Weep with Those Who Weep — Remembering the Persecuted Church

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

[Matthew 5:11-12]

As covert forms of persecution and intolerance against Christians continues to grow in the West, the church in more restricted nations is experiencing some of the worst overt forms of persecution in recent memory. Recent attacks in China, Nigeria, Syria, and Indonesia and many other nations have become commonplace.

Strangely, as our corrupt culture just finished spending an entire month celebrating gay pride including every form of sexual deviancy and perversion, the mainstream media has remained deafly silent when it comes to the relentless injustice and oppression of Christians all over the world.

I would expect as much from the biased, godless media, but my heart breaks to see how the church in the West is either ignorant or worse indifferent toward the systematic persecution of Christians in other nations.

Social media and 24-hour news access provides up-to-date information about these atrocities, so that the evil is at least being exposed. But the question remains.

What can we do about it?

IDENTIFY WITH THE PERSECUTED CHURCH

“Resist him (the devil), firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world.”

[1 Peter 5:9]

Our first response must be to identify with the universal church and reaffirm that we are one body, united by Christ, and therefore brothers and sisters of the faith, adopted into family by our Heavenly Father.

How would we respond if our wives or children or siblings were being brutally murdered or unjustly imprisoned against their will?

In many ways, our family of faith is more closely related than our biological families because we are united by the Holy Spirit and have been redeemed by Christ for the same destiny — eternity with God.

Jesus affirms this unique relationship that the church has been given.

“But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

[Matthew 12:48-50]

Every single believer in this world has been spiritually united in Christ and therefore is part of God’s family, brothers and sisters forever. When we begin to see the persecuted church as our own family and begin personally to identify with them, it will change our attitude and actions altogether.

SHARE IN THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST

The Bible commands us to “weep with those who weep” [Romans 12:15], and also to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” [Galatians 6:2]

As followers of Jesus, we are called to share in the sufferings of Jesus Christ and endure persecution for the sake of Christ, knowing that God uses such trials to teach us dependence upon the LORD and to transform us into the image and likeness of Christ.

When we identify with our brothers and sisters who are suffering and learn to weep with them and remember them, we are bearing their burdens and sharing in their sufferings for the sake of Christ and His gospel.

BE INFORMED — NOT IGNORANT

There is no excuse for us to remain ignorant in today’s Information Age. There are many trusted ministries that keep track of the most heavily persecuted regions of the world and give updates and offer prayer requests for our brothers and sisters in need.

Two exceptional ministries are …

  1. Voice of the Martyrs — https://vom.com.au
  2. Open Doors USA — https://www.opendoorsusa.org

Being informed is the first step in identifying with the family of God in peril around the world and beginning to partner with them. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 …

That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

[1 Corinthians 12:25-26]

OFFER RELIEF AND CONSIDER POLITICAL ACTIVISM

There are many different reputable ministries that provide direct relief to Christians in distress. Many of these focus on war-torn nations that have a refugee crisis. Others offer relief and even legal advocacy for Christians in oppressed nations.

One may also consider how to engage our state and federal politicians to use their influence to bring attention to the most extreme cases of persecution against our brothers and sisters. There are literally countless ways to become engaged on the front lines of this battle.

PRAYER IS THE GREATEST ACT OF LOVE

The Apostle Paul coveted the prayers of the saints while he was suffering all kinds of persecution throughout his ministry. He says in Colossians 4:3, “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison.”

Our greatest weapons against such evil … Prayer.

And in Ephesians 6, Paul reminds the church that our battle is not against our fellow man, but against the evil forces and powers at work behind every kind of evil we face.

“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

[Ephesians 6:18]

We may be sitting rather comfortably in the West for now, but our time of persecution is coming quicker than we may think. The least we can do right now is remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for the NAME and engage in the spiritual battle on their behalf.

SOCIALISM — You Get What You Ask For

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

[2 Thessalonians 3:10]

A Gallup poll released this week reflects a growing trend among Americans to embrace socialism as a viable system of government. Just over 40% of pollsters said that socialism would be good for the country. You can review the details of the survey here.

