Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mental Anguish & Persecution

The prophet Jeremiah (chapter 30, verse 07) foretold of a time of Jacob’s trouble unlike anything ever seen on earth before then. The prophet Daniel (chapter 12, verse 01) seemed to reinforce this idea by referring to a time when Michael will stand up, and there would be a time of trouble such as nothing the earth had seen before then. Most of Revelations seems to describe a time near the end of the world where “trouble” is the understatement of history itself. A time where persecution would appear to be the norm; a time when following God is a crime punishable by death; a time when the only way to escape certain torture and death is to simply listen to what you are told by the ones in power to tell you. While the intensity foretold in scriptures is like nothing we have ever seen, the scenario itself is not something new.

I am reminded of three Hebrew boys, taken captive from their native home of Jerusalem and dragged to Babylon. They remained faithful to God despite the difficulties thrown at them. But one day they were taken to a great assembly with the King and ordered to worship a golden image of the King, symbolizing the eternal kingdom of Babylon itself. They refused. The penalty was certain death, death by burning alive. They continued to refuse. The King’s ego was damaged, his mercy in offering another time to worship them rejected, he lost his control and ordered the furnace be heated up seven times hotter than normal. His intent to kill those who would not obey him was clear.

A rational man in the Hebrew’s position could have easily bowed-down to avoid all this hoopla. After all, God knows what is on the heart, right? In fact, a modern day Christian might have known how to turn this seeming contradiction into something to be proud of. Instead of actually worshipping the image, they could bow down and pray for the soul of the King to the true God (while bowing of course). This way they worship God in their hearts, while not offending the King. No fire drama here. But the 3 Hebrews would not so compromise.

A rational man would realize that by being so uncompromising in how they lived their beliefs that they were provoking the King to anger, and forcing God to have to save them similar to jumping off a cliff first and then demanding God do something about it on the way down. If they could just take the day-off in their values systems, or not be so rigid in applying them, they could avoid angering the King and risking what was sure to be certain death. After all, if they knew what the meeting was for (pretty hard to miss the construction of a ninety foot solid gold statue of a king), why not just skip it and call in sick so no one blames you for not being there?

A rational man could have surmised that since God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to become king and had so blessed him with a dream of the future kingdoms of earth, that they should follow this blessed King of God and do whatever he says. After all if God did not want a ninety foot solid gold image to be built, why not simply destroy it like He had destroyed other things in the past? Maybe God allowed the ninety foot statue to be built in order to accomplish some greater purpose. A rational man would choose expediency and life rather than obstinacy and death.

The 3 faithful servants valued their lives. They did not have a death wish. They did not relish the idea of being burned alive. But they could not disobey the council of their mothers and fathers in their ears; they should bow down only to God. This was not a lack of humility on their part; it was obedience to an unseen God in whom they firmly believed. At least in their story, there was a point to be made. The king lost his best soldiers trying to throw the Hebrews into the furnace. But the Hebrews walked among the flames, only their ropes burning off. They were undamaged, and Nebuchadnezzar recognized the fourth man as the “Son of God”. Through their perseverance and dedication to obeying God, even to the point of certain death, the entire Babylonian kingdom heard about the God of Israel.

At the end of time, the world becomes divided into two camps; those who serve the invisible God of the Bible in whom they have come to trust with their very lives; and those who do what is expedient to survive, possibly even claiming to worship God, but never letting God affect their hearts or lives in a meaningful way. John (favored disciple of Christ) through his revelations sums it up this way … “let he is holy be holy still. And let he who is unholy be unholy still.” These have long been the scariest words in all of scripture for me personally. They represent a paradox I have been unable to get my mind around.

