Saturday, September 12, 2015

Praying for Justice

We are living in an age where it is increasingly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to find justice in the courts of man. God's people are discovering that, with increasing frequency, God is the only recourse for justice. There are many in the church, however, that have been taught that both prayers for judgment and the ministry of judgment went out with the Old Testament and God does not do the terrible judgments of the Old Testament today. We are told in many quarters, that God is now only about love and redemption and not about judgment.

However, God's love and redemption must be seen in the context of His Law and Judgment. God metes out judgments partly because He is a loving God. Because He cares about humanity, He is interested in our liberty, safety, and security. This is why He outlaws murder, maiming, robbery, and rape. This is why Scripture references judgment against oppressors in numerous places.

We are living in an age where an increasing number of people will not listen to reason. It is also  becoming increasingly difficult to appeal to righteous authorities - because there is a great scarcity of righteous authorities among earthly governments and political movements. God is our only hope for advancing justice or rescuing the oppressed. We are to seek God's power to bring justice for the oppressed. We must war against Satan through imprecatory prayer-prayers for judgment. We are not to lust after the harm of people or gloat over the misfortune of the wicked. God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. But advancing God's justice and destroying the works of the devil will inevitably involve human causualties.

The ministry of imprecatory prayer is described in Psalm 149. We are told to have the praises of God in our mouths, and a sword in our hands (singular). According to Psalm 149 All of God's saints have the honor of meting out God's retribution upon the wicked. But how is this done? Is this a call to a Judeo-Christian version of jihad? Does God want us to become terrorists or is there another way to look at this text?

Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.  Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD. - Psalms 149:1-9 KJV

The Bible does not teach us to take over of the world by jihad. The Scriptures are clear that it is the Lord himself who will put down all authority and power. It is God's power and intervention that will end injustice, not the wrath of man, whether that be from Judeo-Christian jihad, Islamic jihad, Communist revolution or some other violent revolution.

The warfare described here is spiritual warfare. Ancient Israel never realized this honor completely. Many saints, in every season of time, lived as persecuted fugitives and felons. There has always been a need to seek God as the source of justice. Comparing Scripture with Scripture helps us get a clearer picture of the role of imprecatory prayers in attaining justice across the ages.

But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
- 2 Corinthians 10:2-6

Our weapons are not carnal or flesh based. The weapons are spiritual. We are to pull down both the false philosophies of the world and the vanities that exalts themselves against Christ. There are two methods to neutralize Satan's schemes in the world thought systems: The effective preaching and teaching of the gospel to persuade hearts and renew minds (verse 5) and revenging persistent disobedience through God's judgment (verse 6).

Persuasive preaching only works on those who are open to the truth. Each of us who are saved are saved because we were persuaded that we were sinners in need of a saviour and that Jesus Christ saved us through the shedding of His blood on the cross. We live in a world where the majority of  people are not open to the truth. A Postmodern and emerging Post-Postmodern culture has no place for either absolute truth or the truth of the gospel. In  those whose hearts and minds are open to ministry of the gospel, it is the power of God unto salvation. It is the power that engages in  "...Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God..." and "...bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ".

Thank God we are not limited to the ministry of persuasion. Our spiritual weapons can also "revenge all disobedience" After accomplishing a work of complete  obedience of those being saved. Our warfare include retaliation upon injustice with spiritual weapons.

Examples of Imprecatory speech.
In Acts 13:6-12 we see the story of the conversion of Sergius Paulus, an official in Paphos. Paulus wanted to hear the Word of God from Paul and Barnabas, but a sorcerer named Elymas opposed the preaching of the gospel and sought to turn Paulus from the faith. Paul the apostle spoke the word of judgment and Elymas was made blind by the power of God.

 And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord.
- Acts 13:6-12 KJV
This is not to be viewed as a unique incident but as a normal demonstration of power inherent in  "the doctrine of the Lord" (verse 12).  In 2 Tim 2::14-15 we read that Paul was hindered by Alexander the coppersmith. In this text Paul calls on God to reward him according to his deeds.

