What in the World is Going On?

Hurricane Harvey drops 33 trillion gallons of rainfall drop on the U.S. Experts say the floods are a once-in-1,000-years event. Now Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Florida. 185 mile-per-hour winds. Experts say the devastation could be “catastrophic.”

At the same time, Mexico experiences the worst earthquake in a century. Record-breaking floods are devastating Asia. Half of Bangladesh is underwater. 100,000 homes are destroyed. Forty million people face severe and potentially life-threatening food and water shortages. Russia is preparing to mass upwards of 100,000 troops on the borders of three NATO countries for a massive series of war games some fear is the prelude to war. The genocidal slaughter continues in Syria. Terror attacks around the globe. North Korea threatens to nuke the United States, then tests a hydrogen bomb and long-range ballistic missiles. And tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem spike and then settle, and then spike again.

People have all kinds of theories as to what is happening, but the answer is quite straightforward — God is trying to get our attention.

These events are not random. The God of the Bible is allowing these events to shake us, to wake us, to get our attention, that we might turn to Him and ask Him to have mercy on us and help us.

The Lord said through the ancient Hebrew Prophet Haggai that He would shake the nations in the last days. “For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations….I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations.” (Haggai 2:6, 7, 21, 22)

In the New Testament, the Lord reinforced that theme. “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven’….Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)

The Scriptures are clear: the Lord shakes individuals and nations that we might let go of all of the flawed political, philosophical, intellectual and religions notions that we cling to that won’t give us true peace, that don’t give us real hope, that can’t bring us any security, that can’t provide forgiveness from our sins much less eternal life for our souls. The God of the Bible wants to shake us loose of such things that we might turn to Him, and to the life He offers through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord isn’t letting America and other nations be shaken because He hates us. He’s letting us be shaken precisely because He loves us and wants us to repent and turn to Him and call out to Him, as individuals, as families, as leaders, and as entire nations.

This is a 2 Chronicles 7:14 moment, for the Church, for America, for Israel, for everyone. “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 

May we humble ourselves and seek the Lord while He still may be found.

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Israel’s Prophetic Future

Around the world today, even including amongst many Bible believers, there are very few people with a positive view concerning Israel’s  prophetic future  When they consider the present circumstances in the Middle East, there is very little reason to believe in anything but doom and gloom, with regard to the future of Israel. So few nations are predicting anything positive for Israel in the near future  and years to come. This dark gloom is not derived through studying the Bible, for God has a thrilling and glorious view not only for the immediate future but for eternity.  It is certainly an opportune time to read and study the prophets of the Bible. These prophets have given remarkable predictions that have already been happened in great detail. We may be sure that there are many Bible prophecies that will be fulfilled soon with amazing and even supernatural details. Please let me bring to your attention to just two of the many prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  The reference to the Lord’s house becoming the most important place on the planet is truly remarkable. Far more important than London, Rome, New York or Paris will be Jerusalem on the mountain of the Lord.

Isaiah 2:2-3 (NLT) 
 In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all— the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
 People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 45:16-19 (KJV) 
16  They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.
17  But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. 
18 
 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
19  I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.

 If you happen to read this brief message, and you have not yet  realised how close we may be to the fulfilment of these peophesies, let me urge you to immediately study the predictions that God makes through His prophet Isaiah, and various other Bible prophets.  It is becoming increasingly more urgent every day that we fully realise that an abundance of  events around the world are currently fulfilling many Biblical signs which tell us that the Last Days are surely upon us. The fulfilment of many powerful signs, some predicted by Jesus Himself, are being fulfilled right now.  In the words of scripture, “Let us look up” for the time of prophetic fulfilment is already upon use.  We are literally entering the Last Days predicted by the prophets.

Israel’s Miraculous Restoration

In the ancient past it was only Jews and a very small number of Christians, who were interested in Israel.  It seemed to be a nation lost in the history of mankind, never to be remembered again. No one appeared to be interested in even the sad history of the sacred antiquity of the desert land where once the Jewish nation had existed. One reason was that prior to 1948, Israel did not exist nor was there the slightest interest  the possibility of reviving a nation that had been in exile for more than 2,000 years. No nation was interested in the reemergence of Israel on to the world scene. However, amongst the several million Jews who were scattered around the earth in more than 200 nations there was obviously a deep yearning for a country of their birth, yet there remained a dream that somehow, one day the nation would arise again, from the dust of history the ancient land whose history and prophetic future were outlined in the Bible. Ancient prophesies given more than 2,500 years ago were considered to have completely disappeared. The possibility of people emerging from so many widely scattered nations, to a land that had been totally neglected for 2,000 years seemed to be a totally  hopelessness dream.

