“Why to the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed.”Psalm 2:1-2
By Mike Wingfield
Our world has a wonderful future. The King is coming! For millennia, our world has suffered because of greedy political leaders who rule over people to give themselves more power and wealth. Big government leads to corrupt power. Big government promotes the desires of its leaders rather than the freedoms of its people. Big government does not shepherd the people, it enslaves them. As someone has said, “Power corrupts.” Therefore, big power leads to big corruption.
The Bible guarantees that in the future a righteous King will finally rule over the nations. This Messianic hope and promise of His glorious kingdom are at the center of God’s divine revelation. Jesus taught His disciples to pray for this kingdom to come, and for God’s “will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). King Jesus will rule over the nations of the earth from Jerusalem, Israel for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-7). The Father has declared, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6).
The kingdom of God on earth will be monarchial in form. King Jesus will sit upon the throne of His father, David, and the “the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). He will be the judge, lawgiver, and king. (Isaiah 33:22). He will control the judicial, legislative, and executive aspects of His kingdom. [It is interesting to note that the framers of the U.S. constitution cited this Bible reference and adopted this kind of government to create a system of checks and balances, which is needed when sinful men rule over people.]
During His kingdom, King Jesus will employ the use of godly glorified saints, who cannot sin, to assist Him in ruling over the physical inhabitants of earth. The Scriptures assure us that this kingdom will be one of justice and peace. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).
God’s law will go forth from Jerusalem. Truth will be the very foundation of this kingdom. “He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). This truth will point the way to moral purity and social justice. The Messiah will properly balance the “strong hand” of the law, and the gentle arm of a shepherd to protect His people and provide for them (Isaiah 40:10-11). He will properly care for the needy (Psalm 72:4, 12-13). Notice that Psalm 72:4 says, “He will judge the poor of the people.” All those who appeal for help will not receive assistance. Only those who are not able to care for their own needs will receive assistance. Continue reading “Nov./Dec. 2018 – The International Agenda of the Political Left”
“And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” Jeremiah 30:3
By Mike Wingfield
In our lifetime we have been witnesses to one of the greatest miracles mentioned in the Bible. More than 3,400 years ago, God spoke through Moses to communicate with the community of saints about His eternal plans that would be wrapped up in the one and only nation that He chose as His own – Israel. Before Israel would occupy the Promised Land for the very first time, God declared that the day would come when the Jewish people, because of their sin, would be scattered to the nations of the world (Deuteronomy 28:63-67). Then, amazingly, God promised that He would have compassion upon the Jewish people and call for them to return to their ancient homeland in the last days (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
In the last 120 years, the world has witnessed the beginning of this amazing miracle. A scattered nation is being restored. An ancient people and an ancient land are being reunited. A dead nation has been resurrected. A dead language has been revived. A desolate land is beginning to live and once again become the land of milk and honey. Ancient ruins are being reconstructed.
Every time I visit Israel, I am reminded that this amazing miracle is happening before our very eyes. I stand in awe of the mercy and faithfulness of my God. He is doing everything He promised He would do in Israel in these last days. I understand that the world does not see nor appreciate the glory of this amazing miracle. However, I am torn when I recognize that so many professing Christians fail to see the hand of God in the ongoing return of the Jewish people to their land. How spiritually blind we must be to not see this miracle!
Let us examine the details of this miracle. Let us glory in the mercy and faithfulness of God. He is revealing Himself to the world at the end of this age as the time of His final judgment upon the nations draws near.
God spoke to Abraham 4,000 years ago and instructed him to leave his home in modern-day Iraq and to go “unto a land that I will [show] thee” (Genesis 12:1). Notice that God selected a people and a land. In His sovereign plan of the ages, God married the Jewish people and their land to each other to reveal Himself to the nations of the world.
Once Abraham arrived in that land, God gave him the following promise, “For all the land which [you see], to [you] will I give it, and to [your] seed for ever. And I will make [your] seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall [your] seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breath of it: for I will give it unto [you]” (Genesis 13:15-17). In this ongoing eternal plan, God has exhibited, from a human perspective, incredible patience. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were collectively strangers and sojourners in this land for 220 years. Then, according to God’s divine plan, a total of 70 Jewish people moved to Egypt and lived there for 430 years, becoming a powerful nation. Finally, after they sinned against God and ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham and gave the nation of Israel the Promised Land. Altogether, God waited a total of 690 years to fulfill His promise to Abraham.