The closer I get to God, the more wicked I realize I am. To actually achieve holiness is to allow Christ to change the entirety of my life, but the ability to recognize this work has taken place is not something we will have any training in. None of us have yet reached perfection, yet those who remain alive to see Christ coming in the clouds will stand in that day without a shield between them and God. And so the source of our pain, the thorn in our shoes, the greatest worry to occupy the mind of a Christian will not be our physical fate, our lack of food, our horrific surroundings, perhaps even the fates of those we had come to love who have not made the choices to follow God. Our greatest concern will be inward, have we truly let go of the sin we have clung to our entire lives? Or are we merely denied acting on our sinful natures by the conditions around us? Are we in fact holy or merely deceiving ourselves as the wicked so often do? Our minds will search for un-confessed sins, but find none.

You see no one knows your evil better than you do. You can put on a mask for the world to see, for your family to see, in front of your church brethren. You can pretend to have a servant’s heart and mind, and seem to know your scriptures very well. But it is possible to remain unaffected by the saving grace of God as you continually refuse to allow Him to change the core of who you are, by daily forgetting to submit your will to Him first. When there is no more time for repentance, and achieving change through the power of His Holy Spirit which has been withdrawn from the earth; in that great day of Jacob’s trouble, will we be found wanting?

For years, I have known Adventists who bought property away from the cities. Some who have reported to have buried canned foods in caves in the mountains for “use” during the time of trouble. Those poor Christians, have missed the point of these prophesies entirely. God has already assured us that our physical safety will be protected (a thousand shall fall at thy left side, and ten thousand at thy right, but it will not come near you – says David in the Psalms). Our food and water will be sure as it was for Elijah who received each day’s meal from the Ravens bringing him bread in an otherwise famine filled land. I used to joke that my Raven will bring me pizza. The caves of the earth may indeed provide us shelter, or perhaps the jails and prisons of the land (where we may find the last few who truly need to hear the message we bring with us). But to place our emphasis on preparing for the last great troubles by trying to be physically secure is to doubt God, and to miss the point of preparation completely.

It is not our diet that needs adjusting, it is our character. It is not our homes in the cities than need to be abandoned it is our propensity to hold on to sin and refuse to let it go. It is our minds that need an overhaul not our vehicles. We do not need to bury food in the earth, we need to bury sin in the grave once and for all and find ourselves ahead of the curve when it comes to being Holy still. It is TOO easy to compromise our values and be pragmatic about what we believe and how we live it. We are trained cattle to march to whatever banner and directions we are given that keep us alive physically with no thought of the cost to our souls. Our compromises with evil are training us to compromise our eternal lives in the end of all things. We have so long indulged the idea of control that it has become a part of the fable we hold on to. It is long past time to relinquish control and let Christ do His saving work in minds and hearts of each of us.

Remember when the doctor tells you … “this is going to hurt.” The doctor is not being a Sadist, and does not enjoy inflicting pain for a living. Rather, the doctor administers to us what may hurt us in the form of a pinprick, or sometimes worse, because our greater good requires it. Our Lord gives us insight into these prophetic writings not to scare us as if we were the wicked to be punished in the end, but to keep us from becoming the wicked, to help us avoid the coming pain, and to help us focus on what is truly important. The time of Jacob’s trouble is fast approaching our world as it has been for the last 50 years. We are wandering towards it even now.

Even in the United States that has long been a beacon of religious freedom, currently there are well meaning Christians who would impose their own standards of morality upon the remainder of the country as the law of the land. They fear that Muslims are out to do the same, or Atheists, or worse. They fear that we have turned away from God as a nation and the only way to return to Him, is to make His laws our laws. But in this effort, they totally miss the mark. It is not our laws that need amending it is our hearts and minds. It is not even our actions that must change nearly so much as the motives that lay behind them; only Christ can offer us this freedom, and only when we allow Him to do so. While men continue to attempt to tell us what is right, we must learn to go to Him, and find it for ourselves. We must learn what it is like to be led of Christ, rather than of men; for men are bound to lead us into darkness as the time grows short.

