Sunday, April 26, 2015

O for Eyes to See, Ears to Hear.

Boycotting Israel is a fascinating political and semi-religious extortion program conducted by that Country’s detractors. Why does such a small country, with a wonderful legacy of Nobel Prize winners and inventors, suffer such opposition? Because of an inherent hatred of Gentile nations and their twisted thinking. This is compounded by so many who support terrorists such Hamas, P.A. and Hezbollah.

A sad feature of this boycott program is the way certain Denominations think that God has abandoned Israel. In its place, they think, He has put the Church. Such faulty interpretation of Scripture and thereby the nature of God’s calling, injects unbelief in the Bible. In turn, we see this sickness effecting many other Biblical doctrines such as the Kingdom of God, Christ’s Second coming, Holiness, assurance of salvation and Creation.

No-one can read the Old Testament seriously and not be confronted by the God who is faithful to His word, even when people are unfaithful. In Deuteronomy 28-30 is the record of Israel’s future under curses and blessings. These need to be read so as to understand Israel’s history and the message of the prophets. They based their convictions on the God who keeps His word. (Surely this is what we as Christians also do. God is faithful and the New Testament endorses this truth. This is fortunate for us as we are as faithless as ancient Israel. However, Romans 11:29 is our joy.)

Ezekiel was the prophet of the Babylonian captivity. His ministry wasn’t easy. However, within the pages of his writings is a very unmistakable declaration. It occurs at least 40 times applied to Israel and 25 times to certain nations. That statement is ‘they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken…’

To Israel, some of the references are to past or present events. God seemed to be saying these have happened and why haven’t you realised it and believed. Then, Ezekiel takes his readers and hearers into the future. Chapters 33, 34, 36, 37, are specific to an unknown date but to a promised fulfilment in relation to the covenanted Nation. Why does God bother? The prophet seems to put forward two reasons. Ezekiel 36:21-23 ‘I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. I will sanctify my great name… and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes.’

The second reason is Ezekiel 37. This is a wonderful chapter. It talks about something only God can do. Verses 25-28 ‘They shall live in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, in which your ancestors lived; they and their children’s children shall live there forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will bless them and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary among them forevermore. My dwelling place will be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Then the nations shall know that I the Lord sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary is among them forevermore.’ (Emphasis added)

This is a bit much for those who have written off Israel. The more virulent opponents, such as Islam, endeavour to remove any trace of Israel’s occupation in the land. As in last week’s blog, the soil has kept guard over the Nation’s scattered fragments. In effect their Allah is in a pitched battle with the Judeo-Christian Yahweh to try and make the Lord God a failure and a liar. Our God’s track record in keeping His promises is our guarantee of the future promised to Israel.

What was said by the Lord Jesus Christ to the people of His day can be said to the World at large today. Such people have ears, but hear not the word of God when spoken. They have eyes to see but see not what God has done to fulfil His word in the yesteryears. They stand, however, condemned. Why? Because, in the words of Ezekiel, the Lord God has done, and will do things, so that you (and the World) will know that He is God.

Do you want to have your eyes opened? Do you want to have ears that hear? Read especially Isaiah and Ezekiel. As you do, ask the Lord to open your eyes to see His faithfulness; open your ears to hear His word.

(For those who want to follow some other references to this blog:

Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13-14.   7:4, 9, 27.  28:25.  33:29. 36:11, 38.  39:22, 28.)

Ray Hawkins.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why Christians and Israel are Hated

Is the Islamic State simply uncultured, barbaric and ignorant? Or, do they epitomise their spiritual god and master? For such vileness, and viciousness is the trademark of Satan according to the Judeo-Christian Bible. He is the prince of darkness. He is the hater of Israel and the Christian faith. He seeks to destroy cultural expressions and the histories of Israel and all the evidence associated with its history. Two specific words are used by the apostle Paul in describing Satan’s efforts. One is deceit (Ephesians 6:11) the other refers to purpose (2 Corinthians 2:11). You can discern these in the Islamic terror. Satan is the driving force of I.S. Hamas, P.L.O. and Hezbollah to highlight a few in his employ.
What is happening in the Middle East is a continuation of previous attempts to deny Israel’s existence and the credibility of the Bible. How was that undertaken? By endeavouring to obliterate evidence of occupying the land. As an example, for many, many years the existence of the Hittite nation existence was scoffed at as being a ‘tall tale and untrue’ to bolster Israel’s war victories. Archaeologists found this forgotten Nation and its impressive kingdom. There are many other verifications like this regarding Israel’s history.