 The situation that currently exists in the Middle East now  is more complicated and highly  dangerous than ever before.  Numerous enemy nations sitting on Israel’s border, are continuously threatening to attack and  obliterate  Israel, thus  completely ridding the world of its presence. These Islamic nations have access to many modern weapons that would seem highly capable of achieving such an effect. However, predictions in the Bible speak of an amazing victory that God will achieve for Israel, which will be followed by the unveiling of their deliverer who is the Angel of the Lord who is actually their long awaited Messiah. This revelation is therefore a return of Yeshuah to earth to rescue the Jewish people from threatened annihilation and reveal Himself as Israel’s promised Messiah. In many ways the existence of modern Israel and its present restoration is the greatest miracle of world history. So many factors appeared to make this dream completely impossible, yet is has emerged to become the most remarkable country on earth. It restoration in such a phenomenal manner could have only happened through the miraculous help of Almighty God.

 A few Christians today vaguely believe the Bible predictions of an End Times revival and restoration in Israel . The main reason for such a belief is usually found in Joel 2:27-32 (NKJV)   Sadly so many of these people are not demonstrating any real evidence of a vital belief that such a major visitation and harvest will truly happen in the near future.  Despite the obvious chaos and confusion that abounds today, very few Christians are demonstrating any realisation that these circumstances fulfil prophecies that clearly indicate that we are living in the End Times predicted in the Bible.  Let’s read what Ezekiel  declares.

 Ezekiel 36:24-28 (NIV 2011) 
24  “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.
25  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
26  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
27  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
28  Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

The Supreme Importance of Bible Prophecy

Although prophecy constitutes almost one-third of the Bible, its importance is constantly downplayed by those who dismiss it as having no practical significance or by those who object to it on the grounds that it is a “fad” that takes people’s eyes off Jesus.

A good example of what I’m talking about can be found in the immensely popular best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. He mocks Bible prophecy when he writes, “If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy.” He then goes on to characterize prophecy as a “distraction” and says that anyone who lets himself get involved in distractions like studying prophecy “is not fit for the kingdom of God.”

Such cavalier dismissals of Bible prophecy fly in the face of scriptures like Revelation 19:10 which says that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Thus, if prophecy is properly taught, there is no reason for it to divert anyone’s attention away from Jesus. In fact, it should serve to emphasize the centrality of Jesus. Is prophecy practical? Consider that all the New Testament writers testify to the fact that living with the anticipation of the Lord’s return will motivate holy living. What could be more practical than that? Here are some examples:

The Apostle Paul: “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” — Romans 13:12-14.

The Apostle Peter: “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” — 1 Peter 4:7-11.

The Apostle John: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” — 1 John 3:2-3.

Prophecy does not have to be either faddish, other-worldly, or impractical if taught properly. Nor does it have to be a playground for fanatics. It can and should be green pastures for disciples.

Reasons for Study

There are many reasons why all believers should be interested in studying Bible prophecy. Some of the more important ones are listed below:

1)  The Quantity — One-fourth to one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. In the Old Testament, this includes the Psalms, the Major and Minor Prophets, and many passages in the historical books. In the New Testament, entire books like 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Revelation are devoted to prophecy, as are major passages like Matthew 24 and 1 Peter 3. To ignore Bible prophecy is to ignore a significant portion of God’s Word, and we are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” — and that certainly includes Bible prophecy.

2)  The Uniqueness — No other book in the world contains such fulfilled prophecies. This includes the sayings of Buddha and Confucius, the Koran, the Hindu Vedras, and the Book of Mormon. And it certainly includes the ridiculous nonsensical quatrains of Nostradamus. In contrast, the Bible contains hundreds of specific prophecies that have already been fulfilled prophecies about towns, cities, nations, empires, and political leaders, as well as prophecies about the Messiah. Consider, for example, the prophecy in the book of Isaiah that a man named Cyrus would be the one who would release the children of Israel from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 44:28). And that is exactly what happened 142 years later (Ezra 1:1-3). (Could Trump become the next and final fulfilment?)

3)  Validator of Scripture — Fulfilled prophecy is one of the best evidences I know of that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As I stated above, the Bible contains hundreds of fulfilled secular prophecies pertaining to cities, nations, empires, and individuals. Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:17-20). Jeremiah predicted the Babylonian captivity of the Jews would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). Daniel outlined in advance the precise order of four great Gentile empires (Daniel 2 and 7). The destruction of both Judah and Israel was foretold by Moses (Deuteronomy 28 and 29). In the New Testament, Jesus predicted the complete destruction of Jerusalem 40 years before it actually occurred (Luke 21:6).

