Foreboding tremors of war are being felt with increasing frequency and intensity in this world. The war in the unseen realm is once again about to spill over into the physical world. But who is paying attention? It is reminiscent of the days before WW2, in the late 1930s, when those with perception picked up on the signs that warned them of the war that would soon reach them and the whole world, while others went about their lives largely unconcerned, only to find themselves unprepared when that war engulfed the entire planet. We should learn from this example from history.
We know from Scripture that there are two kingdoms which exist and which are at war with one another, and that every being that exists does so in one or the other of these two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.
“He who is not with me is against me” (Mt. 12:30 WEB).
“The Father . . . has qualified you to share in the . . . light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:12,13 ESV).
The Father has made this transference to all who believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. But even though we are no longer in darkness but in the kingdom of light, yet we remain in this world of darkness, to shed God’s light upon it. The sequence is this:
1. Jesus is the light of this world.
“I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12 WEB).
“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn. 9:5 WEB).
2. But Jesus has left this world.
“I am no more in the world, but these are in the world” (Jn. 17:11 WEB).
3. We who have been united with Jesus through faith and baptism have become the light of Jesus to this world. It is not our light but his within us.
“You are the light of the world” (Mt. 5:14 WEB).
We are the light of the world because he is the light of the world and we are in him.
“As he is, even so are we in this world” (1 Jn. 5:17 WEB).
The last quotation from the Bible above is from John, whose gospel is distinctly different from the other three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). It looks at the more profound aspects of reality and Jesus’ life here in this world. Interestingly, all of John’s writings in the New Testament contain nearly as many references to the world as do all the rest of the NT writings combined. Clearly, there is more to what is often referred to as the world than what is commonly supposed.
Both Jesus and the devil knew this, that the world holds a very important and key place in God’s plan for all things. In his temptation of Jesus, the devil used the world as one of his three temptations.
“The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours'” (Lk. 4:5-7 NIV).
In this temptation, the devil mentions the authority and the splendor of this world. This is reminiscent of the way a child offers to his parents a present that he likes and desires, like a baseball glove, unable to see beyond his own immaturity to their higher status. Why should Jesus, the Son of God, who already has authority and glory that the devil can only dream of and plots to steal from him, think that such an offer is worth even considering? Is it possible that there might be some contempt in Jesus’ voice when he replied?
“Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only”‘” (Mt. 4:10 NIV).
Jesus was so committed in his love for the Father that nothing the devil or the world could offer, including the whole world itself, was even close to being able to compare to that inestimable treasure of God himself.
“To whom, then, will you compare God?” (Is. 40:18 NIV).
“To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?” (Is. 46:5 NIV).
To whom or what, indeed? The world? Anyone who knows the Father, infinite in glory and wisdom and majesty and love and a host of other attributes, will never relinquish Him for anything, not even the whole world. Even Paul, a sinful human being, had come to know the incomparable God, in Christ, to that extent:
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Ph. 3:8 NIV).
Paul is an example of how a person chooses one of the two kingdoms. An example of how a person can choose the other kingdom is found in Demas:
“Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Tim. 4:10 RSV).
It is not strictly true to say that we cannot love this world and love the kingdom of God at the same time. Many people do exactly this, for there is pleasure to be found in each kingdom. But worldly pleasure is based on man and the devil and decays into evil; neither does it last nor truly satisfy. But the pleasure of the kingdom of God is based on God and his perfect and holy and good nature; it lasts for ever and satisfies our yearning for wholeness and completeness.
Besides this, God is not satisfied with a divided heart. That is why Jesus said “Remember Lot’s wife!” (Lk. 17:32 NIV). He also said that we cannot serve two masters (Mt. 6:24). Although we can indeed desire both kingdoms, we must choose which we will serve, which will have our undivided love.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:15-17 NIV).
This last quotation from Scripture is especially appropriate to the issue here, because it describes so well the tragic attitude of the world (though it was addressed to a church, which shows how easy it is for the church to adopt the attitude of the world). This world thinks that it can get along without God. In this age of science and technology, many stand in awe of what man can do, and the world looks to man’s own capabilities to solve its problems. It does not realize that it is, instead, wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Thus there are these two entirely different and opposing views of the world, held by two entirely different and opposing groups in the world: those who love the world and its power and authority, and who are thus like this world’s god, the devil (1 Jn. 5:19, 2 Cor. 4:4); and those who love not the world (Js. 4:4, 1 Jn. 2:15) but love the Father and his Son (1 Jn. 5:1), and look to him, not the world or its governments or science or anything else of the world, to provide life abundant.
