God does not own the major media. Those who do keep pumping out their garbage and a probable majority always gets duped into believing whatever they present. It’s a sad state of affairs getting worse by the day. The Word of God is the ONLY original written material on the planet that exposes the enemy. God says the devil is a liar. Most people don’t know this because they never read the Word. Most Christians don’t read the Word. It is why most Christians are just as deceived by the major media as non-Christians and anti-Christians. The only way to overcome this deception is to stop consuming the output of the major media and start consuming God’s media. Once one starts to do this the blinders start coming off, one starts noticing Truth they never noticed before, and the Truth starts setting them free. If one continues on this course they cannot help but eventually become aware that they’ve been supporting the enemy to their own detriment rather than serving the Lord Jesus to their benefit. Once the spiritual benefits start to flow into one’s life the enemy loses a supporter and gains an enemy which is the way it should have been all along. Then the Lord has a greater opportunity to help others. This is the spiritual battle we face. It is not an unfamiliar kind of war.
And though we all face difficult times in our lives to varying degrees, some more difficult and trying than others, America, overall, for many reasons, has never faced a more difficult time than the present, not only because of the immediate current events but also because of what is surely on the way. There’s a big ugly monster in our rear view mirror and it is closer than it appears. For precedent, and to illustrate where we stand regarding difficult times, including what some are projecting as the future, the one possible exception of a worse period and event in our history more challenging and ultimately detrimental was that of the Civil War (1861-65).
GONE WITH THE WIND
That war, which is grossly misnamed, destroyed not just the South but effectively destroyed the original America created by our greatest generation, that which lived in the middle to late 1700s. From 1787 when the new Constitution for the United States of America was written—1788 when it was ratified (June 21) and the late winter of 1789 (March 4) when the new government of the United States began its operations—until the outbreak of the Civil War in the spring of 1861, America was a better reflection of what the united States stood for and agreed to when they formed the union compared to what came later. The central government was supposed to remain small and respectful of the rights of the States rather than enlarge itself and rule over them. This period of time when the country expressed greater fidelity to its founding principles lasted a mere 72 years. During that initial era, the Constitution was still fully in effect. It was still honored as the Law of the Land. It was still supported as the agreed upon and legally ratified foundation of how Americans would live. The freedoms and liberties expressed therein had survived every challenge and test up to that point. Each State retained its sovereignty.
But again, this all changed with the Civil War. A better term for this conflict would be The War of Northern Aggression. Whoever has done in-depth research into the actual causes of that war understands that it was in many ways a carbon copy of the Revolutionary War (1775-1781). It was the Southern economy that was paying the most into US government coffers. The South’s contribution to the US Treasury was approximately upwards of 70% but the Southern States—free and independent States—were not receiving the appropriate recognition for this nor were they treated fairly by the central government which had greater influence from Northern interests. It was the Northern banking and industrial interests with foreign connections that had essentially taken control through strong lobbying efforts and influence peddling just as the equivalent interests which held sway over the King of England and Parliament had dictated the war against the American Colonists roughly two generations before.
This article is much too brief to get into the particulars but the facts are there for anyone who may wish to do the research. And whereas the American Colonists actually defeated the world’s preeminent super power of the time in the Revolutionary War, the Southern Confederacy was not as fortunate. It was a war that obviously never should have been fought and any number of means should have and could have been advanced to gain the desirable solutions. The country has suffered ever-greater degradations since by the precedents set at that time and we are now at a place in which whatever America once was that still remains is going fast. A massive amount of freedom and the great benefits thereof has been lost but most Americans don’t know this because they have nothing to compare it to. It is not only the case that ignorance is bliss in the sense that people don’t know any better, it is also because dumbed-down lazy people don’t want to do the work that would otherwise set them free and make them strong for the task at hand. And again, many of these are Christians who prefer their “leaders” doing the work for them.
