Parallel Nations, IV

As we continue the final submission for the Parallel Nations series, we will take a closer look at how Israel ended up in Idolatry. In I King 3:3, Solomon worshiped the Lord according to how his father, King David taught him, but he also offered sacrifices and burnt offerings to the high places, meaning he practiced idolatry.  In I King 9:6-9, The Lord gave a warning to King Solomon of what would happen if King Solomon and the people of Israel worshiped other gods, which is to practice idolatry. I Kings 11:1-11, gives’ a detailed account of what Solomon did to cause the Lord to be angry with him and the nation of Israel. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Over his 40 year reign as King, Solomon gradually turned his heart away from God in favor of worshiping the idols introduced by his many foreign wives. As Solomon grew older, he built alters for his foreign wives and sacrificed to other gods in the custom of his foreign wives respective religions.

Because of King Solomon’s betrayal to God, God made a promise that he would take the kingdom away from the house of David, all except one tribe for David’s name sake in the time of Solomon’s son. As God said, Solomon’s son, Jeroboam became king, but only the house of Judah followed him. Solomon’s other son Rehoboam became king over the rest of Israel. Both Jeroboam and Rehoboam also worshiped idols and did evil in God’s eyes. God further cursed Israel because of this and took His protection away from Israel. As a result, Israel had war and unrest from its neighbors during the days of the kings that followed. However, their idolatry continued and even became worse. Israel was eventually captured by Assyria (later to become part of Babylonia) and taken as slaves. However, the house of Judah was the Lord’s remnant in remembrance of David.  But eventually, the house of Judah also did evil and worshiped other gods. At one point, they were sacrificing their children to false gods. This made God very angry. Finally, Babylon conquered the house of Judah and later took its people into exile (2 Kings 24).

 After about 70 years in captivity, the Lord laid it on the Persian King Cyrus heart to let the people of Jerusalem go back to rebuild their city and their temple[i].  A few years later, under the reign of King Artaxerxes, (the same King who was married to Esther) released Ezra the prophet who returned to Jerusalem with additional Israelites (Ezra 7).

During the time the first Israelites went back to Jerusalem, some had mingled with the neighboring countries and took foreign wives. Ezra knowing how God’s people got themselves into captivity was very concerned about the people of Israel falling back into idolatry. Because of the idol worshipping of Solomon and his wives, the gateway was opened for demonic influence which will always pull in the opposite direction of God.

Fortunately, it was the will of the people to follow God’s law. They knew it was necessary to close the gateways to demonic influence if they were to stay in favor with God. So the people made the hard decision to divorce their foreign wives.  As the story goes, all of the people were sitting in the rain as it was the rainy season. The people recognized that the separation process was going to take longer than a day. For even in matters of sin, it is not always so quick and easy to remove oneself from its influence. The process of divorce and sending the foreign wives back to their perspective countries took about 3 months (Ezra 10).

Our process of divorce today is not necessarily literal, but symbolic in that we have to divorce ourselves from those things in our lives that open gateways to demonic influences. We must separate ourselves from the world system in such a way as to close those gateways. The most obvious are drugs and pornography. Less obvious but just as potent, is music, television, and our relationships. But it can be anything that comes between us and the Lord.

The number one relationship in our lives is to be with the Godhead, (The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Even spouses and children come after. Understand we are a people meant to be in relationship with one another. But the relationships also must be submitted under God.

Even as Christians, we have many idols and as a result, the gateway to the demonic opened wide enough to give strength to the anti-Christ. As in the Matrix (see Parallel Nations III), the computers used humans as power and it made them stronger. When we engage in idolatry, it makes the anti-Christ stronger.

As a result, the anti-Christ spirit is very strong in the United States even among Christians. But if we’re shackled by idolatry, it is likely that the spirit will not be recognized. A former smoker is more aware of the smell smoke after he has kicked the habit. Like-wise, closing the gateways in our lives will increase the ability to discern the demonic influences.

As a nation, we are following the same path as Babylon. As Christian’s, we are following the same path as the people of Israel. Judgment on the United States has already begun. But the Lord protected a remnant of His people who remained faithful to Him. He will also protect His Church. This does not mean that we will not feel the turmoil going on around us. But we can rest in the fact that God is with us and He will not forsake His people. We must be ready and put ourselves in the right position with Him and learn to not only hear His voice, but to follow what He is telling us to do in these precious last days of the United States being a dominate empire.

[i] At this point, Babylon had been defeated by Persia.

Parallel Nations, III

The movie, The Matrix is a futuristic movie that depicts computers taking over humankind using humans as a source of power. Only humans have no idea that they are being held captive. They live in a delusion that everything in their life is normal and as it should be. However, the character Neo senses that there’s something more to his life. Morpheus, who knows the truth, connects with Neo who is hungry for the truth. When Neo asks Morpheus, “What is the Matrix?” Morpheus answers, “I can’t tell you, I can only show you.” He then gives Neal a choice to take the blue pill or the red pill. The red pill will show Neo the truth by disconnecting him from the Matrix. The blue pill will allow him to go on with his life as before.

