Rockets Rain Down on Israel

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IDF airstrike inside Gaza (Times of Israel photo)

Since Sunday night’s IDF special ops raid into the Gaza Strip, activity has ramped up in and around Gaza.  A top Hamas commander and several other terrorists were killed as a result of that mission, though it came at a cost.  Israeli sources have now confirmed that an IDF special ops officer was killed in that mission into the Strip on Sunday night, and another soldier was wounded.

Since then, Hamas has rained down at least 300 rockets on Israeli cities (perhaps the largest one day total ever), and the IDF has targeted over 70 Hamas and Islamic Jihad sites (backed by Iran) in the Gaza Strip.  Air raid sirens have gone off almost continually in cities throughout southern Israel and the Gaza Envelope (areas surrounding the Gaza Strip).  You will find a timeline and several videos here.

Meanwhile, other interesting things relative to the region are happening elsewhere.  During an official state visit to Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  It was the first meeting between Netanyahu and Putin since the Russian-made S-200 missile system (operated by Syrians, in Syria) shot down a Russian plane.  Israel was ultimately blamed for the incident.   Though no details of the meetings were reported, it is probable that Iranian influence in Syria and the region (including their backing of Hamas in Gaza) was a focal point in those conversations.

It is currently in the best interest of both Russia and Israel to cooperate at least to some degree militarily, in terms of not getting in each other’s way.  However, as we see events around the world, particularly in the Middle East, confirm Bible prophecy day-after-day, we know the stage is being set for end time events.  We see evidence suggesting the imminent destruction of Damascus (Isaiah 17:1), setting of the stage for the War of Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39), and the rise of the Antichrist out of Europe (Daniel 2, 7).

In fact, one cannot help but think the spirit of lawlessness, described in 2 Thessalonians 2, is already at work.  As I look at what’s happening in our world…and even America and evil things for which so many stand…I am reminded that our time is short.  What we see are signs of the tribulation,yet our rapture occurs before that terrible time of hell on earth.

As we see these things, we must be alert,  be about our Father’s business (as Jesus was in Luke 2:41-51), be watchmen on the wall (Ezekiel 33:1-6, Isaiah 62:6-7), sound the alarm (Joel 2:1, Jeremiah 4:5-6), and be ambassadors of Christ while still on this earth (2 Corinthians 5:20).

How are we doing?

PS: For a timely commentary on why Gaza is such a problem, check back later today.  Blessings!

Jesus: David’s Offspring

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Ok, here we go, gang!  More cool stuff today.  Have you enjoyed this week’s study so far?  It is my favorite (until next week)!  Seriously, we are discovering incredible things about God’s covenants, and their fulfillment in the ultimate one: the Davidic Covenant.

How will Jesus fulfill His ultimate purpose?  Well, let’s consider what Scripture has to say!  Open your Bible to Mathew 16:15-17 and Luke 22:66-71.  Do you find seemingly contradictory terms for Jesus?  (Son of man/Son of God)

Now let’s  complicate it just a tiny bit more.  Who does Jesus say He is in Revelation 22:16?  Yes!  He is the Root and Offspring of David, and He will come to introduce the Davidic Covenant.  He is also coming to reign forever!

Is David a forerunner of Christ?  We find interesting parallels in 2 Samuel 19, such as David lamenting the death of his son Absalom in battle.  The victory was won, but a son was lost.  (Sound familiar!?!)  Joab came to David and told him to face the people, but when he did, they rejected him…right there in the City of David.

So, grief drove David from the city, over the Mount of Olives where he wept.  Jesus was also rejected in the holy city of Jerusalem, and grief also drove Him to the Mount of Olives where he also wept.  In David’s case, the people scattered to their homes and were left kingless.  Likewise, in Jesus’ case, the people were scattered (70 AD) and left without a king.

David did not return until he was invited back by his people.  Amazingly, Jesus will not return until He is invited back by His people!  Israel has come home, but they haven’t invited King Jesus to return!

In 2 Samuel 19:12, David asks his people, “Why are you the last to bring me home?”  Is it far-fetched to believe Jesus is asking the same thing?

Once invited, the Davidic Covenant will be fulfilled!  We know this as the Messianic Age, the Millennial Kingdom and/or the Feast of Tabernacles.  At that time:

  • Jesus will reign from Jerusalem
  • Nations will come to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Jeremiah 3:17, Zechariah 14:16)
  • God will bring His eternal purpose to conclusion
  • Israel’s spiritual recovery will finally follow their physical recovery!

But, we’re still awaiting one key thing to trigger that!  Come back tomorrow and we’ll dive right in the middle of it!

The Third Great Covenant: New Covenant

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Wow, we’ve covered some exciting ground this week!  Thanks for following along, and I hope you are blessed as we study the third great covenant today.

Over the past two days, we have established that the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant function as a 3-legged stool, making all necessary.  The Abrahamic Covenant is the covenant of DECISION because God decided to preach the gospel to Abraham in order that, through him, all the nations of the earth would be blessed.  God decided what the Abrahamic Covenant would accomplish.

