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!

Why the Calm? Why the Storm?

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What faithful students you are!  Welcome back!

Today we’ll finish the summary of the live class I’m teaching at 11:00 am each Sunday morning at Calvary PHX in Phoenix AZ.  If you like what you’re reading and are in the Phoenix area, come join the live class.  We’re in Room 209 at the Central campus and there is a seat ready for you!

We are living in the calm before the storm.  Indeed, Israel is as calm and peaceful as she has ever been since rebirth in 1948.  (If you are wondering how I can say that when rockets fired from Gaza recently, see yesterday’s post.)  We know, also, that there is a huge storm on the horizon.  Ezekiel 38 describes that storm and we’ll spend some more time talking about it in the next live lesson.

So, why the calm…and why the storm?  Does God really have a purpose in all this?  Absolutely!

First, let’s talk about what happened in America.  Understand, though, that America is NOT God’s timepiece.  Israel is.  But something significant happened in America over the past few years.  From a spiritual perspective, many believe we were teetering on the brink of the abyss.  For years, our country has been spiraling out of control morally.  We have thrown God out of schools, government buildings and city parks.  Abortions are killing over 600,000 babies a year.  Religious freedom has been trampled while gay rights have sky rocketed to levels unimaginable.  Marriage has taken on new definitions and the dignity of aging adults has been striped away.

But someone (LOTS of someones!) took 2 Chronicles 7:14 to heart:

…[if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Christians began to pray and began to stand up for what is right…and miracles happened.  (If you prayed, you had a part in the miracles!)  One miracle (there were many) was the election of Donald Trump as President.  Many (including myself) were skeptical that a man with such a sordid background would actually stand for things such as the sanctity of life, religious freedom…and Israel.  Furthermore, he was not supposed to win!  Behind in all the polls and lambasted by the liberal media, it took a miracle of God (despite skepticism!) to put Donald Trump in the White House.  Praise God for that!

Our nation is far from perfect and still has the same issues it had before.  But I truly believe God heard the faithful, effective prayers of the righteous (James 5:16), He honored them, and He gave America a short reprieve.  American friends, this is our season!  Time is short and the reprieve won’t last forever.  We must NOT be complacent.

Now the whys.

Why the calm?

  1. God honored the prayers of the righteous!
  2. God is preparing the region for what comes next.  Ezekiel 38 says Israel MUST be living in safety, security and prosperity.  Meanwhile, Russia, Iran and Turkey are all struggling economically.  That will bring about motivation for attack.
  3. God is establishing Jerusalem’s status.  Jerusalem is to be the heavy stone that others will try to lift, only to be injured.  Establishing Jerusalem as the capital, moving embassies there and destroying Iran’s presence on the Israeli border helps establish Jerusalem’s status!

Those things are happening right before our very eyes, and this is the calm before the storm!  Also, as a side note: talk among Jews in Israel is turning to “days of Messiah!”  They are looking for that someone who will bring lasting peace and allow them to rebuild the third temple!  Interesting!

Why the coming storm?

  1. To expose the intentions of man’s heart, and that of the nations.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that our hearts are desperately wicked, and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 provides a laundry list of wickedness that will characterize the last days.  Joel 3:2 warns the nations that God will judge them according to how they treat Israel!
  2. To glorify God and destroy Satan’s plans.  (Read Ezekiel 38.  That’s your homework for next week!)
  3. Set the stage for the hour of trial.  Though believers will be saved from it (Revelation 3:10 and many places in 1 Thessalonians), the Jews will face the hour of trial after God defeats the enemies of Ezekiel 38-39.  They will look for their Messiah, only to find he is the Antichrist.

Despite their own blindness, Israel is the flagship that leads the world to salvation.  So, why does Israel matter?  Because Israel is our insurance policy!  If God is not faithful to the Jewish people, why would we expect Him to be faithful to us?

As we close out this week, why not pray for the eyes of Jewish people to be open to see and recognize the One True Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Some are seeing…let’s pray for a larger harvest!

Thanks for following this week, and I look forward to sharing more in Week 2, as we get into Signs of the Times: Storm Clouds Rising.

Afterthoughts: The US-led Attack on Syrian Chemical Weapons Facilities

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Questions about the US-led attacks in Syria are swirling, so let’s approach them the appropriate way: by viewing them through the lens of Scripture.

What led up to the American-led attack?

In brief, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria is opposed by rebel groups who have suffered under his tyrannical reign.  Thus, to rid himself of the rebels, Assad has repeatedly attacked them with chemical weapons.  Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, America (and the rest of the world) stood on the sidelines, despite “red lines” that were crossed by the Assad regime.  Once elected, President Trump vowed to take action if chemical weapons were used, and he followed through on that promise about a year ago when Assad unleashed a chemical attack on his own people.  Again, on Saturday, April 7, Assad used chemical weapons to decimate citizen (including children) in the city of Homs (just outside Damascus).  President Trump openly declared that missiles were forthcoming, though they were not launched until April 14.

Why did President Trump wait so long to strike?

