AMERICA’S DESCENT INTO CHAOS: IDENTIFYING THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY
Darkness enters the void vacated by the light.
Those of you who follow my work know I am an advocate of the Early Church. Regardless of what that term may conjure up in the minds of Christians (and it is likely to invoke quite dissimilar notions), allow me to define it from a New Covenant perspective, the only one that matters.
THE FINAL GENERATION
We must look at the period of roughly forty years between the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and the cessation of the former nation of Israel (the little that was left of it) in AD 70. On Av 9 of that year, which occurs on our calendar in approximately late July to early August, Israel’s third and final temple was destroyed. The great city of Jerusalem was also largely destroyed. Judgment had fallen on a rebellious people, a people with a long track record of violating God’s covenants. Everything that could possibly have been done by the Lord to avert such a disastrous outcome had been done, but to no avail.
Sixty-five years later, in AD 135, after yet another uprising by rebellious Zealots, what may be termed the final termination of what was once Jerusalem occurred, when whatever was left was razed to the ground. There was nothing remaining of the former city except the imposing Roman army camp known as Fort Antonia. Jerusalem had become history. A completely new Roman city was built on the former site of Jerusalem which the Emperor Hadrian named Aelia Capitolina. Hadrian improved and expanded Fort Antonia and it served as a powerful Roman military base of operations and bulwark against her enemies in that treacherous geographical location for many decades into the future. The new Roman city of Aelia Capitolina maintained its name for over 200 years until time of Constantine.
DIVISION AND DESTRUCTION FORETOLD
When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]
Just as the Lord Jesus had predicted during His ministry in AD 32, the temple was gone forever and so was the original city of Jerusalem. The ancient Jebusite city captured by King David in 1003 BC and all its later additions is long gone. There are no intact ruins. What exists of the old city at present after the time of Hadrian was built by later peoples through the centuries, including the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman, known notably for the walls he built in the sixteenth century.
So there you have the two bookends which define the time of the Early Church, from AD 32-70. This roughly 40 year period was the time that the vestiges of ancient Israel existed side by side with the new Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. He took His rightful place as the only possible next king and the final King of Israel, the King of kings and Lord of lords. There had not been an actual king in the Davidic line for over six centuries until His time. A great percentage of Israelites accepted His kingship and honored the Lord as Messiah, King, Savior, and God. A larger percentage rejected Him.
In approximately the first nine years since the Lord’s resurrection, the Early Church (Ekklesia) of the Lord—the Community of Called-Out Ones—consisted entirely of Israelites. There were no Gentiles until the time of Cornelius in roughly AD 41. This made the Early Church strictly a family affair. Spiritual war broke out among two factions of the same family, the believers and unbelievers. Those who believed possessed “eyes to see” in which everything was perfectly revealed. The OT prophecies referencing the Messiah were made clear to them and they taught all who would hear who had a desire to know the truth.
But the unbelieving faction descended into further hatred. What they did to the Lord they also did to many of their believing brothers. The believing Israelites obeyed the Golden Rule and treated their unbelieving brothers with pure spiritual love. The unbelievers in turn responded with pure hatred and murder. It appeared as if there was no way the believers would survive. The unbelievers held all the positions of power and authority. The believers were looked upon as filthy dregs and nothing but heretics and blasphemers.
This was the Early Church. These were the people, in that time frame, who produced the original writings of our New Testament. They were the ones who were most faithful in the face of great persecution. Rather than fade out or die out they grew stronger and more numerous. Despite the rejection and censoring, the hatred displayed by those in power had no effect on stopping them. From the time the Lord rose from the dead and that first great Day of Pentecost until the time of the final destruction of Jerusalem, two distinct camps had formed. The nation was absolutely polarized. However, even with all their political and religious authority, the camp of unbelievers never came close to putting down what they termed a vile rebellion. The real rebels, of course, were not those who were castigated as heretics, but their accusers who had appropriated the side of evil. They chose it. They were the agents of antichrist.
