Stage #2–At Last!

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Now that we have arrived at Stage #2, the time has come for us to exit the Truth Train and make our way into the theatre, where Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story will soon be getting underway.  As we leave, let’s remember to take with us the Program Guides we were given on the first leg of our journey.  These will prove to be helpful because, while we are watching the smaller stories taking place on the Earthly Stage before us, they will help us keep in mind the larger story that is taking place on the Heavenly Stage above us.

In the event that you have misplaced your guides—or, if you are new to this study tour—here are some extras that you can take with you.

Guide #1

Guide #2

As you can see from Guide #2, in Act 1, Scene 1, God was the Celestial Suitor who, in anticipation of His upcoming betrothal, created the earth as the ideal home for His future wife.  We watched in awe as He, through the 9 Vignettes in Genesis 1-11, created a world full of nations out of nothing, and made ready the Earthly Stage for the imminent appearance of His Bride, Israel.

So, now that our stage has been set, where does that put us in our Story?

It is here, at Act 1, Scene 2, in Genesis 12-50, that we will be introduced to the four men most responsible for the creation and development of the nation of Israel. They will be introduced to us through the use of Four Biographical Pictures—or, what we will be calling, the 4 Biopics of the Patriarchs.  They are…

Biopic #1—Abraham

The first Patriarch we will be studying is Abraham, known today as the Father of Israel.  He plays such an important role in the story of Israel that, of the fifty chapters in Genesis, fifteen are given over to him and his earthly pilgrimage of faith.  By comparison, only eleven chapters of this first book of the Bible were used to cover all the major events of the world from its creation to the dispersion of the people into nations following God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel.

As for when his part in our story takes place, if we calculate the years given in the genealogy of Shem in Genesis 11, when he makes his entrance upon our stage, approximately 1946 years have passed since the Creation, 288 years since the Flood, and—if the division into nations took place during Peleg’s lifetime—anywhere from 27 to 266 years since the episode at the Tower of Babel. As a result of that incident, and God’s confusion of the one universal language there, the people have dispersed into different nations, taking with them the false religious beliefs they had adopted at Babel. 

Concerning Shem’s descendants, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus, his five sons settled in the areas making up much of today’s Middle East.  There…

  • Elam became the father of the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians (Iran).
  • Ashur became the father of the Assyrians (northern Iraq).
  • Arphaxad became the father of the Arphaxadites, later called the Chaldeans (southern Iraq).
  • Aram became the father of the Aramites, or Syrians, as they were known by the Greeks.
  • Laud became the father the Laudites, later called the Lydians (Turkey).[1]

Given that Abram is a direct descendant of Arphaxad, it should come as no surprise to learn that at some point in his life, he and his family have resided in Ur, a prominent city in the land of the Chaldeans, a land wholly given over to the worship of idols.  In fact, we are told later in Joshua 24:2 that even Abram’s family have, in the past, been idol worshipers…

Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River [Euphrates] in old times; and they served other gods (Joshua 24:2). 

Although you may not remember it, we actually met Abram/Abraham in Genesis 11:27-36, at the end of Scene #1—and it was there that we learned…

Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot.  And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 

Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah.  But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 

And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.  So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

From this brief introduction, we are told several important things about Abram/Abraham…

  • At this stage in his life, he is still being called by his given name, Abram, a name meaning exalted father–and, a meaning made all the more ironic by the fact that at this point, and for many years to come, he and his wife are and will remain childless;
  • He and his family have left their hometown of Ur for reasons which, for now, are still a mystery to us; and,
  • When he left Ur, Abram’s original destination was Canaan but, also for reasons unknown, his journey there has been put on hold and they are currently living in the city of Haran.

Before delving deeper into the life of Abraham, though, we first need to discuss the significance of these things and learn why they are so important to our Story…

  • As we learned back in More Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion, being a descendant of Shem means that Abraham is among those who have been charged with the Stewardship of God’s Revelation to the world, and being a descendant of Arphaxad places him in the generational line leading directly to the Redeemer promised back in the Garden of Eden.
  • As for the exact date of Abraham’s appearance on the earthly stage, we are not sure.  A number of different dates from 1800-2200 BC have been suggested, however, if we do some calculations using other scripture references, we will arrive at a date of 2166 BC.[2]  This is a pivotal time, not only in human history but also in God’s Story of Redemption because…
    • By and large, the other nations of the world are now in place and the peoples are worshiping a host of false gods, rather than the one True God;
    • While the other nations have been formed naturally through their common languages and shared cultures, Israel will soon be created supernaturally in response to the Word and Promise of God, as the nation through whom God’s Son will born into the world, for the purpose of reconciling that world to God;
    • With human government(s) now in place (and because of its corruption at the Tower of Babel), this not only marks the beginning of the nation of Israel but also the beginning of a whole new dispensational period in God’s Redemptive Story—the Dispensation of Promise.  As this chart illustrates, dispensations are merely the periods of administration or stewardship of God’s revelation to Man, taking him from the period of innocence of the Garden to the kingdom rule of Christ in the Millennium.
  • The fact that Abram/Abraham comes from a family of idol worshipers is a reminder to us that, in spite of his spiritual heritage and the part he is about to play in God’s Redemptive Plan, he is himself a sinner—and a member of a family of sinners who are comfortable living in a sin-saturated culture.  As such, he has done nothing special to merit God’s favor but, like everyone else who has or who ever will become a member of God’s Family, he is merely the beneficiary of God’s Grace.
  • Being born in Ur of the Chaldees means that Abraham…
    • …has been accustomed to living in a prosperous industrial, commercial, and agricultural center with a population of about 360,000 people; a great city-state enclosed by a wall 2 1/2 miles around and 77 feet thick, and one dedicated to the worship of the Moon God.
    • …is most likely a member of an upper class family living in a spacious home in town and, because the sons of the upper class are the only ones allowed to go to school, he is sure to be an educated and literate person.  Since the government doesn’t allow most people to just up and leave Ur, for Abram and Terah to be able to do so, they would have to be free merchants or high officials.
  • Because Abraham and his family stop for an indefinite time at Haran, and Haran means Caravan City, it is likely that they are involved in and prospering from the lucrative caravan trade linking Mesopotamia and the Far East with Egypt.  We know that such a trade exists because of the ancient Egyptian texts which speak of caravans at this time numbering 500, 600, and even 1000 donkeys.
  • At this point in our Story, the reason why Abraham would choose to leave all of this prosperity behind and go to Canaan is still a mystery.  Unlike Ur or Haran, Canaan is pretty much a rural backwater with no major cities or city-states, and no governmental bureaucracy to offer him any economic opportunities or protection.  Patriarchal Rule is the law of the land and central to every aspect of life there; with the head of each clan having absolute power—even the power of life and death—over every member of his clan.
  • Probably the most important fact we have been given so far is the one concerning the barrenness of Sarai.  This is important to our Story for several reasons…
    • It is an embarrassment to Abraham and makes a mockery of his name(s);
    • It is a reproach to Sarai–because God’s original blessing was the ability to have children, this would seem to indicate that she, for some reason, has lost favor with God;
    • It means that Abram/Abraham will not enjoy the natural immortality (immortality that comes from having one’s name carried into the future through succeeding generations) or care in his old age that a son would provide; and, most importantly,
    • It means that God’s promise of a coming Redeemer will not be realized.

Now, equipped with a better understanding of the dynamics operating within the life and times of Abraham, the time has come for us to get on with the Story of the Man himself—and, to do that, we need to return to where his story started in Genesis 11: 27-32.  But, before the curtain rises on that scene, let’s pause briefly so that we can think about the information we have just been given.


[1] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: Book 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1960), 42.

[2] In 1 Kings 6:1, we learn that the 4th year of Solomon’s reign—966 BC—was 480 years after the Exodus [966+480=1446], and from Exodus 12:40-41, we learn that the Israelites lived in Egypt 430 years.  So 1446+430=1876, making that the year that Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.  Since Jacob was 130 when he appeared before Pharaoh, Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and Abraham was 75 when he entered the Promised Land, this would mean that the total time spent in Canaan would have been 215 years [130+60+(100-75)=215]. Adding 215 years to 1876, then 75 (for Abraham’s age until then)—the year that Jacob and his family moved to Egypt—we arrive at a date of 2166 BC for Abram’s birth.

Back on Track–The Journey Resumes

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It’s Time to Get Back to the Land of Revelation Knowledge!

All Aboard and welcome back, fellow travelers!  I am happy to say that, after a rather lengthy but edifying visit to the Workout Room, the time has come for us to once again head out on the Truth Train and resume our Bible Study tour through the Land of Revelation Knowledge.  For those who are joining us for the first time, this tour is unique in that it presents the One Big Story of the Bible as a Play; one consisting of two Acts with six Scenes each and one long Intermission between the acts.   These scenes and the intermission, as well as an epilogue at the end of the play, are being acted out for us on fourteen different Stages, positioned along the route we are taking through this vast and incredible land.  When we broke for our detour to the Workout Room, we had just left Stage #1 where Act 1, Scene 1 had completed its run, and we were on our way to Stage #2 where Act 1, Scene 2 had been scheduled to get underway.

Now that we are back on track and heading in that direction once more, considering how long it has been since we left the first Stage, I think it would be wise if we used this travel time to Review  briefly what took place in Scene 1, and to Preview what will soon be taking place in Scene 2.  For those who may feel the need of a more thorough review, one can be obtained by visiting the His Truth, My Voice Theatre page, where all of the material we’ve covered so far has been arranged chronologically for easy viewing.

Reviewing Where We Have Been

In Act 1, Scene 1 of God’s One Big Story, we were introduced to the Sovereign God of the Universe, whom we discovered is not only the Main Character of the Story but also its Author.  From the opening verses of the Script(ures), we learned that this God is…

  • A Trinity of Three Unique Persons united in One Divine Purpose;
  • Pre-existent and Eternal; and,
  • All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Present Everywhere at All Times.

As for the Story itself, we learned that it is a Love Story, borne out of God’s Heart and His passionate desire to have a Family of His own to love.  It was for this reason that He created the world and the people living in it—people who, as they multiplied, would eventually become the nations from which one, Israel, would graciously be chosen to become God’s Wife.  When Act 1 opened, however, no such nations existed; therefore, to prepare for Israel’s eventual entrance onto the earthly stage of the Story,  all the action taking place in the opening scene was for the purpose of bringing them into being.

The way in which this was accomplished was revealed to us through the use of nine dramatic Vignettes, or mini-scenes, covering the major events in Genesis 1-11–these being…

The Creation of the World;
The Creation of Man and Woman;
Their Sin and Fall from Grace;
The Consequences of their Sin…

…Personally,
…In Their Family,
…In Society at Large;

The Judgment on their Sin through the Flood;
The New World after the Flood; and,
Mankind’s On-going Rebellion and its Judgment. 

Over the course of these Vignettes, we learned how God used elements from the real-life experiences of people living on the earth at the time to tell the Bigger Story of Love and Redemption that was taking place on the Heavenly Stage.  In fact, by the end of Vignette #9, we were able to see how the mini-scenes of Genesis 1-11, when viewed together, formed a Panoramic Prophetic Picture of all human history—creating, in effect, a Spiritual Overture of the themes and motifs which would be reappearing throughout the rest of the Story.

For example, in this Overture, we saw how

  • In the story of Creation—in going from darkness to light, chaos to order, and from death to life in response to the Word of God and the “hovering” work of the Spirit—we are provided with a picture of the recurring spiritual theme of Re-creation or Rebirth.
  • The story of the First Adam and his wife, Eve, gives us a prophetic picture of the Second Adam, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church—who, like Eve, was fashioned from a “rib” (the disciples) taken from the Second Adam as He slept in death.
  • The story of the Two Trees in the Garden is an illustration of the only two “salvation” alternatives available to mankind—the counterfeit system of works or the genuine system of salvation through faith in Christ.
  • In the story of Cain and Abel—in which God’s acceptance of Abel’s offering by faith and His rejection of Cain’s self-righteous offering provoked Cain to envy, anger, and the murder of his brother–we are given a spiritual illustration of the wicked’s on-going rebellion against and persecution of the righteous.  We are also shown a picture of Cain as a type of Israel—the brother who, after his slaying of the righteous Son, is marked for protection before he begins his wanderings in the wilderness of the world.
  • In the long “Reign of Death” taking place between the stories of Cain and the Flood, we are shown how sin has affected all men and led to their deaths, and the futility of life lived apart from God.
  • In the translation of Enoch just before the judgment of the flood, we are given a prophetic picture of the Rapture which will take place prior to the Great Tribulation, when those who are “walking with God” will be translated to heaven without dying.
  • The lawlessness and demonic activity preceding the Flood gives us a preview of the conditions existing before the Tribulation, as self-absorbed humanity abandons faith in God, violence increases, and doors are opened to ever-increasing levels of satanic activity.
  • And the Flood, in which the wrath of God was poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men while a small righteous remnant in the Ark was being spared, provides us with a picture of the end-times Tribulation, when the wrath of God will once again be poured out from heaven against the unrighteousness of men, while a righteous remnant is being preserved on the earth.
  • In the story of Noah after the Flood, when those in the Ark come out to a new earth and enter into a new covenant with God, we are shown a “type” of the “new world” which will exist when Christ sets up His Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation–where the righteous remnant will live on a cleansed earth, under a new covenant with God, for a thousand years.
  • The rebellion at Babel gives us a prophetic picture of Satan’s final act of rebellion—when, at the end of the Millennium, he is released from his thousand year imprisonment to lead one final revolt against the righteous rule of the Lord.
  • And, in the Judgment of the Nations at the Tower of Babel, the final Judgment of the Nations is in view, when the Lord gathers the nations together—separating the “sheep” nations from the “goat” nations— and judges them according to the way they have treated His “brethren.”

In Genesis 1-11, We Start with Nothing and End Up with a World Full of Nations

Now, having refreshed our memories as to what we have seen, and with Stage #2 fast approaching, let’s prepare ourselves for what we can expect to see when the curtain goes up on Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story.

Previewing Where We Are Going

Whereas in Scene 1, we were introduced to God as “The Celestial Suitor”—who, in anticipation of obtaining a Bride, created and prepared the world to be her future home—in Scene 2, we are going to be introduced to the Patriarchs—or, the line of godly ancestors through whom “Israel: the Beloved of God,” will come into being.  Much like Scene 1, where the story was told through the use of 9 Vignettes, in Scene 2, the story will unfold by means of 4 Bio-Pics, or four biographical pictures of these ancestors of Israel, found in chapters 12-50 of the book of Genesis.  They are…

Abraham—the Exalted Father who becomes the Father of a Multitude;
Isaac—the Long-Awaited Son of Promise who displaces the Son born in Bondage;
Jacob—the Scheming Shepherd who becomes a Prince with God; and,
Joseph—the Betrayed Brother who not only becomes His Brothers’ Savior but the Savior of the World, as well.

