February 23, 2015

Church History – Part 2: How the Mystics Stole Christmas

Posted in Catholicism, Organized Religion, Religion, The Church tagged , , , , at 11:55 AM by E. M.

I'M SURE ITS JUST A COINCIDENCE

I’M SURE ITS JUST A COINCIDENCE

In the last post, we began looking at the history of the Church in the 6th Dispensation from the perspective of the seven letters Jesus dictated to seven churches in Asia Minor.

Generally, in each letter, Jesus gives the church a commendation and an area for improvement. He tells them how they will be judged if they don’t improve, and ends the letter with a promise of reward to the “overcomers”. When examined in the order presented, I believe the letters outline the history of the Church in advance.

We looked at the first two letters last time, and noted how Satan unsuccessfully attempted to destroy Christianity through intimidation, false doctrine, and physical persecution. These two letters conform with the first 300 years of Christianity – from the time of Jesus’ Resurrection, through the 3rd century A.D. In this post, we will examine the third letter that was sent to the church in Pergamos and see how Satan used the next weapon in his arsenal – the Mystics.

In the letter, Jesus commended the church for “holding fast to His name” even though they were in close proximity to Satan’s earthly seat of power. However, he noted that some of them embraced the “doctrine of Balaam”. Balaam was a prophet during the time of the Law who betrayed God and compromised with the world for money and power.

Jesus also accused them of holding the doctrine of the Nicolaitans (who we identified in the last post as Mystics). It looks like the false prophets that were rejected by the Ephesian church in the first letter were embraced by Pergamos.

So it would seem that the problem Pergamos had was compromise with Mystics. Interestingly, the name Pergamos is translated as “undesirable marriage”. Pergamos is the church that “married” the world. Historically, Pergamos corresponds with the “Medieval Church” – from the 4th century through the 9th century A.D.

How did the Church go from being the object of persecution by the world to being its partner? It all started with and very interesting Roman Emperor named Constantine.

The Roman Empire reached its zenith during the second century, after which it began to decline due to internal corruption, a lack of national cohesion due to an influx of disparate cultures, an unsustainable economy, over taxation, bloated government bureaucracy, and external threats from barbaric zealots in other countries who despised the Romans for their lavish lifestyle. All the while, the Roman citizens were too intoxicated by their largess, entertainment, and perceived invincibility to care. (Sounds eerily familiar, doesn’t it?)

In 312 AD, before the Battle of Milvian Bridge where Constantine would stage his final campaign against a rival emperor, Constantine claimed the he saw the sign of the Cross and the words “in this sign conquer”. He won the battle, united the empire, and consolidated his power.

This event allegedly led to Constantine becoming a Christian. As such, he enacted several unprecedented reforms. He legalized Christianity and ended the persecutions. He favored Christians at court, gave Christian leaders prominent positions in the government, and convened the Council of Nicaea. He also forbade work on Sundays (which was a big deal for the many slaves in the empire,) and had many significant church edifices built – including the “Church of the Holy Sepulcher” at the purported site of Jesus’ tomb.

Additionally (and significantly) Constantine named himself the head of the Church as its chief pontiff (priest) or “Pontifex Maximus” (emperors are not generally known for their humility).

The reign of Constantine definitely brought a great deal of relief to the early Church and drastically improved their lives, but there are valid reasons to question the veracity of his conversion.

Constantine didn’t just legalize Christianity; he legalized ALL the religions of the various cultures in Rome. Also, the title of Pontifex Maximus was claimed by previous Roman Emperors not only as the head of the pagan priesthood, but as a “god” above all the other gods!

Many historians (Christian and secular) believe that Constantine was a very savvy politician who saw religious tolerance as a way to ease the tensions and bring unity to the fractured empire. He likely found Christianity to be the most tolerable and least offensive faith to openly embrace due to the piety and humility of its followers – and the fact that the population of Christians in the empire was growing rapidly.

Whatever his reasons, Constantine’s rule allowed Christians to come out of the catacombs and enjoy a heretofore unprecedented level of social acceptance. Unfortunately, the seeds of compromise had been sowed and would quickly grow into corruption.

In the letter to Pergamos, Jesus said they dwelled where “Satan’s throne” was. As we’ve seen before, Satan and his minions are the spiritual force behind the world’s governments, and Pergamos was briefly the Roman capital in Asia Minor. And wherever Satan’s seat of power happens to be (or any seat of power for that matter), you can be sure to find the Mystics.

Mystics always follow the power. Semaramis first cultivated the mystics when Nimrod ruled the world in the 3rd Dispensation. They created the original pagan pantheon of “gods” – Nimrod, Semaramis, and their son Tammuz.

When the power moved to the Egyptian Empire, so did the Mystics, and the pantheon was renamed Osiris, Isis, and Horus to fit the culture. When Assyria, Babylon, and Persia took power, the Mystics went there and the pantheon took on the names Dagon, Baal, Molech, Astarte, Ishtar, Zororaster, etc. With the Greek empire, the migrating Mystics changed the pantheon to Zeus, Aphrodite, Dionysus, and others. When the Mystics followed the power to Rome, the gods became Jupiter, Venus, and the Roman pantheon.

In each case, the Mystics would absorb some of the native mythology and culture into their dogma, but they would always keep and promote some version of the king/father (Nimrod), the queen/mother-goddess (Semaramis), and their divine offspring (Tammuz) as a key part of their doctrine.

After Constantine died, his immediate successors went back and forth between embracing his edicts on Christianity and trying to overturn them. But it was his fourth successor Theodosius who made the marriage between the Church and the world complete.

In 380 AD, Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of Rome and outlawed all pagan worship as heretical. This presented the Church leaders with opportunities and problems. After centuries of being persecuted outcasts, the church now had the power of the Roman throne behind them!

However Theodosius’ decrees resulted in church buildings being flooded with throngs of unrepentant pagans and mystics who were forced to tacitly accept Christianity under penalty of law.

How would church leaders deal with their new “members”, many of whom were openly hostile to Christianity and had no desire to give up paganism? As expected, the Mystics used this situation as a means to ingratiate themselves with the new, powerful Church through religious compromise.

The Mystics advised the church leaders to simply adopt their operational method of assimilation – nominally merging Christianity with paganism by clothing the pagan gods and practices in Christian trappings!

The idea was that this would make the transition to Christianity easier for the pagans. And eventually, as they became true converts and fully adopted Christianity, the pagan elements could be eliminated.

Thus Nimrod, Semaramis, and Tammuz became the primary “Christian” pantheon of “God the father”, “The Virgin Mary” (the holy mother), and “Jesus” the divine son!

The various and sundry pagan gods of harvest, luck, strength, love, protection, and whatnot, became “saints”, such as Peter, Paul, John, Thomas, and whoever else the Mystics decided to throw in.

The various pagan ceremonies and festivals were also “Christianized”. One such festival that exemplifies this merger is the celebration we call Christmas, which is a Christianized version of the popular pagan holiday centered on the sun god who was contemporarily known as “Sol Invictus” (basically Nimrod again).

At the time of the winter solstice (December 21st) the Sun was at its lowest point in the daytime sky. It would stay at this low level for three more days, and then began to rise gradually until it reached it highest point at the summer solstice. The pagan tradition is that the sun “died” on the 21st, stayed dead for three days, then “god’s sun” was reborn on December 25th.

Its pretty easy to see how this was adopted by the church by replacing “Sun” with “Son”.  And the celebration became a mass for Christ (or Christ-mass). One popular pagan tradition from this celebration was to take a large log called the Yule (the ancient Chaldean word for “child”) and burn it in a fireplace on December 21st, let the ashes lay there for three days, and then replace the log with an evergreen tree decked with gold and silver to celebrate life (sound familiar?). Here’s what God thinks of that practice. And as expected, many of our other Christmas traditions such as mistletoe, wreaths, gift exchanges, etc. are also from paganism.