The Jewish people lived in the Holy Land for almost 800 years until they were finally driven out by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. After 70 years of exile, a small remnant returned to the Promised Land, and lived there for an additional 600 years until they were driven out by the Romans in 70 A.D. and scattered to the nations of the world.
According to the thinking of some people, this was the end of the Jewish occupation of the Promised Land. However, the Bible gives us overwhelming evidence that during the last days, God will regather His people from all nations and bring them back to their ancient homeland. The Jewish people are coming home and prophecy is being fulfilled every day in the land of Israel.
Let us examine three aspects of this divine work in these last days:
1. The Power of God in Israel’s Ingathering
One of the most awesome displays of the power of God can be seen in the ongoing miracle of the return of the sons of Jacob to the land of their forefathers. An examination of the Scriptures demonstrates that Satan and his demons, and all of the godless nations who have been deceived by him, work feverously to destroy or delay this work of God.
Those who support the devil’s kingdom of darkness know that this divine promise is the foundation of God’s eternal plan for this earth. The return of the Jewish people to their land in the last days is a divine banner that signals to the world that God is sovereign and that His Word is true. Jeremiah wrote, “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock” (Jeremiah 31:10). Isaiah declared, “And he shall set up an ensign [banner] for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12).
God has determined that His people and their land will be a divine instrument in His hand to display to the world that He is the Almighty Lord God. According to the Bible, God created the Jewish people and the Land of Israel for His glory. Therefore, His work to scatter them and then restore them in the last days is a mighty miracle to be displayed among the nations. Isaiah proclaimed this in the following words, “But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed [you], I have called [you] by my name; [you] art mine. … Fear not: for I am with [you]: I will bring [your] seed from the east, and gather [you] from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea I have made him. … This people have I formed for myself; they shall [show] forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:1, 5-7, 21). The same three Hebrew words in verse 7 that are translated “created,” “formed,” and “made,” are also a part of description of God’s creative work in the creation account in Genesis 1-2. Hence, the Holy Spirit is pointing out that the regathering of Israel is a supernatural work, just like the creation in the beginning! This is perfectly illustrated in Ezekiel 37. In this chapter, Ezekiel is shown a large valley filled with very old human skeletal remains. According to Ezekiel 37:11, these bones depict the death of the nation of Israel and the scattering of the people to the nations of the world. But amazingly these bones are reconnected and live once again! Notice that Ezekiel reports that it is the word of the LORD that supernaturally causes these bones to live once again. Psalm 33:6 declares, “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” The language of the miracle of creation in Psalm 33:6 and Ezekiel 37 concerning the resurrection of the nation of Israel is exactly the same.
As mentioned previously, before the nation of Israel occupied the Promised Land the first time under the direction of Joshua, God told Moses that He would drive His people out of the land into the nations of the world. (Deuteronomy 28:63-67) Furthermore, God said He would orchestrate their return to their land in the last days. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5) God used the enemies of Israel to scatter them, and amazingly, He is using the enemies of Israel to regather them today. In the last 120 years, many Jews have returned to the Promised Land because of anti-Semitism, economic hardships, societal collapse, or wars and conflicts in the countries in which they were scattered. God said, “I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it” (Jeremiah 30:3).
Today, there are about 15 million Jews (almost 0.2 percent of the global population) in the world. In 1900, there were only 50,000 Jews living in the Promised Land. Today, 6.6 million Jews (44 percent of the current global Jewish population) live there. In the last 120 years, more than 3.5 million Jews have immigrated to Israel. About 58 percent of Israel’s Jewish population was born in the nation.
According to Wikipedia, Jewish people are still scattered among 118 different countries. Most of the remaining 8.4 million Jews are living in six countries. The United States has 39 percent, France 3.5 percent. Canada 2.7 percent, United Kingdom 2.1 percent, the Russian Federation 1.4 percent, and Argentina 1.3 percent.