 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
- 2 Timothy 4:14-15 KJV
Matthew 23 is filled with imprecatory language. Jesus frequently (10 times) says "woe" to the Jewish religious leaders. In verses 32-39 Jesus pronounces judgment upon Israel for rejecting Him. The Lord Jesus commands that they "...Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers..." pronounces the judgment and then tells them "... Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar... 
...Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 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! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord
- Matthew 23:32-39 KJV

Situations with Imprecatory implications.
The following situations do not involve God's people calling upon Him for judgment,  but these show that even in the New Testament God is in the business of judgment upon the wicked.

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him...
...And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
- Acts 5:1-11 KJV

Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode. And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied. 
- Acts 12:18-24 KJV

Judgment in the Church
These situations involved God's judgment being invoked in the Church. It often involved someone "being delivered unto Satan" for a season, with Satan's torments and schemes being the means of punishment for wickedness. It is not unusual for God to judge bad guys by allowing other bad guys to oppress them. The other bad guys will themselves will face judgment later. Old Testament examples of this is how God allowed Babylon to oppress wicked Judah and Jerusalem (read Jeremiah chapters 1-37; chapters 38-52; also Habbakuk; also Psalm 109:2-8;) We also see several examples of this in the New Testament. One situation involved a man at Corinth who was having sexual relations with "his father's wife," and another situation involved Hymenaeus and Alexander who were engaging in blasphemy.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. - 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 KJV

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. - 1 Timothy 1:19-20 KJV

The doctrinal basis of imprecatory prayer

The New Testament is not only full of examples of Imprecatory language bringing God's judgment, but in several places teaches the use of imprecatory speech as doctrine.  

God gave  the church the power to retain or remit (send away) sins in John 20:18-24. Some believe this was given only to leaders or apostles, but Mary Magdelene, not a leader, was numbered with the disciples. Thomas, an apostle, was not numbered among those who were first given this power. The disciples assembled, then, represented the entire church rather than merely the leadership. When Jesus gave the Great Commission,  He commanded the apostles to teach their disciples everything Jesus commanded. The truth of using imprecatory language to call down God's power upon the wicked was for all of the Church throughout the church age.

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.
- John 20:18-24 KJV

The Law did not completely cease to have legal force in the New Testament; only the legal construct of the Mosaic Covenant ceased. This meant that while the covenant relationship changed, the fundamental ethical and  legal principles that are contained in and embodied by the covenant endured. In Romans 7:1-6 It is written that we died to the Law so that we might be married to Christ. The law was given to be a school master to teach and train God's people until they have matured in the same way parents teach and train their children until they mature.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 
- Galatians 3:23-25
When children becomes mature, they are no longer in bondage to their parents authority. However, the principles taught during their minor years remain. In the same way, we are set free from the Mosaic judicial system when we find Christ because  the Law may now  be written in our hearts and minds.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. - Jeremiah 31:31-34 KJV
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 
- Hebrews 10:15-17 KJV
God put His laws in our hearts and the law is to have force in our minds and hearts. The justice and judgment of God is to dwell within. The law is still there to be used; only our relationship with it is changed. We are to use it properly.

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust...
...And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
- 1 Timothy 1:8-16 KJV

The Law still has legal force to condemn those who refuse to come to God and who still do the deeds of rebellion. The Law was intended as a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ - the background through which God's offer of mercy is to be seen  as the great offer it is. God offers us salvation and mercy because he Law requires that we die as criminals and suffer eternal punishment in the fire. Jesus Christ did not do away with the requirements of justice described in  the Law but took the punishment for our sins. There is no contradiction between giving grace to those who receive His offer and punishing those who continue to reject His offer after having received ample opportunity.

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? - Hebrews 2:1-4 KJV

The role of imprecatory language in spiritual warfare
Ephesians 6:10-18 is a call to spiritual warfare. If we use the principle of comparing Scripture with Scripture and compare it with Isaiah 59:16 we get an expanded view of what spiritual warfare is.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places...
...Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. - Ephesians 6:10-20 KJV

In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment...
...And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence...
...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, saith the LORD. - Isaiah 59:13-20 KJV

There is good reason that our spiritual armor is called the armor of God. It is because it is God's armor. When we fight in spiritual warfare we are fighting God's battles, as God's agents, using God's weapons, advancing God's justice. When we engage in spiritual warfare, we are engaging in God's vengeance.

