Scraps of Power

Since the cross, the powers of evil have lived on scraps of authority by retaining control over people who do not believe they are defeated.  Two big obstacles allow them to retain authority on earth.  These must be removed before the Kingdom can come in its fullness.

1. Old Covenant

The first big obstacle comes from the old covenant.  Most of the Jewish people rejected the new covenant established by Jesus and chose to remain under the Mosaic covenant.  Jesus had warned of the consequences, when he finished challenging the Jewish leaders with his terrible prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem.

Look, your house is left to you desolate (Matt 23:38).

Their desolation is the consequence of their covenant.  The Jewish people have a marvellous covenant with wonderful promises, but they are incapable of fulfilling it.  Jesus satisfied the covenant by living a perfect life, but the Jews rejected him, so he could not impute his righteousness to them.  Worse still, they have no way of dealing with their sin.  The sacrifices of the old covenant were effective in Old Testament times because they pointed to Jesus, but when the temple was destroyed, they stopped, so no sacrifice for sin now exists for them.

The Jewish people are now on the wrong side of a good covenant, caught under a curse and shut out of its blessings.  The spiritual forces of evil are expert accusers, so they demand the right to enforce the old covenant against the Jewish people.  The old covenant gives them authority to inflict the curses specified (Deut 28), so the Jews have no spiritual protection.  Although Jesus defeated the powers of evil, they still have authority to attack those who have chosen to live under the old covenant.

With the temple and sacrifice gone, the old covenant is a disaster for the Jewish people because they have no remedy for sin.  Whenever the powers of evil want to do great evil on earth, they attack them, because the old covenant gives them this authority.  Throughout New Testament history, the powers of evil have used this last vestige of authority to do great evil on earth.  The Second World War was horrendous in Eastern Europe, because they stirred up political leaders to attack the Jews in Poland and Ukraine.  Between 1930 and 1945, 14 million civilians were killed.

This season when the Jews are stuck under the old covenant is called the Times of the Gentiles.  Jesus described this season when he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).

The destruction of Jerusalem marked the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles.  Jesus used this name, because most Jews would be shut out of his covenant during this season.

During the Times of the Gentiles, the powers of evil retain this one small bit of legal authority on earth, despite their defeat on the cross.  The Jews are stuck under the curse of their covenant with no remedy for sin (Matt 23:39), so the powers of evil have authority to harm them.  While the Jews are scattered among the nations, they have authority to work throughout the world.  This has held back the Kingdom for more than 2000 years.

The United States has the largest Jewish population in the world outside Israel.  They are good productive people, but they have no spiritual protection.  This opens a door to spiritual evil that is more dangerous than the United States’ leaky land borders.

2. Government-spirits

The second big obstacle to the Kingdom of God is human political power.  Towards the end of the Times of the Gentiles, a massive growth in political authority will amplify the authority of the principalities and power that control cities and nations.  The people on earth rely on political authorities for prosperity and security.  Unfortunately, this trust in political authority allows the spiritual powers of evil to expand their authority.

When the people of a city or nation submit to their political leaders, they give them authority over their lives.  If the powers of evil get to control the people at the top of the political hierarchy, they gain authority over all the people submitted to them.  Concentration of political power leverages the authority of the powers of evil.

See Governments and Spiritual Authority

The spiritual powers that control political leaders are called "government-spirits" in the Bible (this is a better translation of the Greek words than the popular expression principalities and powers).  Some, like Prince of Persia, take the name of their nation (Dan 10:20).  They have immense authority on earth, despite their defeat on the cross, because people submit to the leaders controlled by them.  Political leaders have legal authority over their people, so attacking them gives the government-spirits control over cities and nations.

Focusing on individual people is a very inefficient way for the powers of evil to use their shrinking power.  If an evil spirit gains control over one person, it can make that person’s life miserable, but that is all.  By getting control over a political leader, the same spirit can make an entire nation miserable.  The powers of evil amplify their power by attacking people with political authority.

The power of evil is mostly an illusion, but concentrating on a few powerful people has allowed the forces of evil to magnify their pathetic power.  Controlling human political power has amplified their authority out of proportion to their strength.

In the modern world, political power has been centralised and consolidated as never before.  The leader of a modern democratic nation has greater power and authority than an emperor in Old Testament times, because they can control every aspect of life in their city or nation.

The political systems of great nations are extremely dangerous, because one person has control over hundreds of millions of people.  The devil can gain huge power on earth, by deploying a few strong spirits to get control of the president of China, Russia or the United States.  By getting control of these leaders, the government-spirits get authority over everyone submitted to them.  Concentration of human political power gives vast power to the government-spirits that control it.

government-spirits love to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).  We are seeing this now in many parts of the world.  Wars and economic crashes are not God’s judgements, but are a sign that evil powers have been given a free hand.

Political power is a huge obstacle to the Kingdom of God, because it is so vulnerable to evil.  Political evil cannot be defeated with political power.  Many Christians have unwittingly supported the enemy and held back the Kingdom by seeking political power.  Instead, we must wait until God destroys human government by bringing judgment against it when the time is right.

Modern Israel

The state of Israel has both problems.  The death of the Jewish state in AD 70 broke the control of the government-spirits that had dominated the nation since the time of Jeroboam (2 Kings 24:9).  However, the destruction of the temple ended the sacrifices that dealt with guilt and sin (Heb 9:13), so the people lost their spiritual protection.  God scattered them throughout the world to keep them safe from evil government-spirits (Rev 12:16).

