The Shot Heard ‘Round The World – 28 June 2014

Today, 100 years ago, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that started World War I when he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  No one could have known then that that gunshot would trigger the first world war in history, with staggering loss of life, but that that war, rather than being the ‘war to end all war’ would actually become the war which has not yet ended.

Jesus Christ said nearly 2000 years ago, when asked by His disciples what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age:  “. . .For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows. . . .Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. . . .when you see all these things, know that it is near — at the doors!  Assuredly I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (Mt 24; Lk 21)

When the Allied victors of WW1 carved out their spoils and staked out their territories, they started a process which has continued down till this day, still affecting the entire world:  Jerusalem has come to the fore; Gentile nations are still trampling it even while the Jewish people are re-claiming their capital; the ancient Gentile kingdoms of Babylon, Medes-Persia, Greece and Rome, and the Islamic nations of the Middle East today have all been reconstituted from the aftermath of that war from 1918 as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, not to mention the only non-Gentile nation in the midst of them — Israel!

We who live today are only now beginning to see the beginning of the end which WW1 triggered.  Some of us are children of parents who were born during or just after that war.  The modern nation-states of the ancient Gentile kingdoms are reminiscent of the statue image of Nebuchadnezzer’s dream which Daniel interpreted, recorded for us in the Bible.  Are we the generation which will see the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Stone from Heaven which will knock down all those kingdoms from under their feet, and God will establish His King on Mt Zion in Jerusalem? (Dan 2:34-35, 44-45; Ps 2)

Dates to Remember

Times and seasons have a way of stirring the memories, both personal and collective. Depending on what they may signify, the reactions and anticipations may vary among individuals or nations, or among those joined together through religion or faith. Below are some historical markers that are beginning to converge to draw attention to a watershed, perhaps. Both friend and foe are taking notice.

Oct 31, 1517 – Reformation Day, which gave the Bible back to the people that they may be saved by faith alone in God and His Word
1517 – Turkish Ottoman Muslim Empire begins rule in the Holy Land, the land of the God of the Bible

1882-1903 — First Aliyah (Immigration wave), following pogroms (riots) in Russia in 1881-1882

Aug 29, 1897 – First Zionist Congress in Basle, led by Theodor Herzl, who prophetically understood the times that the Jewish people needed to seek “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland”
http://www.herzl.org/english/Article.aspx?Item=544

June 28, 1914 – the assasination of Austrian arch-duke in Serbia, the catalyst for the declaration a month later of what became WW1, ending on Nov 11, 1918; “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom…”

Oct 31, 1917 – ANZAC/Lighthorse Beer Sheva Charge victory over Ottomans in break-through victory towards return of Jewish people back to Land of Israel, and of ending 400 years of Ottoman rule in Holy Land, and 400 years to the day of the Reformation
http://www.lighthorse.org.au/famous-battles/world-war-one/famous-battles-the-battle-at-beersheba

Nov 2, 1917 – Balfour Declaration of intent of British government to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine; “It shall come to pass in that day that [YHVH God] shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left . . . . He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the Earth.”
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/the%20balfour%20declaration.aspx
(here is a site devoted to regretting the Balfour Declaration: http://www.balfourproject.org/ )

Dec 11, 1917 – Jerusalem surrendered to British General Edmund Allenby and the Allies from Turkish Ottoman control
http://www.colonialfilm.org.uk/node/6131

Apr 25, 1920 – San Remo Resolution ratified by post-WW1 Allied Powers, legally sanctioning the establishment of the Jewish people back in the land of their fathers
http://www.cfr.org/israel/san-remo-resolution/p15248

Aug 12, 1922 – League of Nations establishes British Mandate in Palestine, authorized to carry out San Remo Resolution (which legally sanctioned the intent of the Balfour Declaration)
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp

Sept 1, 1939 – Sept 2, 1945 – World War II

Nov 29, 1947 – UN Partition Plan for Palestine, offering both Jewish people and Arab Palestinians states. Israel accepted what for them constituted “a publicly recognized legally secured homeland”; the Arabs rejected, and prepared for war (Israel’s Independence War, 1948-49); 430 yrs since the restored promise of salvation and righteousness by faith in YHVH God and His Word, and of the Ottoman Islamic control of the Land of Israel
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/un%20general%20assembly%20resolution%20181.aspx