That’s why doing research into actual history is so important. And we know from history that though nations and empires degrade over relatively protracted periods of time, they collapse very fast. Sadly, no matter how many warnings are given that a people must remain morally strong and spiritually sound in order to exist in continuous freedom and liberty from generation to generation, far too many people never make the connection. They do not understand that individual freedom is tied directly to their moral nature. Once one’s morals are compromised it is only a matter of time before their liberty will be diminished. Perhaps this is why the devil keeps trotting out the deviants, which far too many Americans embrace rather than stand against, and continues coming up with more forms of deviancy every day. He and his minions have been doing their best to destroy the moral fabric of the nation for over a century. We are now in the latter stages.
At present, the level of sin and depravity in America is probably at an all-time high. This is not so difficult to discern. Along with the depravity has come the predicted loss of freedom. The Constitution and the expressed citizen’s rights therein have been under attack for many years but especially so in recent years. There is an unseen exponential curve in effect here which, if Americans could see it, would cause them to express much greater alarm and do something to overcome it. Instead, half the country saved their greatest fears and alarm for another recent unseen enemy that was projected to kill multiple tens of millions. And while so many were so fearful they failed to notice or care about their greatly diminishing independence and curtailed liberty brought about by that effort.
We know by the manner in which much of the country responded to the event which began in March 2020 that the nation had been primed for takeover. Otherwise the response of that time would have been as it had always been before on such occasions when fear was ramped up as part of a desired hidden agenda: A small percentage of people would have reacted in great fear, willing to give up its freedom, while the vast majority would have responded in the direct opposite manner, kept their head, and stood their ground. Two years ago, however, we discovered that the previous small percentage had grown to about half the country. This should not have been surprising given that Americans had continually voted into office those who would be tyrants over the previous couple of decades or so.
Those people who should never have had the reins of government then laid the foundation and built the infrastructure of further depredations set to be continually loosed upon the country into the future.
THE CREATOR’S CHALLENGE
From the Lord’s point of view, He always has the means to keep people morally strong and free, and transform the unrighteous, if willing, to righteousness, but can do little against human will when people are disposed to choosing against Him. He never uses force or coercion to get us to be right and live right. He will use love, gentle persuasion, encouragement, and urging, however, because He cares for and respects the people of His Creation. This is why one must be allowed to choose. The Lord Jesus is a choice. He must be chosen. His means must be chosen. The unregenerate clay must look to the Potter to gain redemption.
But when people become so deceived and arrogant they think they know better than the Lord there is not much to be done. People can reach a point of no return. When people of this kind become the majority rather than the former salt of the earth majority, the end comes relatively soon. The entity which arrives at its end, whatever it may be, in this case America, then ceases to exist. If one cannot see American crumbling at this very moment then one is simply unaware of reality.
Those with power who are doing the damage and destruction are determined, depraved, or deranged to varying degrees, and some are simply deceived. It doesn’t take a genius to see this.
The deceived people can still be awakened but the other three are most often too far gone and simply love sin and are captured by their alternative agendas and will usually never change. If there are not enough righteous people—the salt and light—to overcome the unrighteous people, then simple math tells us the bad guys will win.
As real Christians, we identify sin and evil by the Word of God. Real Christians believe in the Lord Jesus. They believe in His teachings. They do their best to follow His entire curriculum. They do not pick and choose from it. They decide they will follow the Lord Jesus regardless. They give Him their entire heart. It is therefore not difficult to understand that though a probable majority of Americans identify as Christians, only a decided minority are actually real Christians.
During the Civil War—The War of Northern Aggression—the South was greatly outnumbered. The North had greater material resources, greater industry, and much greater amounts of ready money. The North could have kept their supplies in force indefinitely. The South never had much of a chance but it almost won anyway. They knew if they were going to win it would have to be relatively fast. Except for a few blunders here and there, the South actually would have won. They almost did. There was a time when the North was on the run. The aggressor was being beaten back. The South could have been victorious just as the earlier American Colonists had been seventy plus years before and original America could have been preserved.