Never mind that Christians were never told to commemorate Jesus’ birth, and He clearly was not born in December (He would have frozen to death in a barn in the middle of winter in Judea).

For some festivals, they didn’t even bother changing the name. The spring sex and fertility rites of Ishtar (Semaramis), complete with the fertility symbols of rabbits and eggs, were grafted in to the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection. Easter is the slightly transliterated name of Ishtar.

But why would the church leaders voluntarily go along with such a blatant corruption of their faith? They became comfortable with their new position!

They enjoyed not being persecuted (who wouldn’t), but more pertinently, they began to love and covet their newly gained power and were willing to compromise themselves to avoid losing it!

The reason that the church grew and flourished during the persecutions is because they were forced by circumstance to rely completely on God for their day to day survival and sustenance. They didn’t cling to their earthly lives, because there was nothing appealing about it. So they focused on God and the true Meaning of Life.   However as they gained status in the empire, they no longer needed God’s constant protection and provision, and their earthly lives became pleasurable.

Man’s nature and tendency toward comparative thinking eventually led the Church away from God and into the waiting arms of the Mystics. The Mystics enthralled the Church leaders into playing a game in which they were thoroughly outmatched. Over the centuries, the Mystics had perfected the art and strategy of conquest through infiltration. The church leaders didn’t stand a chance.

There is no compromise with evil that can result in good. The Mystics knew this. The Christians didn’t. The Mystics knew that once introduced, the corruption wouldn’t be eliminated; just the opposite – it would fester and grow until it infected the very fabric of Church doctrine and became entrenched in church tradition (raise your hand if you put up a Christmas tree last year).

As is their method, once the Mystics gained a foothold in the Church, they began to dominate it. The pagan mystics of Rome became the priests, bishops, and cardinals of the church. Sure they replaced some of their pagan symbols with crosses, nominal invoked the name of Jesus in their rituals, and put halos and angel’s wings on their idols, but for all intents and purposes they essentially continued practicing the mysticism of ancient Babel as they had done since the days of Nimrod and Semaramis.

And thus “Christianity” became a religion. In case it hasn’t become clear, the religion I am referring to is what became known as Roman Catholicism.

Catholicism is the blend of Christian doctrine and pagan practices that began with Constantine and endures to this day. The religion of Catholicism pretty much epitomizes everything I’ve written about Religion and Mystics in this blog (I told you this post would be controversial!)

The Church at Pergamos was commended for holding on to Christ in spite of their proximity to Satan’s throne. But the corruption that had taken hold in the Church grew exponentially until it became the gargantuan, mystic-driven, pseudo-Christian theocracy that would come to dominate most of the world for over a millennium.

In the next post, we will look at the fourth letter from Jesus written to the Church at Thyatira, which chronicles the rule of the “Christian Mystics”. We will explore the far reaching impact on the world and the Church, and why this organization will endure through the end of the 6th Dispensation… and is promised a terrible fate. Next time.

 

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January 5, 2015

The Church: Mysteries and Prizes

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, The Church, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , at 3:07 PM by E. M.

Arranged MarriageIn the 6th Dispensation, those who choose to accept the gift of Salvation are given a new heart which can be influenced and guided by the Holy Spirit to be always and completely right and just. This influence is called Grace. The group of people who intentionally strive to live by grace are referred to in the Bible as “The Church”.

As we saw in the last post, the Church is unique in all dispensational history as it is a direct conduit to the Meaning of Life.

The term “Church” is first used by Jesus (in the future tense) as something He would build on the “rock” (or foundation) of declared belief in Him as the Redeemer. “Church” is translated from the Greek term “ecclesia”, which means to be “called out” [chosen and separated for a special purpose].

 

The Church is referred to as a “mystery” by the Apostle Paul (who wrote most of the New Testament). But not in the sense in which we currently use the term (something that is unknown). The Greek term used by Paul is “mustérion” which is a reference to something previously hidden that is being divinely revealed.

From the standpoint of the Dispensations, the overarching “mystery” is the seed plot of history – that God literally planted the seed that would result in His plan being fulfilled as a part of the judgments rendered after the failure of the 1st Dispensation. When God said that the “seed of the woman” would be the undoing of Satan’s claim on humanity, He gave the first hints of that mystery which has been carried through the entire Biblical narrative of redemption.

So what specifically is the “mystery” about the Church that was able to be revealed after the Redeemer completed His work? And what is it “called out” to be?

Paul makes it clear in the above referenced verse that the mystery he’s revealing is that marriage is a reflection of the Meaning of Life, and that the Church is the Bride of Christ! This essentially completes the loop I started when I first mentioned that the Meaning of Life is marriage!

The institution of marriage is vitally important to God because it is the divine dress rehearsal for the eternity that He intended for man to have with Him.

Unfortunately, the current process and institution of marriage bears little to no resemblance to the one originally ordained by God (and in some cases, its not even close). As such, it would be extremely useful and revelatory to take a look at the ancient Jewish wedding process and see how it relates to the Church.

The following is an excerpt from the Koinonia House website:

The first step, the Ketubah, or Betrothal, was the establishment of the marriage covenant, usually when the prospective bridegroom took the initiative and negotiated the price (mohair) he must pay to purchase her.

Once the bridegroom paid the purchase price, the marriage covenant was established, and the young man and woman were regarded as husband and wife. From that moment on, the bride was declared to be consecrated or sanctified – set apart – exclusively for her bridegroom. As a symbol of the covenant relationship that had been established, the father of the groom arranged gifts to be given to the bride which was symbolic of a promise providing a legal tie between the two.

After the marriage covenant was established, the groom left his bride at her home and returned to his father’s house, where he remained separated from his bride for approximately 12 months. This afforded the bride time to gather her trousseau and prepare for married life.

During this period of separation, the groom prepared a dwelling place in his father’s house to which he would later bring his bride. At the end of the period of separation, the bridegroom came – usually at night – to take his bride to live with him… Although the bride was expecting her groom to come for her, she did not know the time of his coming. As a result, the groom’s arrival was preceded by a shout, which announced her imminent departure to be gathered with him.

There are several more stages in the wedding process that relate to Christ and the Church on the above referenced web site, and we will explore them as we get closer to a discussion of the 7th Dispensation, but for now, let’s look at how the above relates to the Church.

The “price” Jesus had to pay in order to atone for the curse of Original Sin and make the bride eligible for the Meaning of Life was His sacrificial death on the cross, and the Resurrection.

But like any bride, the populace of the 6th Dispensation must agree to accept the Bridegroom’s “proposal”. (and that proposal is available to EVERYONE).

The Church is referred to as being in a state of sanctification (set aside and being prepared to the Groom). Once salvation is accepted, the Holy Spirit endows every believer with spiritual gifts that are meant to edify the church and further enhance the sanctification (I’m pretty sure my gift is flippancy).

This is the PRIMARY purpose of the Church’s existence in the world – to grow in grace, and become more right and just. Why? Because it is essentially training for what the Church will do for eternity in Heaven, AND it earns us rewards!

This topic is important enough to merit some additional exposition:

If you break it down, Jesus had two primary messages when He addressed people while on earth: salvation and reward. Reward statements are generally in an “if-then” format – If you do this, then that will happen.

