Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jerusalem: Battle ground forPeace

Jerusalem. A selected biblical history with a promise

Reading Isaiah 62.
The city of peace doesn’t live up to its name. Why is it so desired? What motivates nations to possess it or to dispossess Israel from its capital? Is it strategic, as in ancient history or spiritual as the anti Yahweh, anti Christ Jesus forces seek to make the promises of the bible a lie.

From Genesis 14:18 – Revelation 21. Jerusalem is the city in the forefront of Scripture.
Why is the city of Jerusalem so central to the bible? Why is it so contested in history?
It is central to God’s plan of reclaiming what Adam gave away in Genesis 3.
It is central to Redemption.
It is central to God’s integrity.
This is why the god of this World and the forces of Darkness seek to possess it or destroy it.

The Bible’s claim.
i…The Land of Israel is God’s. Dt. 32:43. Joel 2:18.
ii…The city belong to Him – 1 Kings 11:13, 32. Dt. 14:23. Ps. 76:2. 135:21.
iii…So too the People. Ex.19f. 1v…Joel 3:2b.

The first mention of Jerusalem is in Genesis 14:18-20. Melchizedek, King, Priest of God Most High met Abram returning form defeating the coalition of armies who had captured Lord after destroying Sodom. Melchizedek gave Abram bread/wine, expressive of Communion. Later after Abram became Abraham he took his son Isaac into the vicinity of Jerusalem at Mt. Moriah. The story in Genesis 22 is a shadow of the spiritual reality of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross at Mt. Moriah known as Calvary. (Also look in 1 Chron.21 and see the place mentioned in relation to David’s sin and consequences being dealt with there.)

Jerusalem is linked with specific events in the Messiah’s life.
Daniel 9:25,26. The Anointed One ‘cut off.’
Zechariah 9:9. The king and the donkey ride.

Passover celebration of the Nation’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12f) Cross. This again was a shadow of the spiritual deliverance Christ Jesus would achieve as the fulfilment of the Passover’s sacrificial system when He was crucified.

The Anti-Christ foretold and the times of the Gentiles plus the Great Tribulation are all centred around Jerusalem. This is the central focus of the book of Revelation. Read also
Dan. 9.24-27. 12:1 c/- Mt.24.

Jerusalem is a cup which sends people reeling…Zech. 12:2.
Jerusalem is an immovable rock on which Nations will be injured. Zech. 12:3.
Jerusalem is the Eternal God’s warning or invitation centre. Ps. 2.

The Book of Revelation pictures a most horrific time which will come upon the earth. God has warned us about it. Ignore it at your peril. No one can blame God for the unbelief of nations which choose to side with Babylon and Darkness against God’s revealed purposes and Salvation centred in Jesus and Jerusalem. Through that time men and women will be saved and martyred(Rev.7:9-17). It will also open the eyes of Israel to their Messiah. Zech. 12:10-13. c/- Matt. 23:39.

The World/Satan wants to discredit the Bible because it describes their doom and the triumph of the crucified Jesus. It also reveals the destiny of Jerusalem and Israel with the establishing of the Kingdom of God. You and I live in the most challenging times where so much of Biblical teaching is coming to a climax.

There is a beautiful through unsettling record in Zephaniah 3 highlighting the great and terrible day of the Lord against those who seek to crush Israel, God’s inheritance. In this passage we have an undeniable guarantee from the Lord of Glory yet to be fulfilled. Zeph. 3:14-17. On that day God will actually sing and rejoice over His people and their survival and triumph. Until then we are encouraged by Ps. 122:6 to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

After the 1000years of God’s kingdom on Earth and the final Battle mentioned in Revelation 20, the bible closes with the promise of a New Heaven and Earth and the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven.
Between now and then God has warned us of tough times, sad times, the fury of a ruthless enemy intent on making God a liar. However the Lord keeps His word. Hold it close to your heart.