And rather than seek God and align themselves with the Lord’s Community, with rationality and proper conduct, and attempt to make any kind of compromise to gain some semblance of mutual care, they instead gravitated in the opposite direction and began aligning themselves with the Zealot Party, which had previously been only a relatively small segment with little power. Why did the Pharisees and Sadducees do this? Why did the two leading parties, one primarily religious and the other primarily governmental, align themselves with the one group whose only desire was throwing off the Romans even if it meant destroying their country in the process?
The Zealots were nuts. They were crazed revolutionaries who actually believed they could overthrow Rome. Their great passion and martial mentality is unquestioned, but inbred irrational and grandiose beliefs, based in part on a false identification with historical Hebrew leaders, proved to be their downfall since they possessed not the relationship with God of the former and continually proved their opposition to Him by their reprehensible conduct and vicious persona. And as time continued throughout those forty years, as the commingling and entangling grew more complete, the people of the other Hebrew sects began undergoing the same transformation. Did they think by embracing the Zealots they would increase their chances of success?
In the final analysis, all it did was further their demise. When the Great Revolt, otherwise known as the predicted apostasia referred to by Paul, began in the summer of AD 66, it was instigated by the Zealots. The Zealot Party eventually gained ruling control of the temple and the city. Some Pharisee and Sadducee leaders were aghast at the development. A few of them had seen it coming but were powerless to stop the juggernaut. The power of God which they could have had was rejected long before. Because they killed their Messiah, the only One who could have saved them, they killed the possibility of salvation. They had no ability to stop the coming carnage and destruction.
ABSOLUTE FAITHFULNESS IN A TIME OF GREAT TRIAL
The believers continued on through all of this. Jerusalem had remained largely Israelite. The Lord’s brother James, referred to as James the Just, the longtime leader of the local Community in Jerusalem, had done a masterful job of keeping things intact and no doubt remained hopeful of a good outcome, but his mind was primarily set on salvation for his Israelite brothers. As evil continued to grow, however, and became concentrated around and within the city of Jerusalem, events became all the more heinous. This evil reached a pinnacle when the leaders of the unbelieving faction in the city murdered James in cold blood. This rabid faction had years earlier killed Stephen and later James the apostle, but failed in killing Peter. The martyrdom of James the Lord’s brother in AD 63 was the key event that marked the beginning of the final seven years.
Notice, once again, that the Jerusalem Community of Spirit-filled believers had been greatly successful in leading untold thousands of Israelites to salvation during those final forty years. They held the spiritual fort in the face of overwhelming persecution. Though rejected by many family members and friends, nothing could stop them. This was their witness. It is a powerful witness that shouts mightily from the ancient recesses of time into our present and reveals American traditional Christianity as, in general, representing much more so the unbelievers rather than the good guys. This dichotomy has played out all over the world, of course, but is especially apparent in a Christian nation whose many denominations and offshoots have historically revealed division instead of unity, especially that between sincere followers of the Lord faithful to His Word and those with opposing agendas.
The Early Church never sold out. They never demanded authority or walked in it unless it was granted by God. They possessed the proper spiritual fruit and anointing thereof. They were always engaged in spiritual war. The conditions were often unbearable but they soldiered on and kept their powerful witness and reputation intact. In the end they won.