The Sermon on the Mount  is Jesus’ first and longest teaching. The sermon is a thorough exposition on the Law – explaining the “whys” behind the commandments. It also addresses all the different types of reward messages. Jesus spoke of how to get good rewards, how to maximize good rewards, how spiritual rewards are better than earthly ones, how to avoid bad rewards, and how not to lose your reward.

If you look as Jesus’ subsequent public teachings (parables etc.) they are all centered on reward (value and profitability), or salvation (life, everlasting life). It’s important to keep in mind that while these two messages are related, they are distinct in very important ways. The good works that you do to earn rewards do NOT save you – Jesus never equates them with salvation/everlasting life, but they increase the amount of value the you will have in heaven.

Why did Jesus focus on these two topics? Because to Him, spiritual inheritance (getting everlasting life in Heaven and the reward when we get there) are far more important than our physical predicaments on earth!

The few decades we spend in these mortal bodies are inconsequential when compared to eternity, so of course Jesus would spend most of His time teaching about them! Thus it also makes sense that people who consider earth to be their main home would interpret Jesus’ message in a way that makes transitory earthly matters of primary importance (love, tolerance, social justice etc). Jesus only concerned Himself with earthly matters to the degree that they increased the value we would have in Heaven (rewards).

Lastly, Jesus made it clear that when He departed for Heaven after the resurrection, He was going to His “Father’s House” to prepare a dwelling place for the Church, and at some point in the future, He will return (unexpectedly) to take his bride with Him. The idea of Christ sudden and unexpected return for His bride comprises perhaps the most controversial (and frankly preposterous) doctrine in Christianity – “the Rapture”. In fact, the only thing it has going for it is that it’s clearly promised in the Bible, so its absolutely true!

Will examine the Rapture when we look at the end of this dispensation, but before we do that, we need to take a more detailed look at the sanctification process. The vast majority of the New Testament (the epistles of Paul and the Apostles) give in-depth teaching to edify and sanctify the Church. But there are seven short and very impactful “epistles” that are often and tragically overlooked. Tragic because they are authored by Jesus Himself AND because they give us an outline of the entire 2000-plus year history of the Church!

Beginning with the next post, we will examine the history of the Church with the “Epistles of Jesus” as our guide.

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December 15, 2014

Dispensation 6: A Change of Heart

Posted in Salvation, Terminology, The Church, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , at 11:48 AM by E. M.

Changed_heartThe dispensations are God’s contrastive way of proving that His plan for man is right, by allowing mankind the opportunity to choose to be Godly on their own. In the first three dispensations God allow men fairly free reign during periods of complete innocence, vast knowledge, and full cooperation. Each time mankind chose themselves over God by thinking comparatively. Furthermore, each dispensation resulted in men becoming more evil!

In the 4th and 5th Dispensations, God provided progressive guidance though earthly representatives and by giving them His Law, culminating in the advent of a divine Redeemer. Again men choose themselves over God by rejecting (and ignoring) the guidance.

Since in the previous two dispensations God gave men guidance through external sources, the next just and logical step would be to make that guidance intimate and internal.

The 6th Dispensation asks the question: What if God’s presence was housed inside us, and gave us day by day guidance on how to be like Him? Would we choose God over ourselves?

Its an intriguing proposition, and its one of the many ways that this dispensation is so special and unique. But how would this work? How does God presence get “inside” us (and how much space does He need?)

It all starts with Salvation.

When a person’s “gets saved”, it’s not a one-way proposition. When the decision to accept the gift of redemption is made, God doesn’t just give a wink and a thumbs-up. God begins the work of actively changing your entire life!

Salvation makes us a new creation. We are given a new heart by God, and His Law is written on our hearts. Why our hearts and not our brain/mind? Because the heart is where your integrity comes from.

Like the brain, the physical heart has neural connections that make it function like a “mini-brain”. Your heart has its own independent nervous system consisting of over 30,000 neurons.. Like the unconscious brain, the heart is part of the body that can respond and make decisions based on intuition and feelings.

But its effects on us are more primal and less influenced by the things that can affect our conscious minds. The heart is much more binary. You can fake all kinds of things with your conscious brain, but you can’t fool the heart. Whatever is true about you flows from your heart. That’s why in salvation, God is much more concerned with what you believe in your heart than in your mind.

The problem is that before salvation, man’s heart is evil! It reflects the fact that man is not always and completely right and just. That heart rejects the Godly thought process (contrastive thinking and growth) and embraces destructive thoughts (comparative thinking and comfort). Fortunately man has free will and can choose to act outside of his nature.

Accepting redemption is an act of free will. But even with that acceptance God knows that is would be a losing battle to try to influence through our old heart, and He certainly can’t dwell there – so He gives us a new one!

Of course I’m not speaking of replacing the physical organ (becoming a Christina does not require major surgery), I’m speaking of the spiritual housing of the heart – the part that affects and is affected by our thought process. This new heart can hear from God and can be influenced by God

This is the definition of grace – the Divine influence on the heart and its reflection in life.

The 6th Dispensation is unique in that it is a direct conduit to the meaning of life. How is it connected to the meaning of life? Remember, in order to be with God, we have to be like God. The only “man” who has ever managed to be like God is Jesus during his earthly incarnation. How? He lived by grace! He ONLY did what God told him to do. This is how he was fully man and fully God. The sixth dispensation gives us all that same opportunity!

The Problem is we get all kinds of inner notions and urges influencing us constantly. Sure we get a new heart through salvation, but the rest of us (specifically our minds) are still under Adam’s curse. We are still not always and completely right and just in our nature. So how do you know if it’s God’s influence that we are hearing?

Unsaved man is influenced by three sources, the “World”, the “Flesh”, and the “Devil. Two are external (world and devil) the other is internal (flesh). All three sources have two things in common – they all oppose God, and they are all “loud” (they all influence us aggressively).

The “voice” of the World focuses you on the pursuit of external things to replace God in your life. The World steers you toward comfort, self-justification, religion, and conformity. The World is the system that wants to deny uniqueness and get you to embrace a Godless Eden.

The Flesh is the enemy within. Is our human nature that is the polar opposite of Godly thinking. The Flesh wants us to be comparative, which is the source of pride, fear, and evil.

The Devil is the demonic influence (“devil” is from the Greek “diabolos” which means “one who hurls thing at you”  In the Biblical context, it is translated as “Accuser”). The Devil’s goal is destruction in long term. The devil works in the opposite manner to God. The Devil is constantly hurling seductive/destructive thoughts at your Flesh (as opposed to the heart), which you must make the moment-by-moment choice to accept or reject. Whenever an evil, destructive thought enters you mind and you think “where did that come from?” It was probably the Devil.

But, when you get saved a fourth influence is added – the Holy Spirit, who Jesus promised would live in the hearts of believers! The influence of the Spirit is focused on growth and faith, through contrastive thinking. The voice of the Spirit is the most difficult to hear. The Spirit speaks in a quiet, still, small voice. If the world pulls at you, the flesh yells at you, and the devil jabs you; the Spirit gives you a gentle nudge.

But why does God, the most powerful force of them all, choose to be so subtle?

Because he wants us to choose him! He wants us to love him – and that takes effort! Unlike the other influences that bombard us constantly and consistently, we have to be intentional to hear from God. We have to actively seek Him and intentionally block out the other voices. We have to pursue God. He wants us to love him enough to sacrifice our comforts, our lusts, and our natural desire to prosper without him.

Why?

1. Its a reasonable response to the sacrifice of redemption. Salvation is offered freely, but it wasn’t free. Jesus paid the price, and to live the redemptive life justly requires effort on our part.

2. The meaning of life requires it! Remember, the meaning of life is marriage. Jesus didn’t just come to save mankind, he came to redeem a bride! And he naturally wants a bride who wants Him and loves Him enough to be conformed to His image. His bride must be like Him – always and completely right and just.

