Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Do Jews Bear Responsibility For The Death Of Jesus Christ?

Posted by Job on March 4, 2011

The answer to this question is yes. This is a fact plainly given in the Bible. That the Jews killed Jesus Christ is explicitly described by the unanimous testimony of all four gospels. Moreover, this event was recounted in various New Testament epistles. Also, the death of the Moshiach (or Messiah, or Christ) at the hands of His own people was prophesied in several places in the Old Testament. So, to deny this truth is akin to denying the truth of the Bible itself. Thus, the primary reason and motivation for denying this fact is to deny the truth and authority of the holy scriptures.

Now even though this is a fact plainly recorded and described in the Bible, it is not without a degree of nuance. For instance, there is the fact that Jesus Christ was killed on a Roman cross by Roman soldiers acting under orders by Pontius Pilate. Well, the Bible does not absolve the Roman Empire of guilt either! Quite the contrary, not only does it record the Romans’ mocking, torturing and killing Jesus Christ despite knowing of His innocence and mighty works, but Jesus Christ Himself told Pilate that he only had power over Christ because such power (meaning civil authority) was given to Jesus Christ by God. The fact that human rulers and governments derive their power from God and are used to do God’s bidding (whether they know of it or not) is a consistent theme of the Bible, given from Exodus in the Old Testament to Romans in the New Testament at minimum.

Still, it is impossible to blame entirely or mostly the Romans, because the Bible makes it clear that Jesus Christ was handed over to the Romans to be executed by the Jewish leaders. The gospel record states that the Jewish leaders initially handed Jesus Christ over because of the crime of blasphemy – which the gospels tell us that they actually sincerely thought Christ to be guilty of, though they could not legitimately prove it – and that Pilate and Herod were disinterested in using the Roman justice system to settle an internal Jewish matter. Pilate instructed the Jewish leaders to deal with them according to their own system, and the Jewish leaders refused, cagily claiming that execution was against their law. While that was technically true according to the Jewish statutes of the time (for reasons too complex to be enumerated here), Pilate knew full well that the Jews did execute people by stoning for blasphemy and other crimes, with Stephen in Acts being an example. Instead, the real reason why the Jewish leaders deferred stoning Jesus Christ themselves was the fear of provoking a popular revolt. A massive Jerusalem revolt over the stoning of Jesus Christ would have likely meant the end of the Jewish leaders, either at the hands of the people or at the Roman Empire (who would have held the Jewish leaders responsible for inciting the revolt by killing an innocent man very popular with the people in the first place).

So, then the Jewish leaders used the charge that Jesus Christ was a political subversive among the Jews attempting to challenge, defy and subvert their authority over the Jewish people. While they did not accuse Jesus Christ of being a threat to Rome itself, the Jews did enjoy a status of self-government under the Roman Empire because of their being a distinct people with a unique religion, and Rome had the obligation to protect this autonomy from internal and external threats, in addition to their policy against rebellions and disturbances in general (pax Romana). Violating Jewish blasphemy laws was not a Roman official matter, but attempting to rival or overthrow a local government was. So against this charge, Pilate had little recourse but to take it seriously, especially when Jesus Christ did not deny being King of the Jews (and Pilate knew that Christ had a large band of devoted followers), other than simply release Jesus Christ in complete rejection of the charges, which he was not willing to do. So, Jesus Christ was officially accepted as a prisoner of the Roman Empire. Pilate then made one last attempt to save Jesus Christ by having Him released in accordance with the Passover tradition – even rigging it by making the only choice Jesus Christ and the murderer Barabbas – and then ordered the execution.

So yes, the actual murder of Jesus Christ was committed by Romans. However, consider under our own laws, the person that hires a “hit man” to kill someone. Both the “hit man” who actually performs the deed and the person who hired the “hit man” are equally guilty of murder under our laws. In this case, the Roman Empire was the hired assassin, and the Jewish leaders were the ones that hired the Empire to commit the deed on their behalf. In another example, the Old Testament provides a comparison where the Jewish leaders were to be held responsible: that of David in the case of Uriah the Hittite. Uriah the Hittite was not killed by David’s hand, but rather on the battlefield by enemy soldiers. David instructed his generals to put Uriah “on the front line”, have Uriah’s company engage the enemy in battle, and then withdraw, leaving Uriah isolated, outnumbered and surrounded. So, though Uriah the Hittite was killed by Philistines, the Bible explicitly tells us that God held David personally responsible for the murder. So, in the murder of Jesus Christ, the Jewish leaders acted as King David, and the Roman Empire acted as the Philistines. Thus, giving the Roman Empire all or even most of the responsibility for this deed requires rejecting the truth of the gospels, the epistles that speak of the gospels, and the Old Testament scriptures that predict the gospels. The idea that Jesus Christ was killed by the Romans because He was – or the Romans erroneously thought Him to be – a political subversive cannot be reconciled with what the Bible actually says, and one must deny the Bible’s contents in order to adhere to and advance that position.

This brings us to the most difficult issue of all: the Jewish leaders living in that time versus the Jewish nation at that time and since. How can all the Jewish people be held accountable for the actions of a few Jewish religious leaders? Answering that question adequately requires that one challenge the modern mindset and adopt a way of thinking that was prevailing at the time when the Bible was written. The Bible was not written in modern times by people with contemporary ways of viewing the world. Often, we accidentally interpret the Bible as if it was. Or more dangerously, we consider our times to be better, more moral, more civilized, more intellectual, and more advanced than was the times of the Bible, so we see interpreting the Bible according to modern constructs as an improvement that provides a better, deeper, more spiritual interpretation and application.

So, yes, it is true that according to Enlightenment thinking and Bible interpretations from the worldview of Enlightenment thinking, only the Jewish leaders directly involved in the plot to hand Jesus Christ over to the Roman Empire with a demand to execute Him based on a judgment of theirs that He had committed a capital crime (whether blasphemy or indirectly threatening pax Romana) were guilty. However, the rub is that the Bible’s worldview does not reflect that of the Enlightenment, and in some instances to understand the Bible’s contents, one must reject Enlightenment thought.

The reason is that whether by accident or design, a major product of the Enlightenment is the enhanced – almost singular – focus on the individual. Above all else, the Enlightenment exalts an individual’s having the ability to possess and exercise his intellectual and moral free agency. As a matter of fact, according to the Enlightenment, the very purpose of civilization – community, culture, government etc. – is to empower this individual free agency to the maximum extent possible. Anything that puts unnecessary limitations on the individual is repressive and oppressive tyranny, and every institution should be designed to promote the most individual power and influence. Democracy, for example, is the ideal because it provides the maximum amount of individual influence over government, which we are told is illegitimate unless it derives from the consent of the governed.

Needless to say, this is incompatible with a book which starts with “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth” and therefore establishes from the very beginning that not only the individual but all creation is unconditionally owned and governed by an absolute Sovereign. An example: the people who founded this country by organizing a seditious sinful rebellion against this nation’s rightful ruler (yes, that is true whether it is in your history book or not) justified it based in part on the idea that the fact that the ruler was taxing them autocratically with no say in how high the tax rates were, how the tax money would be spent, and without asking their opinion or consent on the passage of laws governing the property and behavior of those being taxed. While that idea seems to be “gospel truth” in the minds of many western – and especially American – Christians NOW, in the worldview of the Bible, where the absolute rule of monarchs was not only unquestioned but was considered a virtue, it was madness. In the Bible, kings did not ask for permission, nor did they govern according to conditions imposed on them by their subjects. Instead, they governed by conquering – or the threat thereof – and their charges either accepted their edicts or perished. The purpose of governance in the Bible’s time was not to empower the individual to seek his own destiny to the greatest extent possible, but rather to maximize the ability of the monarch to govern. The monarch in turn was to use his power to provide as much order, peace, stability, protection and prosperity as possible. Naturally, a bunch of individuals living according to their own whims, fancies and self-centered passions – whatever the consequences to their families, tribes, communities and kingdom – acted against the ability of a monarch to protect and provide for his people and keep the peace.

Of course, with individualism comes the concept of individual responsibility. Now of course, modern thinking rejects true individual responsibility, which holds that each person must bear the responsibility for his actions, whether positive or negative. Instead, current modern thinking holds that each person must receive the maximum amount of benefit for positive actions, should receive as little ill effects for negative actions as is possible (that “society” should step in and bear as much cost as possible) and that above all receiving negative consequences that are not the result of something that individual did consciously and directly is perhaps the greatest of evils (on a par with depriving a person of the liberty to exercise his free agency). Now though a great many conservatives (theological and otherwise) propose that true individual responsibility is Biblical, the truth is that with respect to things that truly matter – the big picture where the Bible is concerned – the Bible does not deal with individual personal responsibility at all. Instead, the Bible deals with groups of people that have an individual – or a smaller body comprised of members of the group – acting in representative fashion. According to the Bible, no one stands alone. Everyone is part of the group, represents the group, and is represented by the group. Where the modern mindset is individualistic, the Bible’s mindset is tribalistic and nationalistic. The modern mindset, therefore, exalts itself against the Biblical mindset, and to understand the Bible, the modern mindset must be rejected.

