Still Living in The Days of The Bible – Part 2 – 5 Jan 2009

I write this unexpected Part Two of our living today in Bible times.  I do so at some risk of what reactions you have, spoken or otherwise, but I hope that for the most part it is for building up of our faith in our God and Redeemer, and to prepare us for even worse to come before the far better ‘end of the Lord, who is very compassionate and merciful.’ (James 5:9-11)

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war in the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your (our) obedience is fulfilled.” (2Cor 10:4-6)

Yeshua reigns!  What a relief in days of trouble, and in the day of evil, to hold fast to what we have:  the name of the LORD, Yeshua, and the blood of the Lamb!  These words that we read from the apostle Paul, and are reminded of from the written words of the apostle John, were written in Bible days a little less than 2000 years ago for us today.  Surely we are living in both exciting and troublous Bible times!

Throughout Bible days – and Jesus promises to be with us all the days through the end of the age – there have been those within Israel and within the Church who would make the truth of the written word irrelevant.  It is to the Jews and to Christians – whether Jew or Gentile – that the Word of God has come and to whom He has entrusted it/them.  Therefore, we who know the truth of Messiah are more accountable before the Lord than other people:  we are in covenant relationship with Him through the shed blood of the Son of God for us.

How can we make irrelevant the Bible?  Jesus says that when we make our traditions or the explanations of our interpreters and commentators of greater value than the written Scriptures, we make void God’s word.  By our politics, we can make God’s word void; by so-called knowledge, we can make God’s word irrelevant; by thinking that the future can be changed from what has been planned from before the creation, we dismiss what God says.  By being party to accepting additions or deletions, we say that the Scriptures are irrelevant — dead.  The philosophy of Nietzsche that ‘God is dead’ is that which simply makes God irrelevant.  If God and His Word are rendered irrelevant – by our own understanding versus the revelation of Jesus Christ – then we will be more open to deception by the spirit of antichrist, who plays with the truth just enough to make his lie and evil intent seem plausibly worth accepting, hoping if possible to deceive even the elect.  Yet his perverse pleasure is to have those who are called by the name of the Lord dishonor Him and ourselves through believing the false prophets rather than the plain truth of the Spirit of YHVH:  “and so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which [we] do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit”. (2Pt 1:19-21)

I am sobered by the times we live in when the words of Jesus pierce through them with end-from-the-beginning clarity of what has never yet been fulfilled:  “For then, there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be like it.  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.” (Mt 24:21-22)  These words Yeshua received from His Father – and, praise God, now our Father, too — to speak to us.  God loves us, and so tells us what He knows is good and needful for us to know about His thoughts and ways.  We should be under no illusion, nor deluded, to think that this war will bring peace to Israelis or to Palestinians.  It will not –wars are determined till the end — but we are to act in the present as best we can to carry out our proper duties.  This is true as we pray for and give any counsel to unbelievers.  How much more so for us.

The Spirit of God tells His people to come out from Babylon – the ‘good country’, the material comfort, the alternative and counterfeit ‘promised land’ which the world offers.  Babylon represents a place of freedom and potential and worldly glory, whereas Egypt represents slavery and bondage.  In the Old Testament, YHVH spoke through the prophet Jeremiah to the physically exiled Israelis in Babylon to physically “flee from the midst of Babylon, and everyone save his life!  Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of YHVH’s vengeance. . .YHVH has taken out our righteousness.  Come and let us declare in Zion the work of YHVH our God.” (Jer 51:6-10)  In the New Testament, John heard a voice from heaven saying, “Come out of [Babylon], My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  For her sins have reached to Heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. . . . Therefore her plagues will come in one day. . .for strong is YHVH God who judges her!” (Rev 18:4-8)

If the sons of Issachar knew what Israel should do because they understood the times; if Daniel, through reading the Bible, understood the times and knew what to do; should not we — in the fuller light of history and with the whole Bible in our possession, and with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us and leading us into all truth — be discerning the times and knowing what to do?  Are we making the Scriptures irrelevant so long as we prefer to stay with our hearts and maybe our bodies, too, in Babylon!?  Messiah the Lord teaches us like this to pray:  Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. . .lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (the evil one/the evil day); for Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

