“Saturday People, Sunday People”: A Look at the Islamic Agenda

Image result for saturday people sunday peopleLela Gilbert went to Israel for a visit…and stayed for 6 years.  Her fascination with the land and with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic conflict led to her recently released book, Saturday People, Sunday People.

The premise is one I wrote about in 2015 (When Saturday is Gone, One will find Sunday), and it goes like this: the Islamic agenda is to wipe out Jews (“Saturday people”) first, then Christians (“Sunday people”).  Indeed, we are seeing that agenda push forward as radicals take aim at destroying both Judaism and Christianity in efforts to spread Islam.

Lela Gilbert sat down for an interview with CBN in Jerusalem, and you can find that interesting 6-minute interview at Islamist Assault: ‘Saturday Kill Jews, Sunday Kill Christians.’

Take a few minutes to watch, then pray for persecuted Jews and Christians throughout the Middle East.

Reflection on Israel’s Role

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Welcome back to the study table, friends.  This week’s focus is the parting of ways of Jewish and Gentile believers, and yesterday we ended our session with a list of ways this has played out over the years.  The Jewish people (both believing and unbelieving) experienced great persecution through major world events such as the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation and the Holocaust…all in the name of Christianity.

Is it any wonder, then, that a chasm in relationship occurred between Jews and Gentiles?

Over centuries, the split led to Judaism without the Messiah and Christianity without Jewish roots.  What a sad result.  However, what amazing wisdom God provided Paul in writing Romans 9-11, the blueprint for reconciliation.  I wonder if Paul knew how greatly it would be needed in the 20th and 21st centuries!

But, let’s turn our focus back to Israel for today, and let’s review some key points we have already talked about in this study:

  • Israel was chosen by God for a specific purpose.  Do you remember what it is?  To be the vehicle of world redemption.  Genesis 12:3c  (The blessing is salvation!)
  • God’s covenant with Abraham was an everlasting covenant, promising land and descendants.
  • Vultures will attack!  (If you don’t know what that’s all about, check out The Suffering Call.)  Spiritual battle rages over Israel.
  • God guarantees Israel’s survival!  God’s promise to Abraham was an everlasting promise.  Therefore, if God’s promise to Israel fails, God fails.  Impossible!

But now an interesting question: are God’s promises conditional or unconditional?  In our live class on Sunday morning, the best answer was: “It depends on which promise!”  Indeed, it does!  God put Abraham to sleep to make covenant with him.  Thus, God depended upon Abraham for nothing.  That is unconditional.

However, in other places, God’s promises are conditional.  While land and descendants are non-negotiable, Israel’s blessings are fully conditional!  Need to see it with your own eyes?  Read Deuteronomy 29:10-13, 26-28.  There, we find God drawing the Israelites into covenant with him (verses 10-13), yet making it very conditional upon their faithfulness to God (verses 26-28).

God often demonstrated it in Scripture, such as in Isaiah 11:11-12 where He talked about regathering His people a “second time” (meaning, there was also a first time)!  Twice He allowed Israel to go into captivity (to Babylon in the 6th century BC, to the 4 corners of the world in 70 AD), yet twice He brought them out!  (I have never found anything about a third exile and return.  Thus, if Israel is disobedient now, I believe God will do a new thing…He will save His people!)

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 sums it up nicely as God lays out two options for His people: blessings or curses.  Life or death.  They may have either, and they get to choose by the way they honor God!

Tomorrow we’ll continue our focus on Israel as we talk about four Biblical principles concerning God’s dealing with Israel and the nations.  What does God have to say about choosing blessings or curses, life or death?  We’ll dive into it tomorrow, so check back then!

1st Century Christians and Jews: Fractured Relations

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Pull up a chair!  We’re gathering at the virtual study table to follow up on yesterday’s foundational discussion about early Jewish-Christian relations, and God’s call of the Apostle Paul as a missionary to the Gentiles.  If you missed yesterday’s discussion, scroll back to it for a good foundation for today’s topic.

