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Jerusalem, capital of Israel?

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As nearly everyone is aware by now, yesterday president Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This move sparked an immediate backlash of negativity from much of the national and international community, with promises of impending major unrest by the Palestinians.

To better understand this event, especially when viewed in the light of Scripture, we need to first understand how things got to this point. With that in mind, a little history lesson if you please.

In 1947 Israel became a state, thus fulfilling several Old Testament prophecies concerning the return of the Jews to their homeland. Amos 9:14, Ezekiel 37: 10-14, and perhaps the best known prophecy of Isaiah  66: 7-8 which foretold the birth of Israel in one day, all give clear indication that God’s chosen people Israel would one day return to their ancestral  homeland.

It was thought at that time that Jerusalem would become a city shared by multiple cultures. Remember, this was a different time in history, and optimism ran high that everyone would “play nice”.

All of that changed just one year later however when Israel was attacked by her Arab neighbors. This left Jerusalem divided, with the western part of the city controlled by Israel, and the eastern part controlled by Jordan.

All of this changed in 1967 when Israel was again attacked by her neighbors, in what became known as the “six day war”. After the dust had settled, Israel had gained control of the entire city of Jerusalem, a fact that has been a major point of contention ever since.

So here’s where this really gets interesting. The U.S. embassy has always been in Tel Aviv, it has never been in Jerusalem. But did you know that a plan has been in place to move our embassy since 1989? It’s true: in 1989 Israel and America agreed to a 99 year property lease for a new embassy to be constructed in Jerusalem.

Oddly enough, since the inception of this lease, this property remains untouched to this day. Hmmmm….

You might be thinking by now who cares! What does any of this have to do with anything I care about? Well, as I said, here’s where this gets real interesting.

You see, six years later in 1995, our Congress passed a law REQUIRING America to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem! Did you know that? It seems the supporters of the law felt at that time that the U.S. should respect Israel’s choice of Jerusalem as its capital.

I won’t even go there!

So the million dollar question then is this: why hasn’t America moved its embassy to Jerusalem before now? Several previous presidents including Clinton, Bush, and Obama have all said “no” to the moving of the embassy. Their fear has been that such a move would lead to further unrest in the region and negate any peace efforts already underway.

How do they get away with not complying with this law you ask? They simply sign a waiver every six months to “delay” the move. Sort of like what we’ve come to know as an Executive Order. Apparently it’s true, the pen is indeed mightier than the sword!

So why now, why this president, why move the embassy now after all of this time? I believe the reason is because the time is finally right to insert this particular piece of the end time’s puzzle into its proper place.

Every Christian should be aware of Jerusalem’s importance in end time events. We may not completely understand all things, and we likely do not all agree on every point. What is non-negotiable however is that the events leading up to Christ’s return center around Jerusalem.

At some point in the future, Israel is going to build a third Temple on what is called the Temple Mount. One of the purposes of this new Temple will be so that daily animal sacrifices can be re-instituted. The Antichrist will ultimately defile this place as well.

As it stands currently, this cannot happen because the Temple Mount compound is not under Jewish control. Israel controls all access to the TM through eleven gates, but the compound itself is under Islamic control. Obviously, something has to give here.

For those unaware, the Temple Mount is believed by Jewish scholars to be the center of the Temple Holy of Holies, the site where Solomon built the first Temple, where the second Temple referred to by Jesus was destroyed in 70 AD, and where the Third and final temple is to be built.

The importance of this site cannot be overestimated from a purely Biblical and prophetic point of view. From Wikipedia

“The Temple Mount,“Mount of the House of God, known to Muslims as the Haram esh-Sharif “the Noble Sanctuary”, is one of the most important religious sites in the world. It has been venerated as a holy site for thousands of years by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Herodian walls and gates with additions dating back to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods cut through the flanks of the Mount. Currently it can be reached through eleven gates, ten reserved for Muslims and one for non-Muslims, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.”

I have no doubt that if America does actually move its embassy to Jerusalem, it will create a firestorm heard all around the world. Every one of its Arab neighbors will rattle their sabers, with Iran and possibly the Soviet Union threatening all out nuclear war.

