Wednesday, September 30, 2020

“The Return” – To WHAT?

A Bait & Switch Revival?

 

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure,
having this seal,
The Lord knoweth them that are His.
And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ
depart from iniquity.”

(2 Timothy 2:19) 

 

(Exhibit)

By Sarah H. Leslie

America the nation is in a state of crisis. Violence and chaos erupts in the streets, pestilence swarms from coast to coast, fires are raging in the West, and bullying threats are ruining lives on mainstream media and social media. The church that is located in America is bogged down by its flagrant sins, especially by indulging in heresies and sexual immoralities. Freedom hangs by a thread. The right to life may never be so precarious. Truth is scarce, and the courage of godly men to speak out the Truth of the Gospel is even more rare. Those who do cry out run the risk of being “cancelled” by social media or censored by high tech. It is without dispute that the times are indeed dire. It is also very evident that this is a time when each individual should seek the Lord in contrition and repentance. The saving Gospel of Jesus Christ is our only hope. 

So into this tumultuous time of judgment two men arose this past weekend to call for prayer and repentance at our nation’s capital. Fervent prayer and sincere repentance are needed. But both of these men’s calls were based on “identificational repentance,”[1] the concocted doctrine that people can corporately confess the sins of their ancestors, each other, or their nations. Further, the messages by these men contained a serious omission. What was left out? We believe that repentance and revival cannot be achieved without a return to God’s Word as our sole and final authority over our lives. 

 

One of the men, Jonathan Cahn, called his event “The Return.” On Saturday September 26th on a simulcast broadcast around the globe, he staged a high profile event at the foot of the Washington Monument. Cahn openly claims to be a prophet of both the Old and New Testament type. He represented both Israel and the United States in a shared spiritual destiny. He proclaimed that America the nation can be saved if the church-at-large located in the land of America will “return” and repent. His event featured the following list of Who’s Who, many of them names prominent “apostles” and “prophets” in the New Apostolic Reformation. We have previously written articles about many of these names below: 

https://www.thereturn.org/live-event/

Concurrently, across the Washington Mall Franklin Graham, esteemed son of the late Billy Graham, also held a prayer revival event. He likewise proclaimed that America is a Christian nation.[2] He stood amidst an ecumenical hodgepodge of prominent leaders, some of whom also attended Cahn’s event. On his Facebook page afterwards (9/27/20) Graham thanked these leaders: 

“Thank you to Dr. Alveda King, Tony Perkins, Darryl Strawberry, Pastor Skip Heitzig, Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., Pastor Greg Laurie, Pastor Robert Morris, Pastor Paula White-Cain, Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Pastor Jack Graham, former Representative Michele Bachmann, Pastor Andrew Brunson, Congressman Frank Wolf, Jerry Prevo, Dr. Kelvin Cochran, Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer, Lt. Col Oliver North, my son Lt. Col. Edward Graham, and my sister Anne Graham Lotz who led us in prayer at seven stops along the route of the Prayer March.” 

 

 Cahn’s Bait & $witch 

Cahn’s “The Return” event may have been a high-scale marketing ploy to launch his latest new book, The Harbinger II, which continues on with his “prophecies” concerning America. The theme of Cahn’s “prophecies” merge Old Testament prophecies blending Israel with those of America. This is based on the classic Christian Right (Dominionist) mantra that “America is a Christian nation.” To this claim Cahn typically includes the addition of Old Testament prophecies about Israel, potent occult mysticism derived from visions, fictional narratives, occult lore, numerology, and other unbiblical sources. His theology matches up precisely with that of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), particularly his eschatology. 

We have written extensively about Rabbi Cahn. See especially our most recent article (9/21/19) by Gaylene Goodroad titled “The Oracle of Cahn.”  And for those who want more background information on the “prophet” Cahn regarding specifically “The Return” we refer the reader to Marsha West’s detailed recent article “The Return—Jonathan Cahn’s Upcoming Prayer Event Produced by Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.”  She sums it up with: 

“Let me cut to the chase. Prophet Rabbi Cahn’s books are not built on a solid biblical foundation. He has a mystical approach to interpreting Scripture. When you do the research you will discover that Jonathan Cahn is a false prophet. People say that about him because none of his prophecies have come to pass. Not one.” 

The question needs to be asked – what is meant by “The Return”? Since we do not have an early review copy of Cahn's book we can surmise that “return” means “repentance,” i.e., turning back to God because this is what he said in his remarks at 11 AM at his rally. And many in attendance at both Washington D.C. events seemed to sincerely desire to return to the Lord and repent. 

However, Cahn's term “the return” may also have embedded mystical meaning given his proclivities to employ extrabiblical esoteric sources. We are uncomfortably suspicious he may mean the return of a “presence”. In fact, the symbolism employed by Cahn is overtly freemasonic. Not only was his event staged at the foot of the nation’s foremost obelisk structure, The Washington Monument, but the “arrow” in his graphic letter “R” is obviously phallic. 


The scenery he employed for advertising “The Return” also includes a star arising over a networked earth. This image is indicative of the masonic belief that Lucifer (Sol) is returning to Gaia (the Earth) in a culmination of terrestrial ecstasy, creating a “new man” for a networked new world order.[3] Cahn’s use of this typology may indicate that the NAR’s planned second Pentecost with its “presence” theology is now openly connecting with the New Age idea of a cosmic consciousness. New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard's “christ” channeled in her book The Revelation, saying: 

“At the moment of cosmic contact, I will appear to you both through inner experience and through external communication in your mass media—the nervous system of the world. You will all feel, hear, and see my presence at one instant in time, each in your own way.”[5]

The Real Return 

Real revival results in marked transformation evidenced in changed real lives.(Romans 12:1-2) It cannot happen without a return by each individual Christian, and the church, wholly to the Word of God – the inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures: 

“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
(Hebrews 4:12) 

The past decades in the greater evangelical world have been ridden with subversion of this Word by corrupting the text, adding in man-made philosophies, and denying its inspiration. Further, an “existentialism” has taken hold, which teaches that people need only “believe” the nice Bible stories and “feel good” about themselves. Some believe that the Word of God is not necessarily real nor true. This sort of mythological narrative view of Scripture has permitted the church to avoid obedience to the Word. Consider this one key fact and ask – how many doctrines that were preached fifty years ago are no longer taught nor practiced in the church today? How many doctrines have been compromised by “felt needs” or “circumstances”? It is clear that any real return would be to “the foundation of repentance from dead works” (Heb. 6:1). To do such a thing in this day and age is to guarantee social bullying and ostracization. The “fear of man” (Prov. 29:25) is indeed the largest impediment to actually taking the radical steps to repent of one’s sins. 

Repentance can only occur by applying the light of Scripture to the darkest places in our heart, and returning in real time, in real life to God wholeheartedly. Are the Scriptures the unique and supreme rule of faith and conduct in your life? Is God’s Word absolute? Is the Scripture still the law which governs your thoughts and acts? Can you submit to God’s Word or are attempting to make your interpretation of Scripture submit to your lusts, desires, opinions, and lifestyles? Has your gospel become truncated and twisted, acclimating itself to your comforts? If so, you have “left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). 

