We continue today with the revelation that the Divine Eagle gives us about our Father in Heaven and the way He has ordained for us to grow and to live successfully. I hope that by now we all clearly understand that Yahweh does not permit trouble to continue to come our way in order to destroy us but in order to develop us. When circumstances are against us, we must be able to set the tilt of our wings and use adversity to lift us higher into the presence of the Elohim (God).
This whole idea is completely alien to modern secular thinking which offers a totally different set of solutions to adversity. Because their ideas are so seductive and persuasive it's important, I think, that we devote time to a brief study of them. The apostle Paul warns:
"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Col.2:8-9, NKJV).
Satan is the great thief and cheater. His empty and deceitful ideas have saturated society. And because we are bombarded with these ideas all the time, it is so easy to subconsciously accept them without ever really giving them serious thought. Because we are so easily influenced, Yahweh has commanded His people in all ages to "be separate" so that they are not seduced and waylaid by the doctrines of men which rob us of the power that comes through the Word.
Before we begin our study today I want to categorically state that I am not against psychology or psychoanalysis - nor am I against philosophers or philosophies. What I am against is some of the goals and methods of psychology and philosophy which, if they do not square with the clearly stated goals of the Word of Life, will lead souls in entirely the wrong direction. Non-Christians are fond of labelling Bible-believing Christians as being against 'progress' and the quest for knowledge, which we most definitely are not: what we are against is any system that leads away from Yahweh and from Torah. I myself have learned and profited much from the learning and discoveries psychologists and philosophers.
So let us begin. The Christian approach to life is radically different from the secular psychoanalyst who concentrates on giving his patient an understanding of himself in the hope that he will be able to resolve his own problems. The Christian approach to life is also different from the behaviourists who try to change man's environment. What we do is go beyond these things: changing a man's feelings or circumstances mean little unless you first change his perceptions.
To change a man's perceptions you must first confront him with reality - the reality of what is going on around him. Our occult-infested media does exactly the opposite: we are taught instead to fantasise and imagine our own worlds and derive our worth, peace, comfort and purpose from these. According to the latest and most popular form of thinking, everyone is his own truth and therefore his own reality. Little wonder that people can't interact anymore - little wonder that relationships are so shallow and are constantly breaking up and restarting. Little wonder that people are so restless, constantly on the move in search of new experiences and 'highs'. Subconsciously people are craving for the kind of intimacy which only comes through Truth but have swallowed the lie that the truth is 'within'. The search for happiness can only really get under way when we are prepared to confront the way things are - both ourselves and others, and the world we live in - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
For most people reality is so ugly that they instantly recoil to their inner world of solitude. To maintain a fantasy does, of course, mean erecting barriers so that our artificial comfort zones can be secured and 'defended' against hostile 'worlds', real or imaginary. The Christian psychoanalyst has, as his primary duty, to confront these false worlds by making people aware of what is actually going on around them. Because these artificial worlds are girded by philosophy, the Christian philosopher must point people towards the philosophy of Yahweh which gives a cosmic view of Reality and describes the rules and structures that maintain it. Christian philosophy is Torah.
The Christian can meet adversity and trouble head-on because he knows that through it he will develop more Christ-likeness and more character. The secularist will, by contrast, invariably try to avoid trouble or readjust his imaginary internal universe to accommodate it. Hinduism and Buddhism deny reality by declaring that the world is Maya or illusion. Occultists try to accommodate it by trying to set up a balance of yin and yang. Demons are seen as internal forces which have to be integrated, instead of intrusive enemies that need expelling by dealing with the reality and the grounds for their problems. And when there are no grounds - when adversity is given simply to build-up character - they are often at a loss as to how to handle it constructively.
In India, some farmers winnow wheat by holding up a basket containing wheat and chaff, shaking and tipping it up and letting the contents slowly fall so that the wind can blow through them, driving the chaff away and leaving only the wheat to fall to the ground. The winds of adversity and affliction may blow through your spirit but they do nothing except separate the chaff from the wheat. You become a sifted soul - sifted of everything that is not worthwhile. Thus the Psalmist could write:
"Before my trouble I went wrong: now I do thy bidding" (Ps.119:67, Moffat).
or as it says in the New King James Version:
"Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word" (Ps.119:67, NKJV).
