GIDEON’S 300: WHY A SMALL GROUP OF REAL CHRISTIANS IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN 32,000 PRETENDERS [Part 2: The Attack of the Midianites]
So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD. [Judges 6:6]
For those of you who read Part 1 of this series, which is a prerequisite for Part 2 and future segments, you know we concluded on kind of a down note with an ending left hanging in the air. Therefore, the preceding quote from Judges 6:6, in standing on its own, will not convey the true meaning of this chapter or how it came to be that the Midianites took power and control over the Israelites. How did a heathen tribe of people opposing God take authority over the people of God?
For this, which I listed at the end of Part 1, we return to the opening verse of the Book of Judges Chapter 6:
Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD gave them into the hands of Midian seven years. [Judges 6:1]
And there you have it. The reason Midian rushed in and caused untold havoc over the Israelites is because God gave them authority over His own people to do that very thing. I could spend the next several paragraphs explaining this in much detail but in this instance it is better to simply get to the heart of the problem: The Israelites turned their back on God. They violated their covenant with God. They removed themselves from the yoke of God. They no longer wanted to be yoked together with a gentle God humble in heart in an easy yoke with a light burden that blessed them with peace, safety, and plenty. They rebelled against God and for planting the seed of rebellion against Him Israel got rebellion right back in its face.
So even though in one sense God gave them over to the Midianites, in another sense He allowed it because He could not do much about their obstinate choice anyway. In short, His covenant demands His people do their part and when Israel no longer did its part the nation opened up a door toward destruction. However, it wasn’t simple laziness and non-adherence to an agreement by both parties, but a wholesale turning away from holiness and the upright lifestyle they pledged to lead. They went from doing right to doing evil. That is quite the precipitous drop and a total breach of faithfulness, fidelity, and proper conduct.
In Part 1 I related this to what has been happening in America over the last many decades. American Christianity has gone from having much influence to having much less and rather than setting the standard of righteousness has largely adopted the mores of the culture. Of course, Christianity in America has always had its blind spots and a decided tendency to live according to extra-Biblical mandates rather than solely by the fullness of the pure teachings of the Lord Jesus but even then had a relatively high level of righteous conduct especially compared to other belief systems in this world. American Christianity has historically existed as salt and light and a preservative of the overall culture. Some will undoubtedly take offense at that yet the teachings of the Lord Jesus have no equal. No other belief system comes close regarding one’s responsibility toward God and one another. What other “religion” or belief system in the world adheres to the following enriching teachings of peace and love?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” [Matthew 5:43-45]
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” [Matthew 6:24-25]
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ [Matthew 22:36-39]
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” [Luke 6:31-37]
In Part I of this series I mentioned Wokism as the antithesis to the Great Awakening. In the above latter verse of Scripture from Luke’s Gospel we see that a central tenet of the Woke is the very opposite of what the Lord taught. Cancel culture is all about destroying people, judging people, and condemning people. There is no actual love or mercy there. Not only are the Lord’s preceding teachings poles apart regarding generally accepted standards of human behavior, they are also obviously difficult to carry out. Real enemies are those who hate another and find another despicable and assign blame to others even though such others are often innocent parties. Group think is such that those who prescribe to it lower their otherwise normal relations with their fellow man and latch onto hateful behavior thinking it is justified. But the Lord’s teachings never allow for any of this. And even if one’s enemy is guilty it doesn’t change the Lord’s overall intent. His standard is the same in all circumstances and reduced down to the simple but very direct it becomes the following:
“Love your enemies.”
“Serve God, not wealth.”
“Love God. Love your neighbor.”
“Treat people the way you want to be treated.”
“Do not judge or condemn, but pardon.”
It is apparent that, prior to Judges 6:1, the ancient nation of Israel was doing these things at least in part but enough to satisfy God in that they were putting forth effort and actually succeeding. In fact, prior to the Midianite invasion in verse 6:1, Israel had a long time of peace, protection, and prosperity. Here is the verse immediately before:
And the land was undisturbed for forty years. [Judges 5:31]
Israel had been doing very good. The land was at rest. There was no fear. One can relate Israel’s behavior on either a large or small scale. It is indicative of countries, nations, and large groups on the one hand but also of small groups, immediate families, and even individuals on the other. God’s standard is always the same. By being in covenant with Him it gives us the greatest chance to live right, be righteous, and engage in righteousness. Without that connection one will undoubtedly fall under the sway of human authority rather than God’s authority. Since human authority has historically been seasoned with fear to varying degrees in that a fearful populace is much easier to control and manipulate, the replacement of God’s authority with human authority is often driven by fear. Humans fear that which they cannot control whether it’s an invasion or a disease. And unless they manifest trust in God they must place their trust elsewhere. The following passage illustrates this:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. [1John 4:18-21]
Humanity without the Lord Jesus is a lost cause. Human beings are sinful fallen creatures always coming up short of what they could be otherwise. We only have multiple reams of documentation and libraries full of sinful and disgusting human activity on this planet for multiple millennia to prove it true. As another indication that things have gotten progressively worse, approximately 200 million people were killed in the prior century, not counting abortions, and most of these by human governments. These governments were obviously acting outside the will of God and in direct rebellion against Him.