Cahn acting as the prophet Jeremiah (Exhibit)
  

Personal Testimony 

I was a hippie, saved by God’s grace 49 years ago from a horrible occult and immoral lifestyle. When I was born again during my first year in college I found myself in the Jesus Movement. I experienced it as a real revival. It was only later in my life that I realized to my surprise that people on the West Coast linked the Jesus Movement to Christian rock ‘n roll and Calvary Chapel. The Midwest experience was somewhat different. It was part of the spontaneous outpouring of God’s salvific grace upon a young generation of postmodern infidels who had been raised in dry dead Protestant churches. We hippies had outrageously sinned by abandoning all restraint and authority, and by indulging ourselves in lusts, the occult and eastern mysticism.[6]

I can assert that God’s Word was what we clung to when Satan ravaged our thoughts and attacked our newfound biblical beliefs. It was God’s Word that brought conviction to our hearts – so scouring that sometimes we would be weeping flat on our faces on the floor before God. It was God’s Word that illuminated our brains damaged by drugs and eastern meditation. By His Word we were set free into His true Light and true Peace. 

It was God’s Word that pointed out the narrow path to us. Each day as we would read and study the Scriptures we would become convicted of the ugly sins which we had so promiscuously pursued. We would earnestly pray for God’s forgiveness as we became to recognize the depths of our sinful condition. For some of us it took years of studying the Word to walk out of our old life into newness of life, to align our mind to God’s Word, and to abandon our old ways. During this time of real revival we experienced real miracles, healings, deliverances, and sometimes God’s amazing protection from harm. We openly shared our Good News with others, but sometimes we experienced rejections and alienation from family members. There was a genuine joy in evidence as we were refreshingly cleansed by the shed blood of Jesus from our sins. 

Those of us oldtimers, who have now survived lo these many long decades, have only done so by God’s grace. Along the way there are many abandoned carcasses of once faithful saints who left the narrow path. Some even died in their sins. At first the biggest temptation was to return back into old lustful sins of the flesh. Another temptation was to substitute a psychological “inner voice” for God’s Word. Later temptations involved “shunning to declare the whole counsel of God’s Word” (Acts 20:27). Many of us who had been in the Jesus Movement were lured into the Latter Rain cult beliefs (that later became the NAR) because it promised us the signs and wonders that we longed for, like that which we had once experienced as new believers. But some of us grew wary when it came without the solid doctrinal foundation of the whole counsel of God's Word. 

Over the past five decades the authority of God’s Word has been denigrated. To a generation that had originally rejected authority this has always been a prime temptation. The gospel of easy-believism came in like a flood. Under the onslaught of shattered lives and broken families, and changing societal mores, certain doctrines began to be neglected and the church eventually became altogether silent about them. 

Many ministers no longer carefully guard their associations with those leaders who have been concocting new doctrines or corrupting old ones. In fact, they brazenly share the stage with such men! Essential key doctrines rapidly became both corroded and eroded by exposure to these popular men’s worldly philosophies. Of course there has been a tremendous financial profit to be had by all who compromise with the new books, conferences and organizations filled with the new teachings that always push beyond the boundary of orthodox theology. Those of us who have sounded warnings about this semantic theological revisionism found ourselves blacklisted and “cancelled” by mainstream evangelical media and publishing arms beginning in the early 1990s. 

God’s Word has been systemically chopped off at its root and a New Age trunk to the evangelical tree is forming. There has been widespread pretending that it is all being grafted in because of new enlightenment – “new understandings” or “new revelations” about God's Word. This is a slide backwards into postmodernism. Some of us recognized this as the very sort of faulty church foundation that we fled from in decaying Protestantism to become new believers. 

(Exhibit)

Experiential Esotericism

Cahn is the latest champion in a long line of prior signs and wonders teachers, which is another reason why his idea about a “return“ is way more than the simplicity of biblical repentance. Several decades ago, into the vacuum of the authority of God's Word came the Third Wave leaders such as C. Peter Wagner and John Wimber. These men and their associates taught that God’s Word is insufficient and that signs and wonders supersede or supplant it. Wagner actually concocted a slew of new theologies to undergird his errant foundation, and millions across the world have only been taught his heresies, not the true Gospel of Salvation. Rather, they taught the gospel of the kingdom, a Dominionist worldview. Both men believed that they could invoke the Holy Spirit via audio-visual media, mind-altering phenomena, mood-inducing music, chants, decrees, signs and wonders, revelations, prophetic “words,”, and other psychological methods of manipulation. The evidence for “revival” was no longer repentance from sin, but rather being “filled” with a false spirit that sometimes shows itself in demonic head-wobbling or uncontrollable laughter. Now this movement's leaders are attempting to invoke a “presence” spirit, a substitute for the REAL RETURN of Jesus, His soon Second Coming.

These experiential exuberances substitute for true repentance and they are characteristically devoid of God’s Word. In fact, it is commonplace to listen to an entire message without once hearing the name of Jesus Christ, mention of His Cross and Resurrection, or a presentation of the Gospel of Salvation found in God’s Word. Many ministers water down and water down their messages to the lowest common denominator. No more meat, just pap or sweetened sugar drinks. Ecumenism in evangelicaldom has become a giant stew pot of collaboration, dialogue, common ground and compromise – the dialectic. Ecumenical efforts promise unity and reconciliation, revival and power, even the ability to fulfill the Great Commission. But it all avoids God’s gold standard of authority for all things pertaining to life and godliness, His Word. 

We wrote about this slippery slope as it unfolded during the 1990s. For the past 15 years our articles have been published on this Herescope blog. We have lived long enough to see a great falling away, a great apostasy from the Truth of Jesus Christ found in God’s Word. We have witnessed the dechristianization not only of our nation, but also the church. We have sadly watched as friends and fellowships have fallen away into these popular errors. We knew the extreme dangers of so many of these occult, mystical and esoteric heresies because we once engaged in them ourselves before we were saved. We know firsthand the path to repentance and have tried to tell people The Way back to Jesus Christ.

As the church has lost its ability to be salt and light, the world, and our nation, has become a darker place. Evil is now running rampant, unchecked. People are afraid in their own homes. Law and order authority is evaporating and there is talk of it being legislated away. Brutal violence lay hidden from public view as people dismembered tiny lives in wombs for the past 5 decades. But now human violence has openly erupted on the streets. Those who have lived by the sword may die by the sword. Things are indeed bleak, and scary. 

Those who have a heart to see America become a “Christian nation” have misplaced their yearnings. But there is hope. It begins by each one of us returning to our first love, Jesus Christ, and agreeing with God to obey His Word, to follow Him, to repent of our wicked deeds. And when we do so we need to share Jesus Christ and His Word of salvation with others.