May 14, 1948 – State of Israel as the re-established homeland for the Jewish people proclaimed by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in accord with the legal status conferred by both the League of Nations and the United Nations; the British Mandate ended day before
http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/declaration%20of%20establishment%20of%20state%20of%20israel.aspx

Jun 7, 1967 – Capture of Jerusalem in Six-Day War, unifying the city in Israeli Jewish hands (70 years after 1st Zionist Cong; 50 yrs Jubilee since Balfour Declaration)

Dec 9, 1987 – First Intifada (Arab uprising) begins, lasting seven years, leading to Oslo Accords between the State of Israel and the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), signed on Sept 13, 1993

Sept 29, 2000 – Second Intifada begins, inconclusively ending in a truce on Feb 8, 2005, and leading to the Gaza disengagement on Sept 12, 2005

2014100 years since start of WW1

201570 yrs since end of WW2

2017500 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”)

2018100 yrs from end of WW1; 70 yrs of Israel’s re-established nation-state

202880 yrs since Israel’s re-establishment as homeland for the Jewish people

20?? – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Holocaust Past and Future – 27 Apr 2014

Remember, lest we forget.  This “creed” underlies much of Jewish and Christian culture.  All of the LORD’s holidays are to remember His mighty acts of redemption, based on bringing His people out of Egypt.  Believers in Jesus, in fellowshipping in the Lord’s Supper, do so to remember Yeshua and what He did in and through His death on the cross; and we are to do so until He comes again.  God has given us these times of remembrance together so that we might not forget, and to be strengthened in our bond as His family and people.

Tonight, Israel — especially the Jewish people within her — began the annual Holocaust Remembrance/Memorial Day, till now the most devastating blow of destruction to hit the Jewish people.  I say “till now”, because it seems to me that there is a greater ‘Shoah’ still to come.  It could be said that the Inquisition was Sephardic Jewry’s trouble, and that the Holocaust Ashkenazi Jewry’s trouble.  Both of these occurred on European soil.  But the Scriptures speak of an unparalleled “Jacob’s Trouble” — great tribulation — to come “in the land” — the whole House of Jacob/Israel — out of which Israel will be saved. (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1, Zec 13:7-9; Mt 24:4-31; Rev 7:14)

It is important to keep the Holocaust’s remembrance, especially at a time when many deny it, minimize it, relativize it.  There are still living eye-witnesses and their family members who know it was true and horrible.  These eye-witnesses are both among the victims and among the perpetrators.  Yet there are those who are given a loud voice to say otherwise.  Is this really any different than those who were strident in denying the real death and resurrection of the Lord Messiah, even while eye-witnesses were still around?! (Mt 27:62 – 28:15; 2Pt 1:12-18)  As Israel puts their hope in the ability of the nation to defend itself, the God of Israel is at work to bring His people to repentance and faith in His Son, who is truly the Keeper of Israel.

The sacrifice of Yeshua is described in Greek as a holocaust — a whole-burnt offering.  While the unwilling catastrophic destruction on the part of the  Jewish people has led to the partial prophetic restoration of the modern homeland for the Jewish people back in their land, the willing sacrificial “slaughter” of the Lamb of God leads to salvation and eternal life in God’s Kingdom for all who believe.

JACOB BECOMING THE ISRAEL OF GOD – 29 Feb 2012

Today, Israel is acting like Jacob — caring for the things of God, but seeking them by their own abilities in their own strength, rather than by the Spirit of YHVH, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac. (Gen 31:42; Zech 4:6)

Jacob received his new and spiritual name, Israel, only after he had struggled with the Man all night, the night before he would meet again his brother Esau after deceitfully obtaining the birthright and blessing from their father Isaac. (Gen 32)  Jacob knew from early on in his life that the covenant of God with his father and grandfather was something of great value.  Esau did not care for such things of future destiny.  He cared only about the present moment. 

