They killed the Lord Jesus but He didn’t stay dead. It was a nice effort although a failure. Every other effort to destroy His living legacy also failed. All present and future efforts will end in failure as well.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” [John 10:10]
It was the Lord Himself who was the initial target. Herod tried to get Him in the very beginning. There were probably pre-ministry attempts on His life that Scripture does not record. After stepping into open destiny He was under constant threat. The following are four historical instances of such murder attempts from each gospel to illustrate what He faced on a daily basis:
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi. [Matthew 2:16]
The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching. [Mark 11:18]
Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” [Luke 13:31]
For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. [John 5:18]
We can gather from the preceding accounts that the Lord had many enemies, both civil and religious. We also know the Lord never committed a single sin, never violated the Torah, and never broke any legitimate civil law. He was accused of violations, but interestingly, only by the actual violators.
It reminds one of Catholics and Protestants taking turns burning each other at the stake. Catholics killed some people representing a threat who did not believe and practice the Catholic religion properly. Protestants killed some people representing a threat who did not believe and practice whatever Protestant religion properly. Protestants killed non-Catholics. Catholics killed non-Protestants. Why all the killing? Why were these crazy religionists so threatened?
We know why the Pharisees were threatened. They didn’t spend two centuries formulating their perfect religion only to have the Lord reveal it for what it really was. There were no prophets during the time the Pharisees created their belief system, loosely based on the Law of Moses, but heavily dependent on oral commentaries and connections to Babylon. Because there were no prophets in the land no one had the spiritual anointing to object and expose them. It wasn’t until John the Immerser came forth that a true prophet was once again in the land of Israel/Judea. After him, of course, came forth the greatest Prophet of all time. These two revealed Phariseeism for the sham it was and its connection to the devil. It was just another thing prophets were sent to do on a routine basis. Prophets kept the land clean from false beliefs and interpretations. They stood only for the real Word of God.
This same dynamic invaded Christianity in that new denominations were only based on the New Testament. Additions were made. Subtractions were made. Commentaries were added. This is what the New Testament really means, they said. The new denominations, of course, must have a priesthood or clergy to denote the real and rail against the unreal. But they were only defending their own man-made belief systems and not the actual New Covenant Scriptures. Hence, when they gained enough power, they forced people to believe what they advocated and installed strong penalties for those who refused, including, of course, the death penalty.
All this within a religion of peace? Right.
Regardless of all the initial attacks against the Lord, His men, and the early believers by unbelieving Jews, the Lord’s Community not only survived but thrived. Try as they might they could not destroy it. Keep this in mind when trying to differentiate among various Christian denominations and their early histories. The Lord NEVER operated this way, never would, and never will. If you chose not to follow Him or believe His teachings He would still love you. The early Community of the Lord never advocated for such a thing. But false religions know they can be destroyed without using every tool at their disposal including the death penalty. Real Christians know the Lord is eternal, His Word is eternal, the Gospel is eternal, and nothing will ever eliminate Him or them.
This means New Covenant Truth is an ever-present threat against the forces of evil. Unreal Christianity is an enemy of the truth. Whatever religion or belief system is anti-Lord Jesus or antichrist is an enemy of the truth. One either honors the Lord and the fullness of His teachings or one does not. But if one does not, he or she is okay to believe whatever he or she wants to believe without being under threat by the Lord. The Lord threatens no one. He never stoops to such lowlife tactics as do the false religionists.
He does warn us, however, that sin is a killer, and unless one does something about it one will pay. One will lose one’s soul. He paid the price for sin with His life. He can remove sin from a person. He can clean us up. He will remove the power of sin in a person’s life. Only He can cure us of the sin disease. This requires repentance on our part. If one refuses the Lord’s free gift then one stands in opposition to Him by his or her own choice. Unlike false religions, including the Christian variety, the Lord never forces conversion. Forced conversions are false conversions.
Those who oppose New Covenant Truth are the enemies of God. Those who create false religions and belief systems espousing this and defending them to the point of taking lives are the worst offenders.
