Imagine that you are a small business owner working in your store when you here the sound of a large angry mob approaching. As they get closer, you can hear them smashing windows and destroying property. You look out the window and see the mob looting stores and setting them on fire. They are awfully close to your store. You call the police to get help, but the operator tells you that there is nothing that they can do. You become angry because you are scared and tell the operator that you are a tax paying citizen, and a respectable business owner who demands protection from law enforcement. The operator is sympathetic, but informs you that the police have been prohibited by the city officials in interfering in lawful non-violent protests. You respond by screaming that this is not a protest, but a riot. The mob is looting and setting fires, and your next in line. Again, the operator apologizes, but the city officials have made their decision, and nothing can be done. Before ending the call, the operator warns you to leave your store and to not challenge the protestors?, because that might incite violence. You leave your store just in time, as the protestors? break all your windows, take your merchandise, and leave but not before setting your store on fire. On July 15th, approximately 150 people marched through the streets of Seattle, smashing windows and looting stores. They then started fires in the streets and in the stores. Frightened business owners called the police but were told that the police would not respond. The mayor and city officials had ordered the police to stand down. Events like these are happening throughout the country and have caused the nation to fall into a state of chaos.
Anyone living in the U.S. is aware of the recent events that have changed the way of life for everyone living in the country. Regardless of your political, religious, or social belief; life has changed for you. The protests and riots against the death of George Floyd, who was killed while being restrained by a police officer, began on May 26th. Since then, the world has been turned upside down. Riots and anarchy have taken place in every major city in the nation and even in major cities of other nations. Civil unrest and riots have occurred before in our nation, but the difference is that never have the authorities lost control of large parts of the city, unable or unwilling to control the situation. This has put fear into the hearts of every citizen realizing that the police and government authorities cannot guarantee their safety. We can even go one step further and say that the authorities in many instances refused to respond to the violent mobs that destroyed, looted, and burned public and private property. The elected officials ordered the police to stand down and allow the violent mobs to riot, loot, and burn parts of the city. In Minneapolis and Seattle, the politicians ordered police stations to be abandoned to the rioting groups. Seattle even allowed a group of activists to take over a six square block area of the city for several weeks. The city Mayor gave her approval to the takeover, flippantly calling it, “a summer of love,” and “a giant block party.” In addition to attacks on civil authorities, stores, and businesses; there have been attacks on churches, religious statues, and the burning of Bibles.
The situation is much worse than portrayed in the previous paragraph. The situation at hand has been declining for years. The degradation of the nation has been in progress for decades, if not the past century. There have been forces at work to not only bring down our nation, but ultimately to destroy the Christian Church. This is the focus of this article, which is how Christians should view this crisis. Which is that they should view and understand the situation through a biblical lens. That is, we must view it through the teachings and wisdom of Scripture. As we begin to place the current situation into a biblical perspective, we can categorize it by the effect it has caused, which is “Chaos and Disorder.” A biblical definition of chaos is: “that it describes the state of disorder that would exist in the absence of a divinely imposed order of the cosmos. It is complete disorder and confusion.” Throughout scripture we see chaos resulting as a movement away from God’s commandments. God’s rule brings order to the cosmos, while rebellion brings disorder.
The teachings and wisdom of Scripture give us enlightenment on the current situation and for the origins of chaos in the world. They help us to understand what, how, and why this is happening. Let us begin by answering the question of Who? You have probably figured out that it is the fellow in the figure to the right, standing behind the globe. He and his numerous minions are indeed the ones manipulating the persons and groups responsible for the destruction. Since the time of the creation of mankind, Satan has attempted to overthrow God and place himself on God’s throne. His tactic is to use deception to cause confusion and chaos. In the Garden of Eden he deceived Eve into disobeying God’s commands by convincing her that she could become like God. Since then he has continued his efforts to corrupt God’s creation.
Let’s examine a few verses of Scripture to understand the teachings of the Prophet Isaiah, the Apostle Paul, and the Apostle John. The teachings that they gave in their time are universal and are applicable to every age. We begin with a verse from the book of Isaiah: (Isa. 5:20)
“How terrible it will be for those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness.”
The Prophet Isaiah is one of the prophets that God called to warn the Israelites of the coming judgment if they do not repent for breaking the covenant by worshipping idols and abandoning the commandments of God. God had been patient with the people and attempted several times to warn them, but they kept on with their evil deeds. In this verse, God is calling them out for their rejection of the prophets, the denial of God’s word, and for their method of justifying their actions. They accomplished this by claiming that the evil they committed was good, and that God’s righteous commandments were evil. People were then able to participate in lawlessness, immorality, and deception. The nation turned from being a light of God’s goodness, to being a nation covered in darkness. A few verses later, (5:24-25), God describes His anger and punishment on them. This was realized when the Assyrians conquered the Northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, then the Southern Kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed and the people were taken into captivity.
The Apostle John relays the teaching of Christ on the character of our enemy, Satan. (John 8:44):
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
In this passage, Jesus rebukes the Jews who opposed Him because He knew that they were seeking his death. He calls them children of their father, the devil, and that they are like him in wanting to do his will; which was murder. Christ gives a description of Satan’s character, which gives us insight into how he operates. He is the greatest of liars and deception is his tool of choice. That is the instrument that he used to convince the Israelites in the time of Isaiah to turn from God’s truth to falsehoods which make evil appear to be good. It is the same method he is using to deceive the masses to despise the Word of God and embrace the false beliefs of the today’s culture; leading them to engage in violence, riots, and murder. Like the Israelites before, they believe that they are doing good works, when in reality they are engaged in the works of the great deceiver, the devil.