But it was not to be. They didn’t fully understand that the Constitution for the United States of America was no longer being honored by their Northern enemy. It had been violated by a powerful few who would never allow themselves to be restrained from their evil pursuits by “a mere piece of paper.” They wanted to take a spoil. They saw the South as easy pickin’s. Their great power and influence over the government caused it to act the same. After the war broke out, honored Constitutional principles were routinely trashed. Lincoln became a veritable tyrant. The real history is there for those who wish to seek it out. Many fairly recent books have been written on the subject.
As the war progressed the North continued to reveal its true nature. At the end its evil nature came clearly to the fore through the gross atrocities of Sherman’s March to the Sea. Northern Americans did despicable evil to Southern Americans. How people can be so revoltingly evil to an already beaten foe—their fellow Americans!—is beyond the understanding of most. And when they were through with the South those very same people later went after the American Indians and did the same thing to them, wiping them out or subjugating them all the way to the Pacific Ocean. And after that they never stopped. They went beyond borders. It is how the empire was built.
But all empires have their stages—they rise, they fall. Where is ancient Sumer? Egypt? Babylon? Medo-Persia? Macedonia/Greece? Rome? The Mongols? They all rose up very high and subjugated any and all they possibly could within their range of conquest. And then time passed, their immorality and evil caused them to reap what they sowed, and they ceased to exist. The story never changes. One gains the upper hand, uses their gain for selfishness and sin, grows fat, lazy, and unable to maintain dominion, and then another stronger and more strident force puts him down and takes over. One tyrant loses to another tyrant who loses to yet another tyrant, ad infinitum. It’s the ongoing pumping heart of the universal subjugation process.
Just as the Constitution for the United States of America is the Law of the Land for American citizens, so is the total curriculum of the Lord Jesus the foundational belief system of real Christians. And regarding the Lord’s teachings, keep in mind that He never opposed the Law of Moses but fulfilled it. He began His ministry in the autumn of 28AD going on two thousand years ago. All must agree His teachings and the fruit thereof has stood the test of time. His spiritual curriculum is hands down the greatest of all time. Nothing else comes remotely close.
The Constitution will be 235 years old on September 17 of this year with respect to the date it was completed and signed. It was formulated and written over the long hot summer of 1787 starting on May 25 when the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia was initially convened. That which our Founding Fathers formulated is by far the best founding document regarding a system of government that has ever been written.
However, the people who can only see as far as the present and have little or no concern for higher eternal principles will always dishonor such to “get theirs” in the here and now, legally or not. They essentially sell their birthright, as Jacob’s twin brother Esau did, for an effective bowl of stew. They are willing to sin to whatever degree they must to gain whatever it is they covet. They just don’t care. They want it now. ASAP. They don’t think long term or consider the reality of eternal life. They may appear as upstanding citizens who merely engage in some antiquated “sin” unrecognized as such by an increasingly deviant culture, though Moses said the worst of these unrecognized sins were actually stoning offenses which demanded capital punishment.
As the deviancy progresses and more people buy into it, the concept of sin melts away as does the need for justice. Steadfast believers in the Lord are gradually targeted because they appear as old school holdouts toward the new downgraded cultural norm. Then, when the morally deviant people become the majority, the minority of righteous people will begin undergoing greater forms of persecution. The latter understand that it is spiritual war and are doing their best to stand firm for righteousness.
But the deviants from the righteous norm don’t care. They only care about the present. They are intent on using their freedom in whatever manner they want regardless of any sin and moral degradation. They may or may not characterize their actions as such, however. In order to stave off conviction, they redefine sin in such a way that they can practice it without regret or shame: Immoral behavior is redefined as moral. They call evil good. They call good evil. They do this because they have no knowledge of or respect for the Word of God which defines righteousness and sin. It may also be because they have damaged their conscience which would otherwise inform them. They thus fight against that which they term evil which in reality is good. They may be deceived but are likely willingly self-deceived in that they have given themselves over to evil for personal gain. Such an attitude, of course, is not new. The following passage of Isaiah the prophet dates from about 700BC:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine
And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!
Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble
And dry grass collapses into the flame,
So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust;
For they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. [Isaiah 5:20-24]
The Word of God contains many historical occurrences explaining and revealing the preceding. Great evil, like that being revealed and displayed at present, has been on earth for a very long time. When it gains hold destruction is not far. Salt and light always preserves but such must be resident in people. The Lord made this possible through the infilling of His Holy Spirit. When the salt and light people become greatly outnumbered by the sin and evil people who think they are righteous but are not it becomes less likely that the good will continue to overcome the evil. When one considers the greater implications with reference to the last five thousand years it is a wonder humanity ever made it this far.
The reason it has is because spiritual salt and light, like matter itself, never ceases to exist. The enemy can never fully eliminate goodness and love. And whereas the enemy can certainly create wars, destroy nations, subjugate populations, murder millions, steal everyone’s wealth, and create tyrannical empires, he can never defeat the Lord Jesus, who is Love and Truth incarnate. The Lord’s Kingdom of righteousness and His righteous people will exist forever. His Kingdom is eternal.
In the meantime, the present is in play. Temporary evil has advanced. It may win or it may not. It all depends on the Great Awakening. It depends on how many righteous people will engage. It depends on living according to higher eternal principles. It depends on more and more people getting right with God. It depends on fake Christians quitting the masquerade and getting real. It depends on real Christians banding together and demonstrating the Love of God. It depends on applying the teachings of the Lord Jesus wherever they must apply.
And while the Lord’s righteous Kingdom is advancing as it always has and always will, and is now composed of multiple millions worldwide, it is sadly evident that the collective seeds of evil sowed over many a year in this country have presently escalated into a rapidly expanding bumper crop of sin with no end in sight.
America’s karma chickens have now come home to roost.
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon. [Isaiah 55:6-7] 
© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [To Be Continued]
 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.
Just as in the case of the Lord Jesus who was marked for assassination by His enemies (who succeeded but failed), so is every dedicated real Christian likely marked.
Some of these spiritual assassination attempts will succeed (we have Scriptural examples). The vast majority will not. But no matter. Physical death is not the end of the story. Every real Christian so marked is also marked for resurrection just as our Founder was marked. He was destined to die for a great purpose but was also destined to rise again not long after. In His case it happened on the third day after His death. (This also happened to be the third day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.) For the vast majority of real Christians, however, their resurrections will come much later. There will be a day in the future when all will rise again together. Old-timers referred to it as “that great gettin’ up mornin.’
I say “the vast majority” because there were some who actually received their resurrections from death in the first century AD. In this, I am not referring to Lazarus or others whom the Lord or the apostles raised up because those people had to die physically a second time. I am instead referring to those mysterious resurrections which took place soon after the Lord’s resurrection referred to in Matthew’s Gospel:
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. [Matthew 27:50-53]
One wonders if there were others elsewhere in various locations who were also raised at that time. The city of Jerusalem was not the only place saints of old were buried though it is possible more might have been buried in its environs than elsewhere. One wonders further just who these saints might have been. What qualified them to be resurrected at that time? Were they Old Testament saints from centuries past? Or were they first-century believers who died at some point during the Lord’s ministry? What if some of the well-known national figures were included in this group, such as David, who was buried in Jerusalem?
THE PRIVILEGE OF RESURRECTION
Because there is so much misunderstanding or lack of information about the future resurrection of those who have passed, the subject must be put into context. We know the Scriptures are clear that all will be resurrected, both the saved and unsaved:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” [John 5:25-29]
In addition to this, the Lord makes it clear that the future resurrection unto Life is a privilege not given to everyone or just anyone but only to those who are worthy:
Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” [Luke 20:34-36]
It is likely the case at most funerals that the person who died is assumed to have gone to heaven. Imagine all the funerals (term used very loosely) worldwide for all time. The dearly departed was likely loved by someone or maybe a great many. To question his or her eternal destination at such a time is probably the height of protocol-breaking or certainly awkward. According to the teachings of the Lord and the entry requirements He mandates, most of these people went to the opposite place they were assumed to have gone.
