“Thou shalt not bear false witness
against thy neighbor.”
The ninth commandment (above) is a summarized statement, a brief heading under which we find a number of laws governing court procedure. More specifically, this commandment regulates such things as slander, perjury, lying, double witnesses needed to convict anyone of any sin, and the principles of justice and mercy in general. Knowing these laws are critical in order to discern correctly and render righteous judgment, both in the divine court and in our personal lives.
5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy; no one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure. (Psalm 101:5, NASB)
In general, slander is falsely accusing another with the intent of destroying his reputation. It is usually done when the slanderer has no real proof of his victim’s guilt. (If he did have proof, he would not be afraid to follow the biblical procedure, in which case, it would not be slander at all.) Thus, he tells others his opinions of that person in hopes that others will come to share his opinion. By definition, slander is always wrong because (1) it is accusation that is implemented improperly, and (2) it is devoid of love and is not intended to restore the victim in any way to full fellowship.
Dr. Dungoody, pastor, had a problem. A Bible teacher in his congregation was getting too popular, a little too popular, due to his knowledge, eloquence, and personality. The problem was that if he were ever to disagree with the pastor, a large share of the congregation might agree with him, and there could then be a danger of splitting the church.
Fearing a church split over an issue in the future that might arise, Pastor Dungoody viewed this Bible teacher with some suspicion and jealousy, watching him for signs that might indicate trouble.
It was not long before this Bible teacher committed an offense. The pastor immediately seized the opportunity to protest against the teacher. He got up into the pulpit the following week and “exposed the sin in the camp,” complete with Scripture and denunciation, and all the tears and “love” that he could muster.
The Bible teacher was shocked by the fact that he had been given no private hearing, but was accused in public first. The lack of love left him hurt and embittered, and so he left the church never to return again. The pastor was then delighted to give a follow-up sermon entitled, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing Never Repent.”
This is the story of many people outside the Church today, people who felt the full “wrath of God” pronounced upon them by an unloving church whose philosophy was to “cut the cancer from their midst,” with no real desire to restore the sinner or come to any understanding with the offender or sinner.
This is but one example of slander that occurs far too frequently today in churches that preach love but know not how to put it into practice. Such preachers (and others) disguise their slander with Scripture and hide their true inner motives—in this case, fear—by masking it with concern for the church.
The purpose of God is that all sinners should be brought back into full fellowship with God and men. As God sees it, the real purpose of the law is to teach righteousness. Isaiah 26:9 says,
9 . . . For when the earth experiences Thy judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
Thus, the divine law is to be implemented in a positive way to bring about the restoration of the sinner. This can be done only when the law is applied by one motivated by the spirit of love and meekness. Gal. 6:1 says,
1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.
The slanderer is malicious in that he aims to provoke his victim into outright rebellion. Our Pastor Dungoody was bright enough to realize that if he approached the problem scripturally and restored him, the Bible teacher would remain in the church, be a better person for the correction, and would continue to gain in popularity. Thus, the pastor’s problem would still be there. But if he could provoke the teacher into reacting to the false accusation, the law would then have grounds by which to judge him. And so the obvious solution was to attack him from the pulpit by slander, knowing that his victim would then react to this lack of love by fighting back in like manner.
Slander cannot bring God’s lawful judgment upon the victim of slander. But when the victim’s reaction to the slander is unlawful, he too falls into condemnation to some extent, and the slanderer rejoices in his heart for a job well done, while crying outwardly for the benefit of the public.
Most of the people, though hurt, remain unaware of the underlying motives and political games that are being played in their midst, using them as pawns.
14 You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumblingblock before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the LORD. (Lev. 19:14)
Most people view this law as largely irrelevant to Christians today, because few would abuse the handicapped like this. But “the law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14), and the spirit of this law is violated more often than we realize.
Pastor Harshly has studied the Bible carefully and has discovered that many Christian denominations are in grave error, teaching false doctrines, practicing the traditions of men, and leading millions astray. So he stands in the pulpit and denounces them heartily, calling them “prophets of Baal” and proving every point from the Scriptures. He even manages to prove that his motive in denouncing these “prophets of Baal” is out of love for their deceived congregations.
The “offending church” hears about the denunciation and reacts immediately with a tirade of its own. Each believes the other to be blind to “the truth.” Neither church can hear the other amid the din of war.
Every church believes the “other denomination” is teaching falsehood. It will ever be so. But the manner in which these doctrinal differences are handled will reveal the true heart of the people, particularly the leadership. Each considers the other to be both deaf and blind. Yet they freely denounce and curse the deaf. It is sad enough that many people are blind to the truth, but then we so easily put a stumblingblock in front of them by our lack of love. Every time we beat people over the head with our “truth,” we ensure that they will NEVER believe the truth, because we have put a stumblingblock in front of them.
A new clock radio can make a wonderful gift, but if it is hurled at someone, it may be perceived as a lethal weapon!
The word stumblingblock also means “an offense,” and it is thus translated many times in Scripture. It is so easy to offend people by beating them over the head with our truth. This is not only the wrong way to do it, it is outright sin. It violates the spirit of Leviticus 19:14, quoted earlier. We should instead be speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). This is the only way we can hope to heal the blind and the deaf.
How often have I heard people complain that their friends or their church will not listen to them when they try to teach them some truth. There are many possible causes for their not listening, of course, but I have found that when truth is given in genuine unconditional love, most people will listen (no longer deaf), and many will see it and believe.
The Hebrew word for stumblingblock is mikshole, an obstacle or enticement. In the New Testament, the Greek word used is usually skandalon, a snare or trap. There are at least two ways we lay traps for others. The first is by offending someone to the place where that person will not believe anything we say, including the truth. In Matthew 18:6, 7 Jesus said,
6 But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of its stumblingblocks! For it is inevitable that stumblingblocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumblingblock comes!
Jesus considered it a very serious matter when men put a stumbling-block in front of someone else to cause them to fall, or to trap them in their sin or unbelief by our unloving attitude toward them. The Apostle Paul warned the church also about such people in Romans 16:17,
17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances [skandalon] contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
On occasion I have had people play such games with me, attempting to trap me by my own words. A more “friendly” example of this is as follows: On December 1, 1985 Jesus revealed to me that a pastor friend was going to resign the church on December 30 (that is, 29 days later). Being disturbed by this, knowing this was not God’s will, I called a few intercessors together the next day to pray and see if we could do anything about the situation. Jesus confirmed to the whole group my discernment.
A week later, in the course of conversation, I mentioned this discernment to a friend who enjoyed playing little games of “Trap Jones.” He had heard that there were some who believed me to be a prophet, and since he did not believe in prophets, he used these little games to prove his point. (He was also under the mistaken idea that anyone who hears from the Lord is a prophet.) It soon became obvious that he had made note of my discernment in order to use it to poke some friendly fun at me after December 30—when the event did not come to pass. He continually reminded me over the next few weeks of what I had said.
On the evening of December 29th, the discernment was very powerfully confirmed to me once again, and so I called for a day of prayer and fasting for the next day. Three of us participated in the fast.
The evening of the 30th came, and we held our usual church men’s meeting. After about two hours, the pastor suddenly stood up and left the house abruptly, obviously very upset, saying only that he was quitting the church. As he left, everyone else was in a state of shock. They all looked at me wide-eyed and open-mouthed. My disbelieving friend was sitting across the room from me. He was so astonished that he could only blurt out: “Now I know that you’re a prophet!”
It is hard to protest the label in such situations, so I did not try. Most people have the mistaken belief that anyone who hears God’s voice must be a prophet, especially if it takes the form of a prediction. Yet God intended that all would hear His voice. So there is a difference between prophesying and the office of a prophet. Many can prophesy in the sense of hearing and then speaking what they heard God say; but not all who do so hold the office of a prophet.
Anyway, this situation did make a believer out of my friend—at least for a week or so. I was hardly impressed by his confession, knowing that men’s persuasions are subject to change with the next perceived failure of a Word to turn out in the manner one expects. Sure enough, about a week later, he returned for round two. He walked into the room where I was working and asked me with a friendly chuckle, “Well, Mr. Jones, what’s the next big event, and when will it take place?”