Before we can move forward with the story, though, there is still the all-important matter of Formatting that we need to take into consideration.  Hopefully, those of you who have been with us from the beginning of this tour will remember that during our visit to the Welcome Center of the Word, we viewed the video, The Bible: The Story Behind the Story.  In that video, we learned that the Story of the Bible was formatted according to the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition—a tradition completely foreign to our present day concepts of marriage.  Because of this, in order for us to truly appreciate the Love Story that the Bible has to tell, we must first come to an understanding of the Wedding Tradition upon which that story is based.

The Format of the Story

Because Family was at the center of Jewish life and culture, the choice of a marriage partner was serious business.  This selection was not to be determined by some fly-by-night or emotional impulse of the moment; it was achieved through an involved Marriage Process, consisting of three distinct phases…

The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase;
The Betrothal Phase; and,
The Marriage and Consummation Phase.
 

  1. The Arrangement or Negotiation Phase

The Ketubah–the Marriage Contract

In Jewish culture, when it was time for a young man to marry, typically his father would choose a bride for him and then send an agent or representative to the bride’s family to negotiate an arrangement for a marriage.  The bride, of course, had to give her consent and if she did, a mohar or Bride Price was established and a Ketubah or written document was drawn up in which the bride price, the promises of the bridegroom, and the rights of the bride were clearly stated.  This document would have to be executed and signed prior to the wedding ceremony.

Gifts were then given to the bride and a cup called the Cup of the Covenant was shared between the bride and groom—the rite of erusin or betrothal being completed when the groom gave something of value to the bride and she accepted it.  This completed rite was known in Hebrew as kiddushin or sanctification, and the covenant between the bride and the groom would be sealed with the drinking of the wine.  Once agreed to, this covenant was a legally binding contract which could only be dissolved by divorce.

The Cup of the Covenant

Afterward, the bridegroom would go back to his father’s house, where he would begin preparing a home for his new bride.  Before leaving, though, he would reassure her of his return with this promise:  “I go to prepare a place you; if I go, I will return again unto you.”  Upon his departure, the bride would undergo a mikvah—or water immersion—a ritual of cleansing marking a separation from her former way of life to a new life with her spouse.

  1. The Betrothal Phase

This marked the beginning of the Betrothal Period, which usually lasted a year.  During this time, the bride was consecrated and set apart, busy preparing her wedding garments for the big day, while the bridegroom was away working on their new home.  The bride had to be ready at all times because she had no idea when her groom would return for her.  Even the groom didn’t know when that would be because he first had to get permission from his father—who had to be completely satisfied that his son’s house was in order.

  1. The Marriage and Consummation Phase 

Once he received his father’s permission, the bridegroom would return—usually in the middle of the night—with a shout, “Behold the bridegroom comes,” and with the blowing of the shofar or ram’s horn.  He would then abduct his bride from her father’s home and carry her away in a sacred procession to the chupah or wedding canopy where the marriage would take place.  There, they would be treated as royalty, with the bridegroom in the role of a newly-crowned king, and the bride as his queen.

Under the Chupah

Following the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom and bride would go into the wedding chamber where the marriage was to be consummated.  The friend of the bridegroom would take up his position outside the door where he, and all of the assembled guests, would eagerly await word that the consummation had taken place.  Upon receiving the signal from the bridegroom, the friend of the bridegroom would announce it to the guests, and great rejoicing would break out.  The couple would remain in the wedding chamber for a total of seven days and when they came out, they—along with all the guests invited by the father of the bride, would enjoy a great Marriage Supper.[1]

Although this wedding tradition bears little relevance to our lives today, because it was such an integral part of everyday life when the Bible was written, we must take time to familiarize ourselves with each of this tradition’s three parts if we are ever going to understand the Story it has to tell.  For, not only do these phases provide the framework for all of God’s Great Love Story, they also serve as the basis for the Plot, and propel the Action of the Story forward in both the Old and the New Testaments.

As we shall see in the upcoming scene, in the Old Testament—which is all about God’s love relationship with Israel…

  • The Negotiation Phase takes place in Genesis 15, when God—as the Bridegroom Himself–enters into a covenant with Abraham, negotiating a marriage contact in which the future nation of Israel will one day become His Bride;
  • The Betrothal Phase follows on the heels of this negotiation and covers the period of time from Genesis 15 to Exodus 19. That’s when, Moses, as God’s representative, abducts Israel in the middle of the night from the “house of Pharaoh,” and leads her in a sacred procession to the Marriage Chupah at Mount Sinai;
  • Then, in Exodus 20, the Marriage Phase begins, when Israel vows to forsake all other gods, agrees to the terms of God’s covenant, and becomes the Wife of Jehovah. 

With this as the backdrop to our Story—and with the train now coming to a halt at our next destination—the time has come for us to leave the train and make our way into the theatre, where Scene 2, “Israel, the Beloved of God” is just about to get underway.

 

 

In place of our usual music selection, here is the video referred to earlier, “The Story Behind the Story”…

 

 

[1] Information on the Jewish Wedding Tradition gathered from Edward Chumney’s book, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Destiny Image Publishers, 1994), 125-135.

A Change in Direction

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It’s That Time Again!

In January, 2014, at the invitation of our tour guide, Horatio, we boarded the Truth Train for a Journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledgethat is, we launched out into a study of the Bible quite unlike any other that we’ve ever taken.  That’s because, in this study, the Bible was to be presented as a Love Story in the form of a play–one that would be acted out for us on the fourteen different Stages positioned along our journey’s path.

In February, 2016, we saw the curtain drop on Act 1, Scene 1 of our Story but, rather than move on to Stage #2, we broke for what turned out to be a rather lengthy intermission.  During this intermission, we opened the Workout Room where, since March, 2016, we have been working to get into the best spiritual shape possible through a series of exercises dealing with Salvation, Sanctification, Service, and Spiritual Warfare.  Now, having recently finished the last of these exercises, the time has come for us to once again change directions, re-board the Truth Train, and resume our journey to Stage #2, where Act 1, Scene 2 of our Story will soon get underway.

To help facilitate a review of what we have experienced so far, the His Truth, My Voice Theatre page is now open; there all of our earlier episodes can be viewed in the order of their presentation.  This should help both our more seasoned travelers and any who are new to this tour understand just where we are at this point in our journey.  That being said, it’s time for us to find a comfortable seat on the train so that we can make our way to Stage #2, where we will very shortly be introduced to Abraham–the Father of Israel–and, to the others in Genesis 12-50 who connect him with her .

Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

 

Spiritual Warfare: Taking the Offensive

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There Is No Time to Waste

At long last, we are nearing the end of our exercises in Spiritual Warfare.  Our graduation from Boot Camp is right around the corner, as is our return to our duty stations, where we will have the opportunity to put into action the things that we have learned here.  As we do, we can be confident that…

  • Because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross, we now possess the Authority we need to overtake and defeat any foe that we come up against;
  • Everything we will be called upon to overcome is all part of God’s way of preparing us for our Destiny, which is ruling and reigning with Christ when He comes to set up His Kingdom;
  • As we take the Light of the Gospel  into the sin-darkened territories presently held by Satan, we will be bringing liberation to those who are still being held captive there; and,
  • To prevent us from completing our missions, Satan will do everything in his power to stop us.

In light of this last point, before we can graduate and move on, there is one last exercise for us to complete—one providing us with an understanding of the basic principles of Strategic Warfare and the Offensive Weapons needed to ensure our success on the battlefield.

As we learned in our last exercise, we have been outfitted with a top-notch arsenal of defensive weapons known as the Armor of God.  These—the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shoes of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit—when worn faithfully and used as directed, will provide us with the defensive covering we need whenever we come under attack by the devil.  However, there is more to Spiritual Warfare than merely protecting ourselves while we maintain our current positions.  To the contrary, we have been charged by Christ to launch out into the world, to be sown as seed among the nations, in order to free Satan’s spiritual captives and bring the Kingdom of Christ to the earth.  For, it was Christ who boldly proclaimed…

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19)…

…and, it was He who also commissioned us to…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

We Need to Carry Out His Strategy in Ways that Honor Our King Understanding Strategic Warfare

Understanding Strategic Warfare

When seeking to understand the principles of Strategic Warfare, it is essential that we first establish a clear definition for the term.  Since strategic is defined as…

…pertaining to, characterized, or of the nature of strategy…

…with strategy being…

…a plan, a method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.[1]

When we put this into a military context, Strategic Warfare can be defined as…

…the science and art of military command aimed at meeting the enemy under conditions advantageous to one’s own force…[2]

…a military command in which…

…a distinction is made between strategy and tactics.  Strategy is the utilization, during peace and war, of all of a nation’s forces, through large-scale, long-range planning and development, to ensure security.  Tactics deals with the use and deployment of troops in actual combat.[3]

Here, in this definition, we have two levels of war described for us; but, according to modern military theory, there are actually three that we need to take into consideration—the strategic, the operational, and the tactical, where…

…the strategic level…involves a strategic concept, plans for preparing all national instruments of power for war or conflict, practical guidance for preparing the armed forces, and leadership of the armed forces to achieve strategic objectives;

…the operational level is concerned with employing military forces in a theater of war or theater of operation to obtain an advantage over the enemy and thereby attain strategic goals through the design, organization, and conduct of campaigns and major operations; and,

…the tactical level translates potential combat power into success in battles and engagements through decisions and actions that create advantages when in contact with or in proximity to the enemy.[4]

To put this into more understandable terms, at the Strategic Level, those at the top of the chain of command are the ones responsible for creating an overall plan for winning the war, taking into account the manpower and materials they have at their disposal.  Once their plan is in place, they delegate different aspects of the plan to those serving under them at the Operational Level, whose duty it is to orchestrate and oversee the campaigns assigned to them and their individual theaters of operation.  Directives from this level can then be sent down to the Tactical Level—to those in charge of the troops on the ground—to make sure they are deployed to the right place at the right time, are appropriately trained and armed for each engagement, and they have adequate intelligence and support for each and every battle.

Why is this so important for us to know?  Because this is the same way that the Spiritual Warfare we’re engaged in is structured and carried out.  At its Strategic Level, creating the plan for the war itself, is God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Charged with the implementation and oversight of their plan’s many Operational Level campaigns are the Angels of various ranks and with specific responsibilities.  The troops on the ground at the Tactical Level are us—the Born Again members of the Church, serving under the leadership of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, whose responsibility it is to…

…equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:11-14).

Given that our enemy is merely a copier/counterfeiter and not a creator, he has pretty much duplicated this strategic structure—with the exception that, instead of the All-Wise, All-Powerful, and Everywhere-Present Creator God making the plans—he, the quintessential Usurper is the one devising the schemes that he hopes will one day defeat God’s Army, overthrow God, and catapult himself onto the throne of the universe.  Unlike our Commander-in-Chief, who is headquartered in the Third Heaven, this Presumptuous Pretender to the throne has been relegated to the less advantageous location of the Second Heaven, where he and his generals occupy what will prove, in the end, to be temporary thrones from which they oversee his operations in the First Heaven and on the Earth.

As we learned in Spiritual Warfare: Getting the Lay of the Land, these operations are carried out by an army of demonic subordinates whose responsibility is to keep their human charges on the earth in bondage to their master; and, should they somehow fail at this, to prevent those who do find freedom in Christ from growing in their knowledge of Him and from serving Him and His Kingdom purposes successfully.

The Plan for Winning the War

Assessing Strategies

To help us better understand the part Strategic Warfare plays in the on-going conflict between God and Satan, let’s assess and compare how each side makes use of these three levels.  We know from our exercise in Spiritual Warfare: Knowing the Enemy that…

  • Satan’s original plan—his Plan A—called for his overthrow of God and the take-over of His Throne in Heaven; however, given the fact that God was and still is All-Powerful, and Satan’s power was and still is severely limited in comparison, this proved to be a colossal failure.
  • This led to the creation of Satan’s Plan B, which called for him to set up his kingdom and reign upon the Earth—but, this plan, too, hit a wall when God created Man and gave him Dominion and Authority over the Earth instead.
  • Undaunted, Satan then devised a scheme whereby he could gain control of the Earth by taking God’s Authorized Representatives captive through deception and lies. So, lying about who he was, who they were, and who God is, Satan convinced Eve, then Adam, to disobey God.  As a result, Man and Woman became slaves to Satan, sin, and death, and the Authority which should have been theirs was handed over to Satan.
  • Satan’s plan was dealt a bitter blow, though, when eventually he, sin, and death were defeated through Christ’s Atoning Death and His powerful Resurrection.  As a result of His Victory, this Second Adam reclaimed the Authority that the First Adam had lost, and restored it to all those who afterward would come to the Father through Faith in His Finished Work on the Cross.
  • But, because Satan had already established rulership over the world’s systems and its structures, he continues to occupy territories which rightfully belong to Christ and His Church. What is enabling him to maintain his grip on them is the ignorance, timidity, or unwillingness of the Church to rise up and retake these areas in the Name and Authority of Christ, through the Power of the Holy Spirit.
  • So, Satan’s Strategy is—by whatever means necessary—to keep the people who don’t know God from knowing Him, and to keep those who do know Him too ignorant, too fearful, or too self-seeking and apathetic to do anything to dislodge him.

Given that Satan’s Strategy is primarily focused on maintaining control of the territories presently under his rule, it is essentially a Defensive Plan.   On the other hand, God’s Strategy, being one of Infiltration, is a decidedly Offensive One.  Because He is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to repentance, God has chosen to strategically place His very own Sons and Daughters in positions behind enemy lines where they can reveal the Love of Christ to the captives and, shining the Light of the Gospel into those dark places, they can illuminate a way of escape into the Kingdom of God.  This is exactly what God did when He sent His willing and obedient Son, Jesus, into Satan’s authorized territory where, having shone the Light of God in the darkness and revealed the Love of the Father there…

…Jesus’ obedience, then, took Him even to the cross, and through that to the empty tomb.  Thus He won the battle over Satan from behind enemy lines…to defeat the enemy and begin to establish His own Kingdom in the middle of enemy territory…

…and, since this was behind enemy lines, it meant warfare—spiritual warfare aimed at taking back God’s world from the usurper.[5]

Like our Savior, we have been assigned to carry on this mission in the very same way.

