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!

Jerusalem: A Cup of Reeling

Zech 12 2-3

We’re a week beyond President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Not since President Harry Truman became the first to recognize Israel as a newborn nation in 1948 has a President so solidly and profoundly declared America’s position regarding Israel.  Praise God for the stand taken by the American administration.

However, on Wednesday, Muslim leaders declared East Jerusalem the capital of “Palestine.”

Could it be that we have now stepped into a whole new dimension when it comes to God’s plan for the last days?  We are living in the time of the Gentiles…that time between the “cutting off of the Messiah” (Daniel 9:26), when God pressed the pause button on His plan for the Jewish people; and the rapture, when God will release that pause button to complete His plan for the Jews.  (See God’s Prophetic Pause, or check out Week 2 of the Bible Study, Looking for the Blessed Hope)

We are obviously talking about end times outlined in the Bible, and as we consider the ongoing battle over Jerusalem, particularly in light of announcements by President Trump, and then by Muslim leaders, we come face-to-face with Zechariah 12:2-3 (above).  The prophet Zechariah prophesied that, in the end:

  • Jerusalem will cause reeling (“stumbling” or “trembling” in other translations) to all the people around.
  • Jerusalem will become a heavy stone (“burdensome”) for all the people.
  • All who lift that heavy stone will be severely injured.
  • All the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.

The end-time battle over Jerusalem is just beginning, and people (nations) are going to get injured!

But I’m reminded of something else.  We (followers of Jesus) are called to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem.  Isaiah 62 commands that we not be silent, but rather take no rest for ourselves, and give Him no rest until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth!  Jerusalem WILL ultimately become a praise in the earth when every knee bows and every tongue confesses and gives praise to the Lord!  (Philippians 2:9-11Romans 14:11)

Surely, we are approaching the time when Jerusalem will become more and more a burdensome, heavy stone which causes injury to those who try to move her.  That battle will last into and throughout the Tribulation…after Christ followers have been taken in the rapture!  So, believers, as long as we are on planet Earth, our job is to give the Lord no rest in our prayers on Israel’s behalf!

Now, a final thought.  Ezekiel 36-37 describes God’s preparation of the land and the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.  That prophecy, highlighted by Israel’s new birth as a nation in 1948, is happening PHYSICALLY, as Jews continue to return to their land.

However, Ezekiel 36:27 and Ezekiel 37:14 describe a SPIRITUAL rebirth.  With the exception of relatively few Jews who have met Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, that spiritual new birth is still  to come.  It will come after God resumes His plan for the Jews…during the Tribulation.

So, we’re seeing prophecy fulfilled right before our very eyes!  Jerusalem will become a larger and more burdensome cup of reeling, and people and nations will injure themselves messing with God’s people and the Holy City He gave them.  Our job, Christian friends, is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  Pray for the Prince of Peace to rule and reign in the hearts of those who will believe.  Our job is to take no rest, and give the Lord no rest, until He completes His work with His people and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Then, and only then, have we fulfilled the responsibility we have been given!  Pray on, dear friends!

Thoughts on President Trump’s Recognition of Jerusalem and Movement of US Embassy

Following President Trump’s announcements on Wednesday, many seem to be wondering, “What now?”

While the United States, under President Harry Truman, was the first to recognize the newly reborn state of Israel in 1948, no American president in the past 20 years has been bold enough to unequivocally declare Jerusalem to be the fully-recognized capital of the Jewish state.  That is, until President Donald Trump.

I was present at the AIPAC Policy Conference in March 2016 when then-candidate Donald Trump laid out his plans for diplomatic relations with Israel. Among his statements was this one:

“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem…we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally the state of Israel.”

He made a promise and he seems to be acting on it.  That is admirable, though he will still have his hands full in actually moving the embassy.  But at least he has committed to it.

But what can we expect in the coming days, weeks and months?  Well, in the coming days, I believe we can expect the Arab world (particularly the Palestinians) to act with violence.  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is very adept at whining to the rest of the world about the “injustice” being done, while inciting his people to violence…without a word being said by the rest of the world who has bought into his whining!  Yet, “peace talks” have lingered since 1947, and the Palestinians have been offered incredible statehood deals in the past, to which they have always said no.  Examples:

  • Image result for british mandate map1947 UN Partition Plan: Though the British Mandate (1917-1922) declared the Jewish homeland to be the territory we know today as Israel and Jordan, by the time the UN Partition plan came along in 1947, the Jewish homeland had been cut down to only parts (primarily the deserts!) of Israel.  The Jews said, “Ok, we’ll take it,” while the Arabs said, “No way! We want it all!”
  • 2000 Camp David Peace Talks: President Bill Clinton mediated negotiations between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in which 97% of all territory demanded by the Palestinians was agreed upon by Israel.  (Only highly Jewish-populated areas of the West Bank were excluded and land swaps were offered.) Arafat said, “No way! We want it all!”
  • 2008 Peace Talks: Israeli PM Ehud Olmert was so anxious to culminate a peace deal that he conceded virtually every demand (including a Palestinian state AND a divided Jerusalem) of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.  (See this article!)  Yet still, the Palestinians said, “No way! We want it all!”

So, I’m not confident that President Trump nor anyone else will be able to close the “ultimate deal!”  Palestinian leadership simply does not want peace…they want Israel and the Jewish people totally eliminated, and they incite…and even PAY…Palestinian people to riot.  They also have the UN on their side, and that infamous body meets today to discuss the situation.  (Don’t be surprised to hear about UN resolutions condemning the US!)

That is what we are seeing today, and will see for days to come.  (A word of caution here: in general, it is not the Palestinian people who are the problem. It is Palestinian leadership.)

In the coming weeks, I’m hopeful that other nations will follow the lead of the United States by declaring their recognition of Jerusalem as the capital, and perhaps moving their embassies to Jerusalem.  The Czech Republic and the Philippines have made similar pronouncements already.  Also, Netanyahu has made huge inroads over the past couple years reaching out to nations in the Mediterranean, Africa and even South America to build diplomatic relations, and those seem to be working.  There are those who share hope with Israel!

In the coming months, I suspect we’ll see world leaders vie for power.  Trump is not well-liked in many parts of the world (particularly now) and America has definitely lost credibility on the world stage over the past several years.  In addition, North Korea is enough of a distraction to keep the US busy in other places besides the Middle East.

So who will rise to world power?  Could it be Vladimir Putin in Russia?  (Oh, how he longs for that!)  Might it be Emmanuel Macron in Europe?  Will someone else arise to become the world’s foremost power monger?

We don’t know, but I think the next few months might give us a clue as to where the pieces might land.  Make no mistake, Jesus could miraculously bring about a season of peace in the Middle East (though very difficult to imagine at this point).  Or, He may be setting the stage for the next grand event on the prophetic calendar: the rapture of the church!

Either way, He calls us to be ready!  Are you?