Consider two core doctrines: original sin and Jesus Christ’s atonement. A Bible-based Christian with a modern mindset will know why he is a sinner because of what Adam did, but will not be able to truly understand why this is so. As a result, this fact is a truth in his mind only because the Bible says so, and to him it is a mystery that he accepts by faith without asking very many probing questions. Or, such a person may see it in the context of something that is still relevant to the modern world … something received by inheritance (i.e. a child inheriting a parent’s assets upon that parent’s death) or perhaps genetics. In a similar fashion, a person might simplify the atonement with a “Jesus Christ took my individual sins and died in my individual place and that one act did it for every other individual sinner on an individual basis” mindset. That is because the modern mind has real issues with such concepts as “federal headship”, “covenant representative”, “corporate solidarity.” Because the Bible has no concept of respect for the individual as we would recognize it today, it is taken for granted that we are all sinners because God appointed Adam as the representative of the human race, and as a result we are automatically, legally declared sinners because our representative sinned. It is in the same manner how in Bible times a king would literally commit genocide against and totally wipe out another kingdom because an offense made against him by that country’s monarch. In the time that the Bible was written, it was absolutely proper to hold all the people in the kingdom responsible for the deeds and misdeeds of their representative the king.

And that brings us to the Jewish leaders in the time of Jesus Christ. Make no mistake: they were the legitimate representatives of the Jewish people in both a religious and civil capacity. So, just as Adam’s eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil plunged all mankind into sin, the high priest Caiaphas and his collaborators’ sending of Jesus Christ to His execution was an action borne by all the Jewish people with consequences for all Jewish people. Again, let us use King David as an example. One might protest that the nation of Israel was not punished for David’s murder of Bathsheba. That is true, but David’s murder of Uriah was David’s acting in a private capacity in a private matter. By contrast, the rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah and King was done by the Jewish religious leaders as a public matter – both civil and religious – on behalf of the whole nation. So instead, this can be considered akin to David’s sinning in his public capacity of ruler and commander of the military by ordering a census. The result of this act was the death of 70,000 people. These people did not sin and had no role in that act whatsoever, but rather died because of the actions of their representative David. For another example, many Egyptians, including the firstborn in every house, died because of the official actions of the representative of that nation, the pharoah. While the death that came upon Egypt was at least in partial response to the murder of the Hebrew male babies, virtually none of the Egyptians who died were directly connected to or personally responsible for that official decree of an Egyptian ruler some 80 years prior, or its execution thereof.

We should also remember that Jesus Christ spoke of the collective guilt of the Jewish people and nation when He pronounced woe upon Jerusalem and predicted the destruction of the temple and the end of the Jewish age in 70 A.D. We should also remember that the apostle Peter explicitly assigned responsibility to the Jews – and not merely the Jewish leaders, but Jews who may not have even been in Jerusalem at all when Jesus Christ was crucified nearly two months earlier – in his sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:14-36. Those Jews – again those who may not have even been present and possibly may have had no knowledge of the act – did not deny their responsibility for killing Jesus Christ, but instead fell under conviction and instead asked how they could repent in Acts 2:37. So, Jews at the time of Pentecost were fully aware of their shared responsibility due to the actions of their leaders. Such a thing was not questioned, because it was a truth, a mindset that was a core part of Jewish culture and belief of the day. The Jews at the time of Pentecost were not influenced by Enlightenment thinking! And neither should we be.

Now there is the perfectly legitimate question as to whether this guilt for the death of Christ shared by the Jews ended at some point, such as when Jesus Christ prayed for their forgiveness when He said “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do”, or in 70 A.D. when “this generation” ended, and then there is also the issue that according to certain Old Testament texts, sins only extended to the third, fourth or tenth generation (unless specifically stated otherwise). In that light, it is a legitimate question whether Jews living today are responsible through their national representatives at the time of Jesus Christ. The best answer that I can propose would be in the affirmative, for the passages that appear to time-limit to “third and fourth generation” only refer to punishment for the guilt, and not the legal status or judgment of guilt itself. This legal status or judgment of removal of guilt for the Jewish people for the murder of Jesus Christ appears nowhere in the Bible. As a result, only Jews who have all of their sins forgiven by having Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior can be considered innocent at this present time.

So then, what does this mean? In many practical respects, absolutely nothing. For instance, the guilt of the Jewish people over the death of Jesus Christ is no more or no different from the guilt of all men over the sin of Adam. So, reviling, slurring or persecuting Jews as “Christ-killers” as if Jews are unique among mankind bearing imputed sin is absurdly anti-Jewish (or anti-Semitic as it is called in modern times) because sin imputed to mankind is universal. And the folly is even greater when one considers that it was Adam’s sin that necessitated Jesus Christ’s death in the first place. So what is the theological justification for singling out Jews for Christ’s death when you yourself bear equal responsibility for the very event that required Jesus Christ to be rejected and killed by His people?

Further still, Christian persecutors of Jews throughout the centuries have done so in spite of the commandments in the New Testament text itself. First of all, the New Testament does not command or in any way endorse the resentment or mistreatment, whether on a systematic or an individual basis, any Jew because of the Jewish guilt over the murder of Jesus Christ (or for any other reason for that matter). So, because the New Testament does not tell Christians to mistreat Jews, then the moral and ethical instructions and restriction of the New Testament on Christian behavior applies to our behavior with and among Jews. So, with Jews just as everyone else, we are to commit no obvious sins or crimes against them (i.e. murder, theft, slander), we are to love our neighbors, love our enemies, turn the other cheek, do unto others as we would have them to do unto us, refrain from spreading malicious gossip and rumors (blood libels, conspiracies about Jews controlling the government/media/banks and similar) and also obey the civil laws designed to protect all. Obviously, Christian mistreatment of Jews over the centuries required the sinful reinterpretation or nullification of these texts to justify it. The Bible makes it clear that those who do not keep the commandments of Jesus Christ whether with respect to Jews or in general are not Christians at all; they are not sheep but goats.

More specific theological reasons are spelled out in the outstanding and pivotal work of the Jew Sha’ul, the Book of Romans, the same Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin that is called Paul. Ironically, Paul is considered by those who despise scripture as the greatest of anti-Semites and the originator of the replacement theology that was allegedly used to justify persecuting Jews. Of course, such statements are lies against Paul, against the Bible, and against the Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible. The truth is that Paul dedicates a large portion of the book of Romans not to denounce Jews as Christ-killers and demand that they receive ill thoughts and treatment as a result, but instead demanding that Gentile Christians accept and respect the Jewish Christians’ lineage and their adherence to their religious, cultural and national traditions, including circumcision and observing the Jewish feasts and the Jewish sabbaths. Unfortunately, the Gentile Christians quickly cast aside Romans and began to drive Jewish Christians out of churches over their refusal to abandon their heritage for Hellenism as early as the 2nd century, less than 100 years after Romans was penned.

In the course of defending Jewish Christians, Paul made the shocking statement that both exists in tension with legitimate replacement theology (though not paradoxical or in contradiction with or nullification of it!): that Jews are still God’s people, and moreover the original God’s people. Believing Gentile Christians are “grafted in” to the original branch of Jews who believe in their Moshiach. (It is very difficult not to come to the conclusion that believing Jews are therefore “first among equals” based on Please recall that the Bible is not an Enlightenment document, and therefore lacks our notions of total egalitarianism.) Now, it is tempting to state that Romans 11 only applies to believing Jews’ still retaining something of their chosen or special status. Romans 11:28-29 specifically rejects this by saying “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes, but as touching the election, they are beloved for the Father’s sakes for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” That verse explicitly means that the original status of Israel set forth when they were first called out of Egypt and made into God’s unique people is unchanged, either by their breaking of the Sinai covenant (that is now of none effect, the ark which signifies that covenant was lost in 586 B.C.) or by their rejection of their Moshiach, an event that was necessary for the new covenant.

