A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

May 19, 2019

The Danger of Narcissism in The Body of Christ

     I recently read an article by Joseph Mattera in Charisma Magazine, titled "9 Signs You're Operating in A Spirit of Lawlessness Instead of God's Kingdom". The article was addressed to pastors who were more interested in empire building than in equipping the saints to do the ministry of spreading the gospel of the kingdom.
     One of the signs was this: you are a narcissist in relating to your desires in life. The article referenced Ezekiel 34 and "the judgment God will bring on shepherds who use and abuse the sheep for their own pleasure." It focused on pastors in the church and the narcissism that leads them into building churches that glorify themselves and [leads them] away from their kingdom assignment. But I will also tell you that this particular sin is often found in our Deliverance ministry among individuals looking for spiritual healing.
     The psychological definition of narcissism -- selfishness involving a sense of entitlement; egotism; self-absorption; self-love -- points to the Biblical warning to us believers: But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce and difficult for the people of God. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
     You see, the sin of Pride is at the root of Narcissism and has been a problem for God's people ever since Lucifer fell from Heaven and brought Pride to the Garden. It was Pride that convinced Adam and Eve that they could decide for themselves to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; that they could be "like God". It was Pride that caused their separation from the Presence of God and their exile east of Eden. It is Pride that keeps people from recognizing their sin, or convinces them to cover up the sin that was committed against them.
     Narcissism has been a most useful and powerful weapon of Satan's in keeping all human beings -- both believers and non-believers -- in bondage to his kingdom of darkness. This has resulted in innumerable opportunities for spirits of lawlessness and independence [from God] to gain strongholds in people. 
     We have many examples of Narcissism in the Bible, but I want to concentrate on two of the better known. The first is Jezebel, and her spirit is very evident in today's world. Ryan LeStrange, in his book, Hell's Toxic Trio, says that "Jezebel is a bewitching spirit" and "the first component of witchcraft is rebellion". 
     The Bible Study Tools website gives this testimony of Jezebel's character in the Bible: "As a woman seeking more power, she sought to destroy those who questioned her and most of the prophets of Yahweh were murdered at her request ...  Jezebel has come to be recognized as a model of the wicked woman, embodying the characteristics of cruelty, greed, and vanity", or as the Bible describes people like her, "self-centered lovers of themselves".
     But here is the thing you need to understand: the Jezebel spirit is sexless; it can manifest in either a man or woman. Both Adam and Eve gave in to rebellion and it was Satan who found an open door into Jezebel's heart, and he is the originator of her rebellion. So he is only too willing to sow that same spirit into any willing person, male or female. We have seen many men come through Deliverance with "Jezebel spirits". Whenever this spirit is present it is operating in a seductive and controlling manner with the goal of destruction for selfish purposes. We see that in the story of Jezebel and Ahab in the Bible. She was able to seduce Ahab to abandon his God and serve Baal and worship him, leading to the destruction of the prophets of the Lord.
     In Hell's Toxic Trio, Ryan LeStrange writes, "[Jezebel] is a perverse spirit of domination that works to open up gateways for demonic activity to overthrow godly plans, families, ministries, and people ... The Jezebel spirit neither honors nor recognizes covenant. When this spirit operates in families, it manipulates and forms alliances to fulfill its own evil agenda. When this spirit operates in ministries, it totally disregards authority, honor, and relationship [towards the Lord] to pursue its own desires. It is totally deceptive and demon-inspired." Power and Control are its motivators.
     The other prime example of Narcissism in the Bible is Nebuchadnezzar.  We know the story of Nebuchadnezzar largely from the perspective of Daniel, the Jewish prince who rose to prominence in this Babylonian's kingdom. Daniel became known to King Nebuchadnezzar because he was able to interpret the king's dreams. But it was Nebuchadnezzar's arrogance and pride that saw him reject the repeated warnings God sent in those dreams. Although he praised the God of Daniel after the interpretation of the statue of gold, silver, bronze and iron, he refused to repent, believing himself to be a legend [in his own mind] and above reproach or defeat; certainly above the chastisement of Daniel's God. He believed in his own self-importance.
     Again, we can apply the warning from 2 Timothy (above) .... They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right... They will be ungrateful and ungodly. But God humbled King Nebuchadnezzar and brought him into a season of insanity that he might finally repent of his arrogance and pride and acknowledge the sovereignty of YHWH. 

     The Bible is full of other examples of narcissism and self-love: Cain, Saul, Absalom, Azariah, Manasseh, and most likely even Solomon. And they all learned painful lessons! And Jezebel and Nebuchadnezzar's lessons were particularly traumatic. But there is a difference in how they responded to the warnings of the Lord. Jezebel was tossed out of a window by her eunuchs and her body was devoured by dogs. There was no repentance on her part and she suffered a violent death.
     But God will offer mercy to those who accept His chastisement and turn back to Him. Nebuchadnezzar, after his season of insanity, lifted his eyes to heaven, his reason was restored, and He blessed the Most High, and he praised and honored God with this prayer: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation, all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”
     We must all examine our hearts and see if we have any trace of Narcissism, or its root sin of Pride. At its core it is the self-idolatry that Adam and Eve submitted to, and which caused the downfall of ancient leaders of Israel. Our modern leaders must not bow down to its seduction, and we must each stay humble to avoid its temptation in our lives. It is much more pervasive than we would ever admit, and this spirit's objective is to keep us from walking in God's plan of sanctification for our lives by distracting us with our selfishness. We must turn away from self and towards Jesus in humble adoration. Once we are cleansed from this destructive spirit, our path to glory will be opened, and we will praise Him in immeasurable ways!

Daniel 4:37    Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and faithful and His ways are just, and He is able to humiliate and humble those who walk in [self-centered, self-righteous] pride.