Though previously successful in living for God with the spiritual fruit to show the world, Israel had simply quit trying. God blessed them for forty years, and it could have been effectively forever. The nation apparently grew bored with righteousness and reached a point of weakness when it could no longer resist temptation. The people then went full bore into disobedience and wholesale into sin. That which was healthy started becoming rotten. And that which grew rotten, though not yet completely rotted away and therefore still possibly turned around and saved, needed a stimulus in a positive direction. Since their pride was such that they would no longer bend their knees in prayer and get on their faces before God they would have to be driven there for their own good and the good of the nation into the future. Perhaps the wholesale slaughter of their newly-embraced evil lifestyle would get their attention. In this case, the nation of the Midianites would serve as a corrective and the means to get Israel back on the right track before it committed national suicide.
So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the LORD. Now it came about when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD on account of Midian, that the LORD sent a prophet to the sons of Israel, and he said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘It was I who brought you up from Egypt and brought you out from the house of slavery. I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land, and I said to you, “I am the LORD your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But you have not obeyed Me.”’” [Judges 6:6-10] 
© 2021 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.
The term adult is overrated. It is often ill-defined and based on a confined perspective. In reality, when compared to God, eternity, and an ancient earth, we are all mere newbies, children trying to find our way.
YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME
We see ourselves as sovereign. It is this way from childhood. Some children are more vocal than others on the subject and the little highnesses don’t hold back when perceiving a challenge to their noble standing. Once they understand they’re behind the generational eight ball, however, at least for the present, and the big people have the drop on them, they begin making plans for the future—“When I get big…”
Wiser children are a tad more circumspect. They somehow understand intrinsically that their little lives are good or at least not so bad. They have shelter and food and… toys!
“But they’re just using toys to keep you in line and under their authority.”
“What? You don’t like toys?”
“Toys are just tools of the capitalist bourgeoisie to train you as future oppressors of the proletariat.”
“I gather by your lack of proper retort that your brainwashing has already progressed to a probable point of no return and I must therefore and forthwith identify you as my enemy and insufferably target you with my considerable wrath, the first thrust of which is leaving you bereft and alone in the midst of this sordid establishment to suffer the misery of a wasted existence built on false hopes and dreams rather than join the glorious people’s revolution and overthrowing the man!”
“Johnny, are you spouting Communist propaganda again? Okay, to the playpen…”
“You may imprison me but my heart will stay free!”
“Want some apple juice?”
(The little Commie might have been more successful if he had conformed his propaganda to the interactive fine art of playing with toys. He overplayed his hand.)
THE SIN PANDEMIC
Here is an interesting fact. Many years ago, three months before I gave my heart to the Lord, I was witnessed to for the first time. Then, three months later, I was witnessed to once more, by the same person (It bore fruit). And guess what? I don’t remember ever being witnessed to again. That little factoid doesn’t speak well of American Christianity in general which surrendered its previous hard-charging evangelistic DNA maybe a century or so ago. And I was raised in a denominational church but I don’t recall ever hearing the term “witnessing.”
But there we were. And there they were, telling me about a big new change in their lives. I had already heard something about it. They were close friends, a young married couple. This was the first time they came over to see me since it all went down and tell me the weird news in person. Only it wasn’t so much them telling me about them but them telling me I had to also be like them. I was roughly their age, and was doing a good job of being friendly and open.
My associates and I had always prided ourselves on being open-minded and often partook of great conversations on any number of subjects and were never concerned about getting too deep. In fact, getting deep was cool. We were young adults. Everything was new and open. Being dogmatic was better left to canines. It was much more fun to hear many different points of view and gain information. No one owned the information and if you didn’t care for it, it was no big deal.
We opposed any form of censoring for the simple fact that we could end up missing good ideas and positive information, and things we might apply in our lives to make them better. Conforming to a dead orthodoxy was the last thing we wanted.
But these people, who I used to know and hang out with, had changed in what I soon perceived to be in a not so good way. I started feeling pressure. Are they trying to sell me on something? Really? And the answer was yes, they were. Rather than a conversation it switched over to a sales pitch. I started getting irked. The smiles were gone from their faces. I know now what was going on. They themselves were under pressure. They felt they had to do this, to witness to me, to tell me I must change…”
I got quiet briefly, my mood transformed from being welcoming, open, and very friendly to a tad somber. I’m sure I must have lowered my eyebrows and effected a somewhat borderline dismayed expression. At last I told them that if they didn’t stop they may as well leave. (What they were doing was not cool. Not in the least.) He looked more upset than she did and said “Let’s go.” She showed more concern and didn’t want the visit to end on a bad note but they’re the ones that brought it on. They overplayed their hand.