Our target in this warfare is Satan and his kingdom. Flesh and blood are not the primary target. However a realistic view of spiritual warfare acknowledges that Satan uses flesh and blood as both weapons and warriors. Disarming Satan and destroying his weapons will inevitably involve human casualties. Isaiah 59 gives a broader view of God's vengeance, as being both against both demonic and human adversaries of God. Warring against powers and principalities will involve human casualties among those humans who chose to remain Satan's henchmen.

Spiritual warfare involves imprecatory prayer and imprecatory language against both demons and people who refuse to repent but persist in opposing God's kingdom. We are told in Isaiah 59:19 "... When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him..." When Satan and his minions, both demonic and human, come in with overwhelming force; the Spirit of God will raise a battle standard against him. The battle standard is a call to battle and identifies an army on the battlefield. 

We are living in the time where Satan is coming in like a flood. The Holy Spirit is calling God's people to battle. In these end times, let us seek the Lord God as the King of kings and Lord of lords to bring justice to the earth.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When the state eats up the individual

There is currently going on a great controversy in Kentucky. Kim Davis, the County Clerk for Rowan county, Kentucky, has been arrested and imprisoned for refusing to perform same-sex ceremonies. She cites freedom of conscience and Divine Authority as the basis for refusing the court order. A great lie has been foisted in response, disguised with a kernel of truth.

The kernel of truth is that we do not want government bureaucrats running amok, "doing what is right in their own eyes," instead of following the law. We do not want Islamist bureaucrats enforcing sharia law, Amish refusing to license or register "devil machines," or pacifists refusing to register guns, etc. There is, however, an extreme overreaction that endangers not only the freedom of conscience of people while they work in government, but freedom of conscience wherever it is expressed.

We are being told that when the life of the individual intersects the life of the state, that freedom of conscience no longer exists. We are to simply and unconditionally follow all orders regardless of their morality or justice, and the moment we cannot comply, we are to retreat the area of state.

Many people do not see through this deception because they believe that this expansion of the state affect only issues relating to the state. However, the state has expanded its tentacles into so many areas that the application of such a principle leaves very, very little left to the individual. Consider the following areas in which the state has infiltrated our lives:
  • People get marriage licenses from the state, implying that we need the state's permission to marry. Marriage has now, via Obergefell vs Hodges, defined as nothing more than a construct of the state.
  • We live in buildings that were built only because someone got building and zoning permits, implying we need the state's permission to possess and occupy buildings.
  • We live on land whose property lines are defined by the state via deed.
  • Most businesses are constituted using articles of incorporation  that define the business as a construct of the state. Many other use as Doing Business As, in that case the business name is a construct of the state.
  • Most real property is financed by financiers who are licensed by the state (or Feds).
  • Most people received their education and professional training in context where either the state directly financed them or the state facilitated the financing. 
  • Via Roe vs Wade, personhood is nothing more than a construct of the state. Personhood is the container of legal rights. Without legal recognition of personhood, there is no Constitutional way to enforce one's legal rights in the American legal system.

If every time the individual life intersects the life of the state, the individual must surrender the claims of conscience to the state; then there is no area in which that individual can ever say no to the state. Many who support Kim Davis' incarceration believe that the total surrender of conscience to the state affects only state actors such as Ms Davis in her capacity as County Clerk, but given the numerous threads of state involvement in our lives, the strict application of this surrender makes us state actors in virtually every encounter with the state. The tyrannical statists will make the case that our personhood rights, our property rights, and our business rights are all derived from the authority of the state, and that exercise of said rights makes us state actors subject to whatever whims the state decides to impose. This is why Hillary Clinton said that businesses did not create jobs and Why President Obama said  “You didn’t build that." What we see as individuals innovating and implementing, they see as nothing more than products of  constructs of the state acting with authority derived from the state.

The only defense against the state eating up the individual is to affirm that each individual has a right of conscience and derivative rights, that the state is obligated to provide reasonable accommodation to these rights as it fulfills its duties, and that these rights are grounded in a Higher Law given by a Benevolent Lawgiver that transcends societies and states.