“Look, you denounce the fact that
I have a God that communicates with me.
That’s the first mistake!"
-- David Koresh
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that
were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony that they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O lord, holy and true, dost thou
not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that
they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their
brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
February 28, 1993. The quiet country air broke that morning to the sound of military helicopters flying at low altitude above Mt. Carmel. This was the name of the Branch Davidian residence situated on a seventy seven acre patch of land east of Waco, Texas. Almost simultaneously two cattle trailers pulled into the driveway at the front of the property. They headed towards the house with their tops covered. But instead of the cattle they were designed to carry they concealed a cargo of heavily armed intruders poised for a surprise attack. Men posing as beasts, how ironic!
As they arrived at the front of the house, David Koresh opened the door and went outside to meet them. In an urgent appeal to get their attention he shouted, “…there are women and children in here.”! But to no avail. It had already started. In a rush of commotion they had exited the trailers. The bubble of concealment burst as they piled out charging towards the house. So began what would become a fully blown gun battle. In his courageous effort to prevent this David was shot and wounded. His father-in-law, who had accompanied him, was also seriously hurt. They both stumbled back inside the house.
By this time the familiar sounds of gunfire seemed to come from everywhere. Not that this was particularly noticed. The mind had already moved on to what this all meant and what had to be done in light of it. This was no ordinary day at Mt. Carmel. As the reality of the moment set in, the very real possibility of us all being killed drove us beyond our fears in a spirited defense of ourselves.
Minutes into the battle a 911 call was made to the emergency services. We had not become so overwhelmed by events to have lost all hope of stopping it. Although the battle had already started it was thought we could secure a ceasefire. It took what seemed like forever to get our attackers to agree to this. When finally they did, it was arranged they would leave our property. This was done without further incident. When the smoke cleared there were deaths and injuries on both sides.
It was not long before news of this spread. It quickly drew the attention of the national networks. The speed with which they descended on Waco was noteworthy. In the aftermath of complete failure, what our attackers planned as a surprise would now be broadcast for the world to see.
Shortly after this initial attack the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), who were responsible for launching it, were replaced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). I would assume not without much ambivalence. They had just received a very embarrassing blow and were now being relieved of any further frontline involvement. Inside Mt. Carmel we attended to our wounded and dying. Much shaken by what had happened, for many of us we were unsure what to think. Although encouraged at having mounted a successful defense of our faith we also knew this was far from over. Judging from what had happened what would come next did not look pretty.
In the ensuing days and weeks the Mt. Carmel residence would be surrounded. Most noticeable were the regular sights of tanks driven up and down the property. In total there were about sixteen of them including M1 Abrahams, of the type used in the first U.S war in Iraq. These were the “chariots…with flaming torches…” spoken of by the prophet Nahum (2:1-5). In addition there were two 50 caliber machine gun-posts at the north and south end of the house. Across the street to the front was a third sniper position. Razor wire was used to cordon off certain areas of the property and armed helicopters kept aerial surveillance. We were imprisoned inside Mt. Carmel. The scene was like that of a regular war zone. These physical facts would become matched by choice words and phrases disseminated through the media as part of psychological spin operation designed to demonize and isolate us from public sentiment.
The conditions inside Mt. Carmel were far from desirable, but this was of little immediate concern. There was a lot at stake. We were wronged and those responsible knew it. We would endure weeks of negotiations in an attempt to find a formula to end this without further loss of life. One that would ensure the truth would prevail. Not surprisingly this proved elusive. Rather than acknowledge their wrongs our attackers would instead use their power and position to try to hide them. This meant continuing their offensive. We could not go along with this. The high-profile nature of the event meant it could not easily be swept under the carpet so long as we continued our stand. In the face of this they would resort to more extreme measures in a bid to accomplish their objectives.
Sensing failure, like their sister organization the BATF before them, after 51 days the FBI pulled the plug on the negotiations. On April 19, 1993, our Mt. Carmel residence was again attacked. The final solution our attackers had devised was now in effect. Tanks repeatedly rammed the building inserting toxic gas. The wooden structure shook as parts of it tore away from the foundations. Minutes into this second attack the building caught fire. The flames quickly spread engulfing the entire structure. What they could not accomplish through the show of force, negotiations and poisoned gas they thought to now accomplish by fire. Not an unfamiliar strategy. But this too would also prove to be a failure.