The search for comfort in the face of adversity will have no conclusion until reality is confronted - and that means confronting the Ultimate Reality, Yahweh-Elohim, and His Torah-Truth. It means seeing ourselves as we really are and ending the game of pretence that rejecting God forces us into. It means ending the endlessly futile quest for mental, emotional, and sexual stimulation by realigning our thoughts, feelings and behaviour with the truth.
At the end of the Bible, Yah'shua (Jesus) draws to our attention to seven packages of secular problems that afflict Christians in particular life circumstances, and gives us the keys to solve them. In one Messianic community (church) called Thyatira a self-styled prophetess called Jezebel was going around seducing believers and encouraging them to overturn Torah and commit sexual immorality, a permissive, anarchistic, and destructive lifestyle which has infected the churches in our age too and all but destroyed the nuclear family in the West. Using the lie and excuse of breaking down restrictive, psychologically harmful and outmoded ideas about morality, the 1960's generation has opened a Pandora's Box of wickedness which has eroded nearly every moral fibre of once flourishing Christian societies forty years on. The whole fabric of modern culture is now rotten to the core. And the solution? This is what Yah'shua (Jesus) says:
"... he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations -- He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' -- as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star" (Rev.2:26-28, NKJV).
The word 'nation' here renders the Greek ethnos or 'ethnic group' which translates the Hebrew goi meaning a 'corporate body of people', and by implication also means the culture of that body of people. It is from the word goi that we get the term 'gentile'. A gentile is anyone who is living outside Torah, which is the Law and Teaching of Yahweh - in other words, an unbeliever. In this passage, believers and the unbelieving goyim are contrasted, and Yahweh is telling us something extraordinary about 'nations' and 'cultures'.
One of the idols of our modern, permissive and all-embracing global village culture is that all cultures are equally valid. It is a lie that has been rammed down our throats since the United Nations was formed. And yet at the same time the sovereignty of the nations is being subtly undermined, as in the European Union (EU) where people are being corralled into a super-state which many believe will lead to a One World State run by the Antichrist. This whole drive to preserve culture and create a one-world culture and state is the diametric opposite of the Kingdom of Heaven. As believers we have been commanded to have nothing to do with this system. Rather, we are told, we will be given power over the goyim; and Yahweh adds that they will be "dashed to pieces". The whole 'cult' of anti-Torah culture is satanic - Yahweh does not destroy that which is good.
The only culture that is blessed by Yahweh is that which is grounded firmly in Torah. A culture is the sum total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action. It is the total range of activities and ideas of a people. It is a terrible lie to believe that there are many different cultural expressions of Christianity, because there is only one set of biblical ideas, beliefs, and values. Whilst knowledge will always increase, the Divine Culture will therefore be continuously expanding and growing in terms of enlightenment - the moral, ethical, and religious ideas of Christian people rooted in the Bible are eternally constant and need no improvement.
Please note that there is no overcoming unless Yahweh's works are kept until the end - His Laws, Statutes, Festivals and Teachings which we collectively call Torah. There is no such thing in the Kingdom of Yahweh as 'American culture', 'British culture', 'Norwegian culture', 'Indian culture', or any other culture whose roots are the nations. The whole revival of New Covenant Torah is based on this fact: we are being sifted out as nations and cultures too so that what is left is the pure Biblical Culture which was hijacked by Catholicism and its successors.
This "dashing into pieces" of the errors of our heritages is not optional. Please note well that it is a struggle that requires the overcoming of our prejudices and pride. One of the reasons that we are being allowed to suffer is to encourage us to search and overcome. And until this has been accomplished we will not receive the promise given to Thyatira - we will not receive "the morning star". And since that is a promise to overcoming believers, it must surely be important! Otherwise why mention it at all?
Literally, the "morning star" is the planet Venus. Now I am sure that there are few, if any, here amongst us who believe that overcomers are going to inherit the planet Venus. I suppose it's possible - maybe Yahweh will transform this molten world into a glorious paradise and that is where the overcomers will live. However, that would seem to go against the numerous scriptures that tell us that the Millennium, and the heavenly world to come, will be on this planet earth, along with the New Jerusalem and our King, Yah'shua (Jesus).
In this instance, I think it is best to let the Bible interpret itself, for this is by far the safest exegetical method. And stars, as you know, either represent glory (e.g. 1 Cor.15:41) or people. Later on in the Book of Revelation Yah'shua (Jesus) tells us:
"I, Yah'shua (Jesus), have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star" (Rev.22:16, NKJV).