For some bizarre reason, socialist ideals have become especially appealing to millennials, who represent one of the most demanding generations of consumerism in American history. In other words, the same generation that has grown ever dependent on the fruits of the free market system is now ignorantly lauding socialism as the future hope of liberation in a polarized America. This cultural conundrum and logical inconsistency is simply startling and must be attributed to pure ignorance of understanding classical socialism.

Either young Americans have embraced some redefinition of socialism or have been led to believe that socialism won’t affect them personally. I’m not sure which is worse.

Just consider the raw irony of an American culture in love with socialist ideals. We are talking about the same generation that can flip on the lights, sit in the cool air-conditioning, and drink an endless supply of fresh, clean water. This is the generation that casually streams Spotify, YouTube and trolls social media sites on their $1000 iPhones. We are talking about the same generation that can grab take out from an endless variety of restaurants and enjoy fresh food prepared just the way they like.

We are talking about a generation that can hop in their personal hybrid vehicle, gas up at any filling station, and hit the first Starbucks for a $7 latte. We are talking about the same generation that can get care from the best doctors and hospitals in the world. We are talking about the generation that can order basically anything in the whole world from the comfort of their own couch and have Amazon ship it right to their door.

The irony is that none of these companies would even exist in a socialist economy. All of these private companies are the product of a free, capitalist market that provides incentives for free trade, supply and demand and consumer satisfaction. SnapChat and Starbucks and Wal-Mart and Amazon would never emerge out of a true socialists economy because in a classical socialist government, a free market doesn’t exist. Start-up businesses never happen. New innovative ideas never even form in the human mind because there is no incentive.

Socialism breeds mindless dependency upon the welfare state. Socialism discourages innovation by eliminating the competitive market that fuels it. Socialism destroys all motivation to work hard and better oneself. It eliminates the hopes and dreams of the people to strive for greatness. There are no rags to riches stories in socialism. Only oppression, bondage, and a vicious generational cycle of government dependency and abuse.

One needs to look no further to what is happening right now in Venezuela to see the real face of socialism. Once the richest nation in South America is now a nightmare of civil unrest and social chaos. Basic commodities like water, toilet paper, and fuel are virtually unobtainable. The people are starving. Inflation is astronomical. Money is worthless. Power outages abound. But you can bet the few government elites in power aren’t suffering, just the people who voted for them.

Don’t believe me … just read the following article. https://www.foxnews.com/world/how-socialism-turned-venezuela-from-the-wealthiest-country-in-south-america-into-an-economic-basket-case

In socialism, you get what you ask for. In America, if we don’t educate, inform and encourage dialogue about these issues, then we could potentially become the next Venezuela.

The Biblical principles found in God’s word promote hard work, personal property and free trade. If a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. These fundamental principles are what have made America the greatest economy in the world, but it only takes one lazy and ignorant generation to ruin it. May that NOT BE our generation.

Jesus Christ — Truth Personified

Pontius Pilate, first century Roman prefect of Judea, once asked a penetrating question. 

When confronted with the social, religious, and political implications of whether or not to release Jesus of Nazareth or to have him delivered over to be crucified, Pilate asked Jesus … 

What is truth?” (John 18:38)

Pilate, apparently experiencing some crises of the soul, was torn between the decision to stand alone in doing what he knew was right and the pressure to appease a blood-thirsty mob and maintain his position of power.

I am one who is convinced of the necessity of absolute truth and who affirms that such objective truth can be discovered. I can, in at least some sense, identify with Pilate. Our culture both champions moral relativism and despises moral absolutes (at least ideologically) at the same time.

To be a man who stands alone on the foundation of absolute truth is to be a target of the contemporary mob mentality – where healthy debate and reason are drowned out by the relentless shouts… “Crucify him.” How often logic and reason are lost in ad hominem attacks and strategic diversions that avoid the glaring reality staring us all in the face.

I contend that the motivation behind Pilate’s question is not of primary importance. I believe that Pilate was asking the wrong question altogether. Instead of asking, “What is truth,” we must first ask a more foundational question, “Who is truth?” 

After all, we can only expect to get to the bottom of the truth when we ask the correct question. 