Scores of my fellow believers would perish in the flames. They would die as martyrs for the word of God and the testimony we held. Only a handful would survive that day to give an account of what they endured. Quite a different one to the official line our attackers gave as they sought to cover-up their crimes. Even before the fires were out they had already set this in motion. You will recall the now infamous line by one negotiator as the building became engulfed in flames, “…look, they’re killing themselves.” Earlier as the tanks inserted their cargo of toxic gas, the same negotiator was heard saying, “…this is not an assault, this is not an assault.”! They had already planned the “suicide” line they intended to sell to the unsuspecting public. It was just a matter of orchestrating events on the ground to give that appearance. This would be helped along with a little running commentary.
What happened on April 19, 1993, was far from being the mass suicide our attackers tried to make it out to be. It was mass murder. Perpetrated by the government and shown on national television for all to see. I am reminded of the amphitheaters back in the days of Rome where the Christians were thrown to the lions. We were seeing a more updated version of this via television. When our attackers could not take over our souls they killed our bodies instead. The fact that we were prepared to stand for what we believed in, even at the cost of our lives, is not suicide. What was done to us on April 19 was indeed an assault. We did not kill ourselves. They killed us.
Having the knowledge of our earlier stand on February 28, they knew we would not yield in the face of aggression. Any further attempt to use aggression therefore would only lead to a certain outcome. These were not stupid men. They knew what they were doing. They made the decision to mount this second attack with a clear goal in mind. It would either force us out or we would die in the flames. Whatever the outcome, they thought to dictate over our will and orchestrate events to conceal their own unrighteous deeds.
We are now many years removed from what took place in1993. What the world saw marked an important event in time and space. There are those who would wish it were completely forgotten but it now sits as a witness indelibly etched in history. The behind the scenes details of what really happened have since become widely available. But this is not the sum of it. A very important question remains to be answered. This takes us beyond the event itself to the question of meaning. What did the world really see at Waco, Texas in 1993? In the years that have followed there have been a number of unsuccessful attempts to address this question of meaning. These have come against the backdrop of other major world events that have occurred since then significantly impacting the way we now live and view reality. The meaning of what happened at Waco is not unrelated to these and remains to be answered.
For my brethren and I who were directly involved, the Waco event was much more than the government’s abuse of its powers in the murder of the innocent. There is a far greater significance to all this that relates to matters of God, Truth, freedom and conscience. We were a community of faith in God above all else. Although this event was a notably significant moment in the course of our experience it is not what defines us. There is a definite and much larger spiritual context by which what happened at Waco is understood. This is what we also drew upon for our self identity. It embodied the soul of who we are. Those who attacked us sought to undermine this leaving us little choice but to defend ourselves. To think of us merely in terms of the Waco events alone would be like thinking of Christ 2,000 years ago only in terms of the crucifixion. This limits the ability to see the larger picture and the meaning of the event. It also leaves one unprepared for what is to follow next as a result of how the matter was dealt with.
My purpose in writing this book is to show in a concise form the biblical context and content of David Koresh and the Waco events. It is hoped this will help make more apparent the theological significance and meaning of what this event was truly about. To accomplish this I draw upon the experience I had while staying at the Mt. Carmel community before, during and after what happened in 1993. I have known David Koresh about 20 years now. We first met in the summer of 1988. Through subsequent visits to Mt. Carmel I came to appreciate and embrace the faith and beliefs they held. We shared a common purpose in our thirst to know the truth of God above all else. It was evident that this community was uniquely rewarded in this regard. Looking back at the series of events that led me to this place in my journey of faith has left me convinced these were more than just coincidence. Faith in God has its own definite course in the experiences and direction of our lives. The exercise of faith is itself an important part of that experience. We understand there are things experience alone can teach.
