What Ever Happened To Matthew 24?
On Your Walls O Jerusalem I Have Appointed Watchmen; All Day And All Night they Will Never Keep Silent. You Who Remind the Lord Take No Rest For Yourselves (Isaiah 62:8).
The prophetic watchman of Jerusalem and Judah, then and now
It was Isaiah who first prophesied God would raise up watchman concerning the forthcoming events in the history of the Hebrews generally, and their country Judah specifically, with special reference to their capital Jerusalem, where the Temple and Holy Ark were located - God's presence with them. As the events prophetically predicted by Isaiah unfolded we indeed see God calling the Prophet Ezekiel as the definitive watchman in the scriptural usage of the word (Ezekiel 3:17, 33:7), and it is Ezekiel that biblically most demonstrates what a watchman is and what he does.
But first we must note that it is not a term found in the New Testament, it firstly was an office for the ancient Hebrews. Therefore, although there are without doubt those functioning as 'watchmen' in the church, in order to grasp their raison d'etre we must first grasp their Old Testament nature exemplified in Ezekiel (the only individual specifically called a 'watchman'). We need to understand some of the differences between Old and New Testament prophets (which despite the license that cessationists effectively issue themselves to pronounce passages of scripture not to their liking null and void, still do exist in the church - eg. 1 Corinthians 12:29 & 14:32).
One difference is not that Old Testament prophets had to be always right (Deuteronomy 18: 20-22), but since 'we prophesy in part', New Testament prophets could be part right and part wrong. Such perversions of 1 Corinthians 13 out of all reasonable context is the justification people in the Vineyard Movement invented to justify proven false prophets such as Mike Bickel, Paul Cain, Gerald Coates, and Rick Joyner to still be considered prophets after they made God's people trust in a lie (Jeremiah 28:15-17). There is nothing in the grammatical construction of the Greek text warranting such a wild concept and nothing in the context even in an English translation. Like their cessationist opposites, these too pervert the text.
A prime difference between Old and New Testament prophets is that to have a prophetic ministry today even to Israel (or to any nation) one must be a saved believer whether Jew or Gentile, there were no saved believers in the New Testament sense before the Messiah. Additionally, Corinthians tells us prophetic ministry can also be to the church, which did not exist as such in the Old Testament. New Testament prophecy moreover may be purely for exhortation, edification and consolation (1 Corinthians 14:3), and may but need not necessarily contain a 'watchman' element in the Old Testament sense. Israel's prophets warned and called the people back to the Torah in repentance as well as encouraging etc.
The most essential difference however is that Old Testament prophets wrote the canon of Old Covenant scripture as the Apostles wrote the New Testament. Even the Hebrew prophets warned and called the people back to the Law, and predicted on the basis of things written in the Hebrew canon before them (Daniel 9:2); but the entirety of the bible had not yet been written, so there was further doctrinal revelation. Now that the canon is complete there is no new doctrinal revelation (Revelation 22:18-19), only a clearer understanding in the Last Days of what is already in there (Daniel 12:4). As we read in the prologue of the Epistle To the Hebrews 1:1 'God in times long past spoke to the patriarchs in prophets in many ways, but in the Last Days He has spoken to us through His Son'. Thus any predictive prophetic ministry in the form of warning as in a 'watchman's' function will need not only be in character with the prophetic watchman of ancient Israel such as Ezekiel, but be in accord with what is already revealed in both the New Testament and in the Old Testament as the Old Covenant is interpreted and fulfilled in the New Testament revelation in and of Christ.
