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Spiritual Warfare in the End Times

18 Mar
slander

from Google Images

In the final chapter of his epistle, James addressed the troublemakers, the false teachers that had arisen and divided the churches. He foretold their judgment (James 5:1), because they held back what they could have offered to help their brethren (James 5:2-3). James implied that these false teachers worshiped among the brethren for some time, because he claims they held back the “hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields.” In other words, they had been helped by true leaders of the churches. Their lives were better, because of the Gospel that was preached to them, yet they held back the “wages” of those who labored on their behalf (James 5:4-5), and not only so, but they had lifted up their voices against the very ones who had labored to make their lives better (James 5:6).

Using encrypted language, James says the false teachers had condemned and killed the just (or the true leaders of the churches) and they have not resisted. That is, they have not responded in kind, but had prayed to the Lord (cf. Jude 1:8-9). While the false teachers slandered the true leaders of the churches (cf. James 4:7 where devil really means slanderer—then compare this with Jude 1:8). The leaders that God had set up in the churches didn’t respond in kind, but prayed that God would rebuke the evil workers, knowing the Lord is the true Ruler (Jude 1:9)

James then turned to the brethren for the remainder of his letter, advising them to be patient, because the coming of the Lord was drawing near. Many folks misunderstand the term “coming of the Lord,” believing every reference concerns Jesus’ return to this earth, but clearly the Scriptures show otherwise. James referred to the time when Jesus would take the reins of governing this world away from Satan. This coming refers to Jesus’ coming to the heavens where the Messiah rules. This is where those of us who die will go to be with him (1Corinthians 15:51-52; 2Corinthians 5:8). Jesus spoke of his coming in the Olivet Prophecy and implied it would not be a visible event for those on earth. Indeed, he gave us a sign that would show us he is, indeed, in the heavens. That sign was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple (cf. Matthew 24:30).

James spoke of the time being short, which was a reference to John’s prophecy in James spoke of the time being short, which was a reference to John’s prophecy in Revelation 13:5-8. The false prophet or mouth of the beast had 42 months (3 ½ years) to perform all his wicked deeds against the Messianic believers before the coming of the Lord. This represents Annas’ final attempt to destroy the Messianic faith, and it ended with his being murdered at the very beginning of the Jewish war with Rome,[1] which itself resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, an event the Lord had told Annas he would live to see (Matthew 26:64).

Therefore, James encouraged the brethren to be patient and wait for the maturity of the fruit (good or evil), which will be reaped (judged) at the Lord’s coming (James 5:7-8). Murmuring against others must not be done, because this would cause the persecuted to partake of the coming judgment (James 5:9). Indeed, the record of Scripture shows that those who have endured trouble rejoiced in the end, though they had to go through great difficulty (James 5:10-11). Troubling times require us to guard our tongues. On the one hand, we should not complain or murmur, which are passive methods of striking out at those who hurt us. On the other hand we should not make hasty promises attesting to our own veracity in order to secure our needs (James 5:12). God is trustworthy. He will both protect us and provide for us, but patience is the fruit of the Spirit we need to cultivate for such matters.

What, then, can we actually do during troubling times? Pray! James tells us that prayer will relieve affliction, and the prayer of the righteous will even heal our diseases, even bring forgiveness if it was sin that caused the disease (James 5:13-16). Prayer is powerful. James’ advise implies a contrast between two prophets (James 5:17-18). Elijah was accused of troubling Israel (1Kings 18:17), because he prayed and there was no rain for 3 ½ years. Similarly, the false prophet was to trouble the saints for 42 months (3 ½ years) before he was judged by God (Revelation 13:5-10). Prayer was the key to the power of God during Elijah’s ministry, and prayer would be the key to his power during the days of the false prophet, Annas, the High Priest in Jerusalem. If through prayer one would convert anyone who had been taken in by Annas’ false teaching, that one would be responsible not only for saving his brother from death but covering a host of sins (James 5:19-20; cf. Jude 1:22-23). Truly God is interested in saving all and not letting anyone needlessly perish (2Peter 3:9).

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[1] Josephus; Wars of the Jews, 2.17.8-9.

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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Gospel

 

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