Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | Chapter 9

When Paul wrote, "But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14 WEB), he was referring to the world of religion. This becomes crystal clear when we look at the previous verse, which reads, "For even they who receive circumcision don't keep the law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh" (Galatians 6:13 WEB). Paul referred to religion as the world, and its principles as the rudiments or elements of the world (Colossians 2:8), expressed in the keeping of ordinances like "Don't handle, nor taste, nor touch. . .according to the precepts and doctrines of men." (Colossians 2:20-22 WEB)

Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren't of any value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:23 WEB)

The seed of the serpent who would bruise Messiah's heel are the progeny of this ancient religion, dating back to Eden and the lie. It was to such religious men that Jesus said, "You are of your Father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and doesn't stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks on his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44 WEB).

Hebrews 11:4 reveals that even though he is dead, Abel still speaks. His very life was a prophecy that continues to speak and reveal things to us today. The spirit of Cain is evident in the most religious men who kill the current and relevant prophetic voice of God. We know that Cain killed Abel, but according to Jesus, the Pharisees were his murderers. Therefore Jesus saw the Pharisee position as aligned with Cain.

Therefore, behold, I send prophets and wise men and scribes to you. And you will kill and crucify some of them. And some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Berachiah, whom you killed between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, All these things shall come on this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to her, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, You shall not see Me from now on until you say, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:34-39 MKJV)

Here Jesus tracked the blood trail from Abel to Zechariah--a trail of treachery and murder--right up to Israel's front door, Jerusalem. The nation of Israel had once again gone in the way of Cain and their iniquity had reached its fullness. The time of their judgment had come, a judgment so harsh it was foretold in Jesus' words, "Behold, your house is left to you desolate."

The Sadducees and Pharisees are a classic representation of religious man. Jesus called them snakes after their father. Religion in general has the nature of the serpent, the nature of Cain. The inquisition is adequate proof of this. The viper is an interesting creature. It likes to disguise itself as something it isn't. The Pharisees who watched Jesus cast out a demon from a man, said that He cast it out by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Jesus equated this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit with the unforgivable sin. Then He points to the source of their speech when He says,

Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. (Matthew 12:33-35, NASB).

These hypocrites loved to portray themselves as righteous while they condemned men from their lofty positions in Judaism, but Jesus told them that they were lower than a snake's belly in the eyes of God. Because that they were of an evil tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they could only bring forth evil fruit from their evil hearts.

There is a story of Paul being shipwrecked on the island of Malita in Acts chapter twenty-eight. While he was out gathering sticks to build a fire and ward off hypothermia, he inadvertently picked up a viper. The creature continued to act like a stick until Paul went to cast it into the fire. At this point it fastened itself on his hand, trying to kill him. Paul shook the viper off into the fire and God protected Paul from its venom.

Like the viper, religious hypocrites pose as something harmless to win you over and get you to open up to them. But when you turn to them for healing and warmth in a vulnerable moment, they strike and latch onto you, refusing to let go until you are just as dead as they are. Neither Jesus nor John the Baptist were fooled and called them what they were, spiritual vipers, and never let them get close or put any trust in them. This is a lesson many of us have learned the hard way.

Wheat and Tares

Jesus told a parable about the two types of seed planted in His Father's field. The one He planted was wheat, a type of the sons of Abel. The other was a near counterfeit called tares, planted by an enemy under the cover of darkness. The story goes like this:

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.
So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'
He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'
But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" (Matthew 13:24-30, NKJV).

The phrase "while men slept" got our attention. The founding apostles and fathers of the Church were on watch for the ravenous wolves to spring up in the new Church as it was forming (See Matthew 7:15 & Colossians 2:8). Satan killed off the apostles early on, except John, who was exiled to a remote island. In this sense, these men slept (See Matthew 9:24). The absence of the apostles made room for Satan to come in and sow the tares, whose teachings are mixed with the true doctrines of the early apostles to this day. "But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared." The seeds of the false were planted early on.

