By John Fulton
Jenny wrote these past few weeks about church hurts, about how we suffered at the hands of our former pastor, about our journey of recovery just begun.
Over the course of those weeks, we heard from so many who themselves had been hurt by the church, attacked by pastors and preachers – so many who had sought comfort and protection within the bounds of hallowed halls only to find anguish and strife and pain. But how can this be? How can God Almighty allow these hooligans to patrol His halls, ascend His pulpits, and preach Him?
Some will say, “Well, we’re all just sinners,” and excuse away the behavior. But the phrase, “just a sinner” should be anathema to us as Christians. We are to be Holy as He is Holy and God throughout the Old and New Testament did not look highly on bad leaders. Jesus did not excuse away the behavior of the Pharisees and Sadducees as the behavior of “just sinners” who could do no better. He expected better of them; He expected them to lead His people rightly; as should we.
To see them as just sinners, to proclaim them as Good (God is Good, Good is God) men who just have some bad traits is a cop-out. It is an easy way to not deal with the harsher reality that for now the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan are intimately intertwined and at war with each other. As in any war, agents are sent behind enemy lines, dressed up as one of the good guys and raised as an insider threat to tear down the nation of the enemy from within.
We must understand that the place to find Satan and his operatives is not in the world, but within the confines of the church itself. The world is already doing Satan’s bidding, so he need not waste his time and his best operatives there. Instead, he places them in Yahweh’s church to tear down and destroy; to rise to the highest possible levels to gather intel on what his enemy (Yahweh) is up to.
Every worldly country knows that you need spies to win wars. Good spies look and sound just like the nation they are to infiltrate; they are charismatic and well-liked. And they are looking to climb to the top – to get into the inner sanctum of the enemy to learn what they are doing.
Remember, oh Christian, Satan has been cast out of heaven and he knows his time is short. He is enraged and seeks to wage war upon the saints. But he is limited in time and space and cannot be everywhere at once. He needs spies in his enemy’s camp in order to wage effective war. He needs spies that will appear innocent as doves but be wise serpents.
Does this seem crazy to you, oh child of the Most High? Does this seem wacky to you, oh pastor of His flock? Well, it shouldn’t. Do you not understand, oh pastor, that you are God’s general meant to equip His people to go out into the world as insider threats where they are to be innocent as doves and wise as serpents? Do you not understand, oh Christian, that Jesus is your king – your king – and He has a mission for you: to help destroy His enemy, to help save those who have ears to hear, and to become wise and discerning so that you might detect the enemy within and reveal them for what they are.
I began to understand all this when I was struck by Revelation 13:18. “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.”
It is important to understand this number as six hundred and sixty-six and not six, six, six; for the number describes the dragon, Satan (600); giving life to the first Beast (60); who gives life to a second beast (6). Each has less power than the one before, so each is described as a number with one less zero, but each is still a 6.
But what is so significant about a 6? Well, let’s start with 7, the number of shalom, the number of completeness, the number of God. Then let us understand that although we have no problem with a number like 3.1415926…, the ancients had no such conceptions, and in the Bible, the smallest number thought of is a tenth.
Six is significant because in a society that thought in terms of whole numbers, 6 was as close to 7 as you could get without being 7. Yes, you could argue 8 is equally close, but it is beyond 7. It is the number of new beginnings, and to describe Satan and his progeny as new beginnings makes no sense.
Six is significant because Satan and his progeny are as close to God as possible without being God. They look good, sound good, seem good, but they are not Good, and surrounding them will be red flags, misgivings in our soul. Remember, when the shimmery, iridescent one (translated snake) visited Eve (he looked quite beautiful), there was the red flag in her soul that reminded her that God said “they should not eat of the tree”.
Six is significant, for God is warning us that evil in its most potent form looks and acts good. But it is not a 7, so it can only keep up the act for periods of a time before its true colors come shining through.
We must understand the parallelisms in chapters twelve and thirteen of Revelation. In twelve, the Holy Spirit; and yes, Mary; whom was overshadowed, give birth to Jesus, the Christ to whom God the Father gives power and authority and dominion. Upon Jesus’ departure, He said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” For this was what he himself had been Christed, Messiahed, Annointed to do in Israel. Thus, Christ commissioned the disciples and those who would be their disciples (us) to be as christs, and gave us power and authority and dominion. We worship God and the Risen Lord Jesus our king and the Holy Spirit, and we know that no one can overcome them. We know that we have overcome, because we cling to them and receive life from them.
In Revelation chapter thirteen, the dragon (Satan) gives birth to the Beast of the sea. This Beast appeared to have a fatal wound but now lives (a false resurrection). Satan gave this Beast power and authority and dominion, just as God gave Christ. Just like Christ, those who follow this Beast are amazed by him and do not believe he can be overcome. Both the Beast and Jesus wage war with a sharp, two-edged sword. This sword is in their mouths, for it is their words, their preaching, their logic. One wages war on those who blaspheme God and build up those who love God. The other wages war on those who love God, while blaspheming His name and building up those who deny God.
Both Christ and the Beast are perceived as great leaders of the faith; one truly is, one falsely is. Both use their words and minds and logic to wage war. Both cause many of every nation and tribe and tongue to worship them and their head (God or Satan). Those who have ears to hear, hear the Lamb and are saved. Those who have ears, but do not hear are held captive by the words of the Beast and are eventually slain.
From the greater Beast comes the lesser beast. Just as Christ commissioned many christs to continue the fight, the greater Beast commissions many lesser beasts to continue the fight. Like the apostles, these lesser beasts follow the teachings of their master and cause the world to worship the Beast and by proxy Satan. They deceive many through preaching the wisdom and words and logic of their master and cause many to give up their life energy in service to the Beast instead of receiving life from God.
Every church leader is either a lesser christ building up the flock of God while slaying evil with the sword of their mouth, or a lesser beast slaying the flock of God while building up the disobedient. One is a 7 – the pure reflection of God. One is a 6 – oh so good looking, yet false.
Both stand upon pulpits on Sunday. Both claim to proclaim the Most High. Both use His Bible and His Word. Both claim His authority. Therefore, those who have ears to hear, hear. If you find yourself under a pastor who raises red flags, who is a “good” man with lots of bad behaviors, who you justify as “just a sinner,” be careful, lest you be one destined for destruction, slain by the Word as you give life to the beast and by your support cause others to worship the beast. Be careful lest your words and actions and deeds declare to many, “who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war with him?”
Paul has this to say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.”
Moses was sent into the heart of Pharoah’s court to be raised as a child in the citadel of evil, for he would need that knowledge to lead God’s people. Jesus was sent into the desert to be afflicted by Satan. Paul was afflicted ‘so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction’. I myself stand fully convinced with a clear conscience that I was sent under the leadership of the Pastor so that I might learn how a 6 operates and looks; so that I might be humbled in my own way; so that I might be able to comfort those who are similarly afflicted. When the time was right God pulled the eject handle and we fled. Just like the Israelites, we were held bondage in Egypt till the proper time to flee.
If you find yourself under a 7, rejoice! But do not forget your duty for your King! If you find yourself under a 6, before you flee, seek God in prayer. Has he sent you there for a reason? Are you afflicted so that at a later time you too might be able ‘to comfort those who are in any affliction.’ If so, may we agree with Paul again, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” May we rejoice for that which is upon us is God working to turn us into those who can help His people far more exceedingly than in our present state.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 2 Co 1:3–7.