Why Israel Matters – Week 3 (Signs of the Times)

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Welcome back study friends!  If you just stumbled upon this site, we are moving into week 3 of a study entitled Why Israel Matters.  It is being taught live at CalvaryPHX, but I’m posting summaries online for those outside the Phoenix area who wish to follow along.  You are welcome here!

Over the first two weeks, we have established that God has ordained a season, for a reason, and that we are living in the calm before the storm.  In fact, the title of this week’s lesson is “Signs of the Times: Storm Clouds Rising.”  We know, despite the present calm, that a storm is coming.  How do we know?  We see the signs!  So, let’s dig in to discover those signs and what God’s Word has to say about them.

In Matthew 16, Jesus is addressing the Pharisees and Sadducees…the “smart people” of the day.  He was telling them about signs.  Let’s pick it up in verses 1-3:

The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”

As usual (it seems), the Pharisees and Sadducees were testing Jesus, asking for signs from heaven.  But Jesus rebuked them by stressing that, despite how knowledgeable they were about weather signs, they did not know how to discern the signs of the times.

A similar thing happened when Jesus addressed the crowds that followed Him.  These were not necessarily the most learned people, but simply those who followed His teaching.  Check out Luke 12:54-56:

And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way.  You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?”

Indeed, they too missed the signs of the present day.  But what signs had they missed, and what signs were they about to miss?

The Old Testament prophets made a living telling about signs!  Among many other things, they prophesied of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection.  Here are examples of OT prophecies Jesus fulfilled, though the crowds and others “missed the signs!”

Prophecies 1

Prophecies 2

So, I’m wondering…are we “missing the signs?”  As children of God, our Father is not into keeping secrets from us.  In fact, I believe He desires to share the “secret things,” even as He did His people, in order that we may discern His guidance.  (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Do we see His signs, or are we too busy looking at the things around us to notice?  I don’t want to be caught discerning the weather when there is so much more He wants us to know!  How about you?

Check back in tomorrow when we peak into a conversation Jesus had with His disciples!

Israel’s Economy: One of the Strongest in the World!

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According to United with Israel, Deutsche Bank has just declared the Israeli shekel the second strongest currency in the world!  An analyst reports 6.1% appreciation of the shekel against currencies of Israel’s primary trade partners.

Along with historic lows in unemployment and inflation, the Israeli economy has become the third “most stable and promising” economy in the world.

Israelis is living in unprecedented times, but is it the calm before the storm?  It’s not too late to join us for an in-depth Bible study where we examine this and other current events in light of Scripture.  Get more info here, then come join us on Sunday mornings!

We Stand with Israel

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Today we’re diving into week 2 of the Bible study, Why Israel Matters.  If you are finding this site for the first time, “Welcome!”  Our study is happening live at CalvaryPHX (in Phoenix AZ) at 11:00 am on Sunday mornings.  However, for those outside the Phoenix area, we’re summarizing teachings here.

Week 2’s study is entitled We Stand with Israel.  Having spent last week laying the foundation of why Israel matters, it is only natural to move into the reasons Christians should stand with Israel.  So, let’s get going with today’s mini-study!

First, one of the key tenets of the study is development of the habit of praying for Israel.  I hope you are doing that!  ICEJ’s Isaiah 62 Prayer Initiative is a great aid in guiding you through regular prayer.

Approximately the size of New Jersey (or my home county, Maricopa County AZ) and population less than New York City, Israel’s presence confirms God’s Word.  Her rebirth is a testament of His faithfulness, and today, Israel is prosperous and the only true democracy in the Middle East.

The Abrahamic Covenant (which we will study in a few weeks) is foundational to Israel’s existence and God’s plan.  Thus, if we are to understand God’s plan, Israel is important!  Indeed, Israel matters!  God gave the land of Canaan to the Jewish people, then told us in Genesis 12:3 that those who bless Israel will be blessed.  Israel has a special role in God’s plan!

So, why should Christians support Israel?

  1. It is a spiritual assignment!  We are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 1226-9), to be watchmen on the wall (Isaiah 62:6-7, principle in Ezekiel 33:1-6), and to honor, bless and stand with the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3, Isaiah 40:1, 41:11-12, 60:10-12).
  2. We share common values.  Freedom, democracy, human rights and coming to the aid of those in need are equally important to Christians and Israel.
  3. Israel is the protector of Christians in the Middle East.  In fact, Israel is virtually the only safe place for Christians in the Middle East.

Furthermore, America as a nation should support Israel as well!  Not only do we share common democratic values, but we work together militarily.  Most of us are aware of the military hardware, including the new F-35 fighter jets, sold to Israel.  But did you know Israel shares their technological advances (such as specialized helmets, targeting technology and more) with the US?  That cooperation helps make the US and Israeli military capabilities the best in the world!

For these reasons and more, we stand with Israel!  We’ll examine other reasons as we progress through the study this week.  Be sure to stay tuned.

Meanwhile, open your Bible to Isaiah 62 and consider verse 2 your key prayer verse this week!

See you tomorrow!

Why the Calm? Why the Storm?

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What faithful students you are!  Welcome back!

Today we’ll finish the summary of the live class I’m teaching at 11:00 am each Sunday morning at Calvary PHX in Phoenix AZ.  If you like what you’re reading and are in the Phoenix area, come join the live class.  We’re in Room 209 at the Central campus and there is a seat ready for you!

We are living in the calm before the storm.  Indeed, Israel is as calm and peaceful as she has ever been since rebirth in 1948.  (If you are wondering how I can say that when rockets fired from Gaza recently, see yesterday’s post.)  We know, also, that there is a huge storm on the horizon.  Ezekiel 38 describes that storm and we’ll spend some more time talking about it in the next live lesson.

So, why the calm…and why the storm?  Does God really have a purpose in all this?  Absolutely!

First, let’s talk about what happened in America.  Understand, though, that America is NOT God’s timepiece.  Israel is.  But something significant happened in America over the past few years.  From a spiritual perspective, many believe we were teetering on the brink of the abyss.  For years, our country has been spiraling out of control morally.  We have thrown God out of schools, government buildings and city parks.  Abortions are killing over 600,000 babies a year.  Religious freedom has been trampled while gay rights have sky rocketed to levels unimaginable.  Marriage has taken on new definitions and the dignity of aging adults has been striped away.

But someone (LOTS of someones!) took 2 Chronicles 7:14 to heart:

…[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, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Christians began to pray and began to stand up for what is right…and miracles happened.  (If you prayed, you had a part in the miracles!)  One miracle (there were many) was the election of Donald Trump as President.  Many (including myself) were skeptical that a man with such a sordid background would actually stand for things such as the sanctity of life, religious freedom…and Israel.  Furthermore, he was not supposed to win!  Behind in all the polls and lambasted by the liberal media, it took a miracle of God (despite skepticism!) to put Donald Trump in the White House.  Praise God for that!

Our nation is far from perfect and still has the same issues it had before.  But I truly believe God heard the faithful, effective prayers of the righteous (James 5:16), He honored them, and He gave America a short reprieve.  American friends, this is our season!  Time is short and the reprieve won’t last forever.  We must NOT be complacent.

Now the whys.

Why the calm?

  1. God honored the prayers of the righteous!
  2. God is preparing the region for what comes next.  Ezekiel 38 says Israel MUST be living in safety, security and prosperity.  Meanwhile, Russia, Iran and Turkey are all struggling economically.  That will bring about motivation for attack.
  3. God is establishing Jerusalem’s status.  Jerusalem is to be the heavy stone that others will try to lift, only to be injured.  Establishing Jerusalem as the capital, moving embassies there and destroying Iran’s presence on the Israeli border helps establish Jerusalem’s status!

Those things are happening right before our very eyes, and this is the calm before the storm!  Also, as a side note: talk among Jews in Israel is turning to “days of Messiah!”  They are looking for that someone who will bring lasting peace and allow them to rebuild the third temple!  Interesting!

Why the coming storm?

  1. To expose the intentions of man’s heart, and that of the nations.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 provides a laundry list of wickedness that will characterize the last days.  Joel 3:2 warns the nations that God will judge them according to how they treat Israel!
  2. To glorify God and destroy Satan’s plans.  (Read Ezekiel 38.  That’s your homework for next week!)
  3. Set the stage for the hour of trial.  Though believers will be saved from it (Revelation 3:10 and many places in 1 Thessalonians), the Jews will face the hour of trial after God defeats the enemies of Ezekiel 38-39.  They will look for their Messiah, only to find he is the Antichrist.

Despite their own blindness, Israel is the flagship that leads the world to salvation.  So, why does Israel matter?  Because Israel is our insurance policy!  If God is not faithful to the Jewish people, why would we expect Him to be faithful to us?

As we close out this week, why not pray for the eyes of Jewish people to be open to see and recognize the One True Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some are seeing…let’s pray for a larger harvest!

Thanks for following this week, and I look forward to sharing more in Week 2, as we get into Signs of the Times: Storm Clouds Rising.