The Individual Campaigns of the War

Assessing Operations

Because Satan is neither omnipresent nor omniscient like God, he is limited to being in one place at a time.  Therefore, he must depend on a hierarchy of subordinates to carry out his operations, and rely on this system of underlings for his much-needed intelligence reports.  Depending upon their nature and location, these operations are most likely carried out by one of these three groups…

  • Satan’s Hierarchy—consisting of Rulers, Principalities, and Powers, with…
    • Rulers—being the spirits charged with gaining/maintaining control of the world’s authority structures, such as government at all levels, schools, businesses, churches, civic groups, athletic organizations, and families;
    • Principalities or Territorial Spirits—being the demonic spirits that are in charge of operations taking place within a specific geographic area or ethnic/cultural group of people; and,
    • Powers or Strongholds—being the spirits representing the evils associated with certain sins and the demons assigned to their promotion.
  • Forces of Darkness—the lying spirits behind any Religions, Philosophies, and Ideologies that are opposed to God and the Truth, including humanism, atheism, evolution, New Age, reincarnation, existentialism, socialism and communism; and,
  • Lower Level Spirits—the wicked spirits assigned to individuals in an effort to influence their behavior.[6]

No doubt imitated by Satan when he set up his own kingdom, God’s Operational Level is also made up of a hierarchical structure of spirits who carry out the operations called for in His plan.  Although the Bible doesn’t give us a lot of specifics about the structure itself, what we do know is that it consists of Angels operating at different levels, and possessing various degrees of authority.  From what we can gather in the scriptures, those closest to God and His Throne, and those highest in rank and authority, are the… 

Cherubim;
Seraphim; and
Living Creatures. 

  • Cherubim

The Cherubim are probably the highest ranking of all of the Lord’s Angels.  The first time they are mentioned in scripture is in Genesis 3:24 where, following Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, they are placed as Guards at the entrance to the Garden, to keep Adam and Eve from returning and eating from the Tree of Life while in their fallen state.

They are next mentioned in Exodus 25:18, when God instructs Moses on how to build the Tabernacle.  For the Most Holy Place, Moses is told to make two Cherubim of gold and to place them at the two ends of the Mercy Seat…

The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be…

There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel (Exodus 25:20, 22).

The Mercy Seat which the Cherubim sheltered was also known as the Seat of Atonement and revered as the earthly Throne of God.  Verses such as these inform us that, in addition to their role as Guardians, the Cherubim also serve as the Bearers of God’s Throne…

The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!  He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake (Psalm 99:1)!

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth (Isaiah 36:17).

Ezekiel saw this throne and gave us a description of these incredible creatures in Ezekiel 1:5-14…

And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings.  Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot.  And they sparkled like burnished bronze.  Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands.

And the four had their faces and their wings thus their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went.  As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle.  Such were their faces.

And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies.  And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went.

As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.  And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Later in Ezekiel 28:14, we learn that Lucifer, Satan’s name in his pre-fallen state, was one—probably the highest ranking one—of these Angels…

You were an anointed guardian cherub.  I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. Ezekiel 28:14

Angels Carry Out the Operational Campaigns of God

  • Seraphim

Because the Seraphim are only mentioned once in the Bible—in Isaiah 6:1-3, 6-7—much less is known about them and their ministry. From Isaiah’s description…

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called to another and said:  ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!’

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.  And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for…

…it would seem that, because of their non-stop praise and their access to the heavenly altar, their primary ministry is as priests before the throne of God.  And, given that their name means “burning ones,” I think we can infer that they are burning in passionate devotion to God and in their dedication to the praise of His holiness.

  • Living Creatures

Although Ezekiel, in his vision, describes the Cherubim as Living Creatures, in Revelation 4:6-8, we find another set of Living Creatures being described…

…around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind:  the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight.

And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:6-8)

These are set apart from those in Ezekiel in several ways…

…in Revelation, each one has only one face, whereas in Ezekiel each had four faces.  In Revelation, each has six wings; in Ezekiel, they had four.  In Revelation, they have eyes around and within; in Ezekiel, the eyes were in the wheels, and the spirits of the cherubim were in the wheels.  In revelation, they do not move; in Ezekiel, they propelled the throne of the sovereign God throughout the world. [7]

As for their ministry, in Revelation 6:1-7 and 15:7, we learn that, in addition to their worship and praise, these creatures also play instrumental parts in the execution of the God’s end-time judgments on the world.

  • The Other Angels

From other portions of scripture, besides being the worshipers at, the guardians of, and the priests before the Throne of God, we learn that the Angels carry out God’s operations in a number of other ways…

  • In Luke 2:10 and Acts 27:23-23, they serve as God’s Messengers;
  • In 2 Kings 6:17 and Daniel 10:13-20, they are God’s Warriors in the heavenlies and on earth;
  • In Daniel 4:13 and 17, they serve as God’s Watchers, observing and recording the affairs of men and nations;
  • In Psalm 34:7, Psalm 91:11, Daniel 6:22, and Acts 5:19, they provide Protection and Deliverance for God’s People;
  • In Genesis 24:7 and Exodus 23:20, they give Guidance and Direction to the righteous;
  • In Matthew 13:39-42 and Mark 13:27, Jesus informs us they will be the Reapers in the End-Times Harvest;
  • In Revelation 1:1, they bring God’s revelation to man;
  • In 2 Kings 19:35, Acts 12:23, and Psalm 78:49, they are God’s Instruments of Judgment and Destruction;
  • In Revelation 7:1-2 and Revelation 16:1, we learn that they have Power over God’s Creation;
  • In Matthew 18:10, we are told that they are the unseen Guardians of Children; and,
  • In Luke 16:22-23, we discover that they Escort the Saints into the Presence of God upon their deaths.

The Troops Deployed on the Ground

Assessing Tactics

With Satan’s Rulers engaged in controlling the world’s Authority Structures, and his Principalities busy riding roughshod over its Geographic and Ethnic Territories, it seems that the actual Tactical Maneuvers of his plan have been delegated to his Powers, Forces of Darkness, and Lower Lever Spirits for implementation.  These are the spirits who are responsible for establishing Strongholds, or bases of operation, in the minds of men and women, from which Satan can exercise control.  This is accomplished through their promotion of certain sins, through the lies contained in their false religions, philosophies, and ideologies, and through the intelligence gathered by and resulting from the harassment of the Lower Level or Familiar Spirits.

Those in this last group are the spirits that most of us must contend with on a daily basis.  They are the demons who, much like God’s Guardian Angels, are assigned to us at birth—those who study us, our habits and tendencies, throughout out lives, looking for ways and opportunities to trip us up and keep us in a perpetual state of confusion and defeat.  As Familiar Spirits, they become so well acquainted with us that they can pretty much predict what we’re thinking about and how we will react in any given situation.  Armed with such valuable information, they not only know which sins we will be predisposed to give into and which lies we will fall for, but also which of the Devil’s D-Bombs will be the most useful in rendering us ineffective…

The Devil’s D-Bombs are Some of His Most Effective Weapons

  • Distraction—a loss of focus, confusion;
  • Distortion—of the truth; or,
  • Deception—disguise and outright lies;
  • Disobedience—a disrespect for authority;
  • Delay—in answers to prayers and provisions;
  • Disruption—of plans and schedules;
  • Discouragement—resulting from stress, overwork, lack of appreciation, hurt feelings;
  • Depression—mental and emotional ailments, especially due to repressed anger;
  • Defeat—after repeated failures;
  • Destruction—a loss of property and reputation;
  • Disease—physical ailments and suffering; or,
  • Death—suicidal, accidental, or disease-related.

Apparently, in his dealings with those who already belong to him, Satan is free to use these, or any other evil tactics he can come up with, against them with impunity—especially if and when he finds that they are in danger of going over to the other side.  When it comes to dealing with those who belong to God, however, he doesn’t enjoy the same privilege.  We know this because, when he came against righteous Job (Job 1: 9-12), seeking to prove that Job only worshiped God for the blessings he could get out it, he had to obtain God’s permission to do so.  Later, in 2 Corinthians 12:7, we find out that he had to get God’s permission to harass the Apostle Paul, permission which was granted in order to achieve God’s higher purpose… 

…to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

While being limited in what he can do to the Righteous, Satan does enjoy a distinct advantage in his dealings with everyone else.  Because every person coming into the world is born “in sin” and in a state of alienation from God, they not only already belong to Satan, but they are, by virtue of their carnal natures, predisposed to living according to their physical appetites and soulish desires.  This state of affairs makes it easy for the Powers of Satan to do their work of establishing secure Strongholds within them—Strongholds from which they can operate throughout their lives, even if these people later come to Faith in Christ.

If We are to be Victorious, We Must Identify and Eliminate the Devil’s Fortresses in Our Lives

What Are Strongholds?

Simply put, Strongholds are faulty patterns of thinking which have developed such a “strong hold” on us that they keep us bound by bad habits, irrational behaviors, pride or an exaggerated sense of self.  They are anything in our lives that misrepresents God, anything that deceives us about who we really are, and anything that deludes us into thinking we can live life successfully apart from God.  These misrepresentations, deceptions, and delusions are ways of thinking that have developed in our minds over time, and which serve primarily as a means of keeping us alienated from, and at odds with, God.

Their points of origin can be traced all the way back to our births, when we arrive in this world with the strongest of all Strongholds already intact—an “IT’S ALL ABOUT ME!” mentality.  Then, as we make our way through life, others are gradually added; with the most deeply ingrained ones coming first from our interactions with family, friends, and our early experiences in life, and with later ones coming from our educational and religious training (or lack thereof), or as a result of our encounters with the cultural forces at work all around us.  As such, they become fortresses erected around our erroneous beliefs; fortifications which, in our minds, serve to protect and justify our choices in life, and to help insulate us from any potentially painful experiences—and, which Satan delights in using to keep us in bondage or to render us useless in our Kingdom Service.

But, it needs to be noted here that bondage of this or of any other kind is an anathema to God.  Therefore, the Strongholds in our lives are one of the first things we must deal with in Spiritual Warfare.  Before we can successfully liberate any of Satan’s other territories, we must first rid our own of its enemy outposts.  As Jesus would say…

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).

Because they are the heavily guarded outposts of lies and deceptions built up in our minds by the devil, and the devil is a powerful spirit whose chief aim is to keep us from God and His revelation of the Truth, the only way for us to deal with these Strongholds is through the power of a stronger Spirit–the Holy Spirit of Truth—and the Spiritual Weapons God has made available to us.  For…

…though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

With our spiritual armor in place, we can begin the process of taking our thoughts captive by exercising the authority delegated to us by Christ in Matthew 28:18; with it, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can proceed to bind up the “strong man,” or the demonic being in charge of protecting that mental fortification. According to Jesus’ instruction in Mark 4:27…

…no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man.  Then indeed he may plunder his house.

Once this strong spirit is overthrown, we can move in and take captive any of the lying thoughts previously under his protection, and replace them with Truth from the Word of God.  As we do, we begin erecting a Strong Tower of Truth, built in the very place where the Stronghold of Lies once stood.  And, as warriors for Christ, we will have reclaimed territory too long in the possession of His enemies.

When it comes to God’s Tactical Operations, unlike Satan’s, which are nothing but destructive, God’s tactics are always redemptive and remedial, because they are borne out of love.  In Spiritual Warfare:  Understanding the Nature of the Conflict, we learned that the goal of Satan and those in his kingdom is to destroy the individual and absorb his will into their own, for no other reason than to satisfy their insatiable greed and increase their power base.  However, it is the goal of God and those in His Kingdom to bring the individual into the Family of God, shower him with love, and empower him to become the unique and whole/holy person God created him to be.   In the former, the motivation is selfishness and greed, while in the latter, it is giving and grace.

So, to help His Children realize their spiritual potential and prepare them for their eternal destinies, God routinely deploys them to the front lines of the conflict where, in the heat of the battle, their character will be refined and they can learn to use their Offensive Weapons to overcome His enemies.

Fighting the War with God’s Weapons will Ensure Our Victory

Our Offensive Weapons 

When it comes to a discussion of our Offensive Weapons, it may come as a surprise to learn that the most powerful one in this category is a Godly Lifestyle.  That’s because…

Spiritual Warfare is not just a prayer prayed or a demon rebuked—it is a life lived…everything we do either aids the forces of darkness or repels them…

Since it is sin that gives the devil an entryway into our lives, we need to take seriously the charge given to us in Ephesians 4:27 to…

…not give place to the devil.

Maintaining this kind of lifestyle, though, demands that we “keep short accounts with God.” To do so, we need to vigilantly guard our hearts and minds, and routinely examine our lives to see if there is any sin that has gone unchecked and unrepentant of, for…

Repentance is a major weapon against Satan.  It’s simple:  if I repent, I break the powers of darkness.  But if I’m disobedient, I allow the enemy to work.  If I obey God, I hold the devil off.  If I’m moving in unbelief, I make room for him.  But if I exercise faith, I cut him off.[8]

The reason behind this is also a simple one.  Because Spiritual Warfare is the cosmic conflict between two competing wills—the holy and perfect will of God and the perverted and opposing will of Satan, both vying for the allegiance of man—and, the decision as to which one will prevail on the earth has been delegated by God to the will of each human being living on the planet, every time a person chooses to do that which satisfies his own selfish desires, he is actually empowering Satan to carry on his work.

To help us keep this from happening, we need Faith and Obedience, two more of the weapons making up our offensive arsenal.  Faith is that inner assurance or confidence we have that, because our Father knows what exactly He is doing, He has a good plan in place, even if we don’t know yet what it is.  As we develop more of this kind of Faith, it becomes easier for us to believe God for the impossible, to launch out into new territories, and to pray our way to victory.  Jesus told His disciples as much in Matthew 17:20 when he said…

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.

Our Obedience is simply the outward demonstration of our inner trust that this is so.  In our submission and obedience to a higher Authority, we are not only coming at Satan in an opposing spirit—which serves to render him ineffective in that situation—but, we are also keeping him from sowing his seeds of pride and rebellion in our hearts.

When We Come at Our Enemy in an Opposite Spirit, He is Rendered Ineffective in that Situation

Although we may not realize it, obedience is a key factor in Spiritual Warfare because…

There are rules and principles by which the spirit world operates.  Among the most important of these:  the rules that govern authority relationships.[9]

As we have emphasized so many times over the course of these exercises, God has established a very specific authority structure within Creation, and it is one that He expects us to honor.  When we don’t—that is, when we use our wills to do things that overturn that order—we are actually giving Satan and his demons permission to carry out their wills in the spheres where we live…

Scripture is clear that there is a close connection between the spirit world and the human world.  In spite of our habit of regarding spirit things and human things as separate, in Scripture these realms are not compartmentalized from each other.  They are tightly interrelated, with events that go on in the spirit realm having repercussions in the human realm, and vice-versa.

Furthermore, the same rules seem to govern interaction between humans and God and humans and Satan.  The authority of God to do what He wants, for example, seems enhanced when His devotees obey, acknowledge the authority of, pray to or worship Him.  Likewise, the authority of Satan to do what he wants is enhanced when his devotees respond in such ways to him.

It looks as though a major principle is this:  The way authority is exercised in the human sphere affects what goes on in the spiritual realm, and vice-versa.[10]

Closely associated with our Obedience, then, are the weapons of Discipline and Self-Control—two things which must be instilled in any soldier who is to be used by God.  These are essential to us if we are to avoid the many land mines of temptation that the devil has carefully laid out in his effort to sideline us from our service.  This is a reality that even the Apostle Paul had to come to grips with in his ministry, leading him to…

…discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).

