Leaking Reservoirs Part 1 of 2
It’s a Christmas story you never hear preached. A striking vision arrests our attention in Revelation chapter 12. A stunning woman, clothed in the stellar heavens, nine months pregnant, goes in to labor.
A horrid blood-red dragon slashes the sky like a knife-wound determined to devour her baby as soon as he is born, but the baby escapes the dragon’s jaws and ascends to heaven to rule the universe.
Furious, the dragon then tries to destroy the woman, but fails again. The dragon calls for help. Two hideous monsters rise up – one from the sea, the other from the land – Leviathan and Behemoth. The two monsters are empowered by the dragon and attack God’s people, the community of faith.
The symbols become increasingly understandable. The dragon is satan, the woman is Mary/Israel/Eve, her baby boy is Jesus, the sea monster is empire, and the land monster is religion.
When God became human in Christ, satan marshaled all his forces to destroy him from the time he was born – Herod, villagers, Pharisees, Sadducees, Pilate. The devil thought he had succeeded on Good Friday, but then came Easter.
Furious, the devil sought to destroy Israel. The Jewish Wars, the Roman 10thLegion, Jerusalem crushed in 70 AD, Masada breached in 73 AD, Jewish blood flowed in rivers. But God poured out the Holy Spirit and a new Israel was born consisting of women and men of every ethnicity and language all over the globe grafted into the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Satan called forth the sea monster empire to help him destroy the church. For 300 years, Christians, Jewish and Gentile alike, united in loving worship and service, refused military service and violence, chose not to work for Rome, would not bow to idols nor recognize Caesar as lord, lived by the Sermon on the Mount practicing the way of nonviolent cruciform love, and cared for the sick, despised and rejected. The Roman Empire persecuted them relentlessly and their numbers grew exponentially.
Still not willing to give up, satan empowered a land monster called religion. Religion joined Empire to destroy the body of Christ, the community of faith, the ecclesia of God.
Constantine declared an Edict of Toleration; Theodosius made Christianity the state religion of Rome. Religion married empire. Two hideous beasts. Monsters empowered by the devil. Empire and Religion. Christendom. Civil religion. The homogenization of institutional church and state. A religion that was Christian in name only, now the chaplain and handmaid of the empire. “Christians” sought political power, amassed wealth, championed military operations, sparked crusades, appointed inquisitors, engaged in violence, oppressed the poor, stole land from native peoples, and built empires with slave labor. Stolen land. Stolen people.
August 9thof each year is designated by the UN as International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
The political powers of Christendom, with the full blessing of religion, launched explorers who forcefully claimed lands for their monarchs – lands that had been owned by indigenous people for 10,000 years. Spain, Denmark, Holland, France, Portugal, and England brutally conquered, slaughtered, subdued and enslaved native people throughout Africa and North, Central, and South America. They stole both land and resources. After a campaign of genocide and reneging on treaties, Native Americans were marched away, their lands seized by plantation owners and turned into slave camps that filled the world with cotton and sugar. It was all done in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Is it any wonder that so many natives of the Americas, Africa, and the South Pacific Islands reject Christianity today? To them, Christianity is greedy violent imperialism that aids massive empires (run by Europeans and their descendants) in oppressing the weak.
Is it any wonder that many Jews are not receptive to the message of Christianity? To them, Christianity means crusades, inquisitions, fascism, and the Holocaust.
Is it any wonder that many North American millennial and Gen-Z people reject Christianity? In their experience, Christianity means white supremacy, intolerance, homophobia, misogyny, racist capitalism, abusive clergy, and right-wing politics.
We have two satanically empowered monsters in our midst – Religion and Empire. They support one another. The emperor says he will protect the religious people, appoint judges to push their agenda, and give them access to wealth and power. The religious leaders champion the emperor as a new Cyrus, work to get out the vote, and back unprecedented corruption. Religion waves the banner of the empire and is proud of her troops and conquests.
The religious people call their religion Christian. It is not. It does not resemble the good news to the poor Jesus preached. It acts diametrically opposite what Jesus taught.
What will become of Civil Religion that calls itself Christian? What will become of modern empires?
The book of Revelation answers. The cruciform sacrificial blood of the Lamb and his followers will defeat satan, the land beast, and the sea beast. Not by might, nor by power, but by God’s Spirit. Satan failed to destroy Christ, failed to destroy Israel, and will fail to establish his demonic kingdom and false religion on earth as it is in hell.
Today, in the halls of power, behind pulpits, and over expensive media, there are those who profess to follow Christ, but the Jesus they proclaim is nothing like the real Jesus of the Gospels. Rather than follow the Lamb of God in the way of sacrificial love, like John Lewis did his whole life, for example, they have made a Faustian bargain with a satanic empire built by enslaved people on stolen land.
“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!”
(Jeremiah 2:13 NLT)
They have forsaken the fountain of living water, which is Christ. They have hewed out cracked cisterns of civil religion.
Posted on August 9, 2020, in anabaptist, apologetics, Bible, Bible Teaching, bodily resurrection, Christianity, creation, Jesus, Justice, Kingdom Life, kingdom of God, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, Poetry, Prayer, Prophecy, Spirituality, The Cross, Worship. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.