“I know thy works, that thou hast a name
that thou livest, and art dead.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain,
that are ready to die:
for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Remember
therefore how thou hast received an
d heard,
and hold fast,
and repent.
If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief,
and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

(Rev. 3:1b-3)


Endnotes:

1. This concept is explained and refuted in our post titled “Identificational Repentance,” Herescope, August 20, 2007, https://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/08/identificational-repentance.html. 

2. It is true that America was founded with much Christian influence. However, in Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Domionion (Sword, 1990) Al Dager explains the root belief of all Dominionists that hold to the idea that there is a “mandate to rule the nations in the name of Christ,” which he says was “a natural outgrowth of Gnostic influences in the early Church. The Church prelates, (sic) gave rise to the belief that, since Christ came to save the world, it must be through the Church that salvation will be wrought.” (p. 36). See our landmark article that contains a compilation of a great deal of what we have written about this Dominionism “7 Mountain Politics and Theology,” 2/24/16, https://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/02/7-mountain-politics-and-theology.html.

3. This freemasonic belief system was explained by the historian A. Ralph Epperson in a conference in Iowa in 1992 and is spelled out in his book The New World Order (Publius Press, 1990). 

4. See our "7 Mountain Politics and Theology" post (2/24/16) which contains a compilation of everything we've written about this "presence" eschatology: https://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/02/7-mountain-politics-and-theology.html  

5. This may all be connected to the continued attempts to forge “laughing revivals” in the New Apostolic Reformation. This quote from Barbara Marx Hubbard ‘s The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium (Nataraj Publishing, 1995), p. 242),is found in Warren B. Smith original Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel (Conscience Press, 2002), p. 58, along with her disturbing quotes about “selection process” that will eradicate humans who refuse to evolve. Bold added.

6. The writings of Dr. Francis Schaeffer helped many of us sort through what we had been taught in public schools and liberal Protestant churches.

For further reading see: 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Rise of False Prophetesses


"...I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess,..."
(Revelation 2:20a)

"Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD,... Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying 'So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.'"
(1 Kings 18:4a, 19:2)

 

Recent events in the world have jump-started some of the old intentions of the Latter Rain movement to create a false revival. In southern California at Huntington Beach a new uprising is identified as "Saturate 2020" and it is attempting to invoke a "great awakening" or a second Jesus movement. It is getting quite a bit of press attention. Characteristic of these types of stage-managed productions, there is a great deal of hoopla and frenzied commotion, conscious altering music, and a hefty dose of Latter Rain/New Apostolic Reformation doctrine, including about building the 7 mountains of Dominionism. It also significantly highlights false prophetess Heidi Baker and several new ones on the scene, Jen Miskov and Jessi Green.

Rather than reinvent the wheel to write about this, we encourage you to read Sandy Simpson's latest comprehensive post "Saturate 2020" detailing the problems with this event and providing key links to documentation. See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utbvEcLxuHs. Sandy writes:

The fact that some formerly Biblical churches have joined this circus is a testament to their lack of teaching discernment. Some of these denominations were warned repeatedly about the Latter Rain, Word of Faith and the New Apostolic Reformation yet they apparently wanted to remain “willfully ignorant”. The people advertised as being involved with this latest “revival” are almost all associated with Bethel in some way and promoters of what they teach. This is not a true Biblical revival but rather a revival of the occult and New Age among Christians. This meeting is actually hurting the cause of Christ...

Apologist Jackie Alnor produced an important video documentary on Saturate 2020 a few weeks ago. Watch her report because in it she names the names of men who seem to falling for this new revival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rVuoBHs7n8&feature=youtu.be


Saturate 2020 and several other evidences of a striking increase in false prophetesses has given rise to deep concerns that godly evangelical men may be lured into their lair. The other day we received an email from a discerning friend who was very grieved, asking us how it is that seemingly godly men, respected and mature in the Lord, could possibly fall for these delusions. Below is our reply, which we post for our readers' edification.

Why Men Fall for Jezebel 

To answer your earlier questions about how and why seemingly godly men would follow after false prophetesses, here are our observations after our many decades in the trenches with the Lord. 

We have always considered the term “Jezebel” and the term “false prophetess” to be synonyms. The Scripture is clear that there are attributes of Jezebel in both the Old and New Testament that identify a false prophetess quite specifically.

Over the years Lynn and I have counseled many Christians trying to repent of all of their previous occult involvements. We have observed that there is a fallible “soft spot” in the hearts of certain vulnerable Christian men who lean sympathetically towards a false prophetess, epitomized by the women called Jezebel in Scripture. Worse, there is a “fear of man” (or, should we say, “fear of woman”) that is also a fatal loophole in men who fall into abject submission when confronted by the nasty side of false prophetesses. Every man of God needs to be exhorted to stand firm against such women. They persecute (threaten, intimidate, bully, verbally or physically abuse, etc.) the true prophets of God, meaning those men who are teaching the Word and standing for Truth. Jezebel literally killed godly men in the Old Testament!

There is also the seductive side to a false prophetess. She preys upon the sensory and/or emotional weaknesses in men — hooking them in where they have a “soft spot” for her. She massages their lusts — sexual, money, power, fame, etc. Or she makes them somehow dependent upon her, they feel that then “need” her or her machinations, or that they are somehow indebted unto her. She may even blackmail them. Or she may position them to “choose” between her and some godly woman (including possibly his wife!). She supplants the place of Christ in their hearts and minds with these clever methods. So if there is any weak spot in a man that has not been repented of? — This is precisely where she seizes control to wield and manipulate them. This is psychic, it is occult, it is satanic, it is idolatry. She stabs into the heart and it is deadly. It is a tragedy when we see her operate in a marriage. And this is how she destroys a church and/or a ministry.

We have observed that there is a darkness of vision that accompanies a false prophetess deception. Many men do not even realize they are under the spell of a false prophetess. We’ve known pastors who permitted an out-of-order heresy-prone woman to wreak havoc upon his congregation — either terrified to confront her, or wooed by her many elaborate ruses, or in a few cases, physically seduced by her.

At its most basic level there is a psychological weakness we humans all have for those whom we love and respect. Sometimes we have great tolerance for the sinful errors of others close to us, hoping we can lead them back to Truth. Indeed, the Lord Himself says He gave the Jezebel in Thyatira (Rev. 2) “space to repent” — therefore so must we. The Lord also gave those who committed adultery with her time and space to “repent of their deeds.” But, if there is no repentance, and when we find that we are actually having to justify our convivial relationship to the point of excusing flagrant transgressions or participating in her sins, heresies, errors and deceptions, then we are headed into deep trouble. And it behooves us to be continually on guard against any “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9) “soft spots” we may harbor in our hearts towards her that leave us vulnerable to her deceptions. 

