Quite shockingly, and recently, the Lord spoke this sobering warning word to me for the body of Christ. One of the likes I've not had Him share with me before.
Tell my people to be aware of a modern zealot movement rising, and to have discernment and wisdom to NOT partner with it as some are already unaware they are. They will act in the belief they are zealous for the Lord, but will be deceived by a political spirit. Pray that they would have eyes to see where they have partnered with this spirit, break away and return their hearts fully to Me. My people will innocently get caught up in this, if they do not discern it, out of their misplaced zeal that will become distorted and ultimately demonic. Many who never thought this possible will find themselves led astray, and are already on the path. And they will call it righteousness in My name that I have not. There is a currently unconscious expectation that will eventually be revealed, that I will endorse a war against my own flesh and blood, My body, and the world. I will not. Destruction will be of your own folly and deception, at your own hands. And it will leave My people displaced.
Now, I knew there were zealots during Jesus time and the rise of Christianity, but I really knew hardly anything about them so I needed to go and research as I sought the Lord more on this. Let me give you a brief account for context.
Around 300-175BC before Jesus came on the scene was the rise of the Hasidim or Hasideans (meaning "pious ones") who were an ancient Jewish sect. They were deeply religious and fought against the Seleucid Greeks and their pagan and oppressive ways for their rights to worship. They were against the Hellenistic influence over their people, that is the influence of Greek custom, thought or culture. Fast forward to AD6 and we begin to now see a new Jewish sect arise in their likeness against Roman rule and oppression. These were the Zealots. The Zealots held devotedly to their beliefs that the and their land belonged to God alone, they honoured, gave and served God alone. No way were they going to honour, be a servant to, told what to do or pay taxes to a Roman governance. And they were just as opposed to any Jews who did just that. They believed violent resistance was a God ordained responsibility and with that God was one hundred percent on their side so they could not fail but would ultimately be victorious. Their expectation was that the coming Messiah would be a mighty military leader that would deliver them. Until then they would fight for their right to freedoms.
Understanding that underground revolt from the Jewish community for their freedom was always present and growing during this time, particularly from the time of Herod's rule from 37BC until AD70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans, gives context of the highly intense political and divisive stage Jesus revealed Himself and His ways upon.
You had the Pharisee's who were waiting for a Messiah to come and make Israel a free and powerful nation condemned Rome's pagan ways, didn't get involved in the politics and saw their oppression as God's punishment, the Sadducee's who preferred a level of cooperation with the Romans for the sake of their security of religious power over people, the Herodion's who were content with Herod's rule, and new to the scene the Christian's following Jesus. Every faction wanted their own brand of freedom. It was all this division, hatred and confusion where Jesus brought a completely different message, and why so many times Jesus had to clarify that His messages were regarding spiritual principals not political ones as they supposed.
While the Zealots had their belief in God as the one true God, their motives became a political reaction to the culture and conditions in which they faced. Their zeal for God, for freedom and holiness became drastically distorted. As Rome's oppression grew, so too did the support for the Zealots. The priesthood looked to Rome for security and became more corrupt which also led people to support the Zealots. We need to understand that the Zealots were not just opposed to Rome, but also to any they considered the be cooperating with Rome. And violence and murder even of their own people was considered valid in their eyes. Tensions and revolts continue to devastating ends between all. Factions within factions of Jews, blaming each other, killing of one another over food scraps, over wanting to surrender to Rome. It was terror like we have never known. It's hard to imagine how such atrocities could take place, and amongst God's people, and at and following the appearance of Jesus. These events are what displaced the Jews from Jerusalem leaving their faith outlawed, and saw Judea become Palestine. Still a land of contention to this day. There was no good outcome to the violence and bloodshed, other than it drove the message of Christ to the ends of the earth.
While I haven't gone into detail about the horrific events over those almost 70years, I encourage you to read up on them. They bring sobriety to your mind to the potential destruction we are quite capable of bringing on ourselves, and against one another. Remember, Jesus was still their Redeemer in that space of time for those who had ears to hear and eyes to see.
So with some context, the Lord's message is this. To watch ourselves that we are not led astray. What may begin in origins of freedom to worship our one true God, to not 'bow down' to any others gods, on this current landscape has the ability to bring you into partnership with a political spirit. It moves you ever so subtly, digging the entrenchment deeper over time. As with the Zealots radicalism increased over decades, not overnight. The foolish part about partnering with a political spirit is that all factions are pawns of the same player, there is no winner other than the spirit at work. You may think there is no way God's people could possibly become that out of control and deceived and murderous in this day and age. It's hard to believe, but the warning of the Lord is not to venture down that path and find out how possible it really could be. There is a demonic influence at work over the minds of people on the earth, and some levels of which will increasingly lead to insanity and death. It is not something we as believers need to fear, unless we open the door to partnering with the wrong spirit and tagging God's name on to our cause. We are not impervious in our humanity, it would be arrogant to think so blindly of our condition. I am already seeing many elements of these dynamics already at work. In fact it was eye opening while I was studying how many modern parallels I could see currently in the midst of the beginnings playing out.
On the matter of a cause. Let's be clear. The Lord will personally encounter an individuals life open to Him no matter their environment. When God shows up on behalf of another, that is not an automatic endorsement from Him of the cause or agenda in which that person finds themselves. I have been in enough gatherings where the environment or leadership was corrupted but the Lord still showed up for me and others. Why? Not because He was endorsing the fruit of the environment, leader or mandate, but He was answering the hunger of the individual. Let the fruit preach, if it appears rotten don't eat it.
Gather around Jesus more than anything in these days. Don't focus on gathering around a cause, gathering in reaction, gathering in agendas or protest, gathering in rebellion and revolt. I'm not saying all are wrong, I am saying these have become and will become more the focus than the simplicity of gathering around Jesus. Even some will say they are gathering around Jesus, but He won't be their true primary agenda.
Disputes, dissensions, factions are all mentioned in Galatians 5:19-20 alongside sexual immorality, drunkenness and sorcery as sinful nature directly opposed to the Spirit. Factions. A little earlier Paul writes "You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church]... For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another...But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5:7-9, 13&15. I wonder if Paul had a glimpse into what was coming at that point. He was attempting to point the Galatians another way, from that of a Jewish sect set on old laws, law for which Christ death had already justified them from. A little leaven is all it can take if we don't take stock of our lives regularly, if we are not applying fresh discernment and revelation, and then we get off course with a version godliness that lacks any semblance of Christ's power and life at work within us, but may look outwardly effective or powerful in mans eyes.
Turn, the Lord cries. Turn yourselves fully towards Me. Eyes, hands, and hearts. Don't be consumers of this hours turmoil. Gather into Me. Gather with Me. What you see outwardly is not a present reality of the condition of My love for you, to see that you must allow your eyes to see Me. You must acquire spiritual eyes. You must entrust Me to preoccupy your heart and minds more than the preoccupations of this world. Where has my name gone from your lips? Where has the flame of desire been hidden away? I long for the type of zeal that professes of my love over and over, rolling from your lips like kisses. The zeal of a flame of desire too hot to handle, that burns on the insides consuming the dead woodworked structures that were built to scaffold empty spaces. Decide my loves, that your zeal resides only within Me.
*I realise this may be a polarising or heavy word for many. So please feel free to ask questions to discuss in the comments. Don't allow it to take you along a path of fear, that is not the intent, rather allow it reflection in Christ.
**For an overview of the related events around the zealot movement, this is a good link and easy to understand. https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/zealots-people-of-the-palm-branch