That is a  complicated question and I may not have the correct answer, but here is my take.  In early April (before Assad’s latest assault with chemical weapons), Trump announced that he wants to pull troops out of Syria.  Following Assad’s attack, Trump then had a dilemma: pull out (as recently promised) or attack (to fulfill a previous promise)?  To remain true to his campaign promise to respond to chemical weapon attacks, he had to do something.  But he wanted the assistance of others, and he did not want to be dragged into a long conflict.  Thus, I believe it took time to draw the UK and France into commitment to strike alongside the Americans.  (Which they did.)

Meanwhile (in the span of that week), rhetoric from the White House, the State Department and the Department of Defense had grown fairly course toward Russia and Iran, holding them responsible for aiding and abetting Assad in his monstrous attacks on his people.  In fact, in the aftermath of Assad’s attack, President Trump very specifically aimed tweets at Russian President Vladimir Putin, stating smart missiles were coming.

So, if Russia and Iran were being held responsible, why didn’t the US target Russian and Iranian facilities?

Reports from trustworthy sources indicate that there may have been considerable disagreement among Trump’s advisors regarding attacks on Russian and Iranian positions.  Also, the timing was interesting.  It was several days after Trump promised action that he actually ordered the attack.  By that time, virtually all Russian and Iranian military assets were evacuated, leaving very little for the Americans and their allies to attack.  In fact, reports indicate that Assad very likely evacuated the Syrian chemical weapon stashes from the two storage facilities that were hit.  Therefore, while I see the destruction of the research facility as a major “hit,” I’m not convinced the attack was very successful in terms of setting back Assad’s capabilities in using chemical weapons again.

Will the US and its allies carry out further attacks?

It appears this round of attacks is over.  Things are “returning to normal,” meaning Syrian jets are back in the air, bombing rebel positions.  (Though no chemical weapons are believed to have been used since April 7.)  Though the US has said they will levy additional sanctions on Russia, Russian and Iranian military assets are returning to their bases in Syria, and I suspect it will soon be “as you were.”

Now….through the lens of Scripture.  We’ve talked at length in previous posts about the Isaiah 17:1 prophecy, foretelling the destruction of Damascus.  That is coming, and I believe, could be the spark that lights the fuse for the Ezekiel 38 prophecy.  (War of Gog and Magog – attack on Israel by a coalition led by Russia and including Iran, Turkey and others.)

Now, the elephant in the room: is the US truly standing with Israel or not?  By not taking more decisive and determined action against the thugs in Syria whose target is ultimately Israel, is the US as strong a partner as Israel needs?

Dear friends, Scripture tells us that, in the end, Israel will stand alone.  Of course I want the US to take the strongest stand possible for Israel.  Of course I don’t want America to let Israel down.  But God’s Word is God’s Word.

The US is not specifically mentioned in Scripture, so that should be our first clue that the US will not likely be a key player in the end.  If there is any possible mention (indirectly) of the US, perhaps it is part of the “…merchants of Tarshish with all its villages…” in Ezekiel 38:13.  However, if that is the case, those “merchants” and “villages” do nothing to assist Israel.  They simply stand on the sidelines asking questions!

Furthermore, Joel 3:2 indicates a time in which God will gather ALL nations to be judged for how they treated Israel.  Unfortunately, America is part of “ALL nations.”

But here is my favorite view of these current events through the lens of Scripture:

Some boast [trust] in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast [trust] in the name of the Lord, our God.
~Psalm 20:7 NASB (“trust” used in other translations)

It will NOT be the strength of the military (US or otherwise) that will protect and save Israel.  It will be the Lord Himself!  Should we, as individuals, be faithful to stand with Israel, regardless of the cost?  Absolutely yes!  Should we pray that our nation remains faithful to stand with Israel?  Absolutely yes!  But at some point, will Israel ultimately stand alone?  Yes…and Israel will see the power of her God!  Trust in the name of the Lord our God…He reigns over all!

 

 

Nikki Haley Tells AIPAC: “Jerusalem was, is, and will Always Be the Capital of Israel!”

What do you get when you cross a brilliant mind, a bold voice and faithful public service with America’s most important position in the United Nations?  You get American Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley…and she gets roaring applause at AIPAC!

Israel has no bigger friend and ally in the American government than Nikki Haley.  She has, at times single-handedly, taken on the UN General Assembly and Security Council and has held her own.  From a political perspective, she gets an A+ when it comes to standing with Israel.

But, let’s consider her stand from a Biblical perspective.  Genesis 12:3 tells us clearly that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.  That truth carries personal connotations for each of us.  Indeed, we must each make a decision regarding how we respond to Israel.  However, Joel 3:1-2 issues a warning to the nations of the earth:

“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations
And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
Then I will enter into judgment with them there
On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
And they have divided up My land.”

The prophet tells us that ALL nations will be gathered in judgment in the valley of Jehoshaphat to answer for how they treated Israel!  Thus, it is eternally critical that the United States does not scatter the Jewish people or divide up the land of Israel!  That will not happen on Nikki Haley’s watch if she has anything to do with it!

The current administration is the first US administration in decades to stand firmly and Biblically with our friend and ally, Israel…and Nikki Haley has taken on the gigantic task of setting the US on the right side of the Biblical equation in the United Nations!  Praise God for her…and please PRAY for her!

As Haley spoke to the excited crowd at AIPAC, she stated unequivocally:  “Jerusalem was, is, and will always be the capital of Israel!”  Hear what else she had to say in her 21-minute speech: