Friday, December 15, 2017

Bitcoin and Gold

Economic textbooks say that money has several functions. The two most important are a medium of exchange and a store of value. The reason why a commodity can be used as a store of value is that is widely used as a medium of exchange. People hold it, knowing that they can exchange it for something that they want in the future.

Gold was once a common medium of exchange. Merchants had scales to weigh gold and silver. Small coins were developed to make buying and selling with gold easier. However, gold is no longer widely used as a medium of exchange. If you take a gold ring into Walmart and try to buy a toaster, they will look at you blankly.

Gold is now mostly used as a store of value. People who fear the future hold it, because they fear that other assets will lose value.

Ideally, a store of value will retain its value. However, in practice, people like a store of value that increases in value. However, the problem with a store of value that can increase in value is that speculators often pile in and push up its price. That has happened at times with gold.

Currently, bitcoin is not widely used as a medium of exchange. It is mostly used as a store of value.

Bitcoin has been designed to behave like gold. The amount available grows very slowly as digital miners work to produce it. This is good for its use as a medium of exchange, as it should grow in line with the growth of the economy as the number of transactions increases. The volume of a commodity used as a medium of exchange should not grow too fast, because it could lose its value.

However, scarcity can be a problem when a commodity is being used as a store of value, if more and more people want to use it that way. If an increasing number of people wanted to use gold as a store of value, then the price of gold would rise dramatically. Speculators would be then attracted to buying gold.

This is what is happening with bitcoin. The supply is limited to what is needed for a medium of exchange, but a rapidly growing number of people want to use it as a store of value (or increaser of value). The price has increased rapidly, which has brought in the speculators.
In our modern financial system is that banks have the ability to create credit. This allows them to fund speculation in whatever commodity is growing in popularity as a store (increaser) of value.

The problem with a commodity used as a store of value that can increase in value is that it can also decline in value. This could easily happen to bitcoin if attitudes changed.

We actually need a record of value that does not increase or decrease in value. If it could not change value, speculators would have no interest in holding it.

The best store of value is not a commodity or asset, because they can always become a target for speculation. A better store of value would be a record of value given, not an asset. I describe how this could happen in Money.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Blockchain and the Finance Sector

Jeff Brown attended a conference focused on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies and what they mean for financial institutions.

It was fascinating to speak with and listen to traditional financial professionals. Most of them are struggling to get their heads around blockchain technology. Financial services incumbents like traditional banks, institutional funds, and hedge funds are all trying to determine their role in this exploding industry.

One thing was very clear to me: The blockchain industry development has happened right under their noses… and they are all scrambling to catch up. They are also trying to take the same industry structure and business practices and force them onto the blockchain industry.

And it won’t work...

It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The big financial institutions are trying to insert middlemen, increase friction, and position themselves as rent seekers just like they have been doing for centuries.

I can tell you, the blockchain industry won’t have any of it.

These are precisely the things that blockchain and distributed ledger technology were designed to fix. And early blockchain companies have proven that it works. They’ve proven that the utility of these protocols makes the transfer of assets faster, cheaper, and entirely secure, all at a fraction of the cost of the way things work now.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Woman on a Beast

The liberal media in the United States seems to be obsessed with the idea of Russian collusion in the US presidential election, without any evidence, or a clear explanation of how Russian could hack the election of the most technically advanced nation in the world.

They are ignoring a far greater collusion and intervention that has influenced elections and foreign policy in the US for many years. The Israel lobby is a dominating political force in the United States. A presidential candidate who rejected the demands of AIPAC will have difficulty being elected. Getting elected to congress is difficult without the support of lobby groups like AIPAC.

Israel has massive influence on US foreign policy and military planning. Most members of congress and many senior military leaders have been given a free trip to Israel, where they are told what they need to know. The consequence of this influence is that many members of congress are willing to place the security of the United States at risk in order to advance the policies of the Israeli government. This strange power situation is perfectly described by a woman (Israel) sitting on a beast (United States).

In the book of Revelation, John had a vision of a woman riding on the beast.

I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls (Rev 17:3-5).
John was surprised by the vision
Then the angel said to me: “Why are you astonished (Rev 17:7).
John knew all about beasts. His world had been dominated by many great empires, and was currently controlled by the most powerful beast of all: the Roman Empire. What was strange about the vision was the woman sitting on the beast. Sitting symbolizes control, so this terrible beast with seven heads and ten horns was being controlled by a woman.

This beast is described earlier in the book of Revelation. It is a terrible empire that crushes and controls the world. If this vision is to be fulfilled in our own time, the beast being dominate must the United States of America. It is the most powerful empire the world has ever known, with the strongest economy and military bases all over the world. Many nations are dominated by its power, and no other nation can challenge its role as superpower.

The key to confirming this understanding of the vision is identifying the woman. She is called Babylon the Great, but that does not help much, as this was not the real city with. That name Babylon is used to symbolize immorality, witchcraft, adultery, power and control. According to the prophets, Israel becomes a harlot when it trusts in military power and political empires, rather than relying on God.

John was told the identity of the woman at the end of the vision.

The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Rev 17:18).
The woman is the “great city” that controls the kings of the earth. This city had been described in the vision of the two prophets earlier in Rev 11:8.
Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified.
This city is called Egypt and Sodom and Babylon to indicate that it is opposed to the purposes of God, but it is actually the city where Jesus was crucified. Everyone knows where Jesus was crucified. The great city is Jerusalem. This means that the woman controlling the beast is the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel.

This identity of the woman is confirmed in Rev 12:1,5.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head... She gave birth to a son, a male child
The woman with a crown of stars is Israel. She gave birth to Jesus, who is the child who will rule the nations. This woman controlling the beast was covered with glittering jewels, so she is Israel.

This is why John was astonished by the woman on the Beast. He had seen this vision of the woman being attacked by the dragon and being scattered amongst the nations (Rev 12:14-16). So he is amazed when he sees this same woman sitting on a terrible beast and controlling it. It was hard to believe that Israel could control an empire built in the image of the Roman Empire.

The vision of the woman on the Beast describes a season when the nation of Israel will control the most powerful empire the world has known. Very few American Christians understand that.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wealth Transfer

The popular teaching that God will bring a great “wealth transfer” to the richest church that has ever existed is a joke.

I suspect that he will do a “wealth transfer” away from the western church, so that his people will learn to trust him, rather than relying on its wealth.

The Kingdom of God does not need more wealth, it just needs more faithfulness.

Incarnation

The incarnation of Jesus was the greatest even in the history of the world. Yet many evangelical Christians struggle to describe its wonder, without getting stuck on the baby, or jumping to the cross.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Church History

I have been reading The Story of Christianity by Justo L Gonzalez. It is about 40 years since I studied Church History formally, so I am enjoying the refresher.

I am currently up to the Arian Controversy that dominated much of the 4th century. I remembered this as a dispute about the divinity of Jesus, but Gonzalez brings out some interesting aspects of the issue.

The state soon began to use its power to force theological agreement upon Christians. Many of the dissident views that were thus crushed may indeed have threatened the grey core of the Christian message. Had it not been for imperial intervention, the issues would probably have been settled, as in earlier times, through long debate, and a consensus would eventually have been reached. But there were many rulers who did not wish to see such prolonged and indecisive controversies in the church, and who therefore be simply decided, on imperial authority, who was right and who should be silenced. As a result, many of those involved in controversy, rather than seeking to convince their opponents or the rest of the church sought to convince the emperors. Eventually, theological debate was eclipsed by political intrigue (p.182).
Unfortunately, because successive emperors took different sides, the Arian controversy dragged on through of the century.

Gonzalez also explains that the controversy was partly a social/political class issue.

For fifty years, most of the emperors were embraced the Arian position... What was at stake was much more than idle speculation. Ultimately the issue was, can Gold truly be present in a carpenter executed by the empire as a criminal, or is God more like the emperor on his throne? One should not wonder, then, that so many emperors preferred the Arian view. Eventually a compromise was reached whereby the carpenter was declared to be truly divine, but was now represented much more often by the exalted Pantokrator—the exalted emperor sitting on a throne and ruling the entire world—than as a carpenter (p.217).
I was intrigued that the thinkers who pushed the church towards the truth often came from the edge of the church, mostly from within the monastic movement. Most were made bishops, but it was against their will. They were often persecuted and had to flee the centres of religious power for safety.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Political Theology

The Torah did not give Israel a taxpayer-funded military or taxpayer-funded executive branch. It did not provide a group of professional politicians to make laws, because God had already given perfect laws. Judges could give verdicts, but there were no taxpayer-funded police to enforce them.