I have witnessed the ongoing return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel with my own eyes. I have interviewed many Jewish people and heard their testimonies as to why they decided to immigrate to Israel. I shall never forget several years ago when my Dad went with me to Israel. Russia had just opened its doors to allow the Jewish people to leave and immigrate to Israel. During the last decade of the 20th century, more than 1 million Russian Jews immigrated to Israel. As Dad and I stood in the passport-control line at Ben Gurion airport to enter Israel, we witnessed the arrival of hundreds Russian Jews. They had congregated together in the immigration line only a few feet from where we stood. I told my Dad, “We have not even got out of the airport, and we are already seeing the prophetic hand of God in Israel.” Long ago, the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that the day would come when the Lord would bring “the children of Israel from the land of the north” and proclaim “I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:15). In this text, “the land of the north” is Russia.
2. The Plan of God in Israel’s Ingathering
The Time of Israel’s Return
According to many Scriptures, the Jewish people will return to the land of Israel from their international dispersion in the last days. The Bible indicates that the Jewish people will return to their land from the nations on two different occasions (Isaiah 11:11). The first return was after the Babylonian captivity in the fifth century B.C., as mentioned in the book of Nehemiah. The second and final regathering began in modern times about 120 years ago. According to the prophet Amos, the Jewish people will never be driven out of their land again. The Lord has declared, “And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God(Amos 9:15).
The Conditions of Israel’s Return
The Biblical prophecies indicate that the Jews would initially return to their country in spiritual unbelief. The modern nation of Israel was established in 1948 as a secular state, just as the Scriptures predicted. In Ezekiel 36, the Lord promised that He would return them to their land, and then at a later time, they would spiritually return to Him and be saved (Ezekiel 36:24-29). This two-stage process is illustrated in Ezekiel 37 when the dry bones were first turned into corpses, and then later they came to life. This observation is significant because many who do not recognize the current nation of Israel as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy do so because they struggle with believing that the present godless, secular nation could be a representation of the divine work of God. However, as just noted, this is exactly what the Scriptures predicted would happen.
The Bible also predicted that when the Jews returned to their homeland, they would be met with great opposition by the surrounding nations in the region (Ezekiel 36:1-7). Ezekiel 36:5 states that it would be “Idumea” that would passionately declare that the land belongs to them. Idumea is the Greek form for the Hebrew name “Edom.” The area of the Edomites is the current country of Jordan, to the east of Israel. About 68 percent of the Jordanian population claim to be Palestinians. How amazing that the Bible would predict that it would be the Palestinians who would violently oppose the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland.
Furthermore, the Bible foretold that the land of Israel would be a desolate and barren wasteland that would be miraculously restored to the new Jewish residents in the last days (Ezekiel 36:8, 9, 34, 35). The Bible predicted, “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit”(Isaiah 27:6). Amazingly, this prediction is coming to pass at this very time. David Dolan, an American believer and journalist living in Jerusalem, writes: “Although over half of its land is still arid desert, Israel exports high-quality farm produce in all seasons, even while its neighbors must import food to feed their populations. …The Israeli people are blessed with one of the most nutritious food supplies in the world. In a recent global survey by the Bloomberg news agency of the world’s healthiest countries, Israel ranked an impressive sixth, far ahead of the United States at number 33.”
The Process of Israel’s Return
As we might expect, the process of the Jewish people’s return to Israel is very specific. The Bible indicates that their return to the land would be assisted by the Gentiles. (Isaiah 49:22, 23) Isaiah 60:10 states, “And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee…” As Americans, we can be proud of many of our former leaders who stood beside of the state of Israel in the last 70 years. President Harry Truman went against the counsel of all of his political advisors when he became the first international leader to recognize the Jewish state on May 14, 1948. The recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by President Donald Trump is being hailed in Israel as one of the most important declarations in the modern history of the state of Israel. Whether the world likes it or not, God is directing our president to bless Israel, just as the prophecies foretold.
According to Daniel 9:27, when the Tribulation Period begins, the Antichrist will confirm a covenant with “the many” [literally Hebrew rendering] Jews in Israel. More Jews live in Israel now than in any other nation. Many more will return to Israel during “the time of Jacob’s trouble” in Tribulation Period (Jeremiah 30:7). When the seven-year Tribulation Period is over, the remainder of the world’s Jewish population will return to Israel. Speaking of this time, God has promised, “I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there [in the nations]” (Ezekiel 39:28). During the millennial kingdom, all Jews will reside in Israel.
