Not Peace Yet

Before I was saved, I was like most Jewish people:  I did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or that He was God’s Son in any special way, or that He died on the cross for my sins; maybe He did for the Gentiles!  I also did not believe in Him as the Messiah which Jewish people speak of and hope for:  we say that if the Messiah comes, everyone will know, and there will be peace.  Clearly, not everyone knows that Jesus is the Messiah, and there is not peace in the world, not even in Israel!  Simple!

Thank God for His mercy and grace to me that He saved me, and opened up the Bible as His Word!  When I began to read the Bible, it was living and all true and relevant for me living now.  It is not just history; and the stories that I had heard about, but was now reading from the source, were more true than the stories about them I had heard!  They are not fables, but truth; they are not legends, but real:  God is letting His people know the truth of things that other people just know as fables and stories!  The Everlasting God reveals things to us that only He could know, but also wants that we know – especially His chosen and elect people whom He has created and redeemed for His glory.  That is how we can be His witnesses to tell others the truth of things, and not just rely on logic or human philosophy or religious tradition. (1Cor 2:14)  But we have to not only believe in God, but also we must believe God.  If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God which He has testified about His Son.  He who believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself. He who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he does not believe the record that God gave of His Son. (1Jn5:9-10)

There are two places in the Tanach (O.T.) that particularly spoke to me about the fact that there is not yet peace, even though the Messiah has already come:  Dan 9:26-27, and Ps 110:1

Dan 9:26-27  And after sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of the ruler who shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. And the end of it shall be with the flood, and ruins are determined, until the end shall be war.  And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.

Psa 110:1  A Psalm of David. Yehovah said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand until I place Your enemies as Your footstool.

The Daniel passage says that after Messiah dies, there would be wars until the end:  not peace yet!  The passage in Psalm 110, written by David (Mt 22:41-46) says that until Yeshua comes again, He is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and will do so until His enemies are made His footstool:  not peace yet!  Right there in our own “Jewish” Bible, in front of our eyes, and under our noses!   God has spoken, and He has told us. . . at least twice.  The main reason, of course, for there not yet being peace is because neither Israel nor the world has yet accepted and believed that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah of YHVH and the Son of God. (Ps 2)  As we see developments around the world in ‘peace’ negotiations – in Israel, in Syria, among believers on different important issues – none of these has produced the true peace that we all long for:  peace of mind; cessation of wars, hatred, envy; good health; righteousness; joy in the Holy Spirit.  There is even war with mosquitoes!  Anything that is called “peace” that is less than all of this together is not really the peace that God has planned for His people, and for the world-at-large that He created and made for His glory.

What are some other examples from the Old and the New Testaments that conflict and war are spoken of in the world – or a false peace —  after the Messiah has come [His first time, and until He comes again]?  This warfare and lack of peace – or a false security — can be physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual.

In the first passage that we will read, YHVH God is speaking directly to Gog, the ‘legendary’ ultimate enemy of the Jewish people.  God tells him to prepare for war against a people who, at the least, think and feel that they are at peace:
Eze 38:7-12  Be prepared; yea, prepare for yourself, you and all your assembly that are assembled to you, and be a guard to them.  (8)  After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you shall come into the land turned back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, on the mountains of Israel, which have always been waste. (But he has been brought out of the peoples, and they shall dwell securely, all of them.)  (9)  And you shall go up, coming like a storm. You shall be like a cloud to cover the land, you and all your bands, and many peoples with you.  (10)  So says the Lord Yehovah: And it shall be in that day that things shall come into your heart, and you shall devise an evil plan.  (11)  And you shall say, I will go up to the land of open spaces. I will go to those at ease, who dwell securely, all of them dwelling without walls, and there are no bars nor gates to them,  (12)  in order to take a spoil, and to steal a prize; to turn your hand on the inhabited waste places, and on the people gathered out of the nations, who have gotten cattle and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.