And that’s the whole purpose of the 6th Dispensation, to find a bride for Christ!

This Bride consists of a group of people who are willing to accept His redemption, and intentionally and consistently allow themselves to be conformed to His image by heeding the voice of grace and be transformed into unique individuals who flourish in their individual greatness, adding the value of that greatness to the overall body of believers, thus creating a Bride worthy of God’s Son.

(Grace is personal, the guidance given to each person while always and completely right and just, also guides them to be the royal image bearer that was lost when Adam fell.)

This group of believers who are to be the Bride is called “the Church”.

If the 6th Dispensation were to be a success, the Church would be completely sanctified and conformed to Christ by obeying the voice of the Spirit completely.

However, logically, we know that this dispensation will fail like all the rest. But since we’re still in it, we don’t have the benefit of history to tell us exactly how and when it will end as we had with the other dispensations.

However we have enough knowledge of the dispensational pattern to take a theoretical stab at it. If success is tied to the Church hearing and obeying God’s voice, then failure would be the opposite -to ignore His voice.

But it has to be more than that. Dispensational failure means choosing ourselves over God. So then, in line with that pattern, this dispensation will fail when the Church chooses to be guided by ITS OWN voice instead of God’s!

I’ll address HOW this can happen in an upcoming post. As to WHEN this failure happens. . . I would contend that it ALREADY HAS!

Obviously that is a VERY provocative position that I’ll need to back up, and I will do that in an upcoming post as well.

But before we go there, we need to take a deeper look at this unique and mysterious entity called the Church. What is it? What are its origins? What is its purpose? Why does Jesus consider it his Bride? And what has it been doing the last 2000 years? We begin examining these questions next time.

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November 24, 2014

Kingdom Come…later

Posted in Bible Prophesy, Jesus, The Dispensations tagged , , , , at 4:12 PM by E. M.

THE PHARISEE MESSIANIC FANTASY

THE PHARISEE MESSIANIC FANTASY

The 5th Dispensation failed because the Jewish leadership failed to recognize and accept Jesus as their Messiah, despite the enormous evidence that that proved Jesus was the ONLY person who could be the Redeemer.

As with the previous dispensations, the failure was due to the people choosing themselves over God – specifically, they chose the version of the Messiah that THEY wanted, as opposed to the one God actually sent.

But what if the Jews HAD accepted Jesus? This question is interesting for a couple reasons. First, the aftermath of a successful 5th Dispensation would have been unique due to the promises God made to Israel. And secondly, the end of this dispensation will greatly impact the future, as we’ll see later in this post.

Before we get to the answer, we need to revisit some background information. In the 4th Dispensation, God made an unconditional, unbreakable promise to Abraham (the father of the Jews and Israel) that He would make them a great nation and that all the nations of the world would be blessed through them.

That promise was amplified later in the 5th Dispensation through Old Testament prophets who foretold that the Messiah would set up a world-wide kingdom and would rule the nations from Jerusalem.

But this Kingdom would be preceded by God judging, punishing, and generally going all “Old Testament” on the enemies of Israel (I acknowledge that this may be the first appropriate usage of that term).

And this is what the Pharisees were looking for from their Messiah – a Jewish Super hero who would make all their jingoistic fantasies a reality. And their desires weren’t illegitimate! Just ill timed.

In fact, Jesus began His ministry by quoting this Messianic prophesy from Isaiah 6:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me, To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God;

Except He stopped at the last comma and closed the book. He left off the part about “The day of vengeance of our God”! Or more accurately, He postponed it since the first part of His ministry was to fulfill the law and die unjustly to redeem mankind.

So what would have happened if the Jewish leadership had been contrastive and recognized their Messiah?

First of all, they would have accepted Him as King when He presented Himself as such on the exact day prophesized. His unjust execution would then have likely been initiated by the Romans (who wouldn’t have looked favorably on someone elevating Himself above Caesar) instead of the Jews.

And while they would have been distraught by the brutality of His death, they would have anxiously awaited His resurrection on the third day. The risen Jesus would have presented Himself in the Temple for all of Israel to see (the people would have still been in Jerusalem for spring feasts), and the Jews would have believed on Him and accepted salvation.

Then the entire gentile world would have likely heard this voice coming from heaven. Followed by righteous Judgment raining down upon the enemies of Israel, as well as Satan and his minions for 7 years.

Finally, the long awaited Kingdom would commence with the Jews ruling alongside Jesus.

But as we know, this didn’t happen. Worse, by rejecting their Messiah, the Jews opened themselves up to the curses that God pronounced would occur if they ultimately rejected Him. Jesus cried in despair for His people knowing the horrors and misfortunes that they would have to endure throughout their history as a result of their failure to recognize the Redeemer

Moreover, because they intentionally refused to see the evidence that was staring them in the face for hundreds of years, God justly blinded them to the knowledge they rejected.

[Note: the blindness pronounced by Jesus was a “corporate” curse on national Israel. Individual Jews could obviously be saved since the Jews were almost exclusively the only Christians for several years after Jesus’ resurrection.]

But while the failure of the 5th Dispensation was a tragedy for first-century Israel, it was a boon to the rest of us, because we have the opportunity to fill in the gap. What “gap” you ask?

Allow me to explain:

You see, the aforementioned prophesy in Daniel 9: 24-27 not only gave the exact date of Jesus’ presentation as the Redeemer, it gives timing of the end of the reign of sin and evil in the world!

The prophesy basically said that everything would be wrapped up in 490 years (70 “weeks of years”). As we’ve seen, Jesus presented Himself as Redeemer/Messiah/King after 483 years (69 “weeks of years”). That just leaves 7 years (one week of years) yet to be fulfilled.

But Daniel 9:26 shows that there is an indeterminate gap of time between the 69th week and the 70th week, wherein certain things happened including the crucifixion and resurrection, as well as the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70 A.D. (so we know the gap was at least 40 years since the 69th week ended around 30 A.D.)

Now, if the 5th Dispensation had been successful, the gap would have been much shorter – primarily encompassing Christ’s death and resurrection (and probably not the destruction of the temple). However because that dispensation failed, God had to move on to the 6th Dispensation.

But what about those final 7 years?

THEY HAVEN’T HAPPENED YET!!

That’s right, the entire 6th Dispensation occurs in the gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel’s prophesy! That a 2000 year (and counting) gap of time!

This gap of time benefits us because everyone reading this blog was born during the 6th Dispensation and has the opportunity to receive the salvation and redemption offered by Jesus and rejected by first century Israel!

This idea obviously has a ton of implications for us that we will begin to explore in the next post, but before we go there, we need to address a couple of burning questions left over from the end of the 5th Dispensation – namely, what happens with the final 7 years, and what’s to become of Israel?

Here’s the thing, as with all the dispensations, God knew the 5th would fail. But since He is Righteous, He had to be contrastive and give Israel the opportunity to succeed. And since He is Just, He had to judge them with blindness because of their failure.

But remember, the promises God made to Abraham and his descendants are unconditional and unbreakable! Those promises HAVE to be fulfilled. That means that God is NOT done with Israel!

There are still 7 years left to account for and those 7 years WILL happen. In fact, those 7 years are among the most documented periods of time in Bible Prophesy! After the gap (the 6th Dispensation), the 5th Dispensation will come back! The blindness WILL be lifted from the eyes of Israel. God WILL judge their enemies. There WILL be a worldwide Kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital.