By trying to make the Bible a series of myths the adversary wants people treat it with disdain or disregard it all together. Opponents would raise such things as, the events of the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea. Also included, David and Goliath, David’s reign and Solomon’s temple, again to mention just a few. Where was any tangible evidence? The I.S of those times (e.g. Antiochus Epiphanes as an example) tried their best to destroy it, bury it, burn it. However, the soil of the land of Israel embraced the shattered, scattered fragments. There, in its bosom, evidence was protected until it was unearthed in recent times.

The underlying purpose of these attempts was to make the God of Israel a liar, Jesus Christ a fraud and the concept of our falling short of Heaven’s Standard, ridiculous. In the light of the work by archaeologists you would think people would be thankful for historical authentication. Unfortunately, the power of darkness, its devotees and its hatred of Israel chooses to deny and destroy.

Why? To blind a person to the truth. To put barriers in their search for truth. To make the Bible unread and thereby prevent them from escaping from the Darkness into the kingdom of Christ. God has done certain things so that the world will know and revere His Name. He wants people to know He hasn’t abandoned them but set in place a rescue mission. Yahweh recorded His intentions and has verified it over and over again. He also unmasked those past and present and future who will be Satan’s allies in trying to prevent it from happening.  The Lord offers grace and mercy to those who hear and respond to what He has done. To those who hear but disbelieve open themselves to His wrath. It isn’t the lack of information or fulfilled prophecy that is the problem. It is a person’s unbelief, pride, fear and unfettered rebellion. Illustrations of this are shown in the Scriptures in the lives of Pharaoh (Exodus 7:3-5) and the Jewish Sanhedrin (Matthew 28:11-15) and others.

The following Biblical references all state ‘(they) shall know that I am the Lord. The audience aimed at is stated in the brackets.  Exodus 6:7 (Israel) Exodus 14:4, 18 (Egypt), Joshua 4:24 (the people of the earth), 1 Samuel 17:46 (All the earth shall know about David’s slaying of Goliath and how it was achieved), Jeremiah 16:21 (Gentiles). There are many other references. God doesn’t play games. He does things with the ultimate intent of honouring His promises and warnings. God’s longing is for people to know they can trust him by trusting and obeying His Word. This is a direct challenge to Satan and his authority as people could hear and reach out to God’s Kingdom of Light. His response, destroy, destroy, destroy!

God’s answer, ‘My word… shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please…’ Isaiah 55:11 KJV. Read it and then you too will know God’s heart and invitation to you, personally. Let knowing lead to trust and onto commitment and you will find deliverance from the Darkness, forgiveness and a new beginning, a new destiny and a living hope.


Next week: Ezekiel the prophet’s insight into the future of what God wants us to specifically know and believe. Ezekiel says ‘to know’ approximately 82 times .

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why Was Jesus 'Short-sighted?'

I read an article in a Denominational magazine an article on Jesus and the limits of His knowledge of past and future events. It has been an issue wrestled with by theologians for centuries as it deals with Christ’s twofold nature. Essentially we have to come to the point where we admit it is beyond our intellect to fully grasp. So, once again, it becomes a faith issue.

A question arises in my mind, however, over the following statement in the article. ‘Any understanding of Jesus must be based on the fact that Jesus was a man of His own time’. And also the statement, ‘His knowledge was but the knowledge of His time’. 