We must learn to be like the 3 Hebrews of old. They did not attempt to enforce their beliefs on others, only to offer others the witness of their lives and if needed their deaths while obeying the commands of our God. They were human just like us, wanting, needing, loving the same way we do. But unlike us, they were willing to enter the grave following what they believed to be true, from the hands and writings of an unseen God, than to obey the dictates of the men in power in front of them. They did not bring spears and swords with them to fight the evil servants of the king. They offered no resistance to the mighty soldiers who bound them. Instead they let their words state the love in their hearts when they told the king, he need not give them another chance. They could only bow to their unseen God, and if that cost them their lives, so be it. This was a mark that Christ had been active in the hearts and minds of the 3 servants.

I wonder as our time of trials and testing begins, will we be so similarly minded? Will the effects of Christ changing our hearts be so evident in our thinking that we could not even consider the demands of men not to follow Him? Or will we find a life of compromise with evil now simply continues right through to the end, without even second thoughts that rational is not what God is looking for. He is looking for those who trust in Him no matter what life brings, no matter how the outcome looks to us, and to the end, even if it means the end of our mortal life on this planet. I hope He finds this in each of us …

Friday, September 17, 2010

Armageddon ...

What is Armageddon and why do you seem to only hear about it in the context of the “end of the world”? A singular text in Revelations chapter 16 verse 16 states … “and He gathered them together in a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” Mind you, this verse appears in the middle of a description of the last plagues to hit planet earth. So perhaps with all the rest of the destruction going on at the time, a war to be waged with the name Armageddon seems plausible. Some believe it has something to do with the rapture, but there is nothing in scripture to indicate this. Some believe it is a final battle between the forces of good and evil, but the actual final battle is described later in Revelations and ends with evil being deposited into the lake of fire. So why is this simple Hebrew name, the cause for such alarm within the Christian community?

Perhaps we fear most what we understand least. In my own study of Biblical prophecy I have encountered things that could be interpreted more than one way, and still hold to correctness. The letters to the seven churches in the first few chapters of Revelations for instance, or the seven candlesticks, are actual letters of advice to real people, in a real place, suffering from real problems. The churches in those locations needed the council they were given. But beyond the here and now, the churches also seem to represent periods defined in history where the prevailing attitude within the church matches the description in Revelations perfectly. Prophecy interpreted in its own day, and in ours, and relevant in both, a trademark of the God business.

So when I consider how to interpret prophecies surrounding so little mentioned a thing as Armageddon, I wonder if more than one interpretation could again be correct. Perhaps it is indeed the harbinger of a final earthly battle between forces in the Middle East. Traditional thinking places these forces as centered on support for the state of Israel and those who oppose its existence. But if this were true, then we would have already had 2 Armageddon’s since the state was first created. And in both instances Israel fought alone to defend itself, winning huge land territory in the process. Besides, God has shown little interest in insuring the continuing land rights of the Jewish people over the years. They have been scattered to the four corners of the earth, since before Christ even came the first time. And not much has really changed since Abraham himself was a wanderer searching for home.

So if Armageddon is a human conflict perhaps the location and politics of pro or anti-Israel is only a catalyst to launch a far greater war for control over the planet. Perhaps this is a war designed to promote one form of government over another – say democracy over totalitarianism. But if that were true, Israel’s involvement does not aid the cause. And presently China or North Korea would seem to pose a much greater threat to democracy’s quest for dominance than any mid-eastern nation state. A religious war perhaps; but then Islam against Christianity could hardly be described as a world ending event. In theory we serve the same Father God, and the Quran talks very highly about Christ. So having Muslims launch this would make less sense.

The more plausible argument I have heard about Armageddon is that it is a spiritual warfare between God and Satan, or perhaps between those who refuse to abandon the God of the Bible and those who have chosen to worship the false Christ you can see and touch (Satan as an angel of light). But even this conflict would appear vastly one sided. The Bible refers to the group who hold on to God despite everything, as the “remnant” or “all that remains.” The wicked would so vastly outnumber the righteous who carry a motto of non-violence; it would not be a war, it would be a slaughter. This too seems less likely.

