By Gil Afriat
The Bible is clear that God will judge the earth in the end times and that His judgments begin with His household (1 Peter 4:17). Judgement is a word that makes most cringe, but in God’s economy, judgment is an act of grace to remove the things in and around us that hinder His love. In the beginning of the pandemic last year, I felt one of the things that God was doing through this global shaking was to wake up sleeping believers and to cause complacent non-believers to seek Him. I still believe that continues to be an essential part of God’s plan through this pandemic. Throughout the trials and difficulties of the covid crisis, we have seen believers growing in spiritual maturity and committment in our congregation. We have also seen an unprecedented number of Israelis reaching out to us online seeking information about Yeshua. Praise God!
God is now taking things to a deeper level: as this pandemic crisis continues, causing turmoil in the physical, emotional, economic and political realms worldwide, God’s judgement has been exposing weakness and darkness in the corporate Body of Messiah so that we can repent, be sanctified and become the spotless Bride He is calling us to be. The goal is glorious, but the process is painful.
One of the great shakings of this pandemic has been political instability around the world as governments struggle to deal with the challenges of the pandemic, particularly in democratic countries. In the United States, the 2020 presidential elections were possibly the most contentious, divisive elections in that nation’s history, and people around the world closely followed the tumultuous unfolding of the elections and their fallout. On November 8th, just five days after the election, Ron Cantor, our friend and elder at Tiferet Yeshua, publicly shared a word about the election on his Facebook page: Ron felt the Lord speak to him that the election would go to democratic candidate Joe Biden largely because of the idolatry on the part of many believers toward Donald Trump. (You can read Ron’s full word here). In response, Ron received a barrage of vicious attacks from professing Christians, some even cursing him and telling him to go to hell. At that time, Ron was the only public voice not prophesying a victory for Trump, which is what all the public platform prophets were doing.
On January 7th, Jeremiah Johnson, one of those voices which had been prophesying victory for Donald Trump, posted a public apology for inaccurately prophesying a second Trump term (You can read Johnson’s apology here). Though he expected a backlash, Johnson said he never could have imagined the attack that came his way in response. On his Facebook page Johnson shared the following:
“Over the last 72 hours, I have received multiple death threats and thousands upon thousands of emails from Christians saying the nastiest and most vulgar things I have ever heard toward my family and ministry. I have been labeled a coward, sellout, a traitor to the Holy Spirit, and cussed out at least 500 times. We have lost ministry partners every hour and counting.” (for the full post)
I share these stories only to highlight the exposure the Lord is causing to these things in all of us. We asked a family member of ours living in the US how things felt there after all the turmoil and violence surrounding the elections, and he said one verse has been going though his mind a lot recently: the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12) I firmly believe that God is calling all of us to take a long hard look at ourselves instead of pointing the finger at others, and to look at where our hearts, thoughts, and speech are reflecting the world’s values rather than God’s, whether it be in our daily lives or how we express ourselves on social media. Where have we allowed our love to grow cold?
Another end-time warning from Matthew is 24:10-11 God has put on my heart during this season:
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
This verse talks about brothers in the faith betraying one another and hating one another. No, I do not think that what we have seen in this last season is the full end-time fulfillment of this verse. However, seeing brothers in the faith hatefully attacking each other over perceived “loyalty” to a political leader or to the “words of the prophets” is troubling and should be a wake-up call to us all.
The Love Litmus Test
The Word of God is clear about the standard:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
But what about Matthew 22:39 where Yeshua already stated that to love our neighbor as ourselves is the second great command? Actually, Yeshua’s command to His disciples in John 13 is different because He is setting a new standard for love: His selfless and sacrificial love is the standard. For the perfect list of the qualities of Yeshua’s love, we should study 1 Corinthians 13. We should make it our litmus test!
It may seem like an impossible task, and it is if we try to do it in our own strength. We can succeed to love others the way He loves us only if we receive, comprehend and experience God’s unending love for us and His unending grace for our mistakes and failures. When we internalize that, His kind of love will naturally flow out of us. And we will show love to more than our brothers and sisters in the faith; we will love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44) That is real spiritual warfare!
I have hope and faith God is doing something great in His Body in this season, that God is cleansing us from the ways of the world, and that we will see the Bride rising up in love and holiness to be a witness to a world that is growing darker and more confused by the day.