I understand that Jesus did not know all that the Father had in mind for Him or the future. This is evident from Mark 13:32 where Jesus admitted that He, as the Son, didn’t know when the ‘fig tree’ would blossom. I understand this limitation on Jesus was part of His living the life of dependence on and faith in His Father’s will. He lived out what He calls us to do.

The question about Jesus knowledge being influenced by the era in which He lived has some serious implications. Does this mean He is fallible in some of His statements? If so what? Does it mean we in this 21st A.D. century can know more than Jesus did whilst on earth? To accept that is to undermine His authority and the inspiration of His prophetic ministry. Also, under a ‘cloud’ would be His endorsement of and the credibility of the Scriptures He believed in. Jesus upheld and defended Genesis to Malachi including creation, Adam and Eve, marriage, Noah’s flood, Sodom and
Gomorrah, (amongst other matters) all of which today are considered either unscientific or outdated. In fact, Jesus was emphatic about the importance of what Moses compiled in the first five books of the Bible. ‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’

May I suggest we gain a clue to Christ’s apparent lack of knowledge on certain matters from John 5:19-20,30 and John 17:8. In John 8:28 is a good summary: ‘Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realise that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but speak these things as the Father instructs me.”’ (NRSV) He was in tune with the Father and shared what the Father revealed to Him at that time. He wasn’t doing His own bidding. Was this an expression of Jesus being the prophet also? Now this puts us into a difficult position if we dismiss aspects of what Jesus taught as simply being due to the knowledge of the time. It makes the Father also fallible. It makes 21st century man wiser than the Father, the Son and their Scriptures. In fact, it gives a person an excuse to ignore what he doesn’t like on the grounds that Jesus didn’t know what we now know.

The mystery of Jesus as Emmanuel (God with us – Son of God) and the second Adam (Son of Man – King of Israel) at the same time remains. His testimony as to His teaching must be two fold. A diligent study of His Bible and a dependence upon listening to His Father must have undergirded what He taught and did. I believe we can build our lives, faith, and hope upon Jesus as being the infallible teacher, the one we call Lord and Saviour. The apostle Peter writing to the suffering Church wrote: If you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.’ 1 Peter 2:20-21.

As Jesus trusted His Father in everything, especially the crucifixion event, He set us an example for our daily life. His words ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’ (John 20:21 NRSV) gives us the foundation for our faith when we are also ‘short-sighted’ in our going. We may not like what we experience, we may not understand events, we may be haunted by unresolved issues, how are we to handle them? Jesus set the example.



©Ray Hawkins.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

6 - 10 April 2015
is introducing

Andrew Murray Destined to Serve: A Biographical Novel
(Clairvaux House (own imprint), 1 October 2014)


Olea Nel

About the Book:

For those who love Historical Fiction about Christian heroes
of the faith"Historically accurate, and based upon Andrew Murray's letters
and early biographies"

A boyish and fun-loving Andrew Murray arrives back in South
Africa after being ordained at the Hague on his twentieth birthday. He soon
discovers that his preaching lacks the power displayed by his heroes of the
faith. He therefore decides to embark on a quest to become a powerful preacher
filled with the Holy Spirit.

About the Author

Dr Olea Nel was born in Cape Town, South Africa. After
completing her training as a teacher in Andrew Murray’s heartland of
Wellington, she relocated to Australia to further her studies. Besides
attaining a PhD in Linguistics, she also has qualifications in Information
Studies and Theology. Having now retired from her position as a senior
librarian at the National Library of Australia, she is able to pursue her
passion for research, especially within the fields of church history and
biography. Her aim is to share her findings with fellow Christians.

As a review member for ACRBA I was asked to do a short review this book ‘Andrew Murray: Destined to Serve.’

Andrew Murray: Destined to Serve.
A Biographical Novel.
A Dutch Reformed minister who has had a Worldwide and cross Denominational influence is the person of Olea Nel’s novel. In her book she gives to us the opening two years of Andrew Murray’s ministry in South Africa.