4)  Validator of Jesus — The prophetic scriptures validate Jesus as who He said He was — namely, God in the flesh. The Bible contains more than 300 prophecies about the First Coming of Jesus, but some of these are repetitive. There are actually 109 separate and distinct prophecies concerning the First Coming, and all of them were literally fulfilled.Every aspect of the life of Jesus was prophesied — the place of His birth, the nature of His birth, the quality of His ministry, the purpose of His life, and the agony of His death. Consider, for example, the prophecy in Psalm 22:16 that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. That prophecy was written by David about a thousand years before the birth of Jesus. It was written 700 years before the invention of crucifixion as a form of execution. The literal fulfilment of so many prophecies in the life of one individual transcends any mere coincidence and serves to validate that Jesus was who He said He was — the divine Son of God.

5)  Revealer of the Future — Prophecy serves to tell us some things that God wants us to know about the future (Deuteronomy 29:29 and Amos 3:7). God does not want us to know everything about the future, but there are some things we must know if we are to have a dynamic hope. Thus, prophecy assures us that Jesus is coming back, that He will resurrect us, and that He will take us to live forever with Him and God the Father. In this regard, Peter likens prophecy to “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). Paul makes the same point in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. He begins by observing that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has the mind of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” But in the next verse Paul says those things have been revealed to us by God through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

6)  Tool of Evangelism — Prophecy can be used as a very effective tool of evangelism, as illustrated in the story of Philip and the Eunuch (Acts 8:26ff). Philip used Isaiah’s great suffering lamb passage (Isaiah 53) to teach that Jesus is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Matthew and Peter both used fulfilled prophecy in the life of Jesus as one of their basic evangelistic tools. In fact, Peter referred to prophecy constantly in his first gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39). He preached that Jesus had been crucified and resurrected in fulfilment of Hebrew prophecies. Later, Peter referred to fulfilled prophecy as one of the greatest evidences that Jesus was truly the Son of God (2 Peter 1:16-19).

7)  Tool of Moral Teaching — People often overlook the fact that the Hebrew prophets were forth tellers as well as foretellers. In fact, the prophets spent most of their time using God’s Word to spotlight societal problems. They called their listeners to repentance, true worship, social justice, and personal holiness. One of the great recurring themes of the prophets is that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22 and Hosea 6:6). That statement means that in God’s eyes, obedience to His commands is more important than outward religious practices such as offering sacrifices. Prophecy is thus a great repository of moral teaching, and those moral principles are still relevant today. (See Amos 5:21-24Micah 6:8; and Isaiah 58:3-9.)

8) Generator of Spiritual Growth — Prophetic knowledge encourages patient waiting (James 5:7-8); provokes earnest watching (Matthew 24:36,42); inspires dedicated work (2 Timothy 4:7-8); and enhances our hope (Titus 2:11-14). The result is holy living. Paul exhorts us to “behave properly as in the day,” because the time is at hand when the Lord will return (Romans 13:12-13). Likewise, Peter calls us to gird up our minds and be sober and holy as we look forward to the revelation of Jesus (1 Peter 1:13-15).

8)  Understanding of Current Events — The Bible contains detailed prophecies about the end times we are living in, and there is just no way to fully understand much of what is happening today apart from those prophecies. Three characteristics of our day and time immediately come to mind: the intensifying decay of society, the growing apostasy in the Church, and the escalating crisis in the Middle East. All three of these situations are prophesied in detail in the Bible. We are told that society will become as violent and immoral as it was in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39); that the Church will be assaulted with “doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1); and that all the nations of the world will come against Israel over the issue of who will control Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3).

10) Signifier of the Seasons — One of the most exciting reasons for studying Bible prophecy is that it provides very definite signs that we are to watch for which will signify the season of the Lord’s return. It is true that we cannot know the date, but the Bible makes it clear that we can know the season if we are aware of the signs that we are to look for. The Apostle Paul made this point in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 when he wrote:

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night… But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all ons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

According to this passage, Jesus is coming like “a thief in the night” for the world, but those of us who are “sons of light” — that is, those of us who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit — we should not be surprised when the Lord returns because God’s Word gives us signs to watch for. Paul made the same point again in Hebrews 10:25 where he admonished believers to not forsake the assembling of the saints, especially “as you see the day drawing near.” What day? He defines it in verse 27 as the day of judgment. So, Paul is making the point here that there are signs we can watch for that will clearly identify the fact that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return.

Jesus made the same point in His Olivet Discourse as recorded in Matthew 24. After specifying many end time signs, He said, “when you see all these things, recognize that He [Jesus] is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33).

Advice and Counsel

I pointed out earlier that in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul writes that all of God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” I want to emphasize again that this admonition includes God’s Prophetic Word. Also, in 1 Thessalonians 5:20 the apostle Paul pleads with us to treat prophecy with respect: “Do not despise prophetic utterances.”