We will delve into the 70th week of Daniel later, but in the next post we will begin to explore the Dispensation that is the most meaningful to us (because we currently live in it). What is the 6th Dispensation? Why is it unique? And how (and when) will it end? Next time…

 

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April 10, 2014

The Great Invasion – part 2: Game of Thrones

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare, The Dispensations tagged , , , , at 8:24 PM by E. M.

GameOfThronesWe’ve been looking at the advent of the Redeemer from the perspective of His (and our) spiritual enemies. In the last post, we saw that as God revealed more details of how man’s Redeemer would arrive, Satan and his minions focused their war efforts to prevent the invasion. But despite their best efforts, they always met progressive defeat.

Once Jesus was born however, Satan was able to put all of his energy into preventing Christ from completing His redemptive work.

As the time of the Redeemer’s prophesized victory grew closer, Satan worked to lay down a political mine field to keep Him from fulfilling his role as King of the Jews. Since the Babylonian captivity, Israel was occupied by the powerful and demonically energized empires of Persia and Greece. By the time of Jesus’ birth, the most powerful world empire- Rome – held an iron grip on the area. Worse, Israel was a contentious buffer state between Rome and the similarly powerful Parthian empire to the east, filled with disgruntled nationalist Jews. So Christ’s potential kingdom was a backwater political albatross stuck between two hostile super powers.

It was during this low point in national history that God decided to give the Virgin Mary the good news that she’d been chosen to carry the savior of the world (who would be considered a bastard since she got pregnant before she was married).

Now the honorable thing for Satan to do would be to wait until the kid grew into an adult and then take Him on man to man (or Man to Devil). But while Satan can be accused of many things, “honorable and fair” are not on the list. To him, even an infant is fair game.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Roman Caesar got the bright idea to have everyone in the empire travel to their home town for a census. By the time a very pregnant Mary and her betrothed, Joseph arrived in Bethlehem; there was no place for them to stay other than a local stable. Thus the Savior of the world; the Redeemer of man; God in flesh, was born in an animal feeding trough in a barn filled with said fragrant animals.

But as I wrote previously, from the perspective of Satan, the ubiquitous manger scene of Christmas card fodder was nothing less than D-Day; a hostile invasion of his territory by an enemy force. Jesus come to size Satan’s kingdom, and was taking the fight directly to him on his turf.

Satan’s first counter-offensive was to have the local rulership command that all the newly born males in the area be killed. But that tactic failed – just like the last time he tried it. But remember, Satan is incapable of original ideas. All he can do is trot out the same stuff he’s tried before and hope to still get mileage out of it (kind of like a Hollywood movie producer).

Seeing that direct physical force wasn’t an effective way to stop his enemy (Hey, it only took him 3000 years to figure that out. Progress!) Satan move on to his next favorite strategies, manipulation and compromise.

After Jesus reached adulthood and was officially anointed by God to begin his redemptive mission, Satan finally came in for a face to face confrontation with his foe (of course he waited until Jesus was physically and mentally compromised due to starvation because, well, Satan’s an a-hole).

Satan knew he had no chance agonist the Son of God, so he went after the Son of Man – he planned to use his temptations to get Jesus to use His free will to choose Himself over God.

Satan started by appealing to the physical desire by tempting Jesus to sate His extreme hunger supernaturally. But as a man, Jesus ONLY did what God told Him to do, and God did NOT tell Him to turn stones into bread. If Jesus had obeyed Satan, He would have made that decision on His own – as a man – to satisfy His physical desires. He would have made the same mistake as Eve!

Jesus responded to this temptation not with the words of man, but as the Word of God.

Jesus 1, Satan 0

Satan then attacked man’s other major weakness – Pride. Satan challenged Jesus to prove His divinity and position with God.

[Begin dramatic license]

Satan – Oh, so you’re pious huh? Not going to feed yourself because “God’s word didn’t tell you to”? Is that why you claim to be the “Son of God”? Well the Bible also says that if you throw yourself off this building, Angels will rescue you. So go ahead, show me you’re the Son of God!”

Jesus – Seriously? You’re actually going to misquote my own words to me? Try this one – “you are not allowed to test your creator!

Satan – Grrrrrrr!

[End dramatic license]

Jesus 2, Satan 0

Finally, Satan brings out his most effective weapon against man – Compromise. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and told Him that he would bequeath them all if Jesus would give him worship.

Jesus came to earth to conquer Satan and take his kingdom by force (and as we’ll see in an upcoming post, it is a brutal and costly battle). But Satan offered a short cut – no fight, no suffering, no blood, no torturous death on a cross. Just make a simple pledge of fidelity, and the world is yours.

It was a stunningly attractive temptation. One accepted in various forms by otherwise strong and principled men. But not by this one. Jesus chose God’s way over man’s. He did what the first man could not, and thus proved Himself worthy and eligible to redeem Adam’s sin.

Jesus 3, Satan 0. Game over.

Satan lost a major battle, but the war was far from over. Satan took his best shot and came up short. It was time to call in reinforcements. If Satan couldn’t break Jesus, then maybe He could be broken by the people He came to save.

In the next post, Jesus faces the second front in Satan’s army – the mystics!

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October 17, 2013

The Law Myth – part 2: Divine Dress Rehearsal

Posted in Jesus, Religion, The Law tagged , , , , at 2:20 PM by E. M.

THAT KID REALLY CREEPS ME OUT

THAT KID REALLY CREEPS ME OUT

In the last post we began to looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation.  We saw that the rules of the Law were not meant to repress the Israelites, but were intended to show them the optimal way to live and prosper and to make them good ambassadors to usher in the advent of the Redeemer.

But there are other aspects of the Law beyond health and moral conduct that gives rise to another myth – the myth that the Law is religion.

Much of the Law details a multitude of rituals, sacraments, and festivals.  The rules around these activities are very detailed, exacting, and strict.  Take for example, the “sin offering”:

And if any one of the common people sin unwittingly, in doing any of the things which God hath commanded not to be done, and be guilty;
if his sin, which he hath sinned, be made known to him, then he shall bring for his oblation a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned.
And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin-offering, and kill the sin-offering in the place of burnt-offering.
And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt-offering; and all the blood thereof shall he pour out at the base of the altar.
And all the fat thereof shall he take away, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace-offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savor unto God; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. Leviticus 4: 27-31

To be honest, all this sounds a lot like religion.  It seems like God is telling people to do certain activities in order to justify their wrongs.

Furthermore, why does an all-powerful God need a sacrifice?  Why does killing an animal please Him?  Why does its blood need to be smeared all over the place?  It all seems a bit macabre.

Without the right context, it’s easy to see how all these rules can make God look no different than any other petulant, ancient “rage-god” demanding arbitrary obeisance from his fiefdom lest he rain down fire and crickets upon them in his wrath (ok, that’s maybe not the most vivid description of wrath, but I really hate crickets).

Is this myth true?  Is God basically that creepy omnipotent kid from the Twilight Zone?  Are the sacraments demanded by the Law a form of religion?

The answer is no.  And this is proven by understanding the purposes of both religion and the Law.

Religion is actions initiated by man (NOT God) in order for man to justify himself.  The Law comes from God, and merely doing the activities of the Law does not offer justification.

The purpose of the Law is to prepare the world (through Israel) for the coming of the Redeemer.  So how do the rituals of the Law accomplish this?

The ritual and the sacraments of the Law symbolize the vital aspects of the Redeemers advent and purpose.  Doing the sacraments of the Law is essentially acting out the work of the Redeemer.  It’s a divine dress rehearsal!

What is the Redeemer’s work?  From what we’ve learned so far, the Redeemer will be a man with perfect blood, who will sacrifice that blood on behalf of Adam’s fallen offspring (us), resulting in us gaining life and being reconciled to God.

