Phoenix Bird


By James Duffee

This is a question that many Christians are beginning to ask themselves, especially as the threat of the Apocalypse, tyranny, communism, and other disasters [in the beginning it was Y2K] draw near. The thought of riots, looting and other civil unrest causes Christians to wonder if they should simply "turn the other cheek" or resist violence with violence. The common teaching in the vast majority of churches is that Christians are to be meek and gentle, but is that really what God expects of us?

This passage is the basis for the "passivist" teachings in today's churches, and of course, this is Christ's instruction for His followers. There are also the familiar "love thy neighbor" and "pray for your enemies" verses, all of which appear to teach passivism as a way of life. As with any other doctrine, though, it is necessary to learn what all of Scripture has to say, not just a few isolated verses.

In order to understand how we, as Christians, should react to "End Times" events, we must study what Scripture has to say about this time period. We must also be aware of just who we are as God's people.

In this passage, Paul refers to the nation of Israel as the "natural" olive tree, and gentiles (everyone other than Israelites) as the "wild" olive tree. He makes the point that any Israelite who does not accept Christ is "cut off" from the natural tree, while any gentile who does accept Christ is grafted into the natural tree. In the same manner, an Israelite who accepts Christ is grafted back into the natural tree. So what does this mean for Christians? Quite simply, it means that Christians - no matter what their physical ancestry may be - are now part of the "natural olive tree". Christians are the new "spiritual Israel".

This is confirmed in the fact that Christ is said to be our new Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). Under the Old Covenant, anyone could become an "Israelite" (regardless of race or nationality) by partaking of the Passover and be "as one born in the land" (Exodus 12:48). Having become as one born in the land through faith in Christ, we can look at God's instructions for the nation of Israel and apply them to ourselves. As new Israelites, we should also realize that End Time prophecies concerning Israel quite often refer to spiritual Israel, not just the nation of Israel. Looking at a few of these prophecies, we can see that God has something other than passivism in mind for His people. For example:

Edom was a traditional enemy of the nation of Israel. They were the descendants of Esau, Jacob's brother and usually treated Israel very harshly. Ezekiel 25 is a chapter dealing with End Times, and here God says that His vengeance upon Edom will be exacted by the hand of His people, and the people of Dedan (a major city in Edom) would fall by the sword. In prophetic symbolism, Edom can be seen to represent the enemies of God's people - the enemies of Christians.

Looking back to the history of Israel, we see something quite the opposite of passivism. From the Exodus of the Israelites to Samson, to David and beyond, we see obvious examples of individuals and the nation waging war against the enemies of God. The name "Israel" itself means "soldier of God" in Hebrew. As "spiritual Israel", Christians are now the soldiers of God, waging war against His enemies.

Turning to the New Testament, we can see further examples of the fact that God does not expect us to turn the other cheek in every situation.

Oddly enough, this is another passage used by many church leaders to teach a passivist version of Christianity. Please notice, though, that Peter had a sword. The disciples didn't know this would be a dangerous night, so it is clear that Peter routinely carried a weapon. Not once in the New Testament do we see Christ admonish Peter or anyone else for this. In the passage above, it is also obvious that Christ did not rebuke Peter for striking the man. He simply explained to Peter that those things which were happening had to happen.

Here Christ says quite plainly that if His kingdom were of this world, His people would fight for Him. Then He says "but now" (at that time) His kingdom was not of this world. But would there ever be a time when His kingdom could be considered to be of this world?

The kingdom of God is not something that will be coming in the future, it is already here. Faith in Christ as our Passover makes Christians part of the kingdom of God on this earth. Christ told Pilate when the time came that His kingdom was here in this world, His people would fight for Him. So why are we told to "resist not evil" and turn the other cheek?

Quite simply, there is a tremendous difference between fighting for ourselves and fighting for the kingdom of God. We are told to love OUR enemies, but not once are we told to love GOD'S enemies. So the question becomes "who and what are we fighting for?" Are we fighting for our own purposes, or are we fighting in defense of God's kingdom - His people? Virtually every "End Times" prophecy indicates that we will, in fact, be fighting for the kingdom of God. We will be fighting God's enemies, and we are told to wage war against them in a rather merciless fashion.

The book of Revelation tells us that "Babylon" is another symbolic name for the enemies of God's people in the final days. There are two prophecies in Scripture that tell us how we are expected deal with Babylon:

Jeremiah tells us to surround Babylon and spare no arrows (vs. 14). In terms of modern warfare, we can read that as "all those who carry guns, shoot at her, spare no bullets". In Revelation John tells us to inflict Babylon with torment and sorrow; to give "her" a double, double portion of what she has given Christians. So are Christians expected to be passivists during the End Times? Obviously not.

Next in this series: "Self Defense - Instructions From the Bible"