“These Are Times that Try Men’s Souls”

Painting of Thomas Paine

I am by my human nature a political creature. I speak this as a confession of weakness. Times like these try not only my soul (my mind, will and emotions), but my faith as well, revealing where I place my trust and hope. We Americans (and much of the rest of the world) are watching our bodies and souls being taxed by Covid 19 and all the laws and rules that governments are putting in place to keep both this disease and ourselves contained, regardless of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. Speaking of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine prophetically wrote in 1776, “These are times that try men’s souls.” It’s our souls that are being tried! I just read the following this morning on a web news site:

Trump campaign fundraiser, Pamela Martin, said at a rally in Washington D.C. on Saturday, there is no doubt that President Trump won the election, but that it was stolen and she wants to take it back, adding that the battle is both spiritual and physical [so far, so good]. She continued,

God is in charge. There are many corrupt judges, all the way up to the top, and that will be turned around by God. God will see that every enemy be turned down. Victory will be here because President Donald Trump is one of our greatest presidents in all of history.”

And I will tell you this, nobody, nobody can come against God and his army and his army is the people, that people and the Constitution of the United States and every single person standing here will stand for Him,” Martin said. [1]

It seems that America is also filled with false prophets these days, all thinking that Christian America is God’s answer to all that the world needs. I used to think that way before Jesus saved me from right-wing politics. He took a heart of stone out of me and replaced it with a heart that could respond to His Spirit with love for all mankind, not just conservatives. Back then, anyone to the left of where I stood was suspect! Before God intervened over 50 years ago, I truly hated everyone I perceived as attacking or trying to pull down my “America the Beautiful.” Yes, for me “God, Jesus and Country” were on equal footing in my religious pantheon. But is this what Jesus taught us 2000 years ago?

In your reading of the Gospels, have you noticed that Jesus was not political? Most Jews back then equated Israel and Jerusalem as God’s seat of government on this earth. The chief priests and Pharisees thought they were God’s gift to mankind and when the Messiah came, He would place them in His seats of power in the new administration. They were “God’s People” and that’s all there was to it! They even had the throne of God right there in their temple – never mind that the Holy of Holies had not had the Arc of the Covenant, where God’s glory once shone, in it for centuries! Let’s look at what the scriptures say.

Yet the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things? (Acts 7:48-50, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here… Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:36-37, KJ2000 – emphasis added)

And when the disciples were infatuated with the temple and all its buildings Jesus said,

“As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6, ESV2011)

With all these things being true, Christianity still is all about putting up great buildings “for the glory of God” until this very day. When I see just how material Christianity is, I wonder if we really know what Covenant we are of? Didn’t Jesus also say, “The kingdom of God comes not with outward observation.Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” And, “Wherever two or three of you are gathered together in my name, I am there.”

The Jews wanted to kill Jesus, their Messiah, and their leaders were appealing to Pilate to crucify Him. Why? Because He did not perform according to their political expectations. He didn’t come as a mighty general leading a vast army to deliver them from the Romans. The more things change, the more they remain the same! The leaders of the Jews were totally political, so much so that they no longer wanted the will of God or recognized when God was no longer dealing with them according to the Old Covenant.

For finding fault with them, he says, Behold, the days come, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, says the Lord… In that he says, A new covenant, he has made the first old. Now that which decays and grows old is ready to vanish away. (Heb 8:8-13, KJ2000)

No, they refused the New Covenant of grace given them because, as enforcers of the Old Covenant law, they had stature and power over men. Consider this passage:

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man [Jesus] performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47-48, ESV2011)

They forgot that God does not take sides with human governments and armies but rather with HIS Son and all who are walking by His Spirit IN Him! Yet, to this day religious zealots insist that God is on their side! To this He still answers, “NO: but I!”