WITNESSING IS A FORCED OPTION
So you see, sinners don’t like being referred to as sinners. No one likes to be thought of as inferior in need of a major remodel and paint job. Pride always kicks in. We stand up for ourselves and should. It is in the heart of every person to defend their honor regardless of morality level. There might only be a half tank or so left but good things still reside within and besides, aren’t these people a tad arrogant to think they’re better? This is why witnessing is tricky and witnessers must have some level of proper training. The Lord did this. He prepared His men before sending them out.
I think a much better witness would have been for my friends to come over still exulting in the joy of the Lord as I know they did in church and at home. They were too young then spiritually, as we all are early on, to understand that witnessing is a forced option in that it happens no matter what we do or how we do it. What I saw was a religious sales pitch. What they saw was the need to make me convert just as they had. Although they didn’t really convert. They were actually gloriously filled with the Holy Spirit and had a powerful and positive life-changing experience. If they had come over with absolutely no pressure tactics and allowed me to see the big change for the better in their lives simply by their love, joy, and outward actions, I would have been more impressed. It would have planted a seed within that would have grown into greater curiosity on my part and later on I might be more willing to open up, likely when I was down or struggling.
And this is exactly what ended up happening. They changed tactics and began praying. The whole church prayed for me. Over a three month period I felt my swagger and manly security slowly slipping away. I began being more aware of my shortcomings. In a tender and loving way the Lord was showing me my sin. The Lord Himself was witnessing to me! He was preparing me for what He knew I really wanted, and part of the preparation was “breaking up the fallow ground of my heart.” He was plowing deep furrows in my heart is what He was doing. He was getting the soil ready to receive the Gospel seed. When the time came for the final witness I was ready.
That second time around it was exactly like what I had suggested before. It was a time of smiles, laughter and joy. Whatever it was they had, I wanted it.
But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” [Luke 18:16-17]
© 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.
Today’s Lesson is about New Covenant water baptism. There is only one legitimate form and formula. The apostle Peter proclaimed this in no uncertain terms, and Early Church history confirms it.
38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
The Lord Jesus made water baptism an extremely important and vital component of His teachings and ministry. It has never been optional. Also, His original method has never been subjected to change by Him. Nevertheless, to this present point in Christian history, we have had about as many water baptism forms and formulas as we have had pretty much everything else that has divided Christianity. And there is no excuse for it. The Book of Acts makes it very clear that there was only one original New Covenant water baptism and it was intended to stay if effect throughout the Church Age.
The word baptism comes from a word that means to immerse totally or overwhelm. All ancient Jewish ritual immersion methods were just that—total immersion. John the Immerser obviously followed this practice. His was a baptism of repentance. His calling was to prepare the nation for the coming King and his kingdom. But he also prophesied the complete destruction of the nation. He knew only a believing Remnant would accept and obey the Messiah and properly repent. These would prove it by bringing forth the fruit or evidence of repentance in their lives. John only used one form of water baptism.
THREE NATIONAL BAPTISMS
There were only three national water baptisms of the nation of Israel throughout its history. Each involved the authority of a prominent spiritual personage representing (1) the Law, (2) the Prophets, and (3) Truth and Grace. The first two were mandatory, as is the third.
The very first baptism was at the Exodus. It is associated with the Red Sea. It took place upon the birth of a new nation just released from Egyptian bondage. It was a baptism unto Moses upon his authority:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. [1Corinthians 10:1-4]
The second national water baptism was for repentance. It is associated with the Jordan River. It was also for the purpose of manifesting the Lord Jesus to Israel and separating those who recognized and accepted their Messiah from those who did not, and to prepare each group for their ultimate fate. It was a baptism unto John upon his authority:
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT!’” Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins. [Matthew 3:1-6]
The third national water baptism, in conjunction with repentance, was for the total remission of sin and as preparation for receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as the 120 did in the Upper Room. It is associated with Living Water. It was an opportunity to get spiritually clean, appeal to God for a good conscience, release the hounding burden of one’s sinful and rebellious actions against the Lord Jesus, and gain a personal, reconciled relationship with Him. Whoever may have a casual attitude toward water baptism has likely never fully considered the great cost of purchasing our salvation. Greater love has no one else. He gave His life on our behalf. He did it through His own shed blood.
The third baptism was unto the Lord Jesus, upon His authority, using His Name:
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” [Mark 16:15-16]
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:45-47]
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [Acts 2:38] 
New Covenant water baptism is a perfect illustration of the virgin Bride taking the Name of the Bridegroom.
© 2020 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.
Peter commanded the people that they must fulfill two conditions to get right with God and receive the promise of the Father, the gift of the Holy Spirit.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
It began with faith. They believed. This is exactly how it started with Abraham. It took the Upper Roomers less time to develop this faith fully, this complete trust and confidence in the Lord.