The point, of course, is that “going to heaven” and participating in a future resurrection unto Life is not automatic or a right but a great privilege and blessing reserved only for a relative few. It is something, in the words of the Lord Jesus, to attain. The Greek word means “to hit upon, meet, happen, obtain.” It is something to strive for, to work toward, and to make oneself worthy to receive. This does not mean we can earn our salvation, which is impossible, but that we must work within the context set forth by the Lord Jesus to be “considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection of the dead.”
WHY THE LORD JESUS WAS A MARKED MAN
We are in a war. It is a spiritual war. The devil is a mighty foe. He is very powerful. He attacks his enemies. His aim is to eliminate anyone attacking him or his kingdom. Those who do the most damage are at the top of his list. But the Lord Jesus, on the other hand, is so much more powerful He could squash the devil like a bug any time He felt like it. And He will protect His children in this world who work for Him the same way He protected Himself from the many assassination attempts upon His life before He surrendered to His destiny as the Sacrifice Lamb.
A close friend told me the other day something a pastor had recently preached. The pastor said to the effect, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the Lord was killed or murdered. He laid down His life willingly…” I said “Well, the pastor is wrong. It is in fact, both. The Lord certainly laid down His life and made Himself vulnerable, but He was also murdered. The apostle Peter said this very thing in the first anointed message of the Church on the Day of Pentecost.” Here is the passage:
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” [Acts 2:22-24]
It is often said that Stephen was the first martyr of the Church but this is not true. It was the Lord Jesus who was the first martyr. He had to be first. He was indeed greatly persecuted by evil unbelievers and eventually suffered physical death at their hands. He was the first to die and also the first to rise. It had to be this way. Nothing else could have possibly worked otherwise. The Lord Jesus is both the Door and the one who opened the door to Life. He is the only spiritual Warrior who could defeat death, hell, and the grave. He had to go first to do this because He was the only one worthy. It would have been impossible with anyone else because everyone else has sin but He never did. He was thus worthy to attain His resurrection and eternal life.
And because He did attain it He makes it possible for His followers to attain it as well. They must be cleansed of all sin, however, or forget it. But He has the power to do that. He has the power, with His own Blood, to cleanse a person of all of his or her personal sin. He also has the power to raise one up to new life in this world, fill one with His Holy Spirit which enables one to be properly equipped for service and the spiritual battlefield, live an overcoming life over sin, and also to work for Him within His kingdom doing works that He did. THESE are the people, in general, who are the worthy ones.
Thus, heaven is not nor has it ever been automatic, the only condition met being death. It is reserved only for those who submit to the salvation method of the Lord Jesus. Now, granted, there will be those who are also judged by Him to be worthy who do not fit the apparent conditions within the context of His teachings. Paul alluded to this possibility in the following:
For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. [Romans 2:11-16]
It is thus possible that one may never hear the Gospel and still go to heaven. (Consider all those who died prior to the Lord’s ministry or who lived at great distances away on other continents long before the Gospel ever reached their lands.) But this can only be possible if the preceding qualifications are met. How many millions, and indeed, billions of people who have ever lived on this planet lived in such a way that they did their best to honor their conscience, strove to do good and shun evil, and reached out to a Creator they knew must exist. These are things beyond the realm of human judgement or knowledge. No one can see such things but the Lord. Only the Lord Jesus knows all hearts. He is the best possible Judge of one’s soul. He will make the right decisions. He will always render perfect judgments.
THERE IS LIKELY A CONTRACT ON YOUR LIFE
If you are a big enough threat, expect to be attacked. But know also that the Lord has means to grant you victory. I knew someone several years ago who was attacked severely and his entire life was essentially destroyed. The devil’s aim was to do even more. His original goal was to destroy everything including the person’s life. But it didn’t work out quite that way. Because this man had walked with God the Lord allowed his former life to be destroyed but preserved the man’s spiritual life. He preserved the man’s ministry and life purpose. He worked with the man over several years to sort out all the ramifications which resulted from both a diabolical Jezebel attack and also a Judas betrayal. The enemy meant total destruction and it should have been such in that he threw everything he had at him. It was a pure assassination attempt in the first degree.