Reducing these matters to the written form presents its own unique challenge. What we are dealing with here is more than just imparting a mass of information. We are talking about a “SPIRIT”. This is perceived consciously as a vision and understanding of life imparted to those possessed of it. It has its origin of heaven rather than of earth and corresponds with the biblical text of scripture as its parallel expression in written form. The prophetic texts of the Old Testament and the book of Revelations are of particular focus. What reporting there is in the literature about David Koresh regarding this has been done in light of the Waco event. This is different than seeing things from the “SPIRIT”. Although such reporting serves its purpose it comes across as generalized commentary which lacks the animation and enthusiasm characterizing the way we received it at Mt. Carmel. An outside observer’s view which takes the form of an after the fact report, cannot suffice here to declare the Truth of this. We are dealing with matters of faith and ideal that are much greater than what is visibly seen as the forms and processes these give rise to. This would be like committing the same trespass the government committed against us but in a journalistic sense. It denies us a crucial aspect of our being and right of faith to relate with God and to give an accounting of it ourselves. You will recall the opening statement by David Koresh, “Look, you denounce the fact that I have a God that communicates with me. That’s the first mistake…” We understand that the U.S. government is not God. Neither are those in the media and other such institutions of human culture who might take to themselves the sole right to determine the meaning of reality. There is that which has to do with relating to God without the filters of prevailing societal and cultural forms. It allows for change and is an important part of the meaning of freedom. This is at the heart of why faith exists.
We begin then in Chapter 1, with a look at the subject of the Judgment of God. Here I seek to show the immediate biblical frame of reference against which we derived our self understanding and sense of purpose. The understanding David Koresh had of himself and his role stemmed from this. The part he played in this was scripted. It was not something he dreamt up one day out of the wild imagination of his own heart and wishes. There have been those who have sought to portray him this way. Some of whom were with us at Mt. Carmel, but for their own reasons left. Their agenda driven assault of David’s character and by the same token those of us who stood with him is nothing more than a noisy distraction. It is certainly not the truth. The actions of these former believers is aptly captured in Ezek 34:18&19, where God states,
18 Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but you must
tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture? And to have drunk of the deep
waters, but you must foul the residue with your feet?
19 And as for my flock, they eat that which you have trodden with your feet; and drink
that which you have fouled with your feet.
These matters of Truth we were shown were indeed good pastures and deep waters. It was difficult enough to come to the knowledge of them without the confusion created by those, who having once embraced them, would then turn against them hurling venomous unwarranted insults and accusations. We certainly held no ill will towards them and never has it been said that we did. The sad part is the effects this would have on those who were not there and knew no better. What is clear David Koresh operated within a discernable context of spiritual understanding and conviction of purpose. This is not seen by outward appearances alone. It should come as no surprise that there are things beyond sensory perception and the ability of the reason that comes of it to discern. Not that these are inaccessible to our learning. The fact is they are! Just not by human reason alone. The ability of reason is only a limited faculty of mind by which to know the meaning of things. The imagination arguably ranks higher and serves a greater purpose than the mere creation of fantasies. This is understood particularly with regards to Inspiration and Direct Revelation which assumes the existences of some entity of higher intelligence and Being beyond man and who communicates with us.
We continue in Chapters 2 and 3, where we show more directly how the Judgment of God actually links to David Koresh and our Mt. Carmel community. Taken together, these initial three chapters reveal precisely how Heaven continues to be directly involved in the affairs of the earth as in biblical times. Our being gathered at Mt. Carmel was not by mere chance. Though unseen there was an unmistakable presence at work that could not be denied. I am reminded here of what Christ stated to Nicodemus concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in John 3. Note verse 8,
8 The wind bloweth where it listeh, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not
tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
The Spirit of God is the Vehicle by which we understand the things of God. The advancements we achieve in the understanding of God then become evidence of the Spirit herself. We are able to further affirm the truth of this by what this allows us to see of the meanings of truth contained in the written word of Scriptures. These matters may seem a little strange at first but this does not make them any less true.