What was interesting to me is the time it took Neo to recuperate and acclimate himself to his new real world. He looked different, and his senses were different. In many ways he had to learn to adjust to what he now knew was real. In time, he learned how to maneuver through the Matrix, no longer a captive. However, he also became quickly aware of how dangerous it could be because agents were aggressively seeking to stop those who knew the truth.

As for Christians, before we can be free of the world system, we must first be able to identify what the world system is. But if we were born into bondage, this can be difficult because we do not necessarily know what it is to be free; we have to be shown. God puts in us a spiritual compass, and we instinctively know when something in our lives is not right. He will use the compass to point us in the right ‘spiritual’ direction so that our perception will adjust to see the truth. Like looking through binoculars and adjusting the lenses to get a clearer picture. Like in the movie, The Matrix, we also have to learn to adjust to our new reality of living as God intended and we have to learn how to maneuver through the world system without allowing it to take us captive again.

What comprises the world system? The world system is our economic system, our banking system, credit systems, local and federal governments, financial systems, and cultural and religious traditions.

In our economic system in the United States, currency is used as a means of exchange for goods and services. In other words, money is needed for virtually any type of trade that’s done in this country. For example, if we are in need of electricity, we could not barter with the electronic company to receive electric service in exchange for mowing the lawn every week. That’s not to say that bartering does not happen. But by law, any exchange that does not include money must still be valued as if money did change hands.

Capitalism is a world system. We call it free trade but the end result became a few large corporations controlling the lion share of what we use in everyday service. Oil companies are one obvious example. As our society moved from agricultural to industrial society, a migration took place from rural communities to the cities. In the cities, we depend on the infrastructure to take care of many of our basic needs such as water, sewage and other utilities. We even depend on our local grocery stores for food. Money is needed to purchase groceries to feed our families. In our larger cities, there is little room to grow a garden that could help feed our families. Or, if there is room, often there is no time to tend the garden or to develop the skill set needed for gardening. Paying for utilities and making a weekly trip to the grocery store is not necessarily a bad thing. But I mention it to illustrate how dependant we are on the world system.

Our financial system which is also tied into our economic system also has us dependant. We are enticed to obtain loans for our homes, cars, student loans, and credit cards. The ease of obtaining loans has taught us that immediate gratification is OK. We are not encouraged to save for our major purchases. So we are baited and then locked into the financial system. We are inundated with messages that say to watch our credit and how important our credit is to living the ‘good life’. In many cases, such as purchasing a home, renting, or applying for employment, we are summarily judged based on our credit score number. Fear tactics are also used to keep us locked into the system. It is scary to imagine that because of a credit score, a person would not be able to find a place to live or obtain a job.

Our culture can also serve to limit us. Our society likes to lock people into specific categories for political, social or religious reasons. But we do it to ourselves as well. All ethnic groups to one extent or another participate in stereo typical behavior regardless of if we are Irish, African American, Asian American, Mexican American, or American Indian or any other ethnic group. Often times there are pressures to act or respond a certain way based on our ethnicity and culture. Traditions within our cultures can sometimes dominate our lives suffocating our free-will.

Religious traditions will also do the same. Often, Christians think that being involved in their church is escaping the world system. But religious institutions are very much a part of the world system. This is not to say that there aren’t good local churches. But church government and structure is of the world system. To say that the structure is biblical would not be correct because the church of the bible operated within peoples’ homes. The true definition of ‘Church’ is the body of Christ. We, as Christians make up the Church. It has nothing to do with a specific building or religious denomination.

The world systems are not necessarily bad, but it leaves a lot of opportunity for idolatry. If the world system such as the credit system can keep us in fear to maintain a good credit score or keep us trying to keep up with the Jones’, then our focus is not on God, but on the idol or on ourselves.

I once had a Pastor who loved cars and was good at making car deals. He would purchase a new car every year. His focus was on obtaining his dream car, a hummer of which he did achieve. His response when questioned was that he worked, so he could get whatever he wanted. But God wants us to humbly submit to Him. That includes all of our wants and desires. How can we carry out God’s will on earth if we are constantly concerned about our own will?

The Pastor’s love for cars became an idol to him. He did not put God first; he put his love for cars before the will of God. What’s most important about this story is that the Pastor’s actions opened the door for demonic influence not only in the life of his family but also the congregation.

Idolatry is a gateway for the demonic to enter into a person’s life and gives strength to the anti-Christ spirit. This is how we become captive. Most of the time, we don’t realize that we have been caught up in a web of deception. The world system today has many open gateways that have allowed the anti-Christ to gain strength. The machines in The Matrix needed humans for power. The anti-Christ spirit needs for us to fall into idolatry as this gives the anti-Christ more power and influence within the world system and within our lives. The enticements are all around us. Advertising is a strong tool used to draw us in. But as we learn to keep our eyes on God and as we humble ourselves before God, we will learn to see not only the shackles that hold us captive, but the gateways in our lives that can lead us back into idolatry.