Looking at the biblical character and nature of watchmen however we see that so much of what is being promoted as 'Watchman Ministries' are actually the mere devices of men out of character with the biblical model. Again, in the bible as we saw with Ezekiel, the watchman ministry often had particular although not exclusive reference to Jerusalem and Judah. It is therefore no coincidence that the first major example of New Testament prophetic ministry was by Agabus specifically concerning the plight of the believers in Jerusalem and Judah (Acts11:27-30). As we note, when God commissioned the watchman, he was also to be an assayer of the people. Ezekiel called the people to repentance and denounced the lunacy and deceivers who misled the nation. Thus understood biblically any watchman in Jerusalem today will be in that character - calling the Jewish nation to repent and accept Yeshua as Messiah and warn against the lunatics and deceivers for which Jerusalem is a virtual magnet. Today however there are unscriptural organizations sucking large sums of mission support from Jewish and Arab evangelism and the local Israeli congregations refusing to preach Jesus in Jerusalem to His own people. These include 'Bridges For Peace' (when biblically there can be no peace without 'the Prince of Peace') and the so-called International Christian Embassy with its notorious history of infighting and heresy and in one case violence perpetrated against an Israeli Messianic Jew while he was preaching the gospel by the embassy's Jim Schutz and threats by embassy personal on another occasion, that included hostility towards believing Jewish children during their 'Feast of Tabernacles'. God's Word of course teaches the only Christian ambassadors in Jerusalem are those who preach Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and no other.
A major Christian magazine, itself known for its endorsement of hyper charismatic extremism, exposed Ruth Hefflin's group on the Mount of Olives who displayed footage of women with "miraculous gold dust in their hair". A metallurgical analysis however revealed it was plastic based stationery glitter. Hefflin's miracle gold was exposed as bogus. Yet her followers seem to claim a prophetic calling in Jerusalem! Perhaps the saddest excuse for a watchman in Jerusalem has become Lance Lambert who teamed up with the most extreme example of Toronto style 'charismania' ever captured on video in the person of Mahesh Chavada. The antics of shirtless people yodelling and swinging swords in church yelling 'Prepare For War' in a manifest sons style ritual was the most bizarre demonstration of charismatic chaos imaginable. Chavada has in the past been associated with the Christian Embassy ( who have imported a variety of heretics into Israel including Morris Cerullo), but despite the protestations of many of his friends, Mr. Lambert joined his colleague Chavada in the Cranbourne fiasco. Biblical watchmen in Jerusalem, as assayers of the people, tried to protect God's people from lunacy and deception. While Mr. Lambert is misrepresented as a watchman in Jerusalem, far from protecting God's people from deception and lunacy he in fact joins forces with it. Whatever Lance Lambert may be, he is certainly no watchman.
Israel and Jewish ministry are breeding grounds for every assortment of 'kooks' imaginable, including false watchmen. Genuine messianic bible teachers explaining the original Jewish context of the scriptures like Arnold Fruchtenbaum and Dwight Pryor must contend with the competition from proven heretics like Joseph B. Goode and Peter Michas (who deny the Tri-unity of the God Head as One God in Three Persons). They are heretics who are ignorant of Hebraics and Rabbinics, yet represent themselves as Messianic Bible Teachers teaching Hebrew Roots, and are likewise seen by their followers as watchmen, but aren't. Perhaps the most notorious false watchman of this category has been Michael Brown of the Brownsville Assembly of God clone of the Toronto deception in Pensacola. At a Jerusalem messianic conference several years ago Brown interpreted the national disaster of forest fires destroying nearly a quarter of Israel's reforested land as emblematic of 'God pouring out His Spirit'. Brown then had people up half the night awaiting a second Pentecost in Jerusalem! Nothing of course happened, and not surprisingly Brown wound up a 'watchman' in Pensacola.