For Abraham, he was one man alone and God was an invisible Spirit. In time he began to listen closer—he would pursue—he was spiritually hungry. He had experienced the futility of his family religion and graven idols, and sought spiritual reality the only way he knew how. Yet, it was evident that God spoke first. Abraham felt His voice within. In time his hearing improved. He deciphered what he felt. He began to understand God’s greetings and responded in kind. Once communication was established the relationship grew and Abraham’s confidence in his new spiritual Father and Friend developed and matured.
For the disciples, God was manifested directly to them in human form. They were blessed to spend time with Him daily. One would think their relationship with Him would develop faster, and it did, but it was certainly not any easier. They had to learn how to shift to spiritual learning and no longer resort to instantaneous default understanding, that which merely came naturally. It would take much effort. It is why His students were disciples. They were not only receiving head knowledge from their new Teacher but an entirely new curriculum involving every aspect of their lives. It was 24-hour-a-day learning with a universal application.
In the early going, once true faith comes forth, one sees oneself in God’s eyes and is quickly struck by the presence of previously unrecognized or unacknowledged personal corruption. The presence of sin is initially shocking. One perceives how damaging it is to a relationship with the Lord and is embarrassed to be in His presence. There is an urge to run, to get away quickly. It is why we collapse in a heap at His feet. We do all in our power to get clean. This is real repentance. It is a wholesale turning away 180 degrees from a former lifestyle that fits in perfectly in a fallen world. It’s a no-brainer for sinners to have good relationships with sinners. But such is impossible with God. It is difficult to wrench oneself away and a person must make the choice to either live for God or live for this world. The 120 chose correctly.
Soon, in the crowd of thousands gathered to hear Peter’s powerfully anointed message, a great many others would also choose correctly. They too were on the verge of collapse, having been powerfully convicted of their personal sins and rebellious actions toward their Messiah. Some of them had been hearing God’s voice just as Abraham did in the beginning. It came as a perceived thought, as a feeling, and as something quite real but intangible. They couldn’t figure it out but it seemed as though someone was trying to contact them. Many neglected the voice. Others, intrigued, listened more closely.
As John Wesley spoke his now famous words relating to his early conversion experience, the Israelites who paid attention to the loving voice “felt their hearts strangely warmed.”
He was calling them to new life.
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Everyone there was an Israelite—the good guys, the bad guys, and those in between. The entire story, from Abraham to Pentecost, was the saga of a single, small, obscure nation on a sliver of land in the Middle East. This nation was chosen by God two millennia before, long before it ever was a nation, when it was only prophesied as such, when it only existed of a man, a woman, and a hoped-for miracle child. Isaac was his name. Within him were all the future participants, including the greatest One of all.
36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 
Among the Israelites before him, shock and awe plastered on their faces, were undoubtedly some of those who directly participated in clamoring for the Lord’s crucifixion fifty-three days before. The conspiracy that started in the cold, hollow darkness of a few dark hearts, those with great influence, those with the ability to pull strings on a whim, had extended to down line roll players, each playing a part. For these wicked ones it truly was a passion play. They wrote the script, they chose a director, they set the scene, and they hired actors. They even hatched a diabolical plan to compromise the Roman government which otherwise had the power to shatter their dream through laws against such supreme injustice and vendetta politics.
Pontius Pilate, though one who often flaunted his power in taking personal liberties with Roman law, sometimes to the edge, was well versed in such jurisprudence. He was certainly in authority and didn’t shrink from it, but was also under authority. He would have to answer for his actions. Having been called on the carpet before due to prior acts of government malfeasance, most notably in excesses against the native population he presided over, Pilate faced enough perceived threat from his superiors that he was ripe for compromise. And the plotters knew it. They knew they had cards to play that could tie him in a knot. And they did. And their plot worked perfectly. Until, that is, a little resurrection problem.
But you see, in their warped minds, the Man they crucified was just another nutcase nuisance who believed Himself to be somebody—another pretender—a false prophet—a magician. He was a violator of the Torah, they said, while they, of course, obeyed every jot and tittle. If they had to resort to an evil backstabbing conspiracy to take Him out, so be it.
And now Peter was looking directly into their hearts. His eyes flashed with the power of heaven. It was a familiar look to them. They had seen it before in another Man’s eyes…
Powerful, unrelenting conviction came upon them like a load of dirt from the sky. “He knows I’m guilty!” some thought. Peter did not lay the blame just on those direct participants but the whole lot of them. They opposed the Lord to a man. And now in a sudden rush it all came together in their previously deceived and distorted minds. They no longer saw a magician but their Messiah! We killed our Messiah!
Peter was not merely preaching to the instigators in the crowd before him, or the crowd itself, but directed his message to the whole nation:
“Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 
Imagine being given a great promise. And imagine getting direct clues in the interim that the promise was greater than previously imagined. Then imagine finally receiving it and… Do you see? The promise never changed. The people did. Their sin and rebellion warped their minds and blackened their hearts. But praise God He gives us second chances! Praise God He is forgiving and compassionate! Praise God He is sincere and loving! Because this wasn’t the end for these morons, but a new beginning! Their rocky hearts had been busted wide open by the powerfully anointed sledgehammer preaching of Peter. He kicked their backsides black and blue. He mopped up the parking lot with them. They were left absolutely defenseless and destroyed. Exactly how the Lord drew it up.