And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” [Luke 9:20-24] 
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
“You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” [Mark 7:9]
“Your tradition” is any Christian belief or teaching that is not found within the teachings of the Lord Jesus. Some of these should be obvious. The reason they are not is because the Christians espousing and believing such are either Biblically illiterate or have been indoctrinated with a false teaching.
Those who put the Lord Jesus first and are true disciples actually read and study His teachings. They become very familiar with them. They do their best to follow them and obey the Lord. If a Christian refuses to do this or is too lazy to do it, he or she is not a real Christian or at least will not be one for long. If such people remain churchgoers or insist on their particular brand they will end up being deceived the same way the followers of the Pharisees were deceived.
It was the Pharisees and scribes that the Lord was addressing in the preceding Scripture. These people were evil. They showed it by their actions. They absolutely hated the Lord and everything He stood for. They hounded Him constantly and did everything they could to destroy His reputation. They lied about Him always.
Unreal Christianity does exactly the same thing. Its members create a Jesus they feel comfortable with, one that suits them, according to their own limited understanding. This Jesus is not the real Jesus. It is only a figment of their imagination. The proponents of Unreal Christianity refuse to honor His pure teachings because they could never carry out their real reason for existence otherwise. They do not want to follow and serve the Lord Jesus; they want to be followed and served.
That’s why they created a mass laity underclass and keep it subverted to their will. They gain their monetary and social support from this class. They do it through indoctrinating (brainwashing) their followers away from the Lord’s truth and toward their own impure teachings. They use fear, especially the fear of social exclusion. Because they are dealing with spiritually lazy people it is not so difficult to keep them dumbed-down. Some of their followers may be well-versed in their own denominational teachings but that only furthers their Biblical illiteracy.
Why? Because the substitution of impure teachings makes them oblivious of the Lord’s real teachings. Or they are taught that the Lord’s real teachings are actually heresy and steer their followers away from them. There are millions of Christians who have thus been taught to hate the real teachings of the Lord.
Regarding any particular issue, one cannot believe truth and untruth at the same time. Regarding a collection of beliefs, the percentage of false teachings and interpretations one holds is directly proportional to the lack of truth they hold. If one fills one’s brain with untruth there will be little left for truth. Another corollary is thus: The more one accepts that which is not true but only appears that way, the less one has a desire for truth. When people are no longer hungry for truth they will not seek it. Whatever then is left in their head is what they believe and what they believe is false though they think it’s true.
It’s called deception. The Pharisees were masters at deceiving people. So are the Christian Pharisees. They have a different motivation. They put money and social standing above the Lord. They are also excellent liars.
“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” [John 8:43-45]
THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT AGENDA
Though their followers would be shocked if they could shake themselves from their zombie status and see their leaders and churches for what they actually are, this rarely happens. Not only that, they don’t want it to happen. They often run from the truth. They cover their ears. The truth is far too upsetting. They would have to acknowledge their deception and admit their wrongheadedness. They would have to realign their lives. Such an occurrence is far too much for them to accept. Their pride can’t handle it. They would rather maintain their fake lives, stay socially connected, and keep the money coming in. Thus, actually following the Lord is out of the question. Following Him in some convoluted false manner is preferable. They are not actually following Him or obeying Him but convince themselves that they are. Where’s the proof? How can they deny Him and also obey Him?
The early followers of the Lord Jesus teach us how it is done. What they believed is what we are supposed to believe. What they did is what we are supposed to do.
However, the beliefs and practices of the Lord’s early Community are different from those of pretty much every Christian denomination. It is why one rarely or never sees the results the early Christians had within these compromised organizations. Their rejection of truth makes the truth irrelevant.
As we say in Texas, most are mere drugstore cowboys. They are all hat and no cattle.
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
When their actions are the opposite of their rhetoric.
TRAITS OF THE PHARISEES
The people who put on a big show spouting on endlessly in their bold bloviations do not care whatsoever if their speech is the opposite of their actions. In fact, their speech is designed to hide their actions. What they say is not what they do.
