This has been a very sobering weekend for those of us living in the United States. First, the random shooting at the garlic festival in California a few days ago, killing 3 people (including 2 children), and wounding 11 others! And this weekend, two mass shootings in two days is shocking and beyond comprehension. In case you haven’t heard, in El Paso Texas, a gunman walked into a Walmart, filled with busy shoppers buying their “back to school” supplies, and unloaded some kind of semi-automatic weapon on these poor unsuspecting folks. Even though El Paso is a city where people are allowed to carry guns for self-defense, nobody fought back or was able to defend themselves. It happened so quickly and was so unexpected. The best they could do was move quickly to the back of the store and take shelter in some steel containers. There were approximately 3000 people in that store yesterday. It sounds like the Walmart employees did a fantastic job of ushering people to the back of the store and opening up the containers. There are acts of heroism emerging, as people grabbed up other people’s children and ran with them to the back of the store, reuniting them with the parents in a safer location. At this point, one day later, twenty people were killed and 26 people were injured.
Then, as if that weren’t bad enough, I awoke this morning to discover that ANOTHER mass shooting occurred in Dayton, Ohio. In this mass shooting a gunman wearing full body armor opened fire outside of a bar. Thankfully the Dayton police acted VERY quickly and took down the man in about a minute saving HUNDREDS of lives. But still, this man was able to kill 9 people and injure 27 more.
People, just going about their lives, randomly gunned down by an armed assailant bent on destruction, is a very poignant reminder to us that evil still exists in the world. In the days and weeks ahead, the police investigators will comb over mounds of evidence to discover the motive behind the attacks. The politicians will do what they do best, and politicize the attacks in order to achieve their political agenda, one of which is dis-arming and dividing American citizens, pitting black against white, women against men, young against old. In the case of gun confiscation or control, sadly, even if guns are taken away, evil will find a way to wreak destruction, utilizing bombs, knives, clubs, swords, or even automobiles as weapons. When Jesus said that a House Divided cannot stand…He meant it. Thankfully, Churches, communities, and others will offer support to the victims’ families, blessing them with an outpouring of love that, although cannot remove the sting of death and pain, will offer some comfort to those injured and grieving. I would imagine some level of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) will continue for those who witnessed and survived these horrific events.
But the question that is stirring in most of our minds is WHY? Why do people do these HORRIBLE things….and where is GOD?
Let’s take comfort that God Almighty is still on His Throne, and that He is still in control, even when it LOOKS like evil is winning.
When Jesus hung on the Cross paying for the sins of ALL mankind, it LOOKED like evil had won the day…but things aren’t always as they seem.
When mankind fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, we basically invited evil into this world. Satan, the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, has been the “landlord” of this earth since that SAD, SAD day. In that single day, mankind aligned themselves with the enemy in rebellion against God. Because of that rebellion, our Father has allowed us to experience the consequences of those actions. We need to understand that humans are not alone on this planet. There is an unseen force working behind the scenes, tempting people to sin, still convincing people to rebel against the God who LOVES them, and partnering with weak minded people to wreak havoc against others. This isn’t just an “impersonal” invisible evil, these are actual evil beings who live in the unseen spiritual realms, sharing this space with us on earth. These evil beings are intelligent, self-aware, and very organized.
Did you know that they are organized almost like a military army with ranking officers, and lower ranked ground patrol? Satan is their “commander in chief”. They communicate with one another, they have a grand plan, and they also have smaller “battle” plans to wreck each individual person’s life, especially those who follow Christ Jesus. They HATE humanity and they, like their commander the devil, have also come to “kill, steal, and destroy”. They hate humanity because they HATE God. They cannot directly hurt God, so they go after God’s children…because God LOVES His Children. They work in many ways, sometimes through whispering lies into someone’s ear to commit outright death and destruction, like we’ve seen this weekend. But, they also work their evil plans in more subtle ways, through manipulation, deception, and control, all with the purpose of dragging HATED humanity down to the pit with them. Oh, yes, they know they’ve already been judged, and their “time” is limited, so they want to drag as many of us as they can down with them. They absolutely DO NOT want people to know about or BELIEVE in the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ.
