The gospel is a revolutionary message. Yeshua the Messiah of Israel was branded seditious by the religious and political authorities of His day (John 12:19; also chapters 18-19). His followers were labeled as notorious international troublemakers and instigators of riots (Acts 17:6; 24:5). Crucifixion, stoning, torture, imprisonment, beheading – these were the ways that the Messiah and His first followers ended their lives. The yoke-shattering power of signs and wonders came in the context of the power of Yeshua’s cross and in the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings (Phil. 3:10).
Today to a large extent the revolutionary message of the cross has been watered down and sapped of its power. The gospel is equated with social status, with middle class values, with unquestioning obedience to governments. The world has concluded that many believers and fellowships are boring, irrelevant, and unreal. For them the gospel doesn’t present any real spiritual challenge, offer real passion or pose a revolutionary threat.
Our brother Mike Bickle has said that God is about to change the understanding and expression of the Messianic faith (he would use the term ‘Christianity’) in the whole earth in one generation. He is speaking of the radical reality and life of the risen King of Israel reverberating in the lives and prayers of His revolutionary followers. This type of demonstrated faith is evidence that demands a verdict. This is the gospel of passion which the apostles offered to the ancient world. It is the incarnated challenge of Yeshua’s message.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’” (Matt. 10:34-36 quoting Micah 7:5-6).
As the world nudges ever closer to the return of the Lion of Bethlehem, we know (because the Scriptures tell us) that ‘business as usual’ will become less and less usual. We know that there will be wars and rumors of war, earthquakes in diverse places, and nations in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea (Luke 21:25). We know that Israel will be gathered back to her own promised land, and that many nations will attempt to shrink her borders and annihilate her (Zech.13:8-14:2; Joel 3:1-2; Ezek. 38:10-12; Psalm 83). We know that worldwide persecution will break out against the Jewish people (Rev. 12:13; Jer. 16:14-18) and against all who believe in Yeshua (Rev. 6:9-11; 12:17).
Yet some days it seems like such a jump from ‘here’ to ‘there.’ Won’t we be able to read all about these things in the daily papers, or watch Yeshua descend from the skies on CNN or BBC? Won’t it be like in the movie ‘Megiddo: The Omega Code 2’ where all the world is in the lap of the anti-Messiah except America, Mexico and China? At what point (to paraphrase Mark Twain) will we frogs come to the conclusion that the pot we are in is actually filled with boiling water? At what point do ‘the last days’ become ‘our present days?’ How should we then live – today, in these last days?
Clash of the Titans
Ever since the rebellion of Satan (Isa. 14:12 ff; Ezek. 28:12ff) spiritual warfare has been a reality in heaven and on earth. The sometimes open, sometimes hidden warfare between YHVH and Heylel Ben-Shachar (Satan’s original name in Hebrew) can be charted from the dawn of history, when the world’s first communities were built. Satan strategically influenced the lives (and thus the spiritual underpinnings) of the engineers of the original great urban centers. The foundations of the first city in the Bible were laid by Cain the murderer (Gen. 4:17), while the founder of Babylon, Nineveh, Akkad and Assyria was Nimrod (Gen. 10:8-12) whose Hebrew named means “we will rebel.”
The world’s first civilization grew mighty, but it did not find favor in YHVH’s eyes. In fact, in the entire world God could only find one man and his family who were pleasing to Him! God’s report card gave failing grades to the world system, the world leaders and the world structures. They were full of violence and evil (Gen. 6:5-13). Satan had thoroughly infected and infested the peoples of the world and their governments. When YHVH judged the situation to be totally unredeemable, He brought “floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens … and everything on earth perish[ed]” (Gen. 6:17).
Yeshua encourages us to draw parallels between Noah’s day and our day. He even prophesies that in the last days people will be unprepared and in spiritual blindness – just as in Noah’s day. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37-39).
United we fall
The planet received a second chance, a brand new start, under Noah. But what sprouted up was again evil, the Tower of Babel. This international government-sponsored building project was an organized manifestation of sinful pride, ungodly unity and rebellion. God’s response was to shatter Man’s unity in a thousand different nations and languages. Unity (apart from God and in rebellion against Him) led straight to division (God’s hand of judgment). There was grace in this scattering, as mutual suspicion and international hostilities would make it much harder for men to band together in full rebellion against their Maker.
In every age Satan has attempted to regather men into a rebel unity. He has expended great effort trying to harness men’s hearts into false worship, sinful pride and evil machinations. In every age the Holy Spirit continues to block and thwart these demonic preparations with plans of His own.
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). “If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? … But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Luke 11:18, 20).
Spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies
The prophets who wrote the Scriptures occasionally allow us to peer into Heaven’s perspective. They describe “rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” –
spiritual powers (whether angelic or demonic, the passage does not specify) that exercise spiritual authority in heavenly realms. These spiritual powers gain understanding as they meditate upon what God is doing through the gospel (Eph. 3:11).