These gaps rip the guts out of most modern political theologies. When reading the scriptures, we need to take off our political glasses and stop assuming all our political junk is there. We would be amazed at what God had in mind.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Rulers

Many Christians interpret Romans as saying the state is a servant (minister) of God. They agree that it can be rebellious, but they do not give any criteria for distinguishing between a servant state and a rebellious state. Unfortunately, there are no such criteria in the New Testament. It would be a stretch to extract them from the Sermon on the Mount.

Deut 17:14-20 gives some rules for kings, but because kings are sub-optimal (1 Sam 8), it does not really give much detail. The reason is that God intended a different social order, based on law and judges, not kings and political power. Paul was actually pointing back to that. (The prophets point out some things that are wrong, but they do not say what is allowable, except to point to the Torah.)

The problem with the usual interpretation of Romans 13 (and it is mostly used as a slogan) is that if a ruler has a ministry from God, he must have freedom to exercise their ministry. Admitting that political rulers are servants of God actually opens a really wide door.

We need a political theory that is consistent with on Romans 12, that does not try to do good using evil. I have done this in Government of God.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tax Cuts

Bill Bonner has some interesting comments on the US tax cuts.

Here’s our simplified guide to tax reform:
  • The poor have no money.
  • The middle class has no lobbyists.
  • The rich have no desire to pay more.
But why should giving the rich more money stimulate output? Are they having trouble making ends meet? Do they lack capital?

According to a new report by Credit Suisse, the richest 1% of the world’s population already controls half of its total wealth. They have plenty of spending money; giving them more is not going to appreciably increase consumption. And if they need more money, they can borrow at the lowest rates in history.

We’ve heard of no business in recent American history that failed… or failed to expand… because it lacked capital. On the other hand, thousands of businesses are failing because they lack customers.

Which brings us to the rest of the population – the part that isn’t rich… and has no lobbyists… the part that must earn and consume to make an economy run.

U.S. household debt hit a record of $13 trillion last quarter.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (4) Evil Powers

The sole disadvantage of the Law of Moses was that it empowered the spiritual powers of evil. The law strengthened Satan who accuses people before God, because the law defined transgression and specified the curses associated with it. This made it easier for him to accuse God’s people transgression. The powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law on everyone who transgressed the law.

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions (Gal 3:19).
Prior to the giving of the law through Moses, transgression was undefined. The law specified the behaviour that God required from the people that he called. The law also spelt out in detail the consequences of transgression.

The spiritual powers of evil gained authority to inflict the curses of the law on sinners. They demanded the right to shed blood for sin. He demanded death for all sinners.

The law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression (Rom 4:15).
Once the law of the covenant was in place, the spiritual powers of evil demanded the right to enforce the curses of the law against the children of Israel whenever they transgressed the law. A spirit called Wrath was often the leader of this activity. The giving of the law with curses specified for disobedience increased the power of Wrath and the destroying angels working with him.

More in Kingdom Authority

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (3) The World

The Law of Moses restrained personal and social evil by providing a way for dealing with crime and settling disputes between people. The laws specified two types of crime. People caught stealing were required to make three- or fourfold restitution. A person guilty of assaulting another was required to pay financial compensation proportional to the harm done to their victims. This compensated the victims of crime and made stealing unattractive. Some people would still steal, but most would not run the risk.

The laws against these crimes were to be enforced by the local judges accepted within each community. These judges would emerge into their role when their wisdom was recognised within their families and tribes. Judges functioning within their local communities were expected to apply God’s law to personal and social disputes.

The law provided a way for large communities of people to live in peace with each other. The law could not eliminate sin, but it removed the worst effects of sin. If God’s laws had been applied, they would have constrained the worst evil in Israel.

God intended Israel to be a light to the nations. If the Israelites had submitted to his law, they would have experienced great blessing. The surrounding nations would see the blessing, and choose to adopt God’s law to get some blessing for themselves.

Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today (Deut 4:6-8)?
The nations would see the blessing that comes from submitting to God and his law. Even if they would not accept God, they would try to get the benefits that came from adopting his law.

Unfortunately, Israel rejected God’s authority and followed the ways of the nations. They lost their blessing and never demonstrated the benefits of God’s law to the nations. Their light was lost. The surrounding nations saw Israel under a curse, so they wanted to have nothing to do with its God.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (2) Israel

The children of Israel gained spiritual protection. The Law of Moses contained a set of sacrifices for dealing with human sin. These sacrifices did not make people righteous before God, as only the cross of Jesus could achieve such a difficult task. However, the sacrifices specified by Moses were sufficient to satisfy God until Jesus came, because they pointed to his perfect sacrifice. Sinful people could not change their hearts, but they could make peace with God by offering the sacrifices for sin. This would allow the children of Israel to keep their peace with God, even though they would often sin.

The sacrifices were an early form of spiritual protection, because they freed people from the guilt of sin (Heb 9:13). Evil spirits could not attack a person whose sin had been cleansed by a sacrifice, so the tabernacle sacrifices reduced their vulnerability to demonic attacks. They were not a permanent solution to sin, as only Jesus could provide that, but they did free the people from the guilt of sin, which protected them from demons.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Benefit of the Covenant with Moses (1)

The covenant God made with Moses on Mt Sinai marked a big authority shift on earth. Everyone was affected.

God
God regained some of the authority on earth that was lost when Adam and Eve sinned.

The Mosaic covenant gave God authority over the land of Canaan. The Israelites were free to reject his authority at any time but the consequences were different. The covenant with Adam and Eve was unconditional, which gave humans absolute authority on earth. If they chose to rebel against God, they could shut him out and he would lose his authority on the earth.

The covenant with Moses was conditional. It offered similar blessings, but human authority was significantly constrained. Under this covenant, the Israelites could still reject God’s authority, but they could not shut him out of the land. Rather, the covenant specified that if they rebelled against God, they would be ejected from the land instead of him.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess (Deut 30:17-18).
Under the covenant with Adam and Eve, God could be exiled from the earth. Under the covenant with Moses, the Israelites could be exiled, but God’s authority in the land would remain.

The covenant gave God a place on earth under his authority where his will could be done. For the first time in history, he had authority over a piece of land where he was free to operate, and humans could not push him out.

God had worked away for more than 2000 years to get this foothold of authority on earth. He gained authority over a small land situated in the middle of some powerful empires. This was not perfect. He could not be certain that his people would obey him. He knew they would rebel, but he could deal with that.

With land and a people, God could start some serious work on earth. His goal was to expand out into the rest of the earth. The Promised Land would be a beachhead from which he could launch his redeeming work to the world.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mercy Seat

In Romans 3:25, Paul says that Jesus became “a mercy seat by faith in his blood”. Commentators have argued about whether the expression mercy seat should be translated as expiation or propitiation without reaching agreement. I believe that it would be more sensible to take the words as are, and assume that Paul meant what he said. He was saying that Jesus became our “mercy seat”.

Clearly Paul was referring the lid of the covenant box that sat within the holy of holies in the tabernacle. The lid of the covenant box was made of gold. In English Bibles, it has been called the “mercy seat”. The reason is that the Hebrew word “kapporeth” which means “lid” or “covering” comes from a word meaning “cover” or “pardon”. Therefore, a good translation would be “lid of grace”. So mercy seat is quite close.

The priests went into the tabernacle via the bronze altar. It was a place where blood sacrifices were offered. This blood was offered to satisfy the spiritual powers of evil who demanded that the full penalty of the law be implemented for sin. The accuser demands the shedding of blood as a penalty for sin.

Paul refers to faith in Jesus blood. He was explaining that the powers of evil who accuse and demand our blood have to be satisfied with his blood, so their power to accuse us and demand punishment is broken.

The covenant box was in the holy place, which is God’s place. Except for a little dabbed around once a year, there was no blood in the holy place, because God does not demand blood. He is gracious. Incense was placed on the gold altar in the holy place every day, because all God requires a pleasant aroma of love.

Paul says that Jesus became the mercy seat of covenant box. It symbolises grace. This box contained the two tablets of the covenant, Aaron's rod and a pot of manna. The covenant was a free gift, not earned. The manna in the box was free gift to people who did not deserve it.

Therefore, the covenant box represents grace freely given. The mercy seat or lid of grace represents grace and forgiveness. It the place where God came and spoke, because he wiped out the effects of sin. He forgives us because he loves us. Our faith in the blood of Jesus allows him to become our mercy seat. In the new covenant, Jesus becomes the source of our forgiveness and grace from God. He enables us to hear God speak.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Government of God

The following are some of the topics covered in my book called Government of God.