Frankly, I had given it little or no thought. But suddenly God stepped in and took up the challenge. I gave him the answer before I even knew it myself. I said that this same pastor was going to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that it would come through a pastor named Joe MacReynolds who had a church in Searcy, Arkansas, about 50 miles away. [I had met this pastor a few months earlier.] Further, I told him that this would occur the evening of January 26, 1986 (i.e., in about three weeks).
Well, this time my friend really thought he had me in a trap. Pentecostal friends had been trying unsuccessfully to get this pastor to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit for over twenty years. He had consistently refused it on the grounds that he already believed in the Holy Spirit. My friend was astonished and said, “Not in a million years! You really think he will get the Holy Spirit baptism?”
In the wake of my other work, I quickly forgot this incident until the big day arrived. As I was working that afternoon, I suddenly received a telephone call from my friend, Jerry, informing me that Pastor Joe MacReynolds was in town and had requested to meet with us that evening. After glancing at the calendar, I immediately consented, knowing that God had sent him. He was precisely on schedule without any help from me.
I then called the other pastor and told him very frankly that if he wished to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, this was the time and place, and the one called to administer it to him was now here. I was up front with him, so that he would decide ahead of time and not feel like he had been coerced or tricked in any way. He said he would come, and he did. As we prayed, we could see the fire come down from heaven in a powerful manner, and this pastor received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Once again, my friend was stunned, for the trap had once again been foiled by the power of the Living God of heaven.
As I said, this was a more “friendly” game of “Trap Jones,” yet it serves to illustrate the second way in which men lay traps for others. Though the trap was foiled, yet it was a violation of the law against putting a stumblingblock before the blind.
16 If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, 17 then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. 18 And the judges shall investigate thoroughly; and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. 20 And the rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21 Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
The justice of the law of God says that if any man bears false witness against his neighbor, accusing him falsely, then that false witness shall receive the full penalty of the very sin he had accused his brother of committing. It is the “Do Unto Others” principle in reverse, and the judgment always fits the crime.
False accusation is a very serious matter. The more serious the accusation, the more serious is the penalty of the law. And yet, we are so quick to accuse others, sometimes on the most circumstantial of evidence, even though we know we cannot prove our charges lawfully.
For instance, Christians sometimes think it is their calling and Christian duty to “expose” as many other “false preachers” as possible to rid the church of all the “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” They go on crusades to dig up all the dirt they can, any past indiscretion, any misstatements that can be twisted into “proving” that they are not true Christians. And then they go directly into their pulpits and denounce those “wolves.” Do they have the love of God in their hearts? Hardly. One should not love a “wolf,” after all; hence, once one has “proved” the man to be a wolf, there is no further need to treat him with love. Do they ever go to the accused to verify the accusations or the evidence? Usually not.
This is comparable to hanging a man without a trial because we all know he is guilty anyway. But Nicodemus knew the law and even confronted the religious leaders on this issue in John 7:50 and 51,
50 Nicodemus said to them (he who came to Him before), being one of them, 51 Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?
To do otherwise is another form of perjury. It is committed daily in Christian pulpits across the land. It is masked in love, perfumed with Scripture, dressed up in sincerity, but it still smells like dung. What does the law say about perjury? The accuser shall receive the law’s penalty for being a wolf in sheep’s clothing—the very thing the accuser attempted to lay upon the other person. It is a very serious matter to accuse someone of not being a true Christian, particularly when we judge by appearance, rather than knowing the person’s heart by Holy Spirit revelation.
It is only by such revelation that we can truly know if a man is a Christian or not. I have personally met many heart-Christians which the church has condemned and judged by appearances. Some judge by the length of their hair, or by how well they dress, or their denominational affiliations.
I have also met many outward Christians who were well respected in the church, whose hearts were in total rebellion against God. With every such revelation, I have been surprised and caught off guard.
Suppose a well-known television evangelist (who we shall not name) commits a sexual sin. A few years later, it becomes generally known. Millions of people could point their fingers at him and condemn him, thinking they are doing God a service. Yet if that same evangelist has already repented and received God’s forgiveness, then the evangelist is innocent in the sight of God, and the people are thus guilty of perjury!
If a thief pays the penalty for sin and receives forgiveness for it, then he is under grace, and anyone who condemns him for the past sin is guilty of perjury. It is the same with television evangelists. God has no double standards. Sin is sin; and grace is grace.
It is dangerous to pronounce guilt and accuse on the basis of hearsay. Even newscasters are not always fully aware of the truth, nor do they always tell the truth. They are interested in a news story and selling newspapers or advertising time. They usually do not care if the person has paid the penalty for sin, or if he has been forgiven by God. We may expect such perjury from nonchristians, but this ought not to be done by Christians. What does the Scripture say about forgiven sinners? Romans 8:33, 34 says,
33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Only a few people would dare to stand up and deliberately accuse another man falsely. But untold millions of people over the centuries have been quick to commit perjury unwittingly. This is the great tragedy of the church. We are so quick to accuse and have no fear that we might be accusing falsely. In so doing, we ourselves come under judgment by the divine law.
The Law of the Double Witness
Deuteronomy 19:15 tells us the basic law of the double witness,
15 A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.
This law has so many applications, it is impossible to list them all here. Yet the heart of it is to protect the innocent from being accused and condemned on the word of a single witness or piece of evidence.
Witnesses need not be people. Moses said that if Israel sinned, “heaven and earth” would bear witness against them (Deut. 30:19). Paul wrote two letters to the Corinthians in order to establish this double witness, and he came to them three times in person (2 Cor. 13:1).
In setting up this law, God knew that men would place too much confidence in their own opinions, their own evaluations or character judgments—and in this pride, they would often condemn the innocent or judge the sinner too harshly. If men were truly spiritual and had the gift of discerning spirits (1 Cor. 12:10), there would be no problem in judging, as we see in the case of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). Yet most of the church is still soulish, judging by appearances and the physical witnesses, and so they need these guidelines of the law to prevent injustice in judgment.
The ideal situation, of course, is that all men would judge by divine revelation, where the hearts of men would be fully revealed. Judges would then determine guilt or innocence in the way Jesus said in John 7:24,
24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.
A good example of how this works is found in Acts 15, where the apostles met to judge the question of circumcision for non-Jews. Peter gives testimony in verse 8 and 9 drawing upon his past experience where he had seen Cornelius and others receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit without first being circumcised:
8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith.
Peter was able to look past the appearance, because he had received divine revelation revealing the heart and mind of God in this matter.
We must note also that this double-witness law applies to “any iniquity” and to “any sin.” This takes it outside of the courtroom into our own churches and living rooms and places of business. We are not to believe gossip or slander without first investigating the case. If there are multiple witnesses which compel us to believe the evidence, then we should follow the procedure that Jesus set in Matthew 18:15,
15 And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
It is assumed here that your brother is indeed guilty, or at least he appears to be guilty from your point of view. In other words, if you truly believe that your brother has wronged you, then “reprove him in private.” The emphasis is not upon the reproving, but upon the privacy of the reproof. More often than not, we do not follow Jesus’ instructions, but rather tell everyone else about it first. So often the guilty party is the last to hear of the accusations against him! Even among Christians who are supposed to have the law written on their hearts, this is too often the case.
The purpose of going to your brother on a one-on-one basis in private is to protect him and his reputation from others who would judge him. Also, it gives that brother a chance to answer the charges against him. It may be that our own evaluation was incorrect. There might be other evidence or mitigating circumstances that would change everything, if only we knew what they were. It is important that we know all sides of an issue before passing judgment.
Hopefully, whatever the offense was, it could be settled in that private atmosphere. As for the manner of our reproof, if we approach our brother in a spirit of meekness and love (Gal. 6:1), the chances are very small that it would need to go any further than that first step. But if we go with a haughty attitude, assuming that we already know everything about the situation that needs to be known, the chances are good that we will simply drive him away and perhaps harden his heart.
On November 30, 1984 Jesus gave me this bit of advice about how to approach a brother about any sin or misunderstanding:
“If you would restore a brother to Christian unity and fellowship in the spirit of love, then let this be your guide: Give him not the word of accusation cloaked in love, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but rather give him My true love. Come with an apology in hand for causing the brother to stumble . . . Your brother shall reflect your attitude, and Christ shall be seen in him as well as in you.”
