Lately we’ve seen an incredible outbreak of violence around America. At one point I Googled “list of cities with violent protest.” From Wikipedia I ended up with a forty-five-page document showing every state with cities large and small plus a description of the protest activity. How should we as Christians view all this?
This essay is as much a teaching as it is a Prophecy Update. We’ll briefly discuss a number of dots that will bring the title of this piece into understanding.
The God of the Bible as creator brings order out of chaos. We see that from the very first sentences in Scripture:
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Chaos is a place without God. The earth without form was a void of darkness in a watery expanse. Bible writers use the sea and wilderness as metaphors for chaos. In the beginning, before God began to create, there was chaos in the nothingness.
The Garden of Eden was God’s holy mountain. It was where He dwelt in peace and order. Now, you may ask, “Where does a mountain fit into the concept of the Garden?” Ezekiel and other Scriptures make it clear:
You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
Where God dwelt when He created the earth wasn’t only a garden, it was a mountain garden. Mountains are the abode of gods—both Yahweh and pagan gods, i.e. fallen sons of God who raised themselves up in pride to become gods. Where did God give the Law? Mount Sinai. Where is His holy city? Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, a.k.a. Mount Zion. When God’s rebellious sons came as gods to the earth in Genesis 6:1-4, they more than likely descended on Mount Hermon. Mountains are remote, often inhospitable, places for humanity. They’re hard to ascend. They are the place where God and gods dwell. (Caveat: When I speak of gods, I’m not referring to a pantheon whereby God is one of many. He is God Most High who created all. He is unique. He created the spiritual entities who became His spiritual sons, who then rebelled, fell, and appropriated positions as gods.)
When Adam and Eve fell, what did God do? He cast them out of the mountainous garden abode. Since the Garden was sacred space as the dwelling place of God, their casting out was to a place of non-God. Symbolically and literally, God cast them out from order to chaos, from sinless perfection to the place where sin dwells.
Leviticus brings this into focus:
6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.”
Many Bible translations say “the scapegoat” rather than Azazel. However, Hebrew grammar makes it plain that this is a proper name, not a description. We don’t say “the Yahweh,” because the grammar demands the word Yahweh be treated as a proper name. It’s the same with Azazel.
Who or what is Azazel? He was a goat demon, perhaps even Satan himself. From their time in Egypt, the Hebrew people learned to worship the goat demon, and God would have none of that from His people:
So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.
In the Leviticus 16 passage the scapegoat, i.e. the goat for Azazel was sent into the wilderness. The wilderness is Azazel’s domain. It is anti-Eden, anti-God, outside of God’s sacred space.
The wilderness or the desert represents:
- Death, desolation, destruction
- Lack of food & water with frightening creatures that live off death & threaten life
- Used as symbol for divine judgment & apocalypse
- Dwelling place of evil spirits
When Jesus began His ministry. Where did He go for forty days? What happened there? The wilderness was a place of temptation where Satan, the poster boy for demonic spirits, desired Jesus to sin.
Leviticus 16 deals with the yearly Day of Atonement. It’s when the temple, the priests, and the people are cleansed of sin for another year. A little further in the chapter, and we learn how this atoning occurs:
20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. 21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
One goat is sacrificed for the blood to cover the sin. The priest lays his hands on the other goat and sends it outside the camp into the wilderness. The first goat is for the Lord. Sin is placed on the second goat and sent to Azazel, to the wilderness, where sin belongs. You might ask, “Is this a sacrifice to the demon Azazel?” No. Sin is banished to non-sacred space, outside of God’s presence. It is sent to the realm of the dead.
1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea
This is Antichrist.
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth
This is the False Prophet.
During the Tribulation, these beasts rise out of chaos, from the land, i.e. the wilderness, and the sea, which are both places outside of God’s protection. As a reminder of the sea and its chaos, think Jesus and the disciples as they crossed the Sea of Galilee. When He calmed the waters, the disciples were amazed. Why? Only God could bring order, calm, and peace out of the chaos of the raging seas.
The Greek for beast is “therion.” It means wild beast, wild animal, having a brutal nature, and dangerous. Antichrist and the False prophet are both described this way, i.e. as agents of chaos.
One more dot:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
This is the Antichrist. What is lawlessness? The Greek word “anomia” describes it as iniquity, disobedience, wickedness, sin, and having an utter disregard for God’s law.
Where does lawless, i.e. sin, belong? In the realm of the dead: outside of God’s protection in the wilderness.
We’re getting closer. Here’s a critical dot:
24 “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, 25 and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27 (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), 28 lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.
What happens to nations or individuals who commit abominations in God’s sight and become unclean in His eyes? Does it matter whether they are people of God or not? God has declared that anyone and any nation committing abominations make the land unclean. When the land is unclean, what will it do? It vomits out its inhabitants. We see that the land vomited out pagan nations. We also know that it vomited out Israel: Northern Kingdom in 722 BC; Southern Kingdom in 586 BC; Jews with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD; a final vomiting in 135 AD after the Bar Kokhba Rebellion. It was this last instance where the Jews were vomited out that resulted in the Romans renaming the land to Palestine.
The final dots:
1 John 3:4
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:1-3
1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
Here’s a Biblical equation I think you can take to the bank:
Lawlessness = antichrist spirit = abominations to God = vomit out of land
Back to our original question. How should Christians view all this violence?
I’ll put this in the form of an equation as well:
U.S. riots = lawlessness = antichrist spirit = chaos = anti-Eden, anti-God = wilderness with wild beasts = death, destruction = divine judgment
Thus, we must ask ourselves: Will God allow the land to vomit us out of America?
One of the interesting dilemmas we face is that other than a possible oblique reference in Ezekiel 38-39 in the context of the upcoming Ezekiel’s War (i.e. in some Bible translations Ezekiel 38:13 as being among the young lions—descendants of England and/or Spain), America is wholly absent when this conflict occurs. We’re Israel’s best and most important ally today, so what happens? Why aren’t we there for her at the advent of this terrible war? Obviously, something happens to preclude our involvement.
What we’re seeing now is the literal tip of the iceberg for the lawlessness that is coming. This is all the leadup to the Rapture of the Church and the subsequent Tribulation. According to the Bible, conditions will only get worse as that time approaches. (Sorry New Apostolic Reformation—NAR—adherents, you are not going to Christianize the planet through a great revival and hand this wonderful work over to Jesus when He returns.)
So, if there isn’t going to be a worldwide revival, and the earth is going to plunge further into sin, lawlessness, and an antichrist spirit, what are we as the people of God to do as the land vomits us out? How do we respond to all this? Should it be in despair and hopelessness?
NO! We are to rejoice in the Lord always:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
We are to look to Jesus and Him alone for our redemption and for our joy. Only Jesus brings an answer—THE answer—to the mess of this world with its chaotic violence. All the Social Justice reforms, all the government initiatives, all the secular martyrdom, all the community policing reforms: they are doomed to fail.
The church should not get caught up in them. Believers are called to a different standard. We are called to be Watchmen on the Wall (Ezekiel 33). We are to warn others of God’s soon-coming judgment and His escape plan: salvation through Christ alone.
We are to occupy while there is still light. God has made each one of us with a purpose. Let’s fulfill that purpose and be about the Lord’s business. Let’s pray, witness, and serve, all with purposeful believing loyalty in Him that demonstrates there is no other god but God come in the flesh as Jesus Christ.