But it failed. Rather than be overcome by the severe repercussions of the spiritual attack, this man worked with the Lord over several years to work everything out. He patiently crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s. Everything was settled above board and properly. And it was done with no evil intent toward his human attackers who assisted in the plot. This man had what might be termed an ongoing resurrection. Though the enemy tried with all his might and though he succeeded at destroying much, he failed at destroying all. This is always a dangerous outcome. It made the man who was marked for death an even greater threat than he was before.
It also meant he survived the worst. This man will never have to go through such again. You may know people like this. Their experience is noted for something many have gone through over the last quarter century or so. There are people who represented a threat to the enemy who for all practical purposes should not have survived the attempt against them who then later became a greater threat than before.
Those who are forced to go toe to toe with some gnarly Goliath, who face otherwise certain death and destruction, and live to tell the story of a great victory are the kind of people you want on your team. They have already experienced a type of resurrection, reminiscent of their future one, and rejoined the Lord on the battlefield. The assassination they were marked for is what they mark the enemy with and have greater power and ability given by God to achieve that objective.
All praise and glory to the Lord Jesus.
© 2022 by RJ 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.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” [John 18:36]
The reality of the kingdom of the Lord is much more far-reaching than most Christians acknowledge. Many believers have made varying compromises toward this simple but extremely profound fact, that the Lord’s kingdom is thoroughly and unapologetically spiritual.
It is something that cannot be replicated in the material world but that has never stopped Christians from trying. There have always been ongoing, incessant movements throughout the Church Age to demystify the nature of the Lord’s kingdom and thoroughly revamp it into materialistic modes and representations. There has always been the strange thought in many Christian circles that material representations and symbols are indispensable to a proper understanding of the kingdom, in that without such the reality of real spirituality is both unknowable and unapproachable.
What this actually represents is complete ignorance of the Lord’s kingdom and an attempt to reformulate it into outward representations created to capture the mind and thus, the heart. But it doesn’t work. It only functions on a mundane level that many Christians are apparently satisfied with and only serves to cover up and cloud over the possibility of knowing the actual kingdom.
IMAGE IS EVERYTHING? NOT
There is a reason the Lord God said from the very beginning to never make any kind of graven image or material representation of what is thought to be of the spiritual world or the things that comprise it. Invariably, if one is wont to create such, one will invariably create something sinister regardless of how benign it may appear outwardly. In the most obtuse sense, someone feels he must construct a small image to which he will direct his “spiritual” energy and thought, in that he may feel a strong need for such though completely ignorant of why or why it must be such. These efforts grow in time to full-fledged statuary of perfect human forms, something the ancient Greeks perfected centuries before the Lord’s time.
We still have a great many examples of this ancient “art” and many more representations, of course, that have been created since. It gets seriously goofy when one lays eyes on the ridiculous stone figures of such people as George Washington and other founding fathers of America. This entire thing could not be more of a joke. I think Washington himself would be greatly embarrassed and would probably lead the charge in getting rid of them. One of the even more goofy efforts in this vein is the trend that began a few decades ago in constructing statues of baseball players outside major league baseball parks. Baseball players? Seriously? I like baseball but whoever signs off on this stuff needs to have their head examined.
The Lord has always warned against any of this stuff because people can be so easily deceived and begin seeing these things as reality. But they are mere idols. Other than the Lord Jesus, every human being who ever lived is flawed and sinful regardless of what they or others may think. No human being is worthy of a statue nor is the human being in general worthy of such, nor is such a proper representation anyway. Everything about unregenerate humanity is actually antithetical to spirituality, the antithesis of honor, and screams out the need for humility.
THE DEFAULT MUST BE RADICALLY ADJUSTED
Human beings are all going to hell without the Lord’s salvation. Regardless of all the good we know about everyone, there is also all the bad which must be acknowledged. Something must be done about it. Human beings can get so caught up in their own good looks or accomplishments, or the many material items they may have been able to acquire, and believe that all of that is somehow indicative of spiritual worth and self worth. It is not.