Further, Romans 11:28-29 precedes this amazing thought: “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” So, if the Jews are still God’s chosen people according to God’s election, and if all Israel shall be saved, what kind of a madman who professes to believe and love the Bible and take it seriously would persecute or hate any Jew? It makes no sense. It is the sort of sin that makes no sense, is utterly counterproductive, entirely without rational basis, and can only be described as being the work of demons. And it goes without saying that the people claiming to be Christians who persecuted and murdered Jews totally ignore Romans 11, and in the course of doing so did nothing but bring God’s curse upon themselves. It is particularly amazing that no small amount of Christians that adhere to covenant theology completely suppressed the truth of God within themselves with regards to Romans 11:28-29’s clear statement regarding God’s not repenting Himself of electing Israel, including those who do not believe.

Another vital theological reason: Christians are not God. A core fact of the New Testament is that the Old Testament Israel system of priests, sacrifices and civil judgments for religious laws is gone forever. Now under that old system, it was necessary and proper to give various punishments, including death, for sins. But now, Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and as we are in Jesus Christ, we are a priesthood of believers. And further, despite what was taught and practiced for centuries, the New Testament does not command, provide for or desire the establishment of Christian civil governments – as those contradict Christian doctrine inherently – but rather only governs churches and the lives of individual Christians. So, the only punishment for sins in the church age is church discipline of believers. As unbelieving Jews are not in Christian churches, they are not subject to any Christian punishment or sanction of any kind for any sin against Jesus Christ or anybody else. So, in the absence of a human official priesthood or theocratic state (which again, the New Testament forbids in both cases), Christians have no authority to judge or make any punishment for any sin apart from discipline in an ecclesiastic context (i.e. excommunication), and even those are sins that a believer individually personally committed (churches cannot punish anyone for being “in Adam”). So, any Jewish guilt related to the death of Jesus Christ is for God to judge and God to punish. Any man who takes this duty upon himself is presumptuously and sinfully laying claim to Divine duties and privileges, and is therefore bringing God’s wrath upon himself. Also, as stated earlier, one cannot punish a Jew for the actions of Caiaphas without also punishing a Gentile for the actions of Adam.

In summary, the Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ is attested in the Bible. However, the same Bible makes it clear that this guilt on the part of the Jews is God’s business alone. God alone judges sin, and God alone punishes sin. So, the person that attempts to act in God’s place does nothing but sin himself. Therefore, beyond mere bearing witness to the truth of the Bible, the issue of Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ is not an issue, and further dwelling on or making too much of the issue only serves as a temptation to invite the influence of what apparently are extremely powerful evil spirits that provoke thoughts and actions related to anti-Judaism (commonly referred to in these times as anti-Semitism).

This means that the real issue is not whether Jews living today bear responsibility for the actions of Caiaphas and other Jewish leaders in death of Jesus Christ. Instead, it is the sin guilt that all bear, Jew and Gentile, for the actions of Adam. Be not deceived … whether Jew or Gentile, if you are not reconciled with God through His Unique Son Jesus Christ, because chiefly of the actions of Adam, and also because of your own sin – for all do sin – you are considered to be a sinner by God. The Bible says that the soul that sins will surely die, and the Bible declares this death to be eternity in a lake of fire. The good news – the gospel – is that because of the actions of Jesus Christ, you can be declared free of all sin, whether your own individual actions, the actions of Caiaphas if you are a Jew, and the actions of Adam for all. So whether Jew or Gentile, please urgently:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan

Posted in anti - Semitism, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

2 Chronicles 7:14 And Revelation 3:20 – How Heal Their Land Still Applies Today

Posted by Job on March 3, 2011

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Thus says 2 Chronicles 7:14. I know that a lot of Christians in America are distressed about a lot of the recent political and legal changes. Further, there is the belief that these changes are merely the result of cultural, social and religious trends that have been in the works for decades, if not longer. Christians see a longstanding effort by forces in government, education, media, activism, culture etc. working to infiltrate, subvert, undermine and destroy many of our longstanding values and institutions, with the result being a nation that has much more confusion and disorder, and is more hostile to those possessing a Christian worldview. The worst part for many is that decades of various organized countermeasures on the part of many Christians, including but not limited to the religious right, have failed, and this despite much effort being invested and many questionable moves – including alliances with nonbelievers and theological compromises – being made. Further, it appears as if the cultural and moral decay affecting the larger society is being reflected within many institutional church bodies themselves.

In light of these facts, one seeking for a solution may come to the conclusion that the answer is not for the church to turn outward to try to directly or overtly influence the larger community. Instead, relying on 2 Chronicles 7:14 and similar, perhaps instead the answer is to turn inward! Increase our prayer, fasting, church attendance, worship, evangelism, Bible reading and other forms of private and public piety. Reduce our sinful thoughts and actions. Purge questionable doctrines and practices from our midst, and separate from those who practice them. The belief is, then, that if we do this, then God will honor the promise given in 2 Chronicles 7:14 through a revival caused by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the result would be an improved spiritual, moral, religious, cultural, social, political etc. climate for the nation. Not a few Christians of great esteem assert that such precisely happened as a result of the “great awakening” revivals in this country, and yearn for a similar outpouring to come save us now.

Now I do not wish to debate the actual effectiveness on the larger society of the awakenings and similar revivals in other countries, other than to point out that there is some evidence that they definitely included some mixtures of bad with the good. Instead, the issue is that there is no scriptural basis for the idea that Christians can improve the larger society with increased fervor and fidelity to the faith. Not only should such a thing not be a goal in the first place – for the sole aim of Christianity is to worship, honor and serve Jesus Christ – but there is not even Biblical evidence to suggest that it has been promised to the church as a happy byproduct. Quite the contrary, various New Testament texts seem to indicate that increased sincerity, devotion and faithfulness to the church causes more rejection and persecution from the world, while compromise, carnality and worldliness causes less.

Realize the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14 (and similar that can be found in such places as Deuteronomy) was given only to Old Testament Israel. This promise was only valid in the context that God made with Israel at Sinai. Israel was the only nation to be miraculously created by God Himself, and it was the only political entity that was meant to be governed by God’s special revelation. God Himself set up Israel’s government, religion, economy and a great deal of its culture. God also instituted a system where Israel’s people were accountable to their leaders, and Israel’s leaders (i.e. kings, judges, prophets, priests) were accountable to Him. As a result of this arrangement, blessings came to Israel when they generally (sort of) kept the covenant, and curses came to them when they did not. So, the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 was that if Israel ever experienced curses due to their lack of faithfulness to the covenant – and these curses negatively effected the culture, economy, morals and security of Israel – that if they returned to the covenant, God would take the curses away, and such things as economic decline, moral decay, diseases, losing wars to enemies etc. would cease. In other words, the land would be healed from the covenant curses and their effects. And as we can see in the Old Testament record, Israel had a cycle of being at peace and prosperity when the people were led by righteous rulers who caused them to have some level of faithfulness to the covenant, and wars/famines/ruin when led by rulers who caused them to break the covenant with idolatry and other sinful practices.

But what was the case for Old Testament Israel does not apply to any nation ever since. Despite notions of “American exceptionalism” or “dominion theology” or other false doctrines, God never created another nation, and He never made another covenant of blessings and curses with another nation. Those who claimed such things were speaking their own words from their own authority, and not the words of God from the Holy Spirit, including the Bible that the Holy Spirit has inspired and preserved. Indeed, false ideas concerning God making new covenant nations with new covenant peoples are responsible for the worst crimes against humanity – and also against God – by Christians in history, including the tendency to see the nation as “the new Israel”, its inhabitants as “the new Jews”, and the native populations as “the new Hittites/Amorites/Ammonites/Edomites” etc. that were to be brutally subjugated and/or ethnically cleansed.

So, as tempting as it may be, the promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not applicable to the church, which is not old covenant Israel and is not governed by the terms, either the blessings or the curses, of that covenant. For that matter, neither is Israel, with their Sinai covenant long abrogated, with the ark that signified the covenant lost to history at the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 586 AD. Instead, the church is governed by the new covenant with better promises, the same covenant whose coming was prophesied by Jeremiah, who also declared the ending of the old conditional covenant due to Israel’s persistent failure to live up to its conditions.

So, one might ask, why is it in the Bible? How does it relate to us, other for historical purposes? What makes it useful to us today as Christians? An answer to this question can be found in Revelation 3:14-21, which deals with the church at Laodicea. And the context is mighty similar.  2 Chronicles 7:14 dealt with a situation where Israel had become unfaithful to God through broad abject failure to attain even a semblance of attempting to keep the Sinai covenant and therefore is in need of repentance and returning to faithfulness. Similarly, the Laodicean church is one that was veering into apostasy. Jesus Christ described their spiritual state as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” and is threatening to “spue thee out of my mouth.”

