History in the Making!

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Welcome back to Why Israel Matters.  If you have found your way here, but have no idea what to make of it, just know that we have just begun a summary of a live Bible study conducted at CalvaryPHX in Phoenix AZ.  (If you are in the area, join us live each Sunday morning at 11:00 in Room 209, Central campus.)  Yesterday I launched the first post, and you can catch it here.

There is no doubt we live in historic times as we view today’s events through the lens of Scripture.  It is a time of prophetic fulfillment, and should lead each of us as Christians to understand that Jesus could return for us at any time!  Thus, we must be ready, as a bride readies herself for the groom.

History was made when President Trump (in December) recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.  Not that Jerusalem wasn’t already the capital…just that no one was willing to say so officially.  That was followed by the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.  Along with that, Israel now has the backing of the world’s #1 superpower, and has unprecedented support in the UN from US Ambassador Nikki Haley.  Collectively, those things have never been true in all of history, yet the Bible says Jerusalem MUST be established in order for God’s plan of the end to take place.

Such things must be understood in the context of why Israel matters.  Sadly, many churches today are teaching a different theology: Replacement Theology, which in essence says, “Because the Jewish people rejected Jesus, God has rejected the Jews.  All promises to the Jews are now promises to the church.  Thus, the church is the ‘new Israel.'”

Absolutely not!

Other churches are just not teaching about Israel at all.  Some say it is too “political.”  They want nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Iranian’s stated goal of “wiping Israel off the map.”

But the real issue is Jerusalem.  If you talk about Israel, you eventually have to tackle the issue of Jerusalem.  The Bible says Jerusalem will be a heavy stone in the end.  All who try to move her will be injured!  (Zechariah 12:2-3)  Therefore, it is just easier to avoid the issue of Jerusalem altogether.

But is Jerusalem really “political?”  Jerusalem is mentioned over 600 times in the Bible.  Jesus left from there and will return there.  Does that sound political or spiritual?  Furthermore, the Jewish people will ultimately look upon their Messiah there, and Romans 11:26 says ALL Israel will be saved!  Nothing political about that!  It’s a spiritual battle, not a political one!

God chose Israel for a specific REASON and a specific SEASON!  God revealed Himself to Gentiles through Israel!  In fact, Israel is the vehicle of world redemption!  That’s the REASON.  It is through Israel we have:

  • Faith in One God – the Jews gave up worshiping other gods when they went into exile!
  • Word of God – the Bible was written by Jews, in Jewish settings.
  • Son of God – news flash: Jesus was a Jew!

We live in a unique window of time.  This is the SEASON.  God made Himself known through the Jewish people, and He is about to make Himself known TO the Jewish people!

And we ask….why is Israel important!?!  You’ve got your first taste of where we’re going in this study, but we’re not through for this week!  Stay tuned for more!

PS: Have you prayed for Israel today?  Do so…then check back tomorrow as we join the worldwide prayer initiative to pray together for Israel!

Israel and the Millennial Generation

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One of the major emphases during the ICEJ/ACLI Conference in Washington DC was the “Israel divide” in the millennial generation.  Those born between 1980-2000 are into young adulthood now and are statistically less supportive of Israel than previous generations.  According to polls, less than 45% of Millennials are supportive of Israel, while 27% sympathize more with the Palestinians.  That is problematic as tomorrow’s leaders emerge from that generation.

Dr Jeremy Roberts explained why, and what must be done to remedy the divide.  The whys:

  1. Theological error.  To significant degree, Millennials have fallen prey to false teaching such as Reformed Theology (a bent toward Calvinistic belief) leading to Replacement Theology (a belief that the church has replaced Israel), which in turn, leads to distorted eschatology (a disregard for end times, given less emphasis on a literal Israel).
  2. Political move toward moderate. Politically, moderates and liberals are less supportive of Israel, and Millennials are becoming more and more moderate/liberal.
  3. Technological dependence.  Millennials are addicted to their devices, and social media developers are exploiting that addiction.  Today’s social media platforms are literally designed to be addictive, and Millennials spend an average of 6 hours a day on their smartphones and other devices, becoming brainwashed by the liberal agendas of the media giants.  (Need evidence, check out the growth statistics of Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter and Instagram, all developed by liberal thinkers who have designed their products to favor liberal agendas.)

These elements (and perhaps others) have created the “Israel divide.”  So, what can be done to remedy the divide?

  • Live out your theology.  If you have children or young adults, your influence is especially critical.  Young people look to preceding generations, particularly family members and respected teachers, coaches and others who invest in them.  Thus, your example must lead them to the right theology.  Do that by praying faithfully, supporting Israel tangibly and teaching of the love of God for the Jews and for us who believe.
  • Be politically active.  Take the time to find out what electoral candidates believe, then align those beliefs with your own Biblical convictions, then VOTE your values.  As you model that diligence to Millennials, they will sense the importance of “vetting before voting.”  Don’t vote based simply on what the campaign ads tell you!
  • Leverage technology. Depending upon your generation, you may or may not be highly comfortable and skilled in technology, particularly social media.  But to whatever level you are comfortable using the tools, do so in a bold, firm way, but with kindness and love.  Whatever you write or share, do so with intent and purpose, and use your platform to talk about Israel.  Use your influence to spread the truth.

When it comes to standing for Israel, overcome those who desire to oppose you, overcome procrastination, overcome age (whether young or more mature) and overcome the enemy whose mission is to silence you!

Check back in this afternoon, as I plan to share some additional information and thoughts regarding the up and coming generations.

(For an outline of Dr Roberts teaching at the conference, click here.)