If any of us is serious about discovering absolute truth, we must be able to find its source. To define beauty or morality or love, we must go to the source — the One who gives meaning to such virtues. In seeking the Source, we understand we are seeking for a person, not the virtues themselves. 

If we can find the person – the Source – then we will find the virtue and its meaning. 

So what is of more importance is the claim that Yeshua made just prior to Pilate’s question – a claim so serious it that must be considered and weighed. 

“Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.

(John 18:37 ESV)

The exclusive claim of Yeshua leaves no room for neutrality. The sheer laws of logic force an examination and evaluation of His words. Either Jesus is the personification and originator of truth, or He is a liar. He does not allow for anything less. He draws the line and forces us to choose sides. There is no neutrality to the claims of Christ.

The claim of Yeshua is that everyone who is of the the truth – who is on the side of truth – listens to His voice. He is saying that everyone who wants to know the truth must be willing to listen to Him – implying that He is the source and true expression of THE TRUTH – not just a truth or some truth – but of Absolute Truth. 

Some philosophers would say before one can begin to debate whether or not the truth claims of Yeshua are valid … one must first at least ask if truth can be known in a real sense. This crosses over into philosophical realm of epistemology and can be handled in turn at another time. 

But for now, let us just consider the testimony of Yeshua. 

I AM the TRUTH

Jesus of Nazareth never technically wrote down his own words for self-promotion or self-preservation. His contemporaries, on the other hand, had much to say about His life and teachings. The eye witnesses that carefully examined the life of Yeshua for years give us the most accurate and reliable historical record of any figure in antiquity. 

For Yeshua to be the Source of all truth, absolute truth, then we would expect Him to meet certain criteria.

First, Yeshua would be the One and Only Supreme God by nature and necessity. So how did His contemporaries describe Him? For Jesus to be Truth Personified He would have to be God Personified — the Word become flesh.

“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” 

(Colossians 1:15-17 ESV)

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

(2 Peter 1:1)

Yeshua also would have to be perfect in word and in deed. What is the testimony?

“He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”

(1 Peter 2:22)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Yeshua would have claimed to be truth personified because anything less would have disqualified him necessarily. What did He say?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

(John 14:6)

So the irony is that when Pilate stared directly into the eyes of this seemingly weak, Jewish Rabbi, he wasn’t simply philosophically wrestling with the truth, he was in the presence of Truth Himself. Yeshua, God the Son, is The Truth and therefore defines all truth. If we want to know truth in its purest form, we must know Jesus Christ. To Know Christ — His word, His character, His nature, His heart, His will — is to Know Truth.

Next time someone asks, “What is truth,” you can confidently answer, “Truth is a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ.” 

Exposing the Destructive Deeds of Darkness

“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

[Matthew 18:4-6]

Although the Bible is clear that there is nothing new under the sun, I believe we are beginning to see the veil lifted on one of the most horrific and demonic systems of abuse and perversion in the modern era. I am talking about the ubiquitous and repulsive reality of human trafficking, the sexual slave trade, child abuse and pedophilia.

Just consider the headlines from the past few years. [Note — simply google any of these headlines and you can find multiple news reports.]

A Boy Scout wears an Eagle Scot neckerchief during the annual Boy Scouts Parade (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Boy Scouts Sex Abuse Scandal Exposed — abuse of over 12,000 children kept hidden in infamous “perversion files”

More than 4,000 US Roman Catholic priests have faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years, in cases involving more than 10,000 children – mostly boys

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. With 21 million victims worldwide, there are more slaves today than at any time in history

More than 2,300 pedophiles are arrested across the country after three month online hunt for sex offenders in Operation Broken Heart

Patriots owner Robert Kraft solicitation charge puts spotlight on sex trafficking

Tim Ballard: I’ve fought sex trafficking at the border. This is why we need a wall

I could go on and on providing headlines covering this worldwide epidemic. On the one hand it is shocking and difficult to process when such brutal, satanic abuse is brought into the light. But at the same time, I am grateful that more and more of this disgusting behavior is being exposed like never before. And what’s more … I believe we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to social justice and the response of the church to stand at the forefront of the battle, I believe God is calling His people to rise up and act on behalf of the most vulnerable in our society. We certainly believe this applies to the abortion epidemic, as unborn children are THE MOST VULNERABLE citizens in our society. God’s people must continue to stand against abortion and offer alternatives to expecting mothers that encourage them to choose life.