So, it stands to reason that we must learn to do the same.

For the Battle is the Lord’s

As for Prayer and Worship, if God’s authority is enhanced through our implementation of these two weapons, then they are ones that we definitely need to use more often.  When we pray, we are not just staying in touch with our Father, but we are activating the ministry of His Angels on our behalf and releasing His power into the lives and situations that need it, while rendering the enemy in those situations powerless.  Then, when we worship God and offer Him a fitting sacrifice of praise, we are not only giving God His due but we are actually creating confusion in the enemy’s camp and throwing his troops into disarray.

Probably the best illustration of this is the story recorded for us in 2 Chronicles 20:14-15,17,20-23.  When the Moabites, Ammonites, and people of Mount Seir came against Judah and godly King Jehoshaphat, the king prostrated himself before God, and pleaded with Him to deliver him and his people from these enemies.  At that point…

…the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, ‘Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s…

You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.’

And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.’

And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.’

And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.  For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.

Afterward, all Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah had to do was collect the spoils, something which took three days for them to do.

In addition to the Prayer, Worship, and Praise offered by the people to God in this situation, it is apparent that the Word of God, which was given to them by means of His prophet, played a decisive role in the securing of this victory.  In our last exercise, we learned that the Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit with which we guard our minds against our enemies’ assaults; but, this is not the only way that God intends for it is to be used when it comes to Spiritual Warfare.  Because His Word is the Spirit-inspired revelation of His character, and His will and His purposes for Man and the Earth, when we speak His Word into a situation, we are actually declaring that His will regarding that situation be done.  And, as we speak His Word into that situation, the resources of heaven are activated to ensure that His Will is carried out there.

Some of the other Offensive Weapons at our disposal, that we don’t make use of the way we should are…

…patience, consistency, and tenacity, by which we learn to wait on God and His timing, and to not give up even in the face of adversity and suffering;

…giving, for when we are generous with our time, talents, and resources, we sow seeds of provision into the lives of others and in our own lives as well;

…love, because it covers a multitude of sins, and it enables us to overcome evil with good; and,

…unity, because it not only increases our effectiveness exponentially and helps to speed our victory—but, because it was the chief concern on Jesus’ heart when, on His last evening before going to the Cross, he offered this prayer on behalf of His disciples

And now, Father…I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me…keep them in your name…they may be one, even as we are one.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word…that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (John 17:6ff).

Amen–may it be so, Lord Jesus!

To Win the World for Christ, We Must Become United in Our Purpose

 

 

The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir reminds us what it is all about…

 

[1] Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018, at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/strategy?s=t

[2] Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, Revised and Updated Edition (Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2014).

[3] Dictionary.com Unabridged.

[4] USAF College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research and Education (CADRE), Air and Space Power Mentoring Guide, Vol. 1 (Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air University Press, 1997), excerpt.+

[5] Charles H. Kraft, I Give You Authority: Practicing the Authority Jesus Gave Us (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Chosen Books, 1997), 22.

[6] Dean Sherman, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian (Seattle, Washington: YWAM Publishing, 1990), 95-114.

[7] C. Fred Dickason, Names of Angels (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1997), 58.

[8] Sherman, Spiritual Warfare, 182.

[9] Kraft, I Give You Authority, 123.

[10] Kraft, I Give You Authority, 124-125.

Spiritual Warfare:  Gearing Up for Battle

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Time for Us to Gear Up for Battle

For some time now, we have been involved in a rather rigorous training program, a Spiritual Boot Camp of sorts, designed to prepare us—as followers of Jesus Christ—for service as soldiers in the Army of God.  As part of this training, we have…

Our Uniforms and Their Maintenance

Having completed these preliminaries, the time has come for us to suit-up in our uniforms and learn about the weapons we will be carrying with us into battle.  Unlike the heavy duty combat attire worn by most soldiers—designed to camouflage both a soldier’s person and location (as well as any dirt that he might pick up along the way)—the uniforms we will be wearing are robes of purest white, made of the finest linen, and designed to call attention to our holy lifestyles and identify us as saints set apart for service to our Lord and Savior.  According to Revelation 19:7-8, this is what we, as the Bride of Christ, will be wearing to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb…

…for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And, according to Revelation 19:14, it is what we will be wearing when we accompany our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, on His return to earth to crush His enemies at the Second Coming

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

Our Uniforms are Meant to Shine as Lights in the Darkness

These Kingdom-Issued Spiritual Robes are what each of us receives when we come to Christ for Salvation—robes that were purchased for us by Him through His sacrificial death on the Cross, and given to us to replace the filthy, sin-saturated civilian clothes we are wearing when we are first saved.  We find a wonderful illustration of this in the spiritual re-outfitting of Joshua, Israel’s high priest, in Zechariah 3:1-4…

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’

Like the new garments given to Joshua, our robes, when first issued, are spotless and bright white; however, because we are still living in bodies of flesh and in a corrupted world system, it doesn’t take long for them, too, to become soiled by sin.  This, of course, brings us to the matter of maintenance; for, as Soldiers of God, we need to understand that once we have been issued our uniforms, we must make every effort to see that they remain in the same pristine condition as when we first received them.

Fortunately, we have not been left on our own in this endeavor; for, from the moment we are born into the Family of God, we are placed under the supervision of our very own Drill Instructor/Inspector General—the Holy Spirit—who comes to live within us 24/7 for the rest of our lives, in order to train us in the righteous ways of God, to empower us to live obediently to His commands, and to call attention to any violations of God’s uniform code of conduct.  When such violations do occur, and our uniforms become soiled and tattered due to sin, He is there to inspect us, to convict us of our need to repent, and to assist us in carrying our dirty laundry to the Cross of Christ where it can be cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb.  We can be assured of this because of the promise of God that…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Putting on the Mind of Christ

Developing a Missional Mindset

In His capacity as our DI, the Spirit of God works tirelessly to transform us from the raw recruits we once were into the seasoned soldiers we need to be; those who are trained and fully equipped to meet any challenge that might eventually be faced on the battlefield.  However, just providing us with uniforms and then helping us to keep them clean isn’t enough to make us into this kind of soldier.  To really prepare us for service in the army of our King, along with a change of clothing, we must also undergo a change of mentality—one in which we replace our old carnal, self-centered, civilian ways of thinking with new spiritual, selfless, and mission-oriented mindsets.  In other words, it is essential that we learn how to…

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).

What does it mean to be renewed in the spirit of our minds?  Well, it means that we…

  1. Put on the mind of Christ…

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8).

We must have a mind of humility, servanthood, and obedience and, like Christ, we must be willing to give our lives in service to God our Father.

  1. Learn to live in submission…

First, to God…

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

Then, to Earthly Rulers…

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people (1 Peter 2:13-15).

And, to others…

…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

We should be living as one “under authority,” respecting whatever authority structure God has placed over us—like the Roman centurion, who told an impressed Jesus in Matthew 8:9…

For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.

  1. Like Jesus, be prepared to suffer…

[For] Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

  1. Train ourselves in godliness…

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

Our Spiritual Dogtags

We do this as we study our Training Manual in Righteousness, the Bible… 

[For] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We do this by learning to Communicate and stay in contact with our Father and Commander-in-Chief through Prayer…

I call to God, and the LORD will save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.  He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.  God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old…because they do not change and do not fear God (Psalm 55:16-19).

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).

And, we do this as we Dedicate our Lives and Wills to the Purposes of God through Worship…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).

…for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (Corinthians 6:20).

Therefore…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).

We Must Remember Who Our Real Enemies Are

The Weapons in Our Armory 

Now that we have addressed the matter of our uniforms and their maintenance, and our mental attitudes have been reoriented from individualistic, self-seeking, and opportunistic ones to those that are more team-spirited, selfless, and completely dedicated to God’s mission in the world, we can move on to an introduction to the weapons that we will be carrying with us into battle.

The first thing we need to know about these weapons is that they, like the warfare we will be engaged in, are spiritual, not fleshly, in nature.  We need to remember that we are not battling flesh and blood people, or warring against the physical, cultural, or religious structures that we’ve identified in our previous exercises, but against the evil spirits who are working in and through these to accomplish the will and work of Satan.  As the Apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 6:12…

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. 

Our real enemies, then, are the powers of Satan who are…

…organized in a hierarchy of ruler/principalities (archai), authorities (exousia), powers (dunamis), and spiritual forces of evil (kosmokratoras).  It is reasonable to assume the authority structure here is arranged in descending order.  Daniel 10:13 and 20 unveil the identity of the archai as high level satanic princes set over nations and regions of the earth.

The word exousia carries a connotation of both supernatural and natural government.  In the Apostle’s understanding, there were supernatural forces that ‘stood behind’ human structures…

Presumably, the dunamis operate within countries and cultures to influence certain aspects of life.

The kosmokratoras are the many types of evil spirits that commonly afflict people, e.g., spirits of deception, divination, lust, rebellions, fear, and infirmity.  These, generally, are the evil powers confronted and cast out in most deliverance sessions.  Even among them there is ranking, the weaker spirits subservient to the stronger ones…

These insidious powers continue to work through human governments, religions, and powerful personalities to keep people in bondage to legalism, social ideology, and moral compromise.  Their role is to pollute the minds and pervert the wills of people, diverting them from redemption, holding them hostage to the father of lies.[1] 

Powerful spiritual enemies such as these require powerful spiritual weapons to ensure their defeat—the kind of weapons which can only be provided by our All-Powerful Lord…

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the fleshbut have divine power to destroy [enemy] strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Cor. 10: 3-6).

We Are Never Out of His Line of Sight

Our Defensive Weapons

As for the weapons themselves, these fall into one of two categories—they are either defensive or offensive in nature.  In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul describes those in the defensive category by comparing them to the armor worn by the Roman soldiers in his day.  During his many imprisonments, when he was either chained to or guarded by one soldier after another, he had countless opportunities to study these warriors up close, and plenty of time to reflect on the parallels between Rome’s mighty fighting machine and the kind of warriors we should be for Christ.  Given this insight, Paul’s instructions to us are to… 

  1. …be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…

Here, at the outset, Paul admonishes us to remember just where our strength for the battle comes from—it comes from the Lord.  This is so important for us to keep in mind because, on our own, most of us don’t even have the strength to deal with enemies that we can see—much less take on enemy forces that we cannot see.  Fortunately for us, the Lord is not at the same disadvantage that we are.  Not only is He All-Powerful but He sees everything—and, according to 2 Chronicles 16:9…

…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

In fact, He has made the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him far above all rule and authority and power and dominion available to us, so that we can…

…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:10-11); and,

…to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

  1. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…

Being fully assured of having the strength we need to fight, we can now put on the armor that will protect us from our enemies.  And, armed with the knowledge that every need of ours will be supplied by our Commander-in-Chief, we can, with confidence…

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

The Belt of Truth

  1. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…

As strange as it may seem, the very first piece of armor we are told to put on is the Belt.  That’s because, while seeming to be the least important piece of equipment in our arsenal, it is actually the most important.  Although it is nearly invisible when the rest of the armor is put on, this piece is so important because, like the Belt worn by the Roman soldier…

  • It secures the soldier’s robe and keeps it from flapping around in battle;
  • The soldier’s shield and lance are attached to it when they are not in use;
  • The soldier’s breastplate is attached to it and held in place by it; and,
  • The sheath containing the soldier’s sword is also attached to it.[2]

Unlike the Roman soldier’s belt, though, our belt is not just any old piece of leather.  Paul refers to it as the Belt of Truth because Truth, for us, is the foundational piece of our spiritual armor—Truth, for us, is none other than Jesus Christ.  Not only is He the One who holds everything in life together but He is the One who gives us eternal life and brings us into the Family of God in the first place.  As soldiers in the Army of God, we know the Truth that…

…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)…

…[and that] the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

We know that He is…

…the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him] (John 14:6).

And, we know the saving Truth that God wants everyone else to know is…

…there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Tim 2:5-6).

Ours is One of Righteousness

  1. And having put on the breastplate of righteousness…

The breastplate worn by a typical Roman soldier was made of either bronze or brass and was the shiniest and most beautiful piece of equipment he owned.  It covered the area of the body from his neck to nearly his knees and protected all of his vital organs, especially his heart.  It consisted of two sections of metal—one going down the back and the other going down the front—which were held together at the shoulders and attached to the belt at the waist.[3]  No doubt, when Paul saw this breastplate, he was reminded of an image of protection similar to the one afforded to us by the Righteousness of God, and made available to us through Christ…

…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Romans 3:22).

When we come face-to-face with the Truth that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—and the only mediator between God and men—and we put our faith in Him for Salvation, we are immediately made righteous in the sight of God and empowered to live righteously by the Spirit of God who comes to live within us.  These are the two aspects of Righteousness—one Positional and one Practical—that we need to take into consideration here.  John MacArthur explains them in this way…

Basically, God’s gift of salvation in Christ brings a believer into a position of righteousness. God imputes the perfect righteousness of His Son to the believer, and thereby declares him righteous positionally.  But as you know full well, believers still have sin in their lives — Christians are not practically righteous, 100 percent of the time. However, it is on the basis of our positional righteousness, that we are exhorted to strive for practical righteousness in our daily lives.

Positionally…

As a Christian you are: spiritually alive unto God, dead to sin, forgiven, declared righteous, a child of God, God’s possession, an heir of God, blessed with all spiritual blessings, a citizen of heaven, a servant of God, free from the Law, crucified to the world, a light in the world, victorious over Satan, cleansed from sin, declared holy and blameless, set free in Christ from the power of sin, secure in Christ, granted peace and rest, and led by the Holy Spirit…

Positionally, you cannot increase or decrease in the favor of God. As a genuine Christian, nothing you do, or fail to do, can change to the slightest degree your perfect standing before God — for ‘in Him you have been made complete’ (Colossians 2:10).

But…

…that completeness does not mean that when you understand your position you will remain as you are—no, you will see changes in your life. The New Testament continually emphasizes your identity as a believer and urges you understand and apply your spiritual resources. As you continue to mature in Christ, you will not only come to a greater understanding of who you are, but you’ll also rely more consistently on your resources — those granted to you as a result of your position in Christ — to handle the practical aspects of Christian living. [4]

Because of our Positional Righteousness, we can pray with expectation…

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me (Ps. 5:8); and,

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me (Ps. 71:2)!

And, as we maintain our Practical Righteousness, we can trust God’s promise that…

Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked (Prov. 13:6).

Our Shoes are for Carrying the Gospel of Peace

  1. …and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace

Although they might seem relatively insignificant, especially when compared to his massive and beautiful breastplate, the shoes worn by a Roman soldier were critical pieces of his equipment.  Like the breastplate, they, too, consisted of two parts—the greave, which was a piece of metal—a sort of shin plate—extending from the knee to the ankle; and, the shoe itself, which was made of leather with long, dangerous spikes on the bottom of the shoe.[5]  Not only did these shoes enable him to stand firm while engaging in hand-to hand combat with an enemy but, because of the spikes, they could also be used as weapons to maim or even kill his opponent.  When properly shod, the Roman soldier was prepared for whatever the war threw at him—he was ready to march to the next battlefield and ready to fight when he arrived there.