Hearing this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, brothers?” 
They were all brothers! These were all Israelites! —The apostles, all the Upper Roomers, the entire crowd—they were all members of the same nation. Not everyone in the crowd took the message to heart but thousands did, and there would be many thousands more. The prophesied Remnant was coming forth.
National destiny was granting yet another chance for the children of Isaac.
© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 © New Revised Standard Version
 © The New Jerusalem Bible
I began the early research of Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church, in 1992. The Lord told me then what the future would be. That future is now coming to pass.
Mine was a voice that got it right. The book is a record from the past correctly foreseeing the future. Though soundly rejected at the time, including by the leadership of my own fellowship that I was dutifully supporting per the Lord’s will, the Lord revealed to me why the disintegration of traditional Christianity in America would not only continue but accelerate. If you’re into prophecy and possibly followed the major prophecy teachers of that time who never saw the Great Awakening coming, the following passage from my book may interest you. It was originally drafted almost twenty-five years ago:
“If the ruling clergy class has been mandated by Jesus to be the movers and shakers of His teachings in this country, it has apparently messed up. Whatever guilt they do carry they steadfastly refuse to acknowledge, which makes correction impossible. This is why God is removing them—they refuse to act wholly on His behalf. And if you don’t think this is true, that they’re becoming history, check the stats. Their numbers are dwindling in this country, while the numbers of “nobodies” who simply want to do God’s will are rising dramatically. Will America be saved? No. But when certain people get out of the way and other people mature en masse, hundreds of thousands of hungry souls will find salvation, and America’s greatest great awakening will take place.” 
There has been tremendous transformation, much Christian turmoil, and great spiritual warfare over the last quarter century. Many never understood the long term goal or supported it and preferred a dying status quo. This always happens in the early stages of reform and correction. Because there remain many disaffected Christians with dubious resumes and axes to grind, and by which people may judge yours truly, I am listing the following aspects of my overall profile to demonstrate a solid career church attendance and participation record, not to crow about accomplishments but to illustrate my dedication and faithfulness to the Lord. I spent many years as a dutiful church-going Christian attending untold numbers of church services and related assemblies. I bought into the program. I honored authority. I gave it my best. You might say I paid my dues. At one time or another I participated in pretty much every church-related and non-church related volunteer (non-paying) ministry task there was, including the following:
- Extensive street witnessing
- Wide-ranging personal evangelism and counseling
- Church follow up and visitor chauffeuring
- Sunday School recruiting director and bus driver
- Church seasonal program participant (multiple)
- Church seasonal program carpenter and set builder
- Church building remodeling
- Church property maintenance
- Usher (church and major offsite productions)
- Church softball coach and team builder
- Church services recording engineer
- Post service prayer counselor and altar worker
- Pulpit preacher
- Group Bible Study teacher
- Home Group leader
- House church creator and director
- And much more
I also engaged in extensive personal Bible study, reading, and research, becoming familiar not only with Scripture but also secular and historical knowledge relating to Scripture for use in witnessing and teaching. As I grew more knowledgeable I inevitably began discovering the differences between how churches and ministries were conducting themselves in relation to how our spiritual forebears did things in the beginning of the Lord’s Community. These differences fell into three principle categories: (1) Church Doctrine, (2) Church Format, (3) Ministerial Authority.
Though some Christians reach the point I did, most of these apparently come to the conclusion that the departure from original norms was justified, most likely due to their investment in church culture and an unwillingness to attempt reform. I did the opposite. I believed in and fully supported the original teachings of the Lord and the apostles. And though I tried to maintain excellent relations with church authority (a notoriously challenging endeavor) and most often succeeded, I began attempting dialogue on the many new issues I discovered. Most ministers would acknowledge the differences of course, but never go beyond any elementary attempt to apply correctives. Most never did anything. Because I had to tell what I knew and teach what the Lord taught me, open ministry doors began to close. I had to find another venue. This is when I began to write. Long before I wrote my first book I wrote many notes and detailed Bible studies, and recorded extensive research. I had to get what I knew on paper. It was a lonely pursuit but was such as it had to be.
I continually discovered that ministers in general were not interested in anything non-relatable to their personal beliefs, doctrinal statements, and church formats. Nor were they interested in greater truth or returning to our roots if it meant anything related to actual change. Most saw such reform efforts as entirely inappropriate at best and that they bordered on rebellion or heresy. Their attitude was often based on a fear of personal disruption and inevitable church problems. They insisted everyone in the congregation must buy into the program and remain in that place to assure church success, or something substantial, including their job, may suffer. I also discovered that the majority of church goers simply do not care about reform or doings things God’s way. Most Christians prefer to remain relatively spiritually unaware and allow their chosen leaders and authority figures to do their work for them. Many remain statically fixed on the teachings of mainline theologians and authors of the past or become swayed by flashy speakers and writers of the present. They end up trusting them instead of the Lord Jesus and often never progress beyond an elementary level. They are thus exceptionally easy to manipulate and make real revival impossible.