So, what to do about this situation, when a Christian individual or a Christian assembly – be it a household or a church – reaches this desperate state of affairs with such dire consequences? That is when 2 Chronicles 7:14 is applicable! That is when the Christian assembly, the people called by the Name of Jesus Christ, should humble themselves, and pray, and seek the face of Jesus Christ, and turn from their wicked ways. When that happens, then will Jesus Christ hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. What is this land in question, if it is not a political entity like Israel? Well, in this covenant, God dwells in the hearts of His church. The bodies of Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells the Christian. Jesus Christ indwells the Holy Spirit. And God the Father indwells Jesus Christ. God in us, and God with us! So, the land, then, is US.

If a Christian backslides, or merely falls into spiritual coldness, or lapses into sin, if such a Christian returns to Jesus Christ in true repentance, Jesus Christ will heal that Christian’s heart. We know this not only from the promise given to the Laodicean church, but also from 1 John 1:9, which tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Further, we know from 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” and 1 John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” that all of us become Laodiceans at some point.

One can also apply the doctrine of corporate solidarity, which essentially is that Christians are not lone wolves or islands but instead part of one universal body joined together into one unit, one bride, by the Holy Spirit, to extend this promise beyond merely individual Christians. Instead, an entire family or household, an entire church, or a large group of Christians drawing from and encompassing any number of churches can apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 and return to the Lord in repentance, with the result being God’s healing and new covenant blessings being poured out upon all who come together in the Name of Jesus Christ on one accord and humbly ask for restoration and healing by God’s mercy and grace.</span

We know this because it was what Jesus Christ told the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:18-19. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Just as stated in 2 Chronicles 7:14, Jesus Christ urges and instructs His wayward covenant people to repent and be restored, and in this letter Jesus Christ is not speaking to an individual Christian, but through John to a corporate assembly, an entire church. The entire church is on the verge of apostasy, and Jesus Christ is letting them know that they can come back and be restored as a church, perhaps through a combination of individual prayer with intercession on the part of others who may be haughty or blinded. This allows the same “national” application of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to be applied in a broader or corporate sense to the church.

Consider Revelation 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Now this is often erroneously applied to evangelism, of Jesus Christ making the offer of salvation to sinners and awaiting their response. However, this is not consistent with what Jesus Christ says about evangelism and conversion in every other place, which is His elect hearing the call of His voice and coming to HIM. Saving grace is irresistible, so a mere man does not have the option of leaving the sovereign God, his Creator and the sustainer of his very existence, outside knocking at the door as if Jesus Christ is some jilted lover (or door to door salesman)!

Instead, that passage refers to a Christian’s making his calling and election sure by responding to the command of Jesus Christ to repent and return from his wicked ways. When the penitent backslider does so, then Jesus Christ returns and re-establishes the former state of communion with the former backslider and Himself, and the restoration process is consummated. A the mark of a legitimate Christian, one who is legitimately Christ’s sheep according to the decree of God the Father by the workings of God the Spirit, is that He will heed the command of Jesus Christ in Revelation 3:18-19, which results in the fulfillment of the prophecy and promise of Revelation 3:20. The result is Revelation 3:21, which is “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” This means that the Christians who heed this command to confess and repent of their sins – which is necessarily all actual Christians – will inherit eternal life. Such Christians will be changed, receive new incorruptible bodies, and will be glorified, conformed into the image of Jesus Christ, with no more flaws, death, illness, sickness, grief, trials, trouble, temptations or sin. When this happens, 2 Chronicles 7:14 will have reached its final fruition, and the land – the true Christendom, which is the elect in whom the Holy Spirit dwells – will be finally and eternally healed … New Jerusalem.

Stunningly, the greatest comforting promise was given to the church in Revelation 2-3 in the worst condition and received the sternest rebuke. Great is our God, and great is His grace, forgiveness, love and mercy from everlasting to everlasting! Please, partake of this promise today. Repent of your sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan

Posted in Bible, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Solomon, Egypt, Democracy, Folly And Liberation Theology

Posted by Job on February 25, 2011

At the time of this writing, for the past several weeks have seen “democracy protests” in the Middle East and in Arab and Muslim nations. They apparently began in Tunisia, have resulted in the demise of at least two governments (Tunisia and Egypt), seem to have Libya at the point of crisis, and show signs of spreading to other nations like Iran, Iraq and Jordan, and have seemed to inspire political demonstrations and rallies in many various places of the world. I haven’t had the spare time required to follow these events with any intensity and detail – whether over the Internet or on TV – as I most certainly would have in years past. Also, I haven’t attempted any detailed speculation to these events “from a Biblical perspective”, especially as it relates to prophecy and eschatology (such as the endtimes, Israel and the coming one world government and religion). So, other than a  personal suspicion totally lacking in factual basis than the American intelligence community (CIA et. al.) has had a hand in coordinating and driving this, with regards to specifics I don’t have much to say.

However, in terms of the general issues that these protests raise, I can and will contribute a little bit, primarily about how so many people, including not a few Christians, are absolutely, totally convinced that these protests are a good idea, that the general wishes of the protesters should be respected, and that it has the potential to lead to good, positive changes in the Middle East. This honestly does seem to be the consensus opinion. Further, the primary basis for dissent from the main opinion – that these protests are good and positive – is that these developments are negative only because it may lead to violent anti-western groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian government to step into the leadership vacuum and assert themselves. Based on this, we can presume that even the dissenters would be supportive of this massive movement to overthrow civil governments if the new governments that resulted were more to their personal liking.

So, most people believe that these protests are a positive development, and most of the rest would also if they could be assured a “pro-western” ultimate outcome. And to me, that is absolutely incredible, and not in a good way. It is appalling, shocking, disturbing, frightening, and any number of “bad ings”. That most people apparently do not share this view – or if they share it, they do so for reasons of self interest – shows just how deep the 1960s protest ideology has embedded itself in our modern culture, so deep that it is no longer oft directly challenged even by Christians. And that is evidence of how our modern culture has so thoroughly embraced a humanistic mindset marked by a complete and total rejection of God and a Biblical worldview.

Let it be known that the Bible does not not endorse rebellion or anarchy. Quite the contrary, the Bible refers to those as evil and sinful, and judges the men and ideologies who promote them the same. And if rebellion, anarchy, lawlessness and violence isn’t what happened on the streets of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and what have you, what is? Also, we are told what a “great thing” it is that this protest movement is being led by young people in their 20s and 30s, just as was our own 1960s counterculture. Are we not aware that the Bible says that the young should be instructed, trained and led by elders who are prudent and wise, and that societies where the prideful, vain and presumptuous youths cast off and usurp the place of the older, more tested leaders are those that are going to soon collapse? Didn’t we learn ANYTHING from the turmoil in the Old Testament, such as in the time of the Judges, or in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) when they rebelled against the Davidic monarchy in Judah?

And no, the fact that these people are rebelling against authoritarian regimes in favor of democracy does not make things any better. It must be clearly stated: the Bible at no point advocates democracy. Quite the contrary, when the Bible appears to deal with the general concept, it lends a negative judgment to it, as if it is the product of proud people who reject God’s governance in favor of self-rule. I am reading through the late Merrill Tenney’s “Interpreting Revelation” right now, and the author did note the tendency to desire to rule oneself apart from God’s guidance or law was evident in both Cain’s building a city and in the building of Babylon and the Tower of Babel.

Make no mistake: when the Bible calls civil government “the servant of God” in Romans 13 and instructs us to be render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to be subject to and pray for our leaders elsewhere in the New Testament, there was no “so long as the governments in question are democracies” caveat. Quite the contrary, the governments in view – and the only governments that the ancient world that produced the Bible were aware of – were regimes that by our modern western standards would be considered brutal, authoritarian, repressive etc. and begging to be overthrown and replaced with a modern, progressive one with a representative parliament, a constitution guaranteeing individual rights and separation of powers, and of course consenting to the ultimate overlordship of the United Nations.

And consider another angle: the Bible clearly speaks of and declares the absolute monarchy of Jesus Christ over the church (and ultimately creation) with pastors as His representatives and the Bible as His ruling document. What better method of subverting this model than promoting a mindset where individual human free will agency is the highest, most cherished prize, and that anything that would tend to limit this – such as a monarchy – is evil and oppressive? Far better to cast off ideas of “organized religion” in favor of self-styled “spirituality” where each person is his own ultimate authority (imagine no pastors, and no authoritative canon of scripture or interpretation thereof!). Or alternatively, ecclesiastical bodies with elected representatives can sit as judges. Women pastors? Won by majority vote! Homosexual church officers! The majority carries the day! Many paths to heaven? The majority sided with the newer, more inclusive hermeneutics. The inerrancy and authority of scripture? Sorry, that idea didn’t get to 50% among the delegates to the convention!