The spiritual parallel for us is this:  having put on the belt of truth—that is, having put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), and having been covered by our breastplate of righteousness—both the positional and the practical or personal, we are ready to put on our shoes and take the gospel (the good news) of peace with us wherever we go.  Being so shod, we are equipped for both the march and any enemies we may meet along the way; remembering…

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’ (Isaiah 52:7).

To Protect Against the Flaming Arrows of the Enemy

  1. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…

So far, in the donning of our spiritual armor, we have put on…

  • our Belt of Truth—the Truth being Jesus Christ, whom we also know to be the Word of God;
  • our Breastplate of Righteousness—our Positions of Righteousness with God and our Practices of Right Living made possible through our relationship with Christ; and,
  • our heavy-duty Shoes—which enable us to take the Gospel of Peace–the good news about Jesus–across some rough and rugged spiritual terrain to those in need of it.

Before we march out, though, Paul tells us that we must take up our Shields of Faith to protect us against any enemy missiles that may be launched at us as we proceed.  Since we’ve already exercised Faith in coming to Christ for Salvation…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)…

By Faith, we have been made Righteous and live Righteously…

’my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (Hebrews 10:38-39)…

And, it is with Faith that we launch out with the Gospel of Peace…

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…(Philippians 1:27)…

…what Faith could Paul be referring to here, when he tells us to take up the Shield of Faith?  Since Faith is…

…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)…

I think he is referring the assurance we need that—before going into battle…

If God is for us, who can be against us?…[assurance] 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.

…and the conviction that…

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8: 31, 37-39).

If…

….everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4)…

…where does this Faith come from?  Well, according to Romans 10:17, it comes from the Word of God, for…

…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

To help illustrate why Paul chose this particular piece of equipment to represent the protection afforded to us by Faith, we need to take a closer look at the shield used by the Roman soldiers in his day.

A Roman legionnaire usually possessed two shields—a small round one made of metal that was highly decorated, and only worn when he needed to dress to impress; and, a large rectangular one, sized and shaped very much like a door that, when used properly, would cover just about every part of his body. It was this shield that he used in combat and the one that Paul was referring to in this instruction.

This type of shield was usually formed by taking at least six layers of animal skin and laying them on top of a piece of wood.  These were then tanned and woven together to create a nearly impenetrable surface.  In order to keep the leather on the shields from becoming dried out and brittle over time, a regular application of oil was needed—something which became an important part of a soldier’s daily routine.  In addition to this, prior to going out into battle, a soldier would immerse his shield in water until it was completely saturated.  In this way, be could prevent his shield from catching on fire when it was struck by the enemy’s flaming arrows.[6]

I am sure that when Paul learned how the soldiers cared for and used their shields, it put him in mind of the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit and the Water of the Word he mentioned at another time in Ephesians 5:25.  It is through our saturation in the Water of the Word of God, applied to us daily by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the Faith needed to move out onto the battlefield with confidence, laying claim to the victory that Christ has already won for us.  We can do this because we know that…

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5).

The Helmet of Salvation

  1. …and take the helmet of salvation…

As for the helmet of the Roman warrior, it too was made of bronze, with pieces of armor attached to the sides to protect his cheeks and jaw.  It was often decorated with elaborate engravings and usually had a plume made from either feathers or horsehair standing straight up from the top of the helmet—so it was quite impressive to behold.  Because the helmet was so heavy, the inside of it was lined with a cushiony substance which protected the head.[7]  A wise soldier wouldn’t dare go into battle without it because he surely would have lost his head to an enemy’s battleaxe or sword.

Paul tells us that we, too, have a helmet for the protection of our heads—in our case, our minds—that is found in our Salvation.  When we come to Christ for Salvation, we come to a personal Knowledge of the Truth, something which we had never known before.  That’s because…

…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:20-25).

Just as the Truth is in Jesus, the Truth is now in us, and given that, we are to live as people of the Truth.  In our former civilian lives, all we knew were the lies that the enemy wanted us to believe; but now, as people of the Truth, our minds must be renewed so that we think like Jesus—and, when we start thinking like Jesus, we will start acting like Jesus.  So, in putting on our Helmet of Salvation, what we’re doing is protecting our minds from the lies, accusations, and false guilt that the enemy hurls at us in an attempt to render the “command centers” of our minds inoperable.

But, having…

…been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Pet. 1:23)…

…we can protect our minds from the devil’s onslaught by filling them with the very same Word of God.  As we do, we will learn more about who we are in Christ and become more confident and secure in our identity as the Children of God.  Our “heads” will then be as protected as a Roman’s soldier’s was in his helmet, and the enemy will be denied the access to our mind that he has long been scheming to get.

The Word of God

  1. …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

In Hebrews 4:12, we are told that…

…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart…

…and, it was the two-edged sword of the Roman soldier that Paul had in mind here.  Although a soldier usually had five swords at his disposal, not all of them were suitable for use on the battlefield; some were too big and unwieldy for hand-to-hand combat and some were too small to inflict very much damage.  But the two-edged sword was just right for this purpose; it was the sharpest, easiest to maneuver, and the most lethal weapon he had in his arsenal.

This sword was about 19 inches long and in addition to its two razor sharp blades, it had a tip which turned upward.  When it was thrust into an enemy combatant and twisted, it could virtually rip the foe’s insides apart.[8] As gruesome as the thought of this may be, it was the image Paul chose to use when describing the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit; for, it is the one weapon capable of penetrating a person’s innermost being, separating one’s thoughts from his feelings, one’s blood from his bones, and one’s mind, will, and emotions from those of God.

Probably the best example of the effective use of the Word of God as a defensive weapon can be seen in Jesus’ use of it in His wilderness testing, recorded for us in Matthew 4:1-11…

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’  But he answered, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’  Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Three times, Jesus was tempted by Satan to act apart from the will of God and each time He met the temptation with the spoken Word of God.  This is exactly what we should do when confronted by the devil or tempted by “…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).”  Hindsight being what it is, if the First Adam had wielded the Word of God as faithfully and forcefully as the Second Adam, just think how different life on the earth would have been!

The use of the Sword of the Spirit is not limited to its use as a defensive capacity, however.  Unlike the other pieces of our armor, it also serves as an offensive weapon.  But, we will have to wait until our next exercise to learn more about that and our other weapons of offense–and, about the Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Levels of our Warfare.

 

Armed and Ready for Battle

 

The Gaither Vocal Band reminds us of the faithfulness of God’s promises…

 

Original Armor Images by Rev. Yves Langevin, courtesy of www.freebibleimages.org.

Image of the soldier’s shoes from Dressed to Kill by Rick Renner.

[1] Thomas B. White, “Understanding Principalities and Powers,” in Territorial Spirits, ed. C. Peter Wagner (Chichester, England: Sovereign World Ltd., 1991), 61-62.

[2] Rick Renner, Dressed to Kill: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare and Armor (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 2015), 261-262.

[3] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 292.

[4] John MacArthur, “How to Get in the Game,” article dated January 12, 2010, on the Grace to You website at https://www.gty.org/library/articles/a179.

[5] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 313-314.

[6] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 346-351.

[7] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 374-375.

[8] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 405-406.

Spiritual Warfare:  The False Faith of Religion

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A Self-Righteous System Based Upon ‘Good’ Works

Now that we have finished mapping out the first two tiers of Satan’s earthly kingdom…

Its Physical and Financial Landscape; and,
The Educational and Media Structures making up its Cultural Landscape…

…it is time for us to move on to a survey of its third tier, which is the Religious Landscape over which he rules.  As we do, we need to keep in mind that the Structures in these Landscapes have been especially designed to maximize Satan’s control, conditioning, and corruption of Corporate Humanity’s Body, Soul, and Spirit.  As we have learned previously, it is through the manipulation of the…

Physical and Financial Structures that he Controls what people
can do and where they can go;
Educational and Media Structures that he Conditions the way people think and feel;

…and, as we shall learn in this session, it is through the…

Religious Structures that he Corrupts the worship of God and
redirects that worship to himself. 

As we have been reminded of so often over the course of these exercises, Satan’s motivation for this Corruption is his obsessive and self-destructive quest to usurp God’s throne and grab the glory that goes along with it.  Since most people consider Religion to be the means by which we are drawn closer to God, to say that Satan uses it to do just the opposite, might seem somewhat incongruous at first; however, once we have examined the matter more closely, I think we will come to see that the difference between Religion and the Righteousness required by God is as vast as the distance between the Heaven and Hades we learned about in Spiritual Warfare: Getting the Lay of the Land.  So, to clarify what we mean when referring to Religion, we must pause for a DOT—or, a Definition of Terms for this particular structure.

  1. Religion—What Is It?

As defined by Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Religion is…

…a system of thought, feeling, and action that is shared by a group and that gives the members an object of devotion; a code of behavior by which individuals may judge the personal and social consequences of their actions; and a frame of reference by which individuals may relate to their group and their universe.[1]

Breaking this definition down, we find that…

  • Because it is a system of thought, feeling, and action, Religion is something that appeals to, encompasses, and makes use of every aspect of the Human Soul—both the individual and the corporate one;
  • Because it is shared by a group, Religion provides its adherents with a community that they can be a part of and relate to; and,
  • Because it provides its followers with an object of devotion, a code of behavior, and a frame of reference…
    • Religion satisfies their inherent need for something to worship or revere;
    • Religion provides them with guidelines on how to behave or act by defining morality and establishing boundaries for them; and,
    • Religion helps them make sense of the world around them and explain its origins.

Religion, then, is the belief system expressly designed to meet the needs of the Human Soul which, as we know from our previous exercises, has been a part of Man’s Carnal or Fleshly Nature ever since it became separated from his Spirit (and God’s Spirit, as well) as a result of Sin.  Given this, and the fact that…

…God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24); and,

…all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6)…

…the Soulish Worship produced by Religion—no matter how pious it may appear to be on the surface—is something which is reprehensible to God.

  1. Religion—When and Where Did It Originate?

When trying to determine just when and where Religion originated, we must first decide which approach to the subject we are going to take—the Secular Approach or the Biblical Approach.  In choosing the secular one, we would find ourselves in the company of Anthropologists, Sociologists, and Historians who approach the subject from an Evolutionary Perspective; one which…

…starts with the view that man evolved from a pre-simian ancestor.  Since animals have no religion, there must have been, it is said, a long ascent through apish chatter and fear of the dark unknown to…a ‘belief in a vague, potent, terrifying inscrutable force.’

Animatism developed into ‘animism,’ the spirit-fearing religion of most isolated tribal people.  Then came the polytheism immortalized in the Greek mythologies.  Israel’s glory, so this summary of the development of religion suggests, was that she was able to narrow down the many gods of the surrounding nations to one tribal god.  And eventually the one Creator-God of the Hebrew prophets, together with the philosophical monotheism of Plato, paved the way for higher religion.[2]

The Biblical Approach, on the other hand, gives us a completely different and, to my way of thinking, a far more reasonable explanation; for…

According to the Bible, the first true man was a monotheist, and when he falls into sin, he seeks restoration through animal sacrifice.  The theory of the evolution of religion suggests that man is an animal taking a long time to become divine.  The Bible describes a human couple made in the image of God, who degenerated into what we are now.[3]

According to this approach, instead of it being the unexpected byproduct of, or the evidentiary support for, Man’s upwardly mobile evolutionary journey, Religion is actually the degenerative process that was set in motion by Man’s Original Sin back in the Garden of Eden.  Although we have made quite a few trips to the Garden already, it will be necessary for us to visit there once again, if we are to expose the roots and the true nature of Religion’s False Faith.

To do this, though, we must first have an understanding of the significance of the Garden to the relationship between God and Man.  Because God is Spirit and Man is Flesh, for the two of them to enjoy fellowship together, it was necessary that a special meeting place be created for them.  In much the same way that man’s spirit and his body of flesh needed his soul to be a place of mediation between two such disparate entities, God and Man needed a place—something like a Sanctuary, a Tabernacle, or a Temple—where they, too, could come together.  This, then, is what the Garden represented to them.

Although the world that God created was beautiful enough in itself, when it came to creating the Sanctuary of the Garden, He pulled out all of the stops.  He filled this Sanctuary with everything that was beautiful to behold and to enjoy.  It was well-watered by a river flowing up from underground springs and filled with every tree that was good for food.  In addition, the areas surrounding it were also well-watered and filled with gold and precious stones!  When this special Sanctuary was completed, God took the Man He had created and placed him in it, and charged him with the responsibility of caring for it.  God made it clear to Man at the time that if he wanted to maintain their fellowship and continue living there, he would have to obey the Word God had given him, even when tempted to do otherwise.

In addition to all the other trees in the Garden, God placed two very special ones at its center—the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  His purpose for doing so was to test Man—giving him the opportunity to choose for himself whether to obey God and be blessed, or to go his own way and reap the consequences.  In reality, what He was setting before the first Man and Woman was the choice between the only two Systems of Faith that would ever be available to mankind—the choice to either put their Faith in the Works of the Flesh and try to achieve Salvation on their own terms, or to do things God’s way and put their Faith in His Word as the only means of securing their Salvation and Eternal life.  Since these trees were representative of those two systems, an examination of their roots and fruit will aid in our understanding of the systems themselves.

Such an examination reveals that…

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…

The Tree of Works and Death

…was rooted in the same desires that motivated Satan to rebel against God.  As listed in Isaiah 14:13-14, these were…

I will ascend into Heaven;
I will be like the Most High;
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; and,
I will also sit on the Mount of the Congregation.

The SAP produced by it was Selfishness and Pride, and its Fruit was all about Me and My Glory.

On the other hand…

The Tree of Life…

The Tree of Grace and Life

…was rooted in the same desires that characterized Jesus, as described for us in Psalm 40:6-10…

I delight to do Your will;
Your law is within my heart;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; and,
I have proclaimed the good news of [Your] righteousness in the great assembly.

Its SAP was Submission and Praise, while its Fruit was all about God and His Glory.

In comparison, then, the Two Systems of Faith line up something like this…

The Roots and Fruit of the Two Trees

Of course, hindsight being what it is, it’s easy for us to see that the reason the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was so attractive to Adam and Eve was because of its overpowering appeal to their flesh—to their selfishness and pride, as well as to their desire for self-determination and glorification.  Unfortunately, when they chose to eat of this tree, there was no way for them to know the kind of fruit it would bear in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and in the generations to come.  They had no idea that in choosing the Way of Works over the Way of God, they were dooming every one of their descendants (with the exception of Jesus Christ) to enter this world already bound to the same system–the system of Satan’s Soul-Centered False Faith of Religion, which actually leads it followers away from the Truth of God and on to their Spiritual Deaths.