But human trafficking, the sex trade, and child abuse, are at a close second, and the church must wake up and rise up to help those whose lives are being ravished against their will. Most of the time the victims of human trafficking and the sexual slave trade are young girls and boys and young women. They are most often taken against their will, or they are destitute and needy and allured by predators with promises for a better life. By the time they realize what has happened, it is usually too late.

“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”

[Deuteronomy 10:18]

The Plague of Pornography

The reality is that it should come as no surprise that such sexual perversion and abuse is so pervasive in our culture. We live in a sex-saturated, sexually exploitative culture. The plague of pornography alone has done enough to both desensitize and normalize the profane, satanic spirit of sexual immorality.

Furthermore, pornography is an epidemic of epic proportions that has reached its defiling tentacles into nearly every home, smart phone, and facet of society, including the church. One of the biggest reasons that the church remains so silent and ineffective in combating sexual abuse and the sex trafficking industry is because the overwhelming majority of men (and many women) in the church are personally in bondage to pornography. One research group determined that 68% of church-going men and over 50% of pastors view porn on a regular basis, and of young Christian adults 18-24 years old, 76% actively search for porn.

Here is a great accountability tool for those who may be struggling.https://accountable2you.com

What many followers of Jesus may not know is that every time they participate in buying or even viewing pornographic material, they are doing two devastating things.

  1. Participating with demons (Ephesians 5:3-14)
  2. Supporting the Sexual Slave Industry

“That’s right. Porn and sex trafficking are inseparably linked, and much of society denies or has no idea of this fact.”

https://fightthenewdrug.org/by-the-numbers-porn-sex-trafficking-connected/

Consider these statistics from fightthenewdrug.org.

— By some estimates, 4.5 million people are trapped or forced into sexual exploitation globally. (International Labor Organization)

— While nearly 25% of global trafficking victims are trafficked for sex, sexual exploitation earns 66% of the global profits from human trafficking at large.

– Sex trafficking is big business—it generates $99 billion annually, just from commercial sexual exploitation alone. (International Labor Organization)

– In one survey, 63% of underage sex trafficking victims said they had been advertised or sold online. (Thorn)

– According to anti-trafficking nonprofit, Rescue:Freedom, in 9 countries, 49% of sexually exploited women said that pornography was made of them while they were being sold for sex.

Many times children are taken against their will at a very young age and groomed to be sex slaves in the pornography industry. There is no such thing as justified pornography. It’s all from the pit of hell and the hand of Satan, and the industry as a whole helps to encourage, fund, and promote pedophilia, homosexuality, child abuse, and human sex trafficking.

If the church is ever going to take a stand against this culture of perversion and sexual immorality … then we must cleanse our hearts of our own evil deeds and separate ourselves from the unfruitful deeds of darkness. For even our own secret deeds will be exposed one day before the Judge of all the earth.

I will leave you with these strong words from the Apostle Paul. May God’s church truly begin to walk as children of light! Have mercy on us LORD.

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not become partners with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light.

Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

[Ephesians 5:3-14]

Earth Day, Environmentalism and Its Pagan Roots

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen”

[Romans 1:24-25]

This week the world is recognizing another Earth Day. Earth Day celebrations have now been promoted in our schools, parks, communities, and countries for nearly 50 years. Cloaked in the veil of environmental awareness and championed by a “save-the-planet” mantra, Earth Day has become one of the most successful indoctrination campaigns for modern paganism and the worship of Gaia — or Mother Earth.

Of course the pagan roots and religious components of Earth Day are always downplayed by organizers, who insist that it is an innocuous secular holiday simply established to promote a cleaner, greener planet. And who doesn’t want a healthier planet?