3. The Purposes of God in Israel’s Ingathering
To display His glory to the nations
Once again, many people in Christian circles struggle with recognizing that Israel is a divine fulfillment of God’s eternal plans. They fail to grasp that God is not working in the church primarily because of us, but because of who He is! Likewise, the Bible declares that the divine work of restoring the Jewish people and their land in these last days is not something that He is doing for the Jewish people, but for His glory. Carefully consider Ezekiel 36:22-24, “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus [said] the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes: O house of Israel, but for [my] holy name’s sake, which [you] have profaned [treated sacrilegiously] among the heathen, whither [you] went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which [you] have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, [said] the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.”
The tiny restored nation of Israel is at the center of the world’s media and political considerations each day. This is amazing since Israel contains less than 0.1 percent of the world’s population and is about the size of the state of New Jersey. Only Washington D.C. contains more international journalists than Jerusalem.
Israel is officially rated as the eighth most influential nation in the world. It is considered to be the eleventh happiest nation on the planet. The Israeli IDF is highly respected as the tenth most powerful military on earth. All of this is amazing considering that the nation is only 70 years old and has been in a state of war and conflict with her neighbors and shunned by the United Nations during her short existence. Obviously, this should be viewed as the divine blessings that rest upon God’s chosen people and His Holy Land. God has kept His promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). He promised the Jewish people who would return to Israel in the last days: “I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and [you] shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 36:11).
To set the stage for the Kingdom of God on earth
Everything that is happening in Israel today, including the influx of Jews from the nations, should be viewed as a divine process that is laying the groundwork for the approaching millennial kingdom. In Psalm 102, God has sent a very powerful message to the nations in the final generation. Psalm 102:18 says, “This shall be written [for the last generation]…” What is that message? “[You shall] arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the set time is come. … When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory” (Psalm 102:13, 16).
The multitude of prophetic Scriptures that paint the Biblical picture of the last days displays a world with Israel and her people at the center of the global stage. The Holy One of Israel has uniquely gifted and prepared Israel to be the hub of the world for 1,000 years during the reign of the Messiah, Jesus, from Jerusalem, Israel. Jerusalem and Israel are literally at the geographical center of the land mass of the planet. (Ezekiel 5:5)
To redeem the entire nation of Israel
At the heart of the miraculous return of the Jewish people to their land is the amazing and gracious redemption of the entire nation. When the end comes and all of the Jews go home, they will all call upon the Lord and experience His saving power (Jeremiah 32:37-41; Ezekiel 36:24-28; Zechariah 12:10-13:9; Romans 11:26). “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, [said] the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:19)
Those who refuse to accept or grasp the central role of Israel and her land have not yet discovered the heart of God and His eternal plan. Near the end of Moses’ life, God caused him to write the following words, “When the Most High [which means ‘the possessor of heaven and earth’- Genesis 14:22] divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye” (Deuteronomy 32:8-10).
The God who has announced that His eternal plan will come to pass and no one and nothing can deter Him, has set forth His passionate determination in Isaiah 62:1-7, “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that [burns]. And the Gentiles shall see [your] righteousness, and all kings [your] glory: and [you shall] be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. [You shall] also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. [You shall] no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall [your] land any more be termed Desolate: but [you shall] be called Hephzibah, and [your] land Beulah: for the Lord [delights] in [you], and [your] land shall be married. For as a young man [marries] a virgin, so shall [your] sons marry [you]: and as the bridegroom [rejoices] over the bride, so shall [your] God rejoice over [you]. I have set watchmen upon [your] walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: [you] that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
As finite creatures of time living in the 21st century, we are so focused upon this moment of our lives that we have lost sight of eternity. God does not live in a time bubble like us. He is eternal. “One day is with the LORD as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). In God’s eternal plan, the time has come for the greatest miracle in the world to unfold before our eyes. Are we so blind as to not see the hand of God?
The ingathering of the Jewish people tells us that the king is coming. With the return of each Jewish person to Israel we are getting closer and closer to the day of the Lord. Are you ready?
America – Divided by Hate
We are living in dangerous times in America. As I look at the Bible and understand the times in which we are living, I am fearful for the future of our nation. It is apparent that a very vocal and militant minority in America are filled with hate. On the surface it appears their hatred is racially or politically motivated. However, if you listen to them and their message of hate, they may not know it, but their hatred is flowing out of a heart that despises God and all that is good in the eyes of God.
