Control

Most Christians believe that God is in control of the world. He decides what happens on earth. If something bad happens, God must have allowed it. When a disaster occurs, he gets the blame.

This view is not true. Not only does it create confusion, it portrays God as cruel and nasty.

Many other Christians believe that we are in what they call the "end times". Things on earth will get worse and worse, without any rhyme or reason. Their only hope to escape before things slip too far down the gurgler. Not only is this view wrong (the end times are not mentioned in the scriptures), but it creates confusion about what God is doing and how we should respond.

When God created the earth and mankind, he took a huge risk, because he decided to give authority over earth to humans.

The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind (Psalm 115:16).

He gave this authority without recourse, so he cannot snatch it back, if it is used unwisely. This has a serious consequence. Since humans have here, we decide what happens on earth. Whenever something bad happens, some person, or group of people has allowed it to happen.

This principle is essential for understanding prayer. Prayer is not persuading God to do what he does not want to do. Prayer is finding out what the Father wants to do and giving the Holy Spirit permission to do it. I have written about this elsewhere.

Understanding human authority is also important for understanding events on earth. In this article, I will set out a framework for understanding how this works.

1. Blessing

When a large number of Christians (white line) live in a community or country, God has considerable authority in that place. He is able to determine most of what happens there. If there are very few people hostile or ambivalent to God (the black line), the evil powers are squeezed into a corner with very little influence. This brings great blessing on earth.

This blessing of God is pushed out in three stages

2. Door Opened.

When the number of Christians in the population declines, God's authority on earth shrinks. His character and person remains unchanged, but his authority on earth is diminished. As the number of people rejecting God increases, a door is opened to the evil principalities and powers. Whereas previously they could only undertake minor skirmishes, the opening of this door of authority allows them to undertake major operations on earth. More of what happens is the result of their influence.

The church and society flow in tandem with to each other. If society is going downhill, it is because the church is not doing its job. It has stopped being salt and light in the world.

3. Tipping Point

There is a tipping point where the authority of the principalities and powers on earth exceeds the authority of God. When the proportion of Christian on earth reaches this tipping point, the powers of evil have much greater influence on earth. More and more events will be the consequence of their activities.

The half way point is not the tipping point. The reason is that Christians often have much greater influence than people who just ignore God without deliberately choosing to follow evil.

Christians are not evenly spread across society, so the tipping point is not the same across an entire society, but different in each community, neighbourhood and sphere of authority. God will have more influence in some communities and neighbourhood than in others. The tipping point will be reached in some places sooner than in others. I believe that New Zealand is very close to the tipping point. Some parts of our society may already have passed it.

During good times, people assume they will last forever. As society moves towards the tipping point, people are able to reject God without seeing any serious consequences. God still has authority to act on earth and is able to restrain the worst evil that human behaviour is unleashing. This creates and illusion of security, because society is becoming ungodly, but the good times roll on. The illusion is broken when the tipping point is reached and evil gets a free hand. People will be surprised when life on earth suddenly going sour.

Shifting the Tipping Point

Christians who understand what is happening can slow the move towards the tipping point. If they listen to the voice of the Father, know his will, and pray wisely, the influence of the Holy Spirit is amplified. When God's people pray according to his will, the Holy Spirit is freed to act. Therefore, even if half of the population have rejected God, those who still follow him can give authority to the Holy Spirit in the areas of life where they have authority.

Christians with authority in business or politics can amplify the authority of God even further. People like Joseph, Jeremiah or Isaiah are really important. Their position in the political system increased their influence. When they pray for God's will to be done, his authority on earth is dramatically boosted. A small minority with authority in business or government, who understand God's will and pray for the release of his Spirit in their sphere of influence can have a huge impact on earth. They give far more authority to God than is taken by the majority who simply ignore him.

Abraham and Sodom

Abraham is a great example. He pleaded for Sodom to be saved and God agreed to save it if ten righteous men lived in the city, although he already knew there were not ten good men in there (Gen 18:32). This number is often taken out of context and applied to other cities with no understanding of the extent of Abraham's authority in Sodom.

Sodom and the surrounding nations had been controlled by the King of Elam (which is in modern Iran) for thirteen years. When they rebelled, the King of Elam and some allies came against them and defeated them. Many people, including Lot, were taken captive and their property stolen. Abraham took his fighting men and defeated the King of Elam and his allies. He recovered the captives and their property (Gen 14:1-17).

The King of Sodom offered Abraham all his property, as anyone would in those days, if they met someone tougher than them.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself" (Gen 14:21).

The King was offering to pay tribute to Abraham as a more powerful leader, but Abraham told him to keep his people and his property. By submitting to Abraham, the King of Sodom gave Abraham immense authority in Sodom (that he mostly chose not to use). Abraham's relationship with God and the pagan king's surrender to him gave God authority to act in Sodom. It also gave Abraham the authority to plead for Sodom to be saved.

Abraham's faith and authority pushed the tipping point way over to the left.

Corporate Spiritual Strongholds

Christians with authority in the secular world can amplify God's authority in their culture by submitting to the Holy Spirit. The reverse is true. The forces of evil can leverage their authority in a similar way by building corporate spiritual strongholds.