Establishing a nation state in Palestine in 1948 was spiritually dangerous, because once Israeli political power was established, the violent government-spirits that dominated Jeroboam, Ahab and Herod were able to move back in and seize control.  The temple was still destroyed, so there is no sacrifice for sin.  The people in the nation of Israel are still under the old covenant with no covering for sin, so they have no protection from evil.  Yet by establishing a political system, they placed themselves under the control of evil government-spirits.

For advice on dealing with them see Dealing with Government-spirits.

Last Obstacles Removed

The last two obstacles to the Kingdom of God will be removed during a Time of Distress that marks the end of the Times of the Gentiles.  This season is climaxed by two events:

When the Jews come to faith in Jesus, the powers of evil will no longer be able to use the curses of the old covenant to work evil on earth.  Their authority on earth will be severely curtailed.

When the political powers collapse during the Time of Distress, government-spirits will no longer be able to leverage their authority by manipulating political power.  When political structures disappear, their authority will vanish too.

When these last two obstacles are gone, the powers of evil will have lost their last scraps of authority on earth.  They will have to go back to attacking individuals, a game that makes them much more vulnerable to the gospel.  The church will have authority to release the Holy Spirit to establish Jesus’ victory on earth.

I describe the two events that remove these last obstacles in my book called Times and Seasons.  In the remainder of this chapter, I focus on the authority shifts achieved by these events.  They usher in the season when the powers of evil are put in their place.

Fullness of the Jews

God has promised that all Israel will eventually come to faith in Jesus (Rom 11:25-26).  The major event that ends the Times of the Gentiles is the Fullness of the Jews.  This event will be a huge turning point in history, as the powers of evil will be stripped of their last vestige of authority when Israel comes to faith in Jesus.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.  They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son (Zech 12:10).

At the end of Times of the Gentiles, the Spirit of the Lord will be poured out on all Israel.  This will cause the Jewish people to cry out to Jesus for deliverance.  The Holy Spirit will give them faith to receive the salvation that comes through grace.  (I describe this event more fully in Times and Seasons.)

When the season of Jewish desolation ends, the powers of evil will lose the authority on earth that they gained by attacking the Jews.  This may not seem like a big deal, but this will be a huge shift of authority.  The powers of evil will be severely weakened and the body of Christ will be complete.  No wonder Paul described their fullness as “life from the dead” (Rom 11:15).

The fullness of the Jews eliminates the authority that the powers of evil have gained by demanding the right to enforce the curses of the old covenant.  When the Jews move under the new covenant, the curses of the old covenant will lose their power.  Jesus’ sacrifice will cover their sins and provide them with full spiritual protection from the principalities and power.  The Fullness of the Jews will bring a rapid decline in evil and open the way for the advance of the Kingdom of God.

If their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring (Rom 11:12).

A key obstacle to the Kingdom of God will be gone.  God will then be free to pour out his Spirit and bring the Kingdom to its promised fulfilment.

Big Collapse of Big Government

Human political power is the other big obstacle to the Kingdom, because it undermines God’s authority and offers a false salvation.  The spread of democracy has increased this faith.  This widespread trust in human political power must be swept away before the Kingdom of God can come to fullness on earth.

Towards the end of the Times of the Gentiles, political power will be expanded and centralised.  This concentration of power will further empower government-spirits.  A political empire called the Beast in the book of Revelation will be given immense authority by other political powers during this time of darkness on earth.  The government-spirit that control this Beast will gain authority over much of the earth, as the people on earth submit to its authority.

This Beast will persecute Christians.  We should not fight against the Beast, but wait until God brings it down through his judgments.  The kingdom of man will be unable to deliver on its promises and will eventually collapse.

When the time is right, Christian prophets will also announce God’s judgement of this political empire.  Their prophetic words will release the power of the Holy Spirit to destroy human government and political empires throughout the world. Big powerful government will sink like a millstone thrown into the sea, never to be seen again (Rev 18:21). Its destruction will be so horrifying that the people of the world will never trust it again.

When human rulers and empires collapse, the principalities and powers that have amplified their power through them will be shattered.  With no place to stand, they will become common evil spirits defeated by the cross.  When political leaders lose their power, the spiritual forces will be fragmented and weak.

When human governments stop functioning, a power vacuum will exist.  Those who have trusted in democratic government will be desperate for something different and better.  With human government crushed by events it could not control, people will be desperate for a saviour who keeps his promises.  They will welcome the Kingdom of God.

As human political powers are swept away, authority will return to families and local communities.  Political power will be chopped up, pushed down and spread around to people who trust Jesus and walk in the Spirit.  The kingdoms of the world will disappear and be replaced by the Kingdom of God (Rev 11:15).

Kingdom Communities

During a Time of Distress, religious structures will be torn down and Kingdom Communities will emerge in their place.  Christians will be forced into deeper relationships with each other to survive in the hostile world.  The Holy Spirit will flood them with love as they live out Jesus’ new commandment (John 13:34).

Kingdom Communities will transform their neighbourhoods.  As the structures of society fall apart, they will demonstrate a way of life that will appeal to a shaken world.  The number of kingdom communities will grow quickly as the new way of living spreads from place to place as the Holy Spirit moves in power.

Each community will be a microcosm of the Kingdom of God, providing everything that governments have failed to deliver, but without Imposed Authority.  They will be united by love and service under Free Authority.

This article is an excerpt from chapter 14 of my book called Kingdom Authority.