May 15, 2019

The Ekklesia, The Kingdom & The Seven Mountains of Influence

     As I was finishing up my study of Hebrews, I was struck by the various interpretations of some verses in Chapter 12. I feel as if the Lord is leading me on a treasure hunt, and one verse leads to another and then back to a previous understanding; and somehow it all comes together to form new revelation.
    So, let's follow the Bible's trail of clues, shall we? As we begin Chapter 12, we find that the writer of Hebrews [which I believe to be Paul] is exhorting the believers to persevere through trials, as well as God's discipline, in order to enter into the earthly presence of God. In fact, the Bible says in verse 8, We all should welcome God's discipline as the validation of authentic sonship..
     All of this is given to us as encouragement to let us know we can enter into the presence of God just as Moses did on Mount Zion. However, we enter into a different realm than he did --- his was a physical mountain; ours is a spiritual mountain. Hebrews 12:22 says, By contrast, we have already come near to God in a totally different realm, the Zion-realm, for we have entered the city of the Living God, which is the New Jerusalem in heaven! We have joined the festal gathering of myriads of angels in their joyous celebration! (TPT)
     Let's take a minute and unpack this important verse. "We have already come near to God" indicates that the fullness of our heavenly salvation and our entrance into God’s heavenly realm has already taken place. We also see that truth in the following verses: For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son. This means the Son is the oldest among a vast family of brothers and sisters who will become just like Him (Romans 8:29); He raised us up with Christ the exalted One, and we ascended with Him into the glorious perfection and authority of the heavenly realm, for we are now co-seated as one with Christ! (Ephesians 2:6); Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm. Your crucifixion with Christ has severed the tie to this life, and now your true life is hidden away in God in Christ. And as Christ Himself is seen for who He really is, who you really are will also be revealed, for you are now one with Him in his glory!(Colossians 3:1-4).
     As we walk out our salvation here on earth, we are present with God in a totally different realm, the realm of Zion, which is used in both the Old and New Testaments as more than a location. Zion is referred to as the place of God’s dwelling. When Moses met Him, He was dwelling on the physical Mount Zion, but now we are present with Him in His spiritual mountain, the heavenly Jerusalem. This is the fulfillment of Abraham’s vision in Hebrews 11:10, and what Israel’s ancestors had seen from afar in Hebrews 11:13. The New Jerusalem is not only a place, but a people who dwell with God in their midst. It is what the Garden of Eden was intended to be. It is a city that is a bride or a bridal-city coming out of heaven to the earth (Revelation. 21:9-14). We are not going TO the New Jerusalem; we are going to BE the New Jerusalem! Are you starting to see the Good News of the Kingdom of God on earth yet?
     But wait ... there's more! Take a look at the next verse, Hebrews 12:23: And as members of the church of the Firstborn all our names have been legally registered as citizens of heaven! And we have come before God who judges all, and who lives among the spirits of the righteous who have been made perfect in His eyes! I think that perhaps this verse causes more confusion than we Christians recognize.  As members of the Kingdom of God on earth, we are citizens of heaven (having been spirits in heaven sent to earth to have dominion over it on behalf of our King). Jesus is God's uniquely Firstborn, but because of our position as citizens of heaven on earth, we are in Christ, and we are all the first-born and have all the rights and blessings that Jesus has. 
     As 21st Century Christians we don't understand that, and I think we get hung up on the part of the verse that says we are "members of the church of Jesus". And here's the real dilemma ... we don't even have the proper understanding of what that word church meant in the first century! And that confusion is compounded by the misinterpretation of Matthew 16:18, which we read in most versions of the Bible like this, And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I've read so many commentary's that say "Peter" sounds like "Petra", the Greek word for rock. And the Greek text does state that Peter is the “rock” on which the church is built. However, the implication is that it is Peter’s revelation from the Father and his confession of Jesus as the Son of God that becomes the “bedrock foundation” for the church. The earliest writings of the church fathers all acknowledge that the Rock is Jesus Christ, not Peter.
    So here is a more correct interpretation of this verse, in Aramaic: I give you the name Peter, a stone. And this truth of who I am will be the bedrock foundation on which I will build my church—my legislative assembly -- and the power of death will not be able to overpower it!  It is important to understand that the Greek word commonly used for "church" is ekklēsia. However, ekklēsia means more than a church meeting, for it signified in Greek culture the governing assembly which had the authority to make decisions for the entire city. It means “legislative assembly” or “selected ones.” This is not a religious term at all, but a political and governmental term that is used many times in classical Greek for a group of people who have been summoned and gathered together to govern the affairs of a city. For Jesus to use this term means he is giving the keys of governmental authority in His kingdom to the church.
     The problem is that the church, as we know it, has not walked in their kingdom identity, nor used their authority to govern the earth as it was originally mandated. The power of death [which is the power of Satan] was not to overpower God's kingdom on earth. True, Adam and Eve handed over dominion to the devil, but Jesus came to re-inaugurate the kingdom and gave us back the keys to govern the earth once again. The "Church" was to be a legislative body of sons and daughters of the King who would rule this earth [and all the spheres of influence within it] as a colony of Heaven. It's time we walked out our governmental duties. 
     As ambassadors of the kingdom of heaven, and its legislative body on earth, the Church was to bring the mountain of God (His Presence) to the mountains of influence on this earth; namely, Education, Religion, Family, Business, Government/Military, Arts/Entertainment, and Media. How do you think the modern Church has done so far? I would venture to say that it has lost its true identity as an ekklésia, and walks in a different identity of its own making. 
     I think we need to take a good hard look at the two final verses in Chapter 12 of Hebrews: Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakeable kingdom we should be extremely thankful and offer God the purest worship that delights his heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe.  For our God is a holy, devouring fire!
     Moses knew what it was like to be in the presence of God and experience that holy, consuming fire. Hebrews 12:21 even quotes him [at the sight]:  The astounding phenomena Moses witnessed caused him to shudder with fear and he could only say, “I am trembling in terror!" Gives new meaning to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling", doesn't it?  We are still in the process of working out our salvation while here on earth. When it is considered that we have been given the keys to the kingdom here on earth, we must ask ourselves if we have done right by the authority we received to govern this heavenly colony. I think we all know the answer -- and it's time to do something about it.

If you're looking for additional resources on the true meaning of the Ekklésia, I highly recommend two books: Ekklésia Rising by Dean Briggs, and Ekklésia by El Silvoso. Both are available on Amazon.

Matthew 23:13    Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and you Pharisees—such frauds and pretenders! You do all you can to keep people from experiencing the reality of heaven’s kingdom realm. Not only do you refuse to enter in, you also forbid anyone else from entering in!

