 1950s were probably its best years. When America got serious about supporting Israel, it went into decline, experienced a defeat in Vietnam and long period of stagflation in the economy.
The doctrine that God blesses nations that provide military and political support for Israel does not make sense. God blesses nations that serve and honour him.
The idea that nations can gain blessing by blessing the nation of Israel undermines the cross. It is salvation by good works. Salvation and security come through faith and repentance. A nation that sins freely cannot be kept safe by from evil by blessing the Israeli nation.
Using this doctrine as a prophetic lens will create prophetic confusion. True prophets use a much broader standard for assessing the performance of a nation.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
In recent years, a strange doctrine has emerged that events in the church are determined by what happens in the nation of Israel. Some Bible teachers urge Christians to watch what is happening in Israel to know what will happen in the church. This is a perverse teaching.
Firstly, what happens in the church is determined by the Holy Spirit. He is not constrained by political or national leaders in any nation. The only thing that constrains his work is the unwillingness of Christians to obey him. We can hold back his activity by refusing to trust him.
Secondly, the leaders of the nation of Israel are not Christians. They have refused to acknowledge that Jesus is their messiah. They do not walk in the Spirit, so they do not hear his voice. Most are fully secular. As long as the leaders of Israel fail to keep God’s law, they are outside the blessing of the covenant. A nation in this state cannot determine the work of the Holy Spirit on earth.
The reverse is true. What happens on earth is largely determined by the church. When the church is weak and lost, the world goes downhill. When the church is in touch with the Holy Spirit and walks in his power, the world is changed.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Many Christians believe that the emergence of Israel is a marker for biblical prophecy. This is incorrect, because the Zionist movement got the timing wrong and ran ahead of God’s plan by building a nation using political alliances and military power. God allowed this to happen, because he works all things for good, but it was not his timing.
The emergence of Israel had to happen so that God’s greater purposes can be achieved, but the timing of these events did not match God’s plan. The six-day war was a well-executed military campaign, but it was not an act of God. Since these events were not part of God’s plan, it is risky to turn 1948 and 1967 into markers on a prophetic timetable.
Not surprisingly, prophetic timetables based on these dates have been wrong over and over again, without any apology. Christians who cling to these dates as prophetic markers will find themseleves confused about what God is doing.
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
The Israel defence forces are incredibly powerful. Israel is a major exporter of weapons to the world. This is quite different from Samuel’s time (1 Sam 13:19-22). Christians who endorse Israeli militaristic activity are doing the Jewish people a disservice, as confidence in military power will lead to disaster in the future. Military force cannot keep the people of Israel safe. The Christians who prophesy that God is on Israel’s side will have difficulty explaining to do when things go seriously wrong for the Israeli state.
Christians should pray for the Jewish people and look for opportunities to bless them, but blessing is not the same as endorsing the militaristic activities of the Israeli government. True blessing can only come to Israel through fulfilling their covenant.
The odd thing is that many Christians seem to have more faith in the ability of the Israeli army to accomplish God’s purposes for Israel, than they have in the Holy Spirit working through the Church. They assume that the safety of the Jewish people depends on the military power and the Israeli state.
This widespread confusion comes from a distorted understanding of the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught that his kingdom would be established by the Holy Spirit, moving in the church, preaching the gospel and teaching the nations to obey him.
In the last two centuries, this belief has been overshadowed by a different gospel. Most Christians no longer believe that the Kingdom of God will be established by the Holy Spirit working through the church. Their only hope is Jesus return. They believe that Jesus will return and force all the nations to obey him while ruling a powerful empire from Jerusalem. Supporting a militaristic Israel is natural for Christians who want Jesus to establish his kingdom using force.
This popular view is an awful distortion of Jesus character. The cross is proof that God will never force people to obey him. Jesus has full confidence in the Holy Spirit.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Some Christians believe that the Palestinians should be expelled from the land, in the same way as the Canaanites were ousted. This view is wrong. God wants the Palestinians in the land, so that the can demonstrate the power of the gospel.
There is plenty of room in the land for both peoples, so the Palestinians do not need to be expelled. God is quite happy for refugees who fled their homes in 1948 to return and share in the wonderful things he plans to do there.
God intends to pour out his spirit on all the people in Israel, whether Jew or Palestinian. He will change the hearts of all people living in the land, so that they can live together in peace.
