Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Watching Israel!"

The events in Israel today have many people talking about what may come next and giving their opinions about the relationship between Israel and the United States and the rest of the world.  What is more important is what GOD says about these things and the times in which we are living.  I am continually amazed how many people in the church today know very little about what God says about the topic of "end times."  I grew up and was a pastor in denominations that totally ignored any discussion of end times or Israel, or even the book of Revelation.  I know well-meaning Christians who say they don't worry about whether there will be a Rapture or a Millennium, or about the other things that may or may not happen in the future concerning the return of Jesus Christ, because God will do what He wants to do.  I have even been told that present-day Israel has nothing to do with God's plans for the future because the Church has replaced Israel in God's plans.  Such thinking and such teaching not only ignore Scripture, but twist and distort it, to the destruction of many who are then deceived and unprepared for what lies ahead.

I was reading Psalm 46 recently and was struck that twice the writer says, "The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress" (verses 7 and 11).  Why is this important?  Because the "God of Jacob" is the only true God!  He is the God we worship; He is the God who made covenant with Abraham and His descendants - FOREVER!  A major part of the battle in the Middle East and around the world, and of the instability in that region, as well as the terrorism that has struck our own country, has to do with Islam and the descendants of Ishmael, Abraham's son by his handmaid, Hagar.  I'm not making this up - read Genesis!  Christians worship and serve the only true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 if you think this isn't important.  The Church is called to make disciples of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, the SEED of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David.  The interfaith dialogue in which many in the church are engaging, and the idea that somehow Israel isn't important in God's plan for OUR future is a denial of the truth of God's Word.  We NEED to understand these things because God has revealed them in His Word.

Some say, "But the Jews don't even believe in Jesus."  Most of them do not.  Why?  Romans 11:25 says, "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited:  Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in."  He then goes on to say in verses 28-29:  "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), for God's gifts and His call are irrevocable."

The prophet Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 31:35-37:  "This is what the LORD says, He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the LORD Almighty is His name:  'Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,' declares the LORD, 'will the descendants of Israel EVER cease to be a nation before me.'  This is what the LORD says:  'Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,' declares the LORD."

The physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David have always been a "nation" before the LORD God Almighty.  When they were in captivity in Babylon, they were still a nation in His sight.  When they were under the rule of Rome, they were still a nation in His sight.  When they were scattered throughout the nations without a homeland of their own, they were still a nation in the sight of God.  When they faced the holocaust of Hitler during World War II, they were still a nation before God.  And in the fullness of time, according to His plan, God made them a physical nation in the very land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants on May 14th, 1948.

Since that time the nations around them have tried repeatedly to destroy them ... to no avail.  The events today are but the latest in a continual attack by the forces of evil to stop God's plan from happening, but nothing and no one can thwart God's plan.  There is more going on here than meets the eye.  Even the leaders of Israel quite probably do not understand the significance of what they are doing, but God knows how all of these things go together and events will unfold as He has determined.  Evil men make evil choices, but God uses even their evil to accomplish His plan to establish His kingdom on the earth and Jesus WILL reign IN JERUSALEM!  Satan thought he had defeated Jesus on the cross, but God used the greatest injustice ever perpetrated to bring forgiveness and life to all who trust in His Son, Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One, the only true King!  While the United States still claims to be an ally and supporter of Israel, the "fate" of Israel does not depend on the military might of the United States, but in the power of a sovereign God.  In truth, the welfare of the United States is dependent on our support for Israel.  God will take care of His chosen people, as He has over the centuries and in the past sixty years - with the United States or without the United States.

How should we react to these things?  What should we do?  What can we say?  God's people, those who believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, must know what is yet to come and help others to turn from trusting in idols and to place their trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  This is not a mere religious exercise - this is life or death - ETERNAL life or death.  Whatever is going on in your life, you can turn to this God and know that He is with you and that there is hope beyond this life, beyond this world!  There is a new heaven and a new earth coming, but before that, there will be horrible times.  Contrary to what many believe and teach, it is clear in God's Word that believers will go through the tribulation that is to come.  We will be delivered (the rapture) before God's wrath is poured out on the world, but we are called over and over to endure, to persevere, and as many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are facing persecution already in other places of the world, we must be ready and willing to do the same.  Standing on the truth and proclaiming it have never been easy.  Jesus reminds us that they hated Him and they will hate those who are truly His disciples.

It is evident that this is happening even here in the United States and even within the visible church.  Those who preach these things are considered extreme or radical (and there are some who lose sight of God's Word and say foolish things that arise from mere speculation and theories devised by men).  Yet, we are called to stand firm, to believe ALL that God says and to share the truth with others - giving hope to those who have none.  I will share more in the days ahead, but know this:  God is at work and His plan is unfolding before our eyes.  Watch, listen, study, learn, share, teach ... May His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!

No comments:

Post a Comment