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One More Reason to Care About the Poor

14 Sep

Last night I got to drop in on the FSM class Q&A that goes along with the Saturday night EGS. Normally I am unavailable at that time, but this week I was actually able to go. Because I’m a teaching assistant for the Friday night class, I get to drop in on the Saturday session whenever I’m available. It’s a great time of learning; the students write down questions about the book of Revelation and the End Times to be answered by the class facilitators (who I will come to in a minute).

Anyway, I was in the class, and one student submitted a question that went something like this: “What about the poor and totally oppressed people in the earth who haven’t heard about Jesus? Will they be spared the judgments, or will they perish?”

Now here’s the best part. The people facilitating the class were Stuart Greaves and Shelley Hundley.

If you’re around IHOP-KC, you already know why this is so great. For those of you who may not be familiar with these folks, let me give you a brief summary: Stuart teaches a class called “Theology of Social Justice”. Shelley has taught a class called “The Heart of the Judge”. Both of them have spent a significant amount of time living in poor countries. Both of them have a lot to say about God’s justice as it relates to the poor and suffering. And to them, it’s more than just theological banter. They’ve seen it and lived it. Which is why, upon hearing the question, they both read it again, in unison, out loud, and offered each other the first shot at answering it. I wasn’t sure what would come out of it, but I knew it would be really good.

Shelley ended up answering first. I’ve heard her give this answer before, but because of some recent prayer focuses and giving intiatives here at IHOP, it really struck me. “Actually, I think the poor of the earth are set up in a big way to follow the Antichrist.”

There are many reasons why she says this, which are beyond my scope to develop now. One huge reason, though, is a simple one. The Antichrist is going to control the world’s resources, and he will have a very specific way of controlling who gets ahold of those resources. It’s called the mark of the beast (Rev 13). Economic privileges are given to those who will declare loyalty to him. In tumultuous times when the earth is reeling from the judgments of God, there will be one man who is offering a way to procure the necessities of life, and many will consider that good enough to sell their soul.

I was immediately struck by how dirty of a tactic this was. It made me angry. It’s just like the devil to find the poor, the weakest, the most depserate, and then extort them and prey upon them. The Lord has compassion on the poor and raises them out of the ashes. Satan targets them and manipulates their desperation for his own wicked purposes.

This reinforced within me one more reason why God cares so much about the poor of the earth. If we don’t reach them with real hope and real substance — say, a real Kingdom that’s coming to the earth that will bring restitution for every injustice suffered — they will only have one other “logical” recourse. If we don’t give sacrificially, now and in the time of tribulation, if we neglect “the least of these”, then they will turn to the charismatic leader who is willing to exchange food for worship. If we can’t give the poor real hope for their eternity (in addition to giving them aid now), the only sensible thing for them to do is to go with whoever can promise them the most comfortable life in the immediate sense. And in the final 3.5 years of this age, that’s a mistake that will sear their conscience and cost them their souls.

God really cares about the poor. So should we. There is a real war over their souls and the church needs to be not only a supplier of their needs, but a crystal clear voice. We need to be contending in prayer that the Lord would “guard [them] from the evil one” (2Thes 3:1-5). God cares greatly about meeting their physical needs, but still He is far more concerned that they be delivered from the power of darkness. We need to become messengers of the Gospel, those who live out the Sermon on the Mount and who have clarity on what it means that God has come to give us salvation. He saves us from our sins, yes, but more than that, He grants us access into His Kingdom which really will come to earth and make all things right. We need to get God’s heart for the poor, which is not that of a sentimental humanitarian. It’s that of a God whose heart yearns and breaks for the poor of the earth, and who is unwaveringly just in His judgments upon the earth and the Antichrist’s kingdom. The Gospel is good news to the poor, so long as the poor do not make themselves God’s enemies. Which is why we must pray, serve, and become messengers, starting now.

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5 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2008 in Eschatology, Eternity, Theology

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “One More Reason to Care About the Poor

  1. danseuse

    September 14, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Your comments strike me in connection with 1) your post about how Obama is a “cultural barometer” of the antichrist. 2) my many friends whom I believed to be solid Christians, unwavering in what mattered who are publicly supporting Obama in the name of what he promises to do for the poor. These friends say issues such as abortion can’t be politically addressed and Obama will help the poor and is such a vibrant man who will bring change.

    I have never heard this point of view on the poor but I see from my friends, who worry more about money than most issues, that following charisma in hopes of change is happening now for the middle class. I can only imagine how true this must be for the poor in the actual end times. Thank you for this post. I am pretty certain I will never think of these things in the same light.

    Susan

     
  2. yining

    September 14, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    hmmmmm… WOW

     
  3. Amanda Beattie

    September 15, 2008 at 1:37 am

    @Susan: That’s actually something Stuart talks about a lot in his social justice class. The way he says it, the modern social justice movement is preparing the poor of the earth to receive the Antichrist. It’s pretty intense, because it is all about fixing it with human resources and not at all about bringing light and truth to the suffering and dying. And by the way, please forgive me for misunderstanding your screen name and calling you “Dan” in the comments for the last post. :}

    Yi-Ning: Thanks for commenting! It’s so good to hear from you. Drop me an email or facebook me sometime, I’d love to hear how you’re doing. 🙂

     
  4. brianbeattie

    September 15, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Great post, Amanda.

    For awhile now I’ve been thinking about what a bad idea it is for the church to push “care of the poor” off to the government, but I had never considered what it might mean in a end-times context.

    My point has always been that the poor need ministry to their spiritual need, and the government is unable to really do that job. Christians who advocate higher taxes and more government services for the poor probably have the best of intentions, but this approach deprives Christians and the Church of wealth to share, and sends the poor off to find help among burocrats who are paid to pity, but offer only polluted bandages. Where do any of us get our daily bread from, anyway?

    The Church should be ministering to the poor directly, not as a cynical ploy to create loyal dependents (the Hezbollah model), but really to love and uplift, showing God’s compassionate heart instead of priming the pump for the enemy’s engine. Your point (or Shelley’s I suppose) adds so much urgency and eternal consequence.

     
  5. BJV

    September 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    As far as what happens to those who have not heard of Jesus and the fairness of God question, a good answer is given in Romans 1:18-21

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    People know God through the creation even the GodHEAD! There is a man (now a missionary) I heard on radio explain that as he was dying in a MidEastern prison he called out to God with his whole heart. He had never heard of Jesus but when he called out, God manifested himself to this man in the PERSON of Jesus Christ! He lived and God even got him out of prison.

    Friends, the problem isn’t the lack of evidence, it is the suppression of it and our unwillingness to seek God with our whole heart. He is in fact, “not willing that any should perish”

     

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