A New Season Begins for God’s People in God’s Land

At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference this week, we were reminded of the significance of “jubilee years” throughout Israel’s modern history.  To place it in Biblical context, read Leviticus 25 (particularly verses 8-10)to discover the Lord’s plan to designate years of jubilee every 50 years.   Those years were established as years of redemption for those who gave up land they could no longer afford, or who went into slavery because they had no other way to live.

Over the course of recent history, we have seen the Lord remain faithful to implement jubilee years for the Jewish people.  For example, in the 1860’s, Charles Warren, an officer in the British Royal Engineers, was prohibited from excavating areas beneath Temple Mount.  Thus, he moved his operation south, where he discovered the ancient City of David in 1867.  This was historic because it put King David’s kingdom on the map, verifying a critical part of Jewish history.  More importantly, it became the first season of aliyah (returning to the homeland) for the Jewish people.  Jubilee!

Fifty years later (1917), British General Edmund Allenby liberated the city of Jerusalem from Arab oppression.  British forces not only captured Jerusalem, but established a strong fortified line to ward off Israel’s enemies.  On December 11 of that year, Allenby refused to ride into the city on horseback (as victorious leaders were prone to do), but instead dismounted and walked through the Jaffa Gate because he believed that no conquering king other than Jesus should ride into the city!  Again, property was returned to its rightful owner (Israel) in a jubilee year…50 years after Warren’s discover brought aliyah.

Fast forward another 50 years to 1967 and Israel prevailed in one of the most critical battles of all time.  Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser, having been fully embarrassed by failed attempts to conquer Israel in 1948 (War of Independence) and 1956 (Suez War), concocted a plan to cut off shipping to Israel, thus choking off their livelihood.  Not only that, he enlisted the backing and military support of Syria and Jordan.  But, knowing of the plan, Israel launched a preemptive strike that caught Egypt and her allies totally off-guard.  Not only did Israel soundly defeat the Arab aggressors, but in so doing, they regained control of the Old City of Jerusalem (held by the Jordanians)!  It was a miraculous victory, only possible through the hand of God who was faithful to His promises!  Jubilee!

Fifty years later (2017) another jubilee year occurred.  Donald Trump surprisingly won the US presidential election and one of his campaign promises was to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, per the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.  The law mandated the move be made no later than May 31, 1999, but it had one caveat: the President could sign a 6-month waiver if it was a security risk.  Every US president since that time promised to move the embassy, yet signed waivers every 6 months, delaying the move.  Yet, in December 2017, President Trump made a surprising announcement containing two very key points: he recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and he officially decreed that the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem!  Jubilee!

Well, on May 14, 2018, Israel’s 70th birthday (on the Gregorian calendar), the US officially opened that embassy in Jerusalem…and the celebration continues.  Israelis are rejoicing in the streets as they celebrate yet another jubilee!

So, you may have known all that, so what’s the point?  Great question!  It is now a new season in Israel.  Things will be different there, as they are each time a jubilee year occurs.  Once possessions are returned to a poor man, life changes!  Moreover, Israel has now been a reborn nation for the same number of years she was once in Babylonian exile.  Not that the two events are linked in many ways, but it seems somewhat interesting that, just as Cyrus helped restore the land to the Jews after 70 years, so the US has helped to restore the land to the Jews.

My point is this: the US remains a critical vessel in God’s plan for Israel.  Our nation has been abundantly blessed, because we have chosen to bless Israel.  Biblically speaking, we know that, one day, the US will cease to be the strong ally that partners with Israel today.  Israel will stand alone.  But until that time, dear friends, it is vitally important that we continue to bless Israel individually, corporately through our churches and nationally through diplomacy, military coordination and assistance.

Rejoice, for the jubilee year has brought a new season to Israel!  (And stay tuned…I’ve got lots more good stuff to share from the conference!)

Temple Mount and the Southern Steps in Jesus’ Day

Have you ever wondered what life was like on and around Temple Mount in Jesus’ day?  There are some things we know about, such as Jesus clearing the Temple courtyards of money changers who were turning God’s house into a den of thieves (Matthew 21John 2), Jesus taught in the Temple (Mark 12), and that Jesus used the Temple as an object lesson to teach His disciples about Himself (Mark 14).