Finally, watchman were most of all as Isaiah stipulated, 'to remind the Lord' of His covenant promises to Israel and give themselves no rest in the process. The Covenant promise of course is the New covenant promised to Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31). The emphasis of a real watchman in Jerusalem will always be prayer and intercession reminding the Lord of His promise to save Israel (Romans 11:25). Some of the counterfeit watchmen today are influenced by the 'identity movement' deceptions related to the myth of British Israelism, such as are propagated in Northern Ireland by Elim's Jim McConnell at Whitewell in Belfast. Such nonsense of course is void of any serious biblical or anthropological merit and in certain cases its proponents are clearly anti Semitic. As such, these 'would be' watchmen are given to the doctrinal errors of supercessionism or replacement theology and the hideous notions of such teachers of error as the late Charles Alexander (other more moderate reformed preachers like Charles Spurgeon affirmed the prophetic purposes of God for Israel and the Jews as did the Puritans). Therefore such people must automatically divorce 'watchman ministry' from its biblical context, which is first of all largely Judaic. This is simply not scriptural. Even when we apply the watchman ministry to the church, the same principles seen for example in Ezekiel must still apply or they cannot be legitimate watchmen.
The preachers who cried 'wolf!'
Another contemporary category of watchmen who are not watchmen is more painful to describe. These are not all necessarily wilful deceivers, false prophets, hyper charismatic lunatics, religious con artists, anti Semites, or heretics. On the contrary, most are sincere believers, genuine in their motives, and often people otherwise gifted for a valid ministry - which they should stick to instead of trying to play a role God has plainly not called them to fulfill. In the aftermath of the Y2K foolishness, we speak of course of 'The Preachers Who Cried Wolf'. These are true brethren who are naïve, lacking in discernment, and in certain areas deficient in spiritual wisdom and Christian maturity. Above all they proved themselves as not having the depth of doctrinal and theological grasp of scripture they imagined they did. I am not prepared to judge them or their motives. If their open folly was a matter of pride, ignorance, or just plain gullibility or some combination of these things I am not prepared to say. Yet, as we read in 1 Thessalonians, such crazy things created problems in the apostolic church at the close of the First century. This precise kind of foolishness continued throughout the church age from the Montanists at the close of the Second Century to Pope Sylvester's hollow parousia at the close of the 10th century when the second Julian millennium began, to the Munster Anabaptists at the close of the 16th century, to the Shakers at the close of the 18th Century, to the Millerites at the close of the 19th Century. Is it any surprise it has occurred again at the close of the 20th century? As Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones said; "If we fail to learn the lessons of church history we are doomed to repeat the errors". Thanks to the watchmen who are not watchmen, we have.
It is no coincidence that many of these 'self proclaimed instead of God ordained' watchmen, such as Morris Cerullo advocate Grant Jeffrey, similarly went with the Bible Codes absurdity, and other such groundless fads. The real problem however is not as much with the watchmen who are not watchmen, but with those who continue following these fads. Sadly, this fad-to-fad pattern exactly mimics the behavior of the people who still follow false prophets with failed prophetic predictions of Revival from Kansas City to Toronto to Pensacola (the latest is Wykoff, New Jersey and some little town in Missouri) even though they know they were wrong the last time (Jeremiah 5:30-31). Concerning things like Y2K, there is in the secular world a certain unstable and insecure personality type identified even by secular psychiatric medicine with an almost paranoid predisposition to conspiracy theories. They piece together odd bits of vaguely related data and conjecture a grand conspiracy theory which they become convinced is fact and it becomes their obsession to alert everyone. I do not hold much belief in secular psychology, but this is indeed a compulsive disorder. This is not to belittle the kind of deception that exists in the world of global politics. Many very knowledgeable people never doubted the American government for instance conspired to cover up essential facts about the Kennedy assassination involving dubious activity by the intelligence community. This however was born out of forensic investigation and investigative journalism, not wild speculation.
The problem for the church comes when these kinds of people become Christians and retain their paranoid concoctions, repackaging them under the eschatological guise of end times biblical prophecy, and call it a 'watchman ministry' of some description. The Internet is literally loaded with such irresponsible rubbish. It is the devotees of such silly rambling that swallowed the Y2K foolishness.