 

There is a notable sign of our times regarding this “prophetess” danger which we should be aware of. It may apply to men prophets, too. Our longtime friend Jack Morlan, who repented radically and came out of the homosexual movement 40 years ago (he got married, had children, and is now a grandfather) claims that certain men may wield this same Jezebel-ish psychic/occult power over other men, particularly if they are prone to homosexual sins (either known or in the closet). He has warned us of men who acted like Jezebel both within and without the church. Godly men need to guard against this sort of man as well.

As for women and their weaknesses — the many who desire to emulate Jezebel — this is another tragic story. Women prophetess-wannabes exhibit both a seductive and a nasty side. Many of them are trying to fill a void in their hearts — but not with Jesus Christ. They have left their first love, if they even ever held to Jesus Christ in the first place. These are women who crave power, fame, accolades, money, beauty, lust and sensuality on the path to emulating Jezebel. Often they come from broken homes or abusive background. There is an aspect of control as they look to build an empire, their own spiritual kingdom. Our heart grieves for them while they are lost in the depths of their depravity because only Jesus Christ can save them from their sins.

We once attended a church where the chief elder’s wife visited the New Age bookstore once a month to learn about the latest “spirituality.” She was a prophetess-wannabe, hoping for TV type stardom. This undiscerning lady became deeply involved in Kundalini — she even attempted to lay hands on ladies' chakra points at a church women’s retreat. Discerning women attempted to warn the pastor. But because her husband donated large monies to the church the minister was reluctant to confront her. The church quickly fell apart in a series of disasters.

Some false prophetesses come to Christ out of the occult. But if they never fully repented of their occult “spiritual gifts” they are tempted to use them in Christianity. They can then wield great power over others with these false gospel gifts. It is far worse when a woman claims to be the voice of prophecy, or even the voice of God. At this point she's become a full-blown dangerous false prophetess and people need to be warned of her dangers. The extent to which these women become public figures, acclaimed and renowned, sitting on platforms with or standing in the place of men, exhibiting their false gifts, poses a danger to the entire church at large. Can such a woman be saved? God gave space and time for the apparently high profile Jezebel and her followers to repent in Thyatira. But if no such repentance becomes evident — which should include not only a public repentance but an open renouncing of specific sins, errors, heresies, misleadings and false teachings — she should then be warned against publicly.

We will warn that there is a backlash to any Gospel dealings with Jezebel/false prophetesses. Just ask Elijah. Some of the most vicious persecution we have experienced in our Christian life has come from them or their minions.

 ~Lynn and Sarah Leslie

"...for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible."
(Jeremiah 15:20b-21)
 

Images are from personal files, public Internet, and Jackie Alnor's video "Jack Hibbs: Forming Alliances."

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Render Them NOT Unto Caesar

Parents, Stand Fast
Herescope Vintage Article Series

HSLDA mailer, May 7, 2020[1]

In a shocking essay for Harvard Magazine, a professor of law and director of Harvard Law School’s child advocacy legal clinic, claims homeschooling is a threat to children’s rights, a method of promoting white supremacy, and a drain on democratic society — and even goes so far as to suggest a national “presumptive ban” on the practice.[2]

It goes without saying that living the Christian life today is increasingly challenging. More and more we are seeing government orders that impinge upon our ability to live free in Christ. In order for fellow believers to seriously think about how they are to respond to today’s challenges, we submit the post below for your consideration. It presents a dilemma we faced as parents nearly thirty years ago and how we determined we must respond as believers in Jesus Christ. At the time, our oldest child was reaching school-age. We had become concerned about the state of public education in the U.S., particularly the incorporation of material that was clearly at odds with the Bible. The article and link to our testimony as homeschoolers describes the situation and our response.

We pray that as you read, you will carefully and prayerfully consider both your commitment to Jesus Christ and how He would have you live in these last days. What we posit is not a response to the violation of rights under the U.S. Constitution. While we know that we are most fortunate to live in this country, we must never lose sight of our obligation to live the Christian life no matter our circumstances. While the Bible makes it clear that the role of government is to reward good and punish evil, it is also quite clear that government today is increasingly doing the opposite. The ability to rely on our constitutional rights may be fast disappearing.

Standing on the Word of God is, and always has been, our only true option. As you contemplate your life in these times, make sure to put on the Full Armor of God and stand upon the Rock. In the final analysis, we cannot rely on man’s means and methods. We cannot rely on organizational or governmental answers to these challenges. It is not the church (corporate) that will stand before the Lord in the judgment. Ultimately, each of us as individuals must (and will) answer for our personal actions. With that in mind, we invite you to carefully and soberly read the following post. We trust it will be of help as you look to the days ahead.

~Lynn D. Leslie *


Are children to be rendered unto Caesar?
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest though for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them. Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them. Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's: and unto God the things that are God's. (Matt. 22:15-22) 

Several years ago when Iowa was in the throes of a home school legislative battle, a group of home school leaders met together in the governor's office. A well-intentioned Christian legislator (who was a home schooler) offered a bill for discussion. However, the bill contained some legal language that gave the State a “compelling interest” in the education of home schooled children. We objected strenuously to that language on religious and legal grounds.

In the heat of the discussion that ensued over State vs. parental rights, a mild-mannered home school father suddenly leaned across the table and stated emphatically: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's.”

We were taken aback for a second. What was this man really saying? Confused, we asked: “Are you saying we should render our children unto Caesar?” It was his turn to be bewildered. He later acknowledged that this is not how far he intended to apply the verse.

Was this interpretation of the “Caesar” Bible verse unique to this man? As we studied the Scriptures and researched issues related to parental rights in the ensuing years, we were surprised and dismayed to learn that there is a widespread misunderstanding and misapplication of this particular Scripture. We have become especially concerned about this error as we face increasing encroachment of religious liberties and parental rights through education reform measures (GOALS 2000/AMERICA 2000) and pending international treaties like the U.N. Convention On the Rights of the Child. Will Christian parents willingly render their children unto this new “Caesar”?

Tiberius Caesar coin

In Caesar's Image
When Jesus was asked about paying taxes to Caesar, He held up a coin and asked whose image was on it. When told that it was Caesar's, He replied, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” Like the two sides of that coin, these words of Jesus have two perspectives: On the one side He spoke of rendering taxes to Caesar. Taxes are a domain of government. The other side is what is often lacking in Church teaching today: “[Render] unto God the things that are God's.” The coin bore the image of Caesar. Children bear the image of God. (And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... [Gen. 1:26a]) Children are to be rendered unto God. There is no Scriptural support to the argument that children are a legitimate domain of the government.