Peter warns us in his second epistle, that one of the signs of the end times will be the appearance of “scoffers” who will cast scorn and ridicule on the promise of our Lord’s return (2 Peter 3:3ff). The great tragedy of our day is that many of the loudest scoffers are religious leaders who profess to follow Christ. Such leaders crucified Jesus the first time He came. They now scoff at His promise to return.

Spiritual Food

God’s Prophetic Word is food for our spiritual growth. We need to take it off the shelf, open it up, and feast upon it — and we need to do so with believing hearts.

The book of Revelation promises blessings to those who read it (or hear it read) and who obey it (Revelation 1:3). It is the only book of the Bible to promise such a specific blessing, but all God’s Word is designed to bless us spiritually (Psalm 119), and that includes the Prophetic Word. Bible prophecy, properly taught, can literally transform a person and a congregation. This will happen if the person or congregation can be convinced of two things regarding prophecy: 1) Jesus is returning, and 2) His return could occur any moment.

Again, if a person or congregation can truly be convinced that Jesus is returning any moment, they will be transformed because they will be motivated to share the Gospel with others and to commit their lives to holiness. A commitment to evangelism and holiness! What more could a pastor hope for?

Bible prophecy does not just relate to the future. It has an important spiritual relevance to the way we live our lives in the present.

Some Key Scriptures about Prophecy

Let’s conclude with a reminder of what the Word of God itself says about the value of prophecy. In this way we can be assured that the effort we expend in looking at the prophetic scriptures will be time extremely well spent.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our sons forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

“Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done… I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11).

“[Jesus said] ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill’” (Matthew 5:17).

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’” (Luke 24:44).

“Of Him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).

“The prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11).

“…we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place… But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:19-21).

“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10)

Testimonies of Jesus’ Presence

The wife of my younger brother recently went to be with the Lord. She was born in Somalia and lived her earlier life as a Muslim, but came to know and love Jesus as her Lord and Saviour when she and John were visiting Liz and myself in Singapore some years ago.  They both became avid lovers of Jesus. They also became keen readers of the Bible. However, their “knowledge” about heaven was rather vague and my brother is quite keen to know where his bride of some fifty year is now.  I mentioned to him recently a couple of incidents we encountered many years ago in Adelaide.

Mrs Hoskins, with her husband and family had immigrated to Australia from London. She became a faithful and prayerful member of our Assembly. Her greatest desire was always that her husband would come to know the Lord. She eventually became quite ill and confined to her bed. One day when I was visiting her, she confidentially told me that whilst praying for her husband she had told the Lord that she would gladly surrender her life to God if He would save her husband. She told me that she did not really mean that she would be happy to die if it would mean that her husband would be saved. I quietly counselled her that Jesus had died for his salvation and that her own death could never be necessary for Henry’s salvation.  In an incident remarkably like the one I have just described, she also became confined to her bed lying weakly on her back too  weak to raise herself up.  Whilst her lady visitors were sitting quietly around her bed, suddenly without any aid she began to rise from the bed into a sitting position.  As  she rose, she lifted her hands towards heaven and cried out  excitedly “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”  before  her body fell back lifeless on to the bed.  That Sunday evening we held a memorial service for her. He husband attended the service and publicly accepted Christ as his Saviour.

Mrs Paul and her husband became members of our Assembly in Sutherland, after many years as members of a Presbyterian Church. They were both lovely Christians, Spirit filled, but still rather quietly undemonstrative.  Mrs Paul eventually became quite ill and was eventually confined to her bed. Several ladies from the Church used to visit her every day, praying at her bedside.  One morning Mrs Paul lay in bed as she had now for many weeks. She was too weak to even raise herself, but suddenly with her gaze risen towards the ceiling, she began to raise her whole body from her prostate position.  As she rose, she became very excited about something that no one else see or hear.  Her face became relaxed and radiant and she began to say, “Listen to that wonderful music.”  She rose to a sitting position without any help, calling out to “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”, before falling  back on to the bed with a radiant look on her face.

The Importance of Jerusalem

The prophet Joel saw three great developments before the coming of “the great and terrible day of the Lord.” First, he saw the Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh—a revival that would cover the whole earth (Joel 2:28ff). Second, he saw the Jewish people returning to their homeland (Joel 3:1). And third, he saw the nations gathering together against Jerusalem, specifically in the valley of Jehoshaphat (“God judges” in Hebrew), a northern extension of the Kidron Valley. He had a special name for this valley—the “valley of decision.

From the very beginning, Jerusalem has been a city of decision. The first time we read about it, we find Abraham returning from a successful campaign against four kings who had taken hostages from the city-states of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pursued and defeated the kings, liberated the hostages, and brought back a rich bounty of his conquest (Genesis 14).