I do not doubt that Freemasonry is demonic, influenced by Felix Weisshaupt's illuminism and is something no saved Christian should ever be a member of. Many of the most pivotal figures in the sphere of international finance, law and politics are Freemasons. But to argue vociferously as some do that a Masonic conspiracy exists to seat the anti Christ in control of the global economy is unwarranted. There are clearly plans of Satan afoot today with de facto conspiracies to reunite Christendom under the anti Christ institution of the Roman Catholic papacy. But this view is not based on conjecture, but rather published and substantiated fact. So too are plans to ramrod Great Britain into a federal Europe at the expense of sovereignty and some would say political liberty without what many people would consider democratic process. Events in Europe and the Middle East today are of tremendous prophetic significance and there is much going on of a conspiratorial nature. But investigating such things requires both a sound biblical position, and sanctified journalistic skills.
There are those such as Christian journalist David Dolan or University journalism lecturer Bill Alnor whom God has called to review current events with a biblical eye. But God has rather called Chuck Missler to biblical exposition and Barry Smith to evangelism. For me it has been a personal tragedy to see, among others, two such outstanding brothers make public fools of themselves, discredit their ministry, and eclipse much of the good they have otherwise achieved with a preposterous level of unfounded, badly researched, and unbiblical alarmism that only a low grade tabloid would publish. Their videos have gone out, and now the world is laughing at us, and Moriel is being deluged with complaints of people who feel misled by ministries we endorsed. In fact, Moriel promoted Dave Hunt's book on Y2K calling it 'mass hysteria'. While I felt no need to do so personally, I do not fault those who picked up a few cases of long shelf life food and extra batteries as a precaution. But Jesus said not to be anxious about what we eat etc., yet in open defiance of His command there were those preachers going around to churches delivering seminars promoting anxiety.
A watchman on Zion's walls would blow a clear series of notes with his trumpet that sounded a proper alarm (Joel 2:1,Jeremiah 4:5, Hosea 8:1, Amos 3:16). A cacophony of mixed notes tells no one anything but only generates further confusion (1 Corinthians 14:8). People look to leaders for clear, unmixed signals. Instead today they are getting mixed signals only compounding the confusion. When David Pawson's followers looked to him for a clear biblical direction on the last days deception of the Toronto Experience he wrote a book entitled: 'Is the Blessing Biblical?'. It gave just such a mixed signal, saying that the light was neither red nor green, but yellow - and concluded telling people to proceed into Toronto with caution. The light in fact was red. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is self control (ekreitei), not the lack of it, and as true watchmen predicted no revival came from Toronto. The fact it was a mixture of good and bad indicated it was an impurity (akatharsis) proving it was not of God (Greek text of 1 Thessalonians 2:3), and the fact that it mixed true doctrine with error (parasouxousin) proved it was a deception (Greek text of 2 Peter 2:2). David Pawson himself watched the videos of Rodney Howard Browne and Kenneth Copeland yet, as Isaiah predicted leaders one day would, he tottered when rendering judgment while they reeled with wine (Isaiah 28:7). In these Last Days we don't need those who totter and send mixed signals, but watchmen who sound a clear alarm. Neither do we need watchmen who are not watchmen sounding false alarms. Several years ago Barry Smith issued a public statement distancing himself from my stated opposition to the Toronto Experience, as he himself had been preaching in churches that were into this deception, (although he himself was not). My argument was that Jesus never told us to make converts but disciples, and placing converts into Toronto churches such as Richmond Assembly of God in Melbourne, Australia was not biblical discipleship. Indeed, Jesus told the Pharisees that they went to the ends of the earth for one convert and made him twice the son of hell as themselves. Under Brian Houston and his predecessor Andrew Evans the Australia Assemblies of God has become a whirlwind of everything from the hype artistry of Hill Song to the heresy of Benny Hinn. It has gone almost as far away from the bible as Elim in the UK.