This is in part why the Lord began telling me what would eventually happen to such churches and ministries in America. He began showing me the future. I tried my best to warn people. Few ever listened. Thus, what has happened to churches since, and it has only been a quarter century, has come to pass exactly as I was shown way back then, and even before that. The latest statistics, seemingly unbelievable as they are, are such that approximately 6,000 to 10,000 churches in America are dying each year on average. That’s about 100-150 per week.
The above author cites no research but another quite reputable source, Church Leadership, claims that 4000 churches were dying annually in 2007. That was an average of 77 per week. If those trends held it would certainly account for 100-150 closures per week at present. Because the majority of traditional Christians in the past never progressed, noticed the trends, or heeded the warnings, but instead fought off any reform effort as if it was the enemy, most of their venues were unprepared for the vast American cultural change that began emerging about thirty years ago.
THE LAST BECOME FIRST
They also didn’t understand that a powerful new group, very small in numbers at the time, was being formed by the Lord to usher in a new generation of reform in order to bring His full teachings to the fore. This group was composed largely of unconnected individuals who suffered various levels of persecution by their own brothers, much like the patriarch Joseph. The traditionalists also did not care that the new emerging generation of younger people wanted more than simply being told to come to church, to sit in church, to stay quiet in church, to go along with the church program with no questions asked, to participate only superficially in church, and to pay church tithes to support something they couldn’t wrap their heart around. Many of us in the prior generation did all that for many years but never received the full benefits we were striving for. We trusted in and respected an authority that ultimately proved itself to be cowardly and non-spiritually responsive. The next generation, however, had less church influence and were largely never indoctrinated to stoically accept things as they were and dutifully comply with a set-up that did little or nothing for their heart.
This is in part why America now has an extremely large population of people with no religious affiliation. It is also why the long-standing American church tradition is fading rapidly. Traditional churches have no answer for this. Their programs no longer work. Many churches have become infested with cultural rot yet still refuse the Biblical directive. Many others have tried ever more watered-down programs but those don’t work either. Such efforts are actually going in the opposite direction.
THE RISE OF THE NEVER CHURCH CULTURE
The young religiously unaffiliated Americans are categorized as the nones. According to the following article, Exodus: Why Americans are Leaving Religion—and Why they’re Unlikely to Come Back, in 1991, the year before the Lord called on me to begin my first book, the nones represented a mere 6% of the American population. In 1972 it represented 5%. There was a slight rise in the 1980s. Thus, in the 19 year period of 1972 to 1991, this small religiously unaffiliated subsection of the American populace ranged only from 5%-8% and stayed relatively stable. It was not until 1993 that the nones began an upward track on the graph. By 1996 their numbers had shot up to 12%, doubling its population of only five years before. This marked 1992 as the year of demarcation, the very year I began my book. This was not a coincidence. It was the year that American Christianity began changing dramatically.
According to the quoted source, the nones increased to 14% in 1998 and remained stable until 2004. But then it promptly rocketed rapidly upward, ballooning to a whopping 25% by 2016. After only 24 years since the pivotal year of 1992, their number had astonishingly grown fourfold. This is the same time period that churches in general engaged in a rapid die off. There is presently no end in sight to this phenomenon and any applied remedy of the present is for the most part too late. This changing church landscape is an obvious fast-happening disaster for those who wrongly decided years ago to stay in spiritual Egypt or the Sinai. Currently, the religiously unaffiliated represent almost one in four Americans. The church world is now suffering major loss with no cure yet it still obstinately refuses to change and get in line with what the Lord wants to do. Because they have been rejecting the corrective for decades, they don’t have a clue how to stop the process and their destruction continues.
Most continue to blame it on the sinful culture, a ridiculous notion that only proves their ineffectiveness, irrelevance, and spiritual laziness. They obviously don’t know what the early believers faced regarding a sinful societal culture or they simply refuse to acknowledge it. The Roman Empire world of the first century was such that most church-going Americans, if transported in time, would be shocked to their core at what they saw. It was a thoroughly lost and wicked culture reveling in gross idolatry. But the early Church thrived anyway against powerful odds. The gist is that the Lord can do anything, anywhere, and wants to. He wants people free from sin and spiritual bondage! It seems that His greatest effort, however, is simply trying to find people who will honor Him and join His cause. Most of those who refer to themselves as Christians in some form or another simply refuse to obey and follow Him. They invent their own low wattage Christian hybrids and substitute these for the real thing.
WHAT ABOUT REAL CHRISTIANITY?
