The world we live in is undergoing a myriad of dynamic changes at the geopolitical level. The world of the next generation will be radically different than the one in which most of us grew up. The transformations that are taking place around the globe are getting ever closer to home. At some point, all of us will be significantly affected.
The events of 9/11 forever changed the relationship between the United States and militant Islam. On that infamous day, Islamic terrorists made it clear that they have deadly intentions toward the nation they call “the Great Satan.” For years, US troops, ships, embassies and individuals had experienced murderous attacks by Islamic terrorists. The attack of 9/11 was the second attack by them on the World Trade Center. They came back to finish the job.
As I write, the nation is being warned of perhaps more devastating attacks on our soil. If the Western world wants to survive future attacks by these religious thugs, it must fight as though its collective life depended upon it. It does.
Major Changes in Europe
Until recently, the European Union (EU) has been a collection of states bound together by an assortment of international treaties. Now a new European Constitution has been drafted, and it is being signed by the leaders of some member states. Once in place, it will, for the signatories, subsume national sovereignties under the legal authority of a European super-state.
When you consider the fact that both France and the UK are nuclear powers, it becomes clear that the new Europe will be nuclear armed. Article I-15 of the new Constitution reads: “The common foreign and security policy shall cover all aspects of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union’s security. Member States shall support the common foreign and security policy actively and unreservedly, in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity.”
Consider the implications of that stipulation!
China Becoming Superpower
China is still the world’s most populous nation, though India is soon to surpass it. China is still ruled by the Communist Party. The nation’s rulers are astute enough to realize that communism is economically unworkable, so they have encouraged a limited free market economy to develop. Because China offers cheap labor, this policy has proven a boon to the Chinese economy. China is now wealthy enough to support a technologically advanced space program. Thanks in part to the Clinton Administration; the communists were able to leap forward in rocket science much faster than had originally been anticipated.
China, in its new-found prosperity, has focused funds on developing a technologically advanced military, over which until recently the former leader Jiang Zemin continued to preside. The space program is the centerpiece from which other technologies are being developed. Chinese techies are seeking to devise ways of conducting computer warfare intended to immobilize America’s hi-tech military.
At some point, when it appears strategically opportune, Communist China intends to take over Taiwan. If the US fails to honor defense treaties it has made with the Island nation, China, and the rest of Asia, will then view the US as a paper tiger in the region. At that point, China will be able to have its way with the rest of Southeast Asia. Other nations will either bandwagon with China, or unite in power blocs to offset its superpower status.
If the US chooses to honor its defense treaties with Taiwan, it will likely find itself engaged in another war with Red China that could be of long and costly duration. In a worst case scenario, China will be able to test its newfound military power. If and when hostilities cease, it will then be able to assess its strengths and weaknesses, and shore up the latter for the next attempt.
Much will depend upon which nations decide to ally themselves with China in such a conflict. We could wind up in a global war of staggering and unprecedented proportions. On the other hand, China could decide the best thing for it to do would be to extend the hand of friendship to the United States and together with it build a better, more civilized world. What chance, for example, would militant Islam have against a united China and US?
Point is, the world we live in is dynamic. Nothing remains the same for long. Nations and powers rise and fall. Kingdoms wax and wane. The balance of power shifts from culture to culture. We are now entering into a time when the world’s wars are transcending national boundaries and becoming wars of cultures. As Samuel P. Huntington wrote, “…culture and cultural identities, which at the broadest level are civilization identities, are shaping the patterns of cohesion, disintegration, and conflict in the post-Cold War world” (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, p. 20).
We live in a time of ominous megatrends – that is, ominous for the potential losers. Huntington continues: “In this new world, local politics is the politics of ethnicity; global politics is the politics of civilizations” (Ibid. p. 28). Politics is about relative power. When one party gains it, another loses it.
The Gospel & the Cosmos
The Greek word kosmos is used in the New Testament in eight different ways. One of them is: “…the world as the sum total of all beings above the level of animal” (BAG, p. 446, a). It is used this way in I Corinthians 4:9:“For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.”
Here Paul seems to divide the kosmos into two parts: angels and men. The angels (messengers) of the kosmos are also divided into two parts: “the angels that sinned” (II Peter 2:4), and those who serve God (Hebrews 1:6-7). We know from Daniel 10 that high ranking angelic beings are involved in invisible “shadow governments” that influence the course of history. The “Prince of Persia” was an evil, but high ranking, spirit being who opposed God’s messengers as they sought to bring Daniel God’s answer to his prayers. God’s angels had to enter into invisible warfare with Satan’s angel in order to achieve God’s purposes.
