You wake up. You look at the biblical passage. You wonder how it affects this day. And you skim social media. Find a good image on Gab for a lectionary post. Nothing.
Then you find that the local rag has decided to get into the prophecy business. To, again, warn everyone that Christians are dangerous, and that the current President of the USA is evil, his vice president worse, because they hang around Christians.
Prophecy is unfolding in the Middle East. Riots. Killings. War. At its centre is President Donald Trump. And his evangelical supporters are hoping he will bring on Armageddon.
The move of the US embassy to Jerusalem was bold.
Its outcome was predictable.
The territorial dispute between the Palestinians and the recently recreated (after some 1875 years) Israel has been erupting sporadically ever since 1948.
Any change to the delicate power balance was sure to topple into violence.
It has shattered hopes of fresh peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
It has also damaged the credibility of the US as a Middle East peace broker.
How this has been allowed to happen doesn’t make much sense — unless you look at it through the evangelical eyes of some of Trump’s top advisers and closest confidantes.
The move was about domestic politics.
Not international diplomacy.
The decision to move the embassy fulfilled a key Trump election campaign promise. It also represented a victory for hard-line pro-Israeli interest groups.
But Trump’s most prominent electoral support group — conservative evangelicals — see it all as a biblical drama. At last, their great nation has an embassy in God’s own capital city — Jerusalem. And it means cataclysmic events proclaimed by prophecy are about to take place.
Trump himself is at the heart of this prophecy.
His fate is seen as intrinsically tied to that of an ancient Persian king.
The President of the United States is God’s right-hand man, many evangelicals believe. Trump is an imperfect tool God is using to create perfect works. This means nothing less than the end of days. And a one-way ticket to heaven.
President Trump has surrounded himself with outspoken believers who share an end-times theology.
vice-president Mike Pence is a stoic evangelical. He makes no secret that he devoutly believes that war in the Middle East is God’s will. That God wants Israel returned to the Jews. That Armageddon is part of God’s plan.
Pence openly maintains ties with Christian Zionist organisations that see this as a desirable fulfilment of biblical prophecy. His own speeches regularly repeat such imagery, with statements such as “a prophecy literally came to pass” with the establishment of a Israel in 1948.
“When we open the American Embassy in Jerusalem, we will in a very real sense end this historic friction, we’ll embrace reality,” Pence said in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network.
Former high-profile Trump adviser Steve Bannon has also openly spoken about being a Christian Zionist. It’s an evangelical faction that places particular emphasis on supporting Israel in order to ensure God’s plan can be carried out.
It’s a view based on Genesis 12:3, in which God promises Abram: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on Earth will be blessed through you.”
Put simply, you can do no wrong in the eyes of God if you support Israel.
Then there’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Housing Secretary Ben Carson … they are among 10 members of Trump’s cabinet who are prominent supporters of the Capitol Ministries group.
This is an evangelical lobby group which seeks “to teach God’s Word and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with state legislators, judges, and constitutional officers.”
The Rapture cult is diverse and encompasses many Christian denominations. But it’s particularly popular among US evangelical groups.
White evangelicals were Trump’s most vocal, and active, voting bloc during the 2016 election campaign.
At the heart of it all is a particular interpretation of biblical prophecy — an amalgam of passages from the New Testament book of Revelations, but also the Old Testament’s Daniel and Isiah. And every preacher applies their own particular spin.
Boiled down, they believe in Armageddon — an apocalyptic Middle Eastern war — and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Jamie Seidel, NZ Herald (archived)
No, this post is not about the end times. Seidel has, as you would expect, his history of dispensational theology wrong: the Puritans were reformed and did not speculate that far. He weaves a narrative of conspiracy and fear. For in his pagan and blinded mind, it is Christians who are the menace, and they must be stopped.
It is true that some US Christians see Trump as like Cyrus. Not the most righteous man of the time, but the one used by God. But you can say that about a lot of the prophets, even Moses: he had killed (Egyptian imperial slavers) and fled the local legal authorities.
And we are not to be like them. You can get yourself twisted in eschatology to the point that you have no earthly use. We are to live righteously, as we are commanded to.
17Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20That is not the way you learned Christ! 21For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
We do not know the time nor the hour of the coming of Christ. It is only those who are pagan who consider that we can manipulate such. We have a duty to pray for our leaders, particularly as today is budget day, and the kiwi dollar is falling, including ones we don’t like. (At present, that is almost every prime minister in the Commonwealth: they are all converged).
And we are to live in love. We are to live purely.
We are not to worry about the small risks. There are enough real risks around. Ramadan is upon us, so we can expect bombs of peace, knives of peace, and trucks of jihad.
But the elite have a strong delusion driven by their habitual sin. In the last three days I have been hearing neuroimaging talks about violence, that forget that this is phrenology: the brain makes circuits with synapses and unmakes them, and what you do continually remains.
And we can see the changes with clinical conditions, on MRI, particularly network analysis of MRI.
So do not be one of their fools. Do not fall into the consipiracy theories. Our journalists only know the current second, the current fear, the currently approved vices, and the current narrative. They never reflect, for then they may repent.
Do not be them, and do not be like them.