Conversely, remember that small, persecuted, obscure, and rejected group that existed a quarter century ago? Well, with this group something quite different has happened. As dead churches died off it has grown exponentially. Churches may be shutting down by 150 per week on average but real Christians have gone in the opposite direction. Real Christianity is on the rise. For those paying attention who are close to the Lord, this is obvious. Though most of these real believers are effectively invisible, their effect is not. It reminds me of unseen, unknown prayer warriors who do their work in obscurity. The non-believing American culture has certainly gone in the tank and grows more sickeningly depraved every day due to no checks on its behavior, but these people are now losing the cultural battle. They had the world by the tail until about two or three years ago but now their paradigm is suffering major cracks and is on a downward slide. They are also beginning the inevitable historical process of destroying one another.
Thus, a new American culture is emerging, based on the old ways, the ancient paths, and the foundations fought for and won in a righteous revolutionary battle 240 years ago. Real Christians are returning to their roots, following the Lord in big numbers and are undoubtedly affecting the culture in a positive way. It is a movement based on discovering, establishing, and standing up for the truth. These people are meeting and advancing in the same style as their early forebears—behind the scenes, in small non-descript venues of any number of forms and variety, and also through the greatest invention and change agent in human history—the internet. The World Wide Web is directly comparable with the advent of the Gutenberg Printing Press of circa 1450. That remarkable invention dramatically changed the world and ushered in the modern period. It allowed for an immense increase of knowledge and communication which led to the Protestant Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment. What happened then is happening now but on a much larger scale. The world is waking up.
I encourage all of you to stay faithful and strong. These times are largely unprecedented and we are greatly blessed to be alive and involved in whatever work the Lord has called us to do.
For those of you reading this, especially my faithful readers, please be informed that a spiritual attack against this site is apparently in process. I started this blog in May of 2011. Readership grew steadily. 2018 was a record year. January of 2019 was a record for that month. Then something happened which caused the site to become somewhat invisible as confirmed by some of you.
In general, Christian reform efforts are always opposed by the status quo and I have been personally quite familiar with this over many years. Yet the Lord is always faithful. Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church has had a decided impact on those who heard the message and supported it but was otherwise rejected by the majority. I could tell you some seriously shocking stories of underhanded efforts by so-called Christians, but this is nothing new. It is par for the course. My first book was far ahead of its time but the message inherent within it is timeless and remains fresh, especially now. It is thus a message for today and can assist in sorting out what has happened in the transformation of American Christianity over the last quarter century. For more information you can go to my author page here. I ask only for your prayers. There is much work to be done. Thank you and be blessed.
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 From Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.]
On January 29, 2018, the US Senate rejected the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The recent stock market nosedive began the very next day.
Yes, I know there are several possible “legitimate reasons” for what happened: Will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates? Are we due for a correction? Did the very first day of the new Federal Reserve chairman send a signal? Is the dollar too weak? There are several of these. But we must never discount possible spiritual reasons.
This is what I wrote yesterday in my post HAS ECONOMIC JUDGMENT RETURNED? THE FUTURE OF AMERICA DEPENDS ON BANNING ABORTION:
“Considering bad signs, however, there was a vote in the Senate a week ago that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks like almost every other country in the world has done. This would have been great progress and no one in their right mind should have opposed it. However, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act failed to make it out of debate in a 51–46 vote to a final floor vote after Democrats filibustered the bill. 48 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted for the bill. 44 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted against the bill. President Trump would have signed it into law had it passed. But almost every Democrat senator voted against it.”
This vote took place late on January 29, 2018. The stock market nosedive began the very next day. This appears to be more proof of the economic judgment pattern I revealed again in yesterday’s post. Did the pro-abortion vote trigger judgment?
The 45th anniversary of Roe v. Wade was January 22, 2018. The Dow Jones reached an all time high on Friday, January 26, 2018 of 26,616.
The following Monday, January 29, 2018, the Dow dipped slightly and closed at 26,439. The Senate vote took place late that day.
The very next day the Dow Jones lost 540 points from its high and closed at 26,076. 540 is a multiple of six (man) and nine (judgment). What are the odds of such a strange coincidence happening?
There had not been a drop of that magnitude since June 24, 2016, but that loss was quickly made up. The current big loss of the last week continued, eventually reaching a floor of 23,778 yesterday. That added up to a giant drop of 2,838 points since the January 26th high in only seven business days. The market has currently rallied back and made up part of the losses, but it has been a roller coaster. Is it recovering? Or are we in for more fluctuations and losses in this key year in part due to the failed Senate vote? *
Please read the text of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and consider the vast research and science enclosed within it which proves that babies in the womb definitely feel pain even before 20 weeks of gestation.
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
* FEB 8 UPDATE: The Dow Jones suffered another drastic drop today of 1,032 points, at one point coming within 71 points of Tuesday’s low, to close at 23,860. The “correction” continues.
* FEB 9 UPDATE: The Dow Jones dropped to a new low since reaching its all time high on January 26, falling to 23,360, a drop of 3,256 points (over 12%) before recovering to close at 24,190.
The birth of Seth, Adam’s third son, took place when Adam was 130 years old. For 130 years, the Messianic generational line was cut off. It was a time of rebellion and apostasy.