Jacob had struggled with his uncle Laban; with the knowledge that his brother wanted to kill him and deprive him of the inheritance which he himself (Esau/Edom) would never inherit.  Now Jacob, hoping to find favor in Esau’s eyes — hoping that he might not kill him, and allow him to live peaceably — was rightly fearful. (Gen 33)

Jacob met ‘the Man’ — who was Peniel/The Face of God — and struggled with Him all night.  Jacob would not let Him go until He blessed him.  The Man, whose name is Wonderful, gave Jacob — who acknowledged his name as such — a new name:  Israel, meaning “He will reign with God”, or, “God will reign”. (Gen 32:28;and reminded again at Gen 35:9-12

Israel will reign with the God who reigns after he has persevered in the continuing struggle with man and God . . . and prevails when she at last sees Him whom they have pierced, and all their sins are forgiven and put away.  (Zech 12:10-14; Rom 11:25-36)  Then, the natural strength of Jacob will be forever broken — as typified when The Man merely touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, laming him for the rest of his life as a reminder — and in their weakness and dependence upon their God, Israel will know His mighty ability and strength, who could have overwhelmed him. (2Cor 11:22-30; 12:7-10; Mt 26:30-35,69-75)  Both Peter and Paul are given to us to learn the way of the cross as we follow the Lamb.  Thank God for His grace!

Israel has been given as an example to the Church.  The God of Jacob (Gen 3:13-15; Acts 3:12-13) works His redeeming glory in Christians just as He does in the Jewish people.  Not all Israel is Israel; not all the Church is the Church — but those, like Jacob, who overcome — by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.  Not by ability, nor by power, but by the grace of our God.  And we will rule and reign with Messiah Yeshua! (Rev 12:10-11; 2:24-28; 3:19-22)

Our struggle and tribulation with man, with nations, within families, with history, with God will go on until the end, just as Israel’s and the Jewish people. (Mt 24:9-14)  Let us press on in faith in the goodness of our Father, and His exceedingly great and precious promises which He has given us through Jesus, enduring, so that after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise of the resurrection and eternal life. (2Pt 1:1-4; Heb 10:3239

Psalm 129:1-5  A song of ascents

‘ “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”, let Israel now say — “Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me!   “The plowers plowed my back; they made their furrows long.”

YHVH is righteous; He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.  Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. . . .’

Praise the Lord!

OF ROCKETS AND DEMONSTRATIONS – 25 Feb 2011

Last night around 9:40 (21:40) a grad rocket launched from Gaza hit near our neighborhood in Beer Sheva.  The rocket was the first to hit a major city in Israel since the 2009 war against Hamas, which Israel  launched near the end of 2008 because of eight years of thousands of rocket attacks against cities both near to and farther out from Gaza.  Thankfully the warning siren worked properly and lives were saved, even though houses and cars were damaged.  The Islamic Jihad group took ‘credit’ for the attack; Israel responded with air strikes against launching sites.

This overt provocation comes at a time when the whole Middle East (Near East for the Europeans) and North Africa is a powder keg, with uprisings in several countries, and violence a too-characteristic way of dealing with fear and despair.  Instead of brotherly love, we have civil wars and brotherly hatred.  All of these events could be setting the stage for wars and tribulation as prophesied for the end-times, such as what is written in Isaiah 17, Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38, Matthew 24:3-14, 2Thes 2:3.  Many Muslims from these Gentile nations willl, by the sovereign grace and wisdom of God, be saved by the only Mediator and Savior whom God has given for any person or nation. (1Tim 2:1-7)  They will be truly and radically revolutionized with a new heart and a new spirit from the one true living God, who alone gives and fulfills promises of righteousness and peace and Godly joy!

Who really identifies with his people and nation and homeland?  Who really cares for the well-being of their people — both old and young — and fears and trembles at upheavals within the social order?

Next Tuesday evening, March 1, a major demonstration by a sect of ultra-orthodox Jewish people is planned against the Messianic community of believers in Yeshua in the small Negev town of Arad, situated between Beer Sheva and the Dead Sea.  The police have given permission for 200 (after rejecting the initial request for 400) Hasidei Gur adherents and yeshiva (seminary) students, and Yad L’Achim activists and paid ‘volunteers’, to protest the presence of believers in Jesus in Arad, and this in front of the private home of a widow and foster mother who lives in a cul-de-sac (dead-end street).  The Arad Messianic/Christian community has exhibited much patience and general self-control through nearly seven years of being daily harrassed, cursed, having their peace disturbed even in their homes and public places, while the religious and civil authorties have till now conspired together to protect them. 