I believe the reason why Armageddon has played so prominently in Christian interpretations of prophecy is that due to its limited context, it can be used to justify anything. Christians make the mistake of applying current world events to their limited understanding of scripture of the topic of Armageddon. Consequently they adjust it to fit whatever is going on right here and right now. In short, Armageddon means whatever world event is most threatening to our way of life. In the 1940’s we could have called it Hitler’s ideas. In the late 60’s and early 70’s we could have called it Vietnam. Harder to figure when the wall comes down and communism fails. The fundamental problem with this approach is trying to shoehorn the Bible to fit the news, instead the other way around. It is more an approach of telling the setting what is being said, rather than listening to God to see if any current events fit the texts and moving on from there.

Perhaps Armageddon should be studied more as a location, or to be pluralistic, a state of mind. Perhaps God allows men to follow their own wisdom (i.e. folly) to such a degree that only a worldwide plague such as the Earthquakes that follow, and the catastrophic extreme hail that follows that, would be enough to convince the survivors that God does exist after all. The anti-Christ can do nothing to save the people from the wrath of God in these plagues. He must therefore assume ownership of them, and continue to report that they will persist until all the hold-outs who cling to the Bible have been killed. Perhaps Armageddon is the only habitable place left in the area where men of any kind could gather after the catastrophes that befall the earth prior to this. Perhaps men entrenched in their own mistaken ideology are led to this place to witness what is yet to come.

In any case, I see so little scripture on the topic of Armageddon as illustrating its relative importance to us. Little data equals little effort expended to interpret. I believe our thoughts will be occupied by something even more frightening to us than our physical survival in these last times. Perhaps we should channel fear into something that is legitimate to worry about, so that we can fix our problems, rather than simply propagate fear tied to a term in a singular text, in a rough section of the scriptures.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The 144,000 ...

There is a final prophecy that occurs at the end of time that sparks much interest and debate. It is a description of precisely 144,000 of God’s servants who are special in some way. Given the cryptic nature of this prophesy much discussion, study, and theorizing has occurred as to what its fulfillment might look like. Ever wonder if you could be a part of this special group of God’s servants? What would it take? In times past in the Bible, the biggest criterion for selection by God, was willingness to be selected. I wonder if it will be so again, or if this special reward will be granted based on another type of criterion.

References to the 144,000 can be found in Revelations chapter 7 and again in chapter 14. In both instances the 144,000 are seen in heaven surrounding the throne of God. Some of the verses describe their work as never ceasing, always close to God, able to sing a song only they are allowed to learn. The composition of the 144,000 includes 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We might have interpreted from this that they were 144,000 literal Jews who served God throughout Old Testament times, but later verses describe them as have had victory over the beast, faith in Jesus, and commandment keepers. They are further described as “virgins” having not been defiled with “other women”. Perhaps this means they were born into serving Christ, and have never served any other God than He in their entire lives (this view based on women often representing a church in the book of Revelations). There is no guile in them and they walk blameless before God. As all of us have sinned, perhaps this might refer more to our teachings about God being more accurate and less mixed with error than those we find around us.

The first references to the 144,000 is made as God tells the 4 angels holding back the winds of strife to hold on a bit longer until the 144,000 can be sealed. This would imply they are alive and well at the end of time, waiting to be permanently marked of God for His service. If so, I hope to be among them. But perhaps I have not thought that through completely  I base my desire to be in that number on a singular belief I hold; proximity is everything. Remember when you were a small child and were uncertain of the world around you. At times like those if you could see your parents around you, perhaps down the hall, or in the next room, your comfort level increased. You knew that even if they were not immediately at your side, they could be in seconds should the need arise. That made you feel good. Now take that feeling and amplify it a trillion times. Imagine what it would have been like to hear the words of Christ from His own mouth while He was here on earth. This is why the disciples argued over who would be closest to Him (apart from their own pride), being close to Christ was always the most enviable position.

