The impact of the imbalance of evil over good in the time before Jesus is demonstrated on Earth in the lives of people in many ways. We will examine several of these. When Paul, Isaiah, John, and Jesus all speak of the light and the dark, we tend to think they are speaking in metaphors. This is part of the truth, but I also believe they are speaking of a palpable presence and a constant threat much more than we might think. They are urging and guiding the people to see the way out from under the spell of the dark imbalance. No person could fight the force of the evil imbalance by his or herself. However, by acknowledging the divinity of Jesus, they could come into His presence and protection. First let us look at some examples in scripture that refer to the cosmic imbalance:
Arise, shine, for your light has come. Behold, darkness is covering the earth, and thick darkness over the peoples, but Jehovah will arise upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)
Behold the savage day of Jehovah will come, a day of the rage of his anger. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. (Isaiah 13:9,10)
The day of Jehovah is coming, a day of darkness and blackness. The sun and the moon will be blackened, and the stars will withdraw their splendor. (Joel 2:1,2)
Each of these passages refers to the end of the universal church (Jewish church) and to the destruction that would come upon the people if imbalance were not corrected. It all sounds very mythical, and some people take it that way. These scriptures, however, are examples of prophecies from the Old Testament describing the dire situation before Jesus was born. The following scriptures are examples of the language in the Bible that describe the end of the church, and they give a more palpable feel of the force of darkness clashing with the light in the New Testament:
But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Mat. 6:23)
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Mat. 4:16)
And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. (Mark 15:33)
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke 22:53)
But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11)
The palpable sense of this darkness is most clearly seen in the way the people believed in sin and death. The ancient people did not think about sin and death as moderns do. They spoke in a way that shows sin and death to be cosmic forces. Ehrman explains the historical situation of the darkness at this time very concisely:
“It (sin) is instead a kind of cosmic power, an evil force that compels people to live in alienation from God. The human problem under this model is that people are enslaved to this demonic power and are unable to break free from their bondage…The power of sin is related to another power, the power of death. In the participation model, death is not simply something that happens when a person stops breathing. It is a cosmic force that is intent on enslaving people; when it succeeds, it totally removes a person from the realm of god. Here again the situation is desperate; all people are subject to the overpowering force of death, and there is nothing they can do to set themselves free”. (Ehrman, 355)
This description is a representation of the effects of the cosmic over-abundance of evil as the people experienced it. Imagine a Mediterranean person’s situation at this time. Evil had undue influence in their lives. The oppressive force, the dread of death and the cosmic force of sin, was something to which they were subject, and from which they could not escape. Death for them was not a ‘passing-on to a better place,’ but was a fearful place to be avoided at all cost; it was the most dreaded of all cosmic forces (Ehrman, 355). This is why, as I pointed out above, people of honor developed a sort of ‘popular natural science of the gods,’ which they used to seek knowledge of cosmic patrons for protection from evil forces (Malina, 112).
In Thessalonians, Paul paints a picture of this situation from the people’s perspective:
“For when they are saying, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that Day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep in the night; and those who are drunken are drunken in the night”. (1 Thessalonians 5: 2-7)
When Paul describes the people being drunk and asleep, he sees that, without the protection of the Lord, the people are swallowed up. They are shadows of themselves because of the excessive infuence of evil. It might be comparable to people that take drugs for too long. Eventually, they become something else, exhibiting a dangerous vacancy in the eyes and behavior that cares for no-one. There is a tragic loss of identity in these cases. But, in the time of which we are speaking, it is a communal loss of identity threatening humanity. This is the influence of evil run amok in the imbalance.
Some people, when they read the points I make about the times before Jesus, say, “Those times are no different from now.” But there is a big difference. Times of imbalance in equilibrium are very rare. At that time, the presence of evil was out of control on earth, whereas now, good and evil must play within the laws of freedom. The darkness on the planet before Jesus came was the greatest it had ever been and will ever be, so the power and effect of evil was much greater. In Matthew, it is said: “The abomination of desolation will come, and an affliction such as has never existed before and never will again. The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven” (Matthew 24:15, 21, 29). And, in the Book of Revelation: “Satan will be released from his prison. He will go out to lead astray the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, whose number is like the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:7, 8). This later verse refers to the Second Coming, yet gives an idea that both are apocalyptic times of cosmic imbalance.
