Covenant and Controversy part 2

 

This is the second of a series of three videos. Part one has already been posted. The other part will be posted later.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.

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Recognition of Israel

The fact that scripture forewarns of terrible things ahead for Israel indicates to me that the current political state is only one of a number of steps towards the fulfilment of prophecy and not the actual fulfilment of prophecy regarding the return of the people of Israel to the Promised Land.
It is a mistake to view today’s Israel as if it has already attained its promised return.

The present day nation Israel relies upon its geographical territory, political power and the strength of its armed forces to ensure its ongoing security and the safety of its people. The slogan “Never Again” has been used to declare they won’t allow a repeat of the Holocaust.
However if we are to take scripture seriously – especially the words of Jesus, there will not only be an “Again”, but the horrors of the Holocaust will be surpassed.

I believe one reason for the time of Jacob’s Trouble, what Jesus describes as great tribulation, is to bring Israel to the recognition that their only hope is in Him.
Everything that gives them security will be shown to be worthless and stripped away, leaving them no place to turn.

THEN God will intervene and “the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day forward“.

I want to ask whether evangelical interest and support of post 1948 Israel (as well-intentioned as it may be) in reality takes attention away from something potentially more significant.

If we focus our attention on a place or a political entity rather than a people, might we miss something important?
Maybe we need to consider the question: who or what is Israel in God’s eyes? When we refer to God’s promise to Abraham (“I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you”) who is the “you” referring to?

To what extent has International politics and evangelical eschatology blinkered the definition, making it primarily a reference to a political entity in the Middle East? And as a result, how much has that made evangelicals reluctant to say anything “critical” about the State of Israel and what it does?

Shouldn’t the definition of Israel be much wider – to cover the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wherever they are?

In that case the majority of Israel remains in exile and will do so until after the time of Jacob’s Trouble (Great Tribulation) which will be experienced by Jews outside of the Promised Land (Amos 9) as well as those within its borders (Zech 13). Israel will experience great suffering at the hands of the nations before the Lord intervenes.

Amos describes this period as a sifting, through which “all the sinners of [His] people will die by the sword”
Zechariah describes it in the terms of refining, through which two thirds will be “cut off and die”.

But despite the predicted horrors, there are promises of salvation, there are promises of the complete and permanent return of Israel to the land that God promised them; a fulfilment completing the partial return reflected by today’s imperfect political reality. A return of a complete nation, all of whom recognise and accept their Messiah. (Zech 12:10, Matt 23:39)

Unlike today’s imperfectly governed state that like any other nation is prone to injustice and unrighteousness (the reason they ought not be set on a pedestal and denied scrutiny by those professing Christ), that future return of the people will be to a land ruled by their just and righteous King, their Messiah, Jesus.

And instead of nations gathering to wage war against them, the nations will honour their King and celebrate with them, or face significant consequences. (Zech 14: 16-18)

Covenant and Controversy part 1

Covenant and Controversy Part One: The Great Rage from Covenant & Controversy on Vimeo.

This is the first of a series of three videos. The other two parts will be posted over the next week or two.

The videos can also be accessed and downloaded via the vimeo site by clicking on the “vimeo” logo at the bottom of the video.

I have downloaded the films from that site onto a USB stick, I find that format makes it easier for me to watch half an hour at a time rather than have to find time to watch it all at once.

I think the films are very well written and produced and I highly recommend them.

Israel is more…

Israel is more than…

A place on a map.
A political entity.
A country.

Israel is…

A people chosen by God
Children of Abraham,
Isaac
and Jacob

Many
Live in the Promised Land

Most
Are scattered elsewhere
(exiled).

Israel will…

Experience great tribulation
Be sifted among the nations
Suffer unthinkable loss,
Surpassing even the holocaust.

God will…

Save them
End their captivity
Return them to the land He promised
Plant them securely, in safety

 

_____________

 

I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.

___

Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
“When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God

___

And so all Israel will be saved,
as it is written:

“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

Carte Blanche or Held to Account? (What should a friend think?)