“Sooooo Loving of Israel!”

I wish all of you could have experienced what I experienced Saturday night at the Christian Friends of Yad Vashem Reunion/Refresher!  In a gathering of graduates from the Christian Leadership Conferences at Yad Vashem (2010-2017), we were so grateful to have several African nations represented among us.  We heard from them on Saturday night, and trust me when I say, “The Lord is alive and well, and moving powerfully through men and women committed to the Lord to love Israel!”

We heard from Bishop Joshua Mulinge, not only one of Africa’s most prominent pastors, but also one of the key people responsible for arranging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visits to Africa, and the Africa-Israel Initiative that is joining the continent of Africa together in partnership with Israel.  Africa is poised to move to the forefront of world affairs in a very positive way!  (Though we know Sudan [Cush] and Libya [Put] will refuse to follow!  Check out Ezekiel 38 to see why!)

Bishop Mulinge told us story-after-story of that adventure, but you must understand one thing.  Seven years ago, Pastor Mulinge was a staunch Replacement Theology teacher.  His message to his church and around Africa was that God was finished with Israel and the church was the “new Israel.”  Thus, all God’s promises to Israel are now promises to the church.

He told an amazing story of how the Lord revealed that position as false teaching, then how, after Pastor Mulinge’s repentance, the Lord used a Muslim man to bless the church!  He went on to share account after account of God’s blessings as he and his congregation took Genesis 12:3 to heart:

I will bless those who bless you [Israel],
And the one who curses you I [God] will curse.

You have to hear Bishop Mulinge tell his story, so I’m including it here.  The heading for today’s post will make no sense until you hear his story!  (For clarification, in the audio, what sounds like “judge” is “church,” and what sounds like “parrot” is “parent.”)  I hope you are blessed by this brother’s testimony!

The Leadership Briefing at ICEJ’s Summer Conference

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How fitting!  Just days after President Trump’s historic visit to Israel, and the Jewish celebration of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day, commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem following the Six Day War), I celebrate with Christians from all over America who stand with Israel!

I am attending the Leadership Briefing and Summer Conference of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).  To start things off, we received the briefing from ICEJ leadership and it was glowing!

If you are a Christian and love Israel, yet are unfamiliar with ICEJ, become familiar!  ICEJ has been around since 1980, has a presence in well over 100 countries, and 14 million people are associated with ICEJ, making it the largest ministry in support of Israel in the world.

ICEJ engages in a myriad of projects that educate, promote support for Israel, show compassion, and press for justice on behalf of Israel and we heard from ICEJ leaders such as Susan Michael and Malcolm Hedding.  Here is just a short list of ongoing projects:

  • Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors – founded and run solely by the ICEJ
  • IsraelAid – assisting Jews, Arabs and others in Israel living in poverty
  • Funding and administrative help in helping Jews from around the world make aliyah (return to the homeland)
  • Providing bomb shelters to neighborhoods near the Gaza Strip
  • Providing body armor for IDF and police forces in Israel
  • Providing very low-cost, specialized tours of Israel to pastors/ministry leaders and young people
  • Producing small group Bible studies and providing speakers to churches and organizations to further educate lay people on rightly relating to Israel
  • Coordinating and hosting the annual Feast of Tabernacles, which brings together thousands of Christians from around the world
  • ACLI – American Christian Leaders for Israel.  An initiative of the US Branch, the newly-formed ACLI seeks to provide a unified voice of truth to the American public in support of Israel and the Jewish people.

…and that is honestly a short list!

We were also informed of the hurdles ICEJ (and others in support of Israel) face:

  • Growing Biblical illiteracy.  Fewer people who identify themselves as Christians actually hold a Biblical worldview.  Many don’t understand the Old Testament, therefore, have lost the importance of God’s call upon Israel.  Misunderstanding the Old Testament leaves understanding the New Testament vulnerable to secular ideas.
  • Replacement Theology.  Fitting hand-in-glove to growing Biblical illiteracy, Replacement Theology (RT) is growing in strength.  Emboldened by antisemitic narrative (at times naively, at times purposefully), the basic tenet of RT is that because the Jews rejected God, God has rejected them, thus transferring all the Biblical promises to the church.  RT is espoused by some “big name” evangelicals, and is false teaching.  Be careful who you turn to for spiritual guidance regarding Israel!
  • Growing antisemitism.  College campuses are fraught with antisemitism, as it is often crammed down the throats of unsuspecting students by incredibly liberal professors.  In addition, surveys indicate that 26% of the world is antisemitic. 70% of those have never met a Jewish person.  Furthermore, while only 9% of American adults identify as antisemitic, only 10% hold a strong Biblical worldview!  That must change!
  • Growing influence of Islam.  After 8 years of “free reign” in America, things have quieted on the Muslim front in our country.  But don’t be fooled.  While it would be absolutely inappropriate to lump every Muslim into the same batch (indeed, many are peaceful), the truth is that some are jihadist…and they are very patient.  As soon as the political winds turn again in their favor, they will re-surface in even greater number and severity.  (Consider what is happening in Europe, where they still have “free reign.”)

The message is clear, it is time for Christians to rise up and join the Lord God of Israel in blessing His people.  A key passage for this conference comes from Psalm 102:

But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
    you are remembered throughout all generations.
You will arise and have pity on Zion;
    it is the time to favor her;
    the appointed time has come.

In this 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, the Lord is once again remembered for His faithfulness to His chosen land and His chosen people.  He has arisen and is showing favor to Israel.

The appointed time has come, Christians!  Study about Israel, show support of Israel, stand with Israel and pray for Israel!