In this next passage from Daniel, it is written about one who we call now the Antichrist.  (If you trace out this person described in v. 21 through the rest of the chapter, it is the same one.)  He comes in and takes over deceitfully in order to destroy the people.  Sadly, there are covenant-breakers among the Israelis who join him against their own people, land, and God.  Although some of the details given in this chapter can be understood from the history of Alexander the Great and of Antiochus Epiphanes, the vision of Daniel is clearly said to be concerning the time of the end; that is, of the end-time of the last days leading up to and during the “70th week of Daniel.”
Dan 11:21-24  And a despised one shall stand up in his place, and they shall not give to him the honor of the king; but he will enter while at ease and seize the kingdom by intrigues.  (22)  And the forces of the overflow will be swept from before him, and they will be broken, and also the ruler of a covenant.  (23)  And after they join him, he will practice deceit. For he will come and be strong with a few people.  (24)  He shall enter safely, even into the rich places of the province. And he shall do what his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers. He shall plunder, and spoil, and scatter goods among them. And he shall devise his plots against the strongholds, even for a time.

The passage in Jeremiah about Jacob’s Trouble corresponds to what Daniel and Yeshua refer to as “a time of trouble/great tribulation”.  This has not yet occurred, for Israel is not yet serving YHVH their God and David (Yeshua, the son of David) their King, whom YHVH raises up for them, both of which are the results of the time of unparalleled trouble.  But Jeremiah explicitly prophesies concerning the whole House of Israel:  Israel and Judah.
Jer 30:1-9  The Word that came to Jeremiah from Yehovah, saying,  (2)  So speaks Yehovah, the God of Israel, saying, Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book.  (3)  For, lo, the days come, says Yehovah, that I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel and Judah, says Yehovah. And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave their fathers, and they shall possess it.  (4)  And these are the words that Yehovah spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah.  (5)  For so says Yehovah, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.  (6)  Ask now, and see whether a man is giving birth?  Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, like a woman in labor, and all faces are turned into paleness?  (7)  Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.  (8)  For it shall be in that day, says Yehovah of Hosts, I will break his yoke from your neck and will burst your bonds. And strangers shall no longer enslave him,  (9)  but they shall serve Yehovah their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.

Let’s look at the New Testament.  There are those who say that God is finished with the Jews, with Israel, with the land, this Earth now that Messiah has come.  Then why should people (especially Jews and believers) still pray for the peace of Jerusalem?  Of course, as we are seeing here, the peace that God is concerned with is not a ‘peace’ that the world would accomplish.  His peace requires full acceptance of His beloved Son.  The New Testament carries the same stream of prophecy as the Hebrew Scriptures, and gives us to know that their fulfillment comes with the coming again of Messiah the Lord.   There is not peace yet!
Mt 10:34-39 (Lk 2:34-35)  Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to send peace, but a sword.  (35)  For I have come to set a man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  (36)  And a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.  (37)  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  (38)  And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  (39)  He who finds his life shall lose it. And he who loses his life for My sake shall find it.

1Th 5:1-11  But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you.  (2)  For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the LORD comes like a thief in the night.  (3)  For when they shall say, Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail upon a woman with child. And they shall not escape.  (4)  But you, brothers, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.  (5)  You are all the sons of light and the sons of the day. We are not of the night, or of darkness.  (6)  Therefore let us not sleep as the rest do, but let us watch and be calm.  (7)  For those sleeping sleep in the night, and those being drunken are drunken in the night.  (8)  But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet.  (9)  For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,  (10)  who died for us, so that whether we watch or sleep we should live together with Him.  (11)  Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.

Our security is found through our faith in Yeshua/Jesus.  But that faith which assures us a peace that surpasses all understanding is grounded in us believing what He says, keeping His word.

Jn 14:23-29  Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  (24)  He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.  (25)  I have spoken these things to you, being present with you.  (26)  But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.  (27)  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  (28)  You have heard how I said to you, I go away and I am coming to you again. If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go to the Father, for My Father is greater than I.  (29)  And now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens you might believe.