Yet just a surface-glance of the language, literature and activities at the core of this holiday paint an entirely different picture. Tucked nicely into the overarching theme of Earth Day, are core pagan beliefs such as the veneration of Mother Earth, the reduction of human population, the introduction of animistic and pantheistic beliefs, and even the criminalization for man’s contribution to climate change.

Although Earth Day [established 1970] is not officially recognized as one of the sacred, pagan holidays, it has deep pagan roots and was born out of deeper religious conviction. Earth Day’s genesis can be traced back to a 1967 essay written by Lynn White, Jr., titled — The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis.

In his essay, White laid a “heavy burden” on Biblical Christianity for promoting man’s dominance over nature, all the while suggesting that in order to save our world, progressive thinkers must change the way they view the relationship between mankind and Mother Earth. His suggestion, of course, was to embrace our pagan roots and replace archaic, destructive Christian beliefs with a newfound veneration of nature and nature’s “spirits.”

“Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions (except, perhaps Zoroastrianism), not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends … The spirits in natural objects, which formerly had protected nature from man, evaporated. Man’s effective monopoly on spirit in this world was confirmed, and the old inhibitions to the exploitation of nature crumbled.”

[Lynn White, Jr. — The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis — 1969]

In other words, the patriarch of the Earth Day movement believed with full conviction that until society returned to the pagan worship of nature and Mother Earth, mankind would inevitably destroy its own sacred environment. And make no mistake about it, pagan ideology considers the destruction of the planet as a more grievous offense that the destruction of human beings themselves. The neopagans of our day see mankind as the cancerous growth that has infected the earth with its waste and overpopulation.

And now, nearly 50 years later, our children have been indoctrinated with pagan ideology — passionately wanting to save a planet without even realizing why.

If you don’t believe Earth Day purely is a religious movement, here is another quote from White’s essay, which was premiered in the very first Earth Day manifesto in 1970.

“Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and refeel our nature and destiny.”

[White – The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis — 1969]

Earth Day and Environmentalism

One of the many branches of the neopagan movement is the modern obsession with climate change and radical environmentalism. Everyone from Al Gore to the latest “Green” political champion, New York Senator Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, insists that the this ecological crisis is the gravest threat to human civilization. This radical environmental ideology is much more than abstract conjecture, however, as zealous politicians have used fear-based rhetoric and fraudulent data to justify imposing brutal legislation and insufferable government restrictions.

Ocasio-Cortez at a women’s march – March 2019

To understand the irrational mindset of today’s radical environmentalists, look no further than to the founder of Earth Day, former Senator Gaylord Nelson, who once said, “The fate of the living planet is the most important issue facing mankind.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who recently proposed a $1 Trillion juggernaut “New Green Deal,” showed how her irrational environmental fervor influences her core values. Not only does Cortez support government funded abortions on demand, along with most socialist liberals, but she sees population control as a legitimate solution to the environmental “crisis.” Of course, like all elite socialists, she believes that she should be the one who determines who should live and who should be “sacrificed” for the greater good of the planet. Funny how that works.

“Our planet is going to face disaster if we don’t turn this ship around. There’s scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult. And it does lead young people to have a legitimate question: Is it OK to still have children?”

[Ocasio-Cortez, Newsweek — Feb. 2019]

Biblical Stewardship vs. Radical Enviornmentalism

Unlike White and Ocasio-Cortez, who preach paganism and population control, the Lord Jesus Christ has a much different view of the environment and man’s responsibility to exercise dominion over the earth. It’s called stewardship.

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” So the first principle of Biblical stewardship is that the LORD God is Creator and Ruler and Owner of the earth and the entire universe. We are not to venerate some pagan, demonic goddess, Gaia (Mother Earth). We are called to worship the LORD our God and serve Him only.

Secondly, the LORD our God created man in His own image and entered into covenant relationship with mankind, giving us dominion over the earth. Man is not equal to the animals but distinct from them. Man was created to reflect God’s heavenly image on the earth.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

[Genesis 1:26]

Obviously man did not perfectly carry out God’s original mandate, and the effects of sin and the curse have brought death and corruption upon the earth. Yet those who live in relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ are most capable of reflecting God’s image to the world and most appreciating God’s glory in the creation. The purpose of all creation is to magnify the glory of the Creator.