The believers are fasting and asking for prayer seeking God for the salvation of many of these precious souls for whom Yeshua died to offer God’s forgiveness of their sin of unbelief in Him, which thing leads to all kinds of sins.  The Hasidei Gur do not even believe that the State of Israel is legitimate because to them the Messiah has not come, and only He can bring redemption, which includes the return of the Jewish people to their own land as promised by YHVH God to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and their descendants.  Praise the Lord, Messiah has come, and is fulfilling His redemptive plan to save His people and to fulfill all of His promises pertaining both to the Land of Israel, and to the whole Earth!

Shalom from a very dry Negev (which means ‘dry land’).

8 Feb 2009

Shalom from a very dry Negev (which means ‘dry land’).

Despite the extremely dry weather for winter — the driest on record — the flu has been going around. It got to me, so I was laid up in bed for a few days a couple of weeks ago. I also have what must be a pinched nerve in my neck for about a 1/2 year now. For the last couple of months, I’ve been getting some physical therapy, but it hasn’t really released the pinch. I did it to myself while doing some exercises (at the loving concern of my family). Hoping it would go away by itself, I didn’t do anything about it for a couple of months, before going finally for an x-ray. It took more than another month to start some treatment. Anyway, the body ages, while the inner man is renewed day-by-day! Praise the Lord!

The last-days weather patterns are certainly less predictable than just a few years ago. God’s covenant blessings of the right amount of rain at the right times were based on Israel’s obedience with faith in Him. Since this is still not the case, and since the times are nearing for God’s interventions in righteous judgments, then the lack of ‘good’ rain is a means by which He would want His people to repent and return to Him. (Dt 28:12, 23-24) Yet God has promised since the Flood that as long as this Earth remains, there would still be the four seasons (Gen 8:22). And He has further promised that as long as He is in control of our unique solar system within His universe, and that the size of the universe can not be determined, Israel would remain a nation before Him, and His covenants with David and with the Levites would not be broken (Jer 31:33-37; 33:19-26). So we can be assured that Yeshua is going to return at the appointed time to regenerate this Creation and make the Earth a very habitable place during His reign! (Ps 96; Mt 24:32-39; Rom 8:18-25)

Elections
Israel once again goes to national elections for Prime Minister and for Knesset (Parliament) seats. Once again, the elections are critical. It seems that every election here is a ‘fateful’ one. The security of the nation and its integrity is once again the major issue. The economy, which is also adversely affected along with the rest of the world’s countries, has not been discussed very much publicly, yet obviously will have a major impact on our lives. Two of the major candidates, Bibi Netanyahu (Likud) and Ehud Barak (Labor), have been PM before, and each had a major negative impact on the nation. Tzipi Livni, currently Foreign Minister, has risen to prominence through her earlier connection with Ariel Sharon and the formation of the new political party, Kadima. That party was formed out from the more right-wing party Likud, and with a platform to divide the country into two. A fourth major candidate this time is Avigdor Liberman (Israel Beiteinu – Israel Our Home) is running on a platform which essentially requires citizens to pledge allegiance to the State of Israel if they want to partake of its privileges. The Likud and all of the nationalist parties promote with worldly reason the necessity of Israel being a Jewish and ‘democratic’ country.

This sounds reasonable, but has been and will be used against Jews and Christians in other countries. When a Jew is required to pledge more loyalty to his ‘home’ country over Israel, what will he answer? (Ps 137:1-6) When a Christian is required to pledge more allegiance to his ‘home’ country over the Kingdom of God, what will you answer? (Acts 17:7; Jn 18:36; Ps 2; Rev 11:15-18) Will believers in Jesus also be required in Israel to pledge greater allegiance to a Jewish state — that is, a state where Judaism is the supreme religion — over the truth of Jesus being the Messiah, the Son of God, which Judaism rejects? Are we prepared for such a time as that?

Memorial of Shouts

Lev 23:24; Num 29:1 YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the one of the month, you shall have a sabbath rest, a Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, a holy convocation.

Mt 24:29-31,36 Immediately after the tribulation (see v.21) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the Earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. . . .But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, but My Father only.

1Cor 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mysterywe shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1Thes 4:15-18 For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord:  that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Ps 50:3-6 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all all around Him.  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His peopleGather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.  Let the Heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge.

Rev 10:6-7 But in the day of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God will be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.