Jn 16:33  I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.

Jesus promises peace with God and in the heart now to those who believe in Him, but a sword – war – to the “world” and to unbelievers.  We may know a sword in our own families and among those who have been our friends.  This peace with God now is a pledge of the peace that is to come in the world to come, and of the perfect righteousness and peace beyond that in the New Heavens and New Earth.

What am I saying in all this, and also in last week’s message from Ps 2?  The Scriptures are relevant in our everyday life, and speak into all situations.  They shape our world-view and inform our hopes and expectations.  They give us answers for those asking good questions, and give us truth when science or culture and worldly wisdom contradict what God has said.  This is the temptation that the serpent deceived Eve with:  “Did God really say?!”  We are salt and light in the world, which also means that we give true testimony according to the Word of God of His covenant loyalty:  there is no lasting genuine peace possible as long as Satan is the prince of this world, and there is unbelief and rebellion among the people and nations, until the Lord  Yeshua returns to imprison the devil and to judge the nations in righteousness. 

We must read the Bible prayerfully as the living Word of the God of Truth, and meditate on it, thinking critically about how it applies to what “the world” says and thinks and acts, and how we are to understand and to live in the truth:  we belong to God, and Jesus has come to die for our sins because of our rebellion against Him and His Word, and the Holy Spirit is going to fulfill the truth of all that YHVH has spoken regarding all things.  Let us read the Scriptures for what they are, and give glory to the Lord for this treasure He has given us in His love!  We are His witnesses; let us be found faithful and true, walking in the truth with faith and hope and love!  Amen!

What’s Going On Behind The Scenes of Current and Future News?

Do you read or listen to the news?  Every day in Israel politicians and commentators are vying for power and influence, telling us who should be the Prime Minister, or what the PM should do.  In the United States, there is an election process taking place, with each candidate saying that the other one is unfit to be President, the leader of the Free World.  In Turkey and Iran, their leaders are threatening each other, and the rest of the world with terror, or support for terrorists.  In Russia, their President is reasserting his country’s place as a serious threat to Western Powers.  In the nearing future, the antichrist will arise, who will require all to submit to him as if he is above all gods and God. (Dan 11:36; 2 Thes 2:3-4; Rev 13:1-8)

What is also interesting in all this, is that each of these countries represents a different religious worldview, and how that affects their policies and geo-political decisions.  They are peoples and nations who seem to agree on one thing:  they want to determine and to rule their own destiny, and also the world’s.

What’s going on behind the scenes?  What do the Scriptures say?  What do they teach us?  Let us look at a psalm of David (Acts 4:25), a psalm referenced several times in the New Testament:

Ps 2   Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate on a vain thing?  (2)  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers plot together, against Yehovah and against His Anointed:  (3)  Let us break their bands in two and cast away their cords from us.  (4)  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; Yehovah shall mock at them.  (5)  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His fierce anger.  (6)  Yea, I have set My king on My holy mountain, on Zion.  (7)  I will declare the decree:  Yehovah has said to Me, You are My Son; today I have begotten You.  (8)  Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations for Your inheritance; and the ends of the earth for Your possession.  (9)  You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.  (10)  And now be wise, O kings; be instructed, O judges of the earth.  (11)  Serve Yehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  (12)  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled in but a little while. Blessed are all who put their trust in Him.

The Holy Spirit through David tells us that the Gentiles and the Jews, with their leaders, are in a conspiracy against the one true God – against the Father and His Son, the Messiah Yeshua/Jesus.  It is a vain thing that they do; it is destined to fail!  You have probably all heard the saying that there is a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.  Well, it is actually God’s plan that a Jew will rule the world!  Jesus is the King of the Jews and of the nations, and God has declared that His Son is the heir to the Throne of David to rule over Israel and the whole world.  The conspiracy is actually by the devil and those of the world against the sovereign Creator and Redeemer.