Ironic, isn’t it, that the demons recognized Jesus as the Son of God, but most of humanity completely misses this fact. In Matthew 8, the demons UNDERSTOOD that a time is coming when God is going to lock them all up in a bottomless pit so that they have no access to mankind. Who or what are demons? They are part of the enemy’s army. Years ago, before the flood, the fallen angels had sexual intercourse with human women producing the nephilim (Genesis 6). The nephilim were EXTREMELY evil, giants in the land. Somehow they survived the flood, which is why we see them again when Israel is wandering in the wilderness, and even after they entered the Promised Land. In 1st Samuel, David battled Goliath, a giant and a nephilim, long after Israel entered into the Promised Land. God commanded ISRAEL to completely WIPE OUT these beings (Canaanites) from the land! Unlike humanity, when these beings died, they don’t go to Sheol or to Heaven, instead they become demons who walk the earth looking for a “body” to inhabit. This is what the Church calls “demon possession”. It’s very possible that the shooters in El Paso and also in Dayton were demon possessed. Listening to some of the witnesses, the shooter in El Paso showed no remorse, no compassion, and no empathy at all for anybody, not even children. He had a single purpose to mow down as many people as he possibly could. This sounds VERY demonic.
Important to note, that although the enemy army does communicate with one another, and they are very organized and methodical in their attacks, THEY ARE NOT GOD, they are NOT OMNIPOTENT OR OMNISCIENT (all knowing, all seeing..although they do promote themselves as such…. “all seeing eye/illuminati”), they are NOT ALL POWERFUL, and they are NOT IN CONTROL..meaning that they MUST ask PERMISSION from GOD ALMIGHTY to do do their evil deeds on the earth. I know this is hard for us to understand, but because of our sin, and especially when there is no repentance, they are permitted (with limitations) to do certain things on the earth, to manipulate mankind into doing terrible things. Why does God allow this? WE aligned ourselves with the fallen angels and the REBELLION against God the moment that Adam and Eve sinned. Every time we sin, we continue to INVITE earthly attacks. In America, think about the abortion laws, think about the sexual sins, think about the drug and alcohol addictions, think about the materialism and idolatry. Honestly, we sin every day so it is only by GOD’S MERCY that HE RESTRAINS the evil on this earth. Also, Scripture shows us that GOD uses even the evil of the world to draw more souls to HIS SON JESUS…and ETERNAL LIFE, the ULTIMATE GOAL! Although God allows the evil to continue for awhile (while HE works to SAVE mankind one individual at a time) evil has an expiration date (Thank God)…and won’t be allowed to continue forever.
So what do we do in the meantime? Are God’s children HELPLESS against such enemy attacks? No, God tells us that Greater is HE who is in us then he who is in the world. When you BELIEVE in the Lord Jesus Christ, when you believe that JESUS died to pay for all of your sins, past, present, and future, when you BELIEVE that Jesus rose again and is seated at the right hand of the Father, you receive a very POWERFUL GIFT. You receive the INDWELLING of the HOLY SPIRIT! The Holy Spirit is FAR more powerful than the demons, devils, and fallen angels. The Holy Spirit is GOD Himself, in Spirit form, come to live and dwell within BELIEVERS! If you’ve heard that a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon, it’s because we HAVE the HOLY SPIRIT living INSIDE of us. Our “house” (body) is OCCUPIED!
In Matthew 12, we see a picture of the “occupation” of a “man’s house” (aka person’s body). Basically, if a person’s house (body) isn’t OCCUPIED with the Holy Spirit, then they CAN be possessed by an evil spirit or even spirits. In Matthew 12, we see a number of unclean (evil) spirits living within the man’s “house” (body).
What is Matthew 12 telling us? Even if a person is able to get rid of an evil spirit, by some “means”, basically he cleans himself up, but still doesn’t believe in Jesus, then his “house” (body) remains unoccupied (without the Holy Spirit). Even though he cleaned up his act, his unbelieving “unoccupied house” has the potential of being possessed AGAIN by even MORE unclean spirits. In the book of Mark, Jesus encountered a “demoniac” that literally had a whole LEGION (thousands) of unclean spirits living in his “house” (body). Jesus healed him and set him FREE!
Mark 5: 2 When He (Jesus) got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, 3 and he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 6 Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him; 7 and shouting with a loud voice, he *said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” 8 For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 And He (Jesus) was asking him, “What is your name?” And he *said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”
How does demon possession happen? I’m not really sure, but my guess is that people unwittingly “invite” them in, perhaps through blatant, unrepentant sin, perhaps through drugs and alcohol (“spirits”), perhaps through hatred, unforgiveness (which is also sin). Sadly, even pain and suffering from abuse or trauma can open the door to demons UNLESS a person is protected by the Holy Spirit. I think what we call “mental illness” has a demonic spiritual component. Notice the demoniac in Mark 5 was cutting himself with stones. This doesn’t mean that our teenagers who cut themselves are demon possessed; however, let’s be real, teens and others who harm themselves, who even kill themselves, have been HORRIBLY harassed by demons! We need to PRAY for their DELIVERANCE!