It does need to pointed out that the biblical admonitions to not love the world mean not to love the world system or its values, not that we should not love the people of this world. They, in fact, are the very reason that we are in the world: to show them God’s love for them in Christ. Jesus came not to condemn the world (meaning its people) but to save the world (its people). Only when he comes again, this time in judgment, will those people who refused to let go of their attachment to the world for the sake of Christ be condemned along with the world they love so much. Until that time, the clash between the two kingdoms will continue.
That clash has been going on since the time Lucifer rebelled against God in heaven and was thrown out from that glorious place. Ever since, he has been working to establish his own kingdom, with himself as its ruler, and he has relentlessly contrived to conform this world to that plan. Some of his machinations are obvious to all. World War Two was one such attempt by the devil to take over this world and mold it to his own liking. The heavy involvement of the axis powers with the occult is well known.
World War Two eventually affected every area of the world and every people. But other methods and aspects of the enemy’s plan are not as direct or well known. For his favorite way of operating is to deceive others into thinking that what he suggests comes from themselves and is far better than God’s designs and plans for this world. As we near the end of this world, those devil-inspired ideas are coming to fruition.
One such area is that of genetic manipulation. Most people have heard of how scientists are using gene manipulation to produce supposedly better seeds for food crops, seeds resistant to pests or disease and which produce higher yields. What could be wrong with that? On the surface, nothing–just as on the surface there was nothing wrong with that fruit offered to Eve. Does not Scripture say that Eve saw that it “was good for food” (Gen. 3:6)? And do not scientists and others say that gene manipulation is good for food today? But just as for Eve there was a hidden evil in what was before her eyes, so too does evil lurk beneath the current fascination of this world with altering genes that goes far beyond its application to foods. Both the devil and men of this world seek to alter not just foods that man eats, but man himself.
With the discovery of the human DNA code being deciphered, we see again how the devil deceives man into thinking that what man, through science, supposedly brings forth to better the world is, in reality, nothing more than part of the evil one’s overall plan to ruin this world and remake it into his own image. The ultimate goal is to change mankind itself, to alter human DNA in such a way as to produce a new, super being, one with much greater powers than that which were given to him by his Creator. Now, where have we heard that before?
The shades of WW2 are with us still. That evil shade, the devil, still has as his goal, which he has always had, to eliminate man as created by God, so that when Jesus returns, there will be no one to take with him to present to the Father as firstfruits from this world. Then Jesus would have died for nothing, because there would be no one left of the original humanity for which he died. Wars, abortions, drug abuse, unhealthy environment, poor dietary choices, and a host of other evils in this world’s kingdom are all just varied means for eliminating human kind, so that the Son of God will have no one to present to the Father as firstfruits.
“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (Js. 1:18 NIV).
“They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb” (Rev. 14:4 NIV).
“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. . . . And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’ Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:11,13,14 NIV).
God has a plan for his kingdom to reach fruition. The devil wants to disrupt and ruin that plan, which includes man in the pivotal place. One way the devil seeks to disrupt this plan is to change the very nature of what it means to be human. This plan has both its ideological aspect and its practical aspect of implementation. The use of gene manipulation to alter man’s genetic code belongs to the practical side of the plan, but it arises as an outgrowth of the ideological side that underlies all that this world does.
Examples of the underlying ideology that powers this world can be seen in such things as the theory of evolution and science. Man, unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly), under the influence of the devil, seeks to exalt man above God and to take control of his own evolution. Gene manipulation is just one method on the pathway to the realization of this dream. But all such methods have in common the desire to eliminate God and to take his place by man. Man becomes his own savior, whether through science and technology or through religion. These two seemingly disparate areas become joined together in the kingdom of this world.
Prof. Francis Fukuyama has warned that this current genetic manipulation could forever change what it means to be human. It would produce a dehumanized world in which we “no longer struggle, aspire, love, feel pain, make difficult moral choices, have families, or do any of the things that we traditionally associate with being human.”
This is hauntingly like Buddhism, which teaches that a human being at death becomes one with the universe, with no final judgment, no personal god. A person at death disintegrates like a mist and is absorbed into the larger ocean of existence. How convenient. One is thus not held responsible for how one has lived one’s life.
Then there are the various theories among scientists of how the universe is constructed, one of which is called the Multiple Universe or MultiVerse theory, in which ours is not the only universe but that there exist countless parallel universes because every moment of one’s life, every decision made, is causing a split of one’s “now” self into an infinite number of future selves, all of which are unaware of each other. At least that’s one version of this theory; there are numerous others. You can see the connection with many science-fiction stories along this line; but at least some variations of this speculation are considered possible by cosmologists.
Regarding such speculations and their connection to the issue of what it means to be human, and the existence of the two kingdoms, it is interesting that one believer in the multiverse says about its ramifications, that the multiverse is a place or world where nothing is true and everything is permissible and that there is no God but Man.