  • the nature of authority
  • the nature of the kingdom of God
  • perfect government
  • the structure of society
  • kingdom communities
  • source of law
  • applying the law
  • crime and restoration
  • relieving with hardship and poverty
  • defending the community from attack
  • taxation
  • voluntary financing of community services

Friday, November 17, 2017

Finances - A Paradigm Shift

Back in 2010, while attending a conference on Christian Economics, I met Gottfried Hetzer. He has been a missionary in Namibia and a business leader in Germany. He struck me as a man of integrity who has allowed God to do a deep work in his life.

A couple of years after I met him, he published a book called Finances - A Paradigm Shift. This is one of the best books on finance and money that I have ever read.

Part 6 of the book is called Kingdom Approach. Gottfried deals with topics like bribery, corruption, integrity, motivation, partnerships, reliability, retirement. Most books do not cover these issues.

I recommend this book to every follower of Jesus, who wants a better understanding of the challenges of finance.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Spiritual Battle (3) Spiritual Forces of Wickedness

The fourth term that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 is literally "spirituals of wickedness" (pneumatikos pomeria). To makes sense, this expression needs a noun. Either “forces” or “powers” can be used. I mostly refer to the spiritual powers of evil, but spiritual forces of wickedness is also fine. These are all the bad spirits that attack humans in various ways. They are controlled by the Cosmos Dominators or the political-spirits and government-spirits that control their nation or city.

The spiritual forces of wickedness were created to listen and obey, so they just do what they are told by the closest legitimate authority. They do not have the capability to evaluate plans, or make moral assessments, so they just implement any suggestion that is given to them. Unlike humans, they do not know the difference between good and evil. All they know is the difference between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority. They do whatever a voice of authority tells them to do.

These follower spirits are not very innovative. They were created to be doers, so they often do the same thing over and over again, until an authority tells them to do something different. Unlike humans, who are made in the image of God, and have inherited his creativity, they just do what they have always done.

Bad spirits find it hard to come up with new ways to do things. They are not creative because they were created to follow instructions and obey authority. If they are told to harass a person, an impure spirit just keeps on doing it until someone with authority tells them to do something different. For example, a spirit of fear is not different from other spirits, it is just a spirit that has been told to do fear. If it gets cast out of one person, it just finds another and keeps on creating fear in them.

Casting out Bad Spirits
These are the spirits that Christians mostly encounter. When the cast out impure spirits, they often do not know where to send them. Some command them to go to hell, but others are uneasy about this because Jesus did not tell us to do it.

Jesus never told impure spirits where to go. He simply commanded them to leave the person they were harassing. In the case of the Gadarene man, he allowed a legion of spirits to go into a herd of pigs. The bible does not say where they went after the pigs drowned (Mark 5:11-13). I presume that they stayed in the same area.

When impure spirits are cast out, they wander around looking for a voice of authority to tell them what to do. They are followers, so they become confused if no one tells them what to do.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it (Luke 11:24).
In most situations, the area will be controlled by a political-spirit or government-spirit. I presume this spirit tells the impure spirit what to do. It will usually send it to harass another person in a similar way.

Jesus could not do anything different, as the political-spirits and government-spirits working through the Roman and Jewish authorities still dominated the region. Once an impure spirit left his presence, it fell under their authority again.

The same is true now. If we cast out a spirit now, it comes under the authority of the political-spirit that controls the region where we live

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Spiritual Battle (2) Political-Spirits and Government-Spirits

The first two Greek words that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12 are “arche” and “exousia”. These are words that are associated with politics and government. To make this clear, I translate them as political-spirits and government-spirits. These spirits are traditionally called “principalities and powers”, but political-spirit and government-spirit are more informative names.

Although the Cosmos Dominators were defeated by the cross, they maintained their authority on earth by using political-spirits and government-spirits to control political systems, governments and empires on earth. A political-spirit or government-spirit in the spiritual realms controls every town, city, nation and region on earth. Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of power.

  • Political-spirits and government-spirits in the spiritual realms control human political powers, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The people may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.

  • Kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives political-spirits and government-spirits immense authority on earth.

  • Most people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They are unwittingly submitting to the political-spirits and government-spirits that control their political leaders. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.

  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives political-spirits and government-spirits their power an point of entrance to control them.

This hierarchy of power allows the big controlling spirits to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by Jesus.

Paul used the Greek words “arche” and “exousia” to describe spiritual powers (Eph 3:10; 6:12). The same words are used in the New Testament for government agencies on earth. Luke and Paul both referred to Roman governors and magistrates as “arche” and “exousia” (Luke 12:11; 20:20; Tit 3:1). This confirms the link between political-spirits and government-spirits and human government.

The Prince of Persia is a government-spirit that controlled the Persian empire during the time of Daniel (Dan 10:13). The Prince of Greece is another political-spirit operating at that time (Dan 10:21). The King of the South and the King of the North are government-spirits that will arise in the future (Dan 11).

Most modern nations and cities are controlled by a government-spirit or political-spirit. They gain control because people trust in political power for their salvation. The greater the faith in political power and government, the stronger the political-spirits and government-spirits will be.

The political-spirits and government-spirits controlling a city, region or nation rule over all the spirits living in the city, region or nation they control. They direct them where to go and what to do. The follower spirits listen and obey the commands of the political-spirit that controls the area that they are operating in.

According to the New Testament, Jesus has been raised up in the spiritual realms, far above all political-spirits and government-spirits (Eph 1:21; Col 2:10). He will use his church to demonstrate his wisdom to them (Eph 3:10). They will be fully defeated at the end of the age (1 Cor 15:24).

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spiritual Battle (1) Cosmos Dominators

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the nature of our spiritual battle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the spiritual realms (Eph 6:12).
I dislike the common translation of this verse because the terms used do not mean much in the modern world.

It is common for people to talk of “principalities and powers”, but it is not clear what that means. Some people use the term to describe worldly political systems, but that does not make sense, as Paul is referring to spiritual realities. Even for those who understand the spiritual side of life, these terms do not make sense, because we do not have principalities anymore.

In medieval Europe, a principality was a small territory ruled by a prince. They have now all been absorbed into nation-states, so principality is not a helpful word.

Ruler is another anachronistic word that is not used much these days. Power is too vague to be useful. Greek has a different word “dunamis”, which is used for raw power. This word is applied to the force used by the spiritual powers of evil in 1 Cor 15:24.

Cosmos Dominators
The third expression that Paul uses is rulers of darkness. The Greek word is “kosmoskrator”. To capture the sense of this word, I prefer the expression “Cosmos Dominators of this Darkness”. These are the really big spirits that rebelled against God and rule armies of follower spirits. These archangels want to control the entire cosmos.

Archangels (arche = ruling; angelos = messenger) are big ruling angels/spirits with the ability to instruct other angels. Michael is the name of one who serves God (Jude 1:9). I am not sure why God needed them, because the Holy Spirit can speak to any angel and tell it God’s will. I presume that he needed archangels to control large groups of angels working together on tasks needing concentrated power.

A big spirit called Accuser (satan) tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. He is also called Slanderer (devil) because he slanders God’s name. I do not like the names satan and devil, because it makes this spirit seem greater than he is. I prefer to name him according to his character. He gets no glory from these words.

Once Adam and Eve had sinned, Accuser and a few of his powerful mates could claim legitimate authority over the earth. The others took on new roles as Death, Wrath, Destruction, Beast, and False Prophet. These big spirits worked together, but they also struggled with each other for power.

Most of the other spirits that stopped serving God are listeners and followers, so they obey anyone with authority over the place where they are operating. They naturally obeyed the big spirits who had seized authority on earth.

About a third of the angels were operating on earth at the time of the rebellion. They were waiting for Adam and Eve to give them instructions to care for the earth. When the archangels who had rebelled began to give them instructions, they obeyed because that is what they were created to do. They recognise authority, but they cannot distinguish between good and evil. The big rebellious angels had gained legitimate authority on earth, so they naturally obeyed them.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Marrying a Prophetess

A correspondent in Africa asked me the follow question.

Can a prophet marry a prophetess?
What are the advantages and disadvantages.
Here is my answer.

I see no reason why a prophet cannot marry a prophetess.

There is one danger: that you get into a prophetic competition with each other, to see who has the most powerful ministry. It is really important that you love and care for your wife. Are you willing to lay down some of your ministry so that your wife's ministry may grow. If you are assuming that having a prophetess as your wife will build you ministry, you might have the wrong attitude. A prophetess might be better off married to a man who will cherish, guard and protect her ministry.