STEP ONE: It is important that we not approach our brother with an accusation, but with an apology. So often we attempt to follow Matthew 18:15 by going straight to the brother to “tell him his faults” or to “straighten him out.” There is no love in that approach, and I have yet to see it work toward a true reconciliation without resentment.
Give him the benefit of the doubt, for at this point, his guilt is still undetermined properly and will remain undetermined until the procedure has run its full course. If we truly love our brother, we will find it hard to believe that he has sinned against us, and if he has, then surely he must have been driven to it under very trying circumstances. Our brother will see immediately our level of love by the manner in which we approach him. Do we assume guilt or assume he is innocent?
STEP TWO: If by some chance the dispute remains unresolved after talking it over with your brother, and if you find it necessary to pursue the case rather than just forgive it, then step two is in order. Matt. 18:16 says,
16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
This does NOT mean we are to witness to everyone else and see how many people we can convince of our point of view. It means we are to take all the evidence or witnesses we have and once again go to the brother IN PRIVATE. Once again, this must be done in a spirit of love.
If we do not have enough evidence to establish the charge, then the matter should be dropped immediately for lack of evidence, and we should forgive our brother in our heart. This is very important, for if we hold our brother’s sin against him (and if he is indeed guilty of it), then we are in effect appealing to the Supreme Court of God, and He will take the case and judge all sides impartially. This can be dangerous for both the accused and the accuser, and if you love your brother, you may not want him to fall into such judgment. We will deal more with this in a later section dealing with God’s Supreme Court.
If you feel that you have the proper evidence in hand to establish the brother’s guilt, and the accused simply disregards the evidence or refuses to repent, then you have the right to go to court in step three. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:17,
17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.
STEP THREE: The church in this case is the congregation or their representatives, today known as a jury, whether civil or religious. It is their duty to determine guilt or innocence on the basis of evidence. If the appeal is made to the church, both parties become bound by the law to submit to the decision of the church on pain of being of contempt of court, bringing the death penalty (Deut. 17:11, 12).
By strict or literal interpretation of the law, contempt of court is a capital crime. However, in Jesus’ day only the Romans could authorize executions. Thus, Jesus advocated a lesser, yet valid, interpretation of the law. It was to be put out of the church, or disfellowshipped.
In the Old Testament this was how God applied this same death penalty to the nation of Israel after they refused to hear the verdict of God. For example, when Jeremiah told Judah to submit to king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Jer. 27:12), they refused to hear the Word of the Lord (Jer. 28:10). They decided to fight Babylon, rather than view Babylon as the judgment of God upon them for their sin. This was contempt of court. Yet, instead of destroying them as a nation, He sent them into exile into Assyria and Babylon among the heathen. This was a merciful substitute for the death penalty, brought about by intercession by the prophets and others.
Jesus also recognized that the priests in His day seemed to know little of the principles of mercy, love, or grace. They only knew how to use the law to accuse and destroy sinners. Thus, by their unrighteous judgments they had created a class of “publicans and sinners,” people who had been excommunicated from the temple. In fact, if the Romans had not been there to restrain their zeal, most of these probably would have been executed.
Briefly, here is the scenario: a man is starving, and so he finally steals a loaf of bread for his children to eat. He is caught, confronted angrily with accusations, and all his friends forsake him. Hurt by his friends’ rejection, he refuses to repent, not believing that God would ever judge him like this. So they drag him to the church for judgment, and they disfellowship him immediately. After all, they “love” the law. No love for the sinner, no grace, no forgiveness. Just create one more excommunicant thrown on the trash pile with other publicans and sinners.
Jesus befriended those same “sinners.” He understood that they had been driven from the temple by unloving, prideful, and accusatory priests and Pharisees, who had put a stumblingblock in front of the blind. Then, when the “sinner” rebelled against the temple for their bad attitude, the priests felt justified in putting them out of the temple. There is a large class of such “sinners” today in America as well, and we would do well to befriend them as Jesus did, bringing them His love, rather than just more accusations.
The PTL Scandal
The night of January 26, 1987, as I was praying, I was suddenly caught up in the spirit and encountered about six horsemen with armor. I immediately perceived that these were enemies of God and of the church, attempting somehow to “move in and take over” the church. In the vision, when the horsemen saw me suddenly appear in front of them to oppose them, they stopped abruptly, wheeled around, and fled. It all happened so quickly that I only got a good look at the horseman in the middle, who appeared to be the leader. He was wearing an old-style helmet and was somewhat disguised with a little “Hitler mustache,” but I took note that he had a distinguished double chin and looked like Jerry Falwell. I also knew that he was a political figure, so I did not suspect that the one I saw was actually Jerry Falwell.
In praying about this, God showed me that what I had seen would manifest in the world on March 18 or 19, 1987. Consequently, I began to look for someone in the news who looked like Jerry Falwell that was trying to take over the church or some part of the church.
I was as shocked as anyone when the PTL scandal hit the news on March 19, and that Dr. Jerry Falwell “took over” the PTL, supposedly as a friend to keep Jimmy Swaggart from doing the same. The Lord had showed me nearly two months earlier what was the true heart of this matter and who was the real enemy. Falwell had posed as Bakker’s “friend,” convincing him to turn the PLT over to him for thirty to ninety days until the danger passed. Yet his true motives were given on audio tape dated April 26, 1987 in the words of Falwell’s personal friend, Dr. Bob Gray.
Bob Gray is very much against the Charismatic movement, as is Dr. Falwell. Thus, Dr. Gray was shocked when Falwell took over an openly Charismatic organization. So he made an appointment to talk with Falwell about this, and in his words, this was how the conversation proceeded. (See I was Wrong, Jim Bakker, p. 69, 70)
“I knew that you’re not charismatic, and unless you’ve changed since the last time we’ve talked, in your doctrine, I know that you certainly have not changed to embrace the charismatic position.
“He said, ‘You’re absolutely right. I haven’t changed one iota. I’ve always been against it, and I still am. Let me explain to you what my motive is and where I am going. When I received word that this was about to happen, I determined that if at all possible I would try to get the PTL network for The Old Time Gospel Hour, and this is the only way that I felt like I could do it.’
“I said, ‘Well, I personally don’t agree with your methods, and I don’t agree with your philosophy. But that’s between you and the Lord. But I do feel that it was wrong for you to identify with this movement.’
“He said, ‘My whole purpose—I don’t care what happens to the country club down at Charlotte and all of the jamboree stuff that goes on there. I’m only interested in the PTL cable network. It’s the largest Christian cable network in the nation, and I’d like to get that for The Old Time Gospel Hour.’
“I said, ‘Well, I feel that you have placed your friends in an indefensible position, and I’m one of them. . .’
“Then he said, ‘I think that you would also like to know that this coming Tuesday I’m having a press conference, and at that time we plan to expose Jim Bakker, not only for immorality with a woman, but homosexual immorality. Not only him, but Dortch, and all of those in a leadership position on PTL. I plan to fire 1,600 workers on Tuesday and probably it will be in bankruptcy before too long, and the sooner the better. All I want out of it is the cable network for the Lord.’
“I said, ‘Well, that’s between you and the Lord, but again, I do not agree with your philosophy of getting it. I do not agree with what you had to do to get it. . .’
“He also said that he thinks the sooner the organization goes bankrupt, the better off it will be because the assets will then be auctioned and disposed and the network will then be free for purchase, and they hope to purchase it and go on from there. . . .”
I personally watched Dr. Falwell interviewed on television in which he admitted promising to Jim Bakker on March 18, 1987 that he would give him his resignation papers ahead of time, so that whenever Jim wanted to return to the PTL, all he had to do was fill in the date. Dr. Falwell then admitted that he had not done as he had promised. He justified his actions on the grounds that when he discovered “corruption” in the PTL, he could not “with good conscience” keep his word and give it back to Bakker. In other words, he admitted to breaking his word. The details of this are also recorded in Jim Bakker’s book, I was Wrong, p. 53.
This book also shows in his own words how Dr. Falwell would deliberately falsely accuse Jim Bakker and the entire Board of Directors of homosexuality in order to further his own goals of bringing the PTL into bankruptcy as quickly as possible.