Now let’s look again at the sin offering from the passage above.  It requires:

  1.  A blemish free (perfect) animal (a goat in this case, but lambs and bulls are also used)
  2. The animal is killed (sacrificed)
  3. Its blood is taken by the priest before the alter
  4. The priest puts blood on the horns and base of the alter
  5. The animals fat is burned which God enjoys
  6. The sin is forgiven

How does this all fit together?

We learned previously that “life” is in the blood.  The “perfect” animal represents perfect blood.  The perfect blood is sacrificed.  The priest is the mediator between God and man.  The priest represents One who has the authority to come before God on man’s behalf.  The alter represents God.  Horns are a Biblical representation of ruling authority.  Thus the mediator between God and man placed the perfect blood on that authority, and then pours it at His feet.  Fat is generally seen as excess and denotes the richness, luxury, and comfort (pride) of man.  Its burning (being destroyed) is pleasing to God.  These represent the humility needed when one prays – especially for forgiveness.  God finds prayers sweet like incense!  Finally, forgiveness is rendered, representing reconciliation with God.

And that’s just what can be found in ONE of the sacraments of the Law.  All of them represent some aspect of the Redeemer and were written with the Redeemer in mind!

The way this was supposed to work, is that if the Israelites obeyed the Law, they would have acted out the work of the Redeemer thousands of times, over the 1500 years between Moses and the advent of the Redeemer.  They should have known the work of the Redeemer so well, that there’s no reasonable way they could have missed Him and failed the 5th Dispensation.

But they did fail.  Why?  Religious brain damage!  As I wrote in a previous post:

“Unfortunately certain men decided of their own volition (and convinced countless others) that rituals alone could provide justification and atonement, and they warped them into religious acts.  But this was NEVER God’s intention.

As I wrote last week, the men who perverted Levitical rituals into religion are the ones whose actions led to the death of Christ.  Their religion blinded them to the advent of the very person the rituals were put in place to make them aware of!  See what I mean when I say religion causes brain damage?”

There is one final pervasive myth about the Law that we will conclude with.  The idea that God is a repressive prude who created the Law in order to make us feel bad about things we like – especially sex.  Next time…

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August 7, 2013

The Law Myth – part 1: Generous Oppression

Posted in Religion, Terminology, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , , , at 12:24 PM by E. M.

A mild over-reaction to the Law

A mild over-reaction to the Law

In the 5th Dispensation, God gave His nation, Israel a volume of commands and instructions collectively called the Law.  The particulars of the Law are very detailed and specific, and Israel’s compliance with them was non-negotiable (they were commands after all).  The Israelites were promised great blessings and prosperity if they obeyed the Law, and severe punishment if they disobeyed.

In the last post we saw that one of the purposes of the Law was to help men understand God’s standards of righteousness and what constitutes sin.  And while there is much in the Law regarding morality, there are also detailed rules on things like personal conduct, property rights, ceremonial procedures, worship instructions, food safely, litigation, hygiene, and medicine.

Many of the commandments of the Law can sound pretty strange and overly restrictive to modern ears, and when filtered through contemporary agnostic perspectives, can lead to misunderstandings about the nature and purpose of the Law.  In this post, I want to address some of the myths that arise from these misunderstandings.

A few years ago, I was having a discussion with an atheist friend about God and the Bible (its funny how atheists claim they don’t believe in God, yet they always want to talk about Him.  I don’t believe in Santa Claus yet I almost never bring him up in casual conversation).

Anyway, as with most discussions I have with atheists, her point was not to gain knowledge, but rather to point out something so illogical or abhorrent about God that it would justify her decision not to believe in Him.  In this case, the discussion veered toward the Law and how “oppressive” it was to women and how it advocated slavery (therefore I must be crazy to believe in God because He’s such an a-hole).

At best, this argument showed that like most atheists, she had barely more than a superficial understanding of the Bible, and was so quick to let her shallow perceptions color her beliefs that she failed to do the due diligence required to truly understand the subject matter (sadly, this is a trait that many Christians share, which is why they have trouble handling these arguments).

Although the Law does have commandments that specifically address women, they are hardly oppressive.  In fact, the Law was revolutionary in the fact that it guaranteed women certain rights that were unheard of in that part of the world during that time.  The Law gave women rights in a divorce, it mandated special care for widows, and allowed women to own land, and it gave women the right to inherit land and property (all without any input from Gloria Steinem).

As for “slavery”, the issue is a matter of contemporary nomenclature.  The slavery mentioned in the Law is not chattel slavery as we think of it today, rather its more like indentured servitude.  For example, if you owed a man a debt that you couldn’t pay, under the Law, you would work for that man and your wages would incrementally relieve the debt.  Once the debt was paid, you’d go free (incidentally, this is the same arrangement you have with your credit card company).

There are many other so called “oppressive” aspects of the Law which, while unprecedented during the era, would be simply considered common sense today.  Under the Law, certain animals are considered “clean” and “unclean”.  This is based on which animals are most likely to carry and cause disease.  God was trying to keep the Israelites healthy, not be a diet Nazi.

People with certain diseases like leprosy or open wounds were considered “unclean”.  The Law requires that they be separated from heath society and sanitized – things that are considered standard procedure for quarantine of communicable diseases and infection treatment to this day.  So if the Law is oppressive, then so is your doctor!

Of course this is all well and good, but all this still begs the question, why did God give the Israelites all these rules as a part of the 5th Dispensation?  If the purpose of the 5th Dispensation is to usher in the advent of the Redeemer, what does Israel get for all their troubles?

Rewards!  If they follow the commandments of the Law, Israel was promised fantastic material prosperity!  Prosperity that would make them the envy of all the other nations in the world.

But again, what does this have to do with the purpose of the 5th Dispensation.  It’s all about Israel’s intended role as God’s ambassador nation.

Here how it was to work, God gave Israel the Law, which gave them the standards to follow that would make them a healthy, equitable, and civilized society.  The Law also gave them ceremonial rules that would memorialize the advent of the Redeemer in advance (more on that in the next post).  As Israel obeyed the Law, they would become wealthy and prosperous.

Other neighboring nations would see their prosperity and say, “hey, how’d you guys manage to get all that stuff?”  This would give Israel the opportunity to tell them about God, the Law, and the Redeemer.

If the neighboring nations submitted to the Law, they too would become prosperous, leading their neighbors to ask about their wealth.  Submission to God’s Law would grow exponentially, and by the time of the advent of the Redeemer, the entire world would be ready for Him, and God could quickly implement His plan.

But there was also a flip side.  You see, God had to set things up so that if Israel disobeyed God’s Law and acted unrighteous and unjustly, they would be cursed as spectacularly as they would have been blessed for obedience.

The reason for the harshness of the curse is they same as the reasoning for the great blessing – They were God’s acknowledged representatives on earth.

If other nations saw Israel acting immorally without any consequence, they would assume that God was ok with their evil behavior.  So God had to punish disobedience severely so that the nations would know that evil was not acceptable to Him.

Sadly, Israel chose the path of disobedience to the Law more often than not.  Thus much of the details of the 5th Dispensation in the Old Testament consists of the sad narrative pattern of Israel screwing up, God punishing them, Israel repenting, God restoring them, and then Israel going right back to screwing up.  Ultimately resulting in the tragic screw-up where they failed to acknowledge the Redeemer and failed the dispensation.

I mentioned before that in addition to the rules regarding health and conduct, the Law contained many commandments that were sacramental in nature – dealing with blood sacrifices, the priesthood, etc.  These rules are often confused for religion, because frankly, they look like religion.  But they actually served a very practical purpose in preparing people for the advent of the Redeemer.  More on this next time.

