Saturday, December 22, 2012

America: What Must Change? (Last of Three Parts)


By Mila D. Aguilar

An Earthly Kingdom, A Monstrous Beast
(Part III of III)

If American evangelicals had not been blindsided by the worship of their country, they should be leading the charge in America’s transformation today.

But they chose to deny those very parts of the Bible that could extricate them from their country’s woes.

Yet all is not lost, for whatever the sin, those who have surrendered to Jesus as their Lord and Master sooner or later see His Light.

If at the beginning American evangelicals spread a self-centered, individualistic gospel of purely personal salvation and prosperity, the good news they imparted to Africa, Asia and Latin America has taken on the possibility of national salvation through the intercession of the Christian community in each country.

2 Chronicles 7:14 took root all over the world in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Now, not only believers in Christ can be saved. Whole nations could rise up through the ardent prayers of believers in Christ.

Still, the devil has not stopped working.

The “New American Century”

In America itself, this outward urge took on a skewed dimension. Christianity was picked up by the Republicans, but only to be used for their narrow political ends. Karl Rove and his ilk tried hard to push for another American century of power and pelf using their mangled idea of Christianity. The enemy became every individual with petty personal sins against God in the areas of gender choice, abortion and women’s rights.

The choice of enemy was not accidental. The whole scheme redounded to obscuring the fact of exploitation and oppression of the 99% by the top 1% of society. Concentrating on petty personal sins, indeed, one could remove the kleig lights from increasing poverty in America and the world, poverty wrought by the greed mainly of the American elite.

And yet the Bible does not condemn sinners, it saves them.

John 3:17 assures us: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

One does not attack petty personal sins; one draws the person to Jesus Christ, letting Jesus’ personal relationship with the sinner work its way through his or her heart.

In making their grievous theological mistake of skewering petty personal sins instead of the major social sins against the poor, deprived and oppressed, evangelicals in cahoots with Republicans unwittingly paved the way for the second victory of Obama. Their Mormon candidate, supposedly pure and holy as far as gender choice, abortion and women’s rights were concerned, blundered his way into secretly attacking the 47% on social security -- and ended up with only 47% of the vote.

What these evangelicals continue to deny is that the whole of the Old Testament clearly calls for justice and righteousness for the weak and oppressed. “If you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever,” Jeremiah 7:6,7 states unequivocally.

“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the Lord will take up their case and will plunder those who plunder them.” enjoins Proverbs 22:22-23.

There is no lack of such verses in the New Testament, either. Jesus himself came from the poor, his earthly adoptive father having been a carpenter; many of his disciples were fishermen, only one of them being a tax collector -- the outcasts of that time; and the great majority of those he healed and saved were the blind, the lame and even the leprous of the streets and meadows of Israel. 

His advice to the rich young man who wanted to go to heaven was, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21c,d)

If atheism is on the rise in America today, shouldn’t some blame be cast on the Republicans, their rabid political agenda, and the evangelicals they have hoodwinked into supporting it? Are Christopher Hitchens and his kind totally to be credited for atheism’s growth?

1 Samuel 8

Aside from the overemphasis on personal salvation and prosperity and the shelving if not total denial of God’s love for the poor and oppressed, American evangelicals harbor in their secret pockets another, perhaps greater, theological error: their ignorance of 1 Samuel 8.

1 Samuel 8 is a mere 22 verses in the Bible that tell an extremely significant story about human kings. Samuel, you see, was a judge, not a king. In the beginning, Israel had only judges, not kings.

What is the difference between a judge and a king? A judge arbitrates, through constant consultations with God, the problems of the people with one another; he owns nothing; he acknowledges the Creator God's ownership over the people. A king owns the people; he does not have to consult God.

All the tribes around Israel already had kings when Samuel was old and had to appoint his two sons as judges for Israel in Beersheba. 

It so happened that his sons were corrupt.

The reaction of the people of Israel to the corruption of Samuel’s sons was to demand a king over them. They did not ask for the corruption to be curbed, but for a king to be appointed. This was because the nations around them, all heathen and non-believers in God, already had kings.

Samuel knew the grave implications of their demand and so complained to the Lord about it.

This was the Lord God’s response:

It is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” (1 Samuel 8:7c-9)

What does this response show? The Lord was the King of Israel; that is why He appointed only judges over Israel. He intended to stay as the King of Israel forever. When the Israelites demanded a human king, they were rejecting not Samuel nor his sons, but the Lord God of Israel Himself!

And yet the Lord, in His goodness, told Samuel to listen to them and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do to them. This explanation constitutes verses 11-18, the bulk of the chapter.

In essence, the Lord, through Samuel, told the people that the human king they wanted would own them, their spouses, their sons and daughters, their sheep and animals, their land, and everything within it -- and could therefore do to these whatever he wished.

The human king would own Israel, which in reality was owned by none other than their true King, the Lord their God. In wanting a human king, the Israelites were in essence rejecting the Lord’s ownership over them as their Creator, and therefore His right to rule them directly.

If they chose to have human kings with all their errant ways, they would undergo untold sufferings and hardships.

A human king would not by any means be like the Lord, Israel’s God, who is infinite in His mercy and fair in meting justice.