All too many modern Christians, supposing themselves to be sophisticated, no longer believe that such scenarios as the one described above are real. A significant percentage of Christians do not believe the devil even exists. They see the world of angels, demons and the devil as mere mythology left over from a more ignorant time in history. I believe they not only exist, but that they function in the way the Bible describes – in the upper story of the kosmos. They influence the course of history at the human level.
Saul & David: Types of Satan & Christ?
Israel’s first king was Saul. Saul was an impressive-looking man who was head and shoulders taller than his peers. He looked “kingly.” Character-wise, he was an empty ephod. At a certain point, after his sins and disobedience to God had become intolerable, God removed from Saul his Spirit and an evil spirit came into his life (I Samuel 16:14). From that time on, Saul had murderous intentions toward David, his designated successor (I Samuel 18:11; 19:9-10).
All the while Saul was seeking to kill David, David maintained respect for the office Saul held as “God’s anointed.” He refused to fight back, and he simply fled, hid and evaded his homicidal predecessor. It was God’s job to remove Saul when the time was right. Until that day, David relied upon God for protection.
David was a type of Jesus the Messiah. I believe Saul may have been a type of the devil. In the beginning, when Adam and Eve sinned, they lost dominion over the kosmos. They became the servants of him whom they obeyed (Romans 6:16). As the world’s political system grew, it grew in rebellion to divine mandates. Behind many of the kingdoms of this world was an evil intelligence, a spiritual puppeteer who pulled the strings of idolatrous, rebellious human leaders to accomplish his destructive purposes.
At a certain point in history, God broke into the natural course of human events by sending Jesus Christ, his Anointed One. More than 400 passages of Scripture had anticipated his role in God’s redemptive plan. Jesus’ mission had two parts, the second of which is yet to be fulfilled.
Immediately after his baptism, Jesus was obliged to confront the devil who offered him “all the kingdoms of the world” if Jesus would only bow down and worship him. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:10) to the devil, and in a series of temptations, defeated him.
Satan was disqualified as the “prince” (Greek = archon) of the kosmos. Yet he, like Saul, continued to seek “more opportune times” to destroy God’s anointed one. Jesus did what David did: he evaded his evil opponent. Despite Satan’s attempts on his life, Jesus waited for the time when God would authorize him to act directly against Satan. Like David, who was a type of Christ, Jesus takes his cues from God.
The time will come when the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of God and Christ (Revelation 11:15). Meanwhile, God sets up rulers, and removes them (Daniel 4:17, 25-26, 32; 5:21). The kosmosis in a constant state of flux. The fortunes of God’s people Israel wax and wane. The same is true for those of us in the Church. Just as Satan and his demonic forces hate and seek to destroy God’s people, God’s people must place faith and trust in their Savior, Yeshua Ha Meshiach – Jesus the Anointed One. He is the one God has designated to save us on an ongoing basis.
We have no control over the relentlessly changing world scene. Great spiritual battles are being waged on an invisible plane. Undoubtedly there are times when they spill over into the material realm. Christians and Jews take “hits” in these spiritual wars. We may not understand the causes, but we certainly experience the effects. Evil is always present in the real world. Like it or not, we are all engaged in spiritual warfare at some level or another. Our brethren in the first century understood this brutal fact of spiritual reality. As Gregory A. Boyd writes: “The ongoing war that the early Christians understood they still had to participate in constituted the only ‘problem of evil’ they knew or cared about. It was the problem of living out the kingdom of God in a world under siege from the kingdom of Satan. It was not an intellectual problem but an existential and spiritual problem. It was a problem to resolve by spiritual activism, not by intellectual contemplation and pious resignation” (God at War, p. 283).
Until Messiah comes, the world will continue to be subject to forces of good and evil, seen and unseen. This will result in dynamic changes at all levels of life. We can count on nothing but the consistency of God himself, who “changes not.” As unsettling as our times may be, we can joyfully anticipate a time when the horrors of life on this planet will cease and peace will break out across the face of this war-torn earth. Meantime, we must stand and “resist the devil” who, as with Jesus, will flee from us if we are faithful to God and his Word (James 4:7).
Satan’s “killing field” is man’s disobedience to his Creator. This is how the enemy took advantage of the first couple, and it is how he continues to wreak havoc on this planet. The challenge of every Christian, no matter his or her denomination, is to remain faithful to God under duress. The apostle John wrote to his followers: “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (I John 3:7-8, NIV).
If we align ourselves with Satan through disobedience to God, we become part of the problem. If we remain loyal to our Lord Jesus Christ, we become part of the solution. It’s a choice we all have to make daily, no matter how much the world around us changes.