We have established that early relations between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus were tenuous because of the differing backgrounds and traditions each brought to Christianity.  For the most part, Gentiles had pagan, idol-worshiping backgrounds, while Jews had temple worship and sacrifices.  Once Jesus came on the scene and Jews and Gentiles became believers, they faced obstacles.

However, another highly significant event, the destruction of the temple, occurred in 70 AD.  Keep in mind, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection happened around 32-33 AD and the book of Acts was written in the late-30’s or early-40’s.  There were a few decades of Jewish-Christian history prior to the destruction of the temple, and it wasn’t a smooth ride! (Keep in mind, “Christians” included Jews who followed Jesus!)

For example, there was evidence of persecution against Christians.  Birkat HaManim (“blessings”) were added to weekday Amidah (Jewish prayer liturgy) to invoke curses on followers of Jesus.  Therefore, Jews who followed Jesus and were unwilling to recite the Birkat HaManim were excommunicated.  Jesus followers were conflicted!  Wanting to continue with their traditional prayers, but resisting the new Birkat HaManim!

Then it happened!  In 70 AD, the Temple was destroyed and it turned the Jewish world upside down.  Even Jewish Christ followers still observed the feasts and many of the Jewish traditions that God had set forth for them in the Mosaic Covenant.  What were practicing Jews to do now that there was no longer a place to worship or offer sacrifices?

Not only did they not have a temple in which to worship or sacrifice, but the Romans siege scattered the Jewish people to the four corners of the earth following the destruction of the temple!  It was hopeless for practicing Jews!

It was at this point in history that Rabbinic Judaism arose.  This Pharisaic, law-imposing form of Judaism was birthed out of a Rabbinic Counsel meeting at Yavnah.  Because temple worship and sacrifices were no longer possible, these three things became the primary tenets of Judaism:

  1. Prayer (even today, observant Jews faithfully go to the Western Wall to pray)
  2. Good deeds (the idea of Tikkun Olam became woven into their DNA)
  3. Fasting on Yom Kippur (retaining an emphasis on repentance)

Thus, Judaic “religion” would now be based upon the interpretation of rabbinic laws by rabbis.

Consider, however, that the Jewish people were still seeking the messiah.  They did not recognize Jesus as Messiah, so they remained anxious for the one who would deliver them from Roman oppression.  Thus, in 132 AD when a man named Shimon Bar Kochba was declared to be the messiah, Jewish believers in Jesus were faced with still another dilemma.

A revolt of the few Jews still left in Israel was taking place, and Bar Kochba was seen by many to be their salvation.  Yet, by this time, Jewish believers were well aware of the New Testament warnings against false messiahs, so now they were faced with controversy among their kinsmen.  Gentile believers wanted nothing to do with it, so they distanced themselves from their Jewish believing brethren and, therefore, from their Jewish roots.

In the Gentile Christian sphere, there was little concern for anything Jewish and, in fact, the church became:

  • Less Jewish (little regard for Jewish roots), then
  • Non-Jewish (separation of Jewish/Gentile believers), then
  • Anti-Jewish (animosity toward Jews)

As a result, through the years, historical events such as these occurred in the name of Christianity:

  • Middle Ages – chastisement of Jews for killing Jesus
  • Crusades – Jews killed by European Christians in attempts to conquer Jerusalem
  • Spanish Inquisition – Roman Catholic attempts to force conversion of Jews
  • Renaissance/Reformation – continued forced conversion of Jews
  • Holocaust – attempt at the hands of European Christians to exterminate the Jewish people

Now, think back to last week’s focus.  What we see in today’s lesson is such a far cry from the Romans 9-11 blueprint of Jewish-Christian relations that we studied last week.  Furthermore, put that into context of our time frame: the Church Age.