When to people marry in God, they become one. That means that a woman who marries a prophet, effectively becomes a prophetess, because she and her husband are one. She shares in his ministry. That means that a prophet does not need to marry a prophetess to get one.

God often puts together two people who complement each other. He often gives a prophet a wife with a gentle and merciful spirit. If he loves her, this will act as a restraint on the harshness that can sometimes corrupt a prophet beginning in their ministry. A prophet might be better with a wife, who tempers his ministry for good. Mercy triumphs over justice.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Done

I have just completed a long series of posts called Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil. As I have worked on the series my understanding has developed, so I have rewritten some of the earlier posts to clarify some issues that were not clear. The fully revised posts can be read in one article at Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil.

I have also realised that the modern English translations of Ephesians 6:12 are not very informative, because they use anachronistic terms like “principality” and vague terms like “powers”. This led me to dig into this passage and try and get a better understanding of what it is meant by “principalities and powers”.

I am a bit tired of writing about evil, because it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but I want followers of Jesus to know what they are up against, and how God will defeat them. Therefore, I am going to do three more posts next week called Spiritual Battle in which I set out what I have learned. This will explain why I am changing the terms that I use to describe the spiritual powers of evil.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Reconciling SPEs (12) Abyss and Lake of Fire

The scriptures refer to two different places where bad spirits are sent.

  • The Abyss is a spiritual holding pen where spirits are kept out of action for a period of time.

  • The Lake of Fire is a place of final destruction where bad spirits lose their existence (Rev 20:14).

The order of their use is as follows.
  • A number of bad angels were locked up in the abyss after the flood in Noah’s time (1 Pet 3:19-20;2 Pet 2:4). They were led by a spirit called Destroyer

  • Destroyer and his followers are released from the Abyss during the Time of Distress at the end of the Times of the Gentiles. They cause the distress.

  • At the end of the Time of Distress and after the Fulness of the Jews, spirits called Beast and False Prophet are placed in the Lake of Fire and cease to exist (Rev 19:20). The ends dominance through political power forever.

  • At the same time, Satan the Accuser is locked up in the Abyss (Rev 20:2). He remains powerless during the Times of the Kingdom, because followers of Jesus claim the power his blood to cover their sin. This leaves the accuser powerless.

  • At the end of the Kingdom age, Satan is released from the Abyss for a short season (Rev 20:7). He gathers some spiritual followers and encourages them to rebel against God again. This last attempt fails and he is quickly defeated.

  • Following the last judgment, Death and Hades are destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14). They are active at the beginning the Times of Distress (Rev 6:8). They had killed millions of people with wars, famines and plagues.

  • Leading a rebellion, despite being given a second chance, proves that Satan is incorrigible. He is placed in the lake of fire and his existence ceases.

It seems that the only bad spirits that have to be destroyed, because they not reconcilable are Beast, False Prophet, Death, Hades and Satan. I presume that the remainder were reconciled to God and serve him into eternity.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Reconciling SPEs (11) Final Defeat

Only a few really evil spiritual powers will persist with evil, but they will be so outnumbered that they become powerless and feeble. Incorrigible spirits like Beast, False Prophet, Wrath, Death, Destruction and Satan will refuse to be reconciled with God and will continue to oppose him. They will be captured and thrown into the lake of fire, which represents total destruction. It is the destination of the last few spirits that hold out against God.

The powerful ruling spirits are bound and lose their authority on earth. The ordinary spirits recognise that it is gone. They stop listening to them because they are created to only listen to a voice with authority. Once Beast and False Prophet, and other big spirits are defeated, the rebellion collapses, because the other spirits no longer have a voice of authority to obey. They become confused and do nothing because there is no voice of evil to obey.

The blood of Jesus took us from under the authority of the spiritual powers of evil and sets us free to serve God. The victory of the gospel restores authority on earth back to the people that God gave it to at the beginning. The confused spirits begin listening to the voice of God’s people. They obey followers of Jesus, because they recognise their genuine authority on earth.

As the numbers of people following Jesus increase, bad spirits will get less negative commands to act on. More and more will obey followers of Jesus. This switch of allegiance will bring massive transformation on earth. Evil will disappear and good will reign in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God will advance on earth and become a reality that is unimaginable today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

SPEs (10) Last Spiritual Battle

I have always seen last battle in Revelation 19 as a spiritual struggle, not a physical war, but I never realised that most of the spiritual powers of evil would shift allegiance and surrender to Jesus.

Revelation describes what happens after political power is destroyed. Jesus has crowns on his head. This means that all authority on earth will at last be fully surrendered to him.

Jesus was given authority on earth by the whose follow him. They were dressed in white linen, which is their righteous deeds (Rev 19:8). They had come to the place of victory through their love and suffering for Jesus.

Jesus rides out to meet the spiritual powers that have used kings, generals and mighty men to control the earth. They will be destroyed and surrender their power to him.

The name on Jesus' thigh is King of Kings and Lord of Lord. This reflects the fullness of the Kingdom of God and the demise of human political power. All authority and power on earth will be surrender to Jesus, as the principalities and powers that have controlled the earth are destroyed.

Jesus is wearing a blood-stained garment, which is a reminder of his mercy and love. His followers are riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen. White symbolises pure and persevering faith. The fine linen represents faith and trust.

The blood on his robe is a sign that the blood brings deliverance for the spiritual powers of evil too. Jesus establishes this victory in two steps.

Firstly, the collapse of political power on earth eliminates the authority of the principalities and powers in the spiritual realms. Beast and False Prophet are captured. They are spiritual powers that controlled the earth through a final powerful political empire, that eclipses all previous empires. Beast makes all political powers submit to a powerful empire. This significantly reduces their power. When Beast is destroyed, all other political power will disappear too. This collapse of political power will destroy the authority of the spiritual principalities and powers.

The spiritual beast and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. It symbolises destruction. These powerful spirits refuse to be reconciled with God, so they give themselves over to destruction.

Secondly, the rest of the spiritual powers of evil will be exposed by the truth and be reconciled to God. Jesus has a sword coming out of his mouth, which represents the truth. He speaks the truth to the spiritual power of evil. They are convicted by the truth and return to serving God.

The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh (Rev 19:21).
This sword is not physical, but spiritual. It is a word of truth which eliminates the rebellion from the rest of the spiritual powers of evil. They are not destroyed, because they are not thrown into the lake of fire. Rather they are totally defeated. The birds eating their flesh symbolises total and certain victory. They will be convicted by the truth and will submit to Jesus when they recognise the authority of his words. The massive army that they have been part of will cease to exist. All that will remain will be the damage that they have done on earth (represented by the discarded flesh).

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

SPEs (9) Our Choice

The powers of evil will ask, “Can we leave our evil life behind and return to following God.”

Jesus will say, “You can, but my followers will make the final decision. The Father said that those who follow me will judge the angels”.

Do you not know that we shall judge angels (1 Cor 6:3)?
Christians who know that verse and are looking forward to condemning evil angels to hell have not understood it. What God was saying is that we will decide their fate. We will decide whether they are allowed to come back onto his side. We will have to decide if we will trust them to work with us again, after all they have done to us.

We have authority to decide the fate of the spiritual powers of evil because they operated on earth and authority on earth has been given to humans. Once that authority has been restored by the advance of the gospel, we will have authority over all spiritual power operating on earth.

God’s plan to reconcile everything in heaven to him will fail if we refuse, because we do not trust those who have done evil. For his purposes to be fulfilled, we will have to forgive follower spirits and welcome them back to serving God.

The scriptures say that we will judge the angels. This is not a moral judgement, like the one we will face. Rather, when the spirits hear Jesus voice and decide to return to his Kingdom, humans will have to decide if they should be allowed back, given that they have done so much evil. Our natural inclination will be to say “no”, because we do not trust them.

If we are going to welcome them back, we will need to love them as God loves them. I suspect that we have prevented many spirits from returning to the fold because we are ungracious towards them. If we love them, we would have reconciled many of them already.

Love
If we are going to welcome follower spirits back, we will need to love them as God loves them. I suspect that we have prevented many of them from returning to the fold because we hate them. If we loved them, we would have reconciled many of them already.

God loves all the angels and spirits that he created, even though many opposed his plans. He understands that they have been tricked into hearing and obeying the wrong voice. He has a plan to rescue them and bring them back into his kingdom (Col 1:20).