The day will come when Jerusalem will be the city of peace and the joy of the whole earth.
Ray (waiting for that day) Hawkins

Monday, September 23, 2013

Israel is Distinct from the Church

Israel in the Scriptures ( brief outline)

Due to some technical difficulties the theme ‘Whose Land’ will be delayed for a few weeks. I've also had problems trying to download pictures. Sorry about that.
However I’ve put together the following outline hopefully showing the distinction between the Nation of Israel and The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Below in outline are some reasons why I’m convinced about God’s purposes for Israel.

When God makes a promise He keeps it – regardless. Romans 11:25-36.
(Especially v. 29)

Israel and the Church are two distinct identities with two separate missions. The Church was unknown in the Old Testament. Notice Ephesians 3:1-13. (Esp. v.5, 10) Rom. 16:25 – 26.

Israel is national and linked to the land.
The Church is International, It’s the body of Christ and is linked to Heaven.
When Israel’s leaders rejected Christ Jesus as their crucified, risen Saviour/King they were destined to judgement and dispersion. (Remember Deuteronomy 28-30). The Kingdom of God seemed doomed. Why? It requires a nation, a land and a capital. Satan seemed to have won. The Lord however called the Gentiles to be the bearers of the Gospel not to set up the Kingdom but to reveal the wonder of wonders, Christ is the Head of the Body of believers called the Church.

If God gave up Israel because of the Nation’s failure, there isn’t any reason why He will not forsake the Church because the Church (I’d rather say Christendom) is far worse because it has a greater revelation. That’s why Romans 11:29 is so important. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

If God cannot fulfil His recorded promises to and through Israel, regardless of their wilfulness, then He has failed and His word is unreliable. This is untenable and preposterous! Read passages such as Isaiah 60-66. Ezekiel 34-39. Zephaniah 3:14-20. Zechariah 14. for insights into the future fulfilment.

The question arises when will the Church give way and Israel come back on line? I believe the Lord snatches His Body, the Church, away before the time and evil domination of the world by the anti-Christ.
Why would the Lord God Do this? 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The church appears before the judgement seat of Christ. Rom. 14:10. It is accounting time. There 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 takes place.

Israel endures the great Tribulation. Matthew 24:15-31. and Rev. 6-19. The nation has been warned and warned and warned abut this. Unbelief has blinded their eyes. The anti‒ Semitic world seizes the chance to destroy Israel and make God’s word a lie. Jesus says it will actually cause the nation to cry out to Him to rescue them.

During that time the Jewish people who believe Jesus is the Messiah promised set out to tell the world this truth. (That’s the 144,000. Notice they are from the 12 tribes. This cannot be explained away. It must be taken as plain speaking) Their efforts bring many Gentiles and Israelites to faith and martyrdom. It also paves the way for a national awakening to recognizing Jesus as He is. Matthew 23:37-39.

Revelation 20 2, 4-6 speaks about the fulfilment of the opening verses of the Lord’s prayer. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Also highlighted are the promises given by God to Israel through the prophets. C/- Isaiah 11:1-9. 9:6-7. Ezekiel 39:21-29. It will be in this time such little but important words pertaining to Israel and God will be true.
Check our ‘Never again’ ‘until then’ and similar words linked to Israel by the prophets on this matter.
It hasn’t happened – yet. It will!

I will endeavour to get back to my theme on ‘Whose Land’ as soon as possible. Until then I will share some outlines from Revelation. Please accept my apologies for this confusion.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Whose Land?

This in My Land.

The Middle East is constantly highlighted across the media. In particular the arguments between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s over who in entitled to the land the Bible called Canaan. Islam tries to stake a claim to it all. Unfortunately for them even their Koran specifically mentions God gave the land to Israel. Then the Jewish Scriptures assert, with the support of history, that the land belongs to Israel.

However there is a problem. The small country which makes the world tremble whenever trouble breaks out doesn’t belong to anyone nation or tribe. Leviticus 25:23 makes this clear: The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. (Emphasis added) To whom is the ‘mine’ referring. Not to Allah. It belongs to Yahweh (Jehovah)!