In Chapter 4, we focus on the event of Waco itself. Here I show what happened in 1993, as it is portrayed in the scriptures. This was the fulfillment of yet another significant event written of long before it would actually take place. To those who are unaware of bible prophecy, the future of this world has already been foreseen and recorded. This does not mean that events are predestined to turn out a certain way. Rather, the actions of men are foreseen as they are played out in the circumstances and processes in which they occur. They are then revealed to us of God demonstrating the fact that God is not bound by time. He has the power to see the beginning and end of all things. Whilst we may not be able to see it ourselves we can understand the possibility of it. We also possess a limited ability to see and influence the course of events. I noted how those who attacked us knew what would happen when they launched the second attack on April 19. The first attack showed we would not back down to the threat of violence. To relinquish our position of faith in God to the fear and death they brought to us was not an option. The knowledge of our earlier stand became part of a larger strategy designed to engineer events to achieve a certain outcome. Having determined the desired outcome, events on the ground can then be manipulated accordingly. This is predestination as it is devised by men. This also made the second attack a decision to murder us. During the negotiations while I was inside Mount Carmel there was a distinct sense that this was what was being done. This was later proven to be exactly the case. Even president Clinton was a party to this. When questioned on national television about Waco shortly after April 19, he stated “…a bunch of fanatics killed themselves.” This was revealing of the outcome the negotiators wanted to achieve, with the approval of their commander-and-chief. Their solution was to create the appearance of a “suicide”. They could then cover-up their wrongs without any serious investigation of their conduct.
In Chapter 5, “…together until the harvest…” we pick up the subject of the Judgment again. This time we discuss in greater detail just what it actually means to set Judgment in the earth. Here we examine the role David Koresh and the Waco event plays in this process. The idea of perfect justice is not an unattainable possibility. With God, it is the only possibility. Anything less would be human! Is it possible that a righteous person could end up being lost? Or an unrighteous person mistakenly saved only to start the whole thing over again? In the Judgment of God, how is it that there can be no mistakes? In this chapter we also review the description of world events in the run-up to the judgment as they were foretold in the prophetic scriptures. We consider in particular the book of Daniel for the broad sweep of prophetic information it contains.
What is truth really? How does it relate to the meaning and vision of life by which we order our lives? Real life lasts without end. It renders its possessor immortal. A far cry from the momentary blip we now experience life to be before death takes us captive. You will recall the angel who visited John in Rev 1. In verse 18, he stated,
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen;
and have the keys of hell and death.
What are, “…the keys of hell and death”? In Rev 7:2, we are shown an angel ascending from the east with, “…the seal of the living God.” Under the fifth seal of Rev 6:9-11, we are shown a group of people who were killed yet they were still alive! The Two Witnesses of Rev 11:3-13, were brought back from death. What does this all mean?
What we now see of Truth and experience of life reaches only as far as the concepts of our minds allows us to see. But is truth merely a concept of mind? Is what we now experience of life the sum of what life is? These and other related questions are the focus of Chapter 6, where we take a look at Truth and Life in light of this New Revelation.
In chapter 7 we go beyond the Judgment. Here we look at the future of the world and the universe as it is envisioned of God. Picking up from where we left off in our review of the book of Revelation in Chapter 1, we explore several themes fundamental to the broader meaning and purpose of salvation. These include the resurrection, immortality
and the Kingdom of God. We were given valuable insights into these subjects. The fact of which tells us they are not beyond our capability to understand. It is not hard to see their contribution in allowing us to grasp the true vision of life which affords a clearer sense of meaning and direction in how we order our lives. In the changing world around us this is something of lasting value we can meaningfully depend on.
It is important I emphasize what is written here is not the whole fruit just a bite of it. Hopefully enough to provide a clearer insight into what these matters concerning David Koresh were truly about. The meaning of what happened at Waco reaches beyond the facts of the event itself. What we are talking about concerns fundamental principles of truth and right that parallels the Christ event of the crucifixion 2,000 years ago. That unconscionable crime of justice undone remains with us today. So too the Waco event, it is not going to go away. Although not yet fully realized it holds profound significance in the plan of salvation. The fact of this is to demonstrate itself in the related events that are still yet to follow. What was seen in 1993 is far from being the end of these matters.
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