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” [Luke 12:15]
The default eternal destination of every human being is hell. If something is not done to correct that then that is where one will end up. If one does nothing to change and attempt to get right with God one has no chance. But one must not only begin the process, one must see it through, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. Eternity is riding on it. The Lord stood before Pilate at His ongoing trial and stated this very clearly. Here was God Himself making it very clear that His kingdom was not of this earth. Pilate was an intelligent man but completely failed to grasp this truth.
Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” [John 18:33-38]
Here was God. YHWH. The Great I AM. Standing before a mere human potentate. His rabid enemies right outside wanting to kill Him. This pretty much tells you all you need to know about the real nature of this world and of humanity. Why such a great divide? How did this happen?
It is obvious that the real Gospel calls for radical change and transformation, something the majority of Christians have never engaged in and often shun. Many of these have substituted material representations and large material structures costing great amounts of money to build and maintain. Many have substituted counterfeit doctrines and teachings resulting in spiritual ignorance. What would the Lord say?
Keep in mind that the Lord never wanted to be replaced by human leaders but allowed it only because people insisted. We also know He doesn’t dwell in houses made with human hands.
Why then the temple? Again, the entire paradigm changed forever after the Babylonian Captivity. A second temple was built but it never had anything in the Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant was gone and has been missing ever since then. The third temple built by Herod, that which authorities insist was actually still the second temple, was also empty where it mattered. Was this a sign?
DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY
And then the Lord came and they killed Him. They wanted the material. They wanted the money. They wanted the prestige. They wanted the honor. But the Lord said all of that was a complete joke and what one really needs is to get one’s spiritual eyes fixed. He stood before His inquisitors with nothing. This Man who made the universe, who created the planet, who set off Creation. This Man stood before them with nothing that they could see. And yet He was rich beyond measure. He would go through the process. He would allow them to kill Him. But He also warned them of what was coming and the judgment they would face. They paid no attention, just as most people pay no attention to what is required of them to gain eternal life.
It would be good if all Christians would get spiritual. It would be good if we would all pay attention to actual spiritual reality. If we did the things the Lord actually told us to do it would make more sense. The things the apostle Paul taught regarding spiritual gifts would make more sense. All Christians would flock to spiritual truth and do all that was required.
More Christians would wake from their slumber.
While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” [Matthew 27:19] 
© 2018 by RJ 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.
Once the trees went forth to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us!’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my fatness with which God and men are honored, and go to wave over the trees?’
“Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come, reign over us!’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to wave over the trees?’
“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘You come, reign over us!’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?’
Finally all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come, reign over us!’ The bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you are anointing me as king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, may fire come out from the bramble and consume the cedars of Lebanon.’” [Judges 9:8-15]
The trees that produce good fruit never reign over other trees. Never. They refuse. It is not in their nature. It is not the will of God.
The nature of good trees is to be what they are as God made them and produce good fruit. Good trees do not produce bad fruit. Good trees only produce good fruit.
Only bad trees reign over other trees. Bad trees produce only bad fruit. Some of their bad fruit is the desire to reign over other trees. Only bad trees reign over other trees.
In the above passage from the Book of Judges, three good trees are mentioned:
The Olive Tree
The Fig Tree
The Grape Vine
One bad tree is mentioned: The Bramble.
The Bramble was a thorn bush. It produced no good fruit. It only produced bad fruit. It produced thorns.
“For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit.
“For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.” [Luke 6:43-44]
CHRISTIANS RULING OVER CHRISTIANS
Good trees producing good fruit NEVER accept the reign over Christians. Only bad trees producing bad fruit reign over Christians.
This is a very difficult concept to understand for Christians since the majority has always been ruled over by other Christians. It seems no matter how many times the Lord Jesus tells the story most Christians just don’t get it. They insist that they must be ruled over by one of their own.
In the above passage from the Book of Judges, the people of Shechem chose Abimelech, The Bramble, as their king.
The name Abimelech literally means, “father is king,” or “Melek (“king”) is father.”
Abimelech was one of Gideon’s 70 sons. In his attempt to become the sole king and rightful heir of his father, he killed every single one of his brothers except one: Jotham escaped.
It was Jotham, the lone survivor, who told the Parable of the Trees.