Although I’m not a fan of first person narrative Olea has written it in an easy to read manner. As you read you will be taken into an understanding of the State and Church politics of the late 1840’s in South Africa. Also, a sense of the spiritual hunger of the Boers especially and the price paid by some to meet that hunger and thirst for God.  A short glossary of terms is in the back which helps us understand some Dutch/Afrikaan words used.

Those, like myself, who have been influenced by Andrew Murray’s writings will become aware of God’s keeping grace to this man. The Lord certainly had a long term purpose for him which readers will look forward to reading about later on. For Olea is in the process of writing another period of this faithful minister of God’s word.

Ray Hawkins is a published author of six (6) Themed Devotional meditations and one (1) book of love poems.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Worm of God.

Pilgrim cross, Glendalough
Worms play an important role in the story of the Judeo-Christian faith. The blood of the coccus worm gave its purple colour to various items, such as linen, in the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is a portrait of the person, ministry and sacrifice of Christ Jesus. Therefore, the worm and its blood must have some prophetic and symbolic link with Jesus.
The first Biblical mention of the coccus worm in Job 25:5-6 is foundational for our understanding. ‘If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his (God’s) sight, how much less a mortal, who is a maggot, and a human being, who is a worm!’ This comment from Bildad might seem over the top and uncomplimentary to our self-esteem. I believe it is very insightful, if not prophetic.

Centuries later King David of Israel penned Psalm 22. The background to this awesome psalm is not clear. What is undeniable is its portrayal of a future event featuring Jesus. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the cry from the cross. (Read the whole passage and behold the crucifixion of Christ foretold a thousand years before the event).

What has that to do with ‘the worm’? Everything! ‘I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people’ (Psalm 22:6). The events of the Passover crucifixion major on Jesus being the Lamb of God whose life and death provided our place of safety from God’s judgement. The symbolism of Jesus being ‘the worm of God’ seems a little bit tasteless. Yet, it actually deals with Bildad’s problem, and often, our unasked but perceived assessment, if not of ourselves, of others.

It is hard to imagine a creature weaker than a worm. Also, by inference, its dwelling place is in earth’s dirt. That is a fit Biblical description of the human condition morally and spiritually. When we come to grips with the symbolic and prophetic magnitude of the cross of Christ, we cannot but be stunned. Writers of the New Testament say many things about the cross.  One of the most revealing, for me, is Paul’s: ‘We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles … For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength’ (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).

Why do you think Jesus became ‘the worm of God?’ I understand it this way. He became the weakest of the weak so that no one has an excuse by saying Christ’s offer of saving grace wouldn’t reach down to his/her depth. The Bible insists that there isn’t anyone beneath what Christ became. We are also informed that as ‘the worm’ Jesus lived in the midst of Humanity’s filth but was uncontaminated. However, He absorbed all the rottenest of this world and was crushed under its weight and judgement by God the Father. Was the weakness of ‘the worm of God’ strong enough to die so as to rise again? Was His uncontaminated life verified?  Was Bildad’s description able to be reversed? That was answered on the third day of entombment. The angel sounded the victory song ‘He is risen!’ God the Father had accepted the identity with, the substitution for, and the victory over the wrath accrued on behalf of ‘Earth’s worms.’

What does this mean for we who believe in and commit ourselves to Jesus as the risen Lord and Saviour? Many things. However, to conclude the theme of ‘the Worm of God’, recall the fact that the coccus worm gave its blood to colour the Tabernacle. When Jesus poured out His life in the shedding of his blood, it made something eternally wonderful for you and me.  It includes being redeemed, purchased, justified, sanctified, washed and at peace with God. The blood of the coccus worm stained the Tabernacle linen purple. The blood of the Lord Jesus did what Isaiah wrote about as a promise of God: ‘Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool’ (Isaiah 1:18).

There are many titles given to Jesus Christ such as The Lamb of God, Lion of Judah, Bridegroom, Prince of Peace and Alpha and Omega. For me there is something awesome, special and precious knowing He is also the Worm of God on my behalf.