Mary Magdalene had no issue hanging out at His feet. Let’s face it Christ was in human form, and human feet that walk long distances over rough terrain in nothing but leather sandals are not going to look or smell too good. This is why the practice of washing feet is still considered an ordinance of humility. One must humble themselves, to take on the service of such a dirty job for someone else they know. But in Mary’s world, Christ’s feet were more than enough – anything to be close to the Savior, even the less savory parts. Another woman who suffered of a lifelong disease felt the same way, she did not dare to even speak to ask for healing believing she need only touch the hem of His garment and she would be healed; and so she was. Being close to Jesus was life altering.

Now here we have a picture of the very throne of God Himself, where 144,000 people are selected and sealed to serve Him throughout all eternity, ever at His throne. They do not need sleep. They do not need food or water. They exist on serving Him, and doing as He asks. This is the highest ambition of any citizen of Heaven is to be able to do the will of God as He requests. To be useful in His purposes, to be needed, to be asked; this is the highest hallmark of service everyone there can ascribe to. And for 144,000 blessed individuals this is their life’s calling. I wonder if any of us can truly grasp the significance of this opportunity while still living under the curse of sin, in our current gloomy, self-centered world?

In heaven this kind of proximity to God on a full time basis is like icing on the cake. But in our world, we still pause to consider what full-time service to God might deny us from experiencing on our own. Being honest, we think about flying from world to world, talking with past Patriarchs like Moses and Noah, and Abraham. We think about eating fantastic fruit from the tree of life, and swimming or skiing in the river of life. We dream of petting animals that on earth would easily eat us, and wonder what our homes or mansions will be like. We fantasize about romantic relationships with a spouse from earth that can now be lived in the perfection of heaven. If we served God full time, would we still get to experience all that, or would it go away. More to the point, would we value in heaven what we think we value while still here in this condition. Or like the gold that is used as concrete in heaven, would all our earthly aspirations of heaven fade away in 10 minutes when placed against the prospect of being close to God forever.

Perhaps our minds are still clouded by the fog of our sin. Perhaps we have yet to learn that doing the will of God is the ultimate prize in any life including this one. This world does not make it easy to know what God’s will is for us while here on earth. It is clouded in the ambiguity of our iniquity, the fog of our sin, our selfish nature at war with His will. At least in heaven we can ask Him that question directly. But for me, I am taken back to when I was very very young, and quite content to play with my toys under the chair of my mother. I was fine and happy there knowing she was sitting directly above me. If I am so blessed, I hope to play with my toys under the throne of God Himself, fully contented to know He is sitting directly above me. Hoping to get some snuggle time in His lap if that is not asking too much. For despite being an adult, I recognize my infancy when confronted with the awe and majesty of the creator of ALL worlds. In the presence of the Father God, I am taken back to being two years old, hoping for His affection, and content to be close to Him in the same room, under His chair if needs-be. After all, I know He will be busy working above me, and I can’t figure to interrupt Him too often with my demands for attention.

I think we underestimate what being close to the source of ALL love might do to us. We have experienced love here only in such a limited capacity, sometimes afraid to embrace it fully for fear that an imperfect world will wound us greatly for showing a vulnerable side to another person. But when risk is gone and when perfection reigns, will our freedom to love without hesitation or limitation bring our entire existence to a new plain of consciousness? What will it do to the human mind and soul to be only feet away from the source of infinite love? Will it be like standing near the reverse of a black-hole instead of pulling light in, it shines light and love outward with equal force, or perhaps even greater force. Could our transient frames even expect to hold up in such close proximity to the source of all power, all love, and all grace?

The texts describe God as wiping away the tears of their eyes. I will need this. My unworthiness to even be saved is beyond comprehension. But to be rewarded as one of the 144,000 is a reward well above my pay-grade. I should be content to live in a rat hole along the south wall of heaven itself, locked in isolation after the life and deeds I have done. But to stand with the select few, is too great a reward for me. The level of love that would even consider this is too much for even a perfect being to comprehend. It would break me. It would break the perfect heart He created in me, even in the perfection of heaven. To be so undeserving and yet so rewarded would require constant wiping away of tears from my eyes. To daily witness the Lord and my God His Father, and to know the pain I caused them from my selfishness while in this life – this would cause me immense embarrassment, shame, and pain in my now perfected heart. An addict may not be fully accountable for the nature of his disease, but he remains fully aware of his actions while under its influence. My sin would haunt me for eternity, if God did not remove it from my memory. I believe this final gift of healing will be required to maintain sanity in the face of such love.