Therefore, if one is swayed by the talk without investigating the walk, they will be hopelessly deceived. They simply do not grasp the fact that they are being manipulated. They are being tricked into joining the mass support class.
“HE WHO HAS EARS TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR.”
The Lord Jesus warned us about this. He exposed this trait of the Pharisees. But the majority always either reject the warning or are simply too dense to understand it. Those who have the lazy tendency to believe anything they are told simply need a grand presentation on the part of the Pharisees in order to enforce their laziness. In other words, if you dress up a lowlife huckster to the point that he or she appears to be a legitimate and honest proponent of truth, the majority believes what they see and what they hear at face value instead of making an investigation behind the scenes.
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 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 23:1-13]
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
I quoted Paul in my last post in his second letter to Timothy. One of the charges he made against false believers and rejecters of the Lord was that they were lovers of money. So was Judas.
Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” [Luke 16:14-15]
There are a great many Christian bigwigs who are highly esteemed among men. They rule their roosts as the flaming little peacocks they are. It continues to amaze me how gullible Christians are in supporting these people. The Lord could walk in to most churches and everyone there would pay Him no mind. They would simply not recognize Him. He would not look the part. He would be invisible.
But the great mighty platform-strutters and gaudily-attired clergyites, many of which are going straight to hell, are honored much as the original Pharisees were honored.
Such Pharisees also loved dressing the part. They would do anything to pass themselves off as legitimate in order to gain great social standing and much money.
Perhaps this is in part why gaining money is not so easy for real Christians or why they are less motivated toward wealth. Real Christians already know they are the wealthiest people in the world anyway because they have a close relationship with the Lord Jesus. What can possibly be better than that? The Lord ALWAYS takes care of His children but His children must put Him first.
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” [Luke 16:13]
Those who knowingly reject the Lord do so in large part because they love money and refuse to submit to real discipleship which will curtail their gaining of it. Thus, without the Lord, they are free to seek wealth to their heart’s content. Those who put money before God will also engage in much evil against the Lord and His people. One of these evils is betrayal. Spending money on the Lord, His people, and His movement is considered a waste. He always wants to help good-hearted people who strive to do good. Such people are often looked down upon by the world because they are seen as losers who won’t fight, cheat, lie, and deceive to get ahead. The lovers of money do this. The two always go together. Here is a good example:
Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” [John 12:1-8]
Right after this the indignant money-loving Judas left to make his deal with the money-loving chief priests to betray the Lord.
Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. [Matthew 26:14-16] 
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Image is everything. The real person is the one hiding behind the carefully crafted outer person. There is no greater idol or graven image than a living human being.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.
Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. [2Timothy 3:1-15]
© 2019 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son… [Colossians 1:13]
The apostle Paul spoke of first-hand experience. He knew well what had actually happened to him out on that dusty Damascus road. He knew it was a rescue.
“But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me…” [Acts 22:6]
Think about this. Paul was apparently not seeking God. He did not appear to be on a search for truth. He had a very strong attitude about what his religion was, what it entailed, and what was required. And he was hell bent on not only performing all the rites and believing all the beliefs of his religion but would do all in his power to force others to do the same. Whoever did not believe as he did would be made to pay.
He was determined to get them. It was part of his religion to get them. They were nothing but evil heretic Jews who defied the universal synagogue as defined by the Pharisees. Other Jewish sects were recognized by the Pharisees, of course, especially the Sadducees who controlled the temple and ran Jerusalem, and who were also tied into the great wealth of this world and politically aligned with the Romans. But for any up-and-coming offshoot Jewish sect which did not abide by the dictates of the master cult, these must be stomped on and eradicated using any method possible. This was Paul’s attitude as it was with the majority of the cult, though perhaps no one of these had as strong a conviction as he did or were as willing and able and energized to do serious damage.