To return to the issue of putting things in proportion which I wrote about in Part 1:  when one considers how many thousands of Palestinians were killed by the Jordanian government military in 1970 (just to take one example, which a Bedouin today mentioned to me as he praised Israel), and the world let it be, the fact that till now, however terrible it is, that the heavy Israeli attacks on Hamas have resulted in ‘only’ about 500 deaths and many wounded, testifies to the general policy of Israel to minimize the deaths of both enemy forces and civilians caught up in the battle zone.  This is in direct contrast to Islamic jihadist (holy war) policy and efforts.  Yet the world, including many Jewish and Christian people, jump on Israel as barbaric and disproportionate in its response to determined threats to her existence.  War is not hell; Hell is hell.  But war is terrible.  Wars and fights come from lust and covetousness: wanting what someone else has, even if you have to murder to get it from them. (Ja 4:1-2)  This has been the spirit of Islam before there was a religion called Islam! (Ps 83; Obadiah)

WE have been GIVEN the KINGDOM OF GOD.  We need covet nothing of anyone:  in Messiah we have been given an eternal inheritance of all that God has!  Let us fight the good fight of faith, while being, insofar as is possible on our part, at peace with all men, doing good to all, especially to those of the household of faith.  If you want war to cease, let us first examine our own hearts, confess our sin and repent, and then let us look for, long for, love, hasten Yeshua’s appearing, fulfilling our obedience to Him and His Word with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Still Living in The Days of The Bible – Part 1 – 4 Jan 2009

My words may pass away, but the Word of the LORD will never pass away!  Many of us have a tendency to add to or take away from the Word of God, rather than considering the whole counsel of God in the tension and reality of life it speaks to us.  We don’t necessarily intend to do that, and only those without godly fear would willfully do so with eyes opened.

When you hear people say – or perhaps when you say yourself – “in the days of the Bible”, what is meant by that?  If we really believe that the Scriptures have been written for us living at the end of the age, and that the Word of God abides forever, and that God will fulfill all that is written in the whole of the Old and New Testaments, then isn’t it true that we are living in the days of the Bible?!

You have received a number of e-mails from me recently and over the years.  For those who look at only one and come to any conclusions – whether positively or negatively – I would say, as I began this ‘letter’, that my words may pass away.  On the other hand, if you consider my letters together over time, a clearer and fuller picture would be discernible that otherwise can not be covered in any one or two letters, and, I sincerely hope, there would be a general consistency in the spirit of truth, even if not in every detail.  So, too, and much more so, with the Bible, which is truth both in spirit and in details!

Why am I concerning myself with this?  Most of the news media you see and hear focus on the perceived disproportion of Gazans being killed or injured versus the number of Israelis being killed or injured. (By the way, as I was now speaking with a friend on the phone, we are only about 1/2 hour drive away from the awful war going on!)  Just as in the last war in Lebanon against another terrorist organization, Hezbollah, the attention is also focused on the disproportionate weaponry being used by the two sides.  Believe me when I say, it’s scary enough to have a tree fall on your house during a storm, not to mention larger rockets, or even tons of bombs falling from airplanes in the sky.  As Yeshua advised, before going to war, consider first your enemy and his weaponry, and whether you think you can defeat them or not.  Is not the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ the same God as YHVH, God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob?

The size of armor and weaponry is not to be our only concern:  look at Joshua and the people marching around Jericho and the priests blowing trumpets; look at Goliath, versus David with his slingshot.  What are we going to do in ‘our Bible days’ when the Lord Jesus Himself directs the seventh angel to pour out his bowl of God’s wrath upon His enemies with great hail from heaven, each weighing about  one talent (62 lbs or 30 kg)!?  And at what force?!  The reaction of the people (revealed to us in advance by the Holy Spirit in the love of our Father) targeted by God is to blaspheme Him! (Rev 16:17-21)