We hate bad spirits because they do evil; We find it hard to imagine that they could be reconciled with God. We just assume that they will be evil forever. However, God has never stopped loving them. He created them and is sad to see them hearing and obeying a different voice. He wants to rescue them.

If we were as gracious as God, we would love them and want to see them reconciled with the Father. If we loved them instead of hating them, we would have more authority over them, because our voice would be clearer with more authority (hate obscures authority).
We should be praying for the time when the spirits in the spiritual realms will be reconciled with the Father. We have been forgiven much, so we must be willing to forgive those that have done great evil.

Monday, November 06, 2017

SPEs (8) Truth

As the gospel advances, Jesus will regain authority over areas of the earth (I explain this further in my book called Kingdom Authority). The spiritual powers at work earth will hear his voice again and begin to follow him. Many will switch allegiance, as they acknowledge the authority of his voice and obey him.

The spiritual powers of evil will be convicted by the truth when Jesus speaks to them about the suffering, perseverance and joy of his followers. It will be the reverse of the interview with Job. Jesus will say something like this to the spiritual powers of evil.

Have you seen my church? You have thrown every weapon you have got at my people and they are still rejoicing and trusting in me. You have destroyed their wealth and killed them, but they have not denied me. You have tried to destroy my body, but you have failed. The more intense your attacks, the stronger my body has become.

When you rebelled against my Father, way back in the time of Adam and Eve, Accuser lied to you. He promised that you would be victorious and have great fun. He promised that you would get to destroy God’s creation.

You have failed. The principalities and powers that control the nations have collapsed. Beast and False Prophet have been bound and thrown into the lake of fire. They have lost their power. You are being beaten by the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, wherever you tried to operate. All you evil schemes are failing.

You are not having fun. Being defeated and divided is a miserable existence. Look at the joy of those who are following me and worshipping the father. You could have that joy if you repented and decided to serve God again.

Remember the purpose for which you were created. God made each of you for a special purpose. If you switched sides, you could serve him again.

When the gospel is successful, followers of Jesus will give him authority over their part of the earth. This will allow him to speak with authority and his voice to be heard. The spirits that have pursued evil will hear Jesus speak. They will recognise his authority and the authority of those following him, and obey Jesus' voice. They will switch sides and begin doing his will.

Prophecy is important because impure spirits will often act on it, if they recognise the authority of the prophet and obey his/her words. They do not realise that the judgement prophesied will often set back their plans of their leaders. When prophets speak with authority, impure spirits will often implement their prophetic words, because spirits are listeners and observers, not discerners of right and wrong.

As the Kingdom of God advances, and Jesus’ authority on earth expands, more and more impure spirits will begin following him again. The blood of Jesus releases us from their power and allows the Holy Spirit to fill us for victory. Our witness to the powers of evil shows them that they have chosen the wrong side. They will hear the voice of truth and obey.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

SPEs (7) Jesus Victory

Jesus’ death on the cross opened the way for the spiritual powers of evil to be reconciled with God. That could not happen while they were holding humans to ransom. Once the people of God were redeemed by his blood, the spiritual powers of evil lost their power. They could be called to obedience and offered forgiveness.

The spiritual powers operating on earth had been deceived by the deceiver and led into opposing God. Their natural intent is to obey, so when one of their own called them, they followed, as they were created to do. Once humans are redeemed by the blood of Jesus and become the authoritative voice on earth by the advance of the gospel, the spiritual powers of evil will listen to them and be able to return to obeying God and carrying out their previous role on earth.

The reconciliation of the spiritual powers of evil was promised by Paul to the Ephesians.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10).
The spiritual powers of evil will be amazed by the witness of the church. They will see people rejoicing despite suffering and persecution. They will see people moving in the power of the Spirit and defeating evil. They will realise that they have chosen the wrong side. When they see the joy of the body of Jesus and their wondrous victory, the spiritual powers of evil will desert the powers of wrath, death and destruction and decide to serve God again. This massive switch of allegiance will change the power situation on earth.

Political Change
The Book of Revelation describes the collapse of political power and empire during a time of distress and persecution. These events destroy the hierarchy of power that has been used by the spiritual powers of evil to amplify their authority and maintain control of the earth. When kings and politicians disappear, the power of spiritual principalities and powers will evaporate. Their role will disappear and they will become ordinary impure spirits without control over places and regions on earth.

Once this hierarchy of power is gone from an area, followers of Jesus will be able to expand the territory that is under the authority of Jesus. This will lead to a massive defeat of the spiritual powers of evil, as they are picked off one at a time. When they are cast out of the person they have been harassing, there will be no other ruling authority to tell them what to do. They will recognise the genuine authority of the followers of Jesus and submit to the truth they are speaking. They will stop obeying the dethroned spiritual powers and give their allegiance to Jesus. This switch of allegiance will dramatically undermine the power of evil on earth.

Casting out Demons

When Christians cast out impure spirits, they do not know where to send them. Some command them to go to hell, but others are uneasy about this, because Jesus did not tell them to do that.

Jesus never told impure spirits where to go. He simply commanded them to leave the person they were harassing. In the case of the Gadarene man, he allowed the legion of spirits to go into a heard of pigs. The bible does not say where they went after the pigs drowned (Mark 5:11-13). I presume that they stayed in the same area.

When impure spirits are cast out, they wander around looking for a voice of authority to tell them what to do.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it (Luke 11:24).
In most situations, the area will be controlled by a spiritual principality or power. I presume that controlling spirit tells the impure spirit what to do. It will usually send it to harass another person in a similar way.

Jesus could not do anything different, as the principalities and powers working through the Roman and Jewish authorities still dominated the region. Once an impure spirit left his presence, they fell under that authority again.

The same is true now. If we cast out a spirit now, it comes under the authority of the principality that controls the region where we live. Fortunately, the time will come when the power of the principalities and power will be broken, as political power collapses. Once they lose their authority, there will be no regional principalities and powers to control the impure spirits that are cast out.

Followers of Jesus will be able to command impure spirits to shift allegiance and go and obey Jesus and the ones he has given his authority too. Then as impure spirits are cast out, they will be switched into the Kingdom of God and become servants of Jesus.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

SPEs (6) Nimrod

The principalities and powers learned about military power from humans. Nimrod was the first powerful man on earth (Gen10:8). He began as a strong hunter. When he had become skilled at trapping and killing strong animals, he started to threaten and control humans with his weapons. He eventually gained control of a large group of people. He used his physical strength to become a mighty ruler. His kingdom started in Babylon in the land of Shinar. He later went to Assyria and built Nineveh. Through Babylon and Nineveh he was the founder of all human empires.

The angels watched Nimrod and learned how political power could be used to control large numbers of people. They copied what they had learned from him and established spiritual-political control over every town, city and nation where people had gathered on earth.
They learned that they could amplify their power by using political authority. The beasts of the earth were born. They took what they learned from Nimrod and used it to control the people of the earth.

The principalities and powers are the most powerful of the spiritual powers of evil on earth. They learned about political power from humans. This is why the mark of the beast is a human number. The beast learned how to use political and military power from Nimrod, the first powerful man on earth.

Isaiah’s Prophecy
Isaiah describes the rebellion of a spirit that used political power to wreak havoc on earth. This was probably the spirit called Beast. He said in his heart:

I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High (Is 14:13-14).
This rebellious spirit gained power by controlling kings and nations through principalities and powers.
All the unseen rulers on earth, he raises their thrones from all the kings of the nations (Is 14:9).
Isaiah prophesied that a time would come when they would all be weak and helpless.
They will all respond,
they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us” (Is 14:10).

Friday, November 03, 2017

Reconciling the SPEs (5) Political Power

Although they were defeated by the cross, the spiritual powers of evil maintained their authority on earth by using spiritual principalities and powers to control political power and empires on earth. Every town, city, nation and region on earth is controlled by a principality or power in the spiritual realms.

Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of authority.

  • The principalities and powers in the spiritual realms control the political powers on earth, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The personalities may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.

  • These kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives them immense authority on earth.

  • The people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.

  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives the principalities their power an point of entrance to control them.

This hierarchy of authority allows the spiritual powers of evil to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by the cross.

The principalities and powers have authority over all the spirits living in the nation or region they control. These follower spirits listen and obey their commands.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Reconciling the SPEs (4) Bad not Evil

Most English translations of the Bible refer to “evil spirits”. That translation is a bit misleading. The Hebrew expression is “raah ruach” (1 Sam 16:14), which means bad spirit, rather than evil spirit. They are spirits that have gone bad by listening to the wrong voice, rather than being inherently evil.