According to writers Blair Adams and Joel Stein, in their book Who Controls the Children?:

God has not given the State the responsibility for the education of our children. They do not bear the image of Caesar but the image of their Creator. We are to render them unto Him. Education is to conform them to the image of Christ, not that of the State. God has ordained that parents should have the responsibility of raising their children so that they shall be conformed to the image of God. Education involves the relationship of the parent with the child; by entering into this province the State interferes in a sacred area of covenant ordained and protected by God. As Marx and Engels gleefully assert: “We destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.” The molding of the heart and mind of the child cannot be compared to the regulation of traffic lights or boilers. (p. 263-264)[3]

God has not delegated the responsibility for the education of children to the State (“Caesar”). During the 1800's parents delegated the education of their children to the State. It can be argued that under a truly representative form of government, and with a Christian consensus prevailing in the land, that this act did not seem totally unbiblical at the time. Nevertheless, Scripture clearly plants education in the lap of parents, and within the context of discipleship at a local church. “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Prov. 22:6) Here is just a partial list of pertinent Scriptures: Gen. 18:18.19; Deut. 4:5-9; Deut. 6:1-9; Deut. 11:18-21; Deut. 32:45,46; Ps. 78:1-11; Ps. 145:4; Prov. 4:1, 20-27; Prov. 6:20-23; Prov. 23:24-26; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14;-15.

Since the days of John Dewey, State education has been in the image-making business. Much of this image conflicts with godliness. The values, attitudes and beliefs that will be assessed under Outcome-Based Education clearly intend to mold children into the image of a new “Caesar” to fit the futurist world view of the education reformers. In one clear example, William Spady, “Father of O.B.E.”, in a paper handed out to seminars, details his assessment of the future for which children will need to be educated: “cognitive flexibility,” “interdependence,” “altering economic consumption patterns and quality of life standards, and taking collective responsibility for promoting health and wellness,” “transforming patterns of family and personal support systems,” etc. This new image of Caesar disparages the individual, putting weight on group mores for the greater good of the whole. In this view of the future, which is being implemented under education reform measures right now, the State will have a “compelling interest” in the intimate details of the lives of its children, and all citizens. Will Christian parents be led to render their children unto this brave new “Caesar”?

Pharoah and the Midwives (Source)

Dumping In the Nile 
Many Christians are familiar with the story of the Hebrew midwives in Exodus 11, heroines in the Bible who disregarded the edict of Pharaoh and refused to kill male infants born to Hebrew women. They did not render the male infants unto the Egyptian “Caesar.” They obeyed God's law, not Pharaoh's.

But, there is a related Bible story which receives little attention in the Church today. It also has to do with rendering children unto Caesar. This story is so significant that it is mentioned twice in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews brings it to our attention in the list of faithful saints in Chapter 11 and Stephen preached on it before the Council in the book of Acts. It is the story of Moses, whose parents were required by the law of their land to dump the infant Moses into the Nile. Although required to do so by law, they did not.

And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive. And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. (Ex. 1:22-2:3) 

The Lord commends the parents of Moses for not rendering him unto Pharaoh, for disregarding the law of their land in obedience to God. The writer of Hebrews states:

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. (Heb. 11:23) 

The word faith (Greek pistis) in this passage means literally “moral conviction.” Moses' parents were so persuaded, so convinced that God would save them and their child that they purposefully disregarded Pharaoh's edict. Their conscience would not allow them to disobey God in spite of what was undoubtedly extreme pressure. Also significantly, the word “fear” is phobeo which is the root word of our English phobia. The word means “to be alarmed,” “afraid” or “reverence.” Moses' parents were not afraid of the edict/commandment (Greek diatagma) of Pharaoh. They feared God rather than man.

The testimony of Stephen is even more illustrative. He says:

Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father's house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. (Acts 7:18-21) 

Stephen reveals an alarming fact. Pharaoh dealt so subtly with the Hebrews that some “cast out their young children.” Some parents actually dumped their young babies into the Nile, in obedience to Pharaoh! The Greek word for “cast out” is the literal act of casting something out (poieo).

Moses' parents did not “cast out” Moses in the same sense. There are two different words that are translated “cast out” in this passage in the King James Version. The second time the words “cast out” are used, they mean “put out,” or “exposed to perish.” Moses was put out, exposed to the elements, after being nourished in his own home for three months. He was not cast out as onto a rubbish heap, however. It is clear from the Biblical account of Moses' exposure that his mother carefully crafted his boat to ensure his survival, placed him a location where he would be found, and sent her daughter to observe in order to ensure his survival (and who also appears to have been briefed on how to recommend the child's own mother as a wet nurse!). This cannot be equated to the “casting out” that numerous other Hebrews must have tragically done to their own newborn babies.

How could these Hebrew parents have done such a grievous thing? Psalm 105:25 answers this question for us: “He [Pharaoh] turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtly with his servants.” The Hebrews were being dealt with in a “subtle” manner by Pharaoh and his people. This Hebrew word nakal means “to defraud, i.e. act treacherously: — beguile, conspire, deceiver, deal subtilly.” The Hebrew parents were “deceived.” Scripture does not tell us how they were deceived, or by what methods. But there are certainly other Biblical accounts of godly people being deceived into evil that we can look to for examples of how human nature becomes corrupted. Stephen's account states that Pharaoh “evil entreated” the Hebrew parents which means “exasperated, harmed, hurt or vexed.” They were under great pressure to obey Pharaoh. The key point, again, goes back to the book of Hebrews where we are told that the parents of Moses feared God, not Pharaoh. Perhaps misplaced fear is one root reason why parents are so willing to hand over their children to “Caesar.”

Moses Set Out on the Nile in a Reed Basket (Source)


Subject to the State
Some may ask, “How do we as Christians disregard the laws of the State in light of the following?”:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Rom 13:1-5)

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. (1 Pet 2:13-17) 

These passages make it quite clear that we are to submit or be subject to (Greek hupotasso) the governing powers. But why do these powers exist? For the punishment of evildoers and the praise of them that do well! (1 Pet 2:14) Our governmental leaders are to be ministers of God to us for good, not evil. (Rom 13:4) So when laws are enacted which conflict with God's commandments, which are evil in their intent, what are we to do? We are to do that which is good (Rom 13:3) which means we are to obey God, for He alone is good. Nevertheless, when we disregard the laws of the State we are still subject to the consequences that may be forthcoming.

Those who disregard the edicts of governments that conflict with the laws of God place their fate squarely in the hands of God. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) faced a fiery furnace, not knowing the outcome beforehand. They could not obey Nebuchadnezzar in worshipping the golden image because to do so would be to disobey God. (See account in Daniel Chapter 3.) In the New Testament, Peter and the apostles were arrested for testifying of Jesus:

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:27-29) 

In each instance men, having strongly held convictions, chose to regard God rather than man. And in so doing they subjected themselves to man's authority. They were ready and willing to receive whatever punishment their governmental leaders determined, even if that meant death.

Interestingly, Daniel's companions as well as Peter and the other apostles were honored by God for their obedience to Him. By their doing good (obeying God) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not only spared from the judgment of Nebuchadnezzar, but they heard the king praise God and were subsequently promoted by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:28-30). “Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same” (Rom 13:3). Peter also knew full well “that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Pet 2:15). By obeying God rather than men Peter and the other apostles quieted the Council and were merely beaten and released, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41). Parents who educate their children at home, teaching them of the Lord in a full context, are therefore given this example “to obey God rather than men.”


