The Calm Before the Storm

Related image

So good to see you back, my friends!  We’re studying Why Israel Matters and are finishing up week 1.  This is simply a summary of the live class being taught at CalvayPHX in Phoenix AZ.  We gather together at Central campus, Room 209 each Sunday morning at 11:00 am and you are welcome to join us!  For those of you outside the Phoenix area, pull up a chair at the virtual study table and join us here online.

We established that God chose Israel for a specific REASON and for a specific SEASON.  The reason is that God chose to reveal Himself to Gentiles through the Jewish people.  As for the season, we are living in an unprecedented time when God is making preparations to reveal Himself to the Jewish people!  Once Jerusalem is prepared and God’s plan is in place, Jesus will return to Jerusalem and, ultimately, all Israel will be saved!  (Romans 11:26)

Much will happen before that day, and a mighty storm is on the horizon!  However, we are living in the calm before the storm!  Even this time of calm is for a REASON and a SEASON.  Israel has never been as calm and peaceful as now.

“But what about the recent rocket attacks from Gaza?”

Ahhhh…..great question…and it didn’t take you long to fire that one out there!  Let me explain.  I know many people in Israel: ministry leaders (some Jew, some Gentile), citizens, military, etc and they all confirm the same thing: while rockets from Gaza are a nuisance and a definite danger to a few (not to be trivialized), there is no huge threat from Gaza.  If they wanted, Israel could wipe out all of Gaza literally in a matter of minutes.  Israel knows that…and the Palestinians know that.  Hamas, the ruling party, knows that, but also knows that Israel will not do that.  Thus, they “rattle sabers” in attempts to attract the world’s attention to their “plight.”

Israel faces nothing compared to wars brought to their borders in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, etc.  Those foes are now either enjoying peace treaties with Israel (Egypt and Jordan), working hand-in-hand with Israel (Saudi Arabia, UAE) or are defeated foes (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc)  Israel is living in peace and prosperity…just as the Bible says she MUST prior to the Ezekiel 38 storm on the horizon.  Ultimately, Israel will be attacked by a superpower (Russia, along with Iran, Turkey and others), and America will NOT be there for Israel.

“But haven’t you implied that this is the most pro-Israel administration in Israel’s history?”

Wow, you ask great questions!  Yes, this administration is, without a doubt, the most pro-Israel administration in Israel’s history.  Yet, it is for only a season!

Come back tomorrow and we’ll discuss what happened in America to make it the most pro-Israel administration in Israel’s history, and we’ll talk about why the calm is taking place.

Meanwhile, check into Isaiah 62 and pray for Israel!

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!)

Similarities of Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Welcome back friends!  Yesterday we discovered that the Jewish observance of Passover coincides with the Christian observances of Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  Indeed, the Christian and Jewish events share some similarities, though it is rare that the holidays are observed simultaneously.

Let’s consider some similarities.  The very essence of the Christian celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Day are deeply rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover, so let’s start there.

Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23:5-14 actually lay out the requirements of the 8-day Jewish commemoration of Passover (which also includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits).  However, the Passover account played out as the Israelites escaped bondage from Egypt.  Moses was sent by God to deliver the people, but the Egyptian pharaoh did not heed Moses’ appeal.  Thus, God took action on behalf of His people!

A plague would descend upon Egypt that would take the lives of every first born unless families sacrificed an unblemished lamb and smeared blood on their doorposts.  Hebrew families complied with God’s command and thus, their first borns were spared.

Ultimately, the pharaoh relented, the Israelites were set free, and annually Jews the world over celebrate that release from bondage as prescribed in Leviticus 23.  Passover commemorates their release, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds them they had no time to allow their bread to rise prior to escaping Egyptian bondage, and the Feast of First Fruits celebrates giving the first fruits of the harvest as an offering of thanks to the Lord.

In the Christian narrative, Jesus Himself fulfills each of those Jewish feasts!  Jesus was the Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for your sins and mine.  (John 1:29)  It was the blood of the lamb that caused the angel of death to “passover” their house on that fateful night in Egypt.  It is the blood of the Lamb of God that causes Him to “passover” (forgive) our sins.  Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was crucified on Good Friday, which we commemorate tomorrow.

Jesus also fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  When leaving Egypt, there was no time for the yeast to cause bread to rise, so they were commanded to remove the leaven (yeast).  Throughout Scripture, leaven is representative of sin.  We are to “leave out” the sin in our lives, and fortunately, that is what Jesus’ forgiveness does for us!  It removes sin as far as the east is from the west!  (Psalm 103:12)  Jesus fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread on our behalf!

Finally, Jesus also fulfills the Feast of First Fruits.  The Israelites presented the first of their harvest as an offering of thanks to God.  Miraculously, the resurrection of Jesus makes Him the first fruit of those who will ultimately be resurrected:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
~1 Corinthians 15:20

That is our guarantee that, as believers, we will follow our First Fruit (Jesus) in resurrection.  We will be raised from the dead to live with Him forever!

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.
~1 Corinthians 15:21-23

Indeed, Jesus is our Passover Lamb, our Unleavened Bread and our First Fruits!  All that, we celebrate in the coming week, beginning tomorrow!  Meanwhile, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people, as it was through them that Jesus was revealed to us!  As you celebrate, why not thank the Lord for His people and ask special blessings upon them as they celebrate their feasts!

Egypt and Saudi Arabia Pressuring the Palestinian Authority to Accept the US Peace Plan?

News was leaked last week of secret meetings between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel.  Now some outlets are reporting those meetings led to further meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where Arabs are encouraging Abbas to accept the US peace plan.

An unidentified Arab diplomat supposed told Abbas:

“Wisdom requires accepting the maximum of what is available now.  The dealing should be in accordance with the logic of ‘take and negotiate’ so that we won’t be surprised after a few years that the monster of settlements has devoured the Palestinian territories.”

Abbas apparently views the proposal as the “slap of the century,” and fears he will be seen as a traitor by his people.

Meanwhile, parts of those reports also indicate that President Trump is using the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the planned move of the US Embassy to persuade Israel to agree to concessions with the Palestinians.  Trump has supposedly said Israel will “pay a price” for those concessions made to Israel.

(See such reports by the Times of Israel and i24News.)

In other alleged news, the American plan includes a Palestinian airport and port in the Egyptian Sinai.  (See that news here.)

Please note that I have not seen verification of these stories…only published reports by several media outlets.  The US plan has yet to be released publicly, and no official news of a deal being struck has been announced yet, so the facts are yet to be confirmed.  Thus, my point is not to say these facts are true, but to say, let’s keep an eye out and continue to pray for wisdom for the Trump team, the Netanyahu administration, as well as the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and others involved in negotiations.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
~Matthew 5:9