Upon his return, Abraham reached the “valley of the Kings”—thought to be the Kidron Valley just east of Jerusalem’s Old City. There, two kings appeared to him: the King of Sodom, ruler of an unrighteous city, and Melchizedek, King of Salem. Both made an offer to Abraham. The King of Sodom offered him all the spoils of the conquest: “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” Melchizedek’s offer was far more modest: bread and wine. Melchizedek blessed him from “God Most High (El Elyon), Possessor of heaven and earth. The difference was stark! The ruler of Sodom offered riches but kept the souls. Melchizedek was Priest of the God Most High, and with bread and wine, the eternal symbols of sacrificial redemption, he offered Abraham redemption of the soul. Abraham understood this came from the same God who called him out of Ur in Chaldea. This was the Creator God, “possessor of heaven and earth,” who could claim everything he had.

It was not an easy choice. Abraham had every right to keep the riches of Sodom but he returned the spoil to its king. He then readily accepted Melchizedek’s blessing and offered back a tithe of everything he had, recognizing God’s claim over his life.

Years later, God called Abraham back to Jerusalem. “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2). This is the most demanding call anyone could ever receive from God. It meant giving up the son of promise for whom Abraham had prayed and hoped for those many years. Isaac also embodied his own calling to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. And of course, Isaac was his own flesh and blood. We can only imagine what it took for Abraham to make this agonizing journey to Jerusalem. Hebrews says Abraham’s deep belief that Isaac would be raised from the dead enabled him to walk this difficult road (Hebrews 11:17–19).

Twice Abraham made a radical decision in Jerusalem. For him, Jerusalem represented the very fact that God indeed was possessor of heaven and earth. It is the place of total surrender to God; the place to make God the highest authority and submit our rights and will to Him.

David would later make Jerusalem the capital of Israel. As with Abraham, Jerusalem became for David the place of ultimate worship and sacrifice to God. There on Mount Zion, David established a place of perpetual worship to God. One of his psalms says it is a place reserved for the humble and pure of heart (Psalm 24:1–4). Here, the Creator of heaven and earth expects our total surrender to Him. Isaiah declares that “His fire is in Zion and whose furnace is Jerusalem” (Isaiah 31:9). Jerusalem is a battleground for the soul—the place for deciding whom we will serve.

Yet in Jerusalem, God made His own decision to give everything for us. Like Abraham, He gave that which was most precious to Him—His only begotten Son. Two thousand years after Abraham, in the Kings’ valley on the slopes of the Kidron, Melchizedek appears again—now as the son of David, King of the Jews, and Son of God. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ, our High Priest, prayed the greatest prayer of submission: “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). And as did Isaac, Jesus carried a wooden burden up that mountain to offer Himself as an eternal sacrifice for me and you. Throughout history this offer of redemption has confronted every soul. It remains a place of decision for everyone!

Interestingly, the king of Sodom’s offer also seems to be ever-present in this city. The book of Revelation calls Jerusalem the city that is spiritually “Sodom.” There is an enduring spiritual battle over the city that manifests even in the political arena. Jerusalem is like a magnet to the rulers of this world, where the arrogance of their power is demonstrated by their desire to divide and control the City of God. But “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion’” (Psalm 2:4–6).

The prophet Zechariah foresaw the drunkenness with which the world’s rulers are eager to decide the fate of Jerusalem. Yet the prophet warned: “… it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would have it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2–3).

It is a dangerous thing to carelessly lift that heavy stone of Jerusalem. It is a burden that can crush even nations.

Exactly one hundred years ago, British General Edmund Allenby liberated Jerusalem from the Ottomans. When entering the city through Jaffa Gate, he dismounted his horse and asked his soldiers to do the same. “Only the King of kings should enter the city riding on a horse,” he reportedly said. Some 20 years earlier, the German Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Jerusalem and insisted that Jaffa Gate be widened for him to ride into Jerusalem on a white horse.

Dealing with Jerusalem demands humility from everyone, politicians included. Those who would too easily divide the city remind us of the prostitute who too quickly took up Solomon’s suggestion to divide her friend’s child. Let us rather seek the peace of this great city! The psalmist said, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6); the Hebrew word for peace, shalom—also means “wholeness.” To seek unity and peace can mean the difference between blessing and a curse.

Therefore, make it a place of decision for you personally, and choose afresh Christ’s eternal gift of bread and wine, submitting to Him. But also, let us pray for our nations to relate rightly to the city that Jesus Christ Himself calls the city of the great King. It will be for the prospering of our own nations!

Anti-Semetism Spreads Worldwide!

