History in the Making!

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Welcome back to Why Israel Matters.  If you have found your way here, but have no idea what to make of it, just know that we have just begun a summary of a live Bible study conducted at CalvaryPHX in Phoenix AZ.  (If you are in the area, join us live each Sunday morning at 11:00 in Room 209, Central campus.)  Yesterday I launched the first post, and you can catch it here.

There is no doubt we live in historic times as we view today’s events through the lens of Scripture.  It is a time of prophetic fulfillment, and should lead each of us as Christians to understand that Jesus could return for us at any time!  Thus, we must be ready, as a bride readies herself for the groom.

History was made when President Trump (in December) recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Not that Jerusalem wasn’t already the capital…just that no one was willing to say so officially.  That was followed by the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.  Along with that, Israel now has the backing of the world’s #1 superpower, and has unprecedented support in the UN from US Ambassador Nikki Haley.  Collectively, those things have never been true in all of history, yet the Bible says Jerusalem MUST be established in order for God’s plan of the end to take place.

Such things must be understood in the context of why Israel matters.  Sadly, many churches today are teaching a different theology: Replacement Theology, which in essence says, “Because the Jewish people rejected Jesus, God has rejected the Jews.  All promises to the Jews are now promises to the church.  Thus, the church is the ‘new Israel.'”

Absolutely not!

Other churches are just not teaching about Israel at all.  Some say it is too “political.”  They want nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Iranian’s stated goal of “wiping Israel off the map.”

But the real issue is Jerusalem.  If you talk about Israel, you eventually have to tackle the issue of Jerusalem.  The Bible says Jerusalem will be a heavy stone in the end.  All who try to move her will be injured!  (Zechariah 12:2-3)  Therefore, it is just easier to avoid the issue of Jerusalem altogether.

But is Jerusalem really “political?”  Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Bible.  Jesus left from there and will return there.  Does that sound political or spiritual?  Furthermore, the Jewish people will ultimately look upon their Messiah there, and Romans 11:26 says ALL Israel will be saved!  Nothing political about that!  It’s a spiritual battle, not a political one!

God chose Israel for a specific REASON and a specific SEASON!  God revealed Himself to Gentiles through Israel!  In fact, Israel is the vehicle of world redemption!  That’s the REASON.  It is through Israel we have:

  • Faith in One God – the Jews gave up worshiping other gods when they went into exile!
  • Word of God – the Bible was written by Jews, in Jewish settings.
  • Son of God – news flash: Jesus was a Jew!

We live in a unique window of time.  This is the SEASON.  God made Himself known through the Jewish people, and He is about to make Himself known TO the Jewish people!

And we ask….why is Israel important!?!  You’ve got your first taste of where we’re going in this study, but we’re not through for this week!  Stay tuned for more!

PS: Have you prayed for Israel today?  Do so…then check back tomorrow as we join the worldwide prayer initiative to pray together for Israel!

Trump: “Prayer Changes Hearts and Transforms Lives”

Welcome back friends!  This morning I shared a “feel good” story about what happens when a Muslim who hated Jews comes to faith in Jesus.  I also promised another “feel good” story today, so let’s fulfill the promise!

This story is multi-layered, as it highlights God’s incredible grace in reaching into the depths to save a criminal.  That, in itself, is a “feel good” story.  But the second layer of the story causes me great joy as well.

May 3 was the National Day of Prayer.  On that day at the White House, Vice President Mike Pence (a very committed Christian) welcomed guests to the glistening white mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave before yielding the podium to President Trump.

Past presidents have spoken at National Day of Prayer events, some with glowing words Christians would certainly be proud to hear.  Never did I expect to hear what came pouring from the mouth of our president!  What a tremendous surprise!

I have to confess I was not a staunch Trump supporter during the elections.  In my mind he was the least of two evils.  My skepticism was based on my doubts that he would actually make a stand on moral issues and religious freedom, or that he would truly stand strong with Israel.

Boy, was I wrong!  While I still wish someone would take away his twitter account (ie – that he would quit calling world leaders names), I am so very grateful for the stand he takes on those critical issues.  We have never had a more pro-Israel president, and he has taken unprecedented stance on the sanctity of life, religious freedom and other moral issues.

But, back to the National Day of Prayer.  Wow!  I don’t know where he stands with the Lord in terms of salvation, but President Trump spoke very powerful, Biblical words of truth.  I pray that our President knows and has a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus, and I will always pray that he is guided by God’s wisdom.

Sit down and listen to this 5.5-minute segment of the President’s address during the National Day of Prayer.  I believe you will be blessed!

 

Image result for why israel mattersIf President Trump sticks to those beliefs, we have lots to feel good about!  But how do we place President Trump and his administration into context of prophetic events we see happening in our world today?  We’ll talk about that and much more during our study, Why Israel Matters, Sunday mornings at 11:00 am in Room 209 at CalvaryPHX Central Campus.  We start tomorrow (June 3, 2018), so please join us!  (Info and Directions)

A New Season Begins for God’s People in God’s Land

At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference this week, we were reminded of the significance of “jubilee years” throughout Israel’s modern history.  To place it in Biblical context, read Leviticus 25 (particularly verses 8-10)to discover the Lord’s plan to designate years of jubilee every 50 years.   Those years were established as years of redemption for those who gave up land they could no longer afford, or who went into slavery because they had no other way to live.

Over the course of recent history, we have seen the Lord remain faithful to implement jubilee years for the Jewish people.  For example, in the 1860’s, Charles Warren, an officer in the British Royal Engineers, was prohibited from excavating areas beneath Temple Mount.  Thus, he moved his operation south, where he discovered the ancient City of David in 1867.  This was historic because it put King David’s kingdom on the map, verifying a critical part of Jewish history.  More importantly, it became the first season of aliyah (returning to the homeland) for the Jewish people.  Jubilee!