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October 28, 2012

Know Thy Enemy – Part 5: Giving the Devil His Due

Posted in Government, Satan, Spiritual War tagged , , , , at 7:38 PM by E. M.

SATAN’S ARMY

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. – 1 John 5:19

Satan’s position toward man is one of antagonism and envy.  When God created Adam, Satan saw more than a new creature in the universe.  He saw a rival.  Although Adam was not created with the same level of angelic power and glory that he had, it was clear to Satan that God held him in a special place.  Adam was created in God’s image. That is a claim that no other created being, including Satan could make. Moreover, God gave Adam dominion over what was once Satan’s.

Not only was part of Satan’s former primordial kingdom on earth given to Adam, his descendants were destined to have all the things that Satan desired before he fell.

This was not a situation that Satan’s pride could bear.  He desired to bring God’s new creation under his own control and thwart man’s destiny. If Satan could take what God gave Adam, AND get man to choose Satan over God – he would achieve a double victory – he’d thwart the Plan of God and get the worship he desired.

When the serpent convinced Eve (and ultimately Adam) into eating the forbidden fruit, Satan achieved more than just the failure of the First Dispensation; he actually used a legal technicality to usurp Adam’s position as the ruler of Earth (does this make Satan the archetype for all lawyers?  It would explain a lot…).

When Adam fell, the world came under the authority of Satan.  And as a result of Original Sin, we are born with his desire – to rebel against God; to be prideful, deceptive, and destructive.

But even with this victory, Satan does not get what he wants.   God gave man something that Satan does not have – free will.  Although man is born with enmity toward God, he does not automatically turn to Satan as an alternative.  Instead, man chooses to go his own way.  In some cases, man may choose to worship Satan directly, but usually man emulates Satan’s rebellious nature by resisting all authority and doing his own will.  So while the world lies under the SWAY of the devil, men still chose to do what they want in defiance to all authority.  In short, Satan wanted worshipers, but instead got a bunch of unruly teenagers

Satan has legal authority over the earth and if he were able to rule it perfectly, it would go a long way towards showing his equality with God.  But with individual humans possessing a nature as rebellious as his own, Satan cannot replicate God’s perfect rule in heaven. The only way to have perfect authority is for all the subjects under your dominion to have a common will or a common goal.

Although individual humans have their own wills, they have something in common with Satan in that their wills are in defiance to God.  Satan uses this to his advantage in trying to create his kingdom on earth.  Satan uses his evil influence to try to get men to unify behind their dark desires and completely extinguish God’s influence from the planet.  Yet Satan has never been able to completely accomplish this because throughout history, there have always been a remnant of humanity who was willing to choose God.

In Genesis 6, all of humanity was totally subdued by evil , but God found one faithful man through which he could salvage humanity in Noah.  After the flood of Noah, man was again united and, committed to evil, and again God found a faithful man in Abraham through whom he could execute His plan .  Israel was God’s chosen people who preserved His Word and will while Godless world empires rose and fell all around them.  After the death and resurrection of Christ, the early church held up the light in darkness. Their existence kept the world from completely succumbing to corruption. Even today, Satan tempts men to get behind causes that attempt to place entire world under a single authority in defiance to God – be it fascism, communism, socialism, environmentalism, capitalism, theocracy, or any other man-centered form of authority. But the presence of the few who decide to choose God prevent this from happening.

As we’ve seen in this post, Satan’s ambitions to grandeur did not end when he got the boot from heaven.  He still wants to rule the universe and be worshipped.  If you think that this is way too big of a job for a single being to carry out (especially one that does not have God’s transcendence and access to information) then you’re right.  Satan has had a LOT of help.  Satan’s co-conspirators consist of powerful beings like himself, as well as powerful and influential men on earth.  Next week we will take a look at the first of Satan’s little helpers – Fallen Angels.

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May 28, 2012

Know Thy Enemy – Part 1: The Devil You Say?

Posted in Satan, Spiritual War, Spiritual Warfare tagged , , , , , , , at 12:39 PM by E. M.

NOT QUITE

“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist” – Verbal Kint, “The Usual Suspects”

The seed plot of the entire Bible centers around a war between those who support God’s plan, (and the redemption of man from the effects of Original Sin), and those who oppose it.

The Bible takes for granted that we accept the existence of God.  This is because God’s existence is self-evident. But there is another supernatural personage whose existence the Bible also expects us to take for granted: man’s adversary; the personal, intelligent, powerful, and malevolent spiritual being called the Devil and Satan.

The very idea of “the devil” usually elicits eye rolling, and condescending smirks. Many people put him in the same category as Big Foot, unicorns, and the Loch Ness Monster – an insignificant figment of myth and legend embraced mostly by the lunatic fringe.

Even when Satan is acknowledged publically, it’s often in a satirical manner such as the depiction of a guy in a red suit with a goatee and pitchfork. Or he’s simply dismissed as a psychological boogeyman for weak-minded people.

Looking at the matter objectively, Satan’s place in the Biblical narrative appears to be that of a character necessary to complete the dramatis personæ of the story – the villainous plot device needed to create the drama – he’s the Bible’s arch villain, he’s perpetual boogeyman; the Darth Vader, the Moriarty, the Svengali, the Vodemort, the Hannibal Lecter, the Dick Cheney.

One could argue that with the inclusion of Satan, the writers of the Bible merely utilized the classic story telling components that have existed since man first tried to get his kids to go to sleep at night.  You have:

The protagonist (God)

The antagonist (Satan)

The theme (the viability of God’s Plan)

The journey (the Dispensations)

The conflict (Original Sin, and Justification)

The resolution (Redemption)

The prize (Heaven and Earth)

The MacGuffin (Us)

(However, I would contend that it is not the Bible that is mimicking man’s story, but rather all of man’s stories mimic THE story of God’s plan that began with the creation – the classic story telling elements that are present in every epic narrative we’ve ever told or heard appeal to our hearts and spirits on such a deep and fundamental level BECAUSE they reflect the story of our existence and destiny.  This is something I plan to explore in more detail after we finish with the Dispensations.)

With all this in mind, the question is, should we really give significant attention to the idea Satan?

I would say yes.  Why?  First of all, the Bible makes it clear that he IS real, and since we’ve already shown the validity of the Bible, then it would be safe to say that if it says he’s real, then we should take his existence seriously!

Secondly, we should pay attention to Satan because if you choose God, you are at war with him!

And even if you are not on God’s side, you’re not off the hook.  As we’ll see in upcoming posts, Satan hates humanity.  ALL of us.  Depending on your level of antipathy towards God, Satan will either consider you a pawn, a spoil, or a useful idiot.

The Bible clearly expects us to pay careful attention to Satan, and our understanding of his identity is the key to deciding our success or failure in our encounters with him.

We are expected to know that Satan is real and is the source of our struggles

Sin entered this world when Satan tempted the first man and woman to disobey God.  Since then, he has continually been the catalyst for spreading evil throughout the earth.  We must understand that our temptation to do evil comes from satanic influence on our fallen flesh.  But we have the will and the authority to resist.

We are expected to know that Satan is our enemy

The temptations that we receive from Satan are appealing.  They seem to be beneficial and pleasurable in the short term, but we have to understand that any temptation of our flesh will lead to negative consequences.

