Monday, 03 March 2014 17:54:00
Continuing to follow Jesus we finally get to Matthew 21:23-46. By this time the chief priests and elders are desperate to silence Jesus. But fearing the people they can’t chance doing this openly. If only they could discredit Him! Show Him up as a charlatan, then the people wouldn’t care what they did with Him. And how better to do this than by asking trick questions? Jesus must have become weary of this because He tells them two parables which reflect Him opinion of them. The first is the story of the man who asked his two sons to go into the vineyard and work. The first son refused, the second said he’d go. But the exact opposite happened!
In the second parable Jesus tells them the story of a rich master who planted a vineyard then rented it to tenants while he journeyed to another country. When it came time to get his share of the harvest, the master sent his servants to collect the fruit but they were badly mistreated: one was beaten, one killed, the other stoned. The master then sends additional servants but the same thing happens. Finally, he sends his son, the heir, thinking that surely these tenants will respect him. But no. Instead of being respected, the son is killed.
Jesus ends by asking the chief priests and elders what will the master do to these tenants? They answer: “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and rent the vineyard to other tenants” of better character. At least they got that right! Jesus responds with “Have you never read in the Scriptures: the very Stone which the builders rejected and threw away has become the Cornerstone . . . for this reason the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce the fruits of it.”
Of course the chief priests and Pharisees knew right away that Jesus was talking about them, and instead of repenting, they become angry and more determined than ever to arrest him.
What a sad picture! And how it must have broken God’s heart! God had poured out such grace upon His people, the Jews, and their nation, and still they refused to listen to the prophets. And now they refused to listen to the very heir to the throne, the King of Kings. It would prove tragic for the nation. It solidified their decline. They would be scattered and abused; doomed to suffer greatly at the hands of the gentile nations. But praise God, He isn’t finished with them yet. He has returned them to their land and has promised that nothing will ever remove them again. And in the coming years He will begin preparing Israel to become the “Head of Nations.”
These scriptures touch my heart on many levels. First I rejoice that God is so merciful and kind, so long suffering and willing to forgive. But I also shudder at His need for justice, and I fear greatly for my beloved America. God has poured out grace after grace upon the U.S.. We have been blessed above all other nations. His Word, as revealed in the Bible, has been freely available to all who care to hear or read it. He has truly made us the head and not the tail. But all that is changing. We are declining, and I believe it can be traced directly to our rejection of God. More and more our “Pharisees” our leaders, those in authority on many levels, are pushing God aside. They, too, are desperate to silence Jesus. Many are overtly hostile to Him, while others try to mock Him by “testing” Him, His Word through foolish devices. Good is condemned as evil and evil is declared good.
God has planted a rich vineyard in America, but where are His fruits? And what will happen when the master of the vineyard comes to collect? Who can say for sure, but this I know, it won’t be a pretty picture.
Something to think about.
Until next time,
Monday, 13 August 2012 07:31:00
Have you heard this one? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in addition to telling everyone he plans to wipe Israel off the face of the map, is, for the first time, telling his people to prepare for war—which he claims will be within the next 24 months—and to prepare for the end times. This doesn’t surprise me. But what does, is how few people are actually taking him seriously. They just don’t believe the guy. Is this history repeating itself? Wasn’t there a man named Adolph Hitler who not so long ago tried to conquer the world after ranting and raving about it for years? And wasn’t his ranting and raving ignored by most of the free world until it was too late? Then look what happened.
Personally, I’m weary of political correctness, that mindset that refuses to call a thing by its name. We need to start speaking the truth in love. What good is political correctness in the face of a world that might soon be in flames? It’s time to face the facts. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is serious. Why do I say that? Because, though he’s obviously a madman, he’s a religious madman, a deeply religious madman, and totally convinced he has been commissioned by Allah to bring forth the return of the Muslim Messiah, Mahdi, who supposedly will rule a globally Islamic-controlled world, and who, interestingly enough, resembles the Antichrist of Revelation. But first Ahmadinejad must annihilate Israel and bring chaos to the world (read war and destruction), and both of these he’s more than willing to do. The thing about religious zealots, no matter how misguided, is that they are sincere, and no amount of polite détente has the slightest chance of changing their minds. So if anyone thinks that Ahmadinejad will suddenly change his course just because a handful of heads of state congregate in a pleasantly furnished air-conditioned room, and smile and make-nice as they throw out a few half-hearted threats of more sanctions, you can forget about it.
