Israel, The Nations, and YHVH God – 25 Dec 2016

On Sabbath evening, Dec 23, on the day before the first night of Hanukkah, on the day before Christmas Eve, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, essentially declaring that the heartland of Israel — Judea and Samaria, and East Jerusalem — are illegally occupied and settled by Israel and the Jewish people.  East Jerusalem is Biblical Jerusalem, and includes the Old City, the City of David, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount.  The United States broke its long-standing position to veto measures in the Security Council which were clearly against Israel’s legitimacy and legality.  President Obama began his presidency eight years ago with his deference to the Islamic governments and narratives, and is ending his two terms authorizing an abstention on the vote, thereby allowing it to pass unopposed, allowing Islamic doctrine and terror to cause even “Christian” nations to throw Israel ‘under the bus’, and to wipe her out from being a nation anymore. (Ps 83:1-5)  But neither has the Lord given Israel and the Jewish people to be the determiners of her own destiny.  He has created, chosen, and called her and them to a destiny and an inheritance for His glory.

The U.S. and the UN, with all the nations, are obscessed with finding fault with Israel, because the battle is really against the God of Israel, who is YHVH, God over all.  This, despite the fact that just a few short months ago, the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, sought to have the UN basically nullify the Balfour Declaration, which set the Gentile nations in motion to help the Jewish people reestablish their homeland in Palestine (the Land of Israel).  By this, he was making it very plain that he does not accept Israel as a nation-state.  Yet, the U.S., and the UN Security Council, say that the Jewish settlements are the impediment to a two-state solution to “solve the conflict”.  This is truly closing the eyes and putting one’s head in the sand!  The settlements do pose a real challenge, but God is going on in HIS plan to restore HIS kingdom to Israel, and to all the nations.  Only His solution is righteous and permanent.

The Bible clearly states that in the latter days all nations would come against Jerusalem (Zech 12:1-314:1-8), and that the people and the nations are in a conspiracy against YHVH and against His Messiah (Anointed One) (Ps 2).  On the other hand, the prophets foretold that all of Israel’s lovers would desert her (Jer 30:12-24), and this would be from God in order to apply pressure on His people to return to Him, who alone truly loves them and is powerful to save them when they confess their sins against Him (and against Jesus/Yeshua) and return to Him with all their heart. (Lev 26:40-45)

In God’s sovereign wisdom, He holds all sides to account for their actions — whether they be in rebellion, in unbelief, or in ignorance.  All must give account to Him in the exercise of their free will.

We are about to enter the year 2017, a year of convergence connected with the Bible and the Word of God, the Jewish people and the land of Israel, and to signs leading up to such a great tribulation that there is no human experience for it, with the return of the Lord following. (Dan 12:1-3; Mt 24:21-31)  The year 2017 marks the following signposts:
500 yrs since the Reformation; 120 yrs since 1st Zionist Cong; 100 yrs (double Jubilee) since Beer Sheva Charge, the Balfour Declaration, and the capture of Jerusalem by Gentile Christians; 70 yrs since UN Partition Plan; 50 yrs Jubilee since capture of Jerusalem by Israeli Jews; 30 yrs since beginning of 1st Palestinian Intifada (“breaking the yoke; horse shaking off the rider”)

The stakes are high, and the nations and Israel can expect a shaking from the very real living God, who desires that all should repent and be saved.  For this He sent His Son into the world, which is ignored at our own peril.

 

Jesus Christ Came Into The World To Save Sinners – 24 Dec 2016

1Ti 1:15  Faithful is the Word and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Num 29:39  You shall prepare these to Yehovah in your appointed seasons, besides your vows and your free-will offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your food offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.