May 12, 2019

The Kingdom of God and the Old Testament

     Now that my soul and spirit have been awakened to the truth of the Kingdom of God as Jesus's priority, I am beginning to engage the Bible through a Kingdom lens. When I came to Hebrews 11 during my morning Bible study (which is one of my favorite chapters, by the way) I was astounded to find that these familiar verses refer to Old Testament individuals who modeled God's concept of man's dominion on earth on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let's take a look at what I'm talking about
     Chapter 11 in Hebrews has become known throughout Christian circles as "the Hall of Faith". The Bible begins the chapter by defining faith, and then giving us a list of people who modeled faith for us. To begin, let's look at what we've come to know as the familiar explanation of faith: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
     Now, let's take a look at Hebrews 11:1 in the Amplified version, and through a Kingdom lens. It reads like this: Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. 
     Let's consider this verse through the mandate given to mankind in Genesis 1:26. We are not only made in the image of God, Himself, but have been given authority and power over the earth and everything in it. At that time, the Garden of Eden represented the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. There was no sickness, no death, no worry; all the needs of Adam and Eve were met, and they were in divine relationship with God. They had the title deed to the earth, promised to them by God. Dominion -- which is supremacy, authority, power, and sovereignty -- was theirs. But their rebellion resulted in that dominion passing to the devil. 
     But, here we have the writer of Hebrews declaring that even after the fall of man, faith abounded. First and foremost, the members of the Hall of Faith exhibited obedience produced by trust and confidence in God as the Creator and ruler of all things. We must believe He is who He says He is. That is the foundation of faith. And the Bible tells us in verse 6 that it is impossible to please God without it. And since God's purpose for man was to have authority over His creation of earth, then faith is the foundation of recognizing and establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.
     So, let me now show you where I saw Kingdom in Hebrews, Chapter 11.  Let's begin in verse 8, where we read that by faith, Abraham obeyed God's call to leave his familiar territory [in order] to discover the territory he was destined to inherit from God. The Passion Translation reads like this: So he left with only a promise and without even knowing ahead of time where he was going, Abraham stepped out in faith. He lived by faith as an immigrant in his promised land as though it belonged to someone else. He journeyed through the land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob who were persuaded that they were also co-heirs of the same promise.
      The truth is, Abraham was living as an immigrant in a foreign land! His ancestors, Adam and Eve, had given his inheritance (dominion over the earth) away when they listened to the serpent! The truth was that the land (the earth) had been promised to mankind from the beginning. Now God has determined He will use Abraham, the father of the Israelites, to begin taking back dominion of the earth in His name. That is why when the Lord appears to Abram in Genesis 12:7, He tells him, "To your offspring, I will give this land". God wanted to give the earth back to man! And here is an interesting fact: it was 1948 years from Adam to Abraham. The modern nation of Israel was founded in 1948. We can never doubt the sovereignty of God!
     But let's move on. Hebrews 11:13 reads, These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar. They all lived their lives on earth as those who belonged to another realm. The Old Testament patriarchs never realized "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven". They lived their lives in a territory owned and controlled by the one who retained dominion over it, the devil. 

     Abraham and his descendants in the Old Testament didn't receive the promise (restored dominion of the earth to mankind) but could see it coming as God went before them conquering lands and other kingdoms. They knew they were still strangers and sojourners in earth.
     But now, I'd like to show you another couple of verses in Hebrews 11 that had me looking through the Kingdom lens. Take a look at verses 32-33: And what more could I say to convince you? For there is not enough time to tell you of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through faith’s power they conquered kingdoms and established true justice [righteousness]. Their faith fastened onto their promises and pulled them into reality!
     I'm immediately reminded of Jesus declaring in Matthew 6:33, Seek first, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you! What did these men have in common? I decided to take a look at the references my Bible gave me for each name and this is what I found: Gideon took back dominion from the kingdom of darkness by tearing down the altars of Baal and destroying the groves. First, I'd like to ask how many of you know what "a grove" is? It's important to know, because God told the Israelites, as they entered their promised land, to destroy the altars to false gods, break their images, and cut down their groves. A grove was a cultic object (usually a wooden sacred pole) set up near an altar to Baal that represented the presence of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. Gideon obeyed the Lord and took back dominion from the Midianites. Then he built an altar to the Lord and called it Jehovah-Shalom, "The Lord is peace". When you look at this story through the Kingdom lens, you can see the elements of the Kingdom: taking back dominion and declaring that peace is established because "the Kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).
     Next, let's look at Barak. He appears in Judges, Chapter 4, and he, too, helped defeat the Canaanite kingdom. Samson defeated the kingdom of the Philistines, and his name means "sunlight; supported by Divine Sovereignty". The next in line is Jephthah, who is written about in Judges 11-12. He defeated the kingdom of the Ammonites, and he kept a vow he made to God that if he was victorious, he would offer the first person who greeted him [when he returned to his home] as a burnt offering unto the Lord. Sadly, that vow cost him his beloved daughter, his only child. But he is listed in the Hall of Faith because he not only took back dominion from the kingdom of darkness but he was a righteous man. 
     Next, we come to David, and I have to admit that I wondered which of David's exploits would be  mentioned with these men who are recorded as taking back territory from Satan. But the reference was to a single verse in 1 Samuel 16:17, So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” This was an episode where the Holy Spirit had departed from King Saul and an evil spirit from the Lord was tormenting him. David played his harp for the King and Saul was "refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him" (1 Samuel 16:23). This is a picture of healing and deliverance from evil, which will be a standard and measure of the Kingdom of God coming to earth. Jesus modeled that as a consequence of the Kingdom having arrived.
     The last name mentioned is that of Samuel, a prophet who called upon the Lord to subdue the Philistines. And he built an altar to God, calling it "the Stone of Help" because God delivered them out of the hands of the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 
     As I read these testimonies of these men of faith, they all had something in common. They obeyed the Lord in taking back what He had promised to the seed of Abraham... that they would live in a territory and enjoy peace. Their righteousness was conveyed by their obedience. The battle was between what God had created earth to be (His transplanted Kingdom from heaven) and the kingdoms of man, influenced by the god of this world, Satan. These men were, in effect, strangers in a strange land. And as Hebrews 11:13 says, they didn't get to see the fulfillment of God's promise to restore His original plan of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, but they embraced the promise that the Kingdom would one day be fulfilled, and they walked in righteousness towards it. They got a glimpse of the Kingdom, but Israel's continued rebelliousness against God could never establish it.
     God attempted to get His chosen people to step into their role in His original plan for man. They were designed to take back rulership of the earth and to occupy it, and they met with sporadic success whenever the power of the Lord came down to rest upon them. But because of their rebellious nature, they never saw the fulfillment of the Kingdom. 

