Israeli Elections 2015

Some of you have written asking what I think about the outcome of the elections last Tuesday, so I will answer that here.  Personally, I was surprised by the extent of the victory of the Likud party, and of PM Bibi Netanyahu.  All of the polls leading up to the election, and the exit polls immediately at the close of the elections, were all completely wrong regarding the Likud, while being nearly accurate for the other parties, including the Labor/Tnua list led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.  Beer Sheva voted overwhelmingly for Likud (even though it seems to always vote for a Labor mayor).

With close to 5,900,000 eligible voters, more than 71% cast their vote, the most since the elections of 1999.  There are more Arabs in the Knesset this next government than at any other time.  Likud won 30 seats, far more than the smaller parties which would be its natural partners in forming the necessary coaliton of 61 seats in the complicated politics of the country.  Even though these parties have far fewer seats, they will wield a lot of pressure on which ministries and portfolios go to whom.  As in most Gentile nations, rather than working together for the good of the whole people, Israel is a house divided, and reconciliation and trust will be hard to achieve, both between “houses” and within.

When we heard the exit polls at 10:00pm on each of the news channels, I admit to being on the “pleased” side, even with all my reservations, which still remain, and will probably do so until the Lord Himself shall return.  My hope for Israel and for the nations is in Christ alone.  As we heard today in our service at Yeshua’s Inheritance, God’s plan is to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fullness to bring all things in Heaven and on Earth together under one head, even Messiah! (Eph 1:10)  May that day come in our generation!

With all its existential threats, Israel does need to give more care for the poorer sectors of society, to loyal citizens and residents (those not working to overthrow the State, whether Jewish or Arab or other), while also being vigilant in defense.  This is not an easy assignment for any leader, and political promises and expectations are not always in complete control of those making the promises, of those setting objectives and policies, and of those expecting certain trends or results.  Israel is relying on its own amazing capabilities to overcome, and not repenting from her sins and relying on the Spirit of YHVH God.

The PM is a man who is in danger of letting his political abilities get to his head, and of too many believers who support Israel stroking his ego, even though he is a man who is in need of salvation.  It is important for Bible-loving supporters of Israel and the Jewish people to know that a center-rightist religious nationalist coalition government  — which is the present prospect — will not be favorable towards the gospel, nor to those of us who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  Their vision of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people does not include us who believe that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah.  My being “pleased” at the election results is despite that assessment.

The missing element here is the Jewish people’’s absolute need to be dependent upon our God who delivered us at a long-ago Passover from Egypt and hard bondage, and who has acted throughout our history, —including “behind the scenes”, such as at Purim, and in bringing to pass the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland in our own days.  Without genuine faith in the God who chose us to be His “peculiar people”, Israel will find herself “without strength” — whether of the IDF, or of the U.S., of the Prime Minister, of the Church, or of our own selves.

Messiah has come, and He will come again when His people acknowledge that He alone comes in the name of YHVH to save us from all our own sins and from our other enemies.

Until that Day, your fellow servants.

Discipleship Includes Submitting to Government – 14 Mar 2015

We again have elections in Israel next week to choose who will be the next PM and lead the country.  As most of us know, politics in Israel are very complicated, and the world we live in here demands a heavy emphasis on defense and security needs, even as there is also the necessity of providing for the welfare of all her citizens and residents with equity.  Israel has yet to find that right balance, but by the grace of the God of Israel, the country has a quality of life that is exceptional for most segments of society.

Being believers in the God of hope, who fills us with hope and peace through our faith in Messiah Yeshua, we are called to become His disciples in all things.  Yeshua is Head over all things to the Church (the Body of Christ).  One of those “things” is submission to the governing authorities.

In every country there are governmental systems, and wherever we live, or even tour, we come under the laws and customs of that country.  Sometimes they may be similar to; other times very different – positively or negatively.  As believers who have received the grace of God, we are called to be a cause for good wherever we are as disciples of the Lord who acknowledges all those in power.

Rom 13:1-14  Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God.  (2)  So that the one resisting the authority resists the ordinance of God; and the ones who resist will receive judgment to themselves.

(3)  For the rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the bad. And do you desire to be not afraid of the authority? Do the good, and you shall have praise from it.  (4)  For it is a servant of God to you for good. For if you practice evil, be afraid, for it does not bear the sword in vain; for it is a servant of God, a revenger for wrath on him who does evil.

(5)  Therefore you must be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.  (6)  For because of this you also pay taxes. For they are God’s servants, always giving attention to this very thing.  (7)  Therefore give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due.