THE PRESENCE OF THE DEVIL
It was the work of the evil one. The cult had fought the Lord Jesus every step of the way. It was absolutely opposed to Him and never gave an inch. The Lord knew where those guys were heading. He knew their future. He knew they had already crossed a line of no return and that there was nothing He could do to stop them. They were determined to fight it out to the end and would eventually destroy themselves and their nation forever. Some of them did not know they had been terribly deceived. Most of them bought into the devil’s program because that’s exactly what they wanted and would do it a thousand times over. They were comfortable in the domain of darkness. They loved it. They loved all the sin and vileness, all the corruption and robbery, and all the power and sense of personal pride it brought them.
What the Lord had started as good, beginning with Abraham and continued later with Moses, they had transformed into something evil with the mere appearance of good. As long as no one ever challenged them they were able to maintain their exterior benevolent facade. But they obviously were not benevolent at all. It was only a front, a pretense, with an ulterior agenda. They had joined a very dark force to gain their power but never or rarely acknowledged this openly. Again, some of them were deceived. They thought they were doing right.
Some were not deceived, however, in that they had come to see the cult for what it was but were too frightened to reveal this. To protect themselves and their families, they never said a word.
I have seen this exact phenomenon in Christianity. It is obvious for all to behold once one studies Christian history. The exact pattern always emerges. Some strong personality starts a new faction or belief system, or simply reveals more spiritual truth. Some of these have been given actual spiritual light and revelation. Eventually, however, standard operating procedure takes over and transforms the new effort into an organized cult built upon a personality or specific doctrines that differ from others. A few of these manage to outlast smaller versions and grow to become official Christian denominations only because of the numbers of people involved. The large numbers are what give the denomination its perceived legitimacy.
Of course, each of these, simply because they were not Roman Catholic, were collected into the obverse pool of Christian bodies referred to as “Protestant.” These were the ones known specifically as protesters against Roman Catholicism. Why would they protest? What was there to protest against? Incidentally, regardless of any new “reforms” within Catholicism since the Protestant Reformation, Catholicism is still pretty much as it ever was. It really has not changed all that much. One might focus on a minor change here or there and perceive it as major but this is only a matter of perspective. Overall, and effectually, the Catholicism of today is essentially the same as the Catholicism of then. So whatever the Protestants protested against then they could certainly do the same today.
And the Catholics could certainly fight back. In its history, the Roman Catholic Church has had the same attitude of the ancient Pharisees in that it worked overtime to stomp out any and all dissent or mere perceived dissent. This is one of the main planks it used to gain and maintain power. They would never have become a worldwide religious monolith otherwise. It had used the same methods as its namesake to gain converts and take territory. Many if not most Catholics simply do not know this or they reject it. The Catholicism they possess in their heads is not the Catholicism of reality and history.
The same is true for Protestants. They have rewritten their histories to reflect a kinder and gentler account, both because their present members for the most part no longer believe as their progenitors did and also because they want to eliminate anything that does not reflect present cultural values. I always find it quite interesting that Christian groups refuse to acknowledge that which gave them power and put them on the map in the beginning, as if they were embarrassed about it. Perhaps they don’t feel comfortable attempting to answer the harder questions. They do not like their origins and past but insist on maintaining their organizations.
GOD NEVER PROMISED US A PLATFORM THRONE
Both Catholics and Protestants killed a lot of people only because they differed in beliefs and mostly because those killed believed in the real Gospel and were determined to serve the Lord Jesus rather than whatever faux lord was thrust upon them. I have thought, for example, about the ridiculous level of hubris and arrogance it took for some dumb human obsessed with self importance to sit his fat backside on a religious throne and accept completely undeserved honor as some kind of religious potentate. We see this, obviously, with Catholic popes, but we also see it just as obviously with Protestant leaders, though their thrones are not as ornate or evident. We also see it, strangely enough, in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Nondenominational world.
I don’t know who first invented these ubiquitous large and often ornate chairs or platform thrones but whoever it was needs to be spanked. First of all, there should not be a platform (a stage). If the platform was not there then the platform throne would not be there. Yet we still see to this day some religious pride guy and his minions squatted in giant chairs up on high to make sure everyone on the premises knows full well who is in charge. If you want to check this against spiritual reality, just imagine the Lord Jesus insisting on His disciples carrying around a very large and decorated throne chair that He could sit in all the time everywhere He taught and preached (and maybe be carried around in.)