But let us go back to Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and these other places where these brave young democrats are willing to die – and kill – for these new societies, where Twitter and Facebook are apparently changing the world (with the help of . First off, apply this to our own countries in the west … America, France, Canada, Germany, Great Britain etc. Imagine if all of a sudden our own young people took to the streets for a week, a month, a year, or five years and demanded that OUR governments be replaced. Imagine if it were our own high school and college students (helped by the government of Iran or Russia) creating some Facebook page about how we need to get rid of our oppressive, restrictive uncool governments in favor of something proposed by George Clooney and Lady Gaga. And imagine if the other governments of the world – and the United Nations – sided with these kids and told us that we should hand over our own perfectly legitimate and functional governments … or else. Sound like a good idea to you? Of course not. So what on earth makes it a good idea for Egypt or anyplace else? Either the people who are backing this actually WANT the mass confusion (which just may be the case) or we in these last days actually have gotten this far removed from concepts of right and wrong, order and disorder, propriety and impropriety, decency and vulgarity that we now believe that pressuring sovereign nations to hand over control of their governments to a bunch of violent seditious kids somehow represents progress.

And it wouldn’t shock me the least if there wasn’t at least one preacher or pastor out there who would call it just that. And I am not just talking about the liberation theology pastors who believe that overthrowing authoritarian regimes and powerful corporations in order to provide economic, political and social benefits to oppressed populations is the aim of the Bible. Instead, not a few conservative evangelical or fundamentalist Christian pastors would fully support what is happening in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Iran, Iraq etc. so long as the result is a pro-western democracy rather than a sharia law state that sponsors terrorism. That is because so many western Christians have wedded and melded representative democracy, capitalism, individual human rights, and other western ideas into their view of the Bible. Romans 13 and similar? Situational. Open to interpretation. Not the highest or final authority in every society in all times!

In order to try, challenge and prove this “democracy revolution”, we need to go to the streets – or the Twitter pages – and ask these bold revolutionaries what they want. Many will say “We want freedom.” I say “fine, but what is freedom? How will you exercise this freedom? What is it that you want the freedom to do? And the things that you have not been free to do before today, what effect does their absence really have on your life?” How many of these 28 year old men and women that have been willing to face down folks toting guns (or should I say, the legitimate representatives of their legitimate governments!) would be willing to give a satisfactory answer to these questions? I will tell you the answer to: none of them. Why? Because none exists. The reason is that outside of Jesus Christ, no freedom exists. Instead, all there exists is a soul’s bondage to sin, and the soul that sinneth shall die.

OK, so forget about freedom. What else do these MTV generation revolutionaries (assuming that anyone even watches MTV anymore, so I guess I should say “YouTube generation”, and that’s assuming that’s still popular either) care about? They’ll tell you that they want money. Class mobility. The ability to earn money, to earn even more money, to keep and invest it. OK, fine. How much money do you need? $1,000? If I give you $1,000, will you get out of the streets and stop doing your part to allow the United Nations to take over your country? Oh, you want more than that. You want $5,000 and a car. Or maybe $15,000 and a house. Maybe you want $50,000 and a college education. Or $1 million, a yacht, a summer home in Dubai, and VIP status in Las Vegas. Will that make you happy? Truthfully, of course not. Money doesn’t make people happy. You can find more miserable people in an expensive American gated community with million dollar homes than you can in some third world village where everyone is living in tiny mud huts. The reason is that true riches, true wealth, is only through identification with Jesus Christ. Everything else is something that rust can corrupt and thieves can steal. Or something that won’t make a bit of difference to you if you are lying on your deathbed with a few hours to live. I guess in such an instance, a few dollars for drugs to ease the pain in your last moments on earth would have some merit, but we all know that the folks on the streets working to overthrow their governments don’t have that on their minds. Instead, they are convinced that they are going to live forever – or at least a very long time – and want more money to do it with, thinking that it will make them happier with their lot if they do. The prosperity doctrine according to Middle Eastern street revolutionaries. Well, the true gospel of Jesus Christ says that godliness and contentment are great gain.

Or what about the principle of the matter? What about simply wanting a better, more honest, more open system of government? What about justice, fairness and truth? To the revolutionary allow me to ask you the same question that Pilate asked Jesus Christ: “What is truth?” What piece of knowledge or system of knowledge is there that will satisfy you? Will make you truly happy? Will answer all your questions? Will meet all your needs? The answer is simple: outside of Jesus Christ, there is none. All else is an inadequate partial truth at best, or a delusion and a lie.

It is inescapable, then, that this battle for democracy in the Middle East is the same as is all worldly battles: vanity. We know this from Solomon. Freedom? Solomon had it, for he was king. Truth? Solomon had it, for he was the wisest man that ever lived. Wealth? Solomon had it, for he was the richest man in the world. All of those things and more Solomon had, and they didn’t make him happy. Instead, Solomon found them to be vanity. Why? Because God’s Holy Spirit had departed from him because of his idolatry and apostasy. Despite having everything in his hands what these people in the Middle East are killing and dying for and more, Solomon was unhappy. As a result, everything that he had and possessed, everything that he even wanted and aspired to, was worthless. They were worthless precisely because of their very temporal and therefore attainable (at least for some) nature. By contrast, the things of Jesus Christ are the things that truly matter, and they last forever.

So, liberation theology and other religious movements that are primarily concerned with ideas and other things of this world, are vanity. The same can be said with any number of economic, social and political movements: vain, light limited and flawed things that will not last the test of time. Or, as it were, things that will no longer be when time is no more. And that is why despite living in an evil, authoritarian repressive pagan Roman Empire that was wicked to the core, Jesus Christ, Paul and Peter were still able to tell us to be subject to our government and leaders, and even to pray for them. The reason is that these governments only have rule over us for a time. We should be able to endure their inefficiencies, their imperfections, and even their outright wickedness because these things are only for a time. When that time – our time on earth – is at its end, they have no more rule or power over us. Instead, that is when we pass from the temporary, limited flawed rule of man to the permanent, unlimited and perfect rule of Jesus Christ. How is it that we can be counted worthy to enjoy the benefits of the latter if we so reject and despise the cost of the former, even if that cost is persecution unto death?

And this is not merely New Testament doctrine. Remember David as he was being persecuted by the wicked government of his day as embodied by King Saul and his soldiers as they hunted and sought to kill him, and later by Absalom and those loyal to him when they rebelled against David and tried to do the same. It was in the power of David to personally overthrow the wicked human government of Saul and institute a new government to his own liking by killing Saul and becoming king instead. But David refused to do such a thing, because David knew that by doing so, he was not actually rebelling against a wicked government, but against God. David knew that his own miserable circumstances did not justify taking matters into his own hands to correct them.

Instead, David was willing to let God deal with the problem in God’s time and in God’s manner. As David was a man after God’s own heart, should we not do the same in response to our own turmoils and crises? That is not a popular idea in an American society that glorifies our own Revolutionary War with its tea party and “no taxation without representation” and Declaration of Independence and George Washington, but that is just more evidence that human ideas, Cain and Babylon inventions, are always going to be more popular than what the Bible says. That is why our duty as Christians isn’t to do what is popular with the people as King Saul wanted to do, but instead to do what God commands us as King David did! We are to do what God commands as opposed to what feels good and seems right in our own eyes! What a radical concept!

And allow me to point out with regards to democracy, that Absalom nearly succeeded in deposing and murdering King David because he gained popularity with the people. And that Jeroboam was able to keep the Northern Kingdom of Israel from rejoining the house of David in Judah by appealing to the people. And that during the time of Israel’s apostasy there were a multitude of false prophets who were very popular with the people. And the children of Israel in the desert provoked God to wrath by receiving the wicked report of the ten spies that was popular with the people.

So after all, what is democracy but power to the people who want to seek their own way instead of God’s? Just as it was in the days of the Old Testament, it is so in the Middle East, that very same region of the world today. And just as King Rehoboam rejected the wise counsel of the elders in favor of the foolish counsel of the young when confronted with the first crisis in his kingdom, and had ten of the twelve tribes rebel against him as a result, the rulers of the world are siding with the foolish young leaders in the Middle East today. And how many Christian churches today are following the young because they are desperate to be hip and relevant? As it was then, it is today, and as they are, far too many of us are because we are worldly and carnal.