The Temple, of course, was destroyed in 70 AD and has not been rebuilt since.  In fact, much has changed as a result of the destruction of Jerusalem and years of history since.  However, there are still places that “tell a story” if we only listen.  One such location is the southern steps to Temple Mount.  We know that Jesus and other “commoners” would have entered the Temple via those steps, so it is a striking place when you visit Israel.

Today, let’s go there, and imagine what it was like in Jesus’ day.  Enjoy!

How did King David Conquer Jerusalem?

The City of David, situated just south of Temple Mount, has become one of my favorite places to explore in Jerusalem.  Very significant excavation has taken place over the past few years and incredible discoveries are still being made.

But, just what is the City of David and its significance?

Well, we know that David was anointed King of Israel, and that he conquered the Jebusites, thus establishing his reign over all of Israel (2 Samuel 5).

Verse 7 of 2 Samuel 5 says, “David captured the stronghold of Zion, that is the city of David.”  But just how did he do that?  The city was walled and the enemy was fierce.  Yet, God granted David the wisdom to know how to conquer the Jebusites.  It is a fascinating achievement!

Want to know how he did it?  Check this out:

 

Aren’t you glad to serve and worship a God who is infinite in wisdom and able to guide us to victory!  The City of David is a testimony today of God’s faithfulness to David, and His promises reign forever true to the Jewish people.  Why not take a moment right now to pray for the excavation project at the City of David!

Tomorrow we’ll look at yet another incredible find in the City of David, so come back for that!

Jerusalem: A Heavy Stone

Image result for jerusalem heavy stone

I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone, and all who lift it will be severely injured.

The prophet Zechariah wrote today’s headlines 2500 years ago!  As the Lord spoke this vision to Zechariah, he saw what Jerusalem would become today:

“Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”
~Zechariah 12:2-3

The battle for Jerusalem is heating up…and someone is about to get hurt.

It is true, Jerusalem has been hotly contested territory throughout history.  King David declared Jerusalem the capital city around 1000 BC, but what followed were successive conquests by:

  • Assyrians (about 700 BC)
  • Babylonians (586 BC)
  • Persians (539 BC)
  • Greeks (332 BC)
  • Romans (63 BC)
  • Persians (614 AD)
  • Byzantines (629 AD)
  • Muslims (638 AD)
  • Crusaders (1099 AD)
  • Mamluk Muslims (1250 AD)
  • Ottomans (1517 AD)
  • British Mandate (1917 AD)

That brings us to Israel’s re-birth in 1948.  So, finally the issue of Jerusalem is settled, right?  Wrong!  Within 24 hours after declaring statehood, Israel was attacked, and ultimately control of Jerusalem was split between Israel and Jordan.

Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel recaptured the entire Old City, including Temple Mount.  Issue solved, right?  Wrong!  In the interest of peace, control of Temple Mount and a large chunk of Jerusalem was given to the Arabs.  Subsequently, it became popular for the Palestinians to claim “ownership” of parts of Jerusalem, and identify it as their capital.

So, what do we see today?  Perhaps an even deeper step into the prophecy of Zechariah. Through the prophet, the Lord warned that, in the last days, Jerusalem would become a heavy stone, and that those who tried to lift it would be injured.  For years, the Palestinians have been trying to move the heavy stone.  On December 6, President Donald Trump dropped a bombshell when he officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Since Israel’s rebirth, no nation has made such declaration until now, and the nations of the world are reeling.  In a clear revelation of just how radically Islamicized much of the world is, the UN Security Council voted yesterday to condemn Trump’s decision….only to have US Ambassador Nikki Haley use American veto power to annul the vote!  (More about that tomorrow!)

At a time when the world in general is backing the Palestinian demand for Jerusalem, it is clear most have forgotten God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham.  He promised Abraham and his descendants the land, and despite what any people group, powerful person or the United Nations say, Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people!