His great humility and example thus destroys all these stupid unrepentant religious lamebrains and all their prideful and arrogant attitudes. The tables will turn one day. They will get theirs. The first will be last. These ever-present departures into darkness, whether it is the tendency to kill rather than discuss or the desire to indulge one’s flesh instead of crucifying it, will be dealt with by the Lord in His way and in His time. He is very patient that we come to our senses. He intercedes for us. He does His best. He even gave His life. But it is apparent that His perfect example and attitude have not been accepted or emulated by most of what is termed Christianity.
As it was with the false Jewish sects of the first century which refused the Lord and eventually killed Him, the same has happened among great numbers of supposed Christian believers. The LIGHT has come but most still prefer the domain of darkness.
Like Paul, many Christians need to be rescued.
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
Something unusual happened in Babylon during the captivity. After being deported to a faraway land, a clandestine priestly caste laid the groundwork for a new approach toward divine knowledge.
Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ And I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore hear, O nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O earth: behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, the fruit of their plans, because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also.” [Jeremiah 6:16-19]
If one reads the gospels looking for similar clues and seeking this particular theme, it is not difficult to find. In fact, the theme jumps right out at you. Certain religious authorities were always questioning Him. They questioned His teachings, His manner, His motivation, the way He went about things, and even His mental makeup. They repeatedly struck out, however, on all their attempts to discredit Him.
SECRET SECTS A-STIRRING
One wonders how those people ever gained their religious authority. How did it happen? Many Christians never seek out the back story, but there was a lot of really weird stuff brewing up in good old Judea in the two centuries prior to the Lord’s arrival. There was also really weird stuff going on in the centuries before then but it started getting concentrated and coming together in an organized manner by that time.
Let’s go further back for even more background, to just prior to the Babylonian invasion of Judah and the first destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 586BC. Up to this time, the many spiritual departures and vile depravities that began with Solomon and continued through later generations of kings and priests laid a foundation for the destruction. We know of the strange pagan practices they adopted and never completely disavowed. One can only imagine how deep the sin became, but judging by the manifold mentions in OT lore, it was quite extensive. We know the results but little of the conspiratorial underpinnings. By the time of the Babylonian captivity, the degeneracy and corruption level reached a point that demanded judgment.
This was the period of the early origin of obscure precursors, factions, and mysterious esoteric sects that had begun forming behind the pages of OT history that would essentially rewrite it and which later came to full fruition. It stemmed from the ongoing sin and rebellion plaguing the dwindling kingdom of Judah. The failing nation, at intervals, had already become the client state of great world powers and most of her final kings were weak, though King Josiah brought a great reform which sadly failed in the end.
The captivity actually began circa 600BC (many scholars say the first deportation to Babylon took place in 597BC). I will not go into all the particulars, but these early divisions within Judah began to coalesce into distinctive groups and eventually produced the various religious sects, mini-cults, political parties, and whatnot by 200BC and shortly thereafter.
HEADING FOR A SHOWDOWN
This resultant splintering and ongoing four century sorting out process had begun long before the captivity, however, primarily with the first big split—that between the priests and prophets. There was a war simmering beneath the surface for what should be obvious reasons. The priests and associates were always on the scene daily working in and around the temple and this put them in close authoritative proximity with the political rulers and kings. The prophets, however, were often the wild card which those in authority didn’t like. They didn’t like them precisely because they were largely incorruptible (and paid a great price for it), and could never be counted on to go along with the program since they always followed God’s program.
But wait. Were not the kings, priests, and prophets all supposed to be on the same page? Did not God create the priestly tribe in the first place and give them a legitimate function? The answer is, of course, yes, but the priestly tribe would often get weirded out and appeared fixated on a never-ending fight with the other major authority God created, that of the prophets, seemingly because of some strange inferiority complex and disagreement with the prophets’ perceived Wild West manner. And compared to them, the prophets definitely had a Wild West manner.