We are told that there are spiritual thrones, powers, rulers and authorities which are invisible – invisible, that is, to the naked eye. These spiritual beings were all created by Yeshua who Himself is God (Col. 1:15-17).
Paul adds that all believers are engaged in spiritual warfare, in struggle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:11-12). His words hearken back to the Book of Daniel, where the prophet is told by an powerful angel about evil demonic princes who influence and have spiritual authority over world empires, whether ancient or modern (including Persia and Greece – Dan. 10:13, 20).
One specific demonic spirit, Satan, is called “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph. 2:1-2). His tactics include stirring up rebellion to and hatred of God’s ways, His people and His body. Paul adds that demons and spiritual powers want to separate believers from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39). The good news of the gospel is that these demonic powers can never separate us from God’s love! Paul adds that Yeshua through His atoning death disarmed powers and authorities, making a public spectacle of them and triumphing over them by the cross (Col. 2:13-15).
So the Bible teaches that there are godly angelic authorities, and there are also ungodly demonic authorities. The clash between these forces (over the hearts and lives of men and women) is part of the secret war which takes place ‘behind the scenes’ in our lives! This war also takes place behind the scenes in our governments, in international relations and among world power brokers.
Godly kings bring stability, security and righteousness to a nation (Prov. 14:34; 25:5; 29:4, 14), for when authority and purity are matched, the result is blessed government. Yet waiting in the wings the enemy is crouching, desiring to have mastery over the next king’s heart (à la Gen. 4:7) – and so expand the kingdom of darkness. The history of mankind can be seen as the struggle between righteous government and hostile satanic takeovers.
Believers are called to submit to authority, since God has established governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-5) to oversee our lives, to reward and punish us, and even to collect taxes! We need to pray for and bless our leaders and authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-4), in order that both we and the gospel might prosper.
When a satanic takeover occurs in a government, believers are still called to respect authority (Exod. 22:28; Acts 23:1-7). However, when obedience to the state requires disobedience to God, we are to follow Yeshua’s example and render unto Caesar accordingly (Matt. 22:21; Acts 4:19-21).
The Scriptures tell us that God will sometimes raise up evil empires to judge His own people (see Haggai 1). YHVH has used cruel conquerors to bring Israel back to Himself in repentance. Yet often these empires go beyond their divine mandate, and give themselves over to be used as satanic instruments. In due time these world powers are utterly destroyed (Isa. 10:5-20).
Evil human government is eventually brought to an end by God. His word is the last word. In the Book of Judges YHVH raised up military generals called judges. Their calling was to destroy Israel’s enemies on the battlefield (Judges 3 etc). The Feast of Hanukkah commemorates God’s battle-hammer Judah the Maccabee, “who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (Heb. 11:34). There is a time for being conquered, and there is a time for victory in battle. All this comes from YHVH, the God of Israel and the Commander of Israel’s armies (1 Sam. 17:45; Josh. 5:14-6:2).
Toward the end of the age, it is prophesied that an international conspiracy of Gentile nations will come against Israel in a last ditch attempt to divide the land and to destroy the Jewish people. That rebel confederation will be destroyed by YHVH Himself, when He descends from heaven to destroy these forces and to save His people (see Joel 3:1-2; Zech. 13:8-14:2).
Kosher prophets vs. non-kosher kings
The Hebrew prophets were no strangers to clashing kingdoms. They took their lives in their hands (1 Kings 20:35-36) when they approached kings and rulers. Micaiah the prophet publicly called on witnesses and bystanders at court (as he was dragged off to prison) to free him from his chains if his prophecy came to pass (2 Chron. 18:27). The nameless Judean prophet (1 Kings 13:4) found himself seconds away from death at the hands of the king’s bodyguards – until God stretched forth His hand to do signs and wonders. Queen Jezebel had hundreds of the prophets put to death because they were challenging Israel to remain faithful to YHVH’s words (1 Kings 18:13; 19:10).
Jewish prophets often challenged governments and kings, and often paid the price for speaking the truth:
“YHVH, the God of their fathers, sent word to them through His messengers again and again, because He had pity on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of YHVH was aroused against His people and there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:15-16).
“But they were disobedient and rebelled against You; they put Your teaching behind their backs. They killed Your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to You . . . Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. For many years You were patient with them. By Your Spirit You admonished them through Your prophets. Yet they paid no attention…” (Neh. 9:26, 29, 30).
What was it like to bring a word of rebuke to the king of Israel in that day – to stand in the palace of Samaria or Jerusalem and deliver a message from God’s heart? How did it feel to challenge the High Priest on his own turf, in the Temple itself? What must it have been like to bring a word to king and priest gathered at the false altars of Bethel? The prophetic ministry also involves speaking God’s heart into the lives and hearts of world leaders – with boldness, humility and courage – regardless of the consequences.