In fact, I believe there will be nuclear war in the Middle East, as Damascus is turned into a “heap of ruins” (Isaiah 17:1). Rather than be overran and defeated by all of it’s enemies, Israel will deploy it’s “Samson Option” of expending its nuclear warheads, thus causing Damascus to cease from being a city.

Of course, all of this is yet to come. No one knows the precise calendar of God, as we are given bits and pieces of coming events without specific dates and times. It is exciting however to be alive and witnessing these end time events!

We are told to watch and pray. We are also instructed to be wise and redeem the time. My prayer is that Christians will focus not on the politics of a Jerusalem capital, but on the spiritual implications instead.

As for today, I’m just glad to know who Jesus is!

Ron

 

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A Watchman…A Warning

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Long before the advent of modern electronic technology such as telegraphs, telephones, and most recently the Internet, cities used to depend upon the town crier, or watchman, to alert them of impending danger.

An alert watchman would see an approaching army, for example, and would begin to warn the city’s residents to take the necessary actions to defend themselves.

Conversely, should the watchman fall asleep on duty, destruction was almost certain to be the end result because by the time people realized what was happening, any attacking army would be upon them.

There are many examples of Biblical watchmen, most of whom were faithful to their task, yet the position of watchman was considered to be so important that the Lord issued a warning should they be derelict in their duties.

But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’”     Ezekiel 33:6 NKJV

Obviously, to understand that trouble is coming and to do nothing would be something akin to high treason. In the New Testament,we know that Paul understood this when he said “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”                       I Corinthians 9:16 NKJV.  Emphasis mine

An appointment, or calling to be a watchman is a grave responsibility, which Paul acknowledged by saying that out of necessity he MUST preach the gospel. In other words, Paul was called of God to a task he could not deny, for if he did the souls of untold millions would be required at his hands.

Throughout the Old Testament we find example after example of warnings that were sent from God to His people Israel. These messages were delivered by prophets, or watchmen, that God had called for this specific purpose.

Unfortunately, these messages more often than not fell upon deaf ears, such as in this example: 

“Thus says the LORD: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’”      Jeremiah 6:16-17

In this example, we find that God has sent his watchman Jeremiah to deliver a warning to the people to turn around and walk in the old paths, where the good way was, and to listen to the sound of the trumpet, that is to listen to what the watchman had to say.

In both of these instances we find the response from God’s children to be “we will not”. Having historical knowledge as our reference, we understand that there was severe punishment inflicted upon God’s children for their stubborn rebellion, which led to the eventual scattering of an entire nation to the four corners of the earth.

Today, God still uses watchmen to cry out to the people of the world to repent and turn their hearts to God. There are also watchmen crying aloud to the Church for her to repent, and return unto the Lord that redeemed her.

Alas, I am afraid that the response from both the world and the Church are nearly identical: “we will not”!

I believe, as many of you do, that we are living in what the Bible refers to as “the last days”. It doesn’t take a scholar to understand that we are seeing the fulfillment of many of the scriptures that foretold of His coming.

I will spare you the list of evils being perpetrated on a daily basis. After all, what’s the point? We are neither blind nor deaf. We all see and hear with our own eyes and ears what is happening all around us.

Or do we? Do we really see the depth of sin that has enveloped our world? Do we really hear the cry of anti-Christ rhetoric emanating from every corner of the earth?

I am afraid that we have ignored the watchman’s cry and said “we will not” one too many times, thus deadening our spiritual senses to what “thus saith the Lord”.

In His Revelation message to the seven churches in Asia Minor, Jesus said “he who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”. He repeated this no less than seven times, once for each of the seven churches.

I wonder, do we have “ears to hear”, or have we become so hardened that we scarcely give God’s word a second thought?

As I write this post, hurricane Irma is bearing down on the area I live in, taking aim to inflict a direct hit upon us as a Cat 4 or Cat 5 storm. For a solid week or more the warnings have been going out to prepare, prepare, and prepare some more for an unprecedented storm that threatens this entire area.

Storm surges of up to fifteen feet of water are predicted just south of where I am. That’s right: a solid wall of water fifteen feet tall is about to engulf much of SW Florida. Millions are now under mandatory evacuations.

Yet would you believe that with less than 24 hours until the expected landfall, people are still trying to find plywood, bolts, screws, bottled water, gasoline, etc.? To this relative newcomer, I can hardly believe this!

