You are hereCome Out From The Castle Walls

Come Out From The Castle Walls

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By Virgil - Posted on 26 October 2003

The Church (at least the church in America in the last 200 years) has adopted a siege mentality – afraid of the forces of darkness we’ve hunkered down inside the walls of the church hoping and praying for a rapture to save us from the increasing darkness of the world around. But, it’s time to come out of the castle walls. The church has been living in fear for too long.David composed Psalm 18 as a song of praise to the God who provided strength and stability and protection during his flight from King Saul. Throughout God is described as a fortress, a stronghold, a rock, a shield, as a place of refuge.

My mountain where I take refuge;
my shield and my horn of salvation,

my stronghold, worthy of praise.
(3)

In David’s time of distress, he fled to God for protection realizing that no foe could conquer him while he relied on God’s protection. Saul threatened him, challenged him and pursued him with an angry ferocity, but was unable to harm David because David was under God’s protection.

Not even the forces of death and the underworld could come against David. He was protected from all foes both on the earth and under the earth.

The breakers of Death encompassed me,
the torrents of Belial overwhelmed me.

The cords of Sheol surrounded me,
the traps of Death confronted me.

In my anguish I called to Yahweh,
and to my God I cried for help.
My voice was heard in his palace,
my cry reached his ears.
The nether world reeled and rocked,
the foundations of the mountains shuddered;
they reeled when his anger blazed.
(5 – 8)

“A mighty fortress is our God,” the church frequently declares in song, “ a bulwark never failing.” In a world that is filled with greed and violence, drug abuse, and antagonism towards the Gospel of Christ the church has found comfort in those strong walls and on that secure rock that cannot be shaken. But the dispensationalist mentality expects that these horrors will only increase.

“Because of the persecution of believers there will grow a true underground church of a believing remnant of people…Look for some limited use of modern nuclear weapons somewhere in the world…Look for the present sociological problems such as crime, riots, lack of employment, poverty, illiteracy, mental illness, illegitimacy, etc, to increase as the population explosion continues…Look for the beginning of the widest spread famines in the history of the world. Look for drug addiction to further permeate the U.S. and other free world countries… Look for drugs and forms of religion to be merged together…” (Hal Lindsey The Late Great Planet Earth p.172 – 174)

"[N]umerous prophecies [are] found in both the Old and New Testaments that predict a time of unparalleled fear and terror that will prevail in the days leading up to the triumphant return of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom of God. The Lord specifically warned Christians that humanity would experience an unprecedented time of trouble in the last days.” (Grant Jeffrey, War on Terror: Unfolding Bible Prophecy, p.13)

According to this interpretation the world will only become more and more chaotic until Christ comes and raptures his people away from it all. The best we can do is to endure until then. According to dispensationalism we should just rest in the security of the promise of the rapture. Anything more is just rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.

But David didn’t cower behind the security of the protective walls of Yahweh, his fortress. David didn’t simply endure behind God’s strong walls and hope for his soon salvation. He instead went out with the shield of victory to conquer his foes and to destroy his enemies.

You gave me your shield of victory,
with your right hand you sustained me,
and by your triumph you made me great.
You have given me long-striding legs,
and my ankles did not give way.
I pursued my foes and overtook them,
I turned not back till they were annihilated.
I smote them so that they could not rise,
they fell at my feet.
You girded me with strength for battle,
you felled my assailants beneath me.
You gave me the neck of my foes
and my enemies I exterminated.
(36 – 40)

And this coincides with what Christ taught his disciples. In speaking to Peter, Jesus said, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.” (Matt. 16: 18)

Jesus was not telling Peter and the other disciples that they should lock themselves inside the mighty fortress walls of Yahweh while the forces of Hades assailed them. The disciples weren’t to cower behind the walls of God while waiting for deliverance. They were to be the conquering force attacking and destroying the gates of Hades. The forces of death, destruction, and chaos would not be able to withstand the force of the church.

Jesus went on to say, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:19)

Instead of cowering behind the protective walls of Yahweh our God and waiting for a rapture to take us away from the chaos and terror outside the walls of the church – we should be venturing forth with the shield of victory to bind up terror and chaos, to destroy poverty and abuse, to exterminate the enemies that God has felled before us.

Because all those enemies have been felled before us. As Paul wrote, Christ has been “seated at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph. 1: 20 – 22) Christ has felled our foes before us, and he leads us in His triumph. (2 Cor. 2:14)

If Christ has been victorious over all his enemies, and has been seated at the right hand of God the Father in heaven, if he leads us in his triumph and has promised that the gates of Hades will not withstand our assault – then why are we cowering behind within the stronghold, praying to be raptured away from our struggles?

It’s time to come out of the castle walls. The church has been living in fear for too long.