What is it that the “world” wants?  They want to be “free” from any accountability to a holy God, who is the righteous Judge of all the Earth.  This conspiracy began in the heavenlies, when Lucifer rebelled against YHVH, and led other angels to follow him in the rebellion. Israel openly rebelled when she asked for a king like the Gentiles have, and then said that they did not want “this Man” Yeshua to rule over them. (1Sam 8:1-9; Lk 19:11-27) And the world Gentile powers have rebelled against the God of Israel, who gave them their authority, but they have all eventually caused distress for Jews and for Christians, the people of the true God.

What does it mean when they want to break the bands in two and cast away their cords from us?  You remember that Isaac told Esau, when he spoke to him after giving the blessing to Jacob, that the day would come when Esau would break the yoke of Jacob his brother from off him. (Gen 27:40)  We see this taking place today in the intifada, which is the Palestinian uprising against the rule of the children of Jacob over them here in Israel.  But it represents something much bigger:  it is the spiritual rebellion against the sovereignty of YHVH God, led by the spirit of a religious faith in another god.  It is the world today rising up against the morality of YHVH, whose name is holy, saying, in effect:  “Who is YHVH that we should serve Him?!”  “Who says that He is God Most High?!”  “Why should we submit to His authority and morality?!”  “All religions are okay, and lead to something good.  In fact, better in our own eyes than what the God of Israel wants!”  So, in the end, it is more than seeking equality among the different religions and cultures and life-styles.  It is a rebellion against YHVH even more than simply seeking “equality with Him”, which is itself rebellion.  Tolerance is for anything other than truth.  “What is truth?!”, Pilate asked Jesus.  To the “world”, all is subjective relativism.

Some current examples that we see of trying to break God’s and His Son’s yoke, and their restrictions that make for civil society:
–requiring governments and people to accept homosexuality as normal and as a choice for each person to make regarding their own gender identity; in other words, not only to choose what sex to do, but what sex to be!;
–sex outside of marriage is accepted as normal and not sinful;
–not allowing in Israel and in Christianized countries, like the U.S., to use the Bible for explaining or instruction in righteousness in public institutions; or, to pray in the name of Jesus;
–being sued and denied a license for a bakery because of being owned and operated by believers in Yeshua;
–not allowing any Jews to enter some Muslim countries; not allowing any evangelism either;
–Israel makes it difficult for evangelical Christians to receive visas, or for Messianic Jews to immigrate;
–Russia just passed a law forbidding any evangelism outside of a recognized church building;
–no spanking of children in some ‘enlightened’ countries, as an overreaction to child abuse;
–not being able to teach Creation in schools, only Evolution:  no sovereign, holy, uncreated God; no special uniqueness about this solar system or the Earth; no chosen land or people or city or unique and beloved Son of God;
–humanism, that man is basically good, is the dominant philosophy opposed to the Word of God saying that all are born in sin, and need to be given restrictions and boundaries to live socially, and that people need to be born-again by the  Holy Spirit in order to have life.

These are just a few examples out of many, many more.  The results and consequences of throwing off the yoke of the true God is to lack the fear of God, to be ignorant, to lack wisdom, to be not only immoral, but amoral, to lack purpose and goals, to be unable to think critically, and to lack discernment between good and evil.  By all this, the devil deceives the people much more easily to side with him and his rebellion.  If we are deceived, we do not know it, and it requires an intervention by God to bring us to our right senses!  Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him, because they did not know what they were doing.