But the Israelites still insisted on getting a king, wanting to follow their heathen neighbors who had many gods.

And so they got Saul.

“Authority”

Evangelical ministers, fond of their new-found authority over their flock, revel over Romans 13:1: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

There is nothing wrong with Romans 13:1. 

Exegetically, it was propounded in the century when the Jews were under Roman rule and would have been decimated if they had rebelled. 

It was also necessary in the millennia of Jewish diaspora, when Semitic emigres came under successive suppressions in Europe, from the Inquisition to the Black Plague to Hitler.

Ever since, it has been helpful everywhere in forestalling anarchy in times of extreme social disorder.

But without the nuanced balance of 1 Samuel 8, Romans 13:1 becomes an excuse for tyranny and oftentimes, simply bad leadership.

1 Samuel 8 reminds us that the Lord our God is the only real authority, that He is the only owner of earth and the universe, that He is our one and only King.

We should therefore listen to Him, follow Him, and worship Him ABOVE all human kings.

Our relationship to Him should be direct and two-way, without interference of any human authority.

But most importantly, 1 Samuel 8 presages a time when human kingdoms will come to an end to give way to the only Kingdom that will last -- the Kingdom of God, also known as the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Four Kingdoms

1 Samuel 8 is very important to the understanding of the four kingdoms interpreted or seen by Daniel four times in different forms and under different foreign kings.

Christian leaders often insist that all these four kingdoms refer to ones long gone, the last preferably being the Roman Empire.

What they can never account for is that the fourth kingdom in The Book of Daniel is always replaced by the Kingdom of God.

And yet, in the same breath, these same Christian leaders acknowledge that today we are in the end times, even the last days, and we are soon to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, not just in our hearts, but physically, for all the earth to see.

If the fourth kingdom is the long-lost, declined and kaput Roman Empire, what will the Kingdom of God, of Jesus Christ God the Son, the King of Kings, replace?

The truth is that our Christian leaders are in gross denial of present-day realities.

If they let the Word of God, the Bible, talk to them a little more, they would see that the fourth kingdom is operating right in their midst.

Daniel, in 2:40-43, tells King Nebuchadnezzar:

“Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron – for iron breaks and smashes everything – and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay.”

This is immediately followed by verses 44-45:

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”

In other words, the Kingdom of Heaven will be set up in the time of the fourth kingdom. But the Roman Empire has long passed. If this Kingdom of Heaven was set up by Jesus Christ during the Roman Empire, when did His millennial reign begin? 

Do not tell me we are now into His third millennium.

And yet, notice the description of the fourth kingdom: Does it not look very familiar to you, with its strength that can crush and break all others, but its feet made partly of iron and partly of clay, invading many countries at the same time like the superpower it is but racked by dissension and financial crises in its own boarders?

Do not tell me that is Russia.

In fact American evangelicals insist that the United States of America is not in the Bible.

Russia is, Europe is, the Islamic Caliphate is, even China is -- all as foes of God, in their estimation -- but the United States is not.

Even the islands of the Philippines are in the Bible. But the United States is not.

Tell that to the Marines, if you read your Bible carefully.

The Beast of Imperialism

Another very important portion of the Bible slurred over by American evangelicals is Revelation 17.

The chapter is of course subject to many interpretations, being highly symbolic in character.

But if you understand Lenin’s scientific definition of imperialism, you might see through the symbolisms of Revelation 17.

The beast, on which the adulterous woman sits, has seven heads and ten horns.

The seven heads are seven kings, but there is an eighth who belongs to the seventh but is headed for his destruction.

Have you heard of the Group of Seven, which became Eight with the inclusion of Russia?

The ten horns, on the other hand, are also ten kings, who are part of the Beast but will make war on the Lamb, Jesus Christ, obviously without the cooperation of the seven-become-eight kings who are also part of the Beast.

Aren’t the Group of Seven-now-Eight in the same oil business as the Islamic nations?

Aren’t the Islamic nations at war with the Lamb?

And who is the prostitute, the adulterous woman, who sits on the Beast, but whom the ten horns hate? She sits on waters which “are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” At the same time she sits on seven hills, which are also the seven kings.

New York City, the financial center of Imperialism?

Whatever your interpretation of the Beast, it is undeniable that when Jesus Christ comes down from heaven with His saints, it will be not only to bind Satan, but to throw the Beast AND his false prophets into fire and brimstone -- forever. That is the clear, indelible and unquestionable message of Revelation 19.

The Beast and his false prophets are destined for destruction.

If the Beast is Imperialism -- the fourth and last kingdom, as I see it -- then Jesus Christ will come down to destroy Imperialism, and it will never again reign on earth, nor oppress any nation.

Every nation that survives Jesus’ sword will be a peer among nations.

No one nation will rule over others. No nation will attack any other. Every nation will be an equal in the community of nations.

Only Jesus Christ will be King of Kings and Lord of Lords, with every nation having a leader, a “king,” who will receive his or her instructions straight from the Lord, but will not be able to impede any of his or her citizens from talking to the Lord.

The millennial reign of Jesus Christ will have no room for a superpower.

If only American evangelicals could live with that fact.

Then perhaps, they can lead America in its journey to complete transformation.

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