While all these things were making headlines in the newspapers, I and my friends knew that Jim Bakker was not the real culprit. In fact, I knew that God was using unscrupulous men to chastise him and bring him low, so that when he rose again, he would be a new creature. He sat in prison for years for accusations that were later proven to be false. I often thought of him and wished that I could visit him and give him some words of comfort. I knew that God had not forsaken him. I also believed that some day I would see him personally and be able to share my simple vision with him as a belated confirmation to him that he still had a calling before God.
I finally had that opportunity on December 16, 1997. I was on my way to the Philippines to teach for a week at a Bible Institute graduation. At the Los Angeles airport, as I rode the shuttle bus to the international terminal, I sat across from Jim Bakker and struck up a conversation with him. We each had over an hour to wait for our flights, for he was flying to Singapore. It probably did me more good than it did him, but there was something very satisfying in having the opportunity to share my story with him. Before we parted, he gave me a copy of his book, I Was Wrong, and I gave him a copy of my book, Secrets of Time. Each of us had been led to carry a copy of our respective books.
I learned from reading his book on that flight that Bakker’s whole perspective regarding the “prosperity message” had changed. His experience in prison had had a positive effect upon him, and even though he may never reach the giddy heights of television evangelism again, he is a better Christian minister now than he ever was. He has a much better knowledge of God’s sovereignty in all things, especially in tribulation, knowing that God—not the devil—is the real Power behind the scenes, even when bad things happen. With this understanding, he has been able to forgive the many people who grievously sinned against him. He can even now thank Dr. Falwell, the vessel of dishonor that God used in his life.
The Supreme Court of God
Everyone has the right to go before God’s Court, even Satan himself or those people through whom this adversarial spirit manifests. All are judged according to the law of God, for all are subject to it. The difference is that some use the law to save; others to accuse and destroy.
There are times when justice is not possible here on earth. Sometimes false witnesses rise up against the innocent. Other times there are no witnesses to convict the lawbreaker. Still other times the judges are corrupt or are compelled to judge according to the unrighteous laws of men. Whatever the case, we all have the right to appeal to God’s Supreme Court, which stands above all human courts.
The divine law makes provision for all circumstances relating to judicial matters. It even makes provision for cases that cannot be proven—that is, “suspicion of guilt.” If a man knows or suspects that his brother has wronged him in any way, but yet he has no double witness to establish the truth in court, he may appeal his case to God’s Supreme Court. That is, he may call upon God to provide the double witness, for God sees all things properly.
Numbers 5:6-10 tells us how to deal with a repentant sinner who confesses his sin voluntarily, even though there are no witnesses against him. He is to return the stolen item, of course, but he only has to pay one-fifth its value in restitution, rather than the usual double that is specified in Exodus 22:4. We have given a fuller study of this one-fifth restitution in our book, God’s Law on Restitution.
After this example in Numbers 5, we are given a second example of a case where there is not enough evidence to convict the sinner. This is found in Numbers 5:11-31. It is called “the law of jealousies” in verse 29. In brief, the specific example is given of a man who suspects his wife of having an affair but has no proof or witnesses by which to accuse her. The Bible says he may bring her to the Supreme Court of God to determine guilt or innocence. He is not compelled to do so, but the law upholds his right to do this in order to determine the truth.
The priest was to remove the covering from her head, signifying that her husband was permitting his wife to come under God’s direct cover, or authority. In doing this, he was relinquishing his authority to another and was agreeing to abide by the decision of the court, whichever way the verdict should be decided.
Then the priest was to take some of the dust from the floor of the tabernacle and mix it with a cup of water, placing the cup in her hands. She was then charged with an oath that would place her under God’s curse if she were to lie to God. All of this assumes, of course, that she continued to deny guilt, for if at any point she were to confess her sin, the procedure would be rendered unnecessary. She was then to drink of the water, saying, “Amen” in agreement with the terms of the oath. Num. 5:23-28 says,
23 The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash them off into the water of bitterness. 24 Then he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, so that the water which brings a curse will go into her and cause bitterness. . . . 27 When he has made her drink the water, then it shall come about, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, that the water which brings a curse shall go into her and cause bitterness, and her abdomen will swell and her thigh will waste away, and the woman will become a curse among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, she will then be free and conceive children.
If the woman remained unharmed by the water and continues to conceive children, she was presumed innocent of the charges. If guilty, she would become sterile in judgment for her sin. The matter was thus placed in God’s hands for judgment. This principle of law has been known as “trial by ordeal.”
During the Middle Ages, the Church corrupted this type of trial by tempting God. If they suspected someone was guilty of certain crimes, often condemned them to be burned at the stake or to be bound and thrown into the water. They assumed that God would save the suspected criminals if they were innocent. In other words, they presumed guilt and forced God to perform a miracle to prove the suspect’s innocence. Of course, not many miracles occurred, and no doubt many innocent people lost their lives.
Those people did not understand the divine law or the mind of God. In God’s system of law, people are presumed innocent unless proven guilty by God’s judgment. When a woman was suspected of committing adultery, she was to drink a cup of water mixed with a few minerals from the dust of the floor of the tabernacle. Normally, this would be quite harmless. If she were guilty, God would have to perform a miracle to make her barren.
America’s founders understood this principle and made it an integral part of the American system of law. People are innocent unless proven guilty. They got it directly from the Bible.
The biblical principle here can be used in any case whereby true justice is not possible. Every nation has its own judicial system, and some are better than others. No court in the world can establish perfect justice. There are always cases where the innocent are proven guilty, and the guilty are set free. There are also many cases where the guilty are sentenced to unjust sentences. For example, if a man is guilty of stealing $1,000, he may be sentenced to some months or years in prison. This is not justice as God views it. True justice is that the thief pay his victim double restitution (Ex. 22:4), and if he has no money to pay this, he must be put to work to pay his victim. He is then said to be “under the law” until such time as the victim is fully paid what is owed him.
There are also cases where justice cannot be implemented by men’s court system because there is not enough evidence to convict the criminal. There are millions of such cases in every country. This problem has caused many nations to believe that they must convict suspected criminals even if the proper evidence does not exist. But this merely compounds the problem. If there is a lack of evidence, the victim has the right to appeal to the divine court and receive justice in the time and manner that God deems to be appropriate. Yet once such an appeal has been made, the victim must leave it in God’s hands for judgment. He must forgive and forget it, for if he does not do so, he removes the case from God’s hands and should not expect God to implement His justice.
There are also many cases where false witnesses pervert justice. These either lie to free the guilty or to convict the innocent.
In all cases where injustice has been done, men may appeal their cases to the Supreme Court of God. The only real requirement is that men believe that God actually hears their case. If they have no faith in God, then they will not do this at all.
In appealing cases of injustice to the Divine Supreme Court, Christians should be aware that this should be done only with some serious thought, prayer, and knowledge of the implications of such an appeal. Each valid appeal directed against the government for its injustice raises its level of iniquity that will ultimately bring about its demise. The Bible alludes to this in Genesis 15:16, which says of Abraham’s seed,
16 Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.
God had determined to bring judgment upon the “Amorites,” but God was telling Abraham that this would not occur for another four generations. There were many Amorites who suffered injustice at the hands of their leaders, for the leaders knew little about the divine law. And so when the victims of injustice cried out for justice, God heard their cries, even if it appeared that He was ignoring them for generations.
The lesson to be learned here is that when citizens of a nation appeal to God against injustice perpetrated by the officials of government, their petition raises the level of iniquity of that nation. If the nation does not repent and return to obedience to God’s law, the nation will ultimately be destroyed. Hence, each victim of injustice must ask himself if he wishes to be part of the petition to overthrow the nation, keeping in mind that many innocent people may be killed in that generation.
There are also valid appeals to God that are directed at individuals, rather than against whole governments. Once again, the victims must ask themselves if they really want God to bring that person to justice. In the case of the jealous husband in Numbers 5, the husband may not want to subject his wife to the judgment of God. In fact, if he truly loves his wife, he may not want her to become sterile. He may want to give her a time of grace (like God does with us), praying for mercy and repentance, rather than for justice.
The victim always has the right to appeal for mercy, rather than justice. The judge does not. Thus, if the case is brought before God, He will uphold the lawful rights of all parties and will judge righteously. God knows the hidden things of every court case, for He is witness to all things. It may be that the suspicious husband neglected his wife’s needs, whether physical or emotional needs. Perhaps he did not really love her, and this left a void in her life that caused her to commit adultery. Perhaps he oppressed her and treated her like a slave, and the only way she felt she could escape this was to run away with the help of another man who had compassion upon her.