When the people with power in a society all begin to believe a lie, it seeps into the hearts and minds of those who submit to their authority. The lie becomes a corporate mental stronghold affecting everyone living in the area. The lie could be a religious belief, a negative attitude about themselves or bad attitude to other people.

A corporate mental stronghold is a false idea that takes hold in a culture so that it is accepted by everyone. When demonic powers can attach themselves to the lie that is accepted everywhere in a culture, they can establish a corporate spiritual stronghold. Everyone who submits to the powers of the city or nation open themselves to the same spirits.

Paul referred to spiritual powers that have a corporate spiritual stronghold over a city or nation "principalities and powers". By concentrating on a spiritual weakness that pervades a culture, these spiritual forces can concentrate their power and amplify their authority. The spirits that have control over political and religious leaders can gain huge authority, if the people submitting to these leaders have similar attitudes and beliefs. (Peter Wagner describes a corporate spiritual stronghold that has taken hold in Japan.)

Even though there are many Christians in the society, the principalities and powers have amplified their authority by controlling the people with political or religious power.

An individual person can escape from a corporate spiritual stronghold quite easily. If they reject the lie and refuse to submit to those who pushing it, they can step out from under it. Repenting and believing sets people free.

Getting a city or nation out from under the corporate spiritual strong hold is much more difficult.

Corporate spiritual strongholds are there with permission of political or religious leaders, so these leaders will have to be kicked out or changed before the stronghold can be removed. The key to changing the spiritual situation is changing the hearts of people with authority.

If the corporate stronghold is really strong and those with authority in the society are staunch in their support, the only solution might be a Protective Judgement that sweeps them away. For example, when the Kings of Babylon got too hard, God allowed the Medes and Persians to destroy them. Daniel gained influence with Cyrus the Mede (Dan 6) and the he submitted to God. A protective judgment will be God's last resort, because it is hard to avoid collateral damage.

4. God Squeezed Out

When the tipping point is passed and the number of Christians shrinks dramatically, God's authority is squeezed out. The forces of evil begin to get a free hand on earth. They get to determine what happens on earth and God has very little influence.

We reap what we sow. When a society turns away from God, it eventually loses his blessing and protection. There might be is an interim period, where peace and prosperity continues, based on a backlog of faith from the faith of previous generations. Unfortunately, that legacy of blessing eventually runs dry and the society begins to experience what its lack of faith deserves.

To western eyes used to living under inherited blessings from generations of faith, this situation will seem like something terrible, but this level of chaos and catastrophe is normal in many parts of the world. A community that rejects the one who protects it should not be surprised if it loses its protection.

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
No one calls for justice;
no one pleads a case with integrity.
They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies;
they conceive trouble and give birth to evil (Is 59:1,2,4).

God's power has not changed, but his authority to act is severely truncated.

To western eyes used to living under inherited blessings from generations of faith, this situation will seem like something terrible, but this level of chaos and catastrophe is normal in many parts of the world. A community that rejects the one who protects it should not be surprised if it loses its protection.

A Remnant Rises

When the tipping point is passed, the forces of evil are impressed by their numbers and assume they are winning. They do get to work more evil on earth, but they are still losing. They can never win the larger battle, because Jesus won a complete victory on the cross, and the Holy Spirit is at work to make it a reality in history. Nothing that happens on earth, now or in the future, can nullify the victory of the cross. Getting the numbers on earth enables the power of darkness work more evil in the world, but it does not prevent God from accomplishing his purposes.

God has infinite power and wisdom, so he does not depend on numbers to accomplish his purposes. He will often choose to work with a small, overwhelmed group of people, so that his glory can be revealed through them. All he needs is a few people:

A small of committed remnant, working with the Holy Spirit, can defeat a large array of opposing power.

When the tipping point is passed and the world is flooded with evil, God raises a remnant. They will be in the world, so they will not escape the pain, but by standing together, they will rise above it to do God's work. He can accomplish more through a small committed than the forces of evil can accomplish with a free hand.

Each of these victories came at a time when God's people seemed to be overwhelmed. The remnant often suffered greatly, but because they stood together, and walked with the Holy Spirit, God was able to accomplish his purposes in a hostile environment.

On several occasions, God got things underway with a woman serving or praying alone.

The remnant is often starts off invisible, hidden on the edges of society and away from the corridors of power.

The remnant does not confront evil head on, but works quietly in hidden places. By remaining out of sight for a time, it gains time to develop and grow. The forces of evil are obsessed with hierarchy and power, so they concentrate their attention on the places of power and privilege where their authority is growing. They will not notice the move of God that is gathering strength in the shadows until it is too late. By the time that they notice the remnant that the Holy Spirit has equipped, it will have multiplied out to become an unstoppable force.

The LORD Almighty has sworn,
Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
and as I have purposed, so it will happen.
This is the plan determined for the whole world;
this is the hand stretched out over all nations.
For the LORD Almighty has purposed,
and who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out,
and who can turn it back (Is 14:24, 26,27)?

The Lord's hand is stretched over the nations. He will accomplish his purposes and nothing can thwart him. A season when he appears to be pushed out of the world often comes just before the Holy Spirit move in power to reveal his glory.

These principles are developed further in Prophetic Events.