Is it any wonder a dramatic split occurred, lasting into the 20th century?  As a Jewish person, what would be your perception of Christians and Christianity?

Food for thought….until we meet again tomorrow.  See you then.

Life from the Dead!

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You’re back…and I’m so excited for today’s lesson that I’m jumping right out of my skin!  If you’re new here and have no clue what I’m talking about, we’re in the midst of a Bible study called Why Israel Matters.  This week we are focusing on the Jewish roots of our Christian faith and yesterday we hit the meat of Romans 11.  We’ll conclude yesterday’s stream of thought, so go back and catch it if you missed it!

We left off in verses 11-16, establishing the idea that Israel’s loss was gain to the Gentiles.  Because of their transgression, salvation came to the Gentiles and reconciliation to the world.  But, God is not done with them!  For if their rejection meant salvation and reconciliation to the world, how much more will their fulfillment be?  It will be LIFE FROM THE DEAD!

So, let’s pick it up there.  Recall that God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) was that ALL families of the earth would be blessed.  We have established that the blessing is salvation.  It is intended for all…Jews and Gentiles!  By their transgression, the descendants of Abraham set themselves aside and, in Romans 11, Paul addresses them as “Israel,” not as Jews.  Keep that in mind, as we will come back to it!

The next passage in Romans (verses 17-24) is a stern warning to Gentiles.  So, let’s identify the elements Paul speaks of:

  • Broken off branches = unbelieving Israel
  • Wild olive branches = Gentiles
  • Olive tree = Israel
  • Root = Abraham and his descendants

Because wild olive branches (Gentiles) may be grafted into the olive tree, Paul is illustrating the manner in which we Gentiles attain salvation.  After all, John 4:22 tells us salvation is from the Jews, thus God must establish a way in which we can attain it.

Wild olive trees do not bear fruit!  Thus, only when we are grafted into the cultured olive tree do we attain salvation and produce fruit.  However, broken branches (unbelieving Israel) may also be grafted back into the olive tree.  (Salvation is available to both Jews and Gentiles.)  It is as if Paul said, “So, Gentiles, don’t be arrogant!  You do not support the root…the root supports you.”  Because we have salvation, we must not lord it over those through whom salvation has come.

Then, Paul talks about another mystery!  Romans 11:25-27 identifies the mystery as the hardening that happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in.  At that point, all Israel will be saved!  National salvation will come and a worldwide revival as never seen before will take place.  The transgression and sin that once set the descendants of Abraham aside will be removed and Jews and Gentiles will be one as Paul described in Galatians 3:28.

Now, back to verse 15 where we are told Israel’s acceptance will be LIFE FROM THE DEAD.  Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the spiritual state of all people without salvation: dead in trespasses and sin, forever doomed and dominated by the devil.  Beginning in verse 11 of Romans, Paul addressed Israel, rather than the Jewish people.  As “national” Israel set herself aside by transgression, God did not give up on “national” Israel!  In fact, He had “life from the dead” on His mind for all mankind, but illustrated it through His chosen people.

Ezekiel 37 clearly describes Israel as a valley of dry bones, which come back to life.  We know that, after suffering through many attempts at annihilation (including the Holocaust), the land of Israel was re-born on May 14, 1948.  The fulfillment of Ezekiel 37 began, and Israel demonstrated “life from the dead” on that day!

However, that was only a physical rebirth.  God’s promise to Abraham was one of salvation!  While a remnant of Jewish people have gained spiritual rebirth, the nation of Israel still lives in spiritual death.  But Romans 11:26 speaks of a day when ALL Israel will be saved!  God is not done yet…and we have a part to play.  It is our responsibility to move them to jealousy so that God will fulfill His plan.

It is no wonder Paul ends chapter 11 in the manner he does, and we’ll end this week’s study likewise.  But before we do, just know that the study launches into more exciting things as we look at what the Bible tells us lies ahead!  Stick with us!

Now, for Paul’s closing words:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.