When the Lord God of Hosts chose such a small parcel of the earth as His own He had a strategy in mind. Ezekiel 5:5: Thus says the Lord God: This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the centre of the nations, with countries all around her.’ According to the Scriptures this land was special to God for specific reasons. Some of those we will consider in coming weeks. This should actually make individuals and nations serious think through how they treat what God delights in. We are told that His eyes are on this area constantly for He cares for it.

How then did the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob come to possess it? The Scriptures tells us the Lord God gifted it to them as an inheritance. Jeremiah stressed this in a prophecy recorded in 3:18: In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I (God) gave your ancestors for an inheritance.’

Why would the Eternal God and Creator want to do such a thing? As with anything recorded within the pages of the Bible, there is a purpose. It has to do with redeeming a lost world, overthrowing a usurper’s attempt at domination and dethroning Death’s claim to sovereignty. It is within the book of Genesis we will begin our journey of discovery and understanding why this all was necessary.

The land God has claimed as His own is featured in the Bible as the centre for Moral and Spiritual domination. This is the real issue which is being played out behind the political games of the nations and the anti–Jewish rhetoric throughout the media. Consciously or unconsciously the anti–Christ and anti–Yahweh forces of this world want to rob God of His land and destroy His purposes and obliterate those He claims as His inheritance. You can read all about it in the books of Ezekiel, Joel, Zechariah and Revelation for starters. You will also read of the failure of such opposition.
To be continued.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Questions God asks #7. Why seek for a sign

The sign's up

‘‘If there is a God let Him give me a sign of His reality’ is the sceptic’s escape clause for unbelief. Such thinking isn’t new. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day demanded the same from Him. From all accounts this was a persistent jibe at Him. Jesus responded: ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign?’ (Mark 8:12) In Matthew and Luke’s account something is added. ‘No sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.’ What was He meaning? Matthew 12:40 explains the cryptic statement: “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.’

Easter Lily

Jonah is a battle ground for many today. His story seems so unreal, a great piece of fiction with a spiritual application. There is a problem with such a view. The people to whom Jesus spoke accepted it as historical. Jesus endorsed the Biblical account and applied a message to His generation from it. The people of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s message and Jesus claimed that a greater than Jonah was now amongst the people. The trouble was they couldn’t see Him. Therefore one last opportunity would be theirs to have scepticism give way to faith. What would that be? A death, burial and resurrection!

The very essence of Christianity depends upon this truth. The Christian faith is rooted and grounded in Jewish history. That history is bound up with world powers such as Egypt, Babylon, Greek and Roman. The bible is the most researched and investigated book ever, by friend and foe. It has stood tall and unbowed against the fiercest of critics and the wildest of misrepresentations. How? Because, in a great measure, of the sign of Jonah. Christ Jesus’ birth, life and death on the cross are well known. How come? Because of the sign of Jonah!

Without this fact there would be no Gospel stories. Without this sign there would be no Christian faith. The disciples were not fools to suffer and die for a deluded Rabbi. Who would follow such a man unless the evidence stacked up that He was who He claimed to be; He fulfilled the predictions of the Bible from Genesis to Malachi; He experienced the typology of Jonah.

Okay, what then is the sign of Jonah? He experienced a resurrection. This is symbolised by his being vomited out of the sea monster after three days and nights in its belly onto dry ground. Jesus by associating Himself with Jonah but on a grander scale was preparing His hearers, sceptics, followers for the most crucial test. I find it fascinating that it was His most virulent opponents who had some sense that Jesus spoke the truth. That why they arranged a squad of soldiers and a Government seal placed around and on the tomb. Three days and nights after the crucifixion and entombment Jesus rose triumphant from the grave. The sign of Jonah was fulfilled.