A report showed there had been a steep rise in incidents of self harm among teenage girls. The findings, based on data from GP practices across the UK, show that self harm among girls aged 13 to 16 has risen by 68% in the past three years.
The study by researchers at the University of Manchester found that self harm was three times more common among girls than boys – and that those who self harm are at much greater risk of suicide. Self harmers are 50 times more likely to try to take their own lives.https://theconversation.com/more-teenage-girls-are-self-harming-than-ever-before-heres-why-86010
Although demons cannot inhabit a BELIEVER’s “house”, they can harass us, whispering LIES, throwing up temptations, or putting obstacles into our paths. They can even convince or manipulate people into harming themselves or others, or even to take their own life or the lives of others. Remember, these attacks are well PLANNED, well ORGANIZED, and well ORCHESTRATED.
I know this isn’t true in all cases, but isn’t it curious that MOST suicide and cases of self harm begin around puberty? This is why Jewish youth around the age of 13 receive bar or bat mitzvahs. It’s their “coming of age” party. Puberty is known as “the age of accountability”, or the age when a child can begin to make important choices between “right and wrong”. I think that the enemy has greater access to children once they reach this age of accountability, and that younger children (on average) have some insulation from God, some natural protections from these horrible enemy assignments.
God is calling His people to battle. He’s calling His people to battle AGAINST these unseen forces, these “rulers, and powers and world forces” of darkness who exist in the Spiritual realm and who share this planet with mankind. We might think, How in the world can we battle something we cannot see? It’s like we’re “sitting ducks”. They can SEE us, but we can’t SEE them! That hardly seems fair! Oh, so true! But God DOES give us very powerful weapons, ones that we also can’t SEE with our eyes. Remember, Greater is the One who is living inside of us then he who is living in the world! What are those weapons? Belief in Jesus, Faith, Prayer, the Word of God.
God’s children, those who have been implanted with HIS SEED (Holy Spirit), have a-lot more POWER then we REALIZE. WE are the jars of clay (our human flesh bodies are made out of clay, the dust of the earth). The enemy DOES NOT want Christians to understand the POWER that dwells within us!
Luke 10: 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
Matthew 18:18: “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
James 4:7: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
God’s children have been given this GIFT, this TREASURE (HOLY SPIRIT) WHO resides within our human bodies, our “jars of clay”. This TREASURE has authority against any and all enemy attacks. Inside this TREASURE are the KEYS to the KINGDOM of GOD which have the ability to bind the devil’s attacks and to loose the angelic realm to send help from God’s Throne room…all in the POWERFUL NAME OF JESUS. We must remember, that our individual names have NO authority, it is the HOLY SPIRIT, GOD’S SPIRIT who dwells within us, who has All the AUTHORITY! Jesus gave us HIS SPIRIT to us as a GIFT so that we could stand against the onslaught of enemy attacks!
Here we go...Jesus gave us HIS Heavenly Armor, HE gave us HIS HOLY SPIRIT! We should gear up with our full armor each and every day because we are on a battle field (planet earth) whether we like it or not. The more we BELIEVE the Word of God, the stronger our armor becomes. Do we BELIEVE what God has told us? Do we BELIEVE that if we RESIST the devil, he MUST FLEE? Do we BELIEVE that our hearts have to be protected and guarded by God’s Righteousness which is only achieved through the shed blood of Jesus the Christ, who loved us more than LIFE itself? Do we BELIEVE that our FAITH can and WILL extinguish the FLAMING ARROWS of the enemy? What about our only offensive weapon, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God? When Jesus was confronted by the devil while fasting in the desert for 40 days, it was the Word of God that He used as a sword, a WEAPON against the enemy attacks.
Okay, we’re talking about the Spiritual Battle, but you may be thinking, yea, but what would we do in a situation with an active shooter? Is the Word of God able to stop a literal bullet? I don’t know, but if I found myself in that situation, I would sure be PRAYING for PROTECTION! Praying, running and hiding! I never discount the awesome power of God. But you may say, what about that church shooting a couple of years ago? Those people were in CHURCH, praying and WORSHIPING, and EVIL entered the church and gunned them down. Yes, I know, and I don’t fully understand why God allows some of His Children to be killed or to be physically harmed. I don’t have all of the answers. I believe that God really does use ALL THINGS together for the good of those who Love Him and are called according to His purposes. Without understanding the Rescue plan of God, we would NEVER have thought the death of Jesus on the Cross was a “good thing”. We have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways, His Ways are Higher. Even when He allows bad things to happen to “good people”, He always brings good out of it somehow or other. The enemy says “never let’s a crisis go to waste”….neither does God. God uses EVERY crisis to draw hearts to His Son, for the Salvation of souls, to bless people even in the midst of terror, fear, and anxiety.