The next verse is from the Apostle Paul, His instruction gives believers an understanding of the warfare that exists in the spiritual realm. The warfare that is not visible to us, but is real and it directly impacts our world and our lives. Many people, including Christians, do not believe in the supernatural or in the existence of spiritual entities whether good angels or fallen ones. My response is that Scripture is clear about the existence of the spiritual, and Jesus taught greatly on His experiences with Satan and the demonic realm. To deny this reality is to deny the teachings of Christ. We must therefore take seriously Paul’s teaching that our enemy and our warfare is against demonic powers which are on a cosmic level, beyond the scope of ordinary human efforts.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11-12)
Ephesians 6:10-20 is known as the Whole Armor of God teaching. Paul is teaching Christians the need to equip themselves with spiritual weapons and protection because they are actively involved in warfare with evil spiritual forces that possess a greater level of power and knowledge. My point in the use of this verse is to show that the powers behind the global strife, violence, and disorder are of a cosmic level.
Let’s combine all the teachings of these verses to answer the questions of what, how, why, and who. We’ve already answered the question of who, so let’s begin with what.
What?- There is an outbreak of lawlessness and disorder which is different from prior events because government leaders and agencies seem to be allowing and even directing these events. This is best explained by Dwight J. Pentecost in his book Your Adversary, The Devil: “When those in high office say that it is ridiculous to expect a man to obey a law that he does not like, they are advocating lawlessness. And when one whose office it is to uphold law and order advocates rebellion because the law does not suit him, he is promoting Satan’s great purpose in the world today, to destroy nations by producing lawlessness.”
How?- From John 8:44, we learn that the author of the schemes and tactics for the manipulation of the persons involved in the chaos, is the father of deception. His doctrines of lies have lead masses of people to deny God’s truth and believe that the evil that they commit is actually for some good purpose. Those who are not grounded in God’s truth are easily deceived by the forces of darkness. Even believers who are not protected by the Armor of God cannot stand against these spiritual powers. These powers are usually restrained by the sovereignty of God, but in times of judgment, God lifts His restraining power to allow these forces to commit their lawlessness: “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way,” (2Thes. 2:7).
Why?- As in the time of the prophets like Isaiah, God brings His judgment on the people for rejecting His rule and commandments. The people engaged in idolatry and worshipped other Gods. In our situation God has lifted His hand that restrains evil and released judgment on His world. Biblical history shows that out of the chaos of judgment comes renewal. The Church has suffered great declines in membership. Seventy-percent of the youth leave the church soon after high school. False teaching in the church has increased dramatically in recent years. It is time for renewal, but judgment must first take its course.
The extent and nature of evil is not properly understood by many Christians and it is discredited by unbelievers. Scripture affirms the reality of evil and its power in the world. George E. Ladd does a brilliant job explaining this reality in his book, The Presence of the Future:
“A second basic element in this theology of the Kingdom of God is the radical nature of evil. God is the Lord of history; but there are hostile elements, opposing forces which seek to frustrate God’s rule. It is not the biblical view that, as John Bright says, all history moves toward the Kingdom of God. There are demonic forces manifest in history and in human experience which move against the Kingdom of God. Evil is not merely absence of the good, nor is it a stage in man’s upward development; it is a terrible enemy of human well-being and will never be outgrown or abandoned until God has mightily intervened to purge evil from the earth. Jesus did not expect men to overcome evil by their own power. Nor did he conceive of a gradual conquest of evil by processes immanent within historical and societal experience. It is significant that Jesus said nothing about building the Kingdom or of his disciples bringing in the Kingdom—both being expressions which have been popular in modern theology. Evil is so radical that it can be overcome only by the mighty intervention of God. Furthermore, evil is greater than man. Evil is not found alone within the spirit of man who has rebelled against God. Neither can it be identified with the material character of the physical world in contrast to the world of spiritual reality. Evil is implicitly recognized to have societal character. This age, as long as it lasts, will be characterized by wars, international conflict, even family strife. Organized society reflects an evil character. Even religion can be hostile to the Kingdom of God (Mark 13:9). History will witness a continuing conflict between God’s Kingdom and the realm of evil; and in this conflict, men in general and the disciples of the Kingdom in particular will be called upon to suffer. In fact, they may expect opposition and suffering to be their normal experience. This is the meaning of the demonic nature of evil. Jesus attributed many of the evils which plagued men to a superhuman personality, called Satan, Devil, and Beelzebub.”
After the World War II, there was a revival of Christianity throughout the world. Leaders rose up, such as Billy Graham, and they took to the road bringing the gospel to filled stadiums in many nations. People were hungering for the word of God to fill their lives. Contrast that time with now; the streets are filled with people—burning and looting. They are not looking for God, they have rejected God’s commandments and are subject to the deception of the forces of evil. Their works of destruction are proof of that. But it is also evidence to the world that God’s rule brings order and we pray that He returns His restraining power on this evil. The continuing conflict between the Kingdoms of God and of Satan will bring chaos and disorder. We cannot battle against the forces of evil in our own power we must rely on God’s intervention on our behalf. We should expect to engage these evil forces and suffer hardships as did all of the Apostles. Let’s not become soft and pampered Christians seeking only prosperity. We are servants of Christ and we need to hold our ground against the powers of darkness. Christians should not fear this time of trial but should have faith in the good will of God to protect those that are His. In His past judgments, God has used oppression to raise Godly men and women to lead people to oppose the spiritual forces of evil. We need to stand fast in the truths of Scripture so that we are not misled by Satan’s deceptions.
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle,” (2 Thes. 2:15).
Chaos and Disorder II: Common Grace is now available!