Beloved, our family has ingested a great poison. And now, in an hour of great trouble, the body of Christ in America is feverish with a crippling disease.
The Lord, Who is attentive to our condition, has seen it in His people thousands of times throughout history.
He sees what we rally for.
He sees where we pin our hope for social change.
He sees what we vehemently defend.
He sees what determines who we feel most threatened by.
He sees who we champion.
He sees what stirs and preoccupies our heart.
He sees what we turn a blind eye to.
He sees where we seek to find refuge for ourselves, and others.
The Lord sees it all, and He calls it “idolatry”(1).
Idolatrous, political nationalism is the “judaeizing” issue of our generation, and a great corrupting condition that threatens the vitality and mandate of American evangelicalism in 2021.
I’m using the phrase “Idolatrous, political, nationalism” intentionally, because I believe it to be the most accurate description of the symptoms.
IDOLATROUS because it describes our behavior in light of God’s Word. Regardless of how much religious verbiage we attach to our political engagement, where we inordinately hang our faith for Kingdom impact upon the attainment of political power, (even to the point of becoming willing to compromise the constitution of Jesus’ Kingdom values to gain this political power) we’re proclaiming another, insufficient gospel.
POLITICAL because it describes the dynamic means (legislation, executive orders, laws, democratic majority, constitutional process etc.) by which we hope to gain what we’re seeking.
And NATIONALISM is the cult-narrative; it’s the way we tell our story; understand what we’re fighting for; what we’ve “lost”; who our enemies, allies and heroes are.
In May of last year, after 180 days of focused “inquiring of the Lord”, the Lord showed our House of Prayer that in the “trouble” that was raging around us, many leaders in the body of Christ would seek shelter under the towering promises of political nationalism. Then He gave us two signs to sternly warn us that this pursuit would lead to destruction.
The first sign was an actual manifestation of the vision He’d shown us four weeks earlier. On June 4, 2020, the Washington Monument was struck by lightning.
Then, in August, 12 weeks after the dream, in the very week that He said He would, the Lord abruptly brought down the president of America’s largest evangelical university, founder of a prominent nationalist think-tank, and one of the first evangelicals to uncircumspectly endorse our former president.
The Lord was carrying out His sentence against those of His own house who were making political nationalism their refuge in an hour of His judgement.
For the record, political power and national pride have a bad track-record for delivering the people of God from “the time of trouble” (Psalm 27:5), much less preparing them to be “the wife of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:9). Throughout history, scores of false prophets and crooked counselors have encouraged the people of God to embrace political solutions to their nation’s spiritual crises. Nowhere do we find God encouraging His people to address their spiritual crises by increasing their appetite for political power. No where. When we do, He swiftly calls our pursuit for what it is: adultery.
Nonetheless, with no Biblical precedent to draw upon, in spite of numerous Divine warning signals, amidst the wreckage of their own failed predictions, and against respectful rebuttal from fellow ministers of the gospel, many evangelical leaders are, even at this hour, directing millions in the body of Christ to continue to eat their fill of political nationalism.
One of the most brash and flamboyant of these leaders, is a man who teaches no cross, cares for no flock himself, repeatedly prophesies falsely, castigates saints who don’t subscribe to his conspiracies as “sheeple” and “nut-jobs”, and in an hour of tribulation seems to have as his central intent: to keep the affections of a confused Bride upon the carnal rule of another. This is what he had this to say to his half-million followers this past week:
“I noticed something last night. Now that Donald Trump has been censored and silenced on social media, we have no voice, vehicle or mechanism with power through which to push back or protect ourselves. Trumps absence has created a huge void with no agreed to Christian leader or organization to fill the space. Isaiah 44 said “Cyrus is My Shepherd.” In the government arena he was our defender and protector of religious Liberty. What happens to the flock when the shepherd is struck? Jesus told us- it scatters… I personally think God has Donald Trump on hold while we (the Church) catch up to him. Imagine what happens when Trump and an awakened church line up?”
Trump is our “shepherd”???
He is “the voice” of the Church in America?
Thousands of our family members agree with this man’s analysis???
Beloved, this is case-in-point. This is the harlotry. This is what taking shelter under the Washington Monument looks like; this, and referring to 2021 as the year 1776, and continuing to call for political insurrection while castigating pastors and leaders who appeal for prophetic integrity. It’s a sign of God’s judgement that so much of our family has been infected by this blatantly idolatrous spirit. It’s become a spiritual poison in our body; one that our King is perfectly intent on purging from His people before He returns.
