In 1898 H.G.Wells impacted the world with one of the first and, arguably, one of the finest science fiction novels. For the past 125 years it has never been out of print! Wells’ plot postulated that “across the gulf of space . . . intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
When The War of the Worlds was serialised for broadcasting forty years later, such was the impact of Wells’ Martian invasion that it “caused panic among listeners who did not know that the events were fictional.”
When God created Man and gave to mankind spiritual authority over Planet Earth, Satan, who had lost his authority when he was thrown out of Heaven (Isaiah 14:12 and Luke 10:18-20), using the words of H.G.Wells, “regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew up his plans” against Mankind and against God. He began with man’s capitulation to his temptations at the Fall, through which the Kingdom of this world was temporarily put into the control of the one who Scripture calls “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
What we are now seeing in Israel, however, is not a fictional war, but a real war between Israel and its annihilationist enemies, that is ultimately a proxy war being waged by demonic intellects, “vast and cool and unsympathetic” against the living God and His end-time purposes for Israel and God’s heaven-bound Kingdom people.
In His wilderness temptations, Jesus was offered all the Kingdoms of the world by Satan. “I will give you all their authority and splendour, for it has been given to me and I can give it to anyone I want” (Luke 4:7). Jesus did not dispute Satan’s claim that they had been given to him (by Man), but declined to cooperate with Satan’s plan which would have brought the Godhead into submission under him, thus achieving Satan’s objective of being above the Almighty (Isaiah 14:13-14).
The cross was Satan’s nemesis, and the resurrection sent the angelic victory cry,”He has risen” (Luke 24:6) echoing round the world, setting in motion the end-times which will conclude with Christ’s ultimate return to Jerusalem in glory (Zechariah 14:4). Jesus overcame death and, ever since, as many as receive Him as their Saviour are freed from the curse of sin and death, restored as God’s children into a right relationship with their Father.
God’s Eternal Agenda
Satan knows God’s eternal agenda. It’s all there, set out in black and white, in God’s book – the Bible. The whole of the end-times – from the resurrection to the return of Jesus – is a season of harvest, the gathering in of the believers who choose Jesus and “In keeping with God’s promise are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). Reinhard Bonke used to say, the work of the evangelist is to populate Heaven!
So, the more that Satan can anaesthetise the church, make evangelism a dirty word and prolong the season of harvesting, the longer Satan will have to reign on earth. He has a vested interest, therefore, in killing the appetite for evangelism within the church. And if, in parallel, he can use deceived and deluded men to submit the world to the extremes of war, that Jesus prophesied would happen in Matthew 24:4-15, then, as Jesus said, “the love of many would grow cold and they would turn away from the faith” (Matthew 24:10).
And so, in his determination to delay the return of Jesus, right now Satan has managed to create a perfect storm – an anaesthetised church, with so little trust in what it says it believes that its leaders are afraid to tell anyone the truths which lie at the heart of the Gospel, complimented by not only the horrors of war, but the media which relays every atrocity that man commits, by satellite TV, to every country of the world in seconds. The horrors of what Hamas did to unsuspecting Israelis on the 7th October, followed by the consequential devastation in Gaza, have created a traumatised world.
Satan knows that one day Jesus will return to Jerusalem, and so, in his own delusional wishful thinking he is continuing his assault on the Jewish people and the land of Israel so that there will be no Jerusalem for Jesus to return to. This simple objective flies in the face of multiple Scriptural promises about God’s purposes for Jerusalem. The ultimate Palestinian Islamic objective is not to secure its own territory within safe boundaries, but to annihilate Israel and its people.
Hamas in Gaza and Hesbollah in Lebanon are both puppets of Iran, whose regular stated objective is to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, hence Israel’s concern to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons potential before it is too late. The object of Palestine supporters who cry “from the River (Jordan) to the sea (the Med)” is to rewrite the map of the Middle East, with there no longer being any mention of the State of Israel.
Satan may have his plan, but God has His purposes which will be fulfilled, notwithstanding every strategy of the enemy. Until Jesus comes again, Israel will be in the cross-hairs of Satan’s artillery. And the closer the time comes to the return of the Lord, the fiercer will be the conflict. But, we can take comfort from the word of Jesus when He said, “for the sake of the elect these days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21).
Where is God in All This?
A good question! And even believers are crying out “Where is God in all this?”
In the midst of this extraordinary situation God is still building His true Church – and by this I mean the ones who are called out from serving the god of this world to be the future citizens of Heaven, who are currently working as special agents for the Kingdom of God in what is now for them, alien territory! They are the harvesters with a mission to use every means possible to gather in the harvest of souls, before the door closes on the annals of time and eternity beckons. Jesus urges us to “ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37). And warns the unbeliever that the day will come like a thief in the night, when you least expect it.
So, where is God in all of this? He remains as He has always been, with His arms wide open ready and willing to welcome home those who turn to Jesus as their Saviour. He is what He has always been, a loving Father watching and waiting for the prodigals to come to their senses and say “I will set out and go back to my Father and say to Him, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:10).
This is the core issue in a broken world – people have turned away from the love and care of Father God and, as Jeremiah put it, “they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13). As a result they are lost in a broken and traumatised world and while the church has all the answers within its grasp, as the Steward of a dying Methodist Church recently commented, “we don’t believe much of that, these days.”
God’s Agenda for You and Me
If corporate church has lost the plot, then the mantle of faith for the reviving power of the Holy Spirit, must fall on those individual faith-adventurers who still believe that when God gives vision, He will respond with His presence and His provision when we set out in obedience to Him. “It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
The church at large may be reluctant to believe the truths that they do know about. But outside the walls of the church, the world is ignorant of what these truths are and can’t believe in what or who they don’t know! Or, as Paul expressed the grief of God about a people for whom faith-adventuring is the stuff of history, and not today’s reality, “How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Romans 10:14-15).
As I write these words I am being moved with compassion once again, just as I was forty years ago at the beginning of my ministry, for the lost and the hurting – people who have no shepherd to show them the way, no healer to tend their wounded souls and no teacher to open their eyes to the extraordinary truth that the living God is gathering His children into the safety of the Father’s arms. I am crying out for the Holy Spirit to convict believers of the unchanging call on their lives to respond to the cry of God’s heart.
The times are too serious for believers to wait on others to do the work. The day is long past when church-goers can trust their leaders to be the evangelistic spokesperson into their community and the nation. The baton has passed to the individuals with willing hearts, who know the ways and the purposes of God, and are willing to be fired up from within by the Holy Spirit, to be God’s voice into the world. As I quoted in my last blog from Daniel 11:32, it is “the people who do know their God who will be strong and do exploits.” What are you waiting for?
Take a look at the life of Mary Slessor. An extraordinary, uneducated working girl from the flax mills of Dundee. In 1873 she heard that the great pioneer missionary to Africa, David Livingstone, had died. God touched her heart and without, seemingly, there being any possible prospect of escaping the mills of Dundee, she vowed to give up her life to replace him in Africa. She became one of the most effective missionaries West Africa has ever known, the main street in Calabar past the hospital is still called Mary Slessor Road. On her death she was given a State funeral. And the Clydesdale Bank even put her story on the back of a Ten Pound note!. Take a few minutes to find and read her story and marvel at the exploits of one individual who truly knew her God and didn’t allow anything to stand in the way of the exploits that God called her to do. This is how The War of the Worlds is won!
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