  1. Religion—How Did It Develop?

Starting out as just a small seed of unbelief in the hearts of our first parents—but, nurtured as it was in the fertile soil of Satan’s prideful ambition—it didn’t take long for this False Faith of Religion to grow into an enormous tree with a very sturdy trunk.  That’s because it was founded upon Cain and his self-styled Worship of Works, it was fed and grew stronger on Man’s Worship of Nature, and its reach was eventually extended to cover the whole world through the many branches it developed following God’s confounding of the languages at the Tower of Babel.

Cain’s Worship of Works

That Cain and his offering would serve as the base upon which the Tree of Religion was founded should come as no surprise to us; for his—and his brother Abel’s—offerings were the first ones to be recorded after their parents’ expulsion from the Garden of Eden.  Given their proximity to that event, in both time and location, it seems reasonable to expect that Adam and Eve had instructed their sons concerning the type of offering that would be required of them by God.  The fact that Cain brought an offering of produce from his field, which was rejected, and Abel brought a lamb to be sacrificed and it was accepted, would tend to lend support to this theory.  But, was the difference in their offerings the only reason to look upon Cain as Religion’s Founding Father, or was it something that went much deeper than that?

We get an indication of the real issue in Hebrews 11:4, where we learn that the truly distinguishing feature between these two men and their offerings was faith, for…

By faith, Abel offered up a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.

Why, then, was faith the deciding factor here?  Because…

…without faith it is impossible to please him [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6); and,

…the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

If it was a heart of faith that was required to please God, how did Abel’s offering reveal that?  The most logical conclusion is that, since…

…faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17)…

Abel must have taken to heart the Word that he had receivedmost likely from his parents and something to the effect of “…without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22)”—then, acting upon that Word, he offered up to God his best lamb as the substitutionary payment for his sins.

Cain, on the other hand, having rejected the same Word, and determined to do things in his own way, foolishly attempted to come to God on his own terms, rather than approaching Him in the manner previously ordained.  Such an arrogant action on his part revealed that his heart was far from God, he was in denial concerning his sinfulness and need of sacrificial atonement, and his faith was in his own worthiness and works.  So great was Cain’s sense of self-righteousness that even when he was corrected by God and given an opportunity to repent, he refused—choosing instead to try to vindicate himself through the murder of his brother.  The true nature of Cain’s heart and actions were described centuries later by the Apostle John, when he warned his readers…

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder him?  Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12).

So, it was these characteristics of Cain…

  • An unbelief in and a rejection of the Word of God;
  • A life built upon deception;
  • A faith based on self-worth and the works of the flesh;
  • An inexplicable resentment and envy of the truly righteous; and,
  • An unjustifiable need to suppress and eliminate those who are walking with God…

…that have, ever since the time of Cain, become the hallmarks of the structure we know of as Religion—hallmarks which were clearly demonstrated by the Religious Leaders of Jesus’ day who, in their resentment and envy of Him, felt completely justified in their persecution and crucifixion of the very Son of God.

The Way of Cain

Man’s Worship of Nature

I must admit that when considering the transition from Cain’s Worship of Works to Mankind’s Worship of Nature, I was at a loss to explain how it could have happened.  I mean, why would any reasonably intelligent person choose to worship a being or a material entity lower in rank in the created order than himself?  It just didn’t make any sense, for the leap from the one to the other seemed far too great.  Thankfully, in Romans 1:21-25, the Apostle Paul provided us with some insight into this highly illogical progression (regression, actually) as he explains that it was really just a short hop because…

…although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

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!

It would seem, then, that if we—like Cain—don’t believe God and we reject His Word as the only source of Truth in the world, not only will we fall for any and every lie that comes down the pike, but we will also have to invent a few of our own if we’re going to ever make sense of our existence and the world in which we live.  After all, how else can we explain why…

  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west on a daily basis;
  • The moon and the stars come out at night and move from place to place in the sky;
  • The wind is so powerful and yet invisible;
  • The thunder thunders and the lightning flashes randomly across the sky;
  • The land is separate from the seas and the earth, at times, rumbles mysteriously under foot;
  • The rivers race downhill from the mountains to the sea;
  • People are people and animals are animals—why we eat one but not the other; and,
  • People die and what happens to them after they do?

Well, those in ancient times chose to explain these things through the use of Myths…

Myths explained how Earth was created, where life came from, why the stars shine at night and the seasons change.  Why there was sex.  Why there was evil.  Why people died and where they went when they did.  In short, myths were a very human way to explain everything.

…in its most basic sense, a myth is defined as ‘A traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the world view of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society (American Heritage).’  ‘Explaining aspects of the world’—that’s another way to say ‘science’ or ‘religion,’ the two principal ways people have used to explain the world.[4]

Creation myths set out to explain the origin of the world, the birth of gods and goddesses, and eventually the creation of human beings.  Explanatory, or causal, myths try to give a mythic reason for natural events, such as the Norse belief that Thor made thunder and lightning by throwing his hammer…another fundamental type of myth is the ‘foundation’ story, which explains the beginnings of a society—often with the distinct sense of superiority that direct descent from the gods clearly implies.[5]

This eventually gave rise to the rule and domination of men over men because…

Once local rulers understood that connecting themselves to the gods would cement their hold over people, myth was elevated to an institution that could prove more powerful than an army.  Most of the great ancient civilizations…were theocracies, in which there was no difference between religion and state.  With connections to the gods and usually the cooperation of a potent priesthood, divinely anointed rulers held the power of life and death over their subjects…[6]

…a development which eventually led to the founding of the world’s first empire in the land of Shinar—as well as the world’s first Religious System at the Tower of Babel.

A Few of Religion’s Many Faces

A System of Worship for the World

In Genesis 11:1-2, we are told that following the flood of Noah’s day…

…the whole earth had one language and the same words.  And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

Then, in Genesis 10:8-12, we learn that Shinar is where Nimrod, Noah’s great-grandson, came to power—and, where it was said of him…

…he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.  He was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before [against] the LORD.’  The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.

Although the Bible doesn’t tell us much about Nimrod, there are a number of references to him in ancient extra-biblical literature.  One such reference is in Antiquities of the Jewscompiled by the Jewish historian, Josephus…

Now it was Nimrod who excited them [the people] to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power…[7]

From what we read here, Nimrod sounds very much like the man of lawlessness the Apostle Paul warned his readers about later in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10—and described there as…

…the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God…The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan, with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and be saved.

And, from Josephus’ description of them, it would seem that those who were following Nimrod were very much like those just described by Paul…

Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than anyone could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water.[8]

It should be noted here that the building of this tower…

…was not an innocent, scientifically naive, primitive effort to reach the highest heavens! It was, instead, a brilliant but blasphemous effort to dismiss forever the God who had commanded Noah and his three sons after the Flood to ‘be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth’ (Genesis 9:1). Instead of honouring His name [i.e. God’s character and attributes], they said, ‘Let us build for ourselves a city … and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’ (Genesis 11:4).

In reality, this tower was created to be a religious center; one designed in the shape of a mountain which, when ‘scaled’ through the accomplishment of varying degrees of religious ritual, would elevate men to the status of deity and to the pinnacle of human power.  The ziggurat—or stepped tower–is probably what this “mountain” would have looked like; a place where…

The top compartment represented heaven. The inner walls, in all probability, were decorated with blue glazed tile, with the sun, the moon, and the five known planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) lined up along the plane of the zodiac. In the centre of the room would be their “god” seated upon a throne! Nebuchadnezzar later rebuilt such a tower in Babylon, which the Sumerians had called E-TEMEN-AN-KI (‘the building of the foundation-platform of heaven and earth’).  The pyramids of Egypt and, much later, the great Mayan temples of Central America, reflected the design of the original Tower of Babel.[9]

Most Likely What the Tower of Babel Looked Like

So, in addition to establishing himself as the first tyrannical emperor in human history, Nimrod also made a name for himself as the instigator of the first organized false religious system in the world—one …

…based primarily upon a corruption of the primeval astronomy formulated by Noah’s righteous ancestors before the flood.  In the original this system, depicted by means of constellations, [was] the story of Satan’s rebellion and the war in the heavens, his subversion of mankind, the fall of Adam and Eve, the promise of One to come who would suffer and die to relieve man from the curse of sin [and] then be installed as Lord of Creation, and the final re-subjugation of the cosmos to God through Him.

[However] These eternal truths were corrupted…into a mythic cycle wherein the great dragon is depicted as the rightful lord of the universe whose throne has been temporarily usurped by One whom we can recognize as the God of the Bible.

According to this corrupted version…

…the serpent creates man in his present miserable state, but promises that a child would one day be born of a divine mother—which child would supplant God, become a god himself, and return rulership of the Earth to the serpent…

Madonna and Child

…and, it was this woman and child who would later become known everywhere as the Madonna with Child.  

These fables…were introduced under the guise of revealing hidden esoteric knowledge [but]…this esotericism…only masked the actual goal, which was the worship of the ‘heavenly host,’ which the Bible equates with Satan’s army of fallen angels.

Satan was quite willing to receive worship ‘by proxy,’ hence the third major element of the mystery religion was emperor-worship. This religion was propagated by a hierarchy of priests and priestesses, to whom were assigned the task of initiating the populace at large into its ascending degrees of revelation, culminating at the highest level in both direct worship of Satan and demon-possession.[10]

Given the true nature of this rebellious and blasphemous endeavor—and the fact that it was God’s declared will from the beginning that human beings scatter abroad over the earth so that the earth would…

…be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14)…

…it was no wonder that…

…the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.  And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’

So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:5-9).

As a result of this scattering, when the people made their way into strange new lands, one of the things they all carried along with them was the false religion they had known at Babel in the land of Shinar—the place later called Babylon

…from Babylon this mystery-religion spread to all the surrounding nations…Everywhere the symbols were the same, and everywhere the cult of the mother and child became the popular system…The image of the [Madonna] queen of heaven with the babe in her arms was seen everywhere, though the names might differ as languages differed. It became the mystery-religion of Phoenicia, and by the Phoenicians was carried to the ends of the earth. Ashtoreth and Tammuz, the mother and child of these hardy adventurers, became Isis and Horus in Egypt, Aphrodite and Eros in Greece, Venus and Cupid in Italy, and bore many other names in more distant places. Within 1,000 years, Babylonianism had become the religion of the world, which had rejected the Divine revelation.[11]

And, it was for this reason that Babylon came to be known as the “mother” of every pagan religious system in the world— the system referred to in the Bible as Mystery Babylon, and the one described in Revelation 17:1ff as…

…a woman arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality;

…the great prostitute…with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk; and,

…having written on her forehead a name of mystery: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.

Mystery Babylon–Satan’s False Religious System

This is the same Religious System used by Satan throughout history to deceive and seduce those following in the Way of Cain, and to oppress and destroy those choosing to follow in the Way of Abel.  The one…

  • Out of which God called Abram, in order to create Israel as the nation through which His Son would come into the world;
  • That enslaved the Israelites in Egypt—and, the one that God crushed when He delivered His people from bondage there;
  • That God commanded His people to destroy when they went into the Promised Land—but whose failure to do so led to their eventual corruption;
  • That killed the prophets God sent to call His people to repentance;
  • That eventually carried God’s people into captivity, destroying their temple and leaving their land barren and in the hands of their enemies;
  • That crucified Christ;
  • That has persecuted the Church throughout its history and been responsible for the death of its martyrs;
  • That was responsible for the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and all the religious wars throughout history;
  • That led to the formation of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Rationalism, Atheism, and every cult the world has known; and,
  • Whose syncretism is now manifesting itself in the New Age Religion that will soon serve as the State Religion during the reign of the Antichrist.

4. Religion–How Will It End?

Most importantly, it is the one that God will one day judge and destroy…

Like Her Master, She Will Meet a Fiery End

…and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. Rev. 16:19

…for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. Rev. 18:5

‘Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.’ …her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her. 18:6,8

Alas, alas, for the great city that was clothed in fine linen, in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold, with jewels, and with pearls! For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste. 18:16-17

Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!” Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more;’ 18:20-21

…[for] all nations were deceived by your sorcery…and in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.” 18:23-24

In that day, like her Master and Manipulator, Satan’s Soul-Centered False Faith of Religion will meet her well-deserved doom—and, she will be seen no more!

 

Phillips, Craig, and Dean remind us that our salvation is all about God’s amazing grace–not our works…

 

[1] “religion.” The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. © 1994, 2000-2006 on Infoplease.
© 2000-2017 Sandbox Networks, Inc., publishing as Infoplease.
14 May. 2018   <https://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/philosophy-and-religion/other-religious-beliefs-and-general-terms/religion-general/religion/>.

[2] Robert Brow, “Origins of Religion,” in Eerdmans’ Handbook to The World’s Religions (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 30.

[3] Brow, Eerdmans’ Handbook, 31.

[4] Kenneth C. Davis, Don’t Know Much About Mythology (New York, NY; HarperCollins Publishers, 20060, 23-24.

[5] Davis, Mythology, 12.

[6] Davis, Mythology, 12.

[7] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: Book 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1960), 79-80.

[8] Josephus, Antiquities, 79-80.

[9] https://answersingenesis.org/tower-of-babel/babel/.

[10] Bryce Self, Semiramis, Queen of Heaven (http://www.ldolphin.org/semir.html).

[11] Harry A. Ironside, Babylonian Religion (http://www.biblelineministries.org/articles/).

 

 

Celebrating Five Years

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“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 6

It’s hard to believe but it was five years ago today that I began His Truth, My Voice, and during this time, I have published over a hundred posts (not a lot, I know, when compared to other bloggers, but a lot when you consider the depth of the material we’ve covered), created a lot of illustrations, and shared a lot of music.  It is my hope that all of this hard work has been as meaningful to you as it has been to me–and, even more so, that it has been truly glorifying to God.

We will soon be coming to the end of our spiritual exercises in the Workout Room and when we do, we will resume our presentation of God’s One Big Storypicking up where we left off, with Act 1 Scene 2–Genesis 12 and the introduction of Abraham.  I hope you will continue with us on our Journey to the Land of Revelation Knowledge, as we continue to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word and, in the process, become more like His Son, Jesus Christ.

 


Join Wintley Phipps, the Gaithers, and me in giving God the glory for the things He has done…

Spiritual Warfare: Image Manipulation and the Media

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Replacing God’s Image with Satan’s Counterfeit

To try and put into perspective just where we are in our current series of exercises in Spiritual Warfare, let’s take a moment to recap what we accomplished during our last three workout sessions.  In…

  • Getting the Lay of the Landwe began creating a spiritual map of Satan’s kingdom, with a survey of its Celestial, Terrestrial, and Subterranean Divisions—that is, the vertical dimensions of its territory;
  • Surveying the Earth’s Political and Financial Landscapes—we turned our attention from the kingdom’s vertical dimensions to mapping out its horizontal ones, with an exploration of the Physical Structures used in keeping the residents of planet Earth in material servitude; and,
  • Evolution and Educationwe looked at some of the ways the Educational System has been used to supplant the long-held Biblical Worldview with the godless Secular One needed for the brainwashing of generations of unsuspecting teachers, students, and parents.