God didn’t entrust this beautiful planet to mankind for arbitrary waste, exploitation, and degradation. NO! God entrusted this planet to us for beautification, exploration, co-creation, and ultimately His glorification. As stewards of God’s earth, a born-again believer will have a desire to properly manage and conserve the natural resources that the LORD has provided and wisely use them for man’s good and God’s glory.

Finally, despite all our efforts to properly reflect and represent our Creator on earth, we also must understand that Jesus Christ is coming again to carry out a total restoration and renewal of the heavens and the earth. This earth, in bondage to corruption, will one day be liberated by our Lord Jesus Christ, as will all who belong to Him.

So the greatest threat to humanity is not the environment, the greatest threat is that every human soul on the planet today is in danger of dying apart from having a relationship with Jesus Christ — our Awesome Creator and Loving Savior.

“For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.”

[Isaiah 65:17]

The Dragon, Michael, and 1/3 of the Angels

Archangel

“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth.”

[Revelation 12:3-4a]

When it comes to angelology — or the doctrine of angels — I dare say most believers have little to no foundation. I remember in my seminary days spending all of one-half of one lecture on angelology. Unfortunately, the study of angels and spiritual beings has been ignored, and consequently, many misperceptions and incorrect teachings have settled in the church.

For example, if I were to ask someone in the church how many angels followed Lucifer in his rebellion and when it took place, most would answer that Satan persuaded 1/3 of the angels to follow him sometime before the fall of man in the garden. But would you be surprised to know that there is no teaching in the Bible that suggests such a thing?

First of all, the only clear passage that describes the great red Dragon [Satan] sweeping his tail and casting 1/3 of the angels to the earth is found in Revelation — at the very end of the Bible — not the beginning. Nothing in the text of Revelation 12 suggests these angels were cast to earth prior to the Garden temptation in Genesis 3. At the earliest, one possibly could make the case that this angelic fall took place around the time of Jesus’s birth [Revelation 12:1-4], but I believe a more responsible interpretation of Revelation 12 is to read it as a future event that will take place at the time of the end.

Secondly, most assume that because Satan will sweep 1/3 of the angels down to the earth, it must be talking about a rebellion of angelic defectors who willfully follow the devil. These rebel angels would be what most people understand to be demons, but again, you may be surprised to find out the Bible reveals something quite different.

Harmonizing REvelation 12 with Daniel 8

One of the benefits of studying the Old Testament, and specifically the prophets, is that the prophetic word reveals so much about the last days. As I was reading Daniel 8 this week and studying the profile of the “little horn,” or the Antichrist, I came across a passage that immediately caught my attention and cast my thoughts to Revelation 12. The language and imagery used in Daniel 8:9-14 is almost identical to the scene in Revelation 12. Knowing that both books of Daniel and Revelation are Apocalyptic literature and dealing with the last days, I knew these passages were most likely connected.

It became apparent with a little study that Daniel 8 and Revelation 12 are parallel passages, so let’s take a moment here to compare.

“Out of one of them came a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10It grew great, even to the host of heaven. And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them. 11It became great, even as great as the Prince of the host. And the regular burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12And a host will be given over to it together with the regular burnt offering because of transgression, and it will throw truth to the ground, and it will act and prosper.”

[Daniel 8:9-12]

“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
7Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

[Revelation 12:3-9]

It is hard to deny that Daniel 8:10 and Revelation 12:4 describe the same event. In both passages, some of the stars or “host” of heaven — aka angelic beings — are cast down to the earth by Satan, or the little horn. But what caught my attention in Daniel 8:10 is when it says, “And some of the host and some of the stars it threw down to the ground and trampled on them.” Daniel’s description clearly suggest that the little horn, who is given authority by Satan (the Dragon) throws down a host of angels and “tramples on them.” But why would Satan trample down his own army of angels? That would be quite counterproductive to say the least. The best explanation is that perhaps these stars (angels) cast to the earth are not the bad guys willingly following Satan, but rather the good guys following Michael the archangel.