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come”… (Josh 5:13-14, ESV2011)

At the time of the above passage, Israel had finally fallen in line with the will of God after forty years of rebellion in the wilderness with Him finally forsaking that generation. The one thing that I find troubling about President Trump (not that I like Joe Biden any better) is his pride and the pride in Christians who stand behind him as if they are “God’s Army.” Many of us want to see America turn to Christ and be healed, but God has made a requirement before this can happen. He “resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Solomon had just finished his palace and the temple as a place of sacrifice in Jerusalem when God said to him,

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence [Heb. Loimos – a pestilence, any deadly infectious malady] among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2Chr 7:13-14, ESV2011)

I would say that Covid 19 is one of the most “deadly infectious maladies” that the world has had to deal with in modern times. We can build up our mighty armies and concoct our medical cures to deal with enemies and diseases, but as Bob Mumford once said, “If you fix the fix that God fixes to fix you, then He will fix another fix to fix you!” Yes, until we humble ourselves and pray in brokenness and truly start walking in the Spirit as HIS people, we can expect our enemies to continue to gain power over us and Covid 19 will not be the last plague that we will have to deal with in this world.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. (Ps 118:8-9, KJ2000)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (Jas 4:8-10, ESV2011)

Thomas Paine concluded his treatise, “The American Crisis,” by saying something even more profound,

“Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Or as Paul put it, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom 8:37, KJ2000)

[1] https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-campaign-fundraiser-this-is-a-spiritual-battle_3616489.html

24 comments on ““These Are Times that Try Men’s Souls”

  1. Thank you so much Dear Brother. Blessings

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for addressing this hotly disputed topic, my brother. I really enjoyed the read, Michael! ⭐

    Alas, I had just written a very long comment on this article but my computer would crash yet again and all was lost. I take it as God’s will who wanted to spare you and your readers another tedious response. 😉

    Every blessing to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kate says:

    Right wing politics vs left wing politics. You can’t stand with the left if you believe in Pro Life. The new covenant of grace did not end in the old testament. There was a new covenant provided us in which the left still manipulates as if you blame to be the fault of the right? No one will sit at the right hand of the Father unless you know his new covenant in which you pray it but haven’t heard in your soul. God gave us something in words to Jesus and you have not found it yet. All truth came from the apostle he pointed to , to build his church, a community of people that follow God’s words and commands. In all of your articles written you still have not written about the one I noticed missing. You may feel anoited in words but again you have not heard God’s voice in the new renewal covenant God gave His son.

    Like

    • Michael says:

      Kate, I find it interesting that you have never written me until you have read “ALL my written articles.” I think you paint with too broad a brush and judge too harshly. Your comment makes me wonder what Christian group you are a member of or who’s teaching you have sat under.

      As for what the New Covenant is, Hebrews chapter eight sums it up the best as does the whole letter to the Hebrews. What part of NEW don’t we Christians understand? “He makes ALL things NEW and the old things are passed away.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michael says:

      Kate, one more thing. I felt the Spirit gave me a scripture for you and us all to contemplate,

      And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isa 30:20-21, ESV2011)

      Neither turning to the Left or the Right is the answer, but listening to our Teacher’s voice when He speaks into our hearts saying, “THIS is the way, walk in it!”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. dimple says:

    Reblogged this on idahodimple and commented:
    This.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dimple says:

    “This is the way, walk in it.” This is a breath of the Spirit. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That phrase from Tom Paine’s “American Crisis” has been running through my head for a long time now, Michael. Neither political leaders on the right or left will save us from the situation we ourselves have created by abandoning our faith in God.

    Historian William Federer has an excellent program on TCT titled “Faith in History”. Using original documents (letters, treaties, proclamations, etc.), he demonstrates how much our forefathers relied on God. All that, however, is in the past. Can you imagine either Pres. Donald Trump or Pres. Joe Biden calling for a day of prayer, fasting, and repentance…much less the American people responding?

    This pandemic; the economic downturn connected w/ it; the Black Lives Matter protests, the riots in our cities, and calls to “defund the police”; and the catastrophic fires on the West coast have been a shaking. Anxiety, depression, and suicide are at all time highs. Yet people have not thought to return to God.