Seeker's picture

Thanks for the article,very well written. It has never ceased to amaze me how the dispensationalist camp continues to believe and give satan who Christ defeated so much power. As if what they are doing for Christ is so important that satan would expend so much time and energy just on them. It seems to me that many dispensationalists acually believe that satan is also omnipotent and omnipresent as well because they sure spend alot of time trying to cast him out of thier lives. Folks just need to take a step back and relize that Jesus won the victory already. To God be the glory!!!

Seeker

Ozark's picture

Jeff,

I agree whole heartedly with your thoughts. However, just as an interesting side note, the church in the United States has not had the bunker mentality you speak of for 200 years. It has really only been predominate for a little over a hundred years. For the first half of our history the eschatological attitude was apparently quite the opposite.

Eschatology has shaped America from the very beginning. We know that many today think of the United States as the great Babylon of the book of Revelation. However, that was not always the case. In fact, around the time of the Revolutionary War America was thought to play another character in the book of Revelation. That’s right, the New Jerusalem! Oh, how times have changed.

If you study the history of prophetic beliefs you will see that the times help shape people’s understanding of the signs of the times. Many of the early colonists in America had strong postmillennial beliefs. They felt that the new world was ordained by God to help usher in Christ’s millennial kingdom. This belief reached a fever pitch around the time of the American Revolution. The first Great Awaking began about 25 or 30 years before the Revolutionary war. This amazing revival caused many preachers to proclaim that America was God’s instrument to usher in His kingdom.

Although many Americans in that day had a very positive eschatology, most were not preterist in their understanding of the events in the book of Revelation. It was widely believed that Israel in prophesy was a type of America, and that the throne of Christ’s coming kingdom would be somewhere in the 13 colonies. I suppose the regathering of Israel was the migration to the new world etc.

King George took the role of the Antichrist. The stamp act was the mark of the beast. Someone calculated that the words “Royal Supremacy in Great Britain” equaled 666 in the Greek and Hebrew. Without a doubt eschatological belief played a role in leading the colonies into war with Great Britain. What was coming from the pulpits had a great influence on the American mindset. This understanding could even been seen in one of the Revolutionary War battle cries, “No king but Jesus!”

This belief reached an all time high with the victory over England. It was widely believed that the United States would go on to usher in the kingdom. The year most believed to be the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ was the year 2000!

Although premillennialism, the more negative brand of millennialism, was somewhat muted in this time, it had its proponents. Preterists say that the idea of the rapture did not appear until the nineteenth century. However a fellow named Cotton Mather may have been the first to speak of it. Around the time of the Revolutionary War he wrote that the earth would be consumed by fire, but the saints would be caught up in the air before this happened.

Christopher Columbus, who was an avid prophesy student, wrote this near the end of his life:

“God made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John after having spoken of it through the mouth of Isaiah; and he showed me the spot where to find it.”

In the 18th century Jonathan Edwards said that America would be the land where God would “begin a new world in a spiritual respect, when he creates the new heavens and the new earth.”

John Adams in 1765 wrote the settling of America was “the opening of a grand scheme and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.”

Even the motto on the great seal of the United States currency may have had eschatological influence. It reads NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM with the years 1776 it in Roman numerals. Translated this means “A new order of the ages.” Contrary to paranoid futurist beliefes, Charles Thompson who chose this motto did not have secret “new age” thought in mind, but he may have been influenced by the popular belief of that day that the United States would be used to usher in Christ’s millennial kingdom.

Later in the 1830’s the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville observed that American religious and political values were so intertwined as to be inseparable.

A early 19th century hymn expressed the common thought of the day.

“The great reform is drawing near
Long looked for soon will come
The time will move both earth and sea
Just like glorious Jubilee.”

Just like the dispensationalists that would follow, these Americans looked at current events to shape their eschatology. For example, America experienced a great awaking just before the Revolutionary War and another great awakening about 100 years later. This, combined with the exuberance of the new nation, allowed postmillennial thought to flourish. We must also add that this viewpoint was being preached from a good many pulpits in the land.

A good question to ask is what caused the change in the eschatological paradigm in the United States to change from predominately postmillennial to predominately premillennial? Postmillennialism is optimistic and activist. Postmillennialists had a great deal to do with founding the United States. They were very optimistic about the future and believed it would get better and better. They were also activists and were heavily involved in issues like the abolition of slavery. The premillennialists were and are very negative. They believe things will get worse and worse. They are not totally passive however, their thought is that the world is a sinking ship, and they work to save as many people off of it as possible.

Our brother Waidmann wrote an interesting article awhile back saying that the fall of a paradigm begins with an anomaly. That is something the system can’t explain. Premillennialism began its rise to dominance in the late 1850’s or so. That date should give us a clue what the first great anomaly against the postmillennial mindset was. The Civil war. Brother turned against brother in the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil. The country was literally ripped in two.

The second great anomaly was the industrialization of America. This caused great social upheaval and in many cases fear. Then came World War I, the great depression, and then World War II. Social upheaval invites negative end of the world speculation in every instance.