In earlier days of the Bible, the Assyrian king Sennacherib taunted the Jews in Israel that no God of the nations had yet succeeded to defeat him.  With this taunt and blasphemy, the righteous King Hezekiah cried out to the one true sovereign God, YHVH, God of Israel, who sent the prophet Isaiah to encourage and comfort the King and the people, assuring them that Sennacherib and his forces would not succeed.  I am not writing this here simply to say that this situation in Gaza is similar, although I think it is the attitude of these Islamic jihadists to taunt and blaspheme the God and the people of Israel and of the Christians, but rather to go on to the outcome of the encounter in those days (2Kg 19:35):  the Angel of YHVH went out on a certain night into the camp of the Assyrians, and killed 185,000!  Was this proportionate?!  Because this figure staggers our imagination and even offends our sensitivities, some Bible translators and commentators try to ‘defend’ the inspiration of Scripture and the character of our God by saying that this number is obviously an error which mistakenly got in and stayed in our Bibles.

In even earlier days of the Bible, the same Angel of YHVH killed all the first-born in Egypt, from Pharaoh’s household to the slaves’, plus animals.  Was God disproportionate in expressing what was in His heart, given the objectives He had in mind?  Pharaoh and his army were then thrown into the sea and all drowned.

Sometime later in Bible times, when the Jews who had not returned from exile at the command of Cyrus to return and rebuild Jerusalem were in danger of being exterminated through the irrational hatred of Haman in Persia (Iran), we read about the second decree by King Ahasueras that allowed the Jews to defend themselves.  On the set day, the Jews killed 500 men in the capital.  Queen Esther then requested that the Jews be allowed to do again the next day more of what they had done on the first.  They hung all of Haman’s sons (all of whom were, by the way, descendants of Amalek, himself a descendant of Esau/Edom), and killed 300 more men.  All this was in the capital city.  Around the rest of the kingdom, a total of 75,000 of their enemies were killed, those who had determined in their own hearts and minds that the Jews should be wiped out. (Esther 9:1-16)  Was this disproportionate to the threat that they had faced?  Would the threat have been removed had they not ‘finished the job’ on the second?  Is not the Lord going to finish His strange work of  judgment in order to remove all things which offend from entering into His Kingdom?  Our own flesh struggles with the magnitude of evil and the necessary righteous judgments of God to put it away.  Maybe that is why Joshua and the Israelis in their ‘Bible days’ stopped all the killing which God had commanded them to do:  they just couldn’t understand it or take it any more.

How many babies were killed in Bethlehem by Herod’s hateful self-serving command surrounding the birth of Yeshua?  What was the reaction – beyond the grief of ‘Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more”?  How did they respond towards God, who allowed such a thing connected with the promised Messiah and Savior?!  Certainly we know that the love of God is not self-serving!

Were the six million Jews who were scientifically and calculatedly slaughtered during the Holocaust an overkill to effect a shameful and guilty conscious on the Christianized West especially, opening the way for the world’s representatives through the United Nations to vote in the establishment of the State of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people?

Is God being too heavy-handed when he prophetically warns us that two-thirds of the people of all the land (earth?) will die in order that the remaining third will be refined and tested and purified to each call on the name of YHVH as their God?! (Zech 13:8-9; Mt 24:21-22; Rev)

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God!  God is a consuming fire!

Yet for all the suffering and tragedy connected with each of the above events, we celebrate our God and Savior, and what He has done to bring righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit through these events and judgments!

It is a God-given, thus moral, responsibility and authority for a government to protect the general welfare of her citizenry, even by force when required.  It is our responsibility as believers to pray that our leaders not only act wisely and prudently, but even more that they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  Then, the lives of the people may be more quiet and peaceable, appreciative of godliness and reverence, both towards the one true God, and towards our fellow-man.  (Rom 12:17-21 – 13:1-7: 1Tim 2:1-6).

Please, do not misunderstand this one ‘article’ to think that I am hard-hearted toward what is going on in Gaza, both against a real enemy, and against those innocently trapped in a deplorable situation, not to mention against our own soldiers and sons risking their lives to defeat their enemies and defend their country – and from a higher perspective, though they may not recognize it, to free people to receive true and real life from the living God of the living.  Without Jesus, no one will enjoy life!

How the world and those who are of it evaluate and judge this war is one thing; let us be careful how we do, and be extremely careful that we do not find ourselves judging God.  His Word judges us. (Heb 4:11-13).