    I have come to the heartbreaking conclusion that we are watching the end of our democracy. But the Christian hope has never been in government — not even in democracy. The Christian hope is in Christ. Maranatha!

    Your sister in Him,

    A.

    Liked by 4 people

    • dimple says:

      Anna, I would give this more than one “like” if I could.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Dear Anna,

      I have to agree with everything you said. No, I can’t imagine either presidential candidate calling for a national day of prayer and then shutting everything else out and doing it! As for the American people, few of them would do it either. I think Abraham Lincoln was the last president that had the right heart in this matter as America was being torn apart by the Civil War. Check this out…

      http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/fast.htm

      He wrote some very deep things in this declaration about the sovereignty of God that would be good for us all to contemplate. We as proud Americans are being humbled under the mighty hand of God. Like Jesus told proud Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, “Isn’t it hard to kick against the goad?” The harder we kick the worse it is going to get.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, dear sister. ⭐ We have much to pray about.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Allan Halton says:

    Right on the mark, Michael.
    In fact those in Jesus’ day tried to get Him involved in their politics and he him [hid?] Himself from them. He had something else in mind– changing the hearts of men.

    “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (Jn. 6:15).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      This is so true, Allan. The rest of chapter six shows the struggle He had as He tried to show them that He had all they needed if they would only quit worrying about their bellies and know Him after the Spirit. He spoke spiritual words to them about communing IN Him and all they could hear was politics! “Moses fed us manna in the wilderness, how about you? Feed us and we will make you king.”

      To this very day those who name Christ as their Savior are still seeking Him only for their temporal needs as so many “loaves and fishes Christians.” We are all too concerned with our temporal need and desires, so much so that we can’t hear His words,

      “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56, ESV2011)

      As I read this verse the Spirit turned it around, “Whoever abides in me and I in him eats my flesh and drinks my blood.” It is all about abiding IN Him. It is there that we find true spiritual food. It is so sad that this chapter is read to this very day as if it is about physical eating instead of abiding in Him by faith no matter what comes our way. So many in this time of trial and testing will be making their choices according to where their hearts are. Like Jesus told John in prison, “Blessed is he who is not offended in Me.”

      He still asks the question, “Will you leave me also?” Will we replay as Peter did?

      “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” (John 6:68, ESV2011)

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Mark Walker says:

    I don’t vote and agree with most of this article but man oh man, Michael, you can’t see this “Covid” (cold) is the most overblown scam to bring about this Orwellian Authoritarianism New World Order and Great Reset?

    Like

    • Michael says:

      Mark, yes I can see it. But as Paul wrote,

      “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:10-12, KJV)

      I know that to fight the devil on his ground “the political world system” is sheer folly. With the frustration that this brings the spirit of division and murder is not far behind. But to put our trust in the kingdom of God instead of the kingdoms of men is our salvation.

      “Now know I that the LORD saves his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.” (Ps 20:6-8, KJ2000)

      Like

  9. dimple says:

    Michael, I just re-read this, and the comments. I wanted to share it more widely, but was stopped. It is a matter for deep prayer, not, for me anyway, further sharing. Blessings to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Chuck Faupel says:

    Michael, what a powerful word for our day. It is true that we are in a battle of good against evil, and I understand the tendency (even among some of the responses here) to equate the good with right wing politics and evil with left wing politics. But God is raising up an army, born of the Spirit of God and being matured through the difficult processings that we are even now experiencing. He is calling us to respond in obedience to His Spirit. Period. We, who have been called out, are governed by His Spirit, not the spirit of this world–which is the spirit of the law which can only condemn. Thank you, dear, brother, and may God give you the grace to remain faithful in this message!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Chuck. I am reminded of this passage as a warning on which voice to listen to and just Who is our Teacher. He is there waiting for us to turn a hearing ear to Him in this time of adversity and affliction:

      And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isa 30:20-21, ESV2011)

      Like

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