However, it wasn’t enough.  The world has a difficult time recognizing the need for salvation, thus God gave the law to Moses via the Mosaic Covenant.  This covenant of INSTRUCTION, teaches us our need for salvation (the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant), but in and of itself, it cannot save us!  The law is our tutor, not our savior!

So, we have God’s DECISION (Abrahamic Covenant) and INSTRUCTION (Mosaic Covenant), but we still lack the ABILITY…the third leg of the stool.  That is accomplished through the New Covenant, so that’s where we will focus today.

We spent yesterday in Galatians 3 and you’re encouraged to go back there again today.  Verses 10-14 tie the Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant.  Notice what verses 10-13 tell us:

  • Living under law is a curse
  • No one is justified by the law
  • The law is not of faith

The kicker:  Christ redeemed us from the law!  How?  2 Corinthians 5:21 provides that answer:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Now, go back to Galatians 3:14!  Did you catch it?  Jesus became sin on our behalf…and it is through Him that we receive the promise of the Holy Spirit!

The apostle Paul is pointing us to what Jeremiah prophesied:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
~Jeremiah 31:31-32 
[Emphasis mine]

According to Jeremiah, God is making a different covenant than the one He made with Moses.  He is making a New Covenant, and guess with whom He made it!?!  The house of Israel and the house of Judah……the Jewish people!  The New Covenant is a JEWISH thing, not a Christian thing!  Sometimes I think we have tried to hijack a Jewish covenant and make it our own.

Jesus’ death on the cross made the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant possible…to the Jew first!  But, because God preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, then commissioned him to be a blessing to all the families of the earth, we as Gentiles get to partake of a covenant made with the Jewish people and extended to us!

Wow!  What a plan!  The New Covenant is the third leg of the stool.  It is the covenant of ABILITY.

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
~Galatians 3:29

The 3-legged stool stands…each part based on the character of God.  The INSTRUCTION of the Mosaic Covenant, coupled with the ABILITY of the New Covenant, allows us to benefit from the DECISION of the Abrahamic Covenant.

But there’s more….and you’ll have to come back tomorrow as we tie up all the loose ends.  This is fabulous stuff that only a God infinitely bigger than our own imagination could ever conceive.  We’ll talk more tomorrow, but chew on what we’ve studied this week.

4 Biblical Principles Regarding Israel

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We’re into week 7 of Why Israel Matters, and I hope you are enjoying our study together.  Our focus this week has been on the parting of ways between Jews and Christians.  What a sad history has passed, but what tremendous hope if we abide by the apostle Paul’s instructions to us in Romans 11!  (We studied that chapter earlier.  If you missed it, catch Has God Rejected His People? and Life from the Dead.)

Now, we move our focus back to Israel and consider 4 principles regarding Israel and the nations.

Principle of Domicile

Yesterday, we established that some of God’s promises are unconditional, but others are conditional.  Deuteronomy 29-30 provide clear evidence that Israel’s privilege of living in the land is conditional upon their reverence and obedience to God.  However, though they may lose the privilege of living in the land, it doesn’t mean they lose ownership of the land!

Even while in exile, the land belongs to Israel.

Principle of Righteousness

When faithful to God, Israel has a right to live in the land.  God desires righteousness, and He illustrated it to Joshua after leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Take a look at Joshua 5:13-15.

There, Joshua had an encounter with the Commander of the Lord’s Army, who told him to take off his sandals, for he was standing on holy ground.  In Hebrew minds, taking off one’s sandals was a sign of humility, respect and honor.  God desires righteousness and humility.  If the Israelites were to stand on holy ground, they must do so with sandals off.

Principle of Discipline

Our key passage is Jeremiah 25:6-11.  Here, Jeremiah prophesies of Israel’s exile to Babylon because of their disobedience to God’s command not to pursue other gods.  When they did, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take them into exile.

God will discipline His people when they disobey.  But we must remember: the root word of “discipline” is “disciple.”  He might use even Israel’s enemies to discipline His people, but He disciplines for their ultimate good.

Principle of Retribution

Though God may use Israel’s enemies to discipline her, those who desire Israel’s total destruction will face retribution.  God spoke this plainly through the prophet Isaiah.  Quick glances at Isaiah 49:25-26 and Isaiah 51:21-23 reveal that God Himself will contend with those who contend with Israel.

But Joel 3:1-2 serves as perhaps the clearest warning to those who would scatter His people and divide their land.  God promises to bring all nations to the valley of Jehoshaphat for the ultimate “Israel Test.”  (Click here to take the test yourself!)

So, in light of current events, Israel is in the land, but is primarily secular and, in many ways, not living righteously.  In times past, God has exiled them for lack of obedience.  Isaiah 11:11-12 indicates God exiling them, then bringing them back a second time…but not a third.  Could God exile and bring them back a third time, though it is not prophesied in Scripture?  Perhaps.

But I believe God’s plan is different now.  God’s correction will ultimately culminate in the tribulation, during which national revival will take place and all Israel will be saved!  God is intent on saving His people!

We are approaching the meat of the study, so stick with us!