He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace… to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Eph 2:14-16).Jesus died to break down the hostility between racial groups. He loves to create united communities from people who were at war with each other. He intends to do this in Israel. When all groups in Israel, believe in Jesus and receive the gospel, the Palestinians,
will no longer be foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household (Eph 2:19).Very few Christians believe that the Holy Spirit could achieve this. Most have never prayed for it to happen. Many Christians have moved to Israel to pray, but few have taken the gospel to the Palestinian people. That has severely restrained the Holy Spirit.
Jesus has broken down the “dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). Therefore, it is ironic that the people of the messiah are building a “dividing wall of hostility” across the Promised Land. An even greater irony is that Christian America is funding the wall. They are actually opposing God plans and giving Israel a false sense of security. Their hope is Jesus, not a wall.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
The house of Israel is still desolate. Sympathy with their suffering has caused most Christians have given Israel the benefit of the doubt, so the heart of the house had remained hidden from them. But, those days are coming to an end. In the next few years, the true heart of the desolate house will be revealed. Many good people live in Israel, without blessing of the Holy Spirit and the protection of the blood of Jesus, an insidious flood of evil spirits is slowly penetrating their culture.
During the Time of Distress, this host of evil spirits will break out and cause and the political leadership of Israel to go ugly. Violent and angry leaders will take rash actions in an attempt to force things to happen. The spirit of violence and war will be revealed.
Daniel warned of what will happen.
In those times many ….. The violent men among your own people will rebel in fulfilment of the vision, but without success (Dan 11:14).During a time when the nations are distracted by a disturbance somewhere else in the Middle East, violent people in Israel will attempt to take advantage of the situation to use violence and force to try and establish their vision for the dominance of Israel. Daniel says that they will fail to establish their vision, because they are rushing ahead of God’s agenda. However the truth heart of the house will be exposed for all the world to see.
The result will be a disaster for Israel, as the nations of the world will turn against Israel. Unfortunately, the United States will turn more than most nations. American politicians have consistently bowed to the Jewish lobby and supported Israel through thick and thin. When the rotten heart of Israel is exposed, they will feel betrayed. People who are taken for granted and then betrayed can quickly turn nasty. To misquote Shakespeare, “Hell hath no fury like a politician scorned”. American politicians will be outraged by the way their trust has been abused and will want revenge.
The invader will do as he pleases; no one will be able to stand against him. He will establish himself in the Beautiful Land and will have the power to destroy it (Dan 11:16).An American army that has already invaded the Middle East, will also invade Israel. The expression "power to destroy" literally means "destruction in his hand". The invading army will have weapons of mass destruction.
Although armed with mighty weapons of war, their spiritual weapons be weak. They will pick up many terrible spirits, which will harm the leaders of their nation.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Jesus warned that the house of Israel would remain desolate until they blessed those who come in his name (Matt 23:38). He had previously warned how damaging this could be.
When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation (Matt 12:43-45).This warning was for an entire generations. The current generation in Israel has amassed a huge arsenal of conventional and nuclear weapons, yet it has a no spiritual protection. Without the cross and the Spirit, they have no way of dealing with evil spirits. This chink in Israel’s armour has allowed a huge host of evil spirits to flood this small nation, carried by people who do not understand what is happening.
During the twentieth century, evil in Europe was concentrated in two countries with a strong Christian heritage: Germany in the West and Russia in the Easts. Therese two countries were subjected to enormous demonic attacks despite their long Christian traditions. Israel’s links with these two countries have allowed a transfer of evil that will eventually bite.
Germany was the cradle of the Reformation and the engine room of the the evangelical church. Despite a wonderful heritage, Germany lost its moral compass and plummeted into great evil. Fear of the future gave birth to a violent and ruthless state. Anger at the way Germany was treated by the world justified propaganda. Fear of internal enemies fed upon lies and deception Anger at external enemies fired violence and destruction. The greatest manifestation of evil was in the death camps, where millions of people lost their lives at the hands their fellow citizens. These were run by ordinary Germans, men and women from good families, who loved their children and their country. Evil had gained such a stronghold that educated and civilised people became instruments of propaganda and destruction.
When the devil finds a moral vacuum, he gathers evil spirits from all over the world and sets them to work. Spirits of fear, anger, deception, lies, violence and destruction made their home in Germany and concentrated. The greatest concentration of these spirits was at the death camps.