     But just like them, we New Testament believers are still sojourning in a foreign land while waiting for the fullness of the Kingdom to be restored to earth. We are spirits from heaven, living in fleshly suits. But we have the benefit of the continuous presence of the Holy Spirit IN US.  Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and we are raised up with Jesus and seated with Him in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). The difference is that God, Himself, came back as His Son, and declared that the Kingdom had arrived! And He began to model what taking back dominion looks like. We New Testament believers have been given the keys to participate in the final and incontrovertible establishment of God's Kingdom on earth. And it's found in Matthew 24:14: Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to the whole world, and as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come!
     We can look at all the eschatology signs we want, but until we make the Gospel of the Kingdom our priority, this Age will not end. He will not return to judge the wicked and establish the Millennial Kingdom on earth until we fulfill that assignment. He showed us what the Kingdom looks like and how to live as a Kingdom citizen. Read the Bible -- He teaches us everything we need to know in the four Gospels.
     But the purpose of this post is to show you that the Kingdom of God is not just a theme in the New Testament. It was always in view and was God's objective from Genesis One all the way to Revelation 22. We just haven't heard Jesus's message very well. And that's the reason that I'm writing my new book. The Body of Christ must understand what the Kingdom of God is all about and what our purpose is here on earth. The earth was created as an extension of Heaven. We were created to rule the earth for our God in Heaven. It is His Kingdom. Jesus came to reclaim it, and we are to share that Good News with all the world. That was His priority and it should be ours.

Psalm 24:1    God claims the world as His. Everything and everyone belongs to Him!  

Matthew 6:10   Manifest Your Kingdom realm, and cause Your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in heaven.

May 9, 2019

Iniquity And Generational Sins

     According to the dictionary, the word iniquity means wickedness, sinfulness, evil, obscenity or depravity. But, it is important for the Christian to know the origin and implications of iniquity. Oftentimes, I have found that Christians believe sin is sin is sin. But there are actually different levels of sin, and King David addresses this issue in Psalm 32, acknowledging his sin and iniquity, and confessing his transgressions.
     Before I go any further, it is vital that we understand the differences between the three. First of all, SIN means we have "missed the mark".  We instantly recognize that we have sinned; we confess, repent, and ask God for forgiveness. We turn away from our sin and towards Him. Anytime we recognize the temptation of that sin, we stop it in its tracks.
     TRANSGRESSION means willful rebellion. We know we have sinned and recognize our propensity for that sin, yet we make a conscious decision to continue engaging in the sin. We just can't give it up.
     INIQUITY is a deep sinning that perverts our original design of being made in the image of God. Iniquity can also go so deep in our family line that the simple act of repentance doesn't rid us of the perversion.
     Let me give you an example: let's say that an adult man or woman, while innocently browsing the internet, stumbles upon a website promoting child pornography. A sudden thought of having inappropriate sexual relations with a child enters their mind. They are immediately conscious of their sin, approach the Father confessing the sin, repent of it, and ask for forgiveness. They then make a deliberate effort to stay away from anything that could lead to that sin again.
     But, if after repenting and receiving forgiveness, they continually return to that site of their own free will, knowing it is a sin, [and developing a desire for the thoughts and images that the site invites] then they are in open rebellion to God; then they have transgressed against Him.
     When this rebellion becomes an obsession for pedophilia, then they have crossed over into perversion and iniquity. Their mind is no longer able to be renewed and, in reality, becomes depraved. And here's how iniquity becomes a generational curse: If that person continues in his/her perversion and has a child, the perversion can become woven into the child's DNA [in the womb], and the child becomes an adult and can't understand why their prayers of repentance don't break the bond to the perversion of pedophilia.
     That's why God proclaimed in Exodus 34:6-7 that He was "compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (faithfulness); keeping mercy and lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; but He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting (avenging) the iniquity (sin, perversion, guilt) of the fathers upon the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations [that is, calling the children to account for the sins of their fathers, if they, too, continue in the sin]."
     If you don't stop the iniquity in any generation, it will impregnate the next generation at the moment of conception. In fact, Iniquity acts as "a spiritual umbilical cord" that transmits evil spiritual DNA from one generation to the next. This is how legacies of sin get passed from one generation to the next? Have you ever wondered why alcoholism runs in a family line? Or abortion? Or divorce? Or sexual molestation?  It is important to understand that you can sin yourself into transgression; and transgress yourself into iniquity. And iniquity is a very real bondage that can affect generations.
     But there is hope! God says in Ezekiel 18:19-20, "When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." Iniquity in a family line can be stopped by a righteous man or woman!
     We are each responsible for the sins we commit. And if, upon examination, you discern  the perversion of your DNA by means of generational sin, then it is up to you to stop the forward progress and renounce it! And I want you to know that to renounce means "to break agreement with". So, if,  like many of us, there is a pattern of generational sin in your family, I have prepared a prayer for you to recite so that you can break agreement with the spirit of the sin and receive anew the full blessings of God.

Father God, I confess the sin of my ancestors, my parents, and my own sin, and I name that sin as the Spirit leads.

I choose to forgive and release my ancestors of the sin, the curses, and the consequences in my life. I ask You to forgive me, Lord, for this sin; for yielding to it, and to the resulting curses. I receive Your forgiveness.

On the basis of Your forgiveness, Lord, I choose to forgive myself for involvement in this sin. I receive God's freedom from this sin and the resulting curses. 

I place these sins and any unknown sins my forefathers committed upon the Cross. I ask that You would cleanse me now, Lord, from the sin and that You would break off of me, all that the Enemy has placed on me because of this sin.

I also bring all the consequences and effects of this sin to the Cross of Jesus Christ. I place the blood of Jesus between me and all generational sin on both paternal and maternal sides of my family.

I ask that the blood of Jesus cleanse my family bloodlines, all the way back to Adam. I break all contracts, covenants, alliances, vows, hexes, or curses between me and my father and/or my mother and all their ancestors.

Lord, now on the basis of my confession, repentance, and cleansing, I ask that You restore me to my fullest measure of existence in You. AMEN!

Isaiah 53:5      But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. 