The Bible clearly predicts that in the Last Days anti-Semitism would be rife throughout the world. As Christians we must immediately affirm our strong unity with Israel and all Jews everywhere. Together we must be as one body boldly proclaiming that God has one people,  who in Yeshua (Jesus) will become eternally united. Most of the Church has not yet even recognised this, but we must open our spiritual eyes to the fact that we have entered the Last Days, when God will bring this vision of the One New Man to its fulfilment.

Anti-Semitism is assuming a potentially “pandemic” dimension globally, even in the USA, and if left unchecked it could grow into an immensely serious threat, worldwide, one of American Jewry’s most senior leaders said this week. He was calling on world leaders to convene a global summit to forcefully denounce the phenomenon.  “I think we’re seeing a terrifying pandemic in formation,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, who heads the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. I think America’s situation is different from Europe. It is not as bad yet, but it is certainly developing exponentially  and  the potential is definitely there.”

In a far-reaching interview, Malcolm Hoenlein, who is currently in Israel, also spoke about widespread concerns over the Israeli government’s total alignment with US President Donald Trump, which some fear could turn Israel into a partisan issue in the United States.   He said, “We see anti-Semitism in Britain, we see it in France, and now we see it’s spreading everywhere,” Hoenlein told The Times of Israel in its Jerusalem office on Sunday. “Look at the numbers of disastrous incidents in Germany, Scandinavia and other parts of the world. And now we see in America swastikas being painted, other expressions [such as phoned-in] threats or aggression against kids on campuses. So it is definitely rapidly spreading. It’s not isolated to one geographic locale. It’s like a vicious virus that rapidly spreads. And you have to declare it for what it is.”

The interview with Hoenlein was conducted mere hours before news emerged of an apparently anti-Semitic act of vandalism that took place in his hometown of Philadelphia. Several tombstones in the city’s Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery had been toppled in what the Israeli government called a “shocking” and worrying act. . “I do think that this cancer, left unchecked, spreads and becomes more and more of a threat.”

 The worst example of such a process can be identified in France, where anti-Jewish sentiment “metastasized over a period of time,” he said. “It didn’t just happen,” he added, citing recent reports of attacks on Jews, and information from his own relatives who live in France told  him life has become virtually “intolerable” there. European governments have denounced such incidents and increased measures to protect Jews, Hoenlein said. “But we can’t deny the fact that anti-Semitism today is no longer something that has to be done under the cloak of darkness, with the fear of repercussions. Those restrictions are gone. And I think we have to reimpose it and there have to be standards set. That’s why I want government officials saying this is not acceptable, just like racism and bigotry in any other form is not acceptable.”

‘It’s everybody’s problem when there’s hatred against Jews. We’re the victims, we’re not the cause of it’

Combating anti-Semitism starts with the Jewish community, “but it certainly doesn’t end with it,” declared Hoenlein. “This is not their  problem alone. It is society’s problem. It is definitely Christianity’s problem. In fact it’s everybody’s problem, when there’s such bitter unfounded hatred against Jews.

This horrible phenomena is not yet a huge  problem in Australia but the potential for it can definitely be seen. The manner in which our own Government is encouraging  Islamic people and their organisations in Australia, will definitely promote anti-Semitism in numerous Australian communities. We Christians must definitely prepare ourselves by taking immediate action. We must ignore political correctness. We must stand firmly with Israel and with Jewish persons everywhere, in an unrelenting manner. We must be one with them because they too are God’s special people. In the Last Days God’s people will be neither Jew nor Gentile but a New Creation in Christ.

Imbibing The Word Of God!

Imbibing The Word Of God

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (Col. 3:16, NLT).

Studying the Bible in a way that changes your life doesn’t take a bunch of expensive tools. You don’t need commentaries or Bible study software. In fact, if you were stuck on a desert island with just a Bible, you could simply use the method you’ll learn about in this devotional.

God says that if we meditate on his Word, we’ll be successful. Here’s a method you can use to meditate on God’s Word in a way that’ll please God.

The “pronounce it” method of biblical meditation is an easy method for meditating on Scripture—and getting every ounce of spiritual nutrition you can out of it.

You start with a verse and read it over and over again. Each time you read the verse, you emphasize a different word. It’s the simplest way to start unlocking Scripture. You can do it even if it’s the first time you’ve ever opened up a Bible. It’s simple but amazingly powerful. Each time you emphasize a different word, you get a different perspective.

Take the first part of Colossians 3:16, for example: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (NLT).

The first time you read the verse, emphasize the word “let.” “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” What does it mean to “let”? It means “give permission.” You open the door; it’s your choice. You have to choose to let the Word of God dwell in you richly. Gladly allow it to happen!

Then read the verse again and emphasize “message.” “Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly.” That means you need to get God’s Word in your mind.