God did not command Israel to celebrate the birth of His Son, but He gave them – and us – the opportunity to celebrate as a free-will offering.  We do it because we want to, and we do it gladly unto the Lord.  What the Prophets foretold came to pass:  the Messiah was born!  Trumpets were to be blown in Israel on the day of our gladness. (Num 10:10)  Was/Is not the birth of the Lord a day of rejoicing for the heavenly host of angels who proclaimed the glad tidings to the Israeli Jewish shepherds, and to the shepherds themselves who heard and saw all that they were told; was it not a day of rejoicing for Simeon, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, who saw YHVH’s salvation in the new-born Child and Son; was it not a day of rejoicing for Anna, the widowed prophetess waiting for redemption in Jerusalem?  Is it not a day of rejoicing for all who have come to believe in the Son of God, who was born in the flesh, and who is the Father’s gift to His people?:  Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given!  God has forever changed the culture of His people:  rather than just remembering someone’s life when he dies, we now rejoice and celebrate the time of those we love for when they came into the world.  It all waited for the celebration of the first-born of creation, and His Father’s joy in that day!  It began as neither a Jewish nor a pagan holiday.  It is God’s holiday celebration, which is actually what the name of Haggai the prophet means (“my celebration”)!  It was Haggai to whom the LORD gave the date of this appointed time. (Hag 2:10-22)  Yeshua came to His holy but unclean people to save and to cleanse them from all their sinfulness, and to restore His Throne to His people and to the Gentiles.  

What Israel and the Jewish people as a whole did not appreciate when He came to His own, and to the world that He made should not restrict us who have seen the glory of the birth of the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins on the cross, and whose sacrificial death was God’s plan before the foundation of the world!  His name is Yeshua because He will save His people from their sins.  YHVH is our salvation and Savior!

The new and significant year of 2017 is being ushered in by the perfect coinciding of Hanukkah and Christmas.  The 8th day and candle (the day of Yeshua’s circumcision) is the last night of this year, and the first day of  the next.  The God of Israel has given all the world a witness as to the time of His Son’s birth to the virgin, Mary.  Going back another 4 years to 5 BC does not alter things much.  But the world system has followed for centuries a calendar that points to the period surrounding the birth of the Lord, the King of the Jews.   When I was recently in Thailand, I noticed that the date on a package ended with the numbers 2559.  That seemed odd, so I asked what that was:  the Thai culture traditionally counts its years from the era of Buddha, who lived more than 500 years before Yeshua/Jesus.  Muslims count their years from 622 AD, the year that Mohammed went from Mecca to Medina.   Tonight is the lighting of the first candle for Hannukah; today is the 24th of the ninth month.  In the Jewish calendar, this is the month of Chislev; in the Gregorian calendar, which most of the world follows, this the 24th of the 12th month, December, but which is the ninth month when we count beginning with Israel’s first month in Aviv/Nisan/April! This date of the 24th of the 9th month was a day from which the [true] foundation of the Temple was laid, and YHVH would bless Israel and shake Heaven and Earth. (Hag 2:18-22)  These things did not find genuine fulfillment with the Maccabees, but do in Yeshua, the true Savior and Deliverer from Gentile and pagan thrones – both literally, and also in the hearts of those who truly believe.  (The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Yeshua.)

I want us to look at one example of the truth that Jesus came to save sinners:  the woman caught in adultery. (Jn 8:1-11) 

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (2) And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him. And He sat down and taught them. (3) And the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery. And standing her in the midst, (4) they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. (5) Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned. You, then, what do you say? (6) They said this, tempting Him so that they might have reason to accuse Him. But bending down, Jesus wrote on the ground with His finger, not appearing to hear. (7) But as they continued to ask Him, He lifted Himself up and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her. (8) And again bending down, He wrote on the ground. (9) And hearing, and being convicted by conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, until the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (10) And bending back up, and seeing no one but the woman, Jesus said to her, Woman, where are the ones who accused you? Did not one give judgment against you? (11) And she said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I give judgment. Go, and sin no more.