There are many possibilities. God judges each case with a complete knowledge of all circumstances. If a jealous husband appeals to God for justice, he may find himself judged along with his wife. In fact, he may be judged more harshly than his wife for causing her to fall into sin.
Thus, before we appeal any case before God’s Supreme Court, it would be wise to do an internal inventory, knowing that God judges all sides with equity and with the same standard of measure that we judge others.
Equal Weights and Measures
In Matthew 7:1 and 2 Jesus advised,
1 Do not judge lest you be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Jesus was referring to the biblical law about equal weights and measures when He said, “by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” The laws says in Deuteronomy 25:13-16,
13 You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 16 For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God.
In those days food, money, and many other things were sold by weight on a scale. If a man used deceitful weights on the scale, he could cheat the buyer. This was (and still is) unlawful in the sight of God.
But this law is also applicable in a spiritual way. If I were to measure my own sins using a heavy weight, my sins would appear to be “light” in comparison. What would God think if I weighed those same sins in other people, using a lighter weight that would make their sins seem “heavy” in comparison? This is unlawful in the sight of God. It is unlawful to use “differing weights” in our measurement of sin.
Jesus makes it clear that God will judge us according to the standard by which we measure other men’s sins. If we judge others by a harsher standard than we measure ourselves, it is a false witness. It is an attempt to impose a harsher sentence of the law upon others than we would want imposed upon ourselves for the same sin. The result is that if we appeal to God’s divine court for injustice that has been perpetrated upon us, God will judge the case according to our own standard of measure.
Hence, at the very least, we ought to have a just weight and measure in our “bag.” That way, God will judge us according to the true righteous standard of measure. If we are in submission to the divine law in our hearts, we have the right to appeal to its provisions of grace and mercy as well. Yes, the law contains those principles. Every sacrifice for sin was a provision for grace and mercy. As Christians, we have the right to appeal to the blood of Jesus Christ as the covering for all sin (1 John 1:9; 2:2).
The Woman Caught in Adultery
In the eighth chapter of John, we see a very specific example of how Jesus handled a case of a woman accused of adultery. Numbers 5 applied to this situation, because in the eyes of God’s law, she was only a suspected adulteress until proven guilty. The scribes and Pharisees brought the woman to Jesus, claiming to have caught her in the very act of adultery. They were the witnesses, and they wanted Jesus to be the judge. They also informed Jesus of the law of Deuteronomy 22:22, which commanded that those caught in adultery ought to be stoned. This verse reads,
22 If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.
It is presumed here that the woman caught in adultery was married. Since Jesus did not dispute them on this point, we will also concur. We must ask, however, why the man was not brought before Jesus as well. This law specifies that BOTH of them were to die.
Jesus did not refuse to hear the case, but He did something strange at that moment. John 8:6 says,
6 . . . But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.
Few people understand why Jesus did this. I have heard many different theories. Some say that he was simply ignoring them. Perhaps the most popular theory is that Jesus began to write down the names of all those who had committed adultery with this woman. But once we understand the law principle involved here, it becomes clear what Jesus was writing. The answer is to be found in Numbers 5:23,
23 The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll, and he shall wash them off into the water of bitterness.
In the law of jealousy, the priest (who acted as the judge) was to write the curses (or judgments) of the law upon a scroll. Jesus did not have a scroll with him at the time, so He began to write the judgments of the law upon the ground. The woman’s accusers did not realize at first what He was doing, because normally, these would have been written upon a scroll. Secondly, they were appealing to the law of Deut. 22:22, because they assumed that the woman was guilty even before the trial. Jesus, however, judged her by a different law—that found in Numbers 5—because He was appealing the case to the Supreme Court of God.
Jesus recognized that the witnesses against her were hardly credible, if for no other reason, they did not bring the man for judgment as well. Jesus knew that it would be impossible for the woman to receive a fair trial, and that the Scribes and Pharisees had ulterior motives in this. They were using this woman to entrap Jesus Himself, and they were willing to sacrifice her very life to accomplish this end.
In addition to this, it was unlawful at that time for anyone to be put to death without the consent of the Roman authorities. Thus, Jesus could not have sentenced her to death even if that had been the correct judgment. So He appealed to the only principle of law applicable at the time. He appealed her case to the Supreme Court and judged her according to Numbers 5, rather than according to Deuteronomy 22:22.
At first, the Scribes did not understand what he was doing, and so they pressed Him for a judgment. He silenced them in John 8:7, 8,
7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
In other words, He told them that He was appealing to the only One who was perfect enough to judge this case. If anyone in the crowd felt that he was as perfect as God, then let him cast the first stone. After all, the law said that the witnesses were supposed to be the first to stone the one guilty of a capital crime (Deut. 17:7). Of course, they all knew that if they did so, it was NOT because Jesus had authorized it. Nor could they execute anyone without being in danger of penalty from the Roman authorities.
That got their attention, and soon they understood the law by which He was judging the woman—or rather, the law by which He was appealing to the Supreme Court. When Jesus had written enough for them to read, they recognized what He was doing, and they knew that He could not pass judgment upon her once He had appealed the case to God. Since their entire purpose was to entrap Him, they knew that they had failed. One by one, they went away.
Perhaps they knew that when a man appeals to the Supreme Court, God always judges the accusers before judging the accused. He takes the entire situation and judges all sides impartially and completely. The Scribes and Pharisees knew that they had been using this woman unjustly in their attempt to entrap Jesus. Thus, the woman also had a legal case against them. Perhaps they knew they had better drop all charges quickly, or else God would judge them first.
Whatever their understanding was, it was not long before all those who had brought the woman to Jesus had left the court room. Jesus and His disciples were left alone with the woman. He asked where her accusers were. There were none. This ended the court case, because there were no witnesses against her. It would have been unlawful to continue the case, as we read in Deut. 19:15,
15 A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.
If there are no witnesses, there is no case. Neither Jesus nor His disciples had witnessed her adultery, even if they believed her to be guilty. The witnesses were gone, and we are not told where her husband was. If her husband did not witness her sin, but felt that she could be guilty, he was free to go to the Supreme Court and make her drink of the water of bitterness as prescribed in the law of jealousy. But only he had the lawful right to do this, for he was the potential victim of adultery.
What a masterpiece of wisdom and expertise in handling the law! The Scribes and Pharisees were no match for Him, particularly because the law itself makes every provision to ensure that justice will be done—if men will but take heed and know the law. And so, once again, Jesus beat them at their own game.
The Benjamite War
Another good biblical example of the Supreme Court is found in Judges 19-21. In this case, a few men of the tribe of Benjamin were guilty of rape and murder. The victim’s husband, a Levite, brought charges against the men, but the Benjamite tribe itself refused to give up the guilty men to be tried in court. Thus, the entire tribe of Benjamin became guilty and worthy of judgment.
Anyone who prevents justice from being done assumes liability for the injustice. This includes judges who pervert justice and false witnesses.
Unfortunately, the whole situation then went from bad to worse. The accusing tribes approached the tribe of Benjamin with pride and accusation, instead of in meekness and love. They came essentially as an army of 400,000 to execute the criminals before trial (Judges 20:2). They assumed guilt before they had even heard the case. Judges 20:12, 13 says,
12 Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, "What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? 13 Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel." But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel.
The actual guilt of the Benjamites is clear, for the Bible tells us specifically that this rape/murder took place, and the tribe itself refused to do justly in the case. However, we also see underlying this story the self-righteousness of the rest of the tribes. It is not enough to seek justice. One must seek justice in a prescribed manner in order to judge and not be judged as well.
In their self-righteous zeal, the tribes went to God for answers. They received the right answer, but they asked the wrong question, as we read in Judges 20:18,
18 Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God, and said, "Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?" Then the LORD said," Judah shall go up first. "
In asking God who was to lead the charge against Benjamin, they assumed beforehand that they were to do battle. They should have asked God first how to handle the situation. If they had done so, I believe God would have told them to go to the Benjamites in love and meekness, perhaps after a time of prayer and fasting, making sure that they were not putting any stumblingblocks in front of the Benjamites.