Since our last session was the first of two dealing with the Structures making up Satan’s Cultural Landscape, this session, as the second of the two, will deal with the Structure of Media; for, it is through this Structure that our emotions are bombarded relentlessly in a devilish crusade to alter the way we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and the things that we value in life.  Remember, Satan’s goal in all of this is to get us to think, feel, and act in accordance with his purposes which, as we should know by now, are in direct opposition to those of God.  Here is what we have learned about His purposes over the course of these exercises…

  • God’s purpose in creating Man was to provide Himself with a Family to love, both now and throughout eternity.
  • Before Man could qualify as a member of God’s Family, though, he first had to be like his Father in every important respect. Therefore, when God created Man, He made him in His Image and Likeness, to be a visible reflection of Him and His Character in the World, as well as the Steward or Executor of His Will upon the earth.
  • Because God is Spirit, He created Man as a Spirit Being which He then placed in the two houses He called Male and Female.  As Spirit, Man could relate to God and, in the physical houses of Male and Female, he could (re)produce the Family that God has always desired to have.
  • Because he was created first, the Man was placed in the Position of Head over God’s Creation; with the Woman being created later, to be his Companion and Helper in carrying out the Work of God in the world.
  • This arrangement, however, did not mean that the Male was superior to the Female–it was simply to provide a system of order and accountability for God’s Kingdom Work on the Earth.  For, from the beginning of their history together, Man and Woman were both…

Equal in their standing before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God.

  • In his Position as Head, the Man was to be an Image in the world of the Headship of God the Father; the Woman was to be an Image of the complementary Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit; while the Children produced from their union were to be living testimonies of their Love, as well as Images of the Obedience and Love of Jesus Christ to and for God His Father.
  • God’s purpose for the Human Family, then, was for it be an Image in the natural of the Family God was creating for Himself in the supernatural—a Spiritual Family that He wanted every human being to be a part of.
  • When it came to their relationship to the physical world around them, as the Sons and Daughters of God, Man and Woman were to exercise dominion over their Father’s Creation, Imaging the Righteous Rule of God while administering His Holy Will on the earth, just as it is already being done in heaven.

To summarize, then, God’s Purposes for Man (as male and female) was for him to provide the world with an…

Image in the flesh of the Triune God;
Image in the flesh of God’s Spiritual Family; and,
Image in the flesh of God’s Kingdom Rule.

We Were All Created to Reflect the Image of God to the World

Getting Rid of One Image…

It should be obvious to us by now that God’s Purposes for Man have everything to do with Image; and, that in every aspect of his being—in his Spirit, Soul, and Body— Man has been imprinted with the likeness of his Creator.  Just as earthly kings and emperors have, throughout most of human history, placed their images on the coins and stamps that were circulated throughout their domains, the Sovereign King of the Universe placed His Image on every human being who has ever lived, so that as they circulated throughout His Earthly Domain…

 …the earth [would] be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

In light of this, it should come as no surprise that the destruction of the Image of God in Man—and the replacement of it with his own perverted one—has been Satan’s primary objective from the beginning of time.  Since Man’s maintenance of the Image of God required that he maintain…

Righteousness in his Relationship with God;
Love in his Relationships with Others; and,
Authority in his Relationship to the Earth…

…Satan’s strategy for the destruction of that Image required that he find a way to…

Sever Man’s Relationship with God through Disobedience;
Replace Godly Love with Lust in Man’s Relationships; and,
Usurp Man’s Authority over the Earth.

This he accomplished in one fell swoop with his successful temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—the consequences of which were…

  1. With Man’s disobedience came death—an immediate spiritual death or separation from God, to be followed later by physical death. This spiritual death brought with it an end to Man’s communication with God; depriving him of his ability to receive instruction from the Spirit of God on what he was to do and how he was to live, and leaving him at the mercies of the world, the flesh, and the devil;
  2. Lust entered the world and into human relationships when Eve acted on her craving to have that which was forbidden; and, with this action, the drive to satisfy one’s own selfish desires became more important than doing what it right; and,
  3. When it came to Man’s Authority over the Earth, this priceless gift was forfeited by Adam when he, by succumbing to the Influence Power of his wife, abdicated his Headship and gave up the Position Power that went along with it. Consequently, Man’s Authority was given over to Satan, and God’s Order for Creation was overturned, all because…

A member of the Animal Kingdom had usurped the authority of the Woman;
The Woman had used her Powers of Persuasion to usurp the authority of the Man; and,
The Man had rejected the authority of God and His Word and given up his position of Headship in the process.

…And Replacing It with Another 

Knowing now that God’s Purposes for Man have always been about his projection of a Godly Image in and throughout the world; and, given that Satan, as the master counterfeiter, has a Corrupted Image of his own that he wants Man to bear, how can we know what this counterfeit image looks like?  Well, all we have to do is invert God’s Image for Man to reveal the one determined for him by Satan…

The Truth vs. the Lie

As for how to go about replacing the Godly Image with his counterfeit one, Satan has that all worked out; for, even now, he is in the process of…

  • Eliminating human sexual distinctions and making society Gender-Neutral;
  • Tearing down traditional Authority structures and reducing everyone (except those who are pulling the strings behind the scenes) to the same base level for the purposes of corporate servitude;
  • Destroying the nuclear Family and replacing it with a Universal Brotherhood of Man, where everyone and everything is tolerated—with the exception of those holding to Biblical values; and,
  • Demoting Man from his divinely-ordained status of Lord over Creation to that of a mere animal within the Creation (as we discovered in our previous session, this is something that has been achieved through the teaching of Evolution).

To anyone else, such undertaking would certainly have been written off as an impossible mission long ago, however, the Prince of the Power of the Air remains completely undaunted at the prospect of its achievement.  That’s because, he has found a way to use the airwaves over which he rules as a weapon—the powerful weapon known to us as the Media.

Media—The What, the Why, and the Who 

To be sure that we have the same understanding of the term and the strategic part it plays in Satan’s offensive, we now need to identify…

What Media is;
Why it is Satan’s weapon of choice; and,
Who is manipulating the messages it conveys.

  1. The What

For our purposes, Media is defined as…

  • a plural of medium;
  • (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.

As for its usage…

Media, like data, is the plural form of a word borrowed directly from Latin.  The singular, medium, early developed the meaning an intervening agency, means, or instrument’ and was first applied to newspapers two centuries ago.  In the 1920s media began to appear as a singular collective noun, sometimes with the plural medias.  This singular use is now common in the fields of mass communication and advertising, but it is not frequently found outside them…[1]

We can understand Media, then, to represent the collective agencies, means, or instruments that a sender uses to communicate a particular message to a specific receiver or group of receivers; with Communication itself being defined as…

…a process involving the sorting, selecting and sharing of symbols in such a way as to help a receiver elicit from his or her own mind a meaning similar to that contained in the mind of the communicator; and…

Mass Communication being defined as…

…a process whereby professional communicators use technological devices to share messages over some distance to influence large audiences.[2]

Since it is this Mass Communication aspect of Media that Satan has commandeered for his own evil purposes, it is essential that we learn why he has chosen it as his weapon of choice.

  1. The Why

There are at least three reasons to account for Media’s effectiveness when used as a weapon…

It’s Pervasive;
It’s Powerful; and,
It’s Personal.

It’s Pervasive

Gone Are the Days!

Throughout much of human history, if someone wanted to convey his thoughts or feelings to someone else, he had to do so in person—within shouting range of that person, at least.  Apart from the use of drum beats, smoke signals, homing pigeons, letters, or the use of runners or relays similar to the pony express, there was just no way for people to communicate with other people—especially large numbers of them—over long distances.[3]  However, this began to change after the German inventor, Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468) invented the process of movable type…

Prior to that time, most books were handwritten and very time-consuming to produce.  Because of this, reading material was scarce and limited to those in the elite culture—the clergy and nobility…Gutenberg’s invention increased the number of books and made them available for a new emerging middle class.

The development of printing, which led to the spread of literacy for the middle classes, plus the development of trade and commerce caused major cultural changes. [4]

One of these major changes was the Protestant Reformation (c. 1517-1648)…

The Reformation, led by a German monk, Martin Luther, was the first mass movement made possible by mass communication.  Print was used to mobilize people of all social classes…

Luther and his followers used mass-produced pamphlets to distribute the new religious thoughts to the masses.  They communicated with the illiterate through pictorial prints, much like present day editorial cartoons, which carried propaganda messages against the Catholic Church and the pope.

After mass communication developed, more and more people learned to read and write, especially among the middle classes.[5]

As literacy increased and more information became available to the masses, more and better ways to disseminate it became necessary.  This need was eventually met through the development, over time, of books and novels, newspapers, letter-writing and new or improved postal services, the telephone, telegraph, phonograph, photography, radio, films, television, and the internet—and the communications web which is currently encircling the globe.  In fact, this web is now so pervasive that even people living in huts in some of the most remote parts of the world, without electricity or indoor plumbing, can somehow reach or be reached by some type of the Media!

The Reasons for Media’s Effectiveness

It’s Powerful

As a weapon, Media is effective not only because it is pervasive but also because its powerful; In fact, it’s powerful enough to…

  • Expose people to other people, places, ideas, and products that they would never come into contact with or considered otherwise;
  • Capture the attention and imagination of millions of people with one thirty-second commercial, and making millions of dollars for its advertisers in the process;
  • Unite completely disparate groups of people around a cause by playing upon their fears or emotions;
  • Build up or tear down huge corporations, illustrious professional careers, and even governments;
  • Prompt people to re-examine what they believe and convince them to re-evaluate their value systems; and,
  • Change a society through the promotion of some practices and lifestyles, and the condemnation of others.

What gives Media the power to do all of these things is its ability to manipulate images.  As Elizabeth Thoman, in an article for the Center of Media Literacy, explains…

…the consumer culture as we know it could never have emerged without the invention of the camera and the eventual mass-production of media images it made possible.

In 1859 Oliver Wendell Holmes described photography as the most remarkable achievement of his time because it allowed human beings to separate an experience or a texture or an emotion or a likeness from a particular time and place—and still remain real, visible, and permanent.  He described it as a ‘conquest over matter’ and predicted it would alter the physics of perception, changing forever the way people would see and understand the world around them.  Holmes precisely observed that the emergence of this new technology marked the beginning of a time when the image would become more important than the object itself and would in fact make the object disposable.[6]

Today, we can attest to the accuracy of Holmes’ observation and prediction; for, anyone with a camera phone can quickly and easily record an image which they later, with the aid of computer software, can manipulate in any way that they choose.  With this newly created image—of something that never really existed—a photographer can dispose of the original and then replace what was real and true with a fantasy of his own making—which is something that those in the Media do every day.

It’s Personal

Its power, then, along with its pervasiveness, has made it possible for Media to become something that is also extremely personal.  Just think about it…

A television set is on for nearly eight hours in the average American home each day, with each occupant viewing something on television for nearly four hours daily.  The average American listens to radio over three hours each day.  Add video games, Internet browsing, DVD watching, occasional movie attendance, and roadside billboards to this equation, and it is clear that Americans are deluged with mediated messages in every waking moment.

By now, media use (and misuse) is just an accepted aspect of American culture, as people have become protoplasmic blobs being washing over by countless messages that seek to alter your political views, make you buy something, or change your values.  These narcotizing messages seek to keep you watching so that your eyeballs can be sold to advertisers.

Media usage has become more than a supplement to our American lifestyle; it has become perhaps the largest aspect of our lifestyle.  More productive pursuits like exercise, family interaction, community work, and household duties are over looked in order to keep up with American Idol or catch the big ball game on TV.  For most Americans, time spent with the media surpasses time spent at work or at sleep, and certainly surpasses interaction with friends and family.[7]

And, if you’re anything like me, the cell phone is one of the last things—along with the lights—that we turn off at night, as well as one of the first things that we check when we get up in the morning—so, it doesn’t get much more personal than that!

Today’s Media Landscape

  1. The Who

Now that we know a little about the what and the why of Media, it is time for us to learn something about the who behind it.  In other words, who are the people or groups whose pockets go deep enough to buy and control this very expensive and highly profitable global communications network, and how are they using this powerful tool to advance Satan’s agenda?

Who owns it?

Throughout much of the twentieth century, Media ownership was regulated by laws enforced by the Federal Communications Commission—laws including…

  • the 1941 National TV Ownership Rule, which prohibited broadcasters from owning television stations that could reach more 35 percent of the nation’s homes;
  • the 1970 Radio/TV Cross-Ownership Restriction, which prevented broadcasters from owning a radio and a TV station in the same market; and,
  • the 1975 Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Prohibition, which was designed to limit the ownership of a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

However, during the Reagan administration, new laws were enacted which dramatically reduced government regulation of the Media and initiated what was soon to become an unprecedented period of consolidation for the large mass-media companies in the United States.  Whereas, in 1980, about fifty corporations were controlling nearly all of U.S. Media, today, that control has been consolidated in just a handful of Media Conglomerates[8]–with only recently, two of the largest media mergers ever to take place having been announced—these being, AT&T’s offer to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and the Walt Disney Company’s bid of more than $52 billion to buy out much of 21st Century Fox’s holdings.  If these deals go through, according to information gathered for National Public Radio, the major owners of digital media, with a sampling of their holdings, will be…

  • Walt Disney Company—including 21st Century Fox and its properties, ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, Freeform, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone Pictures, Lucasfilm, Disney Digital Network, Polaris, Disneyland, Walt Disney World and other parks and resorts;
  • 21st Century Fox—Fox News, Business, Sports, TV Network, National Geographic Partners, FX, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios;
  • Time Warner, Inc.—CNN, HBO, Warner Brothers, Cinemax, TBS, TNT, NBA.com, MCAA.com, TMZ.com, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, DC Comics, Bleacher Report;
  • AT&T—AT&T, DirecTV, Cricket Wireless, U-verse, YP.com (Yellowpages.com), Sky Brasil, Time Warner and its properties;
  • Comcast Corporation/NBC Universal—XFINITY, NBC News, Sports, TV Network, MSNBC, CBNC, NBC Entertainment, Telemundo, Bravo, Sprout, USA Network, Syfy, E!, Philadelphia Flyers, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Focus Features, Universal Studios and other parks and resorts, Golf Channel, Oxygen;
  • CBS Corporation—CBS News, TV, Radio, Entertainment, Sports, Showtime, Simon & Schuster, Smithsonian Channel, CNET, ZDNet, TV Guide, Last.fm, Metacritic, Chowhound, Gamespot, Watch! Magazine;
  • Viacom, Inc.—Paramount Pictures, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, VH!, Nickelodeon, Spike, CMT, Centric, Logo TV, TV Land, Tr3s;
  • Univision Communications, Inc.—Univision TV, Radio, Digital Networks, Fusion, The Onion, The Root, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Uforia;
  • Verizon Communications, Inc.—Verizon Wireless, Fios, AOL + Yahoo!, Flickr, Tumblr, HuffPost, Engadget, TechCrunch, MAKERS, BUILD Studios, Rivals.com, Ryot, go90, Terremark;
  • com, Inc.—Amazon Prime, Cloud Drive, Web Services, Marketplace, Whole Foods, Echo, Fire TV, Kindle, Audible, Twitch, IMDb, Goodreads, AbeBooks, ComiXology, DPReview, Zappos and other online retailers, The Washington Post;
  • Alphabet, Inc./Google—YouTube, Android, Chrome, Nexus, Pixel, Google Home, Blogger, Zagat, Nest, Waze, Verily, Google Search, Gmail, Maps, Hangouts and other apps, Project Fi; and,
  • Facebook, Inc.—Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, Facebook Messenger, Internet.org.[9]