The New Testament expression is “akathartos pneuma”. The adjective coming from the Greek word “kathairo” means to be cleansed. The King James Version was closer to the truth when it translated this as “unclean spirits”. The best modern translation is probably “impure spirit”. These spirits have been lured over to the wrong side, so they are bad or impure. They are not inherently evil, but have become bad.

Learned Evil
Bad spirits have learned most of their evil from humans. Cain taught them how to kill and destroy by killing his brother. They learnt how to deceive and lie when Adam blamed Eve for giving him the fruit. Bad spirits learned how to do intimidate and control people by watching men use their physical strength, emotional force, and threats of rejection to control their wives. Others learned how to manipulate and control by watching women use their emotional understanding and skills with words to manipulate their husbands. Most evil was created first in human hearts. The bad spirits copied what humans did and became skilled at it.

They had worked with God to create the animals and plants of the earth. Once they had learned from Cain and other humans that living things could be destroyed, they used their knowledge to set about destroying God’s creation.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Reconciling the SPEs (3) Third Misled

About a third of the angels were operating on earth at the time of the rebellion. They were waiting for Adam and Eve to give them instructions to care for the earth. When the archangels who had rebelled began to give them instructions, they obeyed, because that is what they were created to do. They recognise authority, but they cannot distinguish between good and evil. The rebellious archangels had legitimate authority on earth, so they naturally obeyed them.

Only a third of the spirits fell. This was not because they were morally inferior. They just happened to be on the earth when Satan gained authority there. Once he had legitimate authority, they had no choice but to obey him. It was not a moral choice, deliberately made like the one made by Adam and Eve.

The other two-thirds of angels did not fall, because they were operating in the higher heaven close to the Father, so they continued to hear his voice. They were not superior or better, just closer to a true voice. Both groups did what they were created to do, they just listened and followed the voice that they heard. Unfortunately, one group heard the wrong voice and were led into evil.

Followers
The spiritual powers of evil were created to listen and obey, so they just do what they are told by the closest legitimate authority. They do not have the capability to evaluate plans, or make moral assessments, so they just implement any suggestion that is given to them. Unlike humans, they do not know the difference between good and evil. All they know is the difference between legitimate authority and illegitimate authority. They do whatever a voice of authority tells them to do. That is why they often implement actions suggested by God (eg 1 Kings 22:20).

Bad spirits are not very innovative. They were created to be doers, so they often do the same thing over and over again, until an authority tells them to do something different. Unlike humans, who are made in the image of God, and have inherited his creativity, they just do what they have always done.

Bad spirits find it hard to come up with new ways to do things. They are not creative because they were created to follow instructions and obey authority. If they are told to harass a person, and impure spirit just keeps on doing it until someone with authority tells them to do something different. For example, a spirit of fear is not different from other spirits, it is just a spirit that has been told to do fear, so it keeps on doing it.

The impure spirits recognised Jesus authority, so they naturally obeyed him. The same was true of Paul. The spirits recognised that he had authority, and obeyed him. They knew that the sons of Sceva did not have authority, so they did not obey them (Acts 19:13-15).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Reconciling the SPE (2) Listeners and Followers

To understand how the spiritual powers of evil will be reconciled to God, we need to understand their nature and how they fell. Most spirits, like the angels, are listeners and followers. They were created by God to hear, obey and do. The angels listen and obey the voice of God. They sometimes hear and obey the voice of his people.

Angels are not moral beings, like humans. They are listeners and doers. They listen to anyone with real authority that is near to them. They recognise authority, like the Roman soldier who talked with Jesus. When they hear a voice with authority, they obey.

When the angels were created, they all obeyed the voice of God. They did what the Holy Spirit commanded them to do.

A few angels are archangels (arche = ruling; angelos = messenger). They are ruling angels with the ability to instruct other angels. Michael is the name of one who serves God (Jude 1:9). I am not sure why God needed them, because the Holy Spirit can speak to an angel and tell it God’s will. I presume that he needed archangels to control large groups of angels working together on tasks needing concentrated power and structure.

The bad spirits that gained control when Satan led the angels on earth into a rebellion against God, were probably archangels, used to organising and controlling other angels. Only a few spirits revolted against God. They had special roles and knowledge of what was happening.

They said, “We did all the work creating the world, while God just sat and talked. Why should he control it, when we made it”? A few of them decided to take control of the earth they had helped create.

Only a few spirits rebelled against God. Once Satan had tricked Adam and Eve, he and a few of his powerful mates could claim legitimate authority over the earth. They took on new roles as Death, Wrath, Destruction, Beast, and False Prophet. They worked together but also struggled with each other for power.

The spirits that led the rebellion tricked Adam and Eve into giving them authority over the earth. The other spirits that stopped serving God must remain in contact with the earth to have a place to operate. They are listeners and followers, so they obey anyone with authority over the place where they are operating. They naturally obey the ruling spirits who seized authority over the earth.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Reconciling the Spiritual Powers of Evil (1)

Sometimes, if you ask a different question, it leads you down an amazing path. That happened a few weeks ago, when I was reading Colossians, I was struck by something that I had not noticed before. It really set me thinking. Paul wrote these words.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Col 1:19-20).
Paul explains that God has reconciled all things on earth and in heaven to himself through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. I have always known that Jesus blood reconciled people living on earth to God, but I began to wonder what things in the heavens or spiritual realms needed to be reconciled to him. Clearly, the angels do not need to be reconciled to God, because they have been his faithful servants. That leaves the spiritual powers of evil as the only beings in the spiritual realms that need to be reconciled with God.

I began to wonder how the spiritual powers of evil could be reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus. I had not thought about that before. I just assumed that they were irretrievably lost and would be destroyed at the end of the age. However, Paul seems to be suggesting that they could be reconciled with God. That possibility set me thinking.

I discovered that the spiritual powers of evil will shift their allegiance and go back to serving God, when they hear the truth proclaimed by Jesus. I will explain what I found in the next few posts.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Catalan Red

The Catalan parliament has declared independence from Spain. The Spanish president has dissolved the Catalan parliament.

The response of the European powers is amusing. The British and French foreign ministers have declared that Spanish borders are sacrosanct, so the Catalan independence is illegal. This is hypocritical for two reasons. Politicians claim that a social contract with their people gives them authority to govern, but they will not allow people to withdraw from that contract. The people can give permission, but they cannot take it away. That is inconsistent.

Secondly, the UK and France were quite happy to peel Montenegro and Kosovo off Serbia. They have spent the last few years trying without success to tear Syria apart. Clearly, national borders are only sacrosanct when it suits great power interests. Spain is too close too home to allow independence movements because it might encourage similar movements in their own countries.

Red Horse
The Catalan independence movement is another manifestation of the Red Horse of Revelation 6. This horseman represents inter-tribal conflicts leading to the boundaries of nations being torn asunder.

Red is the colour of Esau and his descendants the Edomites. Esau was red when was born (Gen 25:25). The name Esau comes from a root meaning "to press or to squeeze". The word Edom, which is the name given to the nation which he founded, comes from a root word meaning "red".

The life of Esau and the experience of Edom is the key to understanding the rider on the fiery red horse. Their history is a story of conflict between two families or tribes who live together in the same land. It started with the conflict between Esau and Jacob. It continued when Edom obstructed Israel on its return from Egypt to the promised land (Num 20). The conflict between Israel and Edom continued until both nations were conquered by Babylon.

The rider on the red horse had a large sword with which to take peace from the earth and make men kill each other (Rev 6:4). Esau was told that he would live by the sword (Gen 27:40; Num 20:18). The advance of the rider on the fiery red horse represents an outbreak of inter-tribal warfare in many nations all over the world. Tribes which have lived together in an uneasy peace will go to war with each other. Old disputes which have been festering for hundreds of years will come to the surface. The new generation will turn weapons onto their neighbours to settle the old grievances

The tribal groups who go to war may often be quite closely related, as were Israel and Edom. They will often have intermingled through marriage. This will add to the bitterness of the struggles.

