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When Europeans seriously began to explore the rest of the world in the 1500's, it started out as a search for better trade routes to India and the Far East. These were economic ventures, but with them went priests who sought to spread the dominion of the Church.
Columbus went west in the attempt to reach India by going around the world. He did not realize just how big the earth was, but when he landed in the Caribbean, he assumed he had landed on an island off the coast of India. So the people were called Indians. The explorers then went further west to Central and South America, primarily in search of gold. In places like Peru they found a great deal of gold and proceeded to plunder it wherever they could.
This required military might, of course, so armies were brought in to conquer the people and carry off their wealth to Europe. Apparently, it did not occur to them that this might be theft. And because the Christian God was mightier in battle than the pagan gods, it was not too difficult to convince the people to switch their allegiance to the God of the conquerors.
So the dominion of the Church was extended. The problem was that the character of the Christian God was misrepresented in the process. These new Christians became servants of the Church, rather than servants of Christ. There were, of course, some priests who had a genuine heart for the people, but more often than not their own submission to the Church caused them to go along with the conquest and theft as an overall policy.
Virtually no one understood in those days that the Church was fulfilling the prophetic role of King Saul, whose reign began with his coronation on the day of wheat harvest (1 Sam. 12:17), i.e., the feast of weeks, later known as Pentecost. Even so, there were many in the 1500's who were breaking away from the house of Saul to follow David, the "outlaw" (from Saul's perspective). This new movement was known as the Protestant Reformation.
My present concern is not their doctrinal differences, nor even the question of whose dominion each side was in submission to, but rather how one manifests the true character of God and of Christ. The Protestant Reformation, particularly beginning with Martin Luther's excommunication in 1521, began a 490-year cycle that just ended a year ago in 2011.
What have we learned in the past 490 years? We should have learned to be less like Saul and more like David (and Christ). Luther reinstated the Passover revelation of Justification by faith alone. As with ancient Israel, this brought them out of Egypt. The Wesleys then brought in the value of living a righteous life after our Justification, and this is known today as the Holiness Movement. This was their Red Sea experience.
Then came Marah with its revelation of healing (Ex. 15:26), and then Elim with its missionary revelation of the wells of salvation to the 70 nations of the world (Ex. 15:27). After this came the revelation of Pentecost. Even as Israel saw the fire of God on Sinai, so also did the Church see the fire of God--first in Jerusalem in Acts, and then again in 1900 at Topeka, KS.
Not all Christians learned the lessons being revealed during this time. But those who did were changed and, in fact, were eligible to carry the message of the heart of God to the next level.
During this 490-year time of gradual revelation, Christians made many mistakes. Their revelation of the character of Christ was lacking in many and more complete in others. In fact, only the minority of Christians had ears to hear each new revelation as it was given.
And so, the net effect is that the mindset of the past Christian conquerors still lingers in the present. In those early days, primitive people were fair game, and Christians were allowed to steal their goods and enslave them at will. Somehow, they were seen as less human, because their level of humanity was judged according to their race, level of "civilization," and religion.
Church doctrine and policy for centuries had degenerated into political and military competition between Church and monarchs. This long-established mindset very naturally was extended to other nations during the times of Colonialism. European nations sought wealth by conquering new lands to take their natural resources and sell them in Europe.
There were few attempts on the institutional level to establish equal justice and the liberty of the law of Jubilee. In fact, it did not occur to the Christian conquerors that the divine purpose might be to set men free, rather than to enslave them.
But we today, as aspiring overcomers, are called to "be priests of God and of Christ" and "reign with Him" (Rev. 20:6). What type of conqueror are we? Is it our mission to enslave others, or to set them free? Are we skilled in the type of war that kills the enemy, or are we skilled in spiritual warfare that brings life, peace, and reconciliation?
When we observe John Hagee's call to war, and witness almost all of the Republican presidential candidates appealing to their Christian constituencies by declaring their intent to declare war on Iran, we cannot help but see that same spirit of King Saul alive and well in the heart of the Church today.
The biblical precedent tells us that the house of Saul was allowed to remain as citizens in David's kingdom, but they were barred from positions of rulership. Most of Saul's former subjects became loyal to David and came to have a new mindset. So also today. But our primary concern is qualifying as an overcomer. We cannot be an overcomer as long as we think and believe like King Saul.
To be an overcomer, one must have the faith of Abraham. Such faith not only justifies us personally, but it also believes and acts upon the promise given to Abraham in Gen. 12:4, "and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." We are to be a blessing--not a curse--to all families of the earth. We are to seek their welfare, not to seek our own welfare by stealing from them.
The law of God demands equal justice for all, whether they are Israelites or not (Lev. 19:33, 34). Israelites were to remember the time when Pharaoh oppressed them as aliens in Egypt. Deut. 10:18, 19 says,
18 He executes justice for the orphan, and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. 19 So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
It is because we do not know or believe the law of God that we violate it by our traditions of men. Jewish tradition said that the law was given only for them and for their benefit, and so they thought of aliens as being subhuman, as the Jewish Talmud often teaches. For example, Rabbi Schneerson taught:
"Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness." [Dr. Israel Shahak, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, p. 60]
This wide-spread tradition resulted in the teaching that:
"All property of other nations belongs to the Jewish nation, which consequently is entitled to seize upon it without any scruples. An Orthodox Jew is not bound to observe principles of morality towards people of other tribes. He may act contrary to morality, if profitable to himself or to Jews in general." [Rabbi Yosef Karo, Shulhan Aruch]
This is the belief system that the Apostle Paul fought in the first century, as we will see shortly. Yet it crept into the Church in a modified form and has influenced Western governments to this day.