If that appeal did not work, they still should not assume that they were to go to war. War is the option of last resort. First they should have appealed to the Supreme Court for justice to be done. Then they would have been ready to ask God if He wanted them to go to war to actually enforce God’s judgment upon the tribe of Benjamin.
But Israel had already make up their minds to do battle, because the Levite had enflamed their emotions. So God said for Judah to go first into battle against Benjamin. They were obedient. Judges 20:20 says,
20 And the men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arrayed for battle against them at Gibeah. 21 Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and felled to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel.
Judah obeyed the Word of the Lord, but Judah still lost the battle. How is this possible? Obviously, God planned to judge the accusers first. Judah must have been the prime accuser here. That tribe was always the most zealous and most religious of the tribes of Israel. It is not surprising that many years later in Jesus’ day, the tribe of Judah was so zealous, but also so self-righteous (pharisaical).
Judah could hardly believe they had lost 22,000 soldiers in this battle. After all, they were only “being obedient to God.” So Israel immediately set themselves up to do battle once again. Judges 20:22, 23 says,
22 But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day. 23 And the sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?" And the LORD said, "Go up against him."
We see here that Israel now finally asked the correct question, “Shall we again draw near for battle?” Having lost the first battle, they wondered if they should be fighting them at all. But by this time the law had been set into motion, and God’s verdict was that 40,000 men of Israel must die for their own sin before God would judge Benjamin for their sin. So in the next battle, another 18,000 soldiers of Israel died, as Judges 20:24, 25 says,
24 Then the sons of Israel came against the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25 And Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah the second day and felled to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword.
This completed the judgment that God had decreed upon Israel. Only then did the Israelites begin to recognize that God was judging them for their own sin first. So they set aside the next day as a day of fasting and prayer, offering burnt offerings to God to atone for their own sins. It is a tragedy that they did not think to do this in the first place, for then they could have averted much if not all of the judgment upon themselves—and probably would have averted the civil war altogether.
After prayer and fasting, Israel returned to ask God once again if they should do battle. This time it was the right question and with the right motive. Judges 20:28 says,
28 and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron's son, stood before it to minister in those days, saying, "Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?" And the LORD said, "Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand."
This time the tide of battle turned against the Benjamites, as God began to judge them for their sin. Keep in mind that the Israelites had prayed and fasted and had offered up sacrifices on behalf of their own sins—but they had done nothing on behalf of the sins of Benjamin. Thus, there was very little mercy available to the tribe of Benjamin. Judgment came, and there was no one to stand in the gap, no intercessor to plead their case. This too was a great tragedy—as great then as it would be today.
Nearly the entire tribe of Benjamin was destroyed. Over 25,000 Benjamites were killed, and only 600 men remained before the Israelites finally—at last—forgave and released Benjamin. Only AFTER that final battle did Israel intercede for their brother tribe by offering up sacrifices for them. Judges 21:2-4 says,
2 So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3 And they said, "Why, O LORD, God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be missing today in Israel?" 4 And it came about the next day that the people arose early and built an altar there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
Once the tribe was nearly destroyed, the rest of Israel began to play the role of Defense Attorney, or the Advocate of Benjamin. Now they stopped being the Prosecutor, or Adversary. Only then did they search the law to use it as an instrument of mercy, rather than for judgment (Judges 21:16-24). What a terrible way to learn to restore your brother in a spirit of meekness and humility!
Christians, too, must learn this lesson. John 14:16 speaks of the Holy Spirit using the term “comforter.” The Greek word is Paraclete, which is the word for a Defense Attorney, one who gives aid and comfort to a person being charged with a crime in a court of law. If we do the works of our Father, our major role in life will be to use the law for the good of the people. If your “client” has sinned and is in danger of God’s judgment, the Christian’s role is not to put away the law, but to show the sinner how to utilize the proper lawful provisions for sin, in order that he might be justified in the divine court.
Yet many assume the role of the Adversary in the court room—that is, the Prosecutor. The Greek word for Adversary is Diabolos, or “devil.” All devils, by definition, are Prosecuting Attorneys who accuse men of sin in an attempt to destroy them. Christians ought not to be “children of the devil,” doing the works of their father (John 8:44).
If Israel had understood these basic principles, Biblical history would be quite different. Yet 65,000 Israelites died, not only because of sin, but because the “righteous” people did not know the basic principles of love, mercy, and judgment. Just as the ancient kingdom was lost for want of a nail for the shoe of the horse for the king for the army for the kingdom—so also the tribe of Benjamin was destroyed for want of a little love in approaching the tribe with the accusation of sin. For lack of love, mercy was lost; for lack of mercy, 65,000 lives were lost.
Judgment is also coming to America because of her sin that she allows in her midst. Will she have any to stand in the gap for her, that lives will be spared? Or will the church continue to call down fire from heaven upon the sinners? Are we doomed to repeat the ignorance of Israel in times past? There is no way we can underestimate the importance of learning this lesson BEFORE the dead litter our own streets. Remember, the life you spare may be your own.
God’s Sovereignty; Man’s Authority
God is sovereign, yet He has chosen to given man authority in the earth. This was first given in Genesis 1:26-28,
26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth…." 28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
The King James version says, “let them have dominion.” This is the first delegation of authority in the earth. The Apostle Paul says of this in Romans 13:1,
1 Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
All authority is ultimately established by God, even the worst examples of its abuse. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was a great king from a political standpoint, but he was as cruel as any ungodly king. God used him as an example to show that He was sovereign even over such ungodly rulers. In Daniel 4 we have Nebuchadnezzar’s testimony how God showed him His sovereignty by overthrowing him for “seven times” (Dan. 4:32). The lesson he learned is given in Daniel 4:24, 25, where Daniel told him,
24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25 that you be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place be with the beasts of the field, and you be given grass to eat like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven; and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes.
This all came to pass, and even the ancient histories of Babylon show a “silent” period in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign during the time of his madness. But at the end of this time, the king tells us in verse 34,
34 But at the end of that period I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, “What hast Thou done?” 36 At that time my reason returned to me. And my majesty and splendor were restored to me for the glory of my kingdom, and my counselors and my nobles began seeking me out; so I was reestablished in my sovereignty, and surpassing greatness was added to me. 37 Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.
True reason is knowing that God is sovereign in the earth. “He is able” to humble and overthrow even the greatest of kings. Consequently, if God does NOT humble these cruel rulers, it is because they have been set over us to judge the people for their sins. We see this here with the case of the Kingdom of Judah, whom God put under Nebuchadnezzar.
By His sovereignty, God has established authority in the earth and has distributed it to certain men and women according to His will. Not only does this include governmental authorities, but also “spiritual gifts and callings” that we exercise in life. 1 Corinthians 12:28 says,
28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps [antilepsis], administrations, various kinds of tongues.
Apostles, prophets and teachers are three of the governmental authorities God has established in the Church. These are, in part, to teach Christians and help them go before the Supreme Court of God in order to establish righteous government first in the Church and secondly in the world in general.
Others have spiritual authority in the area of healing or administrations and even “helps.” The Greek word for “helps” is antilepsis, which carries the meaning of understanding and perception, or discernment, which is helpful to others. It is one of the most important gifts to the Church, and is perhaps the most lacking of all. Perhaps this is because this gift is not as glamorous as some of the other gifts.
Any time God has called someone to do a job, it is a divine appointment and is an example where God has established authority in the earth. From the least to the greatest, none of these should be despised.
The Saints Shall Judge the World
In 1 Corinthians 6:2 and 3, Paul tells us,
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, matters of this life?
When God wants kingdoms to be overthrown, He raises up men and women and anoints them with the spiritual authority to depose kingdoms. This is first accomplished by prayer warriors, whom God trains in the use of spiritual authority. At the appointed times, they are led to make certain decrees before the divine court. Shortly afterward, the nations fall, often by military men who have no idea that their authority has been derived from God through the decrees of the spiritual prayer warriors.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic dream in Daniel 4, where he saw himself as a tree cut down and cast away for “seven times,” it was THE WATCHERS who decreed that the tree be cut down. Daniel 4:13, 14 says,
13 I saw in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, behold, a watcher and an holy one came down from heaven; 14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Hew down the tree, and cut off his branches, shake off his leaves, and scatter his fruit: let the beasts get away from under it, and the fowls from his branches (KJV)
The phrase underlined above reads, “watcher, even a holy one” in the original Hebrew. The watcher is the holy one, often translated “saint.” (Compare Deut. 33:2 with Jude 14.) The verse is not speaking about two different beings. The watcher is a believer who is awake or watchful and knows the times and seasons. He hears the voice of God and knows when to speak forth such decrees in the name of God. He is seen in the vision as coming down from heaven, not because this saint is an angel, but because his spirit has been in the Divine Court and is now rendering its judgment.