What a remarkable confirmation of the true desire underlying the entire reason for trying to recreate the world into man’s own image–and the devil’s. Man must become not-man. According to Fukuyama, in this ultimate identity crisis, we would no longer have the characteristics that give us human dignity because, for one thing, people dehumanized–ala “Brave New World”–wouldn’t know that they are dehumanized, and, what is worse, would not care if they knew. They would be happy slaves with a slavish happiness. This is the nightmarish vision displayed in the movie, “The Matrix”. It may also be a frightening clue why there is an increasing interest in movies, video games, and culture in general in the morbid topic of zombies.
Many are the citizens of this world’s kingdom that think that science and technology will ultimately give us a utopian world, where, for example, everyone has enough food to eat because science has found a way to alter the natural nature of plants used for food to increase yields and provide food for everyone. Yet, as more astute observers have pointed out, science has been proven time and again to be unable to foresee everything that might happen on man’s way to changing whatever it desires to serve its own vision of the future of mankind. Over and over again, a seemingly good and beneficial invention or discovery of science that has been released upon the world has eventually been found to harm man more than help him. But the pride of man has blinded him to the warnings of God’s Word. Indeed, it is the pride and conceit of man that is at the heart of the whole clash between the two kingdoms.
The reason so many are in awe of science and technology and what they have produced for man is because they are blinded by pride. Pride in what man accomplishes through these means blinds one to the harm that will eventually result from them. All they can see is the short-term benefit that their works have produced right now. And so they boast of man and what he accomplishes.
“They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting” (Ps. 94:4 NIV).
“They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil” (Is. 59:4 NIV).
“The pride of your heart has deceived you” (Ob. 1:3 NIV).
“‘We have heard of Moab’s pride–her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of her heart. I know her insolence but it is futile,’ declares the Lord, ‘and her boasts accomplish nothing'” (Jer. 48:29,30 NIV).
“The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile” (Ps. 94:11 NIV).
All these designs outside of the one grand design of God for this world are thus condemned by God in his Word. They are called futile and accomplish nothing. This is because they set aside God’s often-hidden purposes for what the world sees as imperfections in God’s plan. Birth defects? We will do a better job than God. We will create a new type of human being without such defects, through gene technology. Until then, we will kill such defective babies through abortion. But God says:
“Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex. 4:11 NIV).
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life'” (Jn. 9:1-3 NIV).
Scripture has rightly put its finger on the key cause underlying the whole issue:
“The evil conceits of their minds know no limits” (Ps. 73:7 NIV).
This one verse from God’s Word sets the whole issue in its proper perspective. In just these few words it reveals the secret to a most profound mystery: why man thinks it can do better than God at creating and running the world. It is because of his conceit, which has no limits. Surely there is no greater conceit than to think that man can do better than God, that the created being is greater than the Creator.
“Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it? As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood!” (Is. 10:15 NIV).
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to his mother, `What have you brought to birth?’
“This is what the Lord says–the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts” (Is. 45:9-12 NIV).
The pride and conceit of those who choose the kingdom of this world over God’s kingdom and his ways make them blind. They cannot see past their limited successes through science and their attempts to form their own world kingdom to the harm that will eventually result from their unnatural interventions into God’s designed order.
“Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresee will suddenly come upon you” (Is. 47:11 NIV).
“You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, et the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain” (Is. 17:10,11 NIV).
That final day of reckoning is fast approaching. The earth is quickly nearing the point beyond which it cannot continue to exist. The same is true for man upon this earth. It is not by chance that, speaking of the last days, Jesus said, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Mt. 24:21,22 NIV).
In the end, all the arrogant dreams of prideful man will be laid low when the Lord judges them for their arrogance in thinking that they should be God and not him.
“Strike them with terror, O Lord; let the nations know they are but men” (Ps. 9:20 NIV).
“Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came” (Is. 37:29 NIV).
As we now enter these final days of reckoning, those who belong to the two different kingdoms will experience two different dealings by God. Those who seek to set aside his world for one of their own making will experience his wrath. But those who have stayed faithful to God and hidden him and his Word in their heart will find themselves hidden both from his wrath and from the wrath and intrigues of men.
“Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Ps. 31:20 KJV).
“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by” (Is. 26:20 NIV).
The clash between the kingdoms is fast approaching its final and most intense battle. Let us forsake all attachments to this doomed world and keep our eyes focused on the coming glorious one.
“I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, ‘Behold, God’s dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away'” (Rev. 21:2-4 WEB).
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (Jn. 18:36 NIV).
In the end, at the final moment of all history, it will be just as it was before there were two kingdoms. For in the beginning, there was only one: the kingdom of God. Now there are two kingdoms, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world and the devil. But at the end, it will be as it was in the beginning: one kingdom, God’s.
“The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever'” (Rev. 11:15 NIV).