The nature of the spiritual forces released by the rider on the fiery red horse can be discovered by reading the story of Esau and Jacob. The same spiritual forces continued to work between Edom and Israel. The grievance will often be the result of deception (Gen 27:36). The dispute may relate to a disagreement over the inheritance of land (Gen 25:54). One tribe may have dominated the other, but they will become restless and cast off their yoke (Gen 27:40). They will have held onto a grudge from the past, consoling themselves for many years with the thought of killing the other They will make a vow to obtain revenge (Gen 27:41; Num 20:20). These situations will be characterised by:

  • bitterness (Gen 27:34)
  • revenge (Gen 27:41)
  • fury (Gen 27:44)
  • betrayal of former friends (1 Samuel 22)
  • retaliation (Ez 25:12)
  • concealment (Jer 49:10)
  • lack of wisdom (Jer 48:7)
  • rebellion against parents (Gen 28:9)
  • grief (Gen 27:35)

In many cases the war will begin with a guerrilla army fighting against government forces (Gen 25:27). They will be so ruthless that they will inspire great terror (Jer 49:6). They will plunder with glee and with malice in their hearts (Ez 36:5), often shedding innocent blood (Joel 3:19). Amos said of Edom:

He pursued his brother with a sword,
stifling all compassion,
because his anger raged continually
and his fury flamed unchecked
(Amos 1:10).
This is a good description of what the fiery red colour of the red horse represents.

Zechariah indicates that each of the horsemen will ride in a different direction. However, he gives no direction for the red horse. This indicates that it will go all over the world. When the horseman is released this kind of warfare will spread all over the world.

I suspect that we are already seen the second horseman at work in many places in the world. We are probably seeing it at work in the Catalan area of Spain.

United States
We are currently seeing the Red Horseman at work in the United States. There it is not traditional tribes that are fighting, but political-social tribes at war with each other. Despite the tension, the country will not divide easily, because military-political power will use force to hold it together. They did this the last time there was a big division in the 1860s, so they will do it again if a similar conflict occurs again.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Foolish Words

Bad spirits obey authority. Sometimes they obey other bad spirits. Quite often they obey the authority of parents as they exercise authority their children and wives. When a parent makes a statement about their children, an impure spirit can obey it. If a parent says, “He is always sick”, it tells a spirit of sickness what to do.

If a parent says, “He is always angry” that gives a spirit of anger the right to attack. If a husband says that his wife is always afraid, it gives a spirit of fear the right to attack. Parents and husbands should be careful about what they say about wives and children, because spirits looking for authority to obey will hear their words and implement them.

When we say things about people over whom we have influence, impure spirits will often obey because they recognise our authority. If I say, “I hope he will get sick”, I am giving an impure spirit the authority it needs to attack. If I say about a friend, “His business will fail”, I give a spirit of destruction instructions about what to do. I should not be surprised if it happens, because I have given an impure spirit authority to do it. When Elisha rebuked the young men, he told the impure spirits that control the two bears to destroy them (2 Kings 2:24).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Humble Yourselves and Pray

Christians in America love to quote and claim the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 (albeit out of context). The problem is that the promise has a condition: “if my people humble themselves”. This is a problem because although the people of America have many great characteristics, such as generosity, enterprise, hard work, they seem to have a great of difficulty looking honestly and critically at their nation’s past.

I read a great deal of history. Some of what I read about America is really ugly. The invasion of the Philippines in 1899 that killed hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions is an example. I have just read a history of the early years of the CIA during the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the things they did, ostensibly to advance democracy, but often just to protect American business, were despicable: killing heads of state, using propaganda to destroy others and installing dictators.

There are many nasty actions. Dropping 400,000 tons of napalm on the villages of Vietnam and destroying the lives of people, whose only crime was wanting independent from their Japanese and French colonial masters. Bombing everything that moved in North Korea until all buildings and infrastructure were destroyed and the land was flooded. More recently, the trashing of the nations of Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Historians can write about these incidents because they are not widely read. However, I notice that when people write about them in more popular magazines and blogs, they are slagged off for being un-American. At best, they are accused of having failed to understand that America has to do evil stuff because it was fighting against evil. When I write about these things, I get comments suggesting that I ungrateful for what America has done for me.

It seems that many Christians are so committed to the myth of America as the exceptional nation, that they cannot look honestly at their own history. They are free to think that way, but it is the opposite of “humbling yourselves”. We cannot humble ourselves because we are a great nation does match 2 Chronicles 7:14. And of course, the promised blessing does not follow.

Here in New Zealand, the treatment of the indigenous Maori people was ugly. The British government made a treaty to protect them in 1850 and then used legal military means to systematically seize their land and destroy their culture. While Maori men were fighting overseas for the British during World War 1, some had their land back home alienated.

It has taken a hundred years, but successive governments have now acknowledged that actions of early governments were wrong. They have made restitution to the people who lost their land and mana. This has had a massive positive effect on race relations in this country.

I cannot see something like that happening in the United States of America, because it requires a government to humble themselves and admit that their forebears were wrong, and acknowledge they benefitted from it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Imputed Righteousness

The other side of original sin is imputed righteousness. Some of the reformers argued that because Adam’s sin was imputed to us, Jesus righteousness can be imputed to us too. We share the guilt for Adam’s sin though we did not do it, so we can share Jesus righteousness, even though we are sinful.

The flaw in this argument is that justification is a legal term associated with the courtroom. A judge who has led a good life cannot make a man he has found guilty of a crime to be innocent by giving him some of his own goodness. The goodness of one man cannot cancel out another man’s crime. The judge’s goodness cannot be imputed to the criminal to nullify his crime.

What the judge can do is pay the penalty for the crimes of the guilty man. He could agree to pay the fines for the criminal. In the extreme case, he could offer to die in the criminal’s place, if the sentence was the death penalty. A judge cannot give a criminal his goodness, but he can pay the penalties for his crime.

This is what Jesus did. He could not transfer his goodness to us, but he could pay the penalty for our sin. The accuser and the rest of the spiritual powers of evil demanded blood for human sins. Jesus offered his blood shed on the cross. They had to accept it, because it was human blood.

Once the penalty was paid, our sin is cancelled out and we become righteous again, because there is no charge of sin against us. The accuser has no basis for accusing us, because all past and future sins were covered by Jesus’ blood. God the judge can declare us to be righteous.

“Impute” is an accounting term, not a legal term. It means that something is counted as if it were something else. Once the penalty for our sin has been paid, we are counted as being righteous, because Jesus has paid the penalty, not because his righteousness has been put into us.

Note: Jesus death was directed primarily towards the spiritual powers of evil. Hey demand blood, so God gave it to them to salience them. God was happy to forgive humans because he loved us, but the spiritual powers of evil, and especially Satan, demanded the implementation of full justice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Original Sin

Romans 5:12 is an interesting verse.

Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.
Many Reformation churches believed that when Adam sinned God attributed the guilt to all of his descendants. This means that everyone is guilty of his sin. The Westminster Confession has a federal theology, in which Adam is the covenant head of all humanity. When he sinned, everyone sinned. This is original sin.

This understanding of sin was first developed by Augustine. He was reinforced in his view by the Latin translation of the New Testament (Vulgate), which incorrectly translated Romans 5:12, as saying of Adam, “in whom all sinned”. This seemed to confirm that all people had participated in Adam’s original sin.

A more correct translation is “in that all sinned”. Everyone sinned because Adam sinned, but that is not the same as saying that everyone is guilty of Adam’s sin.

The idea that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin does not seem fair, as it implies that God punishes humans for a sin that they did not commit. It is also contrary to the scriptures that suggest that children should not be punished for their father sin.

Of course, the Bible is also clear that when parents mess up, their children's lives are usually messed up too. This points to the answer to some important questions.

  • Why did all sin?
  • Why do all die?
The answer is that Adam’s sin gave the spiritual powers of evil authority over the earth. They attacked everyone on earth and tempted them into sin. They outnumbered humans at first, so by concentrating their power, they ensured that they succeeded. They may even have corrupted human spiritual DNA, giving us a propensity to sin. So, everyone on earth sins, not by sharing in Adams sin, but following his example and allowing the spiritual powers of evil to influence their lives to do wrong. Paul explained, “through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners (Rom 5:19).

Everyone dies because eternal life comes from God. Sin separates from God, cutting us from the source of eternal life. Therefore, it is true that because Adam sinned, every human sins, as the spiritual powers of evil ensure that they do.

God had said that if you sin, you will die. Because God is merciful, he only excluded Adam from the garden and his presence, rather than causing him to die. The spiritual powers of evil demanded the full implementation of God’s statement that the penalty for sin is death. It gave them authority to inflict death on every human.

Death was a particular evil spirit who controlled many of the spiritual powers of evil from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. The giving of the law strengthened Satan as the accuser, because it gives him a more solid basis for accusing people of sin. It enabled him to demand the punishment specified in the law for all sins. Paul could say that “Sin is not counted because there is no law” (Rom 5:13).