This isn’t an easy post to write. I know some will find it offensive because it will be critical of Israel, and as anyone who has seen the inside of US style Christian evangelicalism will know, Israel is beyond criticism. Anything critical said or written against Israel, or what Israel does, is seen as an attack against the apple of God’s eye.
The unfortunate thing about that view of Israel is its unconditional nature – that Israel must be supported no matter what, as if Israel can do no wrong.

In recent days, Israeli troops have been responsible for the deaths of dozens of barely armed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border.
There was a lot of rock throwing, and while that can sound relatively benign, (what boy hasn’t thrown a few rocks at some time in their lives, particularly in childhood or adolescence) but TV footage clearly shows something a lot more potentially lethal, with the rocks being thrown from slings as per David when he killed Goliath.

I have been to Australia’s War memorial in Canberra many times over the past few years. One of the displays is a series of marble sculptures, carved into the shape of folded flags. Depicting the national emblems presented to the families of soldiers killed in action. There are 41 of them, representing the 41 Australia servicemen who were killed during the war in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014.

Note the number: 41 and the period, around 13 years; and note these were servicemen, who signed up in the armed forces and they were combatants in a war zone.

Compare that number to the at least 58 dead (at time of writing) and thousands wounded (including 116 in serious or critical condition) IN A SINGLE DAY on the Israel Gaza border, where the dead were not trained military personnel and were not armed with sophisticated weaponry. And note that some were killed from a distance by IDF snipers and not in open, close conflict.
https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Unprecedented-violence-in-Gaza-leaves-55-Palestinians-dead-thousands-wounded-556424

I fully recognise that God chose the people of Israel as a special people of His own. I fully recognise that Israel has an ongoing place in God’s purposes, culminating in a permanent return to the land He promised to their ancestor Abraham.

But that does not mean that Israel, as God’s chosen nation has been given carte blanche, free from all consequences of their actions.
Scripture shows that Israel has always paid a price for any transgression of God’s standards. Their relationship to Him comes with conditions, with consequences: blessing or cursing dependant on their keeping of those conditions or not.
There is a standard of behaviour required of them.

Since 1948 when the nation of Israel was restored to the world’s maps, it has been interpreted by evangelicals as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy, the realisation of ancient promises made by God. But one significant part of prophecy about Israel’s return to the Promised Land is missing: the restoration of their relationship to God through recognition of their Messiah Jesus.

So Israel is not yet the nation that God intends them to be.
That doesn’t happen until after events that Jesus described as a time of:

“great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be”.

In other words after the most terrible period of human history that will exceed every other atrocity including the Holocaust.

Jeremiah calls this time “Jacob’s trouble” after which God promises the people of Israel:

I will save you from afar,
And your seed from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet,
And no one shall make him afraid.

Amos describes that time in this way:

For surely I will command,
And will sift the house of Israel among all nations,
As grain is sifted in a sieve;
Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword,

It is worth reading the rest of Amos 9 to see what happens AFTER the sinners of God’s people have been killed.
It is after that deadly sifting that restoration to the land comes, culminating in the promise that:

I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

From this I find it clear that the current political state is not the culmination of God’s plan for His people Israel. While the political establishment of that nation has taken us a step towards that culmination, it is still NOT the Godly, Messiah serving people revealed in various Bible prophecies, so should we consider them and treat them as if they are?

The nation of Israel today is a secular and significantly Godless nation, just like the other nations of the earth; and as such they should not be excused for their unrighteousness any more than any other nation should be excused.

Godlessness is Godlessness whether it’s done in the name of Israel or any other national group. If we are representatives of God’s Kingdom we cannot legitimize injustice even if it’s Israel’s injustice. If anything we should expect of them a higher standard because of their historical (and future) relationship with God.

As a people they know better, and as followers of Jesus Christians should know better than to excuse un-Godly behaviour no matter whose behaviour it may be.
By excusing a person’s or a nation’s sin, we are not being a friend to that person or that nation.