Confronting the princes of this world
A prophet delights when his words result in building or planting (Jer. 1:10a; 31:26), in encouragement and edification (Eph. 4:12-16). But at least as often, due to the sinfulness and hardheartedness of man, the prophetic message involves uprooting, tearing down, destroying and overthrowing (Jer. 1:10b; Hos. 6:5).
The Hebrew prophets and the Jewish apostles all had to confront maverick authorities in their day who had placed themselves in opposition to God’s ways and character (Isa. 1:20; Ezek. 2:8; Zech. 7:12; Acts 3:13-18; 4:8-20). The bold preaching of God’s heart would lead many prophets to their death. Their spilled blood would serve as further testimony of their divine message (2 Kings 9:7; Matt. 23:30, 34-37; Rev. 18:20-24).
David, one of the greatest kings who ever lived, paints a last days picture of a rebel confederacy, a counterfeit international “Great Powers” conspiracy opposed to God and to His Son. In Psalm 2 he describes these leaders as kings, rulers and judges (melachim, roznim and shoftim – vv. 2, 10). Esteemed world leaders, lawmakers and presidents lead the charge in rebelling against God (v. 2). They see God’s ways and His word as prison chains and fetters, to be broken off in revolt. They gather their armies together in military formation (yityatzvu, v.2) and take counsel/strategize (nosdu yachad, v. 2) against YHVH Himself and against His Messiah.
It is important to emphasize that these world leaders leading their revolt against God and His Messiah, are under the influence and control of “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). Their attack against Israel is an attack against the God of Israel (compare Psa. 83:2,3,5 where this parallel is repeatedly stressed). Truly “anti-Jew is anti-Christ,” and David does not mince words as he places the vast majority of the last days world leaders in the same unsavory basket.
The tale of the dog
Jill Austin (a friend with an accurate prophetic gifting) recently told us about an open vision she had this past summer. Part of it involved a casino room where world rulers and global players sat around a conference table smoking expensive cigars, drunk on whiskey. These men’s heads were actually dog’s heads. They wore thick dog collars with heavy spikes and in their hands were puppet strings which went out to the ends of the earth – controlling governments, presidents, world economies etc. The evil was tremendous, and they were gambling between themselves over the world’s resources.
We believers need to discern the times in which we live (Matt. 16:2-3). Many world dignitaries seem to be honorable men who care only for the good of the globe. But some of these men and women are conspiring to establish an ungodly ‘new world order’ akin to rebuilding the Tower of Babel. They are also attempting to “reduce [Israel’s] size to historical proportions” as Henry Kissinger once promised to Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs on December 17 1975 (www.meforum.org/article/1032).
The united efforts of ambitious politicians, pragmatic intelligence directors and greedy oil multinationals are leading the Western world down the path to weaken and ultimately to abandon Israel. As we pray for these world power brokers, let us ask God to grant them divine revelation about God’s perspectives, and deep repentance. The stability, security and survival of our countries depend on it.
God’s Secret Weapon – Israel
It looks like this ‘international Gentile conspiracy’ is outgunning and outflanking both Israel and committed believers on every side. Yet God still has a trick or two up His sleeve. As the nations gather to sap Israel of her vision, her land and her very existence, the prophetic word reveals that YHVH will suddenly turn the tables, declaring that Israel is the one who will weaken, shatter and subdue the nations at the time of his choosing:
“He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for He is the Maker of all things, including the tribe of His inheritance – YHVH Almighty is His name. You are My war club, My weapon for battle – with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms . . . with you I shatter governors and officials. Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion, declares YHVH”
The dogs of war
In the Bible dogs are considered unclean, unholy and violent. They are also symbolic of spiritual uncleanness, theological evil and destructiveness.
“You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs” (Exod. 22:31).
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces” (Matt. 7:6).
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:13-15).
“Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh” (Phil. 3:2).
“I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” declares YHVH, “the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy” (Jer. 15:3).
Dogs are also symbolic of evil and bloodthirsty leaders of nations – fierce enemies of the Jewish people, who conspire against them, snarling and prowling
“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet . . . Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs” (Ps. 22:16, 20).
“Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from bloodthirsty men. See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me . . . they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! YHVH God Almighty, the God of Israel, rouse Yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors. Selah. They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city” (Ps. 59:1-6).
The destruction of the dogs of war
YHVH promises to destroy the dog-like world leaders who would create a false Babel-like unity, who would crush Israel and obliterate the prophetic, who would destroy the body of believers and hand over the keys of earth to the anti-Messiah himself.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to You, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and Your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding Your servants the prophets and Your saints and those who reverence Your name, both small and great – and for destroying those who destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:15-18).
At this season, let us pray for God’s light to come especially to Israel’s rulers and to world leaders; for His prophetic word to break and shatter hard and proud hearts; for His angels to block and thwart the strategies of the evil one; and for a deep revelation of Yeshua to come with priority to Israel, and also to all the nations of the earth.
Blessings to you in Yeshua, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of God’s people Israel (Luke 2:32)!
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