Fifty years later (1917), British General Edmund Allenby liberated the city of Jerusalem from Arab oppression.  British forces not only captured Jerusalem, but established a strong fortified line to ward off Israel’s enemies.  On December 11 of that year, Allenby refused to ride into the city on horseback (as victorious leaders were prone to do), but instead dismounted and walked through the Jaffa Gate because he believed that no conquering king other than Jesus should ride into the city!  Again, property was returned to its rightful owner (Israel) in a jubilee year…50 years after Warren’s discover brought aliyah.

Fast forward another 50 years to 1967 and Israel prevailed in one of the most critical battles of all time.  Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser, having been fully embarrassed by failed attempts to conquer Israel in 1948 (War of Independence) and 1956 (Suez War), concocted a plan to cut off shipping to Israel, thus choking off their livelihood.  Not only that, he enlisted the backing and military support of Syria and Jordan.  But, knowing of the plan, Israel launched a preemptive strike that caught Egypt and her allies totally off-guard.  Not only did Israel soundly defeat the Arab aggressors, but in so doing, they regained control of the Old City of Jerusalem (held by the Jordanians)!  It was a miraculous victory, only possible through the hand of God who was faithful to His promises!  Jubilee!

Fifty years later (2017) another jubilee year occurred.  Donald Trump surprisingly won the US presidential election and one of his campaign promises was to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, per the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.  The law mandated the move be made no later than May 31, 1999, but it had one caveat: the President could sign a 6-month waiver if it was a security risk.  Every US president since that time promised to move the embassy, yet signed waivers every 6 months, delaying the move.  Yet, in December 2017, President Trump made a surprising announcement containing two very key points: he recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and he officially decreed that the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem!  Jubilee!

Well, on May 14, 2018, Israel’s 70th birthday (on the Gregorian calendar), the US officially opened that embassy in Jerusalem…and the celebration continues.  Israelis are rejoicing in the streets as they celebrate yet another jubilee!

So, you may have known all that, so what’s the point?  Great question!  It is now a new season in Israel.  Things will be different there, as they are each time a jubilee year occurs.  Once possessions are returned to a poor man, life changes!  Moreover, Israel has now been a reborn nation for the same number of years she was once in Babylonian exile.  Not that the two events are linked in many ways, but it seems somewhat interesting that, just as Cyrus helped restore the land to the Jews after 70 years, so the US has helped to restore the land to the Jews.

My point is this: the US remains a critical vessel in God’s plan for Israel.  Our nation has been abundantly blessed, because we have chosen to bless Israel.  Biblically speaking, we know that, one day, the US will cease to be the strong ally that partners with Israel today.  Israel will stand alone.  But until that time, dear friends, it is vitally important that we continue to bless Israel individually, corporately through our churches and nationally through diplomacy, military coordination and assistance.

Rejoice, for the jubilee year has brought a new season to Israel!  (And stay tuned…I’ve got lots more good stuff to share from the conference!)

Praise God for America’s “Cyrus Moments”

Ok Bible scholars, who recalls King Cyrus and what he did on behalf of the Jews?  If you said he was a Persian king who conquered Babylon, then gave a decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild the Temple, you are right!  God used a foreign ruler to accomplish His purpose with His people.

It is not often that God works multiple times in the same way, but we see evidence of His use of American presidents to accomplish His purposes with His people as well.  Three presidents come to mind:

  • Harry Truman – In 1948, when Israel seemingly had no backing in their quest to become a state, they found a friend in Harry Truman.  On May 12, 1948, against the will of his Secretary of State who opposed recognizing the new Jewish state, Truman stuck to his guns:

“In an area as unstable as the Middle East, where there is not now and never has been any tradition of democratic govern­ment, it is important for the long-range security of our country, and indeed the world, that a nation committed to the democratic system be established there, one on which we can rely. The new Jewish state can be such a place. We should strengthen it in its infancy by prompt recognition.”

The US was the first to recognize the re-born state of Israel on May 14, 1948.

  • Richard Nixon – Nixon’s mother was a Quaker who told her son that if he was ever in a position of power and a situation arose in which the Jews needed help, to do so.  Apparently, that directive was not lost on young Richard.  Despite tendencies toward anti-semitism, his mother’s words rang in his ears when he got a call in the middle of the night from Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in October 1973.  Israel was under siege from Egypt and Syria and defeat was almost certain.  Nixon had not been reactive to previous requests for help, prompting Meir to state that if the US didn’t help soon, there would be no more Israel.  The advice of his mother prevailed and Nixon ordered equipment to be sent immediately to Israel…against the advice of Henry Kissinger and his other advisors.
  • Donald Trump – Following passage of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, the policy of the US was that 1.) Jerusalem was to be an undivided city, 2.) it should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and 3.) the US Embassy should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.  However, there was one caveat: Section 7 of the act allowed Presidential waivers if there was a security threat to the US.  Based on that waiver, every American president since 1999 exercised their right to the waiver every six months!  Under constant threat from Palestinians and other Arab nations, not one president had the gumption to do what was required by law…until President Donald Trump announced in December 2017 that the US not only recognizes Jerusalem as the capital, but would move its embassy there!

Yesterday, the American Embassy was officially opened in Jerusalem!

America has capitalized on three “Cyrus moments,” culminating with the most pro-Israel administration ever fulfilling the promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy.

And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
~Genesis 12:3

May the US continue blessing Israel, so that Israel may bless all the families of the earth!