I say it not to criticize Brother Barry, yet I myself turned down TV programs offered to me in both America and Britain because I would not associate with heresy. Each day I ask the Lord not to allow the work of the Lord, as important as it is, to become more important to me than the Lord of the work, lest the ministry itself becomes an idol. The day I compromise biblical truth to get a platform is the day there is no further point in me even having a platform as far as God is concerned. Brother Barry stated in his published announcement about me that 'God called him not to criticize but to preach the gospel and to prepare the church for the last days'. When a gospel preacher places people saved under his ministry into zoos instead of bible-based churches, there is a serious deviation from God's bible stated standards. In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24&25, Luke 21), Jesus warned of Middle East events surrounding Jerusalem: wars, rumors of wars, pestilence, and increased famines and earthquakes once each. However Jesus warned of deception perpetrated against the elect and false prophets four times. He did not warn of computer failures causing widespread chaos even once. If someone is called to prepare the church for the last days, why do they not concentrate on alerting the church to the rife deception as Jesus said, in the very churches they preach in - instead of compromising what Jesus said for the sake of keeping a platform in order to concentrate on alerting the church about things Jesus never even mentioned as signs of the end such as Y2K, and making themselves look utterly ridiculous in the process?
Predictably, the most extreme proponents of Y2K mania were not Pentecostals, but hyper-calvinists such as Reconstructionist Gary North, D. James Kennedy and R.C. Sproul as well as the more moderately Calvinistic Jerry Falwell. The Post millennialism of Calvinism is one pillar of Dominion ('Kingdom Now') theology, while charismania and extreme Pentecostalism the other pillar. So too, Calvinistic determinism was a pillar of American slavery and South African Apartheid and it is one pillar of prosperity theology, while Charismania and hyper-Pentecostalism, represented by sensationalists like Jeffrey, are the other. It is therefore not surprising that both extreme Pentecostals and extreme charismatics were but one faction caught up in the Y2K frenzy, while hyper-Calvinists were the other. Worst of all was the virtual scare mongering of Michael Hyatt propagated with the assistance of James Dobson's 'Focus On the Family'. I have never had any regard whatsoever for the so called ministries of an anti Israel theonomist like Gary North, much less an out and out son of Judas like Jerry Falwell who among other outrages commended Korean anti Christ Sun Yung Moon (who claims to be 'Lord of the Second Advent'; eg. 'The returned Christ') as "an unsung hero". As was noted by Hank Hanegraaff, Grant Jeffrey has a track record that had already established him as a crackpot. But I personally however have always appreciated the ministries of both Chuck Missler and Barry Smith, as I have to a lesser degree appreciated R.C. Sproul, (at least for his anti ecumenical stance), and for their sakes as well I am very sorry to see the Y2K rubbish leaving them looking like a public spectacle. May the Lord provide the grace to prevent me from going off into the futility of some ludicrous speculation. When a gifted minister of the Word deviates away from the Word into a focus of his own design, he winds up reducing himself to the level of a crackpot. Here lies the unfortunate result, because both Barry and Chuck are not crackpots. Yet that is precisely what their Y2K antics have been left appearing to be.
Some of the Y2K crowd, for all of their outlandish folly and the damage they have done to the church and to themselves, are still our brothers in Christ (such as Barry Smith and Chuck Missler). They are not those impostors of the Last Days who are deceiving and being deceived mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:13 - so why did they behave like them?
The real problem however is not that their predictions of nuclear cataclysm, mass power failures, social and political calamity, huge air crash disasters, and a global economic meltdown did not happen (Italy spent only 1.5 million pounds on Y2K preparation compared to Britain's nearly half billion and nothing happened in Italy). The real problem is that when events that are truly of some crucial prophetic importance take place and the real watchman sound the alarm, the world and indeed much of the church will now think it is just another false alarm. I hate to say anything good about the devil, but he certainly knows his business. If he can use misguided Christians to engineer deception and mislead the church, what better pawns can he have? The Last Days are too serious a time and biblical prophecy too serious a subject for those clearly not called to it to pretend that they are and hurt the church. We must have real watchmen. Let us pray that the watchman who are not watchmen will display the integrity to apologize to the body and ask God to repair the damage done to the church's credibility and to their own.