Compromise
These examples from the Scriptures do not indicate that there was compromise. This is a key point at which modern Christians deviate from Biblical example and God's commands. We can surmise that one way in which Pharoah dealt “subtly” with the parents of other children in Moses' generation was through the arts of compromise, or dialectics. How were these parents persuaded, cajoled, or otherwise coerced into doing the unthinkable? How were they led to believe they were doing the right, proper, and “legal” thing when they tossed their newborn sons into the Nile?

There are numerous Biblical examples of compromises that led to sin and even death. The life of King Saul and the story of Baalam and Balak are two noteworthy examples from the Old Testament. In 1 Tim 6:20-21 Paul warns Timothy to avoid compromise:

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith... 

The word “oppositions” means “antithesis.” In a compromise, the “anitithesis” is that idea which is counter to the “thesis.” Timothy is being warned to avoid all oppositions (antithesis) to the Truth (thesis) of the Bible.

The compromises with “Caesar” over the education of children have been ongoing over several generations in our country. Now, numerous Christian leaders are meeting with education reformers to find “common ground” in education. Bob Simonds of CEE is working with Spady, the futurist OBE promoter. Christian groups like ACSI, NAE and the Assemblies of God are signing onto “common ground” documents.

Authors Adams and Stein laid out a scenario for the future of private education back in 1983, if Christians continued to compromise with the State in matters of education. This scenario is particularly apropos for today with the rapid escalation of education reform, and the increasing pressure from “Caesar” to make concessions:

A chasm has... arisen between parents and professional secular educators (the later as agents of the State) over the question of who has ultimate authority to determine the future of children. The facade of “working together” may perhaps be maintained when the chasm has just begun to appear, but what of that day when the chasm will have become unbridgeable, when public schools will have restructured all tests, all standards of excellence, even language itself — as they even now show every intention of doing... — until only those who conform to their Orwellian doublethink will be considered to be “doing well” in school? Will we then be prepared to acknowledge that the State has the authority, or even the capacity, to determine what is best for our children educationally and to therefore supervise the parents in the education of their children? 

The present apparent compromise between public and private education is, for parents and their children, taking one step forward and two steps backward [dialectics, ed.]. One step forward is seemingly taken because the State may allow parents to give their children an alternative private education if they comply with the demands of public educators; at least they may do so in order to step-by-step separate small segments of compromising parents from the unified block of resistance until that block has been slowly chipped down to nothing. Then no liberty will remain for any alternatives to compulsory State education. And two steps backward are taken because parents will have once again established the legal precedent — by their own submission to the State's demands — that the State has the right to make the ultimate decisions in regard to the education of their children. And the day will come when the State will once again try to forcibly assert this authority over both parents and their children. This will happen when the State decides, on the recommendation of its educational agents, that no alternative to its program is any longer tolerable. And parents will have reinforced this contention that their authority, rights and responsibilities in regard to their children were only a “tolerated privilege” granted by State “sufferance” and not an inalienable right, because they will have already established the legal precedent by acknowledging the State's authority to determine what is a valid education and what is not. (p. 66-67) 

Once again we are brought back to the inescapable question: Why, in spite of all these objections, are so many still so willing to grant the State [“Caesar”, ed.] authority to control education? ...[I]t would appear that such total trust in only the authority of the State is nothing less... than positing the State with attributes that belong only to God. For the Bible gives a clear mandate to parents to educate their own children... It nowhere suggests that we are to turn this responsibility over to the State. Since parents are given that responsibility directly by God, for us to turn that authority over to the State is, as we have said before, to render not Caesar the things that be, not of Caesar, but of God... (p. 263)[4]


Endnotes:
1. Home School Legal Defense Association, e-mail May 7, 2020. We do not necessarily endorse HSLDA as they do not necessarily agree with the entire position expressed in this article.
2. Emily Zanotti, "Harvard Professor Wants A 'Presumptive Ban' On Homeschooling, Claims It Promotes White Supremacy," DailyWire.com, April 19, 2020: https://www.dailywire.com/news/harvard-professor-wants-a-presumptive-ban-on-homeschooling-claims-it-promotes-white-supremacy?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=benshapiro. Note that after an avalanche of criticism Elizabeth Bartholet, the Harvard professor, attempted to walk back some of her statements. See James R. Mason, Esq., "Bartholet: A Change of Heart?" HSLDA, July 14, 2020: https://hslda.org/post/bartholet-a-change-of-heart
3. Quotations were taken from Adams, Blair and Joel Stein. Who Owns the Children? Truth Forum, 1983.
4. Ibid.  


*Lynn and Sarah Leslie who authored this article were the publishers of The Christian Conscience magazine. The original article was published in the May 1995 issue (Vol. 1, No. 5), pp. 40-43, 50). Links have been added. This article has been courageously posted with permission on the MORIEL Ministries website for quite a few years: http://blog.moriel.org/church-issues-1/items-of-various-interest/19019-render-them-not-unto-caesar.html

As homeschoolers we endured a time of persecution in the early 1990s, the story of which is titled "Homeschooling Under Fire" and is posted at: http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/homeschooling_under_fire.htm.

In 1999 we published Charlotte T. Iserbyt's massive tome titled the deliberate dumbing down of America (Conscience Press). This book is a comprehensive chronological history of education reform and it significantly documents many of the points in our article. We do not share the author's current beliefs but can recommend the book itself, which is also posted online: http://deliberatedumbingdown.com/ddd/deliberate-dumbing-down/

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hedged In!

God's Gracious Lock-Downs


"Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers,
and shut thy doors about thee:
hide thyself as it were for a little moment,
until the indignation be overpast.
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of His place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity:
the earth also shall disclose her blood,
and shall no more cover her slain."

(Isaiah 26:20-21)



A personal note from the editor, Sarah Leslie

It was late Spring of May 1984 when I first noticed there was a problem. After a trip to the doctor with an ultrasound I was sent home with very strict orders: "Lie back propped up, don't lift anything heavy, don't do housework, don't leave home, don't engage in risky behaviors." A baby's life in my womb was at stake so I diligently followed the doctor's orders for the next three months.

This was not my first experience with being couch-ridden. Being stuck at home was an old friend and I knew it and its hidden joys very well. I actually looked forward to the isolation. You see, for a good chunk of my childhood I was an invalid. I missed most of second through fourth grade. My mother felt compelled to homeschool me in an era when it was extremely rare. For most of the time I did not feel well enough to do much more than read books or watch I Love Lucy and Three Stooges reruns on TV. But when I felt up to it I did my homework, keeping up with my classmates from afar. Eventually, because I had so much free time to read and study, I surpassed my classmates academically. One of the hidden benefits is that I learned how to learn, and I loved reading and studying. You can enjoy the fruits of this life experience if you are a regular reader of this blog. 