The saints, or holy ones, shall judge the world, Paul says.
This watcher, I believe, was none other than Daniel himself. He decreed the temporary overthrow of Nebuchadnezzar, which set the pattern for the temporary overthrow of Babylon. It was temporary, because the stump was left intact, and later, it returned to life as Mystery Babylon, which arose in the 20th century in 1914 approximately 2,520 years after Babylon had become an empire in 607 B.C.
The year 1987 was 2,520 years from the fall of Babylon in 537 B.C.
The year 2001 was 2,520 years from the beginning of Haggai’s ministry to urge the people to complete the building of the temple.
The year 2006 is 2,520 years from the actual completion of the second temple in Jerusalem. The question is: If God’s true temple is completed in 2006, when will He fill it with His glory? I believe it will be at the feast of Tabernacles no earlier than 2006, but not necessarily in 2006. There may be other divine projects to complete, such as the building of the vessels of the temple.
Incidentally, the numeric value (gematria) for “seven years” in Hebrew is 2,520, according to page 157 of Bonnie Gaunt’s book, Time and the Bible’s Number Code. The seven years it took for Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge God as the King of the Universe prophesied of a 2,520-year period. When he made his proclamation in Daniel 4:34-37, essentially declaring Babylon to be under God, he set the prophetic pattern for a future event. Revelation 11:15-17 speaks of this event, saying,
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there arose loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give Thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast, because Thou hast taken Thy great power and hast begun to reign.”
By inspiration, Daniel, the watcher, issued the decree from the courts of heaven, and twelve months later the first phase of fulfillment occurred. The king was put off his throne for a time. We are now in the generation of the second fulfillment of this prophetic Word, and in fact the double witness has already gone forth for the overthrow of Mystery Babylon. It has again been done by the mouths of the watchers. The Word was decreed Nov. 29, 1993 at the climax of the Jubilee Prayer Campaign. Perhaps it may take twelve YEARS this time to see Babylon’s final overthrow, even as it took twelve MONTHS in Daniel’s day (Dan. 4:29). We shall be watching.
In this way God exerts His power over the affairs of men. God does it through the agency of man. God seldom does things directly. He nearly always accomplishes His will by using men. This is simply because He gave man authority over the earth in Genesis 1:26-28. In doing so, He intended to limit Himself, instead of doing everything Himself. His purpose was to train men and women to be His children, doing the things that they saw their Father do. If God were to do all things Himself, there would be no purpose for mankind, no learning, and no need to establish authority in the earth.
Paul tells us that the saints will judge the world. While that is true, it is also true that Jesus Christ was appointed as the Highest Judge. The only way Jesus could be eligible as a Judge in the earth was if He would come to earth as a man, for God delegated all authority over the earth to man. We read of this in John 5:22 and 27, where Jesus Himself said,
22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son. . . . 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
Take note that Jesus was given this authority BECAUSE He is the Son of Man (Adam). As the Son of God, He had all authority in heaven, but as the Son of Man, He had all authority in earth. Jesus could rule the angels of heaven as the Son of God; but He had to become the Son of Adam in order to be the lawful ruler of the earth.
In fact, Adam the individual had been given the dominion mandate to rule as king over the earth. This mandate was passed down to his descendants as a birthright from generation to generation until it came to Jesus Christ.
There was a lawful order here that could not be bypassed. This is why the genealogy of Jesus is written in the Scriptures. His genealogy to King David established His lawful right to be the King of Judah. But His genealogy back to Adam through the birthright lineage established His lawful right to be the King over all the earth.
History, then, is the story of how Jesus Christ and His children will “subdue” the earth (Gen. 1:28) and become its judges. People expect God to judge the earth directly, but in fact, He has committed all judgment to man—and the foremost Judge is Jesus Christ. He is the One who sits upon the throne in God’s Supreme Court. He is the One who speaks to men who can hear His voice. He is the One who tells certain men and women what His judgment is, and they are expected to speak it into the earth in order to make it effective.
In this way, the double witness law is observable, for when Jesus Christ speaks from the heavens, and men echo His decrees on the earth, it is heaven and earth bearing witness to the truth. This is what establishes all things that God is doing in the earth. He has truly committed all judgment to the Son, because He is the Son of Adam. This is not only applicable to Jesus, but also to His Body.
As the Scriptures develop this theme of judging the earth, we see early examples of military-type conquest, such as in the days of Joshua and David, the warrior king. But by the time of Jesus Christ, the method seems to change to a more peaceful form of conquest. The people in Jesus’ day could not understand this, because they did not know the mind of God. Today we have the benefit of hindsight and have a clearer view of the progression of God’s methods.
Discerning True Justice
All judgment belongs to Jesus Christ. We are not to judge any man apart from Him. In fact, without hearing God speak first, we have no authority to speak at all, and our “judgments” would fall to the ground. We are to do only that which we see Jesus do, even as He did only that which He saw His Father do. John 5:19 says,
19 Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”
The Holy Spirit (our Advocate) is the means by which we may now judge the world, for it is Jesus Himself who judges the world through us. He is the Head; we are the body. We act in His name, and when we judge as led by the Holy Spirit, it is not really us judging at all, but it is Jesus in us that judges. He has delegated to His seed the lawful authority to judge, but we have the equal level of responsibility to judge by the Spirit alone.
Apart from the continual leading of the Holy Spirit into all truth, our judgments will only be carnal and harmful. Any time we judge, it must be a revelation from God, applied by supernatural wisdom that is not dependent upon human understanding or outward appearances. It must search out the thoughts and intents of the heart. It must cut and separate the bone from the marrow (Heb. 4:12).
It cannot be a fleshly judgment, but a spiritual one, for the Spirit within us is spiritual. When Christians judge by the flesh or by appearances, they put a curse upon the earth. They cannot help but do this. But when they judge by the Spirit, they ultimately bring mercy, grace, and life, even if it becomes necessary to use the sword.
It seems also that the more carnal we are, the more we love to judge others. Judgment itself is neither right nor wrong. It merely exists as a God-given responsibility placed upon us. But like any governmental office, this authority is best wielded by those who have no ambition for power, for they recognize the seriousness of the responsibility as well as their own inadequacy.
The carnal would love to have spiritual authority so that they could, like Elijah, call down fire on the heads of the ungodly. Jesus’ disciples had this very problem while they were yet in training. It is the same with us. If carnal men knew their own hearts, they would be horrified to see that, like the disciples, they preferred to see the “enemies of God” burned up than to see them converted by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Jesus scolded them for not knowing their own hearts.
Why are there so many unbelievers in the world today? Why do so many hate the Church and the God which Christians say they represent? Is it because we have done so much good? Is it because we have caused the deaf to hear and the lame to walk? Is it because of our love and compassion for them? No, they hate Jesus Christ because Christians have been unjust and have misrepresented Him. Unrighteous men posing as Christians have defined Christianity in the eyes of the world, making it difficult for the true Christians to overcome that reputation.
Psalm 33:5 says of God, “He loves righteousness and justice.” Psalm 37 is the great chapter describing the meek who are to inherit the earth,
29 The righteous will inherit the land, and dwell in it forever. 30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. 31 The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
Psalm 89:14 says,
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Thy throne; Lovingkindness and truth go before Thee.
The Bible takes a clear position that justice is the basis of all righteous judgment. Those who do not seek justice for the weak and the poor are not doing the will of God in the earth, regardless of who perpetrates or supports the injustice. For this reason, aspiring overcomers ought to study the divine law, for this is the foundation of justice that comes from the mind of God.