“But what can we do?” you might ask. We can prepare. Get our spiritual house in order; and while we’re at it, our financial one as well, because when this happens it could change the face of the world by starting a cataclysmic chain of nuclear wars. Does this sound farfetched? I hope not. Does it sound like scare tactics? I hope not. But what I hope it does is show that the time for pussyfooting is over. We, as Christians, need to open our eyes and really see what is happening in the world, and then prepare ourselves so we can help others when the time comes.
We must also choose sides. Israel is already hated. And whether Israel strikes Iran before they can further harden their nuclear facilities or whether Iran strikes them first in the next 24 months, it is sure to start a serious Middle East conflict for which Israel will undoubtedly receive the lion’s share of the world’s scorn. And we, Christians, need to stand up and be counted on their behalf. God clearly promised Abraham, the patriarch of Israel, that He would bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him (Genesis 12:3). Let me say this as clearly as I can: anti-Semitism, whether in the Church or out, is demonically inspired. It is not Godly, but a malevolent force that has been trying to destroy the people of Israel for centuries. It would serve us well to remember that the Jews are the covenant people of God, the very bloodline of the Son of Man. So will the Church stand when the time comes? Or will it do what it did so often when that other madman tried to set up his Third Reich?
I only pray the former.
Until next time,
Monday, 12 September 2011 12:21:00
Recently, Major General Eyal Eisenberg, chief of the Israeli army’s Home Front Command said that due to the countless uprisings in neighboring Arab states, that Israel could, in the very near future, face a multi-front war. It seems that the so-called “Arab Spring” may quickly turn into a fall or winter . . . of war.
Hyperbole? No. All the signs seem to corroborate his fears. The Muslim Brotherhood is becoming more entrenched in Egypt, an organization that has deep Nazi roots, hates Israel and vows to wipe it out. In addition, the Syrian situation is heating up, and by many accounts could go one of three ways: Basar al-Assad can remain in power; he could be ousted in which case the Muslim Brotherhood will take over; or Assad can launch an attack on Israel to turn attention away from his troubles at home. Whatever happens, this much is clear—the noose is tightening around Israel.
This is extremely troubling because there are two Bible prophesies that have yet to be fulfilled concerning this area which many scholars believe will occur prior to the seven years of tribulation. The first is in Isaiah 17:1 concerning Damascus (a continuously occupied city for over four thousand years) and says it will be turned into a “ruinous heap”; the other concerns Egypt (Ezekiel 29:6-12) and says it will be “utterly waste and desolate” and that “no foot of man shall pass through it or foot for beast” for forty years. Both are horrendous possibilities and imply some nuclear and possibly biological conflict. If this happens, it will have worldwide consequences, affecting everything from global markets to global political/military alignments.
What can Christians do? Two things for certain: Stand with Israel. She is losing her allies and needs every friend she can get. And “pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper that love thee.” Psalm 122:6
I, for one, take my stand for Israel, and will continue to pray as never before.
Until next week,
Monday, 30 May 2011 11:30:00
Did you know there are over fifty named valleys listed in Scripture? Valleys with either a proper name or a descriptive name like the one above? Neither did I. And then there are dozens of times a place is just called “a valley” or “the valley.” And all tell a story. But because there are so many, I’ve decided to only write about another half dozen or so, in no particular order, before moving on.
This week’s valley, the Valley of Dry Bones, is an incredible place. God takes the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37: 1-14) to a valley of bones and asks him, “can these bones live?” If God is involved, of course the answer is “yes!” The entire passage concerns Israel (“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel” verse 11) and how God was going to make them a nation again, which He fulfilled in 1948.
But my question is this: if God can make a dead nation come back to life can He not make the dead things in our lives come back, too?
Many of us have, at one time or another, visited the Valley of Dry Bones. Maybe some of you are still there. Maybe your marriage is dead or your finances, or your job opportunities. Or it could be your good name, your reputation, your hopes, your dreams, all dead, all finished, or so you believe.
It’s interesting that God asked Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones. “”And he (God) said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.”
I’m not a name-it-and-claim-it Christian, but I do believe in the proper of prayer and the importance of speaking life (God’s word) over our situations. It’s too easy to be negative and give up when we’re in the Valley of Dry Bones. But if there is anything to take away from these passages in Ezekiel, it’s that we shouldn’t throw in the towel too quickly. God is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). So is He able to bring our dry bones back to life? The answer: a resounding “yes!”