This Psalm 2 also tells us that God is actively working so that the people will know what they are doing, and that they must repent while there is time, if they want to be saved from His wrath. (2Cor 6:2; Is 61:1-2)

Though it is written that God laughs at this vain thing being planned, He is not amused:  He holds them in derision. (Is 40:15-17)  Since the death and resurrection of God’s anointed King, His Son, He is making it known everywhere, and calling all persons to repentance, because He has declared that His Son is going to be King in Zion, and He is the Judge of His people Israel, and of the Gentiles, and will rule over all. (Dan 2:44; Jn 3:14-21; Acts 17:30-31)

Although Jesus is already chosen and anointed to be the King of Israel and of the Nations, He is not yet reigning on David’s throne:  He has not yet been accepted by His own people or by the Gentile nations.  This is like when God chose David to be King instead of Saul, but David did not actually become the king until after Saul died, and after the people accepted him to be king.  Yeshua is now reigning — at the right hand of the Father — over Heaven and Earth, but He is not yet accepted by the whole House of Israel to be their King as Heir to David, according to God’s covenantal promise. (Lk 1:26-33,67-75; 2Sam 7; Mt 23:37-39)   Born-again believers already possess eternal life, but it is evident that we have not yet inherited it:  it remains a living hope upon a sure promise. (Rom 8:23-25)

The Psalm also informs us that Yeshua/Jesus is the Son of God.  The New Testament quotes this verse 7 in the psalm in the context of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead (Acts 13:33; Rom 1:4):  the proof that He is God’s Son, and by that He inherits not only Israel, but all the nations are His, and become accountable to Him. (Is 49:5-6)  For this, the gospel is to go out to all peoples and nations, not only for individual salvation, but also for nations to be saved, like Israel and Egypt and Assyria. (Is 19:23-25; Dan 7:13-14)  Part of our joy is knowing that we, too, will rule and reign with Messiah when He returns.  He promises those in the church that those who overcome will rule the nations with a rod of iron to break the stubbornness of rebellion in the people. (Rev 2:26-27; 3:21; 20:6)  This is the inheritance of the saints, in fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham! (Dan 7:18,25-27; Gen 22:17; Rom 4:13)

David finishes his psalm by warning those who are in rebellion:  they need to fear YHVH and to acknowledge His majesty and righteousness.  And they must respect and honor God’s Son, for His favor is their salvation. (Rev 6:12-17; 19:15)  Even believers in Jesus are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phlp 2:12-13)  We should be concerned with offending God, and to recognize our weakness – our “trembling” — that we are wholly dependent upon Him for grace and mercies in our need for help in serving and living for His glory.  His faithfulness and strength are our confidence and joy!  “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”

In this psalm we see already the suffering yet triumphant Messiah, Son of God, over His enemies.  And we who follow the Lord will also suffer yet be triumphant by our living faith in Him.  YHVH is sovereign over all and against all!  The schemes of man and devil can not and will not succeed!  Repent, and believe the gospel, and be saved from this perverse generation! (Acts 2:40; Rev 3:19-22)

What should we do?:
–In the face of this unholy and ungodly conspiracy, we can ask God for boldness to be witnesses of the King whom God has chosen and that we serve. (Acts 4:27-29; Rev 12:11)

Pray for those in authority to repent and believe actively, that they be saved. (1Tim 2:1-6)

What Kingdom Are We Of? – 1 Aug 2016

As I follow the election process in the U.S. (we are also citizens  there), I thank God for saving me and giving me hope through faith in Jesus!  I had been active in the political system with the naïve idealism of “tikkun” — trying “to make the world better”.  (I didn’t know then that satan is the prince of this world, nor that God had HIS plan of tikkun.)  Thirty-six years ago, the state of the union (the U.S.) was heavy on my spirit:  to me the U.S. was the greatest country in the world, but it was going down fast, and nothing better was coming up!  God was there in the person of a man named Dwight, and the Lord had prepared me to finally listen to the truth and the hope that is in Jesus.  When I confessed Him to be who He is, God gave me His Spirit and I knew!  And that hope was set firmly in the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ (by faith in this name I was saved), and HE WILL make the world right!

The low level of this year’s elections and candidates only confirms what I already saw and felt 36 years ago.  May God have mercy and shake up His people!  We are almost blind like Isaac, and willing to bless the wrong choice for carnal reasons; and Esau was willing to forsake all for exaggerated temporary relief, and then blame his brother for bartering to have what he had not valued.