God’s True Method of Subduing the Earth
In order to understand this progression, we must begin at least as far back as the days of Moses. All Israel had the faith to leave the land of Egypt at the original Feast of Passover. But this was only the first level of faith. When they arrived at Sinai for the Feast of Pentecost, God spoke the Ten Commandments audibly to them from the mount. The people were so terrified that they refused to approach God, even when Moses urged them to do so. Exodus 20:18-21 says,
18 And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. . . . 20 And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." 21 So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.
The people “stood at a distance,” because they did not have the second level of faith, characterized by Pentecost. We understand, of course, that in the plan of God, it was too soon for the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost. In fact, after Israel had spent 40 years in the wilderness, Moses told the people in Deut. 29:4 and 5,
4 Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear. 5 And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. . . .
So God took the credit for not giving Israel the ability to know, see, or hear. This prevented them from having a Pentecostal level of faith, because “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). In spite of this, God calls us to approach Him and hear His voice, for we read in Psalm 95:7-11,
7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; 9 When your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. 11 Therefore I swore in My anger, “Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
Here the Scriptures tell us that Israel would not “hear His voice.” For this reason, they were unable to “enter into My rest.” That is, that generation was disqualified from entering the Promised Land at the time of the 50th Jubilee from Adam. (See Secrets of Time for this study in timing.) The Jubilee is the third and highest Sabbath. It is God’s rest. Their lack of faith was made manifest when the ten spies gave an evil report after spying out the land of Canaan for 40 days (Num. 13). If the people had believed Caleb and Joshua—the two spies who gave a good report—they could have entered the Promised Land at that time. But instead, they believed the evil report of the ten spies.
The timing of this event sheds much light on its meaning. We know from a study of chronology that this took place 2450 years after Adam. This was the 50th Jubilee (49 x 50 years = 2,450). We also know from Numbers 13:20 that “the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.” That is, this occurred in September when the trumpet was to be blown for the Jubilee. So Israel was to observe this Jubilee by deciding to enter into God’s rest—the true Promised Land that is more than just real estate. It is the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), for we were made from the dust of the ground. It is the transfiguration that fulfills the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Jubilee is the preparation day for the Feast of Tabernacles. If Israel had believed the good report of Caleb and Joshua, they would have entered the Promised Land (God’s rest) five days later at the Feast of Tabernacles. The significance of the Feast of Tabernacles is that it is the prophesied time of the transformation, or the bodily change of those who are “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15). The Feast of Tabernacles prophesies of the redemption of the body (Rom. 8:23).
Suppose, then, that Israel had fulfilled the Feast of Tabernacles in the time of Moses. They would have entered Canaan with a glorified body, full of faith, entering into God’s rest. They would have manifested Christ to all who met them. The Word coming from their lips would have been sharper than any two-edged sword. What, then, would have become of the Canaanites? They would have seen the glory of God upon Israel and would have immediately cried out to God, repenting of their wicked ways. They would have been converted. There would have been no need to destroy them by a physical sword.
In fact, if all of this had happened, the millennial Kingdom would have been set up at that time under Joshua. Men would have flocked to hear and learn the law of the Lord, as Isaiah 2 and Micah 4 prophesies. Men would have been beaten their swords into plowshares.
However, because of Israel’s lack of faith, this did not happen. And 38 years later when Israel entered the land, they did not enter at the Feast of Tabernacles, but at the time of Passover. They crossed the Jordan River on the tenth day of the first month just before Passover (Joshua 4:19). This was because they were capable of only a Passover level of faith. They were yet incapable of fulfilling Pentecost and certainly Tabernacles as well.
Israel’s history tells us what would have happened, but did not. Yet it is helpful for us to know, because it manifests the mind and true desire of God. The people of Israel were told to slaughter the Canaanites, and this was indeed the will of God at that time. But it was His will only because Israel was incapable of wielding greater weapons than physical swords. By their low level of faith, they could only destroy the Canaanites by the sword; but this should not be taken as a mandate to do the same today. We have been given greater faith and sharper weapons that can divide soul from spirit and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:12).
In the past 2,000 years many have enjoyed a Pentecostal level of faith, under which anointing the disciples were told in Mark 16:15,
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
So we see a difference between the first Joshua and the second (Jesus, or Yashua). The first told Israel to put the Canaanites to death; the second told us to kill their flesh by baptism. It is a different form of death, one that brings the sinners into life, rather than destruction. It is the death of “the flesh,” rather than the death of the body.
The sword in the days of Moses is not the same sword given to us today. This is well illustrated by the story of Israel’s worship of the golden calf at the base of the mount—the place of Pentecost. In Exodus 32:26-28 we find that the Lord told the Levites to take their swords and start killing people. Verse 28 says that 3,000 men died that day, subtracted from “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).
In the New Testament, the 120 disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost received a greater sword—the word of God in their mouth. They took this sword into the streets of Jerusalem, and as “the flesh” began to die, 3,000 men were ADDED to the Church that day. The difference is the type of sword that is used. The Passover sword brings death; the Pentecostal sword brings life.
It is unfortunate that during the Age of Pentecost so many Christians have not known the mind of the Lord in regard to their methods of transforming the world into the Kingdom of God. Pentecost is the transition between Passover and Tabernacles. It is the time when we should be preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles—not reverting back to Passover. The conversion of the world was supposed to be by the demonstration of the power of the Spirit, not by crusades and military conquests and forced conversions on pain of death. These methods are a poor substitute for the method Jesus used. But instead, the carnally minded Church leaders reverted to the Old Testament to find the model for their behavior. They did not know the mind of God.
This tendency to misunderstand the intent of God is as common today as it was in Jesus’ day when He said in Matthew 11:12,
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
False messiahs and military leaders have always attempted to set up what they believe to be the Utopia on earth, their own version of the Kingdom of God—but they have always done so by military force. These are the violent men who take it by force. Jesus did NOT speak these words to encourage us to use violence and force to take the Kingdom. He was criticizing those who employed these methods. We are to do as Jesus did.
Military methods have converted many people to the religion of Christianity; but these have not converted a single person to Christ in his heart. The Church has often been an empty shell, devoid of the power of God, and the ridicule of all the ungodly who saw its moral vacuum. The Church in that condition was reduced to converting people by force, because no heathen in his right mind would convert to a morally bankrupt religion under any other motive. But God is not interested in bringing more people into religion; He wants their heart-felt love and a personal relationship with them.
Thus, the judges of the Old Testament were military men that delivered Israel from various captivities; but the judges that God has been raising up in the past 2,000 years are those who can demonstrate the love of God to all. When men see the power of God in their lives, they will be drawn to ask how they, too, can have the same relationship with God.
This is NOT to say that military means ought to be banned outright. The use of military might in the Old Testament was certainly of God, but was also the result of Israel’s failure to hear the voice of God at Mount Sinai—and later, their failure to enter the land at the Feast of Tabernacles. They were incapable at the time of taking up the most powerful weapon in God’s arsenal—the sword of the mouth. So God gave them an alternative sword, a physical sword, by which they could subdue Canaan. Though this was not in the perfect will of God, it became God’s will for an imperfect people in an imperfect time. And God worked mightily even through this.
The physical sword—even with the miraculous help of God—could only establish a type and shadow of the true Kingdom of God. It was a Passover-level kingdom. In the New Testament Jesus Christ established a higher level of Kingdom, preparing the way for the Kingdom’s Pentecostal level. It was better, but still far from perfect, for the pattern of Pentecost was set by King Saul, not by David.
Today, God is requiring more of us than was required in the past, because we are at the end of the Pentecostal Age, looking into the coming Age of Tabernacles, commonly called the Millennium. The only way the true Kingdom of God will be established in this age will be by the power of the Sword of the Mouth, wielded by those who have come into the fullness of the Spirit.
Even 200 years ago when America was founded, the Church had restored only the truth of Passover—justification by faith. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that Pentecost was restored through the ministry of Charles Parham and others after him. Now in the 21st century God is restoring the revelation and power of Tabernacles. More is required of us, for the peace that God will establish is to last a thousand years. This will not happen if the peace is established upon injustice, for then would the population have to be restrained by force, rather than by love.
To know and practice righteous judgment as a saint that judges the world, one must have the character of Jesus Christ as manifested in the New Testament. One must love all of God’s creation and work only to establish their best interests. One must have the heart of a servant and manifest the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22, 23.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.