If Clint Eastwood was involved, for example, he would always be a prophet.
To outside observers (the ruling authorities), the prophets were always flying by the seat of their pants and making crazy unfounded pronouncements, meaning they could not possibly be like God or be in obedience to God because God just wasn’t like that. He would never do that. He was structured and organized and orderly and demanded strict attention to detail and doing things in a set manner on a consistent daily basis. According to those in charge, the wacko solitary head-in-the-clouds eccentrics with powerful and perfect unsettling utterances and fiery eyes scaring everyone all the time and getting in the face of those who ruled and telling them off for all their many peccadilloes and transgressions proved they could not possibly be on God’s payroll and therefore must be stopped.
After centuries of this bickering battle the prophets finally were stopped. The prophetic word ended somewhere in the vicinity of 400BC. The preservative was gone. The lights went out. The priests took over. They got their way. And they relished the moment.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Over the next two hundred years, from 400BC to 200BC, a sifting and settling process commenced among those vying for the official priestly perspective and narrative. Then, from roughly 200BC and a few decades thereafter, the origin and early beginnings of the later major religious sects emerged. Their beginnings are still historically sketchy, but enough information can be found to follow their trail. These major sects—Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, et al—wayward and odd, and each with its own agenda, claimed close proximity to God but were truly quite distant compared to the rich relationship with the Lord possessed by the early patriarchs and later prophets.
These new groups came to full flower and strength by the first century AD, just in time to do battle with the greatest of the prophets and His forerunner who was otherwise the best of all time. One wrested control of the people and another wrested control of the temple.
The Pharisees in particular, most of whom were not priests or overtly priestly but certainly not prophetic, had long since undermined the Law of Moses and created their own hyper-sacerdotal encyclopedic answer-all mega index and then orally codified it, meaning it was known only to them and they controlled it. They were thus the holders of secret knowledge. Their illicit work was only possible because there had been no prophet for over four hundred years to stop them. Thus, the Lord obviously knew what He was doing by creating prophets—in part to keep an eye on and balance out those incommunicado priests and kings in authority that seemed to always have a problem with His authority. The absence of the prophets and the clear voice of heaven—the voice of God Himself speaking through the prophets—allowed the priests to create a non-spiritual dimwit faction that took over everything.
After surviving early skirmishes and gaining ever-greater power over a couple of centuries, the Pharisee and Sadducee parties and smaller groups like them were used to having their way. They never had a prophet in their face. They had nothing whatsoever to draw on in all their collective experience regarding how to deal with a prophet. There was never a prophetic correcting voice against them. Squabbling among themselves did nothing regarding correction and only served to foment more hatred and division.
Unlike the prophets, the new religious rulers put their faith not in God but in money, outward appearance, and themselves. They ended up being the epitome of religious spoiled children constantly whining and demanding their way. Every little thing was an offense to them. They were ridiculously easily offended. Everything they said was right—down to the most ludicrous and preposterous detail with little or no bearing on the written Law. They were thus relentlessly pointing out everyone’s errors and tacking on an endless minutia stream of counterintuitive religious do’s and don’ts.
THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU QUIT ON GOD
One wonders why in the world the rest of the nation didn’t simply rise up and stomp these idiots out of existence and get them off their backs. Was it part of God’s judgment? Being constantly rejected by His people going back many centuries, was God giving the people what they demanded, the same way He allowed them to replace Him with King Saul a thousand years before?
In searching for the reason why Judea allowed these religious pretenders to gain such prominence and ruin their lives, one discovers the not so secret answer when one acknowledges the results of their sordid rebellion: When the people rejected God they eliminated His strength, power, and anointing within and upon them. They lost their ability to fight spiritual battles. They were thus forced to surrender to the use of their mere natural strength, something demonic forces could easily overpower and much stronger individuals could take advantage of. The people of the nation meekly surrendered, having no wherewithal to overcome their religious oppressors who were intent on control though guised in false light.