Then there is the work to consider. What will the 144,000 do that keeps them so busy? Will it require travel away from the immediate presence of God? Will we assist in the creation of new worlds and new life? Will we be a part of some sort of governmental or bureaucratic committee to take care of the ins and outs of running a multidimensional set of universes? I believe our minds are presently too limited to begin to guess at what He would have us to do. But to do the work of service will remain our reward for eternity. In this I am confident.

For those of us who do not merit inclusion in the 144,000 – God’s love for us will be no less. I imagine we will all find work, purpose, and fulfillment in our existence in the perfection of heaven. To simply experience fully the relief from slavery to sin will be reward enough for me. To be saved, once and for all time, to be made perfect by His grace – this is my highest ambition. Should I be fortunate enough to be selected to be within the 144,000 I will magnify His name for yet another of His gifts. But should I not merit inclusion in this number, I have equal confidence in His love and ability to save me, from me. And for this alone I can be eternally grateful.

Friday, September 3, 2010

On Pain of Death ...

The biggest difference between God and Satan is that God refuses to compel the conscience of man, or control his mind and heart – whereas Satan would gladly enslave both. God is love, and love must be freely given or you cannot call it love. For us to truly love God we must be free to choose to love Him, or free to choose against Him. The choice must truly be ours, if God were to control it in any way, the result could no longer be called love. Satan on the other hand, is much less interested in love and free will; he is interested only in power and control. He is constrained by our free will as God will not let him subvert it without our consent. But Satan is not interested in preserving our free will; he is far more willing to threaten us with death if we do not do things his way. While the consequences of embracing evil always do lead to death, Satan is willing to hurry the process along should we find ourselves in disagreement with him. This is why in the unseen war all around us, angels of light are sent to guard each human being, to preserve their right to choose, even if that choice is against the very being who sent the guardian to preserve their ability to make that decision. Ironic. We spit in the face of God, yet He preserves our ability to choose to do so. What other deity ever claimed to do that?

At the end of time, the Holy Spirit will be poured out in great measure to reap a final harvest of souls who are seeking to follow God. But then He will withdraw His presence from the earth allowing what was bound to become loosed before the return of Jesus. Satan eagerly awaits this day, the day He is given more ability to enforce his will upon mankind without constraint by our loving God. And death too, it seems is eagerly awaiting this day as well, as you can bet death will be the predominant news story in every corner of the globe. The day for Satan’s ability to enforce his will on the conscience of man will have arrived.

While Satan will not be able to possess the righteous and force them to do as he wishes, he will be able to surround the righteous with his followers who are eager to do his bidding. Human agents will take on the work of Satan with great vigor, believing they do the work of the almighty God himself. Forgetting that God never compels the conscience of men, eager servants of the evil one, will use the name of Christianity in efforts to enforce worship to Satan on pain of death. And they will have many allies who effectively attempt the same thing. For instance, there are many totalitarian governments on planet earth who deny the existence of God altogether. They tell their citizens they are not allowed to believe and worship the true God, or they will be imprisoned for it. At the end of time, the punishment will be universally raised to killing the non-compliant. The Catholic popes have for years told their parishioners to follow the edicts and traditions of men and the church over what the plain word of the gospel directs them to do. Compelling the conscience is not a new phenomenon, even inside of Christianity. But it is the hallmark of the evil one.