However, anomalies alone may not be enough to change a paradigm. There has to be one available to replace the old one and someone to present it. Enter John Darby. He started preaching in the United States in 1859. What timing! Things were just about to get bad in a hurry. Darby was a charismatic, tireless fellow with great power of persuasion. He and folks who would come later such as Moody and Schofield started a grassroots movement that grew with incredible speed. Then came the Schofield Bible, and the rest is history.

This makes me believe that the anomaly alone does not change eschatological paradigms. The second great factor is the pulpit. What is being said from the pulpit shapes people’s perception of events. For example, was the Civil War a step forward or back? The abolition of slavery made this country a better place, yet for a premillennialist to admit that anything could be getting better destroys his paradigm.

The same goes for today. For Premillennialism to be correct, the world has to be a worse place than it has ever been. And in fact, most premillennialists probably believe this. Yet, we could argue that the world is a better place than it has ever been and using history beat them soundly in a debate. So, the perception of events that comes from the pulpit might be as important as the events themselves in this battle between pre and postmillennialism.

Now, this begs the question what is it going to take to get folks to throw out millennialism altogether, and instead of looking at current events to shape their eschatology, look at the clear fulfillment of prophesy in the first century? Dispensationalism will eventually encounter anomalies and collapse, but if we cannot change the focus, another form of millennialism will replace it, and the cycle will continue.

jcarter's picture

Thank you, Ozark. I am aware that i oversimplified somewhat... Your elaboration was great. Thanks. - jeff

There is no life without prayer. Without prayer there is only madness and horror. - Vasilii Rozanov

Ozark's picture

Jeff,

Understood. I got a little carried away. As another side note, I noticed that you have connections with the Salvation Army. I think it was established in 1865? Do you think it was born out of the more positive postmillennial eschatology that was still very strong at the time? The word “army” in the name could be telling?

jcarter's picture

Oh yes. Most definately!

William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, was a post-millennialist. Booth even sort of had the idea that it would be the work of The Salvation Army that would usher in the Millennial reign of Christ.

The early optimism of The Salvation Army is reflected in many of it's "battle hymns"

We feel that heaven is now begun
it issues from the sparkling throne,
from Jesus's throne on high.

Jesus, lead on, till the victory's won

When we all lay down the banner,
when our warfare here shall cease
Hosts of rescued souls shall join us
in the conquerer's song of peace

Fight on, ye valient soldier
the battle we shall win
For the Savior is our Captain
and we shall conquer sin.

The Army's on the march to bring the world to God,
and the world is wondering
at our watchword "Fire and Blood"

Bring the gospel trumpet now and sound the jubilee
Jeovah triumphs over sin and sets the captive free
and Satan trembles when he hears the shouts of victory
While we are marching to glory

Burst are all our prison bars,
and we'll shine in heaven like stars
for we'll consquer 'neath our blessed Lord's command!
See salvaion's morning breaks,
and our country now awakes,
The Salvation Army's sweeping through the land!

(the salvation army is the only denomination, that i'm aware of,that sings about itself in it's songs.....)

Nowadays, however, it seems that the army has agreed that we are defeated. Many of my fellow officers (most?) have accepted the half-digested half-understood dispensationalist time-lines and read LaHaye and Lindsey as if they were God's very word.

There is no life without prayer. Without prayer there is only madness and horror. - Vasilii Rozanov

Roderick's picture

Amen Ozark,

The issue that will fill the void being left by premil thought will not simply be preterism, which does not clear up all the anomalies but rather what will change the world mindset in a big way is the concept of the KINGDOM. The thing that has been holding back the idea of a fully arrived kingdom has been the continued (al be it false) concept of "Church". Once this issue is properly dealt with, there will be no place for these eschatological charlatans to proclaim their skewed views. They will no longer hold hearts and minds captive by claiming "Thus saith the Lord" because every ploughboy (or computer geek) will read the Scriptures for themselves. Chaos will not ensue as many fear, but rather a consensus that is guided by the Holy Spirit.

There is only so many ways to interpret something unless one claims further authority or knowledge that gives him the edge, such as is the case today with Popes & pastors or doctors that claim they either have direct insight from God or that they know the “Greek/Hebrew”, as if there is another interpretation. Once this type of thinking is removed there will be no more place for cults, denominations, or charismatic leaders that shift paradigms (like Darby so did).

Thanks again for your wise insights Ozark

Roderick's picture

Amen Jeff, This is a refreshing outlook on what the Kingdom is about. I think we might understand that it was the 1st century church that had a 2-fold mission:
1) Take the gospel to the whole world As Paul indeed says it did and as Preterists we agree.
2) To "endure" until the end and be overcomers of the Tribulation that was coming upon them as the old covenant age was ending and new covenant was coming. Perhaps what happens is that people read themselves back into the Scriptures, as they do when they ignore Preterism.

The N.T. Church indeed was an "entrenched" group trying to get out the gospel message AND survive the onslaught of their persecutors. We are in a very different situation as Kingdom dwellers.

Thank you again for writing this very inspiring and uplifting article.

Roderick

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