We are expected to know Satan’s method

We are all unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses.  We need to be mindful of our vulnerable areas because these are the places that Satan attacks.  He has a specific and effective plan of attack tailored to our weak points.  We know Satan’s method of attack in these areas of our lives because he assaults us the same way over and over again!  How often do we find ourselves asking “Why do I keep making the same mistake again and again?”  The areas where we continually fall are our points of vulnerability.  We have to make the conscious effort to protect ourselves.  Speaking of which…

We are expected to resist Satan

Whether we like it or not, we are not passive participants in spiritual affairs.  God expects us to take an active role in defending ourselves and having victory over our adversary.  God gives us the authority, and the Bible tells us how.

Satan employs one of two deceptive strategies when it comes to our direct confrontation with him.  His primary strategy is the “I’m not really here” approach.  He tries to get us to think that all the negative thoughts and actions he uses to influence us are really coming from us instead of him!  The result is that we blame and condemn ourselves while ignoring him.

If the first strategy does not work, then he goes in the opposite direction.  He leads us to obsess on him and give him an undue amount of attention.  He tries to convince us that he is responsible for everything that goes wrong in our lives, including things we have caused ourselves, events that are merely happenstance, and even things that God initiates in our lives for the long term good.   The result is that we feel that Satan has more power over us than he really does.  We become fearful of him and think that we have no hope of overcoming him.

Why does Satan try to deceive us in these specific ways? Because if he is successful in getting us to believe either of his strategies, then we will fail to do the one thing the Bible tells us will defeat him – fight! (this is a war remember?)

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. – James 4:7

If we don’t acknowledge Satan, or feel that he is invincible, we won’t fight against him as the Bible command us to do and we will not have the victory over his machinations through God.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

The only way to lose the battle against our adversary is to not fight him.  Satan goes though great pains to make sure that he can execute his schemes without resistance because he knows that we have the ability to be victorious over him through the authority that God has given us.

But if everything I wrote in this post is true, it just leads to many more questions.  Where does Satan come from? What does he want? Why does he hate humanity? Why does God allow him to exist? How powerful is he?

The next few posts will further explore the origin, identity, and methodology of Satan as well as how to overcome him.

March 12, 2012

The (Seed) Plot Thickens

Posted in Spiritual Warfare, The Dispensations tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:01 PM by E. M.

If only it was that easy…

Toward the end of our look at the First Dispensation, I mentioned that the curse God pronounced on the serpent in Eden was the seed plot of the entire Biblical narrative.

“…And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” – Genesis 3:15

I also gave my reasons why I believe that the serpent either was Satan, or represented Satan. This promise that the “seed of the woman” would crush the serpent (and his kingdom) represents a spiritual war (we struggle not against flesh) going on in the background of human affairs which greatly affected (and continues to affect) man’s history.  Having a proper perspective of the seed plot and the war is vital to understanding many of the events in the Biblical narrative and the narrative of our own lives.

We took a detour from this important topic during our discussions of the Second and Third Dispensations in order to address faith, organized religion, and mystics. However, the events of the Fourth Dispensation present a good opportunity to address this subject again.

The Fourth Dispensation was defined by the covenant God established with Abraham and the representative nation formed by Abraham’s descendants (Israel).

I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” – Genesis 12:2-3

The Abrahamic covenant states that the nation comprised of Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to ALL the other nations in the world.  This blessing is due to the fact that the Seed of the Woman; the One who will redeem mankind, reverse Adam’s transgression, pay the penalty for Original Sin, and reclaim rulership of the earth from the serpent – would be a descendant of Abraham!

Knowing this, it would make sense that Satan and his forces would target the fledgling Jewish nation as a part of the war to prevent the advent of the Redeemer.

Now the term “war” may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, especially since we do not have the ability to directly observe much of what goes on in the spiritual realm, but a look at the end of the Fourth Dispensation provides a dramatic example of the scope and impact of the theater of this war.

At face value, the 10 Plagues visited upon Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt was God’s judgment for the failure of the Fourth Dispensation.  But there was more to it than that.  Each of the plague specifically targeted a member (or members) of the pantheon of “gods” that the Egyptians worshipped.

Our first inclination is to believe that these so called “gods” were not real, but made up by mystics.  However there is evidence that there was significant supernatural power behind the Egyptian religion.

The Bible clearly states that mystics in Pharaoh’s court could access supernatural power – to the degree that they could even duplicate the first two plagues God sent through Moses!

It seems that the Egyptian gods were either supernatural beings (fallen angels) or were to some degree associated with these beings via the mystics’ machinations.

Here is a summary of the Plagues and the associated “god(s)”

Plague 1: Nile water into blood – Hapi: god of the Nile

Plague 2: Frogs in the land  – Hekhet, the frog-headed goddess of fertility, water, and renewal

Plague 3: Lice from dust – Geb: Egyptian god of the Earth (Pharoah’s mystics were not able to duplicate this or any of the next seven plagues.  The lice infestation also made them ceremonially unclean and therefore unable to perform rituals to the gods – if only lice could affect all mystics in a similar manner…)

Plague 4: Infestation of Flies – Khepri: Egyptian god of resurrection, creation, movement of the Sun, rebirth; depicted as having the head of a fly or beetle (lovely).

Plague 5: Death of Cattle/livestock – Hathor: cow-headed goddess of love and protection.

Plague 6: Boils on the skin of Egyptians – Isis: goddess of medicine and peace. Im-Hotep: real person turned deity, patron of wisdom and medicine. Sekhmet: lion-headed deity of plagues, believed to bring about or prevent epidemics or pestilence.

Plague 7: Hail and fire rain down – Nut: Sky goddess. Shu: god of air. Tefnut: goddess of water/moisture.

Plague 8: Locusts– Senehem: locust-headed, god of protection from ravages of pests. Seth- Egyptian God of Storms and Disorde

Plague 9: Darkness – Ra or Amon-Ra: god of the sun.  Osirus: sky god; sun was his right eye, moon his left.

Plague 10: Death of the firstborn – Pharaoh himself who was considered Horus (son of Isis and Osiris) in the flesh.  Min: god of reproduction.  Anubis: god of the dead and embalming.

The Plagues not only resulted in freedom for the Jewish nation, they showed that the God of Abraham was superior to the gods of the Egyptians (some of the mystics were even convinced). They also increased the spread of the reverence and respect of God’s power into other nations ahead of the Israelites.

But this brings up a point I touched on earlier.  When we initially studied the mystics a few months ago, I portrayed them as charlatans who attempted to gain power and rule through guile and deception (as well as exploiting human nature).  And in the vast majority of cases, that’s true.

However, I intentionally left something out of the posts on mystics because I wasn’t ready to examine it until now.

The truth is that the fragile house of cards that the mystics built on secrets and lies would be unlikely to allow them to remain in such positions of power and influence through the ages.  They’ve had help.  Supernatural help.

Some of the most powerful and influential mystics through the ages have used (and been used by) spiritual entities that are in fierce opposition to God’s plan.

These beings are intelligent, powerful, immortal, and evil.  They are at war with God and anyone who chooses Him.  We can’t see them or touch them, but they are all around us and they desire our destruction.

If all this sounds a bit disturbing and spooky to you, that’s because IT IS!  We’re extremely uncomfortable with the idea of beings we can’t see influencing our world.  Even Christians who acknowledge the existence evil spiritual beings prefer to ignore them most of the time.

Unfortunately, unlike the monsters that were under our beds as children, pretending they don’t exist won’t make them go away.

I mentioned them briefly when we discussed the origin of the Nephilim in the Second Dispensation but I haven’t gone into a detailed discourse on the subject until now because I wanted make sure we understood the roles of God and man in our historical narrative first.

Now its time we got to know our enemy.   In the next post we will begin our journey into the dark side with a look at the one who started it all; the greatest enemy of man; the first and grandest failure of creation – the being called Satan.

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