When the war ended, the German people repented. In the cold light of peace, most Germans were revolted and repulsed by what they had done. When they renounced violence, deception and destruction, these evil spirits had to leave but could find no home. They hung around the death camps and other places where evil had prevailed, waiting and looking for another desolate house to be their home. Even sixty years later visitors get a sense of the evil and atmosphere that saturates these places.
To perpetuate the memory of the holocaust, many Israeli children are taken on visit to the Auschwitz between the ages of ten and twelve. They are visiting a home of evil at a vulnerable age without any spiritual protection (the blood of Jesus and the discernment of the Spirit are the only true protection). The displays in the museum produces feelings of anger at the way people were treated and fear for their own future. Unfortunately, these emotions open the door to evil spirit looking for a new home. School visits have unwittingly transported thousands, if not millions, of evil spirits from Germany to Israel.
Russia was the other place in Europe where evil gain control of a Christian country. A succession of Christian emperors entered into futile wars that put great suffering on their people. Poverty and hunger became widespread. These terrible conditions opened the way for a revolution that overthrew the existing order and established a government committed to atheism. Struggles for power in the new government allowed evil men to gain control. They dominated Eastern Europe for half a century. The devil used this moral vacuum to set millions of evil to spirits of deception and violence to go to work.
The large numbers of Jews migrating from Russia had no protection from the evil spirits that dominated their country. When they migrate to Israel, they often carry these spirits of violence and control with them when they move to a new home.
By bringing all these evil spirits from Russia and Germany together into one place, the Jewish people have allowed them to form hierarchies and leverage their power. The desolate house of Israel has become the home of numerous spirits of fear, hatred, pride, deception, anger and violence. So far, the propaganda of the lying and deceiving spirits have kept quiet the violence and destruction of their colleague spirits, but this uneasy alliance is now falling apart, and their true character will soon be exposed. They are hidden at the moment, but will eventually break out and attempt to do great evil.
Friday, November 04, 2011
The Zionist movement wanted a homeland, because they believed it would give them peace and security. This has not happened. After sixty years in the land, they still do not have security and many live under fear. Unfortunately, Jesus prophecy makes peace and security impossible (Matt 23:38,39).
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.A desolate house can never have peace and security, no matter how strong its defence forces. Israel’s war of independence and declaration of independence in 1948 were not God’s plan for the restoration of Israel. The timing was premature, because the Times of the Gentiles were not complete.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain (Ps 127:1).
Returning to the land ahead of God’s timing was dangerous, because during the Times of the Gentiles, the Jews are kept safe by being scattered among the nations of the world.
(The dragon) pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach (Rev 12:13-14).When Jesus ascended into heaven, the devil was outraged and turned on Israel. The Romans (an eagle) scattered the people of Israel among the nations. This was the devil’s first plan to destroy Israel, but God worked everything for good and turned dispersion into protection. He has guaranteed to “take care” of the Jews during the Times of the Gentile. This promise has been fulfilled. The Jews maintained their identity and culture for 2000 years, while scattered among the nations.
When they gather together in one place, the Jews lose God’s protection and make themselves vulnerable to the enemy’s attack. History will eventually prove that the Jewish state is a terrible mistake. It will become a dangerous place for the Jewish people.
Christians who have encouraged the Jews to return to their land before the Holy Spirit has moved are doing them harm. They have encouraged them to go to a place where they are not safe and many will eventually suffer terribly.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
The Israeli government has continued to break the terms of the Mosaic covenant. God requires that the same laws apply to all people living in the nation. This is not the current situation in Israel, as many Palestinians do not have the full privileges of citizenship. Many laws and regulations discriminate against them. God requires his people to be kind to the strangers living in their midst. Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people does not meet this standard. The law gives instructions about how war should be conducted. Non-combatants should be protected and the land should not be harmed (Deut 20). The Israeli army is ignoring this aspect of the covenant. The law declares that parents should not be punished for their children’s sin. Standard practice for the Israeli army is to destroy the homes of militants, even if the home belongs to their parents. The first commandment requires Israel to honor God before everything. The people of Israel trust clever politics and strong military leaders for security. The prophet Isaiah warned against alliances with other nations. Modern Israel has to depend on an alliance with the United States for survival. Israel trusts an alliance with a nation whose people honor the Messiah that most Jews have rejected. If Israel had God’s protection, it would not need American military and financial support.
While their government continues to break the covenant, the nation of Israel cannot expect to live in his blessing.
You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God (Lev 24:22).
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God (Lev 19:33,34).
Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin (Deut 24:16).