It is for the same reason that the exact religious development has transpired in Unreal Christianity. It should look very familiar.
THE RETURN OF THE PROPHETIC VOICE
But the Lord God was not through. He would take it upon Himself to return and restore, and do battle with the demonic pretenders to His throne. He would bring freedom to those sincere ones caught up in the struggle who loved Him and wanted to be free to serve and worship Him. He would come for them. He would fight for them. He would put everything on the line for them. In one fell swoop the powerful voice of the prophets was gloriously restored.
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’” [Luke 11:47-51] 
The evil ones returned fire by doing to Messiah what they did to all those prophets. He returned fire by coming back from the dead and claiming His throne. Like those in Ezekiel’s boneyard, He continues to return fire through every man and woman He raises up from spiritual death, anoints with His Holy Spirit, and sends into spiritual battle.
All glory, honor, and praise to Yehoshua HaMashiach.
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
He had done everything right. He did everything he was told. He was dutiful, and thoughtful, and slow to react. He always considered the implications of his actions.
But yet, the closeness he desired never arrived. Rather than trying to get personal with God he stayed at a distance. His preference was going through the quotidian exercises of his religion.
He was a nice guy, always helping others, and quiet—carrying on in a relaxed and measured way, looking people in the eye with the hint of a smile, as if his job was to serve whoever may come before him. He enjoyed such actions, things someone else might call ministry, but it was just part of his life.
He wondered about God often—who He was, what He was like. He had been given answers as a child that God was essentially unknowable and far away. As a result his wonder never blossomed into an outright search, because he had far too much respect for his family and local church, especially the well-respected ministers he had been associated with.
Of course, that is a very loose term. Most churchgoers are not associated with their ministers. They are people seen once a week for an hour or two while attending to their profession. There may be a mini-chat every so often after services or a low-key counseling session. It is the same with most church members. Though rubbing shoulders with many, they deal mainly with simple surface relationships and remain distant from each other’s heart.
One may wonder why there is so much passivity within traditional Christianity. Very few ever buck any trends. There are certainly never any instances of someone like the Lord cleaning out the temple. Is this because everyone thinks their own church needs no cleaning out? Are the majority of churches in America clean and orderly and right with God? Do they teach Biblical truth and demand loyalty to the Lord Jesus and New Testament teachings?
Or are churches actually corrupt in that quiet passive way? Is the fact that most church-goers sit down in orderly pews and chairs without ever raising an eyebrow a sign that all is perfect and well? Does the man in the pulpit have it so together that there is never a discouraging word regarding that which he preaches? Are American churches doing their job?
This must be the case, right? It must be that such perfect order proves all is right and that God is pleased.
But how do they know this? If God remains unknown, how do the people know He is pleased? Does church order reflect godliness in this sense?
Whoever thinks this is true does not read the Bible and certainly not the New Testament.
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” [Matthew 10:32-39]
Have you ever heard this passage of Scripture as part of a Sunday morning sermon?
How about this one:
Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” [Matthew 15:1-3]
And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.” [Mark 7:6-9]
What would happen if the Lord Jesus came to your church? Would he see it as everyone there sees it? Would He simply go along to get along? Would He never say a word or mention the things going on there that don’t line up with His teachings? Would He simply love everybody and tell one and all to keep on keeping on?
He went to seven churches as recorded in the Book of Revelation and was none too pleased with the vast majority. Remember, these were His people gathered in His name supposedly doing what He taught them. At least, that is what they claimed. He had some good things to say but He also railed against them and demanded they get their act together. I submit that most American churches are worse off, and the reason there is so little change for the better is because the Lord Jesus is not welcome. The sinful culture of this country has taken over most traditional churches, regardless of denomination.
Believe me, if He ever did show up in the greatness of His power, all would know it.
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” [Revelation 2:4-5]
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” [Revelation 2:10]
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” [Revelation 2:14-16]
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” [Revelation 2:20-23]
“I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” [Revelation 3:1-3]
“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” [Revelation 3:10-11]
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” [Revelation 3:14-19] 
© 2011 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.