Complacency is rampant among the citizens here. Far too many are saying “that’s what they said about the last one and nothing that bad happened”.

Wait, isn’t that what the world and the Church are saying about the watchman’s warnings to “turn around and walk in the old paths, where the good way was”?

A Watchman.   A Warning.

When will we learn?

NOTE: this post is being published at 5:00 AM Sunday. The hurricane is expected to hit here in approximately 12 hours. All of us here covet your prayers.

Be blessed!

Ron

 

 

 

A personal God. A personal Father.

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The word “Father” is an important one in nearly every society. To some, Father denotes the elder, or leader of the family. Others use the word Father when referring to someone who originated something, like the Father of a particular industry.

In today’s post however, I want us to look at how God was first revealed as our Father.

In the prelude leading up to Jesus teaching his disciples about how they should pray, on no less than five occasions do we find Jesus referring to God as “your Father”.         Scripture reference Matt. 6:1-9

Why is this important? It is important because with the words “your Father” Jesus did something that had never been done before.

He personalized Almighty God by attributing to Him an intimate nature.

Think about that statement. I cannot find one instance in the Old Testament where the Jews ever referred to God as their Father in the first person. When I first realized this I was stunned!

To think that the God who revealed Himself to mankind, first in the garden and then throughout the Old Testament history of the Jews, was never thought of in a personal way as Father was almost unbelievable.

In fact, studies have been done (by real scholars) of every book of the Old Testament, as well as every known Jewish writing up until about the tenth century, and there is not one single reference of a Jewish person addressing God personally as their Father.

This makes Jesus referring to God as “your Father” all the more remarkable!

As a matter of fact, the very first Jewish rabbi known to have called God “Father” was Jesus of Nazareth!  In Judaism, this was such a radical departure from tradition that it cannot be overstated in its importance.

So great was the Jews anger against Jesus for suggesting that God could have an intimate relationship with man, that He was somehow approachable by mere mortals, that it incited the Jews to want to destroy Jesus.

To refer to the One True God as “Father” was unthinkable to the Jews, who would have deemed such a name as disrespectful. Of course, they used many distinct names for God; in fact in the Old Testament they used as many as sixteen different names that were deemed appropriate when addressing God. Perhaps you have heard most of these?
* El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
* El Elyon (The Most High God)
* Adonai (Lord, Master)
* Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
* Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
* Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
* Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
* Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
* Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
* Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
* El Olam (The Everlasting God)
* Elohim (God)
* Qanna (Jealous)
* Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
* Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
* Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

None of these names, however, refer to Him as “Father”. They are all names that reflect Holiness, Worship, and respect. They reflect upon his many incredible attributes.

In revealing the intimate nature of God by referring to Him as “our Father”, Jesus introduced to mankind the concept that God Almighty was also approachable.

Jesus revealed to the world for the first time that God was not some cold, unfeeling entity in a galaxy far, far away. No, Jesus pulled back the curtain of religious mystique and revealed God as Father, a title that suggests intimacy and personal relationship.

Because scripture teaches us that God has adopted us into his family and made us joint heirs with his only Son, we have been granted the right and the privilege to come into the presence of God and call him Father.

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”           Romans 8:14-17

A personal God, a personal Father, has adopted us into His family. We belong to Him, and as such we can call Him our Father.

I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t get any better than this for me.

Be blessed, and have a wonderful day,

Ron

 

 

The Next Generation

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We hear a lot of talk about different generations these days. How that the characteristics of certain generations are looked upon negatively, while the attributes of another are applauded.    Like…Boomers vs. Millenials?

That in itself is somewhat odd, because I remember growing up and hearing comments made about the 60’s and 70’s as a time of rebellion, but it was never discussed as a generational thing. It was more of a “these kids are crazy” mindset.

Frankly, I’m pretty certain the “establishment” back then didn’t know what to make of our generation, except that they were going to be the ruin of the nation. Or at least that’s what I heard from my elders. You know…revolutionaries and all🙂

Generations

six-degrees.com

It is interesting to note that there are currently six generations alive in America. You can read all about them here: http://www.marketingteacher.com/the-six-living-generations-in-america/.