But why shoot us, if starving us is cheaper? And so the only way to earn a living, to buy or sell anything, will require receiving the mark of the beast himself. This mark may be in the form of a physical tattoo, a scar, or merely the symbolic agreement (in the mind) with evil, or taking up the actions of evil (in the hands) to do the will of Satan. But without the mark, those who believe will be placed in a position to starve. It will be easy to get the mark, one need only verbally swear to agree NOT to follow the God of the Bible, but to do as men, or Satan, or the Pope, or whoever else says to do. The idea is simple, deny the real God, and receive the mark that allows you to live as you did before (stuck in your sin, without hope, if we were being technical).

Satan’s ultimate idea of punishing God for the death of evil he is sure to experience, is to have no one on planet earth waiting for God to return to save. Before you start thinking that should be nearly impossible, remember that ONLY Noah was saved in the ark with his family. No-one else on the planet believed, or was saved. If Satan could pull off this feat again, he might make God delay or cancel coming back at all. But there will remain a stubborn few who simply will not give up their Bibles and do as the men around them command them to do. Despite the apparent starving solution, the faithful refuse to let go of their true God and will not embrace the earthly alternatives including Satan in the form of Christ. This all but infuriates the evil one; particularly when birds seem to be flying to the caves of the earth with food for those who hide there from his evil presence. I guess the righteous won’t be starving after all.

Controlling commerce does more than just provide a method of punishing those who refuse to give up their faith. It provides a way to control the rich, the powerful, those who up until now have known no fear more than losing what they have. With the beast in full control of the events of the world, short a few, he takes many liberties in establishing his course to war with God. “The dragon was wroth with the woman” … it says in Revelations … “and he went to make war with the remnant of her seed.” Satan has no illusions that war with believers is coming. He is well prepared and plans to win. He intends to use every device against us. Not just the power-plays of obey or die, but the subtle ones like he used with Adam – “can you really imagine life without your loved one who agrees with me?” Any manner to compel the conscience, force a version of morality the individual would not normally accept,

Christians still seem not to have learned the lesson Christ tried to teach them with the analogy of the splinter in your neighbor’s eye, and the beam or log in your own eye. While it makes perfect sense to most believers that Satan will try to compel the conscience at the end of time to worship him, his way or else. They do not see that participation in groups like the “Tea Party”, or attempting to take over the “Republican Party” in order to bring “God” back to America is exactly the same work Satan himself will take over when he is given more power at the end of all things. God does NOT compel the conscience. It is why when Christ was here, he never made any moves to become part of the government in order to make His will the law. He invites us to listen, does not force us to. He lures us with love, does not compel us with control, even though He is able to do so. Those who do not yet believe in Christ are supposed to be free to make that decision. It is the very will of God that they have the freedom to choose against God. Humans trying to force other humans to give up evil and embrace love by force; are the perfect recruits for Satan when he begins his unholy, unrestrained final efforts to control us all.

If we lived lives of love, dedicated to serving others ahead of ourselves, we would not have time for the folly of trying to control the minds of others through the power of the state. In fact, we would gladly return to our true Christian heritage keeping the state completely away from our religious beliefs and thinking. Better for Christians to be governed by Atheists who believe in nothing, than to be ruled by fellow Christians intent on enforcing “the will of God”. Love can never be achieved by force. This principle can be used as a dividing rod at the end of time, to sort out the fake claims of divinity, from the real ones. When God heals someone, he does it in love, asks nothing in return, and looks only to the best interest of the person He is healing. When Satan heals someone, he is looking to make headlines in the news, increase his influence or control of a person, and intends to use the healed person for his own tasks. Where God is about love and service, even to us; Satan is about nothing but power and control over us. The mark of serving Satan will come in the form of trying to compel the conscience of another human, this effort itself is the work of the beast. And it has already begun. Will we walk in it, or away from it.

I hope when push comes down to shove, we choose to worship the God of the Bible who we cannot see, but has taught us what love is – than the imposters all around us who believe they know better than we do what “god” wants us to do. The Bible we take so much for granted now, may become a collector’s item in the not too distant future. I hope He leads us deep into truth before that day comes, for only through His strength can we hope to remain standing for the real God.