From what the Lord showed us in May 2020, I believe continuing to eat of the fruit of political nationalism will result in the cutting off of as much as a third of the body of Christ in America… people, friends and colleagues who seemingly have their orthodox theology in order, who nonetheless push through judgment after judgement; sign after sign; living in deep delusion today, thinking they’re walking in God’s supernatural power; perhaps even to only arrive at the soul-shattering confrontation in (Matthew 7:22-23): “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me…’”
In Matthew 24 Jesus purposefully warns us about false prophets and false teachers precisely because they will be deceptive, and in-and-of ourselves, we have no capacity to perceive their falsehood. We’re dependent upon the intimate counsel of the Word-speaking Holy Spirit.
This is how He counseled the nation of Judah in an hour when they too had grown blind to their departure from the ways of the Lord.
4 Oh, sinful nation, people weighed down with guilt, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him.
5 Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The entire head is sick and the entire heart is faint.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing healthy in it. Only bruises, slashes, and raw wounds; not pressed out nor bandaged, nor softened with oil.
7 Your land is desolate. Your cities are burned with fire…
8 As for your fields, strangers are devouring them in front of you. It is desolation, as overthrown by strangers.
9 If the Lord of hosts had not left us a very small remnant, we would be like Sodom; we would be like Gomorrah.
Until we agree with these words we will continue to be sick (1:5), and not sound (1:6). We will be like Sodom (1:9). Our assemblies and our strategies will be futile (1:13) – they will continue to weary the Lord (1:14) and provoke the Holy One of Israel (1:14).
In our toxic condition we have 2 options:
1. We can seek His face, and reason together with Him (1:7) re the deep nature of our sickness (1:5)
2. We can allow the poison to remain in our system; refuse to bind up our wounds (1:6); continue in desolation (1:7); and be devoured and removed from the land (1:7).
Should we choose the Isaiah 1 option, Psalm 38 is our remedy and our recovery program.
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply, and Your hand presses me down.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of Your anger, nor any health in my bones because of my sin…
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.
6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long…
7 For my loins are full of inflammation, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.
9 Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You…
10 My heart pants, my strength fails me. As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, and my relatives stand afar off…
12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, and plan deception all the day long.
13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; and I am like a mute who does not open his mouth…
14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth is no response.
15 For in You, O Lord, I hope. You will hear, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”
17 For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me.
18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong; and those who hate me wrongfully have multiplied…
20 Those also who render evil for good, they are my adversaries, because I follow what is good.
21 Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!
Let me say it again. Praying in the spirit of Psalm 38 is the only way American evangelicalism will be washed and sanctified from her idolatrous ways. Making these kind of face-seeking, heart-rending, soul-baring encounters the “next normal” in our church gatherings, our zoom meetings, and our family dialogue, is the only way the poison that’s in our culture will be purged. Furthermore, it’s also the only way we’ll experience revival in our generation.
Friends, if your favorite teacher isn’t leading you into these dynamics; if their prophecies failed this past year, and you don’t hear them humbling themselves, repenting of their corruption, and aiming at a rending of the heart in the fear of the Lord, it’s time to find a new favorite teacher. I’m serious.
It takes supernatural revelation and faith to press through the flurry of distractions and see that radical transparency and vulnerability before the Lord is the pathway in this transitional hour. Many are. Many will – even as the judgements intensify. Indeed, as my friends Samantha and Tom Stolz observe, it will ultimately take seven bowls, seven trumpets and seven seals for many to see. But this is how committed the Father is to enflame hearts into first-commandment love and fidelity to His Son.
Whether we’re ready for them or not, these purging, thlipsis, judgements are already doing His perfect, gracious and holy work in our family. In the words of John the Baptist, “Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)
Though neither His rewards nor His wrath are yet fully revealed, they will be manifest in a hot minute. Now is the hour to get out of all forms of idolatry and self-justification. This is the hour to deny ourselves the dopamine distraction of the next layer of conspiracy theories and singularly fix our gaze on the increase of our Bridegroom’s exaltation. This is what David means in Psalm 2:12 when he says: “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him” – to yield our well-worn ways to His purging regimen, and let the Holy Spirit steadfastly cleanse us of our deadly ways.