Michael the Prince

For the first time I began to consider the possibility that John’s vision in Revelation 12 was depicting the point in the future when the invisible, heavenly war is literally brought down to earth. According to the text, Satan “swept” 1/3 of the angels with his tail. This language implies that these angels were swept down unwillingly or forcefully.

When you harmonize this with Daniel 8, it makes perfect sense. In all likelihood, Daniel’s reference to the “Prince of the host” is speaking of Michael the Archangel [see Daniel 10:12-14, 12:1]. When one harmonizes all these parallels, it begins to paint a much different picture than the traditional view.

As Michael and his angels make war in heaven against Satan and his angels, the forces of good prevail, and Satan is cast down to the earth — but not without a cost. It appears that as the devil and his angels are being cast to the earth, Satan delivers one fleeting blow to the good angels and is able to bring 1/3 of them down with him to the earth. More so, the text implies that as this heavenly war comes to the earth, God’s angels will be trampled under the Antichrist and the Dragon. Although I’ve never heard this teaching before, I believe this is precisely what the Scriptures are saying.

I don’t claim to have this all figured out, but I am confident that the traditional view of Satan bringing 1/3 of the angels down with him at the beginning of creation doesn’t have Biblical support. Not only is this event still future, but also it is referring to the Dragon bringing the heavenly war down to the earth when he is cast out of heaven. He sweeps his tail at the last moment and brings 1/3 of Michael’s angels down with him to trample them for a season. To say that the spiritual battle will reach it’s climax at this point is an understatement.

I realize that we can only develop our understanding of the spiritual realm by what has been revealed in the Bible. And if there is one reality that God is showing me, it is this. As everything plays out in real time, in both the physical and spiritual realms, the battle is ever intensifying and the losses are real. This is a call for God’s people to endure. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus, come.

Rediscovering the Cosmic Mission of Jesus

“”that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
[Ephesians 1:20-21]

The gospel of Jesus Christ is most often associated with His earthly mission as the sinless Savior, who died a substitutionary death for sinners on the cross and was resurrected to give eternal life for all who believe in Him. Jesus truly came to redeem mankind from sin and death, but that wasn’t His only mission. Jesus most definitely fulfilled His earthy mission as the suffering servant and Son of Man, but He also has a heavenly mission as the One and Only Son of God, having been exalted “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.” [Ephesians 1:21]

I am speaking of the cosmic mission of Jesus Christ.

Most believers are keenly aware of our great adversary, the devil, who is the prince of darkness and god of this world [2 Corinthians 4:4]. But sometimes we forget that satan doesn’t work alone. The Scriptures describe a host of heavenly beings that are in fierce opposition to God and His people. This invisible army of evil is relentlessly working in the unseen realm to subvert God’s purposes and destroy God’s kingdom. These are what the Bible calls the rulers, authorities, spiritual forces of evil, and cosmic powers over this present darkness. Although it is hard to say for certain, the Bible indicates that the heavenly host numbers at least in the millions, possibly billions. Knowing that a significant number of these spiritual beings have rebelled and joined forces with the devil, it is a substantial force to reckoned with.

One way to understand this cosmic concept is to mirror the visible, earthly realm with the invisible, heavenly realm. In the same way that there always have been forces of good and evil at war on earth, working through kings and their armies, there also are cosmic rulers and armies warring in the heavens. This cosmic war is consequential with real wins and losses [see Daniel 10:13-14]. And just as the LORD has allowed human history to play out in real time, He also has chosen to allow this heavenly conflict to transpire according to His will.

The Bible indicates that behind every earthly kingdom is a principality or power, a cosmic ruler, who is “pulling the strings” and wielding influence for the demonic forces of darkness. Satan and his legion have been manipulating and masterminding the kings of the earth since the dawn of creation. Whether Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, or any of the kingdoms in our day, we must understand world governments as being under the sway of these evil cosmic powers.

