“The Mystery of the Rapture” from the Mount of Olives

Got time for a good teaching this weekend? If so, how about settling in with a cup of coffee to take in Amir Tsarfati’s The Mystery of the Rapture, taught live on the Mount of Olives!

If you have been to Israel, you are sure to be taken back to that memorable place overlooking Temple Mount from the other side of the Kidron Valley. If you have never been to Israel, this is the next best thing! Think of Jesus sitting on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24) when the disciples ask Him what will be the signs of the times. It is from a spot right there on the Mount of Olives that He answered their questions…and it is upon this very mount Jesus’ foot will touch down at His Second Coming (when He physically returns to earth following the tribulation).

But before that, the Bible tells us He will descend from heaven to receive us (believers in Christ) unto Himself, and we will be taken up to meet Him in the air. We know that as the rapture, and we obviously will not all be at the Mount of Olives or any other single place, but will be taken up from wherever we are. However, the Mount of Olives is such a vivid place to picture Jesus when He walked this earth, and to consider that place to which we will return with Him at His Second Coming!

Our time is coming! Enjoy the teaching!

Jerusalem: The Eternal Capital of Israel

Argument abounds regarding the legitimacy of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Though David established Jerusalem as the capital of his kingdom about 1,000 years before Christ, parts of the Old City, including Temple Mount, fell into Muslim control during modern history.

In the 1967 Six Day War, Israel recaptured Temple Mount and reunited Jerusalem. Despite that victory, Israel (in the interest of peace) allowed Temple Mount to remain under Jordanian control, and a very large Muslim quarter is still entrenched inside the walls of the Old City.

Regardless, there has been Jewish presence in Jerusalem for 3,000 years and every logical sign points to the fact that Jerusalem was and is a Jewish city…the eternal capital of the Jewish state, Israel.

Consider these facts, then decide for yourself whether or not Jerusalem is indeed the capital of the Jewish homeland:

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!)