Then emphasize the word “Christ.” You’re not dwelling on what some philosopher, guru or talk show host has to say. You’re dwelling on the words of Christ. You may not want to let the word of the world dwell in you, but that’s what happens when you spend your time watching TV instead of reading God’s Word.

Then you focus on the word “richness.” What does that mean? It means the opposite of “poorly.” In other words, “richness”  means lusciously, extravagantly and profoundly. God doesn’t want his Word to be a poor substitute in your life. He wants it to create beauty in your life.

Then emphasize the word “fill.” Don’t rush through God’s Word so you can get on with the rest of your day. To let the Word of Christ fill you is to let it live within you.

Finally, focus on the words “your lives.” The Bible isn’t just God’s Word for your pastor, a seminary professor or your small group leader; it’s God’s Word for you. The Bible is instruction for every single believer.

See all the great jewels you discovered in this passage just by focusing on one word at a time? You didn’t need a seminary degree or a great library of reference tools. You can do this.

Talk It Over

  • How will you dwell on God’s Word throughout your day?
  • How does your life reflect the richness of God’s Word and his grace? How would it look different to other people if you allowed God’s Word to make a greater difference in your life?
  • Practice the “pronounce it” method during your next quiet time. What difference does it make?

 

JEW AND GENTILE, ONE NEW MAN

 

The Mystery Revealed

The full prophetic plan of the “One New Man” (Eph.2:15), is  the drawing together of Jew and Gentile and is an urgently  needed revelation for the time that we live in, and for the final age to come. The book of Ruth showed us the tremendous love that this Gentile woman Ruth, had, as she became a fellow citizen with Israel and the Jewish people, adapted to their way of life, and their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In this article, I hope to impart to you, the mystery revealed  from the book of Ephesians regarding the joining of the Jew and Gentile as one in Messiah.

Although the body of Messiah today, which is the Church, has in fact joined themselves to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the same God as the Jewish people, the separation between the Church and the Jewish people definitely remains. This “Oneness of Jew and Gentile” is not merely theoretical or theological. It is thoroughly real and practical.  At the same time, that the Jews cannot embrace the Church, whether as Gentile believers in Jesus or even a Jewish believer in Jesus,  this makes this joining twice as hard. As the Lord is preparing the stage for His second coming, many segments of His church are still definitely not recognising the significant role of Israel and the Jewish people in God’s prophetic plan. Without embracing this vision, the joining of Jew and Gentile as ONE NEW MAN cannot possible take place.

There is a tremendous spiritual war against the union of these two people groups joining together, because the ultimate result will be the manifest glory of God upon the earth, and will unlock the healing of all God’s creation. Today we have many divisions among the entire body of Messiah, between denominations, churches, movements, and believers throughout the whole earth, Why? The root of all divisions has never been healed, it is the most ancient of divisions, one which the apostle Paul, seeing into the future, addressed in the book of Ephesians, the separation and division of the Jew and Gentile. Paul is speaking to Gentile believers in Ephesus, revealing a mystery to them regarding this “ONE NEW MAN”. As we briefly look at parts of this book, we must remember the overall theme of the book, which is this joining of two people groups becoming one in Messiah. In chapter 1:17-18, Paul states that he always prays for the believers to have wisdom and revelation into the plan of God, that their eyes will be opened to this. Of course, we can take this to mean God’s plan for our own individual lives, but we must also see the larger plan, the joining of the Jew and Gentile in Messiah.

In Ephesians chapter 2:11-13, it is clearly stated that the Gentiles were at one time estranged from the rights of Israel as a nation, and also strangers from the covenants, but through the shed blood of Messiah they are now brought near. One of the biggest problems believers have in interpreting the New Testament scriptures is that most of the time there is  little knowledge of the Old Testament. In the next two verses, 14-15, we need to take a closer look at certain words in order to understand what the Apostle Paul is saying, “For he (Messiah) is our peace, who has made us both Jew and Gentile one body, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained, in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace.”

Most interpretations of these two verses would say that the word enmity refers to the Old Testament law of commandments, and that through believing in Jesus, these have been done away with. First we must clarify that the word law, actually means teachings, and if it were not for the Old Testament teachings we would not have any foundation at all, and we would not have the Messiah Jesus.

Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” The root meaning of the word fulfil is: to clarify or finalise, to perfect a foundation on which to build further. Jesus never meant to do away with or abolish the Old Testament teachings. Without knowledge of any Hebraic root teachings we will not be able to understand what Paul is referring to in “the enmity of ordinances”. Remember, Paul was a learned Jewish scholar who knew the Old Testament, and also the oral rabbinic laws. The enmity between Jew and Gentile was not the commandments, but it came because of mutual dislike of each other’s customs. This is common between cultures, but in this case, most Jewish customs are different. They did not just evolve; they were the obedience of the Jewish people in response to the Old Testament teachings given them by God.