When the LORD dispersed the original nations at the tower of Babel as an act of His divine judgment, He turned them over to these cosmic rulers and authorities [Deuteronomy 32:8-9]. Satan may be the god of this world, but there are many other powerful rulers working with him. After Babel, the nations immediately began to serve and worship these other gods through every kind of abominable practice, such as sorcery, divination, astrology, necromancy, blood sacrifice, witchcraft, and gross sexual immorality. The earth had become the domain of darkness.

But God, working in the midst of this demonic domain, chose a nation for Himself — Israel — which is precisely why the LORD commanded His people Israel to worship no other gods before Him, for He alone is the One True God — the God of gods. Israel would become the living example of God’s superiority over the evil rulers of the world, and ultimately the King of kings and Lord of lords would come from this seemingly insignificant nation [Romans 9:4-5]. Yeshua, as the promised Messiah, would come to conquer the cosmic forces of evil and bring both heaven and earth under His rule and authority once and for all. The cosmic mission of Jesus is equally as significant as His earthly mission and must not be forgotten!

By becoming a man, Jesus is redeeming a people for Himself out of every nation on earth. In effect, the LORD is reclaiming the nations that were lost at Babel. But also by being God, Jesus has triumphed over all the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places and one day will return to establish His eternal kingdom on earth. Once we understand the cosmic mission of Jesus, many familiar passages in the Bible take on an entirely new meaning. Consider the language used in the essential creeds of the faith.

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

[Colossians 1:13-16]

“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”

[Colossians 2:15]

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:38-39]

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

(Ephesians 6:12)

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

[Philippians 2:9-11]

Although there is so much more to be said about the cosmic mission of Jesus, hopefully these observations will help establish a grander perspective and greater appreciation for the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. For His is the kingdom and the power and glory forever. Amen.

For more insight into this topic, consider watching this 6 minute video from the creators at the Bible Project.

Enmity

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

Enmity – it may not be a commonly used word in the English language, but it carries tremendous weight in the gospel story. To have enmity means to be hostile or have intense hatred toward another. Enmity implies conflict … war.

One of the primary threads throughout the Biblical narrative is that of enmity between the offspring (seed) of God and the seed of satan. Adam was called the son of God and Eve the mother of all the living. Man was created in God’s image and likeness – the offspring of God. Man’s purpose was to represent God and rule the earth for God’s glory. But satan stepped in, usurped, and stole dominion of the earth from man.

At the moment Adam sinned against the LORD, he effectively relinquished his kingdom to the adversary – that ancient serpent – and the war of enmity on earth exploded in full force.

Thomas Cole – 1828

The serpent, the devil, is the father of lies, and also has been a murderer from the beginning. He will stop at nothing to steal, kill and destroy God’s people – God’s offspring. Two kingdoms have collided and the losses are real. Souls are at stake and eternity hangs in the balance.

Today, this enmity is intensifying by the minute. As the invisible, spiritual battle rages around us, it also is materializing in real time among the people and nations on the earth. The battle lines have been drawn, and the sides are being chosen.

Granted, God has already told us the end of the story. God’s word has already revealed how the battle is won. But that doesn’t negate the fact that what plays out in the here and now matters. It matters more than we could possibly imagine.

So before I decide to dive into all the implications and applications of this “seed” motif in the Scriptures, I will introduce the essential gospel message to set the stage.

The Seed of the Woman

Seed is synonymous with the genetic material implanted from a husband into his wife, producing offspring. From this biological perspective, the “seed of the woman” is seemingly a contradiction in terms. In the Biblical narrative, the seed always corresponds to the man. So when the LORD used the phrase, “seed of the woman,” He was drawing a very intentional prophetic picture. The One who was to come and crush the head of the serpent would not come from the seed of man.

The Prophet Isaiah later would predict the coming of this skull-crushing King, as being born of a virgin. The Apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus Christ was born of woman in the fullness of time. The angel comforted Mary and told her that the child to be born to her would be conceived of the Holy Spirit. It is imperative that we understand Jesus was not conceived of the seed of sinful man. He was conceived divine DNA. God in the flesh.

“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

It is by faith in Christ alone that we are able to become the offspring of God. Sons and daughters of our Father in heaven. Jesus is the promised seed of the woman, which means that everyone who is not in Christ remains at enmity with him.