In this scene, the self-righteous religious leaders and teachers came to Yeshua with a woman who was caught, somehow, in the act of adultery.   Where was the guilty man?  Under the Law, both were to be stoned. (Lev 20:10-12)  So their motive was not pure, but rather to trap Messiah and to show their disdain for women.  People did not matter to them with all their religiosity, but the “Law”, which they themselves did not keep.  Yeshua bent down and wrote on the ground with His finger, probably the sentence of death, which the Law of Moses demanded.  He had not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it.  But then, the Lord showed His compassion in His identification with the sinner against her unjust accusers.  He also appealed to the conscience of them:  let he has no sin cast the first stone.  From the oldest rabbi first, the others followed in leaving the scene.  Jesus paid a price to mediate in this situation, with courage and compassion. Jesus did not acquit the guilty woman; neither did He condemn her:  He told her to go and sin no more.  Did she?  We don’t know.

Jesus came to save sinners.  He alone is without sin; He alone has moral authority to condemn; He alone could have thrown that first stone.  But He desires to see sinners repent and have their hearts changed, sinning no more in the face of such grace and truth.  He takes the blame; He takes the uncleanness.  On the cross He bore our sin and our punishment.  Can any who know such love and forgiveness continue to sin against the holy God and Savior?!  Let each answer for himself, just as the Scripture leaves us without the answer to the rest of this woman’s life, and that of her accusers.

YHVH’s new covenant with Israel is that their sins will be forgiven forever.  Our message which we have received from Him remains the gospel to sinners:  repent and believe, and so receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit and of eternal life.

As I considered this passage about the woman caught in adultery, it reminded me of how Christians have historically accused the Jewish people before God for their spiritually adulterous unfaithfulness to Him, and of their sin and guilt in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus.  The Savior continues to reach out to both with His own understanding and righteousness to affect the hearts and minds of both.  All Israel will be saved when they look upon Him whom they pierced; and the Body of Christ will be purified when they humble themselves and show mercy to the Jews, even as they have received mercy from the God of Israel for all their sins in Jesus’ name.

We thank and praise God for giving us His Son (Is 9:6), and for what Messiah has done for us:  forgiveness and new life, which only He could bring by coming here to Earth (even to Israel!) and suffering for us — both during His life and climatically in His death on the cross.  Now He lives within us who are born-again from Above, and is with us in life and in death.  Even this last enemy can not overcome the believer, but only serves to bring us into the everlasting presence of the Lord!

The Incarnation Shook Heaven and Earth – 19 Dec 2016

The birth of the Messiah some 2000 years ago was a singular event which divided history between that which came before from that which has been reckoned since.  The God of Israel promised through the prophet Haggai that from a significant event on the 24th of the ninth Israeli month (corresponding to the 24th of December on non-Israeli calendars) that He would shake the heaven and the Earth. (Hag 2:20-22)  God began by announcing His joy in the birth of His Son through the singing heavenly host.

When the Roman-appointed ruler over the Jews, Herod, heard the news, he plotted to kill the new-born Son.   The Jewish religious leaders acknowledged that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but not that His goings forth were from everlasting.  When Yeshua began His public ministry by being baptised by John, the devil sought to tempt Him to submit to his wiles.  At the crucifixion the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate, and the devil, and the Jewish leadership all conspired together to both crucify Jesus, and try to get Him to come down from the cross!  The chief priests in apostacy cried out that “we have no king but Caesar!” (Jn 19:15)

After Pentecost, when the disciples had all been baptized with the Holy Spirit and began to take the gospel to all regions, it is written that they were “turning the world upside down, saying that there is another King — Jesus”. (Acts 17:6-7)

No shots were fired; no armies formed; just the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Truly YHVH had begun His revolution to overthrow Gentile thrones and to shake the heavens and the Earth.  This work has continued till today, and we are nearing another promise from the Lord to again shake the heavens and the Earth at the return of this same Jesus/Yeshua:

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.”  27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

We are celebrating this time with great anticipation that what God has begun at the first advent, He will fulfill at the second.  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!