The false Maccabees, Ruckmanites, Constance Cumby, and the Cyber-cult
In Daniel 11: 33-35 we read what some theologians term a 'double prophecy'. Daniel makes a prediction of what Matthias the Maccabee and his sons John, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Yehudah would do in the face of the deception of Antiochus IV (known as Epiphanus) who slaughtered a swine in the temple, outlawed Jewish observance of the Torah, hellenised and paganised the popular culture, and set up an image of Zeus in the temple with his own features. He was of course a major type of the anti Christ and up to verse 36 of the chapter there was a historic fulfillment by this mad Selucid King. The anti Christ will replay the saga of Antiochus Epiphanus and recapitulate his deeds, then after verse 36 go even further. Like Antiochus he will achieve much of this by intrigue and deceit (we explain this on the Daniel & Maccabees tapes and video series). As at that time there were the Maccabees who gave understanding to the many, so too in the last days 'those who know their God will take action' when the covenant is violated.
I have no doubt that the Ecumenical movement is a prelude to the rebirth of Babylon the Great in Revelation and that deceptions like Pensacola are preludes to the Great apostasy of Thessalonians. With the current drive for a false peace with Islam in Israel and the reconfederation of the Roman Empire via a pseudo-democratic federal Europe, the juxtaposition of these trends and the constellation of events that result indeed are setting the stage for the Man of Sin which Antiochus, among others, typifies and foreshadows (explained in greater depth on 'The Judeo-Christian Understanding of the Antichrist' tape and video series). There will be those who know their God, will take action, and give insight to the many. But as in the days of Antiochus, there will likewise be those who join with them in hypocrisy and betray them (two of the original Maccabees were killed as a result of internal betrayal). However, we already see the embryo of this in existence. There are those pretending to be watchmen, alerting the church, allies in the cause of truth calling themselves 'Discernment Ministries'; but who are largely a collection of charlatans, frauds, and deceivers with their own agenda who already betray the cause.
These people have much in common and tend to imitate each other, akin to the conspiracy theorists operating along the same kind of line. They postulate things on the basis of conjecture, and those not agreeing with them are branded as false or even New Agers in disguise.
Constance Cumby, who herself has published statements supportive of Roman Catholicism, has attacked Dave Hunt. Kevin Burgess (a real 'cyberworld fruit cake' if there ever was one) has attacked Mike Oppenheimer, a Jewish brother who directs the Hawaii based TV and radio discernment ministry 'Come Let Us Reason'. Tex Marrs has attacked a host of good people including Dave Hunt. Two things seem to characterize these false watchman. The first is that they are 'would be' Christian academics who merely have theological veneers with no real background in any scholarly sense in the matters in which they profess expertise. One need not be an intellectual to be a minister or have discernment, but one must have the qualifications to know what one is talking about. Peter, in his epistle, left scholarly matters to Paul, and some scholarly matters Paul appears to have left to Apollos. People of this ilk such as Gail Riplinger, Barbara Aho, Victoria Dillen, Wendy Howard and Richard Engstrom would be laughed out of any academic forum, but sincere believers not trained in academic theology can be sucked in by their endless production of nonsense, often bordering on pure idiocy. The second thing that defines the false watchmen of this category is their ceaseless propensity to defame and slander true watchmen.
The foundational strata of these false Maccabees are undoubtedly the Ruckmanites, named after their patriarch Peter Ruckman, who is on his third marriage after yet another divorce. Ruckman holds the view that the King James Version of the bible is the only one authorized by God to the point of virtual heresy, claiming that even the additions of the 1611 edition not found in ancient manuscripts are further revelation. Not all of Ruckmanites agree with all of Ruckman's extremes, but they are all influenced by him. The worst of these is Gail Riplinger, who was debunked as a charlatan and a fraud when Christian Research Institute revealed that she can not even read Greek and that her academic credentials are not in theology or in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscript analysis (basic skills as essential in bible translation as anatomy and physiology are in medicine, or mathematics is in engineering) but absurdity of absurdities, rather in home economics! Unfortunately, instead a writing a thesis on cost effective detergents which she may be qualified to do, she published an outlandish book on 'New Age Bible Versions', doing more harm to the cause of protecting textual orthodoxy from paraphrases, Roman Catholic annotated bibles, and the censored and politically correct 'inclusive version' (dealt with on our tape 'Bible Versions').