Evangelicals commonly use the scripture from Thessalonians above and some of the others I quoted as proof for the rapture; that is, at the end times of the Second Coming there will be a time of trial and darkness in which half the population will die, and the Lord will come back to earth in person. They claim that those who express faith in the Lord will be taken up to be with the Lord in a rapture, similar to the way Elijah was taken up. They say that the Lord will show up riding on a white horse leading an enormous parade. This is a literal interpretaton of the Bible. I believe this literal interpretation is greatly mistaken. All these scriptures have an internal sense and are not referring to earthly events, but heavenly events in which the captives are released from the evil forces that have intercepted them in the world of spirits and put in false heavens during the imbalance. Evangelicals mistake the great joy of those released from the false heavens for what they call the ‘rapture’ which they falsely interpret as an earthly event. For evangelicals the rapture means that the ‘elect’ on earth will be taken up to heaven after Jesus gathers them from around the earth in the great parade.
Also, the extreme language of the light and darkness used in the Gospel of John, and especially in Paul’s letters, addresses the immediate, dire situation of evil oppressing humanity around the times of Christ. Evangelicals mistakenly interpret this language, formulating a doctrine of terrible times coming in the future, known as the millenium. This intense language about dire times is also a big source of ‘fire and brimstone’ preaching. This preaching has truth to it in the sense that it warns of the consequences of hell, but it is often applied in a very external way that has turned many people off. It is a misinterpretation to a degree, because, as we shall see in the chapters on the Second Coming, the Second Coming has already happened, and we now live in the Church of the New Jarusalem in which everyone can have a direct relationship with Christ, and we are not subject to an imbalance of evil as then. As everyone in modern times has seen, the end times and the Second Coming have been predicted to occur on certain dates several times, and much to the predictors embarrassment it never happens. All of this is to show that interpreting the Bible in a purely literal sense causes mistakes, which is understandable since most people are not aware of the internal sense.
But with the internal sense we can understand these verses very deeply. When Paul writes to the people, “Ye are all the children of light and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” We can see how he is urging the people to come out from under the spell of sin. They felt sin as a communal, cosmic force oppressing them, which is the direct effect of the cosmic imbalance. Paul was showing them that Jesus defeated these forces, and he was giving them the great promise that they can be free from that by receiving the teaching and presence of Jesus. Theologically, Evangelicals see this language as meaning that Jesus removed sin ‘en mass’ from all humanity, that He did it unilaterally. They say that He sacrificed himself as payment, or ransom, for our collective and individual sins and that He removed these sins from the body and soul of each person. But this is not the case. This is not even possible because, as said above, the relationship between God and man is reciprocal, and man must work out his salvation in cooperation with God in freedom. In reality, Jesus’ acts of redemption were to battle and defeat the oppressive cosmic forces of evil, to judge and destroy the false heavens, to put all hell back into its place, and to restore order in heaven, thus restoring freedom and making Himself immediately present to us without representation. He indeed did these things by the might of His divine soul alone in the spiritual world, while at the same time teaching people on earth how to be internal men and women and to live with charity in the new church. By restoring equilibrium, humanity could live in freedom and have the opportunity to live in direct relationship to God (Himself). These are His works of redemption – redemption is not the cleansing of sin from the bodies of all people and taking it into Himself. Everyone must cooperate with and respond to God by exercising their own will for a change of heart to be real. It is understandable that these misunderstandings have stood so long when we consider the fact that humanity mainly knew only the literal sense of the Bible. Without an understanding of the internal sense of the Word, the literal sense seems to indicate that Jesus will show up on earth and lead the people on a white horse, bear their sins, and lead them into the new millenium. So, the constant preaching about Jesus bearing our sins and the constant waiting for Jesus to show up in a white cloud goes on and on. It has become tradition to believe this, but it is not the message of the Bible. In the chapter on the captives and the Second Coming, I will show from the Bible the time and the process of the Second Coming.