May 6, 2019

The Occultic Influence On The Body of Christ

     What do you think of when you hear the word "occult"? If you're like most people, you probably think of witchcraft, devil worship, or some kind of dark magic. Actually, the word occult is a rather broad term that covers a lot of practices that are unholy to our God. It comes from the Latin word occultus and means "hidden, or secret". The best definition I've found is that the occult is any person, group, or organization that tries to gain supernatural power, abilities, or knowledge apart from the Creator God.
     Now, that may seem as far away from Christianity as any practice could be. But I want you to know that the occult can be very subtle in the ways it intrudes into our lives. That means that Christians can be unaware about their unintentional involvement in the occult. It may not be hard to discern that activities like a Ouija Board, Tarot Cards, palm reading, or horoscopes may be flirting with the occult. And for many non-Christian people, it can be their form of spirituality. But I would wager that more than a handful of Christians have partaken in these activities at some point in their lives. "But that was a long time ago", they might think. "How can it affect me now?" Or, they dismiss it as harmless fun. They believe in Jesus and don't see it as being affiliated with the dark side.
     But here's the thing ... activities such as these are rooted in disobedience to God! You might think they are harmless, but in reality, they are an invitation for the kingdom of darkness to take up residence in you or your family line. They open doors to the demonic and give the devil legal rights to bring torment into your life.
     You might think is an over-exaggeration, but I personally know of a wonderful Christian woman who decided to have a Tarot card reading because she was at a new stage in her life, and wanted to know what might lie in her future. First, you must understand that anyone who decides to become a Tarot card "reader" receives an instruction booklet with possible interpretations of what any card might mean. I happened to be at a gathering of women when this reading was taking place. I immediately removed myself from the vicinity and began praying, separating myself from what I knew to be an unholy event.
     I don't really remember what other cards she received, nor did I listen to what the "reader" was conveying. But I couldn't ignore the hush that came over the room when she received the "Death Card". Now, of course, no one wants to receive that card, and the reader quickly interpreted it as the end of this stage of her life, and that it represented transformation and new beginnings. The woman ended her "session" excited about what lay in store for her in the coming days or months.
     Well, within that year, one of her daughters committed suicide, and the next year, her second daughter also took her own life. Now, I'm sure that there are more than a few who would say the Tarot Card reading had nothing to do with that. But because of my involvement in Inner Healing and Deliverance ministry, I am well aware of spiritual doors that can be opened.
     That's why I had to repent and renounce my own participation with Tarot card readings while in college. But as you will notice from the original image on the left, the Tarot card industry has decided to soften the image of the Death Card. But it does not change the fact that it is an open door, giving legal rights to the Enemy because you are in agreement by participating in the practice.
     Another example from my past: about a year or so ago, I ran across an old journal I had kept from a horoscope reading I had done in my late 20s. I remember going to this woman's house and providing her with the month, day, year, and actual time of my birth. She then spent an hour relaying where the planets were at the time of my birth and how that aligned with my personality and my destiny. The odd thing is that these few pages, hand-written on Big Chief tablet paper, had managed to travel with me through multiple moves over 40 years. As I read through the notes I took, I was astounded at how that reading had pretty much captured things about my personality. But it was disturbing to see how I also had notes that seemed to indicate that my future was ordained by the stars and the planets, and not my position as a daughter of the King. I took that journal to my husband and asked him to burn it. Well, it was quite interesting what happened next.... it would not burn! It was just paper and no matter how many times we applied a match to it, it would never light. Finally, my husband doused it in diesel fuel, and it finally caught fire, and please believe me ... it curled and coiled, just like a snake! That was enough to convince me that I had truly been participating in an unholy occult practice.
     But it is not just fortune-telling activities like these that are a threat to the Christian community. Satanism, Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, Astral Projection, violent occult video and computer games are heavy influences among our culture, especially the Millennial generation. They are looking for adventure and to be stimulated. These practices offer excitement, thrills, and distraction in a world where they are finding it difficult to know their place. But they are opening doors to demonic activity, and the Enemy is only too happy to enter in.
     And we cannot exclude some religions who have occultic overtones. Remember, "occult" means "hidden, or secret". Religions like Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses have their origins in the occult. Mormon founder, Joseph Smith, who was a Freemason, claimed supernatural power from a Seer Stone which he said guided him to the golden plates that helped him translate the Book of Mormon.
     Charles Taze Russell, the founder of Jehovah's Witnesses, studied the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, who was a member of another occult organization, the Rosecrucians, and both men held high regard for Egyptian gods and pyramids. (See Russell's tombstone. Does that look Christian?)
     Both religions, just like Freemasonry, put emphasis on secret rituals that elevate initiates to godhead status and include influence from false gods.  I know this may offend some of you, but I have had family members who were involved in these religions and I have seen the effects on them. Also, my niece was asked to be a bridesmaid at a Mormon wedding, but was not allowed into the Temple to witness the actual wedding ceremony because she was not a Mormon. Why would anything having to do with a wedding need to be kept in secret?
     Then there is the seemingly benign act of yoga. But do you know that the word yoga means "to be in union with; or to be yoked to"? And guess who you are in union with? The divine gods of Hinduism. Each of the yoga poses is a posture of submission to one of the 33 million Hindu gods. You can rationalize this practice by calling it "Christian yoga", but the origin of these poses is still about paying homage to false gods.
     In the end, it is important for those of us who profess faith in Jesus Christ alone to be vigilant about the abilities or knowledge we seek, and to know from whom supernatural power is coming from. Blood pacts; séances; astrology/horoscopes; spells or curses; New Age (books, objects, seminars); objects of worship/crystals/good luck charms; sexual spirits; various superstitions; martial arts (mysticism/devotion to sensei); Hare Krishna; transcendental meditation; church of Scientology; other non-christian religions or cults -- they are all non-Christian and unholy spiritual practices that need to be renounced.
     To "renounce" means to "break agreement with". Therefore, it is important that we acknowledge our sin and offense against God and ask for forgiveness. If you or someone you care about has been involved in any practice that is apart from God, then here is a prayer that you can speak over yourself/them:

Lord, I confess seeking the help from Satan that should only come from God. I confess occultism and false religions as sin. I repent and renounce for these sins and ask you to forgive me, in the Name of Jesus. I renounce Satan, his works and his demons, and count them my enemies. I close the door on occult practices, and I command any associated spirits to leave me now in the Mighty Name of Jesus!

Father, please forgive me for any indulgences in the occult, both for what I did myself, and any involvement by my family. I renounce it and cover myself with the blood of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus, I renounce and break loose myself and my family from all psychic powers, bondages, and bonds of mental and physical illness, upon me and my family line, as the result of parents and other ancestors.