I, Michael, did a study years ago on tares. In the wheat country of the northwest where I grew up, they are called wild oats, but their real name is Bearded Darnel. The Darnel in itself is not poisonous. It can be eaten and cause no harm. The problem is that it plays host to a fungus called the Ergot Smut fungus, which is deadly to both men and beast.

This is also the problem with hypocrites who find safe haven in God's field. A little leavening will spoil the whole lump. God forbids his servants to uproot them before the harvest, least the wheat be ruined in the process.

The farmer deals with the wild oats by running them through a thresher that first removes the chaff from the wheat and then runs it over a sieve that allows the smaller Darnel to fall through and be cast off with the chaff. The deadly fungus it hosts goes away with the tares. The trials in our lives remove the chaff, expose and cast off the poisonous influences of the enemy, leaving only the purified wheat to be gathered up in the Lord's harvest.

Once the wheat is collected, it is ready to be ground into fine flour. The individual grains of wheat loose their own identity and take on the identity of the Lord, for it is then we become one loaf with Him, the Bread of Life.

These two mysteries are unfolding simultaneously. While the son of perdition is manifest in his corporate expression, the glorious mystery of His Body will be understood and fully set on display. Then the tares and the wheat will be known for who they really are.

As in the Days of Noah and Lot

When He was asked about the coming of His kingdom, Jesus told His disciples how it would come.

As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was in the days of Lot--they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all-- so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.
On that day, let him who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away; and likewise let him who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot's wife. (Luke 17:26-32, RSV).

As we near the close of the age, the prevailing condition upon the earth are identical to what existed before the judgment of the flood and also the judgment of Sodom. Iniquity will reach its fullness.

Before the judgment falls, it will be business as usual. Man will be fully corrupted. Men will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building right up until the end. What is Jesus saying here? What is wrong with eating and drinking? What is wrong with marrying and giving in marriage? What is wrong with buying and selling? Christ is referring to the hedonism of Cain, which led to the fullness of iniquity before the judgment of the flood. The marrying referred to here could be symbolic of the mixture of the sons of God and the daughters of men, implying apostasy and the failure of God's people to maintain their integrity. Could the planting and building Jesus spoke of be the tilling of the ground and the building of cities after the order of Cain? Could the buying and selling have to do with exacting or the unjust weights of Cain, constituting fraud or theft, such as is taking place at this moment in corporate America?

Before the end, the seed of the serpent will be manifesting their worst, having come into their fullness for the judgment. Just as the tares were bound together in bundles to be burned, so there will be a binding together of the evil seed of Cain in the earth as they plot the overthrow of God and His kingdom. David prophesied this heinous plot when he wrote:

Why are the nations in an uproar, And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand, And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed: "Let us tear their fetters apart, And cast away their cords from us!"
He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury. Hear the word of the LORD, You children of Israel, For the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: "There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, They break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed. Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away With the beasts of the field And the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away." (Hosea 4:1-3, NKJV)

In Psalm 2 we see the kings of the earth taking counsel against the Lord and His Christ to cast off their cords of influence. In Hosea we see the same heart of rebellion in the children of Israel as they break (cast off) all restraint. The fruit of this rebellion is all around us today. Those of the spirit of Cain despise truth, have no mercy in their hearts, speak profane things, lie, kill, steal, and commit adultery and the land mourns and wastes away.

Everywhere we turn we see the creation of God mourning and in travail like a women whose hour has come. The more the sons of Cain put their hands to undoing the destruction they brought upon the earth as a result of their rebellion against God, the worse it gets. It is like the way they treat cancer; if the cancer does not kill you, the treatment will.

Man cannot expect to recreate what the Lord's Anointed has created while his every act causes the ground to cry out with the blood of righteous Abel. The only thing that could save the earth from the chaos we now see is coming into unity and agreement with the Lord's Anointed, the very one whom they seek to cast off.

How will we recognize the type of Sodom that will be destroyed in the last days? It might not be what you think. Ezekiel saw the decadence of Sodom in Jerusalem but more so in his day of prophesying before the Lord.