TWO JERUSALEMS / TWO TEMPLES
Regarding the aforementioned spiritual dichotomy between real believers and mere religious posers, the early Christians had understood long before the final conflagration that there were actually two temples and two Jerusalems. One of each represented spiritual bondage, and the other of each represented spiritual freedom. There was the existing city of Jerusalem, on its last legs, under the sentence of destruction, and aligned spiritually with evil forces—a veritable Babylon:
And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. [Revelation 11:8]
And then there was the New Jerusalem, above, the spiritual home of real believers, as explained by Paul:
Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. [Galatians 4:21-26]
Then, back to Revelation, the Lord, through John, gives greater insight on both the new temple and the new city:
“I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” [Revelation 3:11-13]
In contrast to the temples of stone, the first of which was built by Solomon a thousand years before the Lord’s time, the second being an entirely new temple constructed from 521-516 BC, and Herod’s third temple completed not long before the Lord’s birth, there was another temple, one built without human hands, which serves as a perfect complement to the New Jerusalem, as revealed in the following passages by Peter and Paul:
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [1Peter 2:4-5]
For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. [2Corinthians 6:16-18]
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. [Ephesians 2:19-22]
The Early Church also knew the third temple of Israel that then existed prior to AD 70 was destined to fall as well, as did the previous two. But the real temple was comprised of spiritual stones, and each one of those early believers was such a stone, fitting in perfectly beside the other. Thus, our original forebears saw the two temples at the same time. They lived in the roughly forty year period when both Jerusalems and both temples existed simultaneously. It was the only time it would ever happen. This was the true Early Church, the faithful witness, and the spiritual prototype of every Christian Community to come.
SUMMER SOLDIERS AND SUNSHINE PATRIOTS
One hopes that what we are experiencing in America at present is not equivalent to what happened in the first century. Nothing lasts forever on the physical plane of existence. Nations rise and fall. Great world empires which appeared impossible of failure have long since come to absolutely nothing except the cold detritus of ruins. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that if this is the beginning of the end of America, it was an end that did not necessarily have to be, if the Christians in this nation had stayed true to the Lord, and if all the halfway Christians had decided to get right with God.
The majority of those who call themselves Christian leaders in this nation have utterly failed us. And if you may be thinking I just thought of such a thing you may be interested to note that I have been speaking and writing of this sad dynamic for several decades. My book is filled with such rational discussions on how this happened and what we must do to stop it. I warned all who would listen and still am. But my message was initially met primarily with overwhelming rejection and indifference from guess who. And still, after all we have suffered so far this year, the majority of Christian leaders are still acting like the world-loving, weak-willed, spiritual pansies they’ve always been. They’ve always known how to talk the talk. They have also appeared to be walking the walk. The test of the latter, however, never comes in the good times. The test arrives in times like these, when Christians expect their leaders to act like spiritual men rather than crawl that much further into the cloister of careless negligence, deny their responsibilities, blame others, and surrender to petty tyrants who would never otherwise get to first base. Their behavior is a far cry from past spiritual giants and not even in the same galaxy as the Early Church.
“THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated” [Thomas Paine]
It becomes exasperating to see so many still refuse to gain a backbone. Times like these tell us all the more who the real believers are and who has the fruit of a proper spiritual witness. To all of you who have maintained a strong witness and kept up the spiritual fight, even in the face of really tough circumstances, not just this year, but over the last ten or twenty or thirty or forty years, I salute you as real brothers and sisters in the Lord. For all the rest, it is never too late to get right with God and fulfill one’s destiny.
For all the Christian leaders out there who have no problem stepping into the limelight, claiming funding to feather their own nests while often rejecting assistance to so many of their own, taking authority over well-meaning and sincere Christians who are at a disadvantage for not attending to their due diligence in identifying wooly wolves (because they are taught that holding ministers accountable is wrong), such leaders presently exist on the horns of a very serious dilemma.
There are two roads before them: They must either repent (totally and absolutely) for their excess, their watered-down obfuscating doctrines unaligned with the Lord’s teachings, their abject spiritual wimpiness, and most especially, their rejection of the Lord’s full leadership, a process that will likely transform their current lifestyles into something not so recognizable. Or they will simply continue head long into fully linking hands with the enemy, just as those ancient Pharisees and Sadducees did by joining the Zealots, whose present equivalent grows more brazen and influential on the world scene by the day.
Either way, their compromised Christian kingdoms must eventually crumble.
© 2020 by R.J. Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Posted on August 12, 2020, in Current Events and tagged America, Discipleship, Early Church, Jerusalem, Lord Jesus, Spiritual Freedom, Spiritual Warfare, The Great Awakening, The Real Temple, Unreal Christianity. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.