Rev 11:15-19 Then the seventh angel sounded [the trumpet], and there were loud voices in Heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world have become of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever.”  And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O YHVH God of Hosts, the One Who Is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.  The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants – the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your Name, small and great – and should destroy those who destroy the Earth.”  Then the Temple of God was opened in Heaven, and the Ark of His Covenant was seen in His Temple.  And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

Next  week begins what the Jewish people call the New Year, but what the Bible calls the Memorial of Shouts, or of the Blowing [of Trumpets].  This is one of the appointed times of the LORD, and is the beginning of the final set of holy-days to bring Israel to confession of sin and repentance, unity as a people, to put away evil, bring in the harvest of the righteous, and to re-establish God’s Kingdom in Israel and over all the nations of the world (Ps 2).  These times of the LORD to Israel help us as believers in Jesus and the New Covenant to understand God’s plan of redemption and salvation, and His calendar for when these things will be.  The Mishna teaches the Jewish people that the time of the blowing of the trumpets through the Day of Atonements are the “days of awe”, days of judgment when all the inhabitants of the world pass before YHVH God, like flocks of sheep:  They either are chosen to live or to die, depending on their righteousness.

Many Bible teachers connect the “Feast of Trumpets” as marking the time of the rapture of the Church, that this is the next event as far as believers are concerned.  This is both right and wrong!  It is right in that there is a connection between the two; it is wrong to say it marks the time it will happen.  This can be said with certainty because of what is written in Lev 23:24—giving a specific day—and in Mt 24:36—saying that the day is unknown.  Num 10: 1-10 instructs Israel that the blowing of trumpets is for a purpose and also as a memorial for them before God.  They will remember their special covenantal relationship with the LORD, and He will remember them to deliver them from their enemies.

As Jesus has Himself, as the Savior, fulfilled the appointed times of Passover – Unleavened Bread – First Fruits – the beginning of Harvest in their sequence and times; if He is presently by the Holy Spirit fulfilling His work of grace and truth since Weeks/Pentecost; then we should expect that Trumpets – Atonements – the beginning of Booths/Tabernacles will be fulfilled by God in their sequence and times – a matter of days and weeks at the end of the age — as Yeshua is revealed to be the King of the Jews and of all the surviving nations.

As believers in Jesus we are not subject or bound to times and seasons (Acts 1:7; Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-17; 1Thes 5:1-10).  Think about it a moment:  if the Lord were to take up the believers to Himself at the time of the new moon of the seventh month, then satan would be waiting and watching on that day each year to guard his household, and believers would be waiting, too.  And if the Lord did not take us up this year, for example, then we would not be expecting Him for at least another year, along with the devil!  Yet we are plainly warned not to wait for a certain day or hour, because this is God’s secret, but rather to hope in faith and love and do His work until He comes, as a servant would His lord or as a bride would her groom.  We can “hasten” the day by wanting Him to come while living in obedience with faith until then! (Heb 9:28)

Israel, though, does have a set time in her calendar given by YHVH Himself to remember a shout (תרועה) at the beginning of the seventh month and preceding the Day of Atonements.  What shout is Israel to remember?  It is here that I want to suggest that God is waking up Israel with this memorial,

  1. to acknowledge and recognize that YHVH God of Hosts has indeed entered the battle to deliver His saints – Jewish and gentile believers who hold faith in Yeshua without seeing — out of the hands of the enemy and of the great tribulation – at the sounding of the 7th trumpet;
  1. to prepare herself for coming judgment and wrath – and the hope of mercy – through repentance and fear for rejecting the truth of God spoken through Moses and the prophets, and especially by Jesus Himself (Jn 15:22), regarding the Messiah, who is none other than Jesus. (Zech 12:10; Lev 23:29; 26:40-42); and
  1. to call upon the name of YJVH, Yeshua the Messiah the Nazarene, for salvation and deliverance out of Jacob’s Trouble, the great tribulation. (Jer 30:7; Mt 24:21-22; Num 10:9; Mt 23:39)

As in the days of bondage in Egypt, the LORD will hear the heart cry of His people in their affliction, and will send the One greater than Moses – Messiah Yeshua – to save His people from their oppressors (Num 10:9) and from their sin and uncleanness on the Day of YHVH, the Day of Atonements.

As believers, we can continue to pray for God to reveal the truth about Yeshua now to the Jews (and Arabs and other gentiles), so that as many as possible can have their part in the first resurrection.

As believers, we do not wait for holidays to direct our lives but rather by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us each and every day, that we, too, will be ready and not ashamed when the Son of Man comes.