I renounce, break, and loose myself from demonic subjection to any family members, ancestors, descendants, or any other human beings, living and dead, who have had spiritual influence over me. I ask You to forgive and bless them, especially with salvation.

I ask that You would forgive me for participating in occult practices and false religion and spiritual adultery. I forgive those who have cursed me. Please forgive me for cursing others. I break any curses and demonic soul ties including psychic and Catholic prayers. Lord, I ask forgiveness for keeping cursed objects and demon infestation in my possession and my home and property. I will clean out my house of any cursed objects. I will anoint my house with oil.

I renounce all fortune telling, all magic practices, and spiritism, cults and false teachings, and any form of Satan worship, in the Name of Jesus.

I break any and all curses and soul ties brought about by psychic heredity, occult contacts and religious cults.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, I break any and all demonic holds on my family line due to supernatural experiences apart from God and name them as the Holy Spirit leads.

Father, I thank You that the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all sin and I go forth in the freedom that His blood paid for. It is in His Mighty and Powerful Name that I pray. Amen. 

John 18:20      Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.


May 3, 2019

The Fullness of Salvation

     As often happens, I will be re-reading Scriptural ground that I have covered before and detect the tip of buried treasure within a verse, and it leads me on a journey of new revelation. So, I invite you to take this ride with me.
     I am still deep in Hebrews, and as I finished Chapter 9, the verses 27 and 28 caught my spiritual eye: And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him (ESV).
     As I often do, I like to compare various translations to see if I receive a new or different insight to God's inspired Word. Here's what the Passion Translation says: Every human being is appointed to die once, and then to face God’s judgment. But when we die we will be face-to-face with Christ, the One who experienced death once for all to bear the sins of many! And now to those who eagerly await him, He will appear a second time; not to deal with sin, but to bring us the fullness of salvation. 

     I couldn't help but notice the difference in the two translations. The English Standard Version (ESV) seemed to place the focus of Christ's second appearance on those who are eagerly awaiting Him, while the Passion Translation spoke louder to me about the fullness of the salvation He is bringing. What is the meaning of this "fullness" and how does it differ from the first salvation we received when we accepted Jesus as our Savior?
     There is agreement between the two versions of Hebrews 9:27-28 that Christ is a Living Hope for those of us who eagerly await His return. As I searched Scripture for more revelation on the connection between Jesus as our hope and His eventual return, I found it in 1 Peter, Chapter 1. To begin, we find ample reason to glorify the Father for bringing us into relationship with Him... We give Him praise for His extravagant gift of mercy and grace into a new life in Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We exalt Him for granting us the position of "children", including the rights and privileges as heirs, and the impartation of spiritual life. We recognize our spiritual rebirth from above; that we've been spiritually transformed, renewed, and sanctified. We acknowledge that we must be reborn by the Living Water of the Word [which cleanses and gives spiritual life] and the Holy Spirit, who moves our spirit to respond to His voice. And then, in verse 5, Peter references that there is more to be unveiled regarding salvation: Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards us until our full salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. 
     There it is again! "Our full salvation"! As I contemplated these verses and revisited my understanding of salvation [as I learned it at the time of my conversion], a bigger picture began to form. I understood that at the time I repented for my sins and asked Jesus into my heart as my Savior, I received immediate spiritual and eternal deliverance from my sins; the debt I owed God for my disobedience had been paid by the blood of Jesus on the Cross.
     But here is Peter telling us that at the return of Christ, our full salvation will be revealed. A careful word study showed me that the word "revealed" comes from the Greek word apokalupto, meaning to "uncover, unveil; reveal for the first time". So obviously there is some other aspect of our salvation that is unknown to us at this time, which will be unveiled to us "in the last time", i.e at Christ's return at the end of this age. It will not change the effect of our salvation, but I believe it will unveil the depth of it --- just how much we have been saved, and from what.
     And it takes a willingness on the part of the believer to consider what that will look like. Too often, I think we modern Christians are satisfied to bask in the knowledge that we don't have to pay the penalties for our sins; and as a result we get to live eternally with our Father in Heaven. We don't give too much thought to the warnings that the Bible gives us about what that time will look like, when Jesus comes back to "judge the quick [alive] and the dead".
     We think of ourselves as safely established in this "Age of Grace", and many still believe that they will experience no part of the coming Great Tribulation; that they will be whisked away to Heaven before any of "the bad stuff" happens on the earth. But would it change your mind if you knew that the same word, apokalupto, used in 1 Peter, is also used by the Apostle John to refer to the full revealing of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation? 
     In this last book of the Bible, the divine program of redemption for mankind is brought to its fulfillment. The Book of Revelation is an unveiling of the character and the plan of God. It depicts visions and symbols of the resurrected Christ, who alone has authority to judge the earth. And because everything about God is holy, so is His Justice. That Justice will be the wrath of God against those who have continued in their rebelliousness and lawlessness -- the wrath that we will be spared from because of our imputed righteousness that comes through our initial salvation experience.
    But take another look at what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:13 ... Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards us until our full salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. I have often said that our salvation is a process and a journey. We are told to "work out our salvation with fear [holy awe] and trembling", indicating that it is a continuous action throughout our lives. Therefore, it makes sense that we will have no idea of the magnitude of what Jesus did for us until it is unveiled and displayed when He comes to judge the earth and its wicked. 
     The fullness of our salvation has nothing to do with the value or completeness of it. Jesus accomplished everything we needed in order to be saved when He went to the Cross. Rather, it has to do with our full comprehension of what we were saved from: the wrath [anger, fury] of a righteous God. But we need not approach that time with misgivings or fear because there is hope in the Word. Peter also says, So then, prepare your hearts and minds for action! Stay alert and fix your hope firmly on the marvelous grace that is coming to you. For when Jesus Christ is unveiled, a greater measure of grace will be released to you.  When those days come, we will have no fear of the wrath of God, or of Jesus as Judge of the world. Instead, we will, by God's grace, be able to share the tremendous joy of knowing the fullness of our salvation and the divine revelation of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Messiah!

Philippians 3:12   I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into His abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. 