While describing a culture that has reached the spiritual point of no return, the Apostle Paul concluded in Romans 1:29-31 that such people are immoral, wicked and malicious. They also have an entitlement mentality. Furthermore, they are filled with envy, murder and strife. Their minds are continually filled with evil. These people are also filled with pride. They are vocally brazen, unforgiving and unmerciful. Most significantly, they are “haters of God” (verse 30).
In a similar passage, the Apostle Paul writes that the last days will be “perilous” because people are in love with self (2 Timothy 3:1, 2). This certainly describes the days in which we live. The seeds of humanism (the belief that man is the center of our world) have been sown in America for decades. However, now we are experiencing humanism on steroids. We have produced a generation that has moved beyond humanism to “me-ism (the belief that self is the center of their world). It is all about “my” personal rights. I am convinced that this is what is driving all of the violence and hatred at this hour.
In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, the Bible describes these people as those who are in love with possessions and pleasure. They rebel against all authority. They are unthankful and unloving. They refuse to forgive. They love to slander people. They are brutal and haughty. They constantly blaspheme God and are “despisers of those that are good” (verse 3). Does that sound familiar?
These two passages fittingly describe what is currently taking place in the American culture. A crusade against God and good is moving across America. The moral laws of decency that have governed this nation for hundreds of years are being openly ridiculed and rejected. Those who continue to hold to the Biblical commandments are hated.
The kind of self-love that the Bible speaks about in 2 Timothy 3 produces lawlessness. When people put self first, they become a law unto themselves. They make up the rules of law that protect their own rights and pleasures. They do not care about what their parents say. The rules at school, work, or in the community or nation do not matter. Self becomes god and god makes the rules.
According to the Bible, at the heart of the 10 Commandments is a respect and honor for God and mankind. While summarizing these commandments, Jesus said, the first commandment is to love God. The second is, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).
The kind of hatred and threats that are being directed toward President Trump, his family, and his associates are frightening! In recent days, the media and TV personalities have made absurd and exaggerated accusations against the political right. They are resorting to lies and deception to promote their hate. We may not agree with each other, but there is no excuse for the lying and threats that are being made. Believers should not be a part of this kind of behavior. Jesus taught us, “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).
I want to remind us all that Satan is the father of lies and murder. In John 8:44, Jesus called Satan “a murderer from the beginning,” and “a liar, and the father of it.” The kind of lies and slanders that are being passionately paraded across the political spectrum in America are sowing the seeds of a deadly revolution. These are the same kinds of lies that have been levied against the Jewish people and the nation of Israel for years. These slanderous lies have fueled the deadly scourge of anti-Semitism that is growing around the globe.
It is my observation that Satan is doing everything He can to destroy the United States and Israel. These two nations are the only two nations holding back Satan’s plans for his evil kingdom of darkness to take control of this planet under the leadership of the lawless one – the Antichrist.
According to the Scriptures, Israel will not be destroyed. The Jewish nation will be protected by God. However, there is no mention of the U.S. in the prophetic Scriptures. Is America about to fall? Remember that Jesus said that a “house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25).
(Examining Current Events in the Light of Bible Prophecy)
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Violence and the End of a Culture
“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me: for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:13
By Mike Wingfield
Have you ever wondered what God sees and hears as he looks down upon the earth each day? The Bible tells us that God is everywhere present in His creation. He sees, hears, and knows everything that is happening each moment, both in heaven and earth. He knows the thoughts of every creature, both mankind and angels. (Jeremiah 17:10) God never learns. He is never surprised. He knows every person on the planet by their name. He knows everything about them.
While speaking about the value of a person, Jesus reminded His disciples that in His divine providence, God governs and is aware of the smallest details. Jesus said not one sparrow can fall to the ground without the Father’s knowledge. Furthermore, God has every hair on the head of every person numbered. (Matthew 10:29-30) As the Psalmist said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”(Psalm 139:6) What a God! He is truly beyond our human comprehension!