Until next week,
Monday, 14 February 2011 11:47:00
As the saga of Egypt unfolds many are wondering what this means for Israel. My own opinion: in the short term, not much. In the long term, added danger. Israel has become the whipping boy of the world. Anti-Semitism is rampant throughout Europe, while in the Middle East it continues to ratchet-up—all dangerous, but not necessarily for Israel. To be sure, the Old Testament talks of the day of “Jacob’s Trouble” while the New Testament calls it the “Tribulation”, a seven-year period when the world will be turned upside down, and all because of the tiny state of Israel. And while it will be a difficult time for Israel, it will be even more disastrous for the world. How do I know? It’s all in God’s Word.
In the meantime, more and more churches in America are buying into “replacement theology” which claims that the church has replaced Israel and that God is actually finished with Israel altogether. It’s a belief that twists scripture as well as ignores end-time Bible prophesy where Israel, not the church, is the central figure. This new theology is dangerous because it is dangerous to abandon Israel, and I’m talking spiritually. God promised Abraham, the grandfather of Jacob (God later changed Jacob’s name to Israel) that He would bless those that blessed him and curse those who cursed him (Genesis 12:3). He also promised him a certain land. “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to they seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:7-8. Notice the word everlasting was used twice and it means just what is says. God intended this covenant and possession to be forever, non-revocable and not predicated on the faithfulness or performance of Abraham’s descendants, unlike some of the other covenants God made with the Jews which were. God also calls Israel the apple of His eye and that when we hurt Israel we are poking Him in the eye! (Zechariah 2:8) Space does not permit the documentation of how God responded to those who have hurt Israel in the past, but if you want more on this, read John McTernan’s book, As American has done to Israel; a sobering work to be sure.
In spite of all God’s warnings, the Bible tells us that in the end times Israel will stand alone, that the whole world will be against her. We are beginning to see it. Even our government is cooling towards its best Middle Eastern ally. It’s important to note that Israel is the only nation in the world where God Himself set up the boundaries (Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 1:4) and they encompass far more land than Israel claims today. Even so, the politicians say Israel must give up more land in order to solve the Palestinian problem, and that once this problem is solved there will be peace for all, including Israel. Well, if you repeat a thing often enough, even if it’s a lie, people eventually begin to believe it. The sad, desperate plight of the people in Gaza is due to their own leadership. Over the years, billions in aid have poured into the area, and instead of being used to build roads, hospitals, schools, improve sanitation, etc., it has gone to line the pockets of people like Yasser Arafat or to purchase more weaponry to use against Israel. Add to that this fact: In 1922 75% of the land promised the Jews in the Balfour Declaration was taken away and given to the Arabs as their state, a state set up east of the Jordan River called Transjordan, later renamed Jordan. The land west of the Jordan River was to be used for a Jewish state. A promise was given that the Jews would never again be asked to give up any more land. So much for promises.
And what of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? The Moslem world would like nothing better than to bar all Jews from it because they claim it is so holy to Islam. Really? Then why is Jerusalem never mentioned by name in the Koran while in the Bible it is mentioned over 800 times? And that doesn’t count the times it is called by other names such as Zion or Salem. You would think a site so holy to Muslims would be mentioned at least once in their scriptures. And while the Dome of the Rock is, indeed, a holy structure to Muslims, the Jews have had two temples on the Mount, and the first one, Solomon’s Temple, was built over 1,600 years before the first stone of the Dome of the Rock was ever laid.
So why all this phony uproar and illegitimate claims against Israel’s land? Because it’s a spiritual issue, and limited space prevents me from doing justice to the subject. But here’s the reason in a nutshell: Israel is God’s land. Jerusalem is where Jesus, the Great King, will return to set up his earthy kingdom, where He will rule and reign for a thousand years, therefore it is the very place where Satan vies to set up his. And for a brief period during the tribulation, Satan will succeed, when his man, the Antichrist, declares himself god in the new Jewish Temple (Oh, yes, there will be another Jewish Temple!) So while there is a great physical struggle going on over Israel and the Temple Mount, it only mirrors the spiritual struggle going on behind the scenes.
So, as a result of the world sticking its finger into God’s eye, what can we expect in the future, according to the Bible? Here are but two examples: Damascus (an ancient city continuously inhabited for over 4000 years) will become a “ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1) The coalition army of Russia, Iran, Ethiopia, Libya, and Turkey that will eventually go against Israel will be decimated by God Himself. (Ezekiel 38) And it will take Israel seven years to burn their battle implements (Ezekiel 39).
I fear we are entering perilous times, times when we need, more than ever, to press closer to God and to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They will prosper that love thee.” Psalms 122:6
Until next week,