Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"The future of Israel and the Middle East ..."

Day #237

Scripture Reading:  Ezekiel 31 - 36 …

As God pronounces judgment upon the Pharaoh and Egypt in Chapters 31-32, He speaks through Ezekiel not only about the near future, but about what lies in the distant future … in OUR time.  In Chapter 32, verses 7-8, God says to Egypt, "When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light.  All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land.”  God is speaking of the coming judgment during the time of His wrath, the "day of the Lord."  (Read Isaiah 13:9-10; Matthew 24:29-30 and Revelation 6:12-14 …)  God will deal with all the nations that come against Israel.

In Chapter 33, God speaks of the "watchman," whose responsibility it is to warn people of coming judgment.  God says, "Hear the word I speak and give them warning from me" (33:7).  Ezekiel was a watchman for Judah.  He was to warn the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed and the temple burned.  God has appointed watchmen today to warn people of His coming judgment and to point them to Jesus Christ to be saved, but many are failing to call people to repentance and faith.  What God says against the "shepherds of Israel" (34:1) applies to those who are called to be "shepherds of the flock" today: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves!  Should not shepherds take care of the flock?” (34:2). "I am against the shepherds and I will hold them accountable for my flock" (34:10).

To His chosen remnant God says, "I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land" (34:13) … DONE!  But there's more:  "I will judge between one sheep and another.  I will place over them one Shepherd, my servant David (Jesus), and HE will tend them; He will tend them and be their Shepherd.  I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.  I the LORD have spoken" (34:22-24).  "Then they will know that I, the LORD, their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people" (34:30).

At this time Israel no longer existed and Judah was in captivity in Babylon.  But this is the sovereign LORD who is speaking.  He rules over the nations and no one can stand against Him.  As for the nations that today boast against Israel (Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Russia …) …  "You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it" (35:13).  The Sovereign God who reveals Himself in the Bible is the God of Israel and He will judge the nations of the world and the supposed shepherds of the flock in the church today who declare their condemnation of Israel and ignore God's Word.

"This is what the Sovereign LORD says:  'I speak in my jealous wrath because you have suffered the scorn of the nations.'  Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says:  'I swear with uplifted hand (a hand ready to execute judgment) that the nations around you will also suffer scorn'" (36:6-7).  Many in the church say, "We have taken Israel's place."  STOP!!  READ YOUR BIBLE!!!  Read Romans 11:11-32 and then 11:33-36.  God has NOT rejected Israel as His people.  This is not about Israel deserving to be God's people … they don't deserve to be God's people … but neither do you and I!

What God promises in Ezekiel 36:24-27 is for Israel!!  “I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. ... I will cleanse you from all your impurities ... I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you ... And I will put my Spirit in you ...”  God promises to do this for Israel in the future, even as He is doing by His grace through the work of His Spirit in those whom He has chosen from the Jews AND the Gentiles today in the true Church, the remnant. Why?  "I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign LORD" … "but for the sake of my holy name …" (36:32, 22).

There will come a time in future days when God will do something amazing in Israel:  "I will cleanse you from all your sins … "  There will be a time of great distress (Matthew 24:21-22) and many will fall away (Matthew 24:10; II Thessalonians 2:3) … then, and only then, will those who believe in Jesus Christ be raptured as God pours out His wrath upon those who remain, and a remnant from Israel will be supernaturally protected by God during the "day of the Lord."  Finally, Jesus will return in glory and Zechariah 12:10-13, 13:1 will take place:  "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication.  They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child … On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity."

"Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate.  I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it" (36:36).  This is the future of Israel and the Middle East.  Jesus Christ Himself will reign in Jerusalem over the nations of the world (Zechariah 14:9-21) and all the world will know that the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel, is God, and every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  You can do that today!  As world events lead us inevitably closer to all that God has promised will happen, where is your hope?  If it is in anyone or anything other than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, you are in danger of facing His judgment, sooner or later (or both!).  TURN … believe … and LIVE!!

"Our Father in heaven, to You I come in the name of Jesus Christ, praising You for Your grace and mercy in gathering a remnant to belong to You.  Give us strength and wisdom in these days to proclaim Your name, to declare Your praise, to preach the good news of the Gospel and to persevere amidst the growing turmoil in our world.  I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, knowing what You have said lies ahead … May Your true Church stand firmly on Your Word in these days.  Raise up watchmen to warn Your people of the coming judgment and send forth Your Spirit to save those whom You have chosen for Yourself.  For Your glory I ask these things in Jesus' name, Amen"

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