April 30, 2019

The Good News of The Kingdom of God

     I know it may seem as if I'm belaboring the point of the Kingdom, but I do not think the Body of Christ has a firm grasp of how important this matter is to God. Has it become clear to you that all the parables Jesus teaches in Scripture pertain to the Kingdom? Or, like me [before my spiritual eyes were opened], perhaps you assumed they were moral lessons that we are to learn to become better Christians. But, in my case, that belief came from an immature understanding of the "big picture" the Bible presents.
     For far too long, I accepted the Church's organized and religious versions of what God wanted to tell me through His Holy Word. And it wasn't until I began my own earnest study that some of those teachings and doctrines fell short, if not exposed as downright corrupted. Let's start with the Book of Genesis. It is more than the Sunday School stories we were taught on the Creation of the World, the Fall of Man, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph sold into slavery, and the proliferation of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Yes, Genesis reveals all those important stories, but there is so much more! The very core of Genesis is based on God's plan [from the beginning] to make Earth an extension of His Kingdom in Heaven. And He intended for His creation [man] to rule and have dominion over the earth by establishing His Kingdom principles. Man was created to be in authority over God's creation.
     But as Scripture tells us, Man relinquished that authority to Satan in the Garden. It has been God's design ever since to restore our rightful authority and dominion. God intended to rule Earth through our leadership. We were created to be second-in-command under the Rulership of the Triune God.  From that first rebellion in Genesis, God has planned for us to re-discover not only His purpose, but ours, and to reclaim our inheritance as sons and daughters of God.
     Here is the one thing that I believe those of us of the Christian faith need to come to terms with: Jesus did not come to establish Christianity or the Christian religion. He came to restore the Kingdom of God to earth! Everything that Jesus said and did during His three-year ministry came from the Divine instructions of the Father. He only said and did what the Father revealed to Him. His ministry reflected His passionate desire (and the Father's) to establish the Kingdom of God in men's hearts so that they might influence all aspects of the earth.
     But remember, the fact that God is sovereign over His Kingdom, and we were created to administer His Kingdom here on earth, indicates that we live under His rule and His reign. The effect of His Kingdom touches our body, soul, and spirit and is able to heal, transform and renew every part of us. But His Kingdom is not designed to just effect our physical body or inner man. We are supposed to be shining examples of what a Kingdom citizen looks like. And I mean "shining" in the sense that the light of Christ and the Holy Spirit is evident in all we do and say. And it's all really simple. In fact, Jesus said, "Whoever does not open their arms to receive God’s kingdom like a teachable child will never enter it.”
     When you think about it, He has given us everything we need to enter the Kingdom ... 1) His Word, reveals what Kingdom living looks like, along with our responsibilities as citizens of the Kingdom, and includes the blessings that come from entering into the Kingdom. Jesus presents all that relevant information in the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 2) He has given us the Holy Spirit as our Guide, Counselor, and Teacher to help us stay on track and keep us focused on the Kingdom. 3) He has given us a goal to reach: Seek the Kingdom first, and His righteousness. Then ALL our earthly needs will be met. 
     Yet, I fear that too many of us look at other things first before we ever consider the Kingdom of God as our priority .... we look at our families, our jobs, our positions in the Church, our positions in the world, our finances, how other people see us, and anything that makes us feel good about ourselves. But Jesus is our King, and our loyalty must first be to Him. We cannot say, "Lord, I will follow you and represent Your Kingdom, but first let me ______". 
     The Good News of the Kingdom is that once we enter into the Kingdom through the doorway, which is faith in Jesus, we have entered a new country; we have a new homeland. We are no longer citizens of the United Citizens, but are residing in the Kingdom of God. We are then commissioned as ambassadors and representatives of His Kingdom government, and our assignment is to help others find the doorway, too. That's what Jesus did! Yes, He performed signs and wonders, but the purpose of them was to bring the Kingdom of God [and His access to its resources] into view so that everyone He met would "seek the Kingdom" and desire to enter it, too. 
     As citizens of the Kingdom, we have full rights and access to the resources of the Kingdom. Jesus showed us that when He confidently expected there to be enough food to feed the five thousand. He knew His Father's Kingdom was one of plentiful provision. He knew that as long as He tended to His Father's business, all of His needs would be met. Today we read that story and call it a "miracle". To Jesus, and Kingdom-minded citizens, it is an expected development.
     The Good News of the Kingdom is that healing, deliverance, provision, mercy, love, and grace [among many other rights of Kingdom citizens] are all parts of God's system of Kingdom government. They are the privileges of every person who enters the Kingdom through the door of Jesus. They are not end goals within themselves, but benefits of understanding who we are and our position within the Kingdom. It is exactly because we move beyond the door of Jesus [and our "born again" experience] that we can mature and grow as true sons and daughters of the King and take part in this increase of God's Kingdom on earth.
      And as children of God, it is important that we not only seek His Kingdom, but His righteousness, as well. We need to know His mind and His heart; begin thinking like Him so that we can be instrumental in seeing His righteous will done here on Earth. I have such a longing to know more of the Kingdom and my role in it. I have stepped through the door that is Jesus, and now I want to know how I can be a good citizen of the Kingdom. What is the best way I can serve my King? How does He want me to share the news of His Kingdom? Am I hearing my assignment correctly? I don't want more of religion or church-y systems. I want to walk boldly and confidently in His Kingdom system! And I know any and all news about the Kingdom is "good".  But, Lord, I am asking you to reveal my next steps, and I pray that my Kingdom walk serves Your purposes, not my own. I thank you for drawing me into Your Kingdom. Now, help me to be worthy of my citizenship, as I seek you with all my heart.

Revelation 11:15       ... The kingdom (dominion, rule) of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever. 