Nothing can be hidden from God’s eyes. Psalm 33:13-14 says, “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.” In Psalm 14:2, the Bible declares: “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” In the context of this psalm, the conclusion to God’s search is given. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. … They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”(Psalm 14:1, 3)
In the beginning, God created everything for His glory and for His praise. How God must be grieved every day as He looks down upon the 7.6 billion people that inhabit this planet. As God gazes upon earth each day and hears all of the words, sees all of the actions, and understands all of the thoughts and motives of each human being, what is it that captures His holy attention? The answer to this question is found in Genesis 6. In this chapter, God looked out over the global population in Noah’s time. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The magnitude of man’s wickedness “grieved [God] at his heart.”(Genesis 6:5) It was this grief that caused the holy Lord to declare that He was going to send a global flood to destroy all that were not on the ark.
When you read God’s indictment in Genesis 6, it is abundantly clear there were two sins that God’s eyes were riveted upon each day as He gazed upon humanity. He was grieved because of their sexual corruption and continual violence. (Genesis 6:11-13) Earlier in Genesis 6 God declared: “My spirit shall not always strive with man.”(Genesis 6:3) Many Bible scholars agree this is a reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in the conscience of man. So, God was declaring that man can come to a point when His Spirit ceases striving in the conscience of man.
The Bible teaches that a person can gradually defile his conscience to the point that it is ultimately silenced or “seared.”(1Timothy 4:2) When this happens to enough people, the culture collectively reaches the spiritual point of no return and is slated for divine judgment. A study of the context of Genesis 6, and the greater context of all of God’s revelation, indicates there are two things that defile the conscience of man – sexual immorality and violence.
It has come to my attention that most believers, and the church as a whole, do not understand the impact of violence on the conscience. Some may grasp the impact of sexually immorality upon the conscience. However, the church has been almost completely silent in addressing the dangers of violence. It is the purpose of this edition of the newsletter to expose and address the Biblical view of violence and its impact upon our global culture in light of the Word of God.
Most people are so selfishly engaged in their own little world that they have not stopped to assess the fact that we are living at a time of incredible global violence. In America and around the world, we are experiencing a tsunami of violence. In recent decades, the world has been made aware of the threat of Islamic terrorism. The violent images of ISIS, Boko Haram, and a host of other terrorist organizations have been broadcast across the planet by our media. The carnage of war and loss of life due to advanced weaponry of war are alarming. The growing displacement of refugees fleeing from war-torn Middle Eastern countries is creating a logistical nightmare – and it is being accompanied by the spread of global Islamic terrorism among the Western nations.
In addition to this carnage, the dramatic increase in domestic violence is frightening. We have violence in our schools, homes, churches, airports, and many other public places. We talk about road rage, bullying, violence against women and children, and the savage brutality against the unborn. Violence is marketed as entertainment in our culture. Many Americans come home from work or school to watch hours of programming that features people being shot, stabbed, or blown up. Blood, killing, gore and sensual violence permeates the entertainment industry. Violence in cartoons, music, videos, movies, and television is helping to shape a new generation that will be more violent than the present one. As a result, increasing levels of lawlessness will permeate our world!
Statistical data shows that there are more than 1.5 million people incarcerated in the U.S. state and federal prison systems. The United States has more people per capita incarcerated in its prison systems than any nation in the world. And, the number and costs of these incarcerations keeps increasing at an alarming rate. In 1985, the state prison systems cost $6.7 billion. Now it costs more than $60 billion.
Before we turn to the Bible to examine what it has to say about violence, please read what a conservative secular group, The Media Education Foundation, has to say about violence in America.
“Research indicates that media violence has not just increased in quantity; it has also become more graphic, sexual, and sadistic.”
“By the time the average child is eighteen years old, they will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16,000 murders.”
“Media violence is especially damaging to young children (under 8) because they cannot easily tell the difference between real life and fantasy.”
“Most of the top-selling video games (89%) contained violent content, almost half of which was of a serious nature.”
The level of violence during Saturday morning cartoons is higher than the level of violence during prime time. There are 3-5 violent acts per hour on prime time, versus 20-25 acts per hour on Saturday morning.”
“Nearly 75 percent of violent scenes on television feature no immediate punishment for or condemnation of violence.” (www.mediaed.org)
Let us now examine four Biblical considerations about violence:
The Biblical Definition of Violence
One of the most common Hebrew words translated “violence” in the Old Testament is “hamas.” [Note that this is the same name chosen by the terrorist group that controls the Palestinian people in Gaza. The world does not understand this, but Israel does. These people have chosen the name “violence” as a true expression of who they are. They are in the face of Israelis, threatening to murder them and destroy the nation of Israel.] The word “hamas” speaks of bringing great harm to people physically and mentally. It points to an act that is destructive, hateful, lawless, disrespectful, wicked, wild, ruthless, and/or brutal. It is usually accompanied by loud expressions of hatred. Violence is not only an act but is also verbalized as a demonstration of hatred. Proverbs 10:6 says, “… but violence covers the mouth of the wicked.”