One thing I can tell you is that those people who were killed in the Church shootings, in the Walmart in El Paso, TX, and in Dayton, Ohio, who truly BELIEVED in Jesus, are not dead, but they are ALIVE and WELL in a REAL and LITERAL PLACE place that we call HEAVEN. This is a beautiful place with mountains and rivers and valleys and blue sky and trees and grass and oceans and PEOPLE, lots of PEOPLE (without being crowded)! I’ve even heard ANIMALS live in Heaven, and I believe this…especially because in Isaiah 45, we see the wolf lying down with the lamb in the Millennial Kingdom. God loves animals, so I have no doubt that they are in Heaven too, but the nature of wild animals is different. Nothing will HARM on God’s HOLY MOUNTAIN (KINGDOM). Also, this is the place where our very much ALIVE LORD and SAVIOR LIVES….Jesus the Christ.
In the meantime, we are probably going to see more horrible things transpire on this EARTH as we draw closer and closer to the end of the age. and the RETURN of Jesus Christ. Actually, this is prophesied to happen. Rest assured, even though it may not feel like it today, evil is currently RESTRAINED on this earth. Once the Great Tribulation begins (aka the time of Jacob’s trouble), God will REMOVE His Hand of Restraint, and then “all hell” will literally break loose. I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping and believing that those of us who put our HOPE and TRUST in Jesus Christ WILL NOT be here for that! God has a plan to REMOVE His people because HE has NOT appointed us to WRATH! But that doesn’t mean that we won’t have trials and troubles on this earth UNTIL that day, because we will.
Until the time of Jesus’ return, evil will continue to grow and grow on this earth, but each day brings us closer and closer to that Blessed Hope. Also, we know that Jesus tells His people that HE will NEVER leave or forsake us. Jesus is WITH us in the storms of life! And, according to His Will, Jesus can and does protect His people from even the PHYSICAL STORMS of life. When we cry out to Him, He hears us and He answers us! Stand on the Promises of Jesus! I discovered this Psalm about 11 years ago, during my severe bout with the Swine Flu in 2008. That Pandemic flu nearly killed me, but I TRULY believe that it was the MERCY of God that kept me alive for such a time as this. I cling to God’s promises as “a baby clings to a blanket”. I remember sitting on my couch with 104 degree temperature trying to memorize this psalm. It’s the protection Psalm, and a VERY good psalm to memorize. Try making it personal and specific to yourself…Try also replacing the personal pronouns with your name. I did this in the example below with my name (tfj) and my personal pronouns. https://dyingworld.org/2019/04/29/who-do-we-trust-in-the-storm/
He (she) who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you (me) from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you (me) with His pinions,
And under His wings you (I) may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
5 You (I) will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your (my) side
And ten thousand at your (my) right hand,
But it shall not approach you (me).
8 You (I) will only look on with your (my) eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 For you (I) have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your (my) dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you (me),
Nor will any plague come near your (my) tent.
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you (ME),
To guard you (ME) in all your (MY) ways.
12 They will bear you (me) up in their hands,
That you (I) do not strike your (my) foot against a stone.
13 You (I) will tread upon the lion and cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you (I) will trample down.
14 “Because he (TFJ) has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him (her);
I will set him (her) securely on high, because he (she) has known My name.
15 “He (she) will call upon Me, and I will answer him (her);
I will be with him (her) in trouble;
I will rescue him (her) and honor him (her).
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him (her)
And let him (her) see My salvation.” (the Hebrew word for salvation is YESHUA…the Name of Jesus)…so this could read “Let him (her) see my YESHUA”.
Evil will continue to batter this earth until Jesus returns and rescues His people; however, He is with us. Jesus has clothed us with HIS DIVINE ARMOR, He has granted us the ability to come to Him in prayer, praise, and worship, He sends protection from His Throneroom, and He uses all things, even bad things, to bring about His perfect Will…so that more will be SAVED. Visualize your prayers opening portals to Heaven, and through those Portals, Angels come streaming down at Light Speed to your rescue (Psalm 91:11). I believe that our prayers to THE FATHER in the NAME OF JESUS strengthen our Angels, who are battling the demons and fallen angels ON OUR BEHALF in the UNSEEN SPIRITUAL REALMS.
Praying for all those who have been wounded, frightened, and are mourning the loss of friends and loved ones in these horrific attacks! Trust in JESUS! God is still on the Throne, and NONE of this takes HIM by surprise!