As stated in the previous post, Adam was in exile for a spiritually significant period of time after his banishment from the Garden of Eden. That time period was a multiple of the number 13. A study of Biblical numbers associates the number 13 with rebellion. Its first occurrence in Scripture is as follows:
Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled. [Genesis 14:4]
There is no doubt that the Lord affixes certain meanings to numbers and one can discover many truths using this method. The number 10 is characterized as ordinal perfection, or the perfection of Divine order. We see examples of this in the Ten Commandments and the tithe. Also, Noah was of the tenth generation listed in Scripture since Adam, and the ark builder represented the completed order of the antediluvian age. When the number 10 is combined by multiplication with the number representing rebellion, we arrive at the number 130, which is the number of years Adam spent out of fellowship with the Lord. When he returned, God marked the occasion with a new birth.
THE SECOND GENERATION: TRANSITIONING TO A NEW SPIRITUAL AGE
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. [Genesis 5:3]
The birth of Seth, listed in Genesis as the third son of Adam and Eve, represented a return to God after a long exile. Though there was no going back to the garden, Adam’s original nature was restored. This state of righteousness with God is indicated in the preceding verse—Adam’s new son Seth was made in his image, according to his own likeness, as Adam was originally created in God’s image. However, in looking closer at the numbers, we discover that Seth, though certainly righteous, bore the marks of spiritual suffering associated with being a transitional figure.
Seth lived one hundred and five years, and became the father of Enosh. Then Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after he became the father of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died. [Genesis 5:6-8]
The transitional period from the birth of Seth to the birth of his son Enosh was 105 years. The multiples represented in this number are 3, 5, and 7 (3 x 5 x 7 = 105). These three significant numbers are the second, third and fourth primes. (Prime numbers are those whose only other multiple is 1.) They represent, in order, divine completeness or perfection (3), grace (5), and spiritual perfection (7). Thus, the 105 year period was marked by the spiritual meaning of these three numbers.
The 105 years were completed with the birth of Enosh. Seth lived an additional 807 years after his son’s birth. The multiples of this number are 3 and 269 (3 x 269 = 807). These are both prime numbers. This may get a little tricky but stay with me. The Lord is showing us something substantial with these two multiples. We already know what the number 3 represents, but what about 269? This number is the 57th prime number. The number 57 also has two multiples and both are also prime numbers: 3 x 19 (what are the odds?).
According to the Biblical number scholar E.W. Bullinger, the number 19 is closely associated with Seth’s mother Eve and also the suffering patriarch Job.
THE THIRD GENERATION: THE GREAT AWAKENING
The number 19 gives one a clear indication of the life of Seth after the birth of his son Enosh. Also, when looking at the total number of years that Seth lived—912—we again discover the imprint of the number 19. Note that once more all multiples are primes: (24 x 3 x 19 = 912). This means there was a strong imprint of the same sufferings Job endured upon the entirety of Seth’s life.
Remember, Seth was the restoration of the Messianic generational line after the death of Abel. There was therefore much spiritual warfare associated with his life. His lifetime was marked as a reformation-oriented, spiritually-challenging transition period between Adam’s spiritual renewal and the arrival of a new Great Awakening:
To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. [Genesis 4:26] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Regarding what the Lord Jesus requires of Christians, we have the benefit of ancient Hebrew history. We can discover from their example the spiritual definition of obedience. We can know what honors the Lord and what does not.
The origin of what Biblical historians call Yahwism, which many centuries later developed into the rudimentary forms of early Judaism, began with a few solitary men wandering in vast open wilderness regions and barren deserts. The population of the planet was a small fraction of what it became in later ages, and a man could wander for great stretches and never see another. Such boundless open scenery and limitless night skies, ablaze with distant starlight and an ever-phasing meandering moon, set loose the imagination of these nomads and awakened cosmic wonder regarding Creation. Some paid more attention than others.
STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
Many centuries earlier, after the fall of Adam and Eve and their banishment from the garden, they wandered in the wilds for 130 years on a subsistence diet doing whatever they must to survive. They had been separated from God by sin and severed from communication with Him, and their own relationship with each other was no doubt often strained to the point of breaking. Every day brought another reminder of their calamitous disobedience and rebellion, and how the new god they had chosen had abandoned them soon after and caused disaster. Adding to their torment, Adam and Eve’s good son Abel, the one from whom the Messiah would have descended, had been murdered in his relative youth over a century before.
Amid this dismal backdrop, we have a better understanding of the depressing condition of Adam’s protracted life in exile. After long decades of worry and introspection, and vainly seeking an unknown undiscoverable land of comfort and rest, if only a brief oasis, Adam at last surrendered. There in the midst of a stark and unforgiving landscape so unlike the wonderful abundant garden of his early memories, he found a place of repentance: He got right with God. As the fruit of obedience, joy returned, and they were immediately blessed:
Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the LORD. [Genesis 4:25-26] 
© 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.