Violence is an action, gesture, or expression due to the lack of moral restraint. Its aim is to destroy, shame, maim, kill, or terrorize its victim. Violence is an expression of defiance and disrespect for the very basic code of behavior that the Spirit of God desires to instill in the conscience of mankind. Violence and its ultimate expression –murder – are the exact opposites of the character and nature of God. (1 John 3:11-16) Jesus said that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) When people are moved by hatred to commit acts of violence they are acting like the devil, not like God.
Violence and murder draw immediate attention from God. God said to Cain after he slew his brother: “… the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”(Genesis 4:10) This was not an isolated reaction from God. When God established human government He instituted capital punishment as the cornerstone of governmental law to protect those who had been created in His image. He said: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Genesis 9:6) Read Numbers 35:29-34. God told Israel that the shed blood of a person through murdered defiles the land and demands divine judgment. The only way to cleanse the land was to kill the murderer.
The 10 Commandments are aimed at a reverence for God and respect for human beings. They are the code of conduct that maintains the very foundation of life in any society. Thus, violence is the result of a total departure from this law and its author – God! In essence, that culture is in a mode of self-destruction! “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”(Psalm 11:3)
The Cultural Impact of Violence
When expressions of violence are allowed to permeate in a culture they will create a society that is void of a godly conscience, leading to increasing levels of wickedness, lawlessness, sensuality, and brutality. This is clearly demonstrated in two New Testament passages – Romans 1:18-32 and 2 Timothy 3:1-9. Notice that these passages speak of brutality, murder, hatred, and disrespect for God and man. A part of the work of the Spirit of God in the conscience of man is to create an atmosphere of peace, respect, and submission to the rule of law that God intended to be enforced by human government. It is God’s design that the work of God in man’s conscience and the rule of law created and maintained by human government are to complement one another. (Romans 13:5) This is one of the reasons why Paul instructed Timothy to pray for those who “are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”(1 Timothy 2:2-4)
It should be understood that the ability to effectively share the gospel in a culture is directly connected to the levels of respect for mankind that are promoted within that society. When violence is allowed to permeate a culture, it not only leads to dangerous times, but also the gospel is hindered. The effectual working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel is hampered because of the explosion of violence in a society which takes place when the collective conscience of that society has been seared. The conscience is where the Holy Spirit strives with lost men to convict them of their sin and bring them to Christ. When people in a culture reach a spiritual point of no return, divine judgment takes place and their consciences are darkened. (Romans 1:21) In essence, God gives them up! (Romans 1:24-27) These same rebels no longer want “to retain God in their knowledge.”(Romans 1:28) And, they become “haters of God.”(Romans 1:30)
Jesus’ Parable of the Sower and the Seed in Matthew 13:1-23, gives us a perfect illustration of this. In this parable, as Jesus explained to His disciples, the sower is the evangelizer and the seed is the gospel. The conditions of the soil in the parable are conditions of the human heart [conscience]. The seed that falls on the hard pathway does not penetrate into the soil for germination to take place. Consequently, the birds come and snatch up the seed. Later, Jesus explained what happened to the seed that was sown in a hardened heart: “Then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.”(verse 19) Jesus explained that the birds that took away the seed (the gospel) were demons. The Apostle Paul clearly elaborated upon the truth illustrated in this parable. In 1 Timothy 4:1-2, he described how some deny the teaching of the Bible and at the same time cling to deceptive teachings promoted by demons. Consequently, the lives of these people are marked by hypocrisy and a seared conscience.