(8)  Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law.  (9)  For: “Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not lust;” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (10)  Love works no ill to its neighbor, therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.

(11)  This also, knowing the time, that it is already time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we believed.  (12)  The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  (13)  Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in carousings and drinking; not in co-habitation and lustful acts; not in strife and envy.  (14)  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not take thought beforehand for the lusts of the flesh.

We serve another King – Jesus – whose kingdom if not of this world.  The apostle Paul’s admonition to us to submit to the governing authorities even brings in the expectation of the Lord’s return as the hope set before us for God’s kingdom of righteousness to be established.  Remember, when Paul wrote this epistle, the believers in Rome were living under the  rule of Caesar then, and they came under severe persecution for their faith in Jesus as Lord.

Today we live at a time that is increasingly witnessing persecution of both Jews and Christians (both are witnesses of the one true God), yet as disciples of Messiah, we are called to respect those in authority, to keep the laws, to pay our taxes – all because we serve the Sovereign God over all these kings of the Earth.

Paul writes here that if we do good, we do not need to fear the authorities, who are responsible for punishing law-breakers.  This, too, is their God-given duty.

Jesus and the apostle Peter warned us, though, of the real possibility of suffering wrongfully at the hands of our masters and governments, even though we do good. (Mt 5:10-12; 1Pt 2:18-25)  If we suffer for righteousness’ sake, or for the name of Jesus and the gospel, then we are to rejoice, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example. He did not return evil for evil, but desired their repentance and salvation.

We are challenged throughout our lives as believers to apply God’s commandments in every aspect of life.  We are not called to overthrow governments, but to obey the Lord, trusting Him, resting in His sovereign wisdom and grace.  We are called to love one another, fulfilling God’s Law.  We are not allowed to live in a manner that would contradict the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, but to govern ourselves to live acceptably to God as disciples of our Savior.

God is working to save people, and all things good and evil serve towards this objective before the Lord Yeshua executes His righteous judgments on those who refuse God’s way back to Him, and to submit to Him with thanksgiving.  Our prayer is for the name of God our Father to be sanctified, and for His Kingdom to come at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s close by reciting the prayer which our Lord has taught His disciples.

(Mt 6:9-13)

Our Father, who is in Heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  (10)  Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  (11)  Give us this day our daily bread;  (12)  and forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.  For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

Purim 2015: Iran Still Intent on Destroying Jewish People

On the day before Purim, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress to once again warn the United States and the rest of the “Free World” of the clear and present danger posed by modern Persia to the nation of Israel and to them.

In an invitation swirled in controversy both in Israel and in the U.S., Netanyahu seems to have intentionally set the timing to coincide with the Jewish holiday of Purim, in order to show that even thousands of years do not change things:  the Iranian religious and political leaders still seek the destruction of the Chosen People of YHVH God; and, the Jewish people have the right to defend themselves against such a threat.  The law of the Persians can not be revoked when written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring. (Esther 3; 8:8; Dan 6:8,12,15)  History has a long memory!

The danger presented by the PM includes the American political leadership ignoring the “canary in the mine” that is Israel:  if Israel allowed itself to be the sacrificial birdie killed by dangerous ‘gases’, in the hope that others will escape and survive, the truth is that Israel’s survival is the key to all the other nations’ survival.

Relations between Israel and the U.S. may suffer; a better deal between the Allied Powers and Iran may not happen; Netanyahu and his party may not win the upcoming elections for the Israeli government.  Whether yes or no, the words of the PM in the congress — heard around the world — will be found to be true.  And just as in the Scroll of Esther in the Bible, which is the source of why there is such a holiday as Purim, the name of God is not mentioned, neither did Bibi mention His name.  But true to Himself, the God of Israel will act in accord with His covenant, for the sake of His holy name:  it is He who is to be feared; and it is He who forgives sin.

The historic speech can be heard here: http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/middleeast/100000003547828/netanyahus-full-speech-before-congress.html

Negev Segment of Israel Bike Trail Inauguarated – 1 Mar 2015

Israel is a small country with a disproportionate incredible variety of nature and vistas.  It’s tourism and nature preserves authorities have developed many sites and ways to visit and to see the country, the Land of The Bible.  The latest development is the Israel Bike Trail’s southern portion being officially opened, traversing 300 km (~190 mi) from Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat.  http://www.algemeiner.com/2015/03/01/cycling-the-desert-new-israel-bike-trail-connects-mitzpe-ramon-to-eilat/