Behold, everyone who quotes proverbs will quote this proverb concerning you, saying, "Like mother, like daughter." You are the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they.
"As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "Sodom, your sister, and her daughters, have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." (Ezekiel 16:44-50, NASB).

The world of Cain is full of arrogance, abundance, prosperity, and coldness toward the needs of the poor. A world where religious mean loathe the influence of their Husband, the Father. One where they loathe His children, the true saints of God. This sounds like business as usual in America and its worldly churches.

Sodom

How was it in the days of Lot? What was Jesus telling of us who are in the last days?

The wickedness of Sodom is proverbial. Along with its sister city Gomorrah, Sodom took on the way and corruption of Cain. Their iniquity had reached its fullness--the cry of it had reached the throne of God. Sodom is believed to have been located in the plain south of the Dead Sea, now covered with water. It was the preferred dwelling place of Abraham's nephew Lot. Where was Abraham during this time when Lot lived in this wicked city? He was in his tent, sojourning--dwelling as a stranger in the land of promise where he even entertained angels. Abraham refused the riches of Sodom and also its manner of life. (See Genesis 14:13-23).

God sent messengers to witness, firsthand, the corruption of Sodom. The men of Sodom were so evil that young and old alike gathered in front of Lot's door, demanding that Lot turn the two messengers over to them that they might have unnatural sex with them. The messengers of God blinded the men of Sodom, but they were so defiled that even blinded they continued their lustful quest.

The messengers of the Lord commanded Lot to leave the city and go to the mountains to escape the judgement of God, but Lot had become a city dweller at heart. He loved the walled cities and feared the apparent dangers of the mountains. He trusted in walls for his protection. The way of Abraham frightened Lot. So Lot pleaded with the Lord, "See now, this city is near to flee to, and it is a little one. Oh let me escape there, and my soul will live" (Genesis 19:20). Lotís woes were by no means over. For against the Lord's instruction, Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. It is interesting that the Hebrew word translated pillar means "to take a stand." It is as if Lot's wife put her foot down and said, "I will go no further." After having retreated to the little city without her, his daughters got Lot drunk and committed incest with him. Although Sodom was destroyed, Lot and his family were still impacted by its perversion.

God wanted Lot to take the radical step of faith and go to the mountains but Lot pleaded to go to a little city, one not so corrupt. "Its just a little one, Lord!" God knew that just as a little leavening leavens the whole lump, so would a little corruption continue to corrupt Lot and his daughters.

As the fire fell from heaven, consuming Sodom, Abraham stood on the hills above and "looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and looked, and saw that the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace." Abraham was safe on the mountains. The place Lot feared was a place of safety to Abraham. Again we see the faith of the sojourner compared to the corruption of the city builder. This is how it will be at the close of the age. We trust the Holy Spirit to make any further applications in your hearts.

The Merchants Howl

We have addressed Mystery Babylon as it relates to religion as a whole. There is one aspect that is often overlooked which will occupy our thoughts for the next few moments. That aspect is the national and global economy of our day. Yes, this also is Babylon. In chapter 18 of Revelation the angel of the Lord cried in a loud voice, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen." Then another cry is heard coming from the merchants of the earth, weeping and mourning over their lost revenue.

The merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more. (Revelation 18:11 WEB)
The fruits which your soul lusted after have been lost to you, and all things that were dainty and sumptuous have perished from you, and you will find them no more at all. The merchants of these things, who were made rich by her, will stand far away for the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning. (Revelation 18:14-15 WEB)

The economic system of the world, as we know it today, initially sprang from Cain's rebellion. Before that the inhabitants of the world lived in innocence and generosity. Cain's way of living utterly defiled the pre-flood race. After the flood the economy of Cain was revived again by Nimrod. As we shall soon see, this is an important distinction.