I cannot speak to the long term results of this Middle East turmoil. Its direct implications on issues like the church, Israel, the world governments and economy I do not know, and those are things that God knows and controls. For now, it is enough to say that the very fact that these demonstrations are being embraced, supported and promoted by so many people all over the world is a very troubling thing. It is evidence of how many rulers, leaders and people of this current world order have completely given themselves over to a strange, evil and wicked mindset that rejects order, decency and propriety in favor of presumptuous decadent confusion. I do not know what age or time this Middle East crisis is leading us into, but it is sufficient to say that the reaction to and support of the rebellious demonstrators in the streets over and against the legitimate rulers and governments of these nations is a judgment of the wickedness, depravity, hypocrisy and moral vacancy of our own times. And all such evil and wickedness is not just against man but also against God, and this is the same God that one day will judge all wickedness.

All one needs to do is read Revelation and realize that this judgment and punishment is a serious matter indeed. What a person must do is come out of this wickedness so that they will not be part of this judgment. When that time of judgment comes, do not be counted among the riotous, the seditious, the rebellious, and of the people who have vicarious pleasure in those who do such things. Instead, be counted among those who love the order and peace, which are those who love and trust Jesus Christ, who when He comes into His kingdom will not suffer any such rebellions but instead will rule the nations with the rod of iron. When Jesus Christ returns for His friends, even the last enemy of God’s system of order and stability, death, will be defeated and cast into the lake of fire. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

Posted in Bible, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

George Kazoura: The Angry Oppressed Palestinian Arab Who Was Found By Jesus Christ

Posted by Job on February 10, 2011

The power of forgiveness By ESTERA WIEJA

After losing his childhood home in Haifa to a Jewish family, George Kazoura turns to the bible and prayer to help him forgive.

George Kazoura has as much reason as any Arab to hate Israelis. After all, he lost his childhood home in Haifa to a Jewish family. Yet he assures with no hesitation that the land he lives in belongs to and should always belong to Israel.

“You cannot deny the truth of the Bible,” says Kazouza. “You cannot argue with God.”

“You cannot deny the truth of the Bible,” says Kazouza. “You cannot argue with God.”

George Kazoura was born in Haifa during the British Mandate times to Catholic Arab parents. As a young boy, he witnessed thousands of Jewish immigrants arriving from Europe at the port of Haifa. But nothing prepared him for the turmoil which developed between the two peoples, which erupted into full-scale war in 1948. He and his family escaped the fighting and stayed with relatives in Nazareth.

A month later, when it seemed safe, they returned to Haifa, only to find a Jewish family squatting in their home.

Since all their personal and household belongings had been previously burned, they had no way to prove this used to be their family residence. Homeless and bitter, Kazoura wanted the destruction of the Jewish people. Back in Nazareth, the whole family of eight had to squeeze into a single room their relatives had built for them. Those 25 square meters served as their living room, bedroom, dining room and bathroom all in one.

This left such a tragic impact in his life, Kazoura grew up rebellious and headstrong and even rejected the faith of his parents.

“I wanted nothing to do with neither Jews nor Christians,” he recently recalled for The Christian Edition, though with a sense of regret.

Along with several peers, he joined a communist youth group in Nazareth.

The gang enjoyed causing trouble throughout the city. Meanwhile, his parents kept him in prayer. They had become genuine, God-fearing Christians and never gave up on their son. They tried relentlessly to bring him to church, not getting discouraged by his aggressive and violent behavior.

Finally in 1961, Kazoura gave in and decided to come to a Christian revival meeting in Nazareth. Little did his parents know that he agreed to attend because he planned to disrupt the service. Yet instead, he found it deeply moving and was greatly affected by what he had heard and seen.

That night, Kazoura gave his life to Jesus, and started praying and reading the Bible. Yet after having read the entire Bible in 10 months, he found himself frustrated that he, in fact, did not understand most of it. For years he had fed his mind with the tenets of atheism and communism, and it was hard for him to see the Bible as more than just an antiquated historical book.

Yet one evening, a light shone through in a most unusual way.

Kazoura then heard a voice inside telling him: “I forgave you all your sins and I don’t remember them. Now you have to forgive your Jewish brothers as I forgave you.”

This was not something Kazoura would have ever expected. His heart was still hard from all the pain he and his family had suffered at the hands of the Jews. He tried to ignore this voice in his heart and move on, but his life soon became empty. Kazoura knew he could not go any further if he did not do something about what was revealed to him.

What happened next turned this young Arab man’s life around completely. Kazoura returned to his old family house in Haifa, stood along the street outside and prayed a blessing for the Jewish people who had lived there since he had been made homeless. He made a decision to forgive them and to bless them from that day on. He gave up all the bitterness and hatred, and – amazingly – his anger was turned into compassion.

As a result of this sudden transformation, Kazoura was able to start a whole new life. From that moment on, the Jews were no longer his enemies but a beloved people. To forgive and to forget was the hardest yet most rewarding thing he had ever done.

“Ever since that year, in 1961, I have not experienced any hardships from the Jews… I have not experienced anything bad,” Kazoura now insists with a smile.

Still, there are new hardships he has to endure as a result. Sadly, they now come from fellow Arabs, and not only the Muslims. Today, Kazoura is an Evangelical pastor, and the fact that he blesses Israel is not well received among some Christians in the Galilee. It is treason, his detractors say, expecting him to be a true Arab by standing up against Israel.

For almost 20 years, Kazoura has run an orphanage called the House of Love and Peace in the village of Rama, in northern Galilee. Muslim children who had previously been taught to hate and kill infidels have been taught to love their Jewish neighbors and have received a better chance to succeed in life. Yet today the home has fallen into disuse as many in the Arab community have shunned the Arab Christian family which dares to be different.

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Why Christians Must Pray For The Salvation Of The Jews

Posted by Job on December 26, 2010

Upon leaving the dispensationalism that I was reared in, the question of precisely what position that I as a Christian should take towards the Jewish people and the Jewish state vexed me. Should I take the hostile position towards both that has been exhibited by many Christians throughout history, a position that cannot be reconciled with either the New Testament text or the wise words of Augustine? Should I continue the dispensational practice of preferring Judaism and Israel over other false religions and nation-states established around them? (What, for instance, justifies the Christian’s being any more supportive of Jews and Israel than of Muslims and Saudi Arabia or Hindus and India?) I resolved this theological, intellectual and emotional internal conflict by choosing the path of Sweden, which is neutrality. I attempted to wash my hands of all things concerning Israel and Jewry and began to try to concern myself only with Christians as part of an attempt to remain more faithful to the Bible.

That is, until, I recently encountered a snippet of knowledge, the source of which I have since forgotten. It appears that in some setting at some time, some Christian was challenged to justify his faith in God by providing evidence or proof. This fellow responded to the effect that the best physical, tangible evidence of the existence of God and the truth of the Bible was the continued existence of the Jewish people. And it should be mentioned that the person who provided this bit of wisdom was no premillennial dispensationalist.

And the wisdom of this cannot be denied. Of all the people groups that have existed and passed into history, of all the languages, cultures, religions and traditions, what accounts for the dogged perseverance of the Jews? And has there been a more uniquely persecuted, hated, marginalized, discriminated against, and despised group of people throughout recorded history than the Jews? The attempts by the ungodly to destroy the Jews date back to the stated desire of Esau to murder Jacob and climaxed with Hitler’s final solution, which nearly succeeded because no one, no nation stood up in their defense. And yet the Jews still exist while people groups have perished. Indeed, they have existed despite not controlling a sovereign homeland since 586 B.C. Why? It is not because of their strength, nor because it is of their great numbers. The only logical, rational, reasonable answer to the conundrum that is the continued existence of the Jewish people is that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still lives, and is still protecting them.

But why is this? The mission of Israel has been completed. Though national Israel failed to accomplish the task, the Son of Israel, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, did so, and the result of Jesus Christ’s fulfilling the law of Moses and dying on the cross for our sins is the church, composed of both Jew and Gentile. The law was a schoolmaster to point us to Jesus Christ, who has come from the Father, walked this earth in perfect obedience to the Father, returned to the Father, and now is in His high priestly role as intercessor between God and man, awaiting His second coming. So then, why is the continued existence of the Jewish people necessary?

The answer is found in Romans 11:25-27, which reads “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this [is] my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”

We cannot be naive as touching this prophecy. Satan and the other enemies of God know this prophecy. They do not want this prophecy to be fulfilled. So, the enemies of God have been hard at work trying to prevent it from being fulfilled by attempting to destroy the ones who will be heirs to this prophesy and its promise from the face of the earth. Their attempts can be described by Psalm 2:1-3 “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [saying], Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

And who can deny that these attempts are ongoing? The attacks against Israel and the Jews are increasing in their vehemence and frequency. And what is being done about it? Nothing. Now, I have toned down my “new world order” talk in recent months, but who can deny that this “new world order” of secularists, socialists, nationalists, Muslims and Catholics is very bad for both Jews and Bible-believing Christians? Look at what is going on in the world … Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, the European Union, and even a coalition of Latin American countries led by Venezuela constantly saber-rattles against Israel. Most other nations, including the United States, China and Russia, are openly collaborating with Iran and Israel’s other enemies. The same is true of the United Nations and the other leading NGOs.  Now I do not subscribe to “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thinking, but simply looking at the geopolitical currents is enough to challenge the “neutral towards Israel and the Jews” thinking. We cannot deny that these evil people and groups are bent on destroying Jews from the face of the earth as an act of defiance and rebellion against God and His Word.