Some of the companies not included in NPR’s listings are the leaders in the Radio and Print Industries…

  • Clear Channel—which owns 866 radio stations and Premiere Radio Networks (a national radio network that produces, distributes or represents approximately 90 syndicated radio programs, serves nearly 5,800 radio station affiliates and has over 213 million weekly listeners, and with programs including the Rush Limbaugh ShowGlenn Beck and the Sean Hannity Show); Fox Sports Radio; Fox News Radio; Australian Radio Network;
  • Bertelsmann—one of the world’s largest media companies, it also owns Random House (with over 200 imprints in 15 countries, including the Ballantine Publishing Group, the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Broadway, the Crown Publishing Group, the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, Pantheon, Random House U.K.), the Knopf Publishing Group, and Waterbrook Press;
  • The Hearst Corporation–a media conglomerate that controls or has ownership stakes in newspaper, magazine, television, cable network and Internet properties—including Twenty U.S. magazines (like Car and DriverCosmopolitanCountry LivingELLEEsquireGood HousekeepingMarie ClaireOPopular MechanicsRedbookSeventeenand Woman’s Day); King Features (syndicator of newspaper comic strips including BlondieBeetle BaileyHagar the HorribleFamily CircusDennis the MenacePopeye); Black Book; Hearst Business Media (Electronics Products MagazineFloor Covering Weekly); IDG/Hearst; Hearst Books; Hearst News Service; and,
  • The Tribune Company—which owns 23 TV stations, one radio station, 12 daily newspapers- including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sunand the Hartford Courant, and numerous magazines and other media properties.[10]

Why is this information so important for us to know?  Because these are the companies that are controlling what we read in print, what we hear on the radio, and what we see on television, at the movies, and on the internet every day.  These are the groups who, through the Image Culture they are helping to create, are replacing our reality with their fantasy, and reshaping our values and our views on life and of the world.  And, without a doubt, these are the organizations which, as they continue to consolidate, will provide the Coming World Ruler with the Communications Monopoly he will need to control the world and the mindset of its entire population.

Going back to our earlier definition of Mass Communication, then, we can now identify these Media Giants as…

…the professional communicators who are using [their] technological devices to share messages over some distance to influence large audiences.

This, of course, begs the following questions…

What kinds of messages are they choosing to share; and
How are they attempting to influence us through these messages?

We Need to Be Aware of the Messages that Are Really Being Communicated

Mediated Messages and Influence Peddling

Although there are millions—perhaps even billions—of messages conveyed through the Media each day, of particular interest to us are those which are designed to…

Separate Us from Our Money;
Steal Our Identity; and,
Secure Our Support or Sway Our Vote. 

  1. Separating Us from Our Money

There can be no question that the most plentiful and the most obvious messages are those whose purpose it is to sell us something.  Every day, no matter which way we turn, we are confronted by advertisements of one kind or another.  That’s because…

One of the basic ingredients of American popular culture is consumption, and it is the advertising industry that makes mass consumption possible.  Advertising sells us sexuality, beauty, youth, fashion, happiness, success, status and luxury.  When Calvin Klein, for example, advertises blue jeans, he is selling us sex appeal, not jeans.  Polo sells us fashion status and Miller beer offers us macho good times.

Advertising is an important element of our culture because it reflects and attempts to change our life styles.  New cultural trends and fashions are first transmitted to the mass culture through advertisements.

It is estimated that, by the time a person raised in the United States reaches the age of 21, he or she has been exposed to 1 million to 2 million advertisements.  The cumulative effects of this lifelong exposure plays a significant role in shaping our behavior, social beliefs and values.[11]

And, one man who was extremely instrumental in the success of advertising as we know it today was noted psychologist and radical behaviorist, John B. Watson; for it was he who…

…recommended to advertisers that they could make a fortune by manipulating basic human motivations and emotions to their advantage, and often, of course, to the consumer’s disadvantage.  One of his basic ideas, used with gusto and impunity by advertisers today, was to convince people that their possessions were inferior and consequently that they needed new possessions.  In other words, he helped create the modern consumer mentality…[12]

As a result, day in and day out, consumers are bombarded with messages telling them that they need to buy bigger houses, newer cars, the latest fashions, and the best technological devices—and that, for their overall well-being, they need to take more vacations, eat out more often, and still somehow manage to lose weight.  Far from benefiting from this consumer mentality, more Americans than ever are finding themselves over their heads in debt, more overweight, and more stressed out and feeling inadequate than ever before.  What has really been sold and bought, then, is the lie that more will make us happy; an exchange that has most often taken place right under our noses, in our very own living rooms.  Or, as Kalle Lasn, a co-founder of the Canadian media criticism and environmentalist magazine Adbusters describes it…

…In the privacy of our living rooms we made a devil’s bargain with the advertising industry:  Give us an endless flow of free programs and we’ll let you spend 12 minutes of every hour promoting consumption.  For a long time, this seemed to work.  The ads grated on our nerves but it was a small price to pay for ‘free television.’  What we didn’t realize when we made our pact with the advertisers was that their agenda would eventually become the heart and soul of television.  We have allowed the most powerful communications tool ever invented to become the command center of a consumer society defining our lives and culture the way family, community and spiritual values once did.[13]

Sadly, with our eyeballs having been sold to the highest advertising bidder in this way, many of us are ill-equipped to recognize the dangers inherent in the next set of Messages when they come our way.

Eyeballs for Sale

  1. Stealing Our Identity

If advertisements are the most plentiful and most obvious of Media’s Messages, surely the subtlest are those that are designed to steal our identities.  Usually, when we hear the term Identity Theft, we think of a person whose financial information has been stolen by some unknown internet hacker, who has made off with his or her social security number, or bank and credit card account numbers.  As devastating as this kind of crime can be to an individual’s long-term financial situation and reputation, there is a crime that is far more subtle and insidious being perpetrated upon the numberless recipients of Mass Media’s Messages.  This crime is the slow, subconscious, yet systematic theft of each recipient’s God-given Image and Spiritual Identity—a loss of reputation which will have everlasting ramifications.

Through the Media’s programming of television, music and music videos, movies, the internet and social media, and video games, today’s airwaves have been saturated with Images promoting hedonistic and godless lifestyles.  By appealing to our flesh—that is, our baser human instincts—they have successfully convinced many of us that what is evil is really good, and what is good is really evil.  Routinely, their Images have been and are being used to promote…

Idolatry and a rejection of God;
Vulgarity, swearing, and cursing;
Disrespect for parents and of one another;
Disrespect for authority and for life;
Drunkenness and substance abuse;
Lying, cheating, stealing;
Violence and murder;
Greed, covetous, and corruption;
Sexual immorality—both heterosexual and homosexual; and,
Marital infidelity and divorce.

In case you hadn’t noticed, each of these is a violation of God’s Standard of Righteousness, better known as the Ten Commandments—and is something which God has repeatedly warned will be judged and punished.  Not only that but, each time a person buys into the lies embedded within Media’s Messages, that person trades the Image of God that he was designed to bear for the one that Satan has long been trying to imprint upon him.  And, without the light and salt effects produced by that missing Godly Image, individuals have become devoid of purpose in life, families have fallen apart, and the moral fabric of society has, over time, been eroded.

What We Take in Helps Make Us What We Are–or Shouldn’t Be!

  1. Securing Our Support or Swaying Our Vote

No where is this erosion more evident than in the Media Messages whose intent it is to secure our support or sway our vote—with the Media’s coverage of Politics and Public Affairs being a prime example.  In my lifetime alone, journalism—both print and television—has gone from being a respected and objective source of information to being a dog-and-pony show, with its blatant liberal bias on display for all to see.  Instead of just relaying the facts, today’s reporters have taken to giving their opinions instead, as they attempt to impress and gain a following with their editorialization of the stories they are covering.  Instead of real news reporting being the order of the day…

…studies have confirmed that the focus in journalism has shifted over the last two decades from an emphasis on policy, politics, ideas, and analysis to the current agenda of scandal; personality; human interest, entertainment, and spot-news cop-shop stories of crime, wrecks, and fires.  In most local television news markets, stories about crime outnumber stories about government and policy by a more than three-to-one margin.[14]

One must question whether the media help or hinder our collective ability to learn what is really happening in the world, and whether television news is trying to dazzle us or inform us.[15]

Further evidence of society’s erosion can be seen as a result of its embrace of all things “gay”the promotion of which has been one of Mass Media’s most cherished causes.  Once again, just over the course of my life, the major Media outlets have gone from producing television programs and films which wouldn’t even show married couples sharing the same bed to shows and movies promoting every kind of sexual deviation as normal and worth experiencing.

The Media Would Have Us Believe that Love Justifies all Behavior–and that It Should Be Accepted

To demonstrate just how successful the Media-promoted Gay/Lesbian movement has been, we need only look at society today and compare it with the proposals contained in the ‘Gay Bill of Rights,’ legislation which was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 3, 1985.  In that bill, the LGBT agenda was clearly stated to include…

  • the legalization of homosexuality and lesbianism;
  • the criminal prosecution of all churches, schools and businesses for refusing to hire homosexuals;
  • the criminal prosecution of an individual who refuses housing accommodations to homosexual/lesbian couples;
  • the legitimization of marriage between homosexual/lesbian couples, as well as their adoption of children; and
  • the requirement that all public schools create sex education courses taught by homosexuals in order to show their lifestyle as a moral, healthy, and normal alternative to heterosexuality.[16]

With each item on this wish list now having been checked off, what we’re left with is a society in a state of confusion because its citizens have lost their sexual bearings.  Young children in school no longer know whether they should go into the boys’ or girls’ restrooms, while older ones are in a quandary as they try to decide which sex they should be.  Of course, this state of Androgyny, where people…

–are both male and female; hermaphroditic;
–have both masculine and feminine characteristics;
–have an ambiguous sexual identity; and,
–are neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine in appearance…[17]

… has been Satan’s goal all along.  That’s because, once people have lost their sexual identity, the last vestiges of God’s Image will have been removed, and they will be prepared to worship the hermaphroditic image of the Antichrist when he makes his appearance.

Satan’s Plan from the Beginning

Media’s Motive

The final question that we need to answer, then, is this:  why would the owners of these Mass Media Conglomerates use their messages to help create a society in which its citizens…

  • are in debt up to their eyeballs, relentlessly chasing unattainable images and lifestyles–like gerbils on a wheel;
  • have been narcotized by mindless “entertainment” while being left ill-informed about what is actually happening in the world; and,
  • are so confused about their sexual identity that they are willing to try anything, no matter how outrageous it is, in an attempt to figure out who they are?

It’s because the heads of these organizations are members of the groups we learned about when we surveyed the Earth’s Physical and Financial Landscapesgroups that are dedicated to the creation of a One World Government (which the Bible predicts will happen)—a government with…

  • One international identity, and one set of universal values;
  • Centralized control of the people in a society with no middle class, only rulers and servants;
  • A zero-growth policy designed to eliminate prosperity and facilitate the repression needed to keep society divided;
  • A state of perpetual imbalance that will keep people physically, mentally, and emotionally confused and exhausted;
  • Centralized control of education, enabling them to erase and rewrite the history that is taught to students;
  • Centralized control of all foreign and domestic policies;
  • Empowerment of the United Nations as the world’s government;
  • An American Union, a trading bloc similar to the European Union;
  • Expansion of NATO—with NATO becoming the UN’s world army;
  • One legal system; and,
  • One socialist welfare state, where those who cooperate will be rewarded and those who don’t will be eliminated.[18]

As for the Media’s role in all of this, it has been their job to distract us from what is really going on, and to con us, confuse us, and condition us for the coming new regime.  In remarks made at the 1991 Bilderberger meeting, David Rockefeller praised the Media for their part in the advancement of the globalist agenda

We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications, whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years…

It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years.  But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government.  The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto determination practice in past centuries.[19]

The elite in this case—those who anticipate being the head and not the tail in this coming world government—would be the Media, and the members of the other globalist groups, who are helping to usher in the earthly kingdom over which Satan will one day rule.  Of course, anyone who is familiar with the book of Revelation knows that, for those who are responsible for the promotion of Satan’s Image on the earth, the story does not end well at all!

Phillips Craig & Dean remind of our responsibility to be the image of God to our children…

 

 

[1] media. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/media(accessed: February 9, 2018).

[2] Stan Le Roy Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture: An Introduction (New York: Random House, 1989), 14.

[3] Early Methods of Communication, Skwirk On-Line Education Website, at http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-11_u-26_t-70_c-247/nsw/science-technology/way-out-communication/delivering-messages/early-methods

[4] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 24-25.

[5] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 26-27.

[6] Elizabeth Thoman, Rise of the Image Culture: Re-Imagining the American Dream, Center for Media Literacy at http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/rise-image-culture.

[7] Jeffrey McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised (Lanham, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2007), 1.

[8] Mark Crispin Miller, “Media Monopolies are a Serious Problem,” in Mass Media; Opposing Viewpoints, ed. William Dudley (Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2005), 77.

[9] Alina Selyukh, Maria Hollenhorst, and Katie Park, “Big Media Companies and Their Many Brands—In One Chart,” for National Public Radio at https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/10/28/499495517/big-media-companies-and-their-many-brands-in-one-chart, updated December 22, 2017.

[10] “Who Owns the Media?,” article on Free Press website at https://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart, accessed March 14, 2018.

[11] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 263-264.

[12] Karen E. Dill, How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through the Media Influence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 144.

[13] Thoman, Rise of the Image Culture.

[14] McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised, 51.

[15] McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised, 69.

[16] John Daniel, Scarlet and the Beast, Vol.2 (Tyler, Texas: JKI Publishing, 1994), 68.

[17] androgyny. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/androgyny (accessed: March 29, 2018).

[18] Daniel Estulin, The True Story of the Bilderberger Group (Waterville, Oregon: TrineDay Publishers, 2007), 42-43.

[19] Estulin, The Bilderberger Group, 92-93.