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!

Praise God for US Ambassador Nikki Haley!

When it comes to the UN, no nation on earth has taken the heat Israel has.  Thankfully, this American administration has voiced more support for Israel than any other in history.  No one seems to articulate support of Israel any better than US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and she did so at a special meeting of the UN General Assembly on Friday.

As Christians who support Israel as commanded by Scripture, we praise God for Nikki Haley.  I’m reminded of Esther who the Lord placed in a position of prominence (Queen of Persia) at just the right time to save the Jewish people.  (Read the book of Esther.)  Likewise, I believe God has positioned Nikki Haley in a place of prominence “for such a time as this!”

In typical style, Nikki Haley left nothing to interpretation as she spoke boldly and pointedly on Friday about President Trump’s position regarding Israel.  She said:

  • “The United States recognizes the obvious: that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.”
  • “Israel, like all nations, has a right to determine its capital city. Jerusalem is the home of Israel’s parliament, President, Prime Minister, Supreme Court and many of its ministries. It is simple common sense that foreign embassies be located there.”
  • “To those who have good faith concerns about the future of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, let me again assure you that the President and this administration remain committed to the peace process. To those who do not act in good faith, to any person, leader, country or terrorist group that uses this decision as a pretext for violence, you are only showing yourself to be unfit partners of peace.”
  • “Finally, I will not let this moment pass without a comment about the United Nations itself….The UN has done much more to damage the prospects for Middle East peace than to advance them. We will not be a party to that. The United States no longer stands by when Israel is unfairly attacked in the United Nations. And the United States will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly.”

She concluded her speech by assuring Palestinians that the US will continue to work toward peace that is advantageous to future generations on both sides.  It was a very powerful speech, reiterating to all that the US is committed to both Israelis and Palestinians when it come to peace.

Praise God for Nikki Haley!  View her full 8-minute speech here:

Hanukkah 2017 is Coming!

Happy Lord’s Day, my friends!

Christmas season is upon us, and if you are Jewish, that can mean only one thing: Hanukkah is just around the corner!  Indeed, Hanukkah begins at sundown on Tuesday evening and lasts for 8 days.  Perhaps I’ll share a bit more about what Hanukkah is all about in the next few days, but today I want to focus on the celebratory nature of our Jewish friends!

I have often mentioned the Jews’ zest for life and their ability to go on enjoying life regardless of what hand they are dealt.  For example, even during times of exile and the Holocaust, Jews managed to find ways to sing, dance and find joy amidst the chaos.  I find it intriguing and admirable.

Hanukkah is one of the most celebratory occasions on the Jewish calendar, and for 8 days they make the most of it!  Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Temple after it was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century BC.  Because the Temple was the center of Jewish life, you can imagine the joy of regaining their holy place of worship.  Furthermore, Jesus Himself celebrated Hanukkah (Feast of the Dedication) with His family, and later to assert His deity (John 10:22).  Thus, though it is not one of the 7 major feasts of Israel, we know it was an actual event during Jesus’ day, and that He found it important enough to observe.

IMG_20151207_194044886So, being the fun-loving people they are, Jews celebrate big!  They gather together, light the menorah, cook special foods, eat jelly donuts, sing, dance and make merry!  I had the privilege of being in Jerusalem during Hanukkah 2015, and made a special trip to the Old City just to catch the celebration there.  It was very festive as lights danced on the city walls, festive music blared, a huge menorah was lit, and young people danced the night away!

Jews in the diaspora (living outside of Israel) celebrate as well.  A few years ago Daley Plaza in Chicago was the scene of a well-planned flash mob celebrating Hanukkah in a unique way.  Enjoy!

 

PS: Stay tuned…I’ll share more fun facts about Hanukkah in the days ahead!

Amir Tsarfati’s Special Update on Jerusalem

Yesterday I shared some thoughts regarding President Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and I tried to provide some insight into the days, weeks and months ahead.  For many of us who love Israel, these are intriguing times and we want to know more.

If you missed Amir Tsarfati’s Special Update on Jerusalem on Thursday and you are one “wanting to know more,” I suggest carving out an hour to catch the update.  Being Israeli and speaking with authority vested in his military background and political connections, Amir is a tremendous resource when we want to know more about Israel and what is happening there.  So sit down, relax and spend the next hour soaking in what Amir shares.  Enjoy!