So what, then, are Christians to do? There are a lot of things that are currently being done, and many of them I used to support. However, beware: so many of them rely on human methods – the arm of the flesh – in support of a religion and a nation state that honestly does explicitly reject Jesus Christ. We cannot and should not use those methods. Similarly, we are also not to succumb to the temptation of becoming anti-Israel or anti-Jew, nor can we fall into the trap of apathy, or as I called it for myself , “neutrality”, as the Bible commands us to study the scriptures and discern the times.

What is the answer, the solution, then? Prayer. We must pray that the prophesy of Romans 11:25-27 come to pass, that all Israel be saved! After the manner of the prayer that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gave to us, we must pray that this thing be done on earth just as it is God’s Will in heaven. This is something that all Bible-believing Christians regardless of background, political beliefs or theological/eschatological system must do: pray for the salvation of the Jews. That is the answer – the only answer – that resolves all the issues involved.

Yes, we are to bring the gospel to all nations as commanded to the Great Commission, and yes, God has no respect of persons. Yes, Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11 are still true … in Christ there is neither Jew or Gentile, male or female, free or slave, rich or poor etc. However, we cannot be ignorant of the fact that Romans 11:25-27 (and the entire context of Romans 11 for that matter, which begins with “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid.”) is not universal in scope but instead applies only to Jews. So, it is for the salvation of the Jewish people that we must pray. And yes, this does mean we must pray that the Jewish people continue to exist and have God’s protection during the times of the Gentiles, so that at the consummation of the times of the Gentiles, this prophecy will be completed. This thing is God’s will, as Bible-believing obedient and submissive Christians it should be our wills as well, and God’s will shall be done to the glory of God alone. So, then, in this fact, let all of God’s people, Jew and Gentile alike, rejoice!

And whether you are Jew or Gentile, if you are not one of God’s people, I urge that you become one today. Turn away from your sins, flee the judgment of death and destruction that God will inflict on His enemies, and

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Absolute Sovereignty Of God In Salvation By Richard Warmack

Posted by Job on December 22, 2010

This sermon is VERY HARD to take!

Posted in Bible, Christianity, evangelism, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Important Distinction Between Israel And The Church

Posted by Job on July 18, 2010

God created Israel separate from the nations with the duty to be a light to the other nations. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit led Israel and were present with Israel, but did not indwell national Israel. Thus, Israel failed. Not only did they not become a light to the other nations, but fell into an apostate state whose abominations and wickedness actually EXCEEDED the evils of the other nations. Thus, only a righteous remnant preserved by God remained.

By contrast, when God created the church, it was not as a set apart nation to be a light to the other nations. Instead, God created the church as a people called out from ALL nations, Israel included, to be a light to the world. Where Israel was God’s national project with global implications, the church is God’s global project with eternal ramifications. And unlike national Israel, the church did not and will not fail. Unlike national Israel, the church was bought and created with God’s own divine Blood, that being sinless Jesus Christ shed on the cross. And unlike national Israel, the church is Jesus Christ’s Body with Jesus Christ Himself as the Head, and the Holy Spirit is not only present with the church, but indwells the church.

So where the failure of Israel was a failure of man – the human leaders and followers of national Israel – the church cannot and will not fail because God Himself indwells it. The old covenant was temporal, conditional and limited to one people (Israel) in one time (prior to that of Jesus Christ) and one place (the land of Canaan). The new covenant is unconditional (cannot be broken), eternal (will last forever) and universal (given to those coming from all nations, tribes and tongues).

Thus, contra covenant theology, Israel was not the church of the Old Testament. Instead, national Israel was a type, seed or foreshadowing of what was to be fulfilled by the church, New Testament spiritual Israel that both includes those natural descendants of Israel who are elect and thus believe, but it also transcends them. Calling Israel the church of the Old Testament distorts the purpose and method of its creation, and it also rejects the fact that the presence of God (the Holy Spirit) was in the tabernacle/temple behind the veil and not indwelling Israel in a corporate sense as it does the church in a corporate sense. At best, the Holy Spirit may have indwelled individual Old Testament saints such as the prophets and King David, and even in that sense the Old Testament saints were not limited to national Israel (consider Jethro/Reuel, Melchizedek, Seth, Abel, Noah, Job, the Queen of Sheba, Nebuchadnezzar etc.)

And also against dispensationalism, the church age is not a parenthetical period between two Israel ages (the Old Testament and the Jewish millennium), with memorial animal sacrifices in a third temple to Jesus Christ to occur in the second Jewish age, and Israel again taking her place as a light to the nations during the millennium. Instead, the purpose of Israel’s lesser light (and in creation, the lesser light rules THE NIGHT, which according to the parables of Jesus Christ is the time of sorrow because the bridegroom is not present) was to point to Jesus Christ, who is the true light to the nations, including Israel, and is the greater light which rules THE DAY. So, what of the Old Testament prophecies of the nations’ bringing gifts to Zion and serving Zion that were to be fulfilled in the millennium, the alleged “unfulfilled promises to Israel that have to be fulfilled in the millennium”? Read “servant songs” of Isaiah. Jesus Christ is the Son of Israel, who took upon Himself the role that Israel rejected, succeeded where Israel failed, obeyed and fulfilled the law of Moses that Israel broke (and dispensationalists claim that Israel should have never accepted to begin with when the truth is that Israel had no free will in the matter to accept or reject; they had no choice for they were chosen unconditionally by God and could not resist or reject His will) and thereby became Israel or Zion within Himself.

Jesus Christ is able to fulfill the prophecies given to both national Israel because He IS both national and spiritual Israel. Jesus Christ is national Israel because He was born a Jew to Mary and Joseph as a natural son of David of the tribe of Judah, and spiritual Israel because one is part of spiritual Israel only through faith in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is the object, author and finisher of that same faith. So, the “Zion songs” that speak of a restored Israel receiving the worship and gifts of the nations and ruling the nations are actually fulfilled in Jesus Christ who – as Israel’s personification, representative and fulfillment – rules the nations with a rod of iron and receives the worship and praise of all who have faith in, abide in and obediently serve Him in heaven and on earth while ruling the nations with a rod of iron.

Suggesting that national Israel will rule and receive gifts in the place of the only One who is worthy of such rule and praise is to take the position that Jesus Christ was never incarnated, crucified and resurrected. Incidentally, the amillennial beliefs held by many covenant theologians and is being adopted by dominionists, which holds that the church is to subdue and rule the earth just as Israel was to do with Canaan (and in the case of the dominionists, as Adam was subdue and rule the earth), possesses a similar error, giving to man and his institutions the rule – and praise – that belongs only to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will not rule the earth through the church, but instead will rule the earth including the church. And there will be no memorial sacrifices to Jesus Christ, for why do things in memory (as is done to those who are dead and sleep) to that who is alive and present forevermore? Instead of memorial animal sacrifices in a temple, Jesus Christ will receive active worship and praise in spirit and in truth from the hearts of those who believe, those whom the Holy Spirit indwells!

Therefore, knowing the difference between the church and Israel is vital to understanding the past, future and the present for the Christian. By contrast, failing to know these differences leaves one vulnerable to error and deception. So, do not be destroyed for the lack of knowledge! Instead, study to show yourselves approved!

Posted in Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Revelation 12 In Brief: My Proposed Interpretation And Commentary

Posted by Job on July 4, 2010

Upon reading chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, I encountered John 12:31, which reads “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” As “the prince of this world” is a reference to Satan, immediately, I had the notion to cross reference that text in Revelation because it sounded familiar. Thinking that I may have found scriptural support for amillennialism in the words of Jesus Christ, I checked Revelation 20:1-3, which speaks of Satan being bound for 1000 years. However, the two passages did not appear to have anything to do with each other. Then I recalled that the reference to Satan being thrust from heaven was in the “there was a war in heaven” passage, which is contained within Revelation 12.

1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried , travailing in birth , and pained to be delivered.