Prior to the giving of the law, humans did not have a clear definition of righteousness. They knew murder was wrong because God had told Cain it was. They probably knew that stealing was wrong. But Satan could not always accuse them of sin, because it was not clear that the people knew they were sinning or understood the penalty. The law resolved that problem by specifying God’s requirements and the consequences for not meeting them. This is why Paul said sin reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom 5:14). Satan used the law to gain control after it had been given.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Great Nations

I recently listened to a video clip of a well-known Christian leading prayer in the Washington Mall. He prefaced his prayer by saying, “To become great again, America must turn back to the God that made it great in the first place”. While many Christians believe this statement to be true, it is seriously flawed.

The speaker assumes that God wants “great nations” and that he uses “great nations” to fulfil his plans. The “great nations” in the scriptures are called “beasts”. They are energised by the spiritual powers of evil, not by God. He sometimes uses great nations to accomplish purposes, by destroying another great nation, or by chastening the people of God by attacking them, but they are not the main vehicle for the accomplishment of his purposes.

I challenge anyone to show me from the New Testament that God has plans to use great nations to accomplish his purposes. Rather, it says that God is creating a new nation of people who trust in him. Jesus did not say that he was establishing a great nation to fulfil his work. Rather, he spoke incessantly about the Kingdom of God. He came to establish the Kingdom of God, not a great nation.

Persuading a group of states to unite and become a greater one and then making it bigger by conquering territory is not part of Jesus plan for redeeming the world. According to my reading of Revelation, this is the strategy of the dragon (Rev 13:1).

There is no doubt that the United States has become the most powerful and wealthy and powerful nation that has ever existed. It was made great by hard work, enterprise, and political power. But that does not make it pivotal for Jesus plans to establish his kingdom.

150 years ago, many Christians believed that the British Empire would be instrumental in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. Historians say that the British did much that was good, but they also did great harm. That is the best that a great nation can do. No one now claims that the British Empire brought the Kingdom of God closer. In fifty years, I suspect that historians will make the same judgment about the American empire.

The message of book of Revelation is that all great nations will have to collapse and fall, before the Kingdom of God can come in fullness.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Patriotism or Religious Devotion

When being interviewed by Ben Witherington about his biography of the great German theologian Karl Barth, Mark Galli made an interesting comment about religious experience.

Karl Barth believed that basing theology on feeling inevitably confuses us, as it did liberal theologians at the beginning of World War 1. They were so taken with their feeling of patriotism, they confused it with a divine experience, and found themselves justifying German’s entrance into an unjust war. A theology grounded in experience will sooner or later go astray in significant ways...
Galli explained Barth’s position more clearly.
German liberal theologians could not separate their patriotism from their devotion. Experiential religion is not merely personally dangerous but socially and even nationally dangerous. He believed it was one of the main reasons the German Christians were attracted to Adolf Hitler. They were deeply moved by Hitler’s oratory and ideas, and they equated those with the movement of God. That was, to say the least, a disastrous move at an unprecedented scale.
Christians in the United States are getting really stirred up about kneeling during the national anthem at NFL games. Look from the outside the strength of feeling seems odd.

Civil religion is stronger in America than true faith. I suspect that many Christians are confusing their feelings of patriotism with the presence of God. It seems like patriotism and devotion to God are being confused.

The German example warns how dangerous this confusion can be. I presume that many Americans experience the same feelings of religious devotion at Trump campaign meetings.

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Political History (4)

The next big shock was realising that there is no Executive in the Torah. There was no one appointed to implement government programs. There was no bureaucracy to carry out political programs.

One reason why there is no Executive is that there is no compulsory taxation in the Torah. All giving to the community was voluntary. There was an expectation that people would be generous to the poor and needy, but there was no agency to enforce that.

This means that two of the three standard arms of government in most political theologies, the legislative body and the executive, are missing from God system of government.

An important step was realising that God does not want kings. He allowed Samuel to appoint a king for Israel, but he was clear that they were copying the surrounding nations, not doing something that God commanded (1 Samuel 8). Samuel warned that the king would do harm and the people would suffer.

I discovered that Moses role, apart from being a prophet, was to be a temporary military leader. When the nation was attacked and the people gathered to defend it, they would agree on a person to lead them. That was a temporary role. When the enemy was defeated, the military leader would go back to their home and become an ordinary person.

Kings are really permanent military leaders. They tend to become dangerous, because they are tainted by war, but gain lots of power.

I have put all these ideas together in my book called Government of God. I explain how it can work in the modern world. If you are interested in politics, political theology, the Kingdom of God, or how to form a new society, then you should read this book.

Readers looking for solutions through political power will find it hard to receive this book. Written down here, the key insights seem fairly simple, and perhaps obvious, but it took me twenty years to understand their significance. I had to give up my faith in politics, all politics, and that is hard for a politics junky.

I had wanted to write this book for a long time, but I could not do it until I got the full picture that God wanted to give me. It might take almost as long for God’s people to lose their faith in politics, and are ready to receive it. Some big names and nations might have to fall before that happens.

New Government

Several weeks after the general election, New Zealand now has a new government,
a government of confusion.

The new, young Prime Minister has spent the last decade in Wellington,
surrounded by people who are confident about everything,
but understand nothing.
That is long enough to gain many illusions about what is possible,
and confusion about what should be done.

The previous Prime Minister, Bill English had to go. He was not perfect (he wrongly believes that more money can solve most problems, including winning elections), but he carries grace and faith that drew blessing from God. New Zealand does not deserve that blessing at this time, so Bill had to go.

A spirit of destruction has come from the north
and set up a throne at the gate of the city.
Confusion has arisen within the city.
Confusion will reign in the nation.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

My Political History (3)

The next big step was understanding that the spiritual powers of evil have used politics to leverage their power on earth. Although they were defeated by the cross, they have maintained their authority on earth by using spiritual principalities and powers to control political power and empires on earth. Every town, city, nation and region on earth is controlled by a principality or power in the spiritual realms.

Their authority on earth is perpetuated by a hierarchy of authority.

  • The principalities and powers in the spiritual realms control the political powers on earth, such as kings, emperors and other political leaders. The personalities may change over time, but the spiritual powers remain in control.
  • These kings and political leaders have authority over large groups of people, so this gives them immense authority on earth.
  • The people look to their political leaders to solve the problems that disturb their lives, so they mostly submit to them. They should be looking to the Kingdom of God for their salvation, and to the Jesus as their king.
  • Political leaders and kings use military force and political coercion to control their people. This gives the principalities their power an point of entrance to control them.
This hierarchy of authority allows the spiritual powers of evil to exercise authority on earth, despite their defeat by the cross. The principalities and powers have authority over all the spirits living in the nation or region they control. These follower spirits listen and obey their commands.

Christians frequently talk about principalities and powers, but they have not understood the implications of their power. Kings and political leader are easy for principalities and are dominated by a principality or power, because they are vulnerable to pride and control. They make it easy for the spiritual powers of evil to control a nation. Many Christians assume that other nations are controlled by principalities and powers (Iran and North Korea) but they do not understand that a principality or power controls their own nation by manipulating political power. This is why political action always disappoints.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

My Political History (2)

The next big insight was that there is no parliament or congress in the Torah. This dramatically changes political theology. God does not want parliaments writing laws, even if the parliamentarians are believers trying to seek God’s will. Law is such an important issue that God decided to cut out the middle man. When Israel was becoming a nation in the new land they needed a set of laws, so they could live together in peace.

God revealed his Laws for Society directly to his people through Moses. He spoke to Moses on the mountain and he wrote down God’s laws. God is perfectly wise, so the laws that he gives will be the best possible laws that could exist. Because we have his laws, we do not need any other laws. We do not need a parliament or congress to make up new laws.

The laws were applied by local judges who emerged within their communities. They were not appointed by someone from outside. Their wisdom was recognised in their community, so people would ask them to apply God’s law to their disagreement.

The judging processes were voluntary. Judges could not enforce their decisions. There was no process for that in the Torah. People would accept a judge’s decision because they accepted their wisdom. If they rejected the judge's verdict, the judge could not make them comply with it.

Discerning the law was important. We need to know which parts of God’s law are universal and permanent, and which were just for the children of Israel. The key is a set of laws in Exodus 21:1 to Exodus 22:15 which are addressed to every person. I call these the Laws for Society, as they provide a basis for people to live together in relative harmony. All societies need these laws.

The remainder of the Torah is cases illustrating the application of the Laws for Society, or laws that were specific to the children of Israel. I doubt that I would have discovered the Laws for Society if I had not committed to loving God’s law, as Psalm 119 suggests.