Let me state that Moriel and I have no problem with the KJV, I read it devotionally myself. And I respect how God in times past has used it. More to the point, who cannot value the noble heritage of Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Coverdale from whose labors it arises? I am additionally perfectly open to considering serious scholarly arguments from academically qualified Christian sources concerning their theories of Textus Receptus etc. (again, we refer our readers to our own audio on the subject). But these people will have no association with Ruckman or Gail Riplinger. The Trinitarian Bible Society as one example made it clear in print that they do not wish to be identified with her or her book. There have been excellent books on the reliability of New Testament manuscripts authored by reliable scholars such as F.F. Bruce and Dr. Craig Blohmberg. Ruckman, Engstrom, Aho, Dillen, Marrs and Riplinger however are not scholars. Neither are they watchmen. They are mere fakers who only wish they were and pretend to be.
Again the pseudo-academic pretense of these people is at times laughable. When Engstrom was confronted with my response to his nonsensical insistence that the New Testament did not use Midrash citing two known scholars (R.N. Longenecker and John Lightfoot), he reacted by saying only two scholars ever agreed with me (after implying at first there were none). Had Engstrom read Longenecker's bibliography before replying to me on Internet, he would have seen that there are at least 58, and not made a public joke of himself! Another case was Paul Fahy who objected to our critique of the Reformers as not having gone far enough and took exception to our views on the Judaic background of the New Testament. Among other things he insisted that Paul used Greco-Roman concepts such as a Roman legionnaire's armor, not knowing that Paul's usage was simply a recontextualisation of the Hebrew armor straight out of Isaiah 59:17 & Isaiah 52:7. He also asserted that he knew of no scholar who ever attributed Gnostic influences to Augustine, while every first year seminary student knows that Augustine had been a member of the Gnostic Manichean sect. While no scholarly source would attribute any credibility to such people, the average well meaning Christian unfortunately just may.
Along a similar line is hyper-Calvinist Peter Glover, who ignorantly equated Midrash with gnosticism, only to have it pointed out in the public arena that it was a renowned Puritan hyper-Calvinist theologian who first documented Midrash in the New Testament and wrote the first Midrashic commentary on the New Testament. Like Cumby who assails other discernment ministries while she herself is party to serious doctrinal error and ecumenical deception, Glover, likewise attacking other valid discernment ministries such as Michael Penfold professes to be an anti charismatic/anti Pentecostal. Yet he himself teamed up with Patrick Dixon in an AIDS charity. Dixon is the most extreme and experiential of charismatics who is a virtual mystic and who teaches New Age experiences such as 'Altered States of Consciousness' as manifestations of the Holy Spirit and grounds for irrational behavior.
We again point out that while generally having the beliefs of Ruckman and Riplinger about the King James Version etc. and being clearly influenced by them, not all follow them to the same degree. Yet, Cyber cultists like Aho, Dillen, Thomas Lamb, and Engstrom with their Ruckmanite and identity movement leanings can be operationally compared to small time gangsters. They do not have the organization, crooked lawyers, money-laundering accountants, or power of a professional criminal. This is like what happens when the cyber cultists get access to the Internet. Most cyber cultists have no church membership, do no evangelism, discipleship or anything else biblically ordained as a normal aspect of Christian discipleship. Theirs is mainly a cyber church where like their paranoid conspiracy theorist counterparts of the secular world they carry on the latest conjecture and attack anyone not getting on board, once more only revealing their ignorance each step of the way.