Throughout the history of mankind, we see man's repeated efforts to cast off the rule or kingdom of God. One such case in point is Israel's choice of Saul as their king, which was a rejection of God's sovereignty. In the Advent of Christ man is given another opportunity to choose. Christ came preaching the kingdom or rule of God. Like David, Jesus had a heart for the Kingdom of God. When standing before Pilate Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight, that I wouldn't be delivered to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here" (John 18:36 WEB). The Kingdom of God is in no way like the kingdoms of Cain and Nimrod. Because it is not of (Greek ek) or from this world. It does not find its origin in man's rebellion.

The kingdom Christ spoke of is of another realm, driven by other values and objectives. Its economy is motivated and sustained by entirely other means and principles. We cannot stress this enough. People that are native to a country have no difficulty detecting foreigners among them. Their language, their manners, their clothes, even the way they deport themselves betrays their alien status. Christians are not of this world and for that reason the world hates them. They dwell as pilgrims and sojourners, a colony of heaven, marked by a lifestyle of simplicity, devoid of greed. They have an entirely other economy. Jesus spoke of this heavenly economy in Luke chapter twelve. Make no mistake here. Christ sat as an Alien among worldlings, speaking in a heavenly vocabulary about a heavenly kingdom.

Weights and measures or exacting is one of the expressions of the way of Cain. Out of that mentality came the system of commerce which we know today--a system of exactness, exacting the last farthing.

Not so the kingdom of God! Instead of an eye for an eye, Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek. . .give to those that ask of you. . .go the second mile."

Luke gives a much more detailed account in his gospel, and includes the event which served as the springboard for Christ's Sermon on the Mount. It began when a man approached Jesus with this request. "Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me" (Luke 12:13). This was the question that prompted Christ's entire discourse regarding the cares of this life. Jesus' reply to this manís question was, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" Jesus did not come to arbitrate the affairs of this life pertaining to mammon, but to bring and model the life and value system of another kingdom. If measured by worldly values, this value system must be judged irresponsible and fanciful, because it is an economy based upon an entirely different principle, not of weights and measures but of generosity.

Christ gave this man the following warning, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses" (Luke 12:14).

Wait a minute! Shouldn't this man receive his inheritance? Shouldn't Jesus be addressing the brother's greed in keeping this manís portion? Isnít this a lawful grievance? Jesus did not address the wrong but warned of greed, for that was the real danger.

He spoke a parable to illustrate further. "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided? So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21). The value of things is determined on an eternal scale. Clearly Jesus was not moved by this world's value system. He would have given today's Christian financial counselor fits. Wealth, prestige or any other of the fineries of this life could not move Him. He was rich toward God!

After having exhorted his disciples to take no thought for their lives, what they would eat, neither for the body, what they would put on. Jesus said something that may have sounded ridiculous to the needy who stood by. "For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing" (Luke 12:23 RSV). Christ is setting forth the values of the kingdom. Today these values would be repudiated as poor stewardship.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of anxious mind. For all the nations of the world seek these things; and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:24-32 RSV)

Jesus is contrasting two ambitions. The nations of the world seek the temporal things of this life, and do not pursue God's Kingdom. These two life pursuits are diametrically opposed. The attempt to harmonize them has resulted in the current lukewarm state of the Church.

Jesus asked these poor people to do something that is unthinkable from a worldly perspective. Rather than seeking to acquire possessions, Jesus asked them to take what little they had and sell it and give to the poor. "Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys" (Luke 12:24-33 RSV). When it comes to the economy of Cain and Ham, Jesus is brutal. He knows that it takes a radical re-alignment of the hearts of men before they can be effective citizens in His Father's kingdom. We are either allied with all the nations of the world, seeking first the things of this earth, or we are allied with His Father seeking His kingdom.

Jesus was asking the poor to enter into the generosity of the Father. What manner of hippie lifestyle is this? What is the Lord calling for here? He is calling for a return to the way of His generosity, which preceded Cain's sin. Let us consider how this took shape in the early Church.

Chapter 1 | Table of Contents | Chapter 9

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