Therefore, one of the results of a culture where violence has become prevalent is the open hatred for the God of the Bible and the visible suppression of the truth revealed in the Scriptures. The growth of Islam among the nations is a clear sign that the global culture has reached the point of no return. Islam promotes violence against innocent human beings, especially the followers of Christ and the Jewish people. Their brutality and delight to terrorize people demonstrate that they do not believe that humans have been created in the image of God. Islam vehemently rejects the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is shocking to watch the growing number of Americans who embrace Islam while they attack the church and the teaching of the Bible. Why? Islam does not provide conviction against the unrighteous lifestyles within the godless American culture. However, the message of the Bible does bring conviction. Jesus has reminded us that this is why the world hated Him and why it will hate us. Read John 15:18-16:1. Hatred for Christians and the moral biblical values of the Bible are being openly and violently rejected in America as never before in the history of this nation.
The Divine Judgment Due to the Permeation of Violence in a Culture
A study of the Bible and human history will demonstrate that when every culture came to its end, it was always filled with violence. Look back through the pages of human history. When you examine all of the great superpowers of the past, such as the Roman Empire, it is evident that when each one came to its end, it was filled with violence.
As mentioned above, when individuals in a culture reach the spiritual point of no return, it seems to speed up the rate of violence, hastening their divine judgment. As Proverbs 29:16 states: “When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increaseth.” Sinners seem to embolden one another in their defiant rebellion against God and man. In other words, the increase in the magnitude and frequency of violence has a snowball effect upon a culture. As the snowball rolls down the hill, it gets bigger and gains momentum. It is apparent that our global culture is experiencing this now.
While commenting on the violence during the days of Noah in Genesis 6:11, Matthew Henry wrote: “There was no order nor regular government; no man was safe in the possession of that which he had … there was nothing but murders, rapes, and [stealing]. … Take away conscience and the fear of God, and men become beasts and devils to one another, like fishes of the sea, where the greater devour the less. Sin fills the earth with violence, and so turns the world into a wilderness, into a cock-pit.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible)
Biblical and secular history demonstrate that violent cultures destroy themselves. Then, God sends another nation to conquer them, completing the cycle of His divine judgment.
In essence, this divine judgment is an act of mercy on the part of God. If these violent cultures were allowed to continue unrestrained, they would become a threat to the entire global population as they were in the days of Noah. God stops brutal regimes. He visits “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate [Him].” (Exodus 20:5) We can be thankful that God in His infinite wisdom and mercy limits wickedness. God does have a toleration point! He demonstrated that when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and when He caused Israel to drive the Canaanites out of the land. Many generations later, God sent in the Assyrians and Babylonians to bring divine judgment upon His own people because of their violence and wickedness. (Ezekiel 7:23-24) Then, in turn, He caused Assyria and Babylon to fall because of their violence and wickedness.
Violence has terrorized mankind during the entire history of his time on this earth. From the murder of Abel to the crushing forces of the Antichrist at Armageddon, violence has grieved the heart of God.
God hates violence! When Jesus rules on this earth for 1,000 years from Jerusalem, His government will not tolerate violence. In Isaiah 60:18 God gave the following promise to His people: “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land.” Among the Gentile nations, war and conflict will not be permitted. Finally, the world will have a righteous King who will also be the judge of all the nations. “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”(Isaiah 2:4)
The Lord exhorts His people to live at peace with everyone. “[Return] to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19)
In light of what we have discovered about violence, I would hope that you realize how serious it is to guard your conscience. We must protect our consciences by refraining from viewing or listening to violent expressions of any kind. We must not permit violence to enter our homes or minds with any level of acceptance or pleasure!
This is a serious matter. We must guard what enters our minds and consciences through the gates of our eyes, ears, and mouth. Proverbs 4:23 warns us: “[Guard] thy heart [conscience] with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” This is especially critical for small children.
When God looks down upon all of mankind each day and sees all of the violence and wickedness, His heart is broken. As we saw at the beginning of this newsletter, the wickedness of mankind in Noah’s day grieved God’s heart. This was also God’s reaction to the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 18:20 God exclaimed, “the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and … their sin is very grievous.” I am often reminded of the tears of Jesus when He wept over Jerusalem and He said: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”(Matthew 23:37) Oh, what love! The human mind cannot comprehend the infinite love of God.
God’s love for us was so great that He permitted His Son to suffer for us on the cruel cross of Calvary. Although Jesus “had done no violence”(Isaiah 53:9), “yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him.”(Isaiah 53:10) Jesus was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”(Isaiah 53:4) Oh how the Father must love us!
Jesus suffered the abuse and violence of a horrific death on a cross to pay for the penalty of all of our sins. He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:8-11)