In Ephesians 2:19, Paul continues speaking to the Gentile believers, “Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s family.” 

The word fellow citizen means to be in union with or together with by resemblance, companionship, or association. When someone becomes a citizen of a nation, they are required to learn the laws, customs, history, and language of that nation. A person becoming a citizen must also pledge loyalty, faithfulness, and commitment to that nation. We need to remember that it says in Romans 11:17, that the Gentiles were grafted in among the nation of Israel, and the Jewish people. When you graft something, you join or fasten it in such a way as to bring about a close and permanent union. This is what Ruth did as she attached herself to Naomi, a type and shadow of the Gentile becoming a fellow citizen with Israel and the Jewish people. The Gentile believers (Christians) should be thoroughly involved with the Jewish people, both Messianic and non-Messianic; thereby fulfilling scripture. Unfortunately, this union that Paul spoke about never really developed into the ONE NEW MAN relationship. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul states that these Gentile believers are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus The Messiah being the chief cornerstone. It is okay to apply this verse for today, that apostles and prophets are the backbone of the Church, but we also must remember that when Paul was writing to the apostles and prophets he was referring to were all Jewish. The rich biblical inheritance that believers in Messiah have worldwide has been passed down to them by Jewish spiritual parents. In verse 21 it states, “In whom all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord.” The Jew and the Gentile are to be fitly joined together.

Jesus Is A Jew

Jesus The Jew

The most important thing about Jesus is almost completely ignored or overlooked and disregarded by all His followers.  I refer to the fact that He was born, lived and died as a Jew. The Gospel is also diminished by the fact that Jesus is a King and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. He also commissioned His disciples to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.  The fact that this is overlooked by so many today is despite the fact that the Bible is so filled with the vital nature and characteristic of Jesus and this greatly significant fact. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus, demonstrate so clearly that Jesus was totally Jewish in every aspect of His assumed humanity.

Jesus performed miracles and signs. He healed the sick, raised the dead, quelled storms of nature, fed the multitudes and exercised absolute authority over the spirit world—yet He wasn’t accepted as Israel’s Messiah.

One might think that with those credentials, He would be automatically proclaimed Messiah. We are told, however, that “He came to His own [people], and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). After a 3 1⁄ 2-year ministry, only 120 followers were there for the miraculous beginning of His Church (Acts 1:15).

One of the prophecies about the Messiah foretold that He would be “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). The great works Jesus did that brought about His popularity in the country, were not enough to overcome the disfavour He incurred from the religious authorities—or enough to secure loyalty from the fickle hearts of the common man.

His mission and His teachings were at cross purposes to those who held high positions in the nation, and His purpose was also misunderstood by most of those who saw and heard Him.

 

What Were The Jews Looking For?

The Jews were acquainted with many of the prophecies about the Messiah, the chosen or “anointed one” as the word means in Hebrew. They firmly believed that the Messiah would be a strong and glorious earthly king who would deliver them from their Roman oppressors and form once again a great and independent Jewish kingdom. The wise men who came from the east seeking the newborn Jesus inquired at Jerusalem, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:1-2).

King Herod, who ruled Judea under the Romans, clearly understood that the Messiah the Jews expected was to be another king and thus a rival to himself. He then asked the chief priests and scribes “where the Christ was to be born” so he could eliminate the threat to his power (Matthew 2:3-16).

In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, Christos (Christ in English) has the same meaning as the Hebrew word Mashiach (Messiah in English) — “anointed one,” signifying one who was specially chosen by God (see “What Do ‘Messiah’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ Mean?” beginning on page 68). Herod and the Jewish rulers considered the title “Christ” as synonymous with that of “King of the Jews” in accordance with the general expectation of the time (compare Matthew 2:2 and Matthew 2:4).

The expectation that the Christ would be a king fit with their understanding that He would also be a descendant of David, the most famous of all the kings of Israel and the one by whom all other kings were measured. We see this illustrated in Matthew 22:42, when Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” Their response was, “The Son of David” (Matthew 22:42).

Jesus was addressed as “Son of David” by two blind men (Matthew 9:27), by the woman of Canaan (Matthew 15:22) and by the blind men at Jericho (Matthew 20:30). When Jesus healed a demon-possessed man who was both blind and mute, “all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’” (Matthew 12:22-23). At His entry into Jerusalem He was greeted with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Matthew 21:9).

The number and scope of the miracles Jesus performed—miracles not equalled in the history of Israel even by the great prophets—led people to the conclusion that He had to be the prophesied Messiah. “And many of the people believed in Him, and said, ‘When the Christ [Messiah] comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?’” (John 7:31).