Why then didn’t the leaders embrace the risen Lord? The same reasons why people won’t accept the testimony of Jesus and his death burial and resurrection today! Self–righteousness, pride, fear of others, consequences of belief to name a few reasons. Eating ‘humble pie’ and admitting you were wrong, especially about Jesus, is hard to swallow at first. However when a person chews and swallows such a ‘pie’ it becomes the most delicious meal of all time. People still want God to do a circus act or a talent show for them to believe in Him. He is not their clown nor their pantomime act. He is their Lord whether they believe Him or not. There are more than enough proofs about the promise of the Messiah, the revelation of Him as Jesus of Nazareth, the historical and spiritual significance of the cross. All their credibility rests upon the sign of Jonah. The very emergence, endurance and energy of the Christian faith also flows from that sign.

Paul’s masterpiece on this matter is 1 Corinthians 15. He made the journey from scepticism and hostility to ‘eating humble pie’ and faith and unbounded enthusiasm for the risen Christ Jesus. Have you made that journey yet?

(This completes the series on Questions God asks)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Question #6. God Asks 'Why Will You die?

Question # 6 God asks: Why Will You Die?
I was never much good at mathematics. However the significance of numbers intrigues me. This is especially true from the Biblical standpoint. The number two (2) is a case in point. It speaks of division, separation and alternatives. The number two calls upon us in certain situations to make a choice. The decision we make is
our own. The consequences of our choices are outside our control.

The Master Teacher, Jesus Christ, used the number two (2) in His parables frequently. The story of the two builders in Matthew 7:24–27 tells of people’s foundation for life. You can build your life on the quick, easy and worldly wise foundation depicted by sand. Or you can expend effort and determination to build your life on the rock. Both appear great until the storms of life come roaring down and over each life. Only the one whose foundations are on solid ground will stand the test.

I’ve seen may lives come crashing down due to having no support system, no sense of meaning, no hope and no sense of destiny. Jesus offered all people His foundation for life. It is a person’s choice whether or not to build upon the teachings and life of Christ.

Another parable is from Matthew 7:13–14 and relates to two gates, one narrow and one very wide. The wide gate is easy to find and is well trodden. It promises much. There is pleasure, prestige, power and plenty of everything. It introduces the unsuspecting to the Deceiver who is dressed in Mardi–Gras costume promising fun, fun, fun. I’ve seen young people rush to and through this gate without considering the consequences. The wreckage to their health, mind and relationships is a tragedy. I believe the Lord still offers escape routes out of the Broadway. It means turning of it and taking the narrow gate. Such fortunate escapees wear the marks of the Wide–gate but not the curse or destiny.

The Narrow gate seems unattractive to any superficial glance. To those who seriously consider what lies beyond and its destiny the appeal is irresistible. The path may be demanding yet it is meaningful, life enriching, health bestowing, offering forgiveness and mercy, noble relationships and a destiny in the Heavens. Why is this? Because the Narrow gate introduces a person to Jesus Christ as Lord, Saviour and Companion along the way! Where do we come across the Narrow gate? In the message of Jesus Christ and His life, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Some hear it as foolishness. To others it is a stumbling block, a scandal. Others receive it as the liberating, life changing, heaven opening message of God’s grace.

Perhaps the most striking illustration of the number two (2) is found at the crucifixion of Jesus. Two terrorists were crucified with Him, one on either side of Jesus. Read the accounts in the Gospels. Both started out cursing Jesus and challenging Him to display His powers by getting them all off the cross and presumably destroying their enemies. Then one of them took notice of Jesus and His demeanour and words. The other one was so busy cursing and suffering he couldn’t grasp what Jesus was doing. The former said, Lord remember me when you come into your kingdom. The reply of Jesus is eternally awesome ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’ Again the number two (2) reveals separation, division and choice..
The same is true now. It will always be true. You and I have a choice as to how we will build our life and destiny and the road we will choose to travel and its destination. In a sense each of us becomes one or the other on the crosses looking at Jesus. Jesus offers life in the midst of death, forgiveness and a new destiny. The other alternative is despair and an eternity of regret.

So what then is God’s question for you and me to reflect upon?
‘As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back; from your evil ways for why will you die…’(emphasis added).Ezekiel 33:11. As the Lord God also said to Israel, so He would say to each of us ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses, Choose life, so that you and your descendents may live.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19)