April 26, 2019

Another Look At Eschatology -- Part 2

     I want to begin this second half of my theory on the Eschatology in Matthew 24 with this premise: I do not believe we should become too focused on when all the events Jesus references take place. It is enough to know that He announced there would be an end to old religious systems [that could not save mankind] and the beginning of a Kingdom of Heaven government on earth; a government that would not end.
     But most Christians are even unaware of this truth. So until His return, there will be a clash between the two systems -- religion vs Kingdom -- with the old system fighting for relevancy in the face of the re-establishment of God's original design for man on the earth. Yes, Jesus tells us not to be concerned about the day and the hour of His return, but He also tells us to stay awake and be ready for it, or like in the parable of the ten virgins, the foolish ones will find themselves shut out of the marriage feast.
     With all that in mind, let's go back to Matthew 24 and see how Jesus makes a transition from the things that would happen in the generation of the Disciples [to signal the beginning of the end of religious systems] to the actual time of His return when the last of the religious age will yield to the everlasting Kingdom of God on earth.
     So yesterday, we left Jesus prophesying that the old religious system is being replaced with a Kingdom model and its gospel "will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations" ... and then the end [of the religious system] would come. Notice that He doesn't give a timeline for how long that will take. And I would submit to you that the gospel of the Kingdom has not been preached throughout the world. In fact, it has not even been preached throughout the Western Church! (This is a topic that I will be exploring in my next post). There are still people who do not understand what Jesus inaugurated with His First Coming. Therefore, "the end" is not yet in sight.
     But I want to take a careful look at Matthew 24:15-28.  It is in these verses that Jesus makes His transition FROM prophesying to the Disciples' generation TO prophesying about His Second Coming. Note that He begins this passage by telling them that when they see "the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel", those that are in Judea must flee to the mountains because great tribulation is coming. He further states, "And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short."
     Now, I have sat in several Sunday School classes that have taught that this is concerning the future. So let's first look at the "abomination of desolation". If you are like me, you have likely been taught that there will be an event similar to the one in Daniel, Chapter 9, -- "and on the wings of abominations shall come one who makes desolate." The website, The Gospel Coalition, agrees with historians who say this references the Seleucid king Antiochus Epiphanes IV, who ruled Palestine from 175-64 B.C. Antiochus treated Israel with such violence and contempt that they rebelled against him. When he came to suppress the rebellion, his forces entered the temple, stopped the regular sacrifices, set up an idol of [or altar for] Zeus, and apparently offered swine there as a sacrifice. This is an abomination because it is idolatry, and it brings desolation because it defiles the holy place at the heart of Israel.
     So, while I do not think Jesus is necessarily saying this specific abomination will be repeated, I do think we can surmise that here, as is often the case throughout the Bible, “abomination” refers to major covenant violations, especially idolatry. But I also think we should consider that He is still talking about this happening in the generation of the Disciples, and He could be prophesying about the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. And I will tell you that His comments that no humans would be saved unless the days were cut short certainly apply to the siege and destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
     Just read what it was like .... the Jews rose up in rebellion against Rome, which resulted in a campaign by Rome's leading general, Vespasian, to take care of "the Jewish problem". This was a continuation of the "wars and rumors of wars" prophecy Jesus had made earlier. Vespasian began his campaign in AD 67 in Galilee, where a young priest, Joseph, was in command. His army numbered more than 50,000 men. Vespasian took Sepphoris, Jotapata (where Joseph surrendered to the general and became the Roman scribe Josephus), and several other towns with brutal force. He also destroyed Gamla, where the Jewish Zealot movement began, putting 10,000 people to the sword. Most of the towns of the region were left as smoking ruins. Many men were executed, often crucified, and the women and children were sold into slavery. A few were saved for the games in the arena. Galilee was again Roman.
     When Vespasian became emperor after the death of Nero, he appointed his son, Titus, to continue his campaign against Jerusalem. The situation in Jerusalem was horrible. Several factions of Zealots converged on the city, having been defeated elsewhere. They blamed each other for their defeats. One group controlled the Temple Mount and appointed their own priest. When the Sadducee priests resisted, they were slaughtered along with 8,500 of their supporters. The sewers of the city ran with Jewish blood. Simon Bar Giora, another self-proclaimed messiah, entered the city and fought the Zealots. Confusion and terror reigned. Jerusalem was divided into three sections, each fighting the other as the Romans tightened the noose. Apparently, the Christian community, possibly remembering Jesus' words (Matthew 24:15-16), fled to the mountainous regions east of the country.
     In the spring of AD 70, Titus arrived outside Jerusalem. His army now numbered 80,000 or more. Titus breached the third wall near the end of May and slaughtered the people of that part of the city. Five days later, the second wall fell. Half of the city belonged to the Romans. In July, the Romans built a siege wall around the city to prevent escape and to starve the citizenry.
     People killed each other over scraps of food. Anyone suspected of contemplating surrender was killed. Because some Jews had swallowed gold coins before trying to escape, their fellow citizens began to disembowel those they caught, looking for money. In one night, 2,000 were ripped open. No one bothered to bury the dead. Many who did surrender were crucified just outside the walls so the hapless defenders could watch their agony. Josephus records that the Roman soldiers nailed people in various positions for their own amusement until they could not find enough crosses for the victims.
     The famine took its toll as well. Josephus reports that 600,000 bodies were thrown out of the city. On August 6, the sacrifices ceased in the Temple. The Temple itself was burned and destroyed on the ninth of the Jewish month of Av (the end of August), the same day it had been destroyed by the Babylonians more than 600 years before. It has never been rebuilt. All the citizens of the city were executed, sold into slavery, or saved for the games in the arena. The slaughter was beyond description. Infants were thrown to their deaths from the top of the city walls, and people were burned alive; the alleys of the city were choked with corpses. Eleven thousand prisoners died of starvation waiting for their execution. Josephus records that more than 1 million perished and nearly 100,000 were sold into slavery. The Jews' holy city was gone and their Temple destroyed. I don't know about you, but I think these events qualify as fulfillment of Jesus's prophecy that if the days had not been cut short, no one would have been saved. Therefore, it makes sense that this passage pertains to that time and that generation, not the future. 
     BUT, then Jesus does something curious. He again prophesies that "false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect."  It is here that I believe He transitions to the coming of the end of the age of religion [and the perpetuation of His Kingdom] and His Second Coming. He says, "do not believe" the false christs. We will see the sign of the coming of the Son of Man ... it will look like this ... as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west.
     Again, I want to make it clear that I do not put forth my opinion as a Biblical scholar. But I try to be like a good Berean and search the Scripture for truth. And I am certainly open to having my mind changed as the Holy Spirit reveals more of what I need to know. And you know what? We don't have to agree on the timeline of eschatology. Nor do we even need to consider the timeline, except for His admonition to "stay awake" and "be ready". So when Jesus says "after the Tribulation of those days", the Bible does not say which days it is. Therefore, we should consider His warning as if it could be any day.
     But He does state that the powers of the heavens will be shaken and there will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
     And, yes, only the Father knows when that will take place. But He gives us clear instructions ... He is setting His servants over His household until He returns. We are to feed the children of God until He returns. We are to preserve and extend His Kingdom to all the earth. That should be what we are all focused upon. And what does that look like? What is the good news of the Kingdom? Tune in for the next post!

Matthew 24:43-44      But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.