Funny thing about generations. Each one has a responsibility to teach and train the next generation. The upcoming generation has a similar responsibility to learn from those who have gone before them. It’s a never ending cycle.

But what happens if the cycle is broken? What then? For certain, traditions and customs are changed or lost. Entire belief systems can become so altered as to be nearly unrecognizable.

Such was the case with a generation of God’s people found in the Old Testament book of Judges. The “straight to the point” version is this: God delivered Israel from Egypt. After 40 years of desert wandering they finally inherit the promised land. Moses dies, and Joshua becomes the new leader. He divides the land to the tribes of Israel and they live happily ever after.

OK, that last sentence wasn’t exactly correct. You see, a generational problem had crept in that went largely unnoticed until it was too late. Here’s the short version of the story.

And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.
‭‭Judges‬ ‭2:7-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬   emphasis mine

Do you see what has happened here? As long as the elders remained alive,the people served the Lord. Through these elders, Israel had a direct connection to God’s miracles,and those stories had been continually passed down to the next generation.

When the last of the elders died,Israel’s direct line to the miracles of the past was severed. Why did this happen? Because the elders of Israel failed to train the next generation of leaders. This proved to be a catastrophic failure and set in motion the eventual destruction of Israel.

All of this brings to mind something that we hear quite often in our churches, that this generation’s children are the church leaders of tomorrow. If that is true, and I certainly believe it is, what is the current generation of church leaders doing in preparation of passing down the baton?

Next Generation

churchleaders.com

Israel’s elders were faithful to talk about their God. They passed down the magnificent stories of God’s powerful deliverance to each new generation, who in turn passed them down as well.

I hear a lot of talk about mentoring and how we should be training the next generation of leaders. What has me really concerned however is this:

What stories of God’s mighty exploits that we have personally been the recipient of do we have to pass down? What are the miraculous “God things” that we intend to pass down?

Something to ponder, something I hope stirs our hearts to action.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

Giving to the Lord: just money or is there more to it?

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Last night my daughter and I were having a discussion on giving to the Lord’s work, specifically in the areas of tithes and offerings. I always love having these types of discussions with her because her perspective tends to mirror those of her generation. Which, btw, don’t always line up with my own!

We talked about the origins of tithing, the Law, the how’s and why’s of Old Testament  giving, and finally how Jesus and Paul spoke of giving in the New Testament. To be sure, like most millennials she had lots of questions, which, believe it or not, I actually enjoyed.

We spent a fair amount of time talking about giving to receive a blessing, vs. giving as an act of worship. Since she has been raised in a Christian home, she has learned by observing her parents that giving to the Lord’s work is not optional, but rather a part of worship.

She has also heard conflicting views on the subject, particularly among those who espouse the “sow your best seed now to receive a blessing” crowd that permeate the airwaves today. Being a very bright young woman, it thrills me to know that she will not be numbered among those who succumb to such error (insert proud dad smile here).

We also talked a lot about the motivation to give to the Lord’s work. Do we give out of fear? Do we give because there is a “church rule” about giving? Do we give because that’s just what we do? As I said, she’s a bright young lady and has a lot of questions!

Our discussion concluded with the understanding that giving, like most everything else related to the Lord’s work, ultimately is an issue of the heart. We give to the Lord not to receive a blessing, but rather as one more type of personal worship. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

We know that the Lord loves a cheerful giver (II Cor. 9:7), and as such we should not give grudgingly. As an act of worship, I believe giving should be looked upon as one more thing that we get to do for the Lord, not another thing we have to do.

For me, the highlight of our discussion was when she asked me “what about the poor, those that have nothing to give. Does God still bless them”? I think at that moment I saw my daughter in a different light, because she has a heart for the poor and underprivileged. I pray that she guards her heart well as she grows older and that she always remembers those less fortunate than herself.

Thankfully, she understands that as Christians we have an obligation to help the poor and to work to make their plight easier if possible. I wish all of us could come to the same conclusion because I think we could have a tremendous impact on our communities. If I really think about it, I can think of few things more pleasing to God than to aid the poor.

Tossing money into a basket or plate is one thing, the motivator behind our giving however is what is important. Giving from the perspective of a grateful heart is a wonderful part of our worship. A part that all are invited to participate in.

Have a wonderful day!

Ron