Beloved, idolatrous, political nationalism is a fatal condition. Time will not heal it in our body. Imagining things will settle down and get back to an old normal is a strategy of the enemy to get us to normalize our dire condition. Only boldly entering into the Lord’s truth and grace (Hebrews 4:16) will remove it from us.
And this is the good news.
This condition is well within the Father’s reach of mercy. He is not disturbed. He is not shaken. He’s not perplexed. He’s supremely and joyfully confident in the power of His Word to wash us, and prepare us for His Son’s return.
“And this is the good news. This condition is well within the Father’s reach of mercy.”
On top of that, if we were to engage the Lord in this vigorous honesty – I believe the new fidelity in our ways would also set a passionate flame in the belly of the Church that would sweep across our spiritually dry nation like a wild-fire driven by a hot, July wind.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
But we must come to Him for this chastening work. We must resist the incessant temptation to fashion self-protective arguments and false worlds that keep us from seeing ourselves as we really are. Just as the seven Churches in Revelation needed to agree with the Lord’s judgements over them, we must look into His pure Face through His Word; as a mirror – accept His diagnosis, and let Him lead us into the perfect way of liberty.
Yes, the Lord is gloriously faithful, and through the heat of tribulation He will have a Bride without spot, wrinkle or blemish (Ephesians 5:27) – but the personal, bothersome part of the question; the part He’s confronting us each individually with today is “will He have YOU?”
JSB • February, 2021
(1) For a more thorough, Biblical examination of the topic of idolatry see “Letting God Set Us Free from Idolatry” by Jonathan Boegl
Here are a couple of lists to help us identify idols and idolatrous behavior in our lives:
7 (Objective) UNIVERSAL CHARACTERISTICS OF IDOLS
1. Idols tempt us to exalt self.
2. Idols tempt us to compromise with unrighteousness and develop a special dispensation of grace/ anointing that allows individuals and people groups to operate outside of the standards of God’s Word.
3. Idols argue against the wisdom of the cross, and oppose the way of the crucified life.
4. Idols tempt us to carnal (often sexual) lust for power and things of the earth (1 John 2:16)
5. Idols inevitably call for absolute uncircumspect allegiance. Questioning or disagreeing with the idol, or those who are enthroning the idol is resoundingly forbidden.
6. Furthermore, idols incite hostility, intolerance and condemnation toward those who do oppose the idol. Often those who question the idol, or don’t worship the idol are furiously denounced, rejected and turned into “enemies”.
7. Idols obscure and diminish the glory of God, and detract from the pursuit of intimate love for God, and the pure trust of His holy ability.
8 (Subjective) QUESTIONS TO HELP US DISCERN IF WE’RE ENGAGING IN IDOLATROUS BEHAVIOR
1. Where is the bulk of my time, energy, thoughts and resources directed?
2. What type of glory do I most crave? Who do I want it from? Over what issues?
3. What in my world do I most fear, or appears most threatening to me? (Identifying our greatest fear/threat can help us identify what kind of thinking/behavior we’ve developed to help us stay safe from these fears and threats.)
4. To what paradigm or person (parent-type, pastor, prophet, politician etc.) do I look in times of trouble, in order to discover, or bring order to my world?
5. To whom, or to what issues do I give permission to operate independent of scriptural parameters. Where am I giving myself and others permission to suspend the beatitudes for the sake of expediency? (Note: Idols have no power in and of themselves. Their power is a false power; a power of lies. The beauty of the beatitudes are that they rely on God-empowerment to function in a person’s life. If you’re going to operate in meekness, God really has to come through in your life-circumstances. The beatitudes are the idol-busters secret weapon.) Another helpful question here would be, where do I find myself most tempted to operate without humility? In fact, if I find no room for humility re: the presence of idols in my own life, it’s one of the best indicators that I’ve not yet let the Holy Spirit deal with the real idols in my life.
6. Over what issues/relationships do I tend to be most defensive? Where am I engaging in self-justifying behavior?
7. Where do I work most hard to not experience shame in my own life? Over what issues/relationships am I most prone to shaming others?
8. Unto what way of thinking, or to what person or organization do I ascribe a great deal of “infallibility”. With whom am I most tempted to say: “I can trust their word, motives, perspective, wisdom. They won’t steer me wrong.”