Two decades later, as day after day went by, and life went on, it felt pleasingly familiar. It began to dawn on me that this pregnancy crisis was actually a golden opportunity. When God closed the front door, quite literally, He opened other doors! For example, while I was propped up on the couch, my toddler played by my side on the floor for hours. He was excitedly learning his letters, the sounds of phonics, counting numbers and identifying shapes. By the end of my forced exile he was learning to read easy words.

I was experiencing the rare blessing of free time. What should I do during these long hours of isolation? Several years prior to this home confinement period the Lord had impressed upon me to read the seven volume book The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn. Normal life duties of work and home got the best of me, and despite my good intentions, it never happened. Now, however, I could finally read. What immediately caught my attention is that Solzhenitzyn was writing about his imprisonment. Even though I wasn't imprisoned, nor was I being tortured or starved, I was feeling constrained by four walls. Amazingly, he titled a chapter "First Cell, First Love," where he began, "How is one to take the title of this chapter? A cell and love in the same breath?" He continued,

But in every case, out of all the cells you've been in, your first cell is a very special one, the place where you first encountered others like yourself, doomed to the same fate. All your life you will remember it with an emotion that you otherwise experience only in remembering your first love. And those people, who shared with you the floor and air of that stone cubicle during those days when you rethought your entire life, will from time to time be recollected by you as members of your own family.

Yes, in those days they were your only family.
[1]



Fenced In
What does God's Word say about times of isolation, imprisonment and confinement? Much actually.

First, it is God who is in charge of it! The prophet Jeremiah groaned, "He [God] hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: He hath made my chain heavy" (Lamentations 3:7) This word "hedged" means "walled off, walled up, shut off." Jeremiah's chains, with his spiritual burden, were indeed heavy, especially during those times when he was imprisoned for obeying the Lord and delivering His prophecies. Yet in the very same passage he penned some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible:


"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:
Great is Thy faithfulness."

(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Interestingly, Satan also used a word translated "hedge," meaning fence, when he was describing Job before God. With what seems like a sassy tone, Satan answered God, "Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land." Satan then boasted that he thought Job "will curse Thee to Thy face" if all of this prosperity was taken away from him (Job 1:10-11). This episode tells us that Satan is counting on us to have a bad attitude, even anger, when our life's course is suddenly enveloped in inescapable crises that remove our worldly financial hedges. Yet Job did not curse God, even after his devastated wife urged him to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). 

After his numerous terrible calamities, the very ill Job then inquired, "Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?" (3:23). In this case the word "hedge" has a meaning of covering and defense. Job was acknowledging that although God had fenced him in, He had blessed him with light. We ought to think of this hedge as not just a fence but also God's covering. Here we perceive God's hand of protection over Job in his most dire circumstances. We already know the back story -- God put restraints on Satan so that could only go so far in wreaking his havoc; he could not take Job's life. (see Job 1:12). Job would later proclaim, "When His candle shined upon my head, and when by His light I walked through darkness" (Job 29:3). David similarly wrote, "For Thou will light my candle: The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness" (Psalm 18:28). The prophet Micah wrote of this very experience, "when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me" (Micah 7:8). From this we learn that even though our very high hedges might be dark spaces, we do not need to be spiritually in the dark.

This same word used by Job for hedge/cover is translated in the beautiful Psalm of God's miraculous protection during multiple crises. Psalm 91 promises to cover those who trust in God, who dwell in His secret place, who abide under His shadow, that "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler." Other verses in Psalm 91 pertain to God's protection during times of pestilence, plague and danger. And David used the same word when he wrote in Psalm 140:7: "O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle."

This brings to mind the time when the Lord covered His obedient people during times of crisis with His protection. During God's judgment on Egypt, the Lord promised:

"For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night,
and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,
both man and beast;
and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment:
I am the LORD.
And the blood shall be to you for a token
upon the houses where ye are:
and when I see the blood, I will pass over you,
and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you,
when I smite the land of Egypt."

(Exodus 12:12-13)

But take note of God's people's stance. The passover lamb was to be eaten while they were standing on guard, prepared, ready to go at a moment's notice. "And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover" (Exodus 12:11). Similarly, we at the end of this church age need to be ready when we see these fearsome signs of the times: "And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences;... Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.... And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh." (Luke 21:11a, 26a, 28). (As I was writing this an earthquake just occurred in the state of Utah.) 


Hedged With Thorns
Note that the verse in Luke 21 says to "look up." This is another reason God will hedge someone in but few will want to acknowledge it. Sometimes God will hedge someone in so that He can get their attention to deal with their sin. For example, God hedged up Hosea's errant idolatrous and adulterous wife: "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths" (Hosea 2:6). God's purpose for her painful confinement was to change her perspective, her view. If we are walled in thickly, surrounded by thorny brambles, we can only look upwards towards God's face. When we look upwards, and see the light of the Lord, we will then recognize our own sinful darkness.

Considering the current judgment upon the earth, which is global in scope, we who call ourselves Christians must seriously think about, and prayerfully consider, the reality that we all are tainted by sinful guilt in one way or another. Can we admit that the leaven of wickedness has so permeated our culture that we are profoundly affected, even deeply compromised by it? The parallel would be Lot when he lived in Sodom. The Apostle Peter wrote that "just Lot" was deeply grieved, he was "vexed with the filthy conversation [behavior] of the wicked" (2 Peter 2:7).

Our current global viral culture which has amassed in the past generation has been contagiously decadent, lascivious, covetous, blasphemous, gossipy, lying, adulterous, abusive, fornicating and idolatrous (see Gal. 5:19-21). Its leavenous filth is inescapable! The church world itself has been inundated with these same viral sins, sometimes erupting in flagrant scandals. It brings to mind the Scripture that filthy darkness "shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people" Isaiah 60:2a). Check your heart and see how desensitized you have become to sin. Remember when people used to blush? Commercials on television are an example of how pervasively sinful our culture has become.

Commenting on the words in Revelation 2:16, "Repent; or else I come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth," Matthew Henry wrote: "The filthiness of the spirit and the filthiness of the flesh often go together." He also wrote concerning the false prophetess Jezebel in Rev. 2:20-23, of whom God said, "I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not":

Repentance is necessary to prevent a sinner's ruin. Repentance requires time, a course of time, and time convenient: it is a great work, and a work of time. Where God gives space for repentance, He expects fruits meet for repentance. Where the space for repentance is lost, the sinner perishes with a double destruction.[2][emphasis added]

Is this a time for our chastisement? Consider how you and your family will be spending your days locked inside the hedge. Will it be a hedge of protection as you trust in the blood of Jesus Christ who cleanses you from all your sins? Or will you chafe at a scratchy, thorny hedge that urgently compels you to recognize your own battered condition? Will you use this time to return to your "first love" (Rev. 2:4)? Will you take this time to re-examine your life and your lifestyle? Will you adjust your attitudes and values to conform them according to Scripture? Christians love to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, but they often leave out the key point: repentance must be accompanied by works -- i.e., turning from our wicked ways while turning our eyes humbly upwards to seek God's face:

"If my people, which are called by My name,
shall humble themselves, and pray,
and seek My face,
and turn from their wicked ways
;
then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

(2 Chronicles 7:14)



The Fruits of Compulsory Exile
Amazing fruit was produced when the Apostle John was exiled on the small island of Patmos for the "crime" of preaching the Gospel. During John's confinement Jesus Christ Himself showed him His final revelation regarding "things which must shortly come to pass" (1:1) John was instructed, "What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches" (1:11). John's words, delivered unto him by the Word of God Himself, prepared the seven churches for persecutions and difficult times that lay ahead. Each of the seven churches was delivered a report card on the state of their works. Would they pass or were they failing in the times of their testings?