So there you have it. Those who overcome will smash the goi culture and inherit glory and the presence of Yah'shua (Jesus)! That means that at some point we must cut the umbilical cord that binds us to our cultures and nations and declare that, like Abram, we are leaving our place of origin to a new Promised Land. Abram took his family with him but you will remember that nearly all of his relatives only completed half the journey: most, like his uncle, decided to settle in Paddan-Aram and stay put. And many Christians will do that - they will compromise with the pagan culture and not make the final break. Such cannot inherit glory - such cannot receive the "morning star" - Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) - from the Father.
This is radical doctrine but absolutely essential. People glibly talk about 'receiving Christ' but fail to appreciate that this is only the first step in the rebirth process. A struggle is required until, like the caterpillar turning into a pupa, we eventually shed the chrysalis of the culture that birthed us and enter into a new Promised Land, both inwardly (for now) and outwardly (in the Millennium).
Such words as these do challenge the latent idolatry of patriotism. There is, however, a difference between idolatrous patriotism and truly loving ones country in Yahweh. 'Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel' - in other words, our love of 'country' becomes instead an excuse to love its culture which shelters us in our sins. We are apt to forget that we have been called into a new set of loyalties in Christ:
"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of Yahweh (God), having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of Yahweh (God) in the Ruach (Spirit)" (Eph.2:19-22, NKJV).
We are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven which has a country called Israel - not the modern Republic of the same name - but a country which will be restored in the Holy Land in the Millennium. We are, physically-speaking, the citizens of a nation in Diaspora.
The majority of Christians have failed to understand the basis of much of the opposition that we are receiving, and why Yahweh is permitting it. Yes, it is for the reformation of our characters, as I have been talking about for the last two weeks, but it is also for the reformation of the Body as a whole: Yahweh wants a new culture, a new living organism based on Torah, so that that Body will be ready for the Millennium. You can't just throw Americans, Britons, Norwegians, Indians, Russians, African, Filipinos, and others into a new country and expect them to 'gel' anymore than Yahweh could permit the freed Israelite slaves from Egypt to march into Canaan with all their Egyptian ideas and modes of behaviour: the culture that birthed them had to be purged and replaced with a new one. And as we know, there was tremendous resistance to this change! We have been called to be Israelites - we are Israelites. But being an Israelite doesn't mean slapping a label on an American or an African which says 'Israelite' - it means a complete change of thinking, feeling, and behaviour. It means a new national way of life. And that requires overcoming. What is the evidence that this changeover has taken place? The "bright and morning star"!
We began our study today by saying that changing feelings and circumstances can only begin by changing our perceptions. To change our perceptions we need to know who we really are - here and now - and what is actually going on around ourselves. And then we need to understand the kind of lifestyle that Yahweh wants us to live, and to make the necessary adjustments. That means we need to know Torah and to learn to think the way the Bible writers thought. We need to perceive our universe and all that is within our immediate grasp in terms of Torah - we must use the lenses that Yahweh made for us, and not those distorted, cracked, scratched and dirty ones which our cultures have given us. There is good in all cultures, and doubtless some cultures may be better than others. However, we cannot start from the foundation of the cultures that birthed us and simply 'add' the Gospel, because the Gospel is a culture all in itself. That is why true believers will always be hated because they are 'different' or 'set-apart' (holy) from others. We behave differently, speak differently, love differently. And if we are living the Gospel as we ought, we should be sticking out like sore thumbs and not blending into the culture around us. And as our cultures descend into ever greater wickedness, then we will find - and are indeed already finding - that we will face the kind of drastic choices that faced Lot and his family in Sodom and Gemorah.
Yahweh is already calling us out - He doesn't want us to remain to the last moment as Lot did. He wants no pillars of salt, no shattered families, and does not wants family lines to end because spouses will not respond. We have to start overcoming now by resisting the enemy's invitation to live in our own inner fantasy worlds where truth is relative and where we cease being accountable. We have to fight against the pull of the cultures that birthed us and understand that to break out of them requires an active spiritual struggle against the invisible powers that have formed them. It means making an apparently scary leap of faith by trusting when Yahweh kicks us out of the nest, in the full confidence that He will bear us up as on eagles' wings. Today I am asking you to honestly look at your cultural heritages and to compare them with Torah, and to not be afraid to do what Abraham did when He obeyed the voice of Yahweh and headed towards his real home. Let us go up to Zion and receive the morning star.