One recent example of this was their aversions to 'The Star of David'. This aversion is partially shaped by the anti Semitism of the identity movement with which the cyber cult is favored. The identity movement in turn is influenced not only by British Israelism but by the misogenic Manifest Sons/Latter Day Rain heretic William Branham who held to serpent seed beliefs and cursed the Trinity. It is no coincidence for example that Engstrom's partner in the "US1" email network circulates email statements supportive of Branham.
In fact in Judaism, what non-Jews wrongly call the Star of David is actually known as 'The Shield of David' or Magen David and is not seen as a star. Its rabbinic interpretation is the configuration of the 12 tribes around the holy Ark sojourning through the wilderness. It was indeed a pre Christian pagan symbol in Babylon, Phoenicia, and Egypt. But only as the cross was a pre Christian pagan symbol in Celtic Britain and Ireland. The menorah, not the Star of David was the actual ancient symbol of the Jews (and is still the symbol of the State of Israel and the official seal on Israeli government legal documents). So too, the fish, not the cross was the original Christian symbol. The fish also had been a pagan symbol of worship of the fish god dagon (as in the Old Testament). It is a five star pentagram that is a satanic emblem, not a six pointed Star of David. Both these Christian and Jewish symbols had pagan equivalents. The Hebrew Temple had architectural parallels in pagan Egypt and the Flood Narrative in Genesis has a literary parody in the Myth of Gilgemesh and the Masonic Jahbalon is a trinity. Do surface parallelisms dismiss something as evil?
It is rather what the symbol means in a given historical setting and cultural context that determines if it is evil or not. The American manned space program carried project names like Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, but no one identified these project names with pagan deities or astrology or labeled them inherently demonic. Cyber cultist however, driven by a combination of theological ignorance and paranoia can do no other. Again, we are dealing with charlatanism. There are very good Christian researchers like Dr. John Weldon, Dr. Ron Rhodes, and Dr. Tal Brooks who are bona fide experts on cultic influence. There are superb Christian experts on the occult such as Dr. Curt Koch. We have an anthropological and archaeological masterpiece 'The Two Babylons' by Alexander Hislop documenting the influx of pagan symbolism into Christendom. The Ahos, Dillens, Howards, and Engstroms of the cyber cult however are not anthropologists, archaeologists, psychologists or theologians. They are basically an unbalanced fringe element who are but false Maccabees posing as the watchmen they are not.
You have read about the watchmen who are not, now here are some who are. One thing the Body of Christ needs in these Last Days are true watchmen. We need people who are bible based, and who operate valid discernment ministries to alert the church and give understanding to the many, as Daniel predicted by the Holy Spirit would rise up. These legitimately help prepare the church for the End Times in the correct biblical sense. Among others (as of February 2000), Jacob Prasch & Moriel are pleased to endorse the following Watchmen ministries as true ones. We may not agree with every aspect of their ministry, nor they with every aspect of ours, but we stand by them as comrades in Christ's cause and we sanction them as honest and credible voices for truth and righteousness in an age of deception and compromise who are worthy of the prayers and support of concerned believers.
The Berean Call (Dave Hunt & Tom McMahon)
Belfast Berean (Mark McAlister)
Media Spotlight (Al Dagger)
Apostasy Alert (Jackie Alnor)
CWM (Philip Powell)
Eddy Cheong Ministries (Dr. Eddy Cheong)
St. Matthew Publishing (Philip Foster)
PWM (Clifford Hill & David Noakes)
Spirit of 88 (Michael De Semlyn)
Living Word (Gary Hall)
Bread Upon the Water (Bill Brehm)
Christian Voice (Stephen Green)
Light For the Last Days (Tony Pearce)
Take Heed Ministries (Cecil Andrews)
Come Let Us Reason (Mike Oppenheimer)
Personal Freedom Outreach (Dick Fisher)
Utah Lighthouse Ministry (Sandra Tanner)
Reach Out Trust (Doug Harris)
Discernment in the Church (Sandy Simpson)
Discernment Ministries (Jewel van der Merwe)
Kings Divinity School (Calvin Smith)