Churches throughout the ages have read and studied these words of John. Could John have ever dreamed that his words would last nearly 2000 years and bear fruit in millions of lives across the face of the earth? Likewise the words of the Apostle Paul, penned from dark, dank prison cells, have borne tremendous fruit "exceeding abundantly above all" that he could have asked or thought (Eph. 3:20). 

John's instruction to write was repeated in verse 19: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." Some of you who are reading this are gifted with discernment. Is the Lord saying to you now -- now that you have time -- that you should be writing while you are sojourning in your quarantined quarters? Should you be warning? Aren't these troubling times? Isn't it time to tell the ten virgins to be prepared to meet the Bridegroom with full lamps? (Matthew 25:1-12). The Lord concludes with "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (v. 13). Pray and ask the Lord about your calling, your assigned duty in these turbulent days.

Perhaps we, like Esther, are locked down in our particular circumstances for "such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). If we are realistic about Esther's unique position as a woman we recognize that she had little freedom in the highly confined wifely role for which she was chosen. Yet amidst this, she looked up to God, prayed and fasted, and obediently walked through the door that God did open to her even at the cost of her life: "and if I perish I perish" (Esther 4:16). Those medical personnel and first responders on the front lines of the current pandemic will find comfort in Esther's courage. Esther recognized, like the Apostle Paul, that she was "called... with an holy calling" (2 Tim. 1:9).

"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples:
and they are written for our admonition,
upon whom the ends of the world are come."

(I Corinthians 10:11)

Each of us is gifted by God with time -- time that must be filled 24 hours each day. We are accountable to the Lord for our stewardship over this time. After all, it is His time, not ours: "My times are in Thy hand" (Psalm 31:15). What will we fill our hours with? Will we continue in the worldly pursuits that lead down the path towards lusts and unholy imagery (especially on video games, movies, TV, social media and the Internet)? Or will we seek His way, His will and His structure for our lives so that our use of time during these times bears fruits of the Gospel for His kingdom?

Exhibit (Source)


Hunkered Down
Those of you who have read this blog over the years may not know that its researchers and writers have been beset in their personal lives by illnesses and physical infirmities. Pastors Ken Silva and Larry DeBruyn endured the pain of debilitating illnesses, yet you can benefit from the prolific fruits of their writings on the Internet. The pioneer Internet discerner Ed Tarkowski suffered with a serious skin disease that left him very handicapped, yet his work is still bearing fruit online to this day.

The women in our Discernment Research Group have endured periods of confinement with illness, or caring for our children, elderly or infirm family members. Several of us happily homeschooled children, staying in the home by choice, serving the Lord through ministry to our families. Looking back there were rough times when it was impossible to leave home, even a time of persecution. Yet in the midst of these responsibilities we had another calling. We were compelled by the Lord to research, to write, to warn. The fruit of our work over the years can be seen in the long list on the right on this blog.

We can testify that there are great blessings while being hunkered down. We wish to encourage you at this moment in time to reconcile yourself to your current situation. If we could say a positive word it would be -- BE CREATIVE! We pray that you will see that while God has shut the front door He has opened other doors. Recognize you now have time... precious time... to work on your favorite projects, assemble family photos, do an in-depth study on a book of the Bible, plant a flower bed or a vegetable garden, dig up recipes and cook from scratch, teach a child to read and have fun doing science experiments, learn a foreign language, fix the broken stuff around your house, and finally do that long-neglected Spring cleaning. One of our fellow discerners suggested ways we could minister:


Wouldn’t it be wonderful, now that parents and children have time together, to go through albums, books the parents used to read the children when they were young, bake family-recipe cookies, play games, do jigsaw puzzles - in other words, become a family again! Think also how neat it would be to adopt an older couple on the block to go to the store for, even just socialize (by distance) so that the couple isn’t lonely. Why not have your block form some kind of committee so that they know if anyone has some extra toilet paper, or toothpaste, or butter ? Isn’t all this how we shine our light before men?
The author's early homeschool circa 1991.


Content With Confinement
And, finally, we should all examine our hearts. Paul wrote that he "had learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Phil. 4:11). Are we content? From experience I can say that the one word that might best describe the early days of confinement is "restless." Even I have been restless these first few days. It helps to establish a routine, make a plan, establish some goals, accomplish even little steps. This verse is a reminder to have the proper mindset.

But there is another matter. A sign of the last days is that we will be "without natural affection" (Rom. 1:31, 2 Tim. 3:3). As we spend time cooped up with our families it can either bring out the best in us... or the worst. Times of testing cause us to reflect on those character qualities that the Lord desires to produce in our lives, dying to self -- "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Cor. 4:10). We can learn by experience that even during tough times the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," and "against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22). The true test of these fruits is how we conduct ourselves within our family confines.

Many years ago when I counseled Christians there were those who would plop down in a chair, fold their arms across their chest, and assert that "I am a such-and-so, and I'll always be a such-and-so and I am not going to change." Digging in their heels they were proclaiming that God's Holy Spirit could not overcome either their ingrown lousy attitudes or bad behaviors. They did not want to be convicted by the Spirit. But isn't transforming our inner man the entire point of sanctification? (See Romans 12:1-2). By God's grace we can grow and produce new fruit. God's Spirit fills us with the very inner strength at the very time we need it. The Apostle Paul testified,

"And He said unto me,
'My grace is sufficient for thee:
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Each of us can pray that God will enable us to gain virtuous qualities, greater strengths, and renewed courage that we did not think we possessed. We can learn endurance, choose peace, enjoy quiet, get some rest, and trust in God's faithfulness. 2 Peter 1:5-11 sums it up best:


"And beside this, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue;
and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance;
and to temperance patience;
and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound,
they make you that ye shall neither be barren
nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind,
and cannot see afar off,
and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren,
give diligence to make your calling and election sure:
for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly
into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."


It is our hope and prayer that during these difficult times that God "would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16). May you be encouraged by these words from a sister in Christ.


Endnotes:
1. Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1 (Harper & Row, publishers, 1973 paperback edition), pp. 179-180.
2. Matthew Henry, The Matthew Henry Study Bible (Tyndale House, 1986), p. 2679-2680.