Abimelech was eventually mortally wounded by a woman who dropped a big rock on his head, crushing it. Yet, so that it would not be said he was killed by a woman, he commanded his armor bearer to run him through with his sword.
CAN YOU IDENTIFY THE WOMAN?
But a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head, crushing his skull. [Judges 9:53]
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” [Genesis 3:15]
“Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
“But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:10-13] 
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The apostle Paul was told his fate. After appearing before the man Nero left as a representative, Paul was told he lost his case. He knew what that meant. But he had already known anyway, because the Lord revealed it to him beforehand in the spirit. He was happy that his day had come to see the Lord…
But he was also greatly saddened because he wanted to keep working. He wanted to minister to others, and to continue revealing the light of the Gospel message and blessing whoever he might. He wanted to continue being used as a vessel for God’s glory regardless of the sacrifice and pain.
He was a scrapper!
And so are so many believers the world over who continue smiling as they face great discomfort, neglect, and rejection for knowing and loving their Creator and Savior. And this is their great victory—they can smile! They want to smile, and they cannot help but smile and express their joy, even though at times it may be in their spirit and not visible to others.
The great hero’s of the faith are those who soldier on regardless of the cost. Like Paul, they are determined to finish their course. Imagine what Paul was thinking as he laid his head down for the last time on this side of eternity. He must have thought about how blessed he was, how he gave it his all, and how he was so fortunate to love and be loved by so many people…
Then, in his final seconds, he probably thought about how blessed he was in that he was also given the awesome opportunity to present his body as a living sacrifice one final time to honor and glorify his King. He had been doing just that during his entire ministry, and he had the many scars to prove it.
The reality is that Paul would have never stopped living and working for God. He would have continued until his body simply quit functioning, even though he was most likely racked with pain every day due to all of his injuries and suffering. He knew at the end how short life really is and how much more he wanted to do, but also that his time of departure was not his decision.
Unless the Lord reveals it, no one knows his or her future. Some who thought they would live long did not. And some who thought their passing was eminent lived on for many more years. We’ll all be checking out at some point, either young or old. We know that. But let it be in God’s timing. And in the meantime, we will do our work for God with courage and dedication, with a heart of love and gratitude, continuing to be thankful for our many blessings.
Paul gave everything he had in life, and in the end gave everything he had in death, always in surrender and obedience. With nothing more to do or give, his very last thought was probably associated with the following:
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:6-8]
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” [Philippians 1:21]
There is no sense in arguing with a man with an experience. Paul not only walked with the Lord on a daily basis, the Lord actually made it a tad easier at times by circumventing the usual convention and showing up in 3D:
And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.
But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” [Acts 23:9-11] 
Paul understood the stark reality of life on this planet. He knew there was a God. He knew God by name. He knew this world was a temporary place. He knew there was a constant battle going on, and he knew the more he witnessed for the Lord the more the battle would break out around him and upon him. For “Christians” who experience no battle of this kind, it is obvious they are doing little or nothing for God.
Real Christians understand this is a fallen world and that the human inhabitants of this world are spiritually blind until a legitimate spiritual new birth takes place. When that happens the blind think the unblind are nuts, simply because the ones who see claim the reality of the spiritual world.
And they reveal truth.
And they expose the devil.
And as a result they experience a backlash from evil forces otherwise known as persecution.
For some, Christianity is only cultural. For others it is merely a ritualistic religion. But for Paul, it was life and death. It was warfare. Due to the nature of his calling and anointing, trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went. He was a wanted man. The devil hated him and repeatedly tried to take his life. But as it was with the Lord, the devil failed on each and every occasion. When the time came for Paul’s retirement, though, it was the Lord Jesus who made the decision. And it must be noted that real retirement for the real Christian is physical death.
Paul died the same way John the Immerser died. It was relatively quick and painless. And the next thing he knew he was at his retirement party in heaven welcomed with applause and hugs all around. They probably all sported miniature funny hats and had a big cake. And at one end of the group was the Lord, with a big smile.
Good job, Paul.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.