The Priestly Call

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Ok, let’s wrap it up today!  This week we have studied God’s love story.  We know God called Abraham, a pagan Gentile, to become the father of the Jews…and the Gentiles!  (See previous posts if that is confusing to you!)  God’s call upon Abraham was a 3-fold call:

  • Birthing call
  • Suffering call
  • Priestly call

Today, we examine the priestly call.

Turn to Genesis 22:1-13.  You will recognize the passage as that of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac.  God asked Abraham to take his son, Isaac, to Mt Moriah for the sacrifice.

As a side note, Solomon built the Temple on Mt Moriah, and it is located beneath today’s Temple Mount!  The sacrifice would be made where animal sacrifices would be made in later years!

As Abraham took Isaac up the mountain, he told his servants to remain down below, as he and Isaac were going up to worship and would return!  Abraham knew, even if God required the sacrifice of Isaac, that He would bring him back to life!  (Hebrews 11:19)

So, Abraham was obedient to God by building the altar, putting wood on it, laying Isaac upon it and raising his knife to slay him.  At that point, God stopped him, provided a lamb for the sacrifice and spared Isaac’s life.

But here again, I wonder what Abraham saw that day.   Did God pull back the curtain one more time and show Abraham the future?  Could it be that, though Abraham saw Isaac physically, he saw Jesus the Messiah spiritually?  Did he get a glimpse of Calvary’s hill, only a short distance away?  Was the wood of the sacrifice on Isaac’s back reflective of the wooden cross upon Jesus’ back?  When he saw the ram’s horns caught in a thorny thicket, did he see the crown of thorns upon the Sacrificial Lamb (Jesus)?

Again, I’m not sure what Abraham saw.  But Jesus Himself made a curious statement in John 8:56, indicating that Abraham saw something!

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.

Abraham saw a day which made him glad.  Did he see the day in which God provided the “once and for all” sacrifice?  Or perhaps he saw the resurrected Jesus.  Scripture doesn’t tell us for certain what “My day” is, though Jesus said it, so it had to have been a key day of Messianic significance.

Abraham answered a priestly call by obediently offering up Isaac.  In each call, a portion of God’s plan was revealed.  Ultimately, the Sacrifice, our Lord Jesus Christ, was made.  Thus, flinging wide open the door to salvation.  Israel is the vehicle of world redemption, though they failed to recognize the Messiah.

But God is not done with them yet!

More on that later.  But next week we’re diving into the Jewish roots of Christianity.  Now that the door has flung open, what foundation was laid, and how does that impact us as believers in Jesus the Messiah?  We’ll pick that up next week, so stick with us!

 

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!