I am the LORD your God, who brought you … out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me (Ex 20:2,3).
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help.... but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord (Is 31:1).
Being surrounded by evil nations is not an excuse for breaking the covenant. Israel was surrounded by evil nations when God made the covenant with Moses, but he never gave any exemptions. The requirements of the covenant are much higher than the standards of international law. The government of Israel often assumes that it can operate in the same way as other nations. That is not true. God requires a higher standard of his people, because he has given them great privilege.
God requires that the same laws apply to all people living in the nation.
This is not the current situation in Israel, as many Palestinians do not have the full privileges of citizenship. Many laws and regulations discriminate against them.
God requires his people to be kind to the strangers living in their midst.
Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people does not meet this standard.
The law gives instructions about how war should be conducted. Non-combatants should be protected and the land should not be harmed (Deut 20).
The Israeli army is ignoring this aspect of the covenant.
The law declares that parents should not be punished for their children’s sin.
Standard practice for the Israeli army is to destroy the homes of militants, even if the home belongs to their parents.
The first commandment requires Israel to honor God before everything.
The people of Israel trust clever politics and strong military leaders for security.
The prophet Isaiah warned against alliances with other nations.
Modern Israel has to depend on an alliance with the United States for survival. Israel trusts an alliance with a nation whose people honor the Messiah that most Jews have rejected. If Israel had God’s protection, it would not need American military and financial support.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
God decides the times and boundaries of nations.
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands (Acts 17:26).God determines the rise and fall of nations in two ways, but he prefers the second method. The first method is suboptimal.
1. Geopolitical Events
God can manipulate evil kings and nations to achieve his purposes.
Cyrus the Emperor of Persia is an example. This wicked Emperor destroyed the Babylonians opening up the way for the Jewish people to return home from exile in Babylon.
Cyrus was not God’s first choice for the task. If the rulers of Babylon had listened to Daniel, they would have sent the exiles back to Israel after seventy years of exile, but they grew proud and became corrupt, so God raised Cyrus to get the job done.
2. The Holy Spirit
He works to change people’s hearts and leads them in God’s ways.
God called Terah to leave Ur (which is in modern Iraq) but he stopped in Haran (Gen 11:31). His son Abraham followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and moved to the land of Canaan.
The early church changed the heart of the Roman Empire by obeying the Spirit.
The modern state of Israel was created using the first method.
God intended to return the Jews to Israel in the second way, but the Zionist movement rushed ahead, before he could complete his plans. During the First World War, Britain invaded Palestine to secure the Suez Canal, access to the Indian Empire and control of Persian oil. British control opened the way for more Jews to return to the land, but this was not God’s plan. The motives of Britain were no motivated better than those if Cyrus, but it opened up a path that led to the creation of the state of Israel (there is very little merit in being a Cyrus.)
There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about a return to the land, but most speak a return in faith to peace and blessing. We have not seen this miracle yet. Ezekiel 38:8 describes God’s second best for Israel’s return.
In the latter years you will come into the land that is restored by the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste.This is not a return in blessing, but a “return by the sword”. Ezekiel prophesies a return by secular men and women using political and military power. The emergence of the Israeli state was the work of a well-organised nationalism, not a miraculous act of God. God allowed it and will use it to accomplish his purposes, but it was not a return under the covenant as promised in Deuteronomy.
God allowed some Jewish people to return to the land of Palestine, but that does not mean that the land of Palestine now belongs to Jewish people. It does not mean that the current Israeli state is his plan for the redemption for his chosen people.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Many Christians claim that God has given Israel the right to all the land within its biblical boundaries. The same people believe that Christians must bless the nation of Israel to receive the blessings of God. They also believe that the existence of the nation of Israel is necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus. The truth is quite different.
God did not give the land in perpetuity. It was a gift, conditional on obedience to his law. While promising to bless Israel, God warned that if they failed to keep their side of the covenant, they would be removed from the land.
If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other…. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life (Deut 28:58,63-66).The Mosaic covenant made life in the land conditional on obedience to God. It also promised a promise of return to land contingent of faith in God.
When you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers (Deut 30:2-5).The Jewish people still have a claim to their homeland, but it depends on their turning back to God and fulfilling their covenant. While promising to bless Israel in the land, God also warned that they would lose the land, if they failed to obey the law, God gave the land in perpetuity, but the gift was conditional on keeping the covenant. While the old covenant is being broken, the promise of the land is on hold.