The identity of this woman has been a subject of some debate. Roman Catholics assert that this is “Mary, queen of heaven.” Some assert that the woman is the church. However, this woman obviously represents national or Old Testament Israel. The 12 stars are the twelve tribes of Israel. Please recall that in Joseph’s dream of Genesis 37:9, his brothers were represented by stars. And the child that Israel was carrying was Jesus Christ. God’s purpose was to create Israel as an elect people, give Israel the law, and have Jesus Christ born to Israel as a human and member of their nation and people under the law so that Jesus Christ would fulfill the law perfectly and then surrender His life as payment for the sins of others. And Israel suffered many things (i.e. bondage in Egypt, destruction and captivity by Babylon, brutal subjugation by the Greeks) before Jesus Christ was born to the Jew Miriam (Mary).

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

The dragon is Satan. The significance of the 7 heads, 7 crowns and 10 horns I do not know at this time. It is interesting that Revelation 13:1, which some manuscripts assert as being the final verse of Revelation 12, describes the beast as having 7 heads, 7 crowns and 10 horns. However, Revelation 13 identifies the beast (popularly referred to as the anti-Christ) and the dragon (Satan) separately. The reference to the 1/3 of the stars of heaven that were thrown to the earth is that to the angels who were not elect (see 1 Timothy 5:21) and therefore joined Satan in His rebellion against God, becoming demons or evil spirits.

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

This man child is obviously Jesus Christ. The references to Satan’s attempting to devour the man child can refer to the various attempts of Satan to tempt, kill or otherwise thwart Jesus Christ, with an example being Herod’s genocide after the visit from the wise men. It can also refer to Satan’s many attempts to destroy national Israel – either by killing them or seducing them into idolatry – prior to Jesus Christ’s advent. The child’s being caught up to God’s throne refers to Jesus Christ’s ascension to heaven after His passion and resurrection.

6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

This is a reference to the dispersion of national Israel and the end of the Jewish age after the destruction of the temple and nation by the Roman Empire in 70 AD. The times of the Gentiles, or the last days, began. The phrase “where she hath a place prepared of God” seems to refer to national Israel still being under God’s protection though the eyes of the Jews are blinded during the church age. This confirms Romans 11. As far as the time period of 3.5 years, to me that remains a mystery.

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out , that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down , which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

This would be the portion that correlates with John 12:31. “That old serpent” is better rendered “that serpent of old”, which identifies the Satan that deceived the whole world as being the same that deceived Eve and successfully caused the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden. Not only was the entire world deceived and sent into a fallen state of original sin as a result of Satan’s dealings with Adam, but Satan has been deceiving the world – those not reconciled to God – ever since. Also, we know from the book of Job that Satan had access to heaven and accused the righteous of sin before God. After Jesus Christ atoned for sin with His death and obtained justification for believers at His resurrection, Satan’s access to heaven and his accusations against believers could no longer continue. Because of the work and victory of Jesus Christ through His death on the cross and His being resurrected from the dead, Satan was defeated. Glory be to Jesus Christ, who reigns and is blessed forever!

12 Therefore rejoice , ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time , and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

After being cast from heaven, this Satan who in his madness thought that he could somehow exalt himself over the One who created him and sustains his existence was forced to give up any delusions that he might have harbored concerning his battle with God. Knowing his fate – and that time is rapidly ticking towards it – Satan turns his full malicious destructive intentions to humans living on the earth, and especially national (or ethnic) Israel, who despite her current apostasy is still God’s chosen and beloved, and was used by God in the incarnation of the Jesus Christ who defeated Satan through His death and resurrection. From this, one may conjecture that the many calamities that have befallen Israel since her dispersion (including but not limited to the Holocaust) is not – or is not solely – due to her rejection of Jesus Christ; that it is the result of some national sin or curse that Israel bears. Indeed, Jesus Christ prayed and interceded for the forgiveness of Israel as He died on the cross (Luke 23:34). Instead, Israel’s misfortunes are the result of Satan’s concentrated and determined efforts against her. (Please note that while Satan has taken special efforts of cruel malice against Israel, he has not neglected his steal, kill and destroy mission against everyone else either.) Yet despite Satan’s best efforts, Israel endures as a people because of God’s protection. This protection – as well as the 3.5 year time period – is a repeat of what was given in verse 6. God is a faithful God. Though national Israel suffers many things, God has not cast her aside, and one day Israel will be saved.

15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. 16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

This could be a reference to the nations and peoples of the earth whom God has raised up and used to protect and defend ethnic Israel. From the nations that accepted Jews when they were expelled from Spain to the people who shielded Jews from Hitler’s holocaust, God has used various people and nations to preserve a remnant of the natural descendants of Abraham.

17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Now the woman is national Israel. (By this I mean ethnic Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, not the current nation of Israel, or necessarily the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.) Descendants of Abraham who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ excepted, national Israel does not keep the commandments of God or have the testimony of Jesus Christ. So, the “remnants of Israel’s seed” referred to in verse 17 is the church, spiritual Israel, the true descendants of Abraham because of the faith of Abraham. Abraham had faith in the revelation of Jesus Christ just as does the church. It is the church that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is carrying out the mission of God. And just as Satan is at war with national/ethnic Israel, he is at war with spiritual Israel, the church. Note that this passage does not refer to the church having the protection of God during this time, only the woman (Israel). In this, we are reminded that the servant is not greater than his Master, therefore the church must suffer many things just as Jesus Christ did.

This interpretation would appear to be at odds with some points of both dispensationalism and covenant theology. Regarding covenant theology, a clear distinction between Israel and the church is made and maintained, and Israel is still under God’s protection, in blindness until the day that it joins the church (though the church was grafted in) in salvation through Jesus Christ. So, the attempts by John Calvin and others to assert that “all Israel will be saved” and other points in Romans 11 actually refers to the church cannot be supported in Revelation 12. As far as dispensationalism goes in general and the rapture doctrine specifically, you have often heard the allegation that no reference to the church appears in Revelation after chapter 3. Not only does Revelation 7:9-17 refer to martyred Christians “who have come out of great tribulation” (and hence the 144,000 also refers to the church), but Revelation 12:17 can only refer to the church, and Satan’s wrath against it.

And as noted earlier, the reference to Satan’s wrath against the church in Revelation 12:17 leads directly to the passages concerning the beast, popularly referred to as the anti-Christ, in Revelation 13. The agent of Satan’s wrath against the church mentioned in Revelation 12:17 will be this beast, and it will be given to this beast to make war against the saints and overcome them (Revelation 13:7). And recall what was stated earlier: Revelation 12 does not mention the church as having the same protection as does national Israel. So, do not be deceived into thinking that these saints will be Jews, or people somehow converted during the great tribulation. (How can these conversions be possible if – according to dispensational doctrines – the indwelling Holy Spirit is gone?)

So during the end of the last days, the great tribulation, both Israel and the church will be present and figure prominently in it. The church during this time will glorify God through its suffering after the manner of Jesus Christ. Israel will glorify God through her continuing to exist despite all efforts to destroy her and the ultimate joining of national Israel with spiritual Israel in salvation through Jesus Christ.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, endtimes, eschatology, great tribulation, harpagesometha, prophecy, rapio, rapture, replacement theology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

A Question For Premillennial Dispensational Rapture Believers Focused On Israel: How Long Is A Generation?

Posted by Job on September 25, 2009

For those who believe in the rapture and also believe that the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy and a sign that the end of the church age is at hand and the great tribulation draws nigh, I must ask you: how long is a generation? This is relevant because premillennial dispensationalists have seized upon the “this generation shall not pass until all these things are fulfilled” statements of the Olivet discourse endtimes prophecy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32) to assert that the the great tribulation will start within a generation of 1948 when Israel became a nation again.

Now first, this poses a problem. Finding a Bible prophecy that would support the idea that Israel would re-established as a nation in the year 1948 is difficult to support. I will say categorically that no such prophecy exists in the New Testament, and it takes very creative interpretations to support the existence of such prophecies in the Old Testament. Further, the fact of Israel’s being established as a nation in 1948 is not something that was declared or revealed by God through a Christian prophet or by an angel delivering a message to a Christian. So, the basis of Israel’s existence as a nation does not come from any divine authority, not the Bible or any prophetic utterance!

Now this has nothing to do with the debate on whether Israel has the right to exist. Instead, it has everything to do with the beginning of the prophetic calendar with respect to this nation. If the great tribulation must happen within a generation of Israel’s being established as a nation, on whose authority did this event happen in 1948? Why, not God’s authority, BUT BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE UNITED NATIONS! Indeed, by man’s authority. Where it was AN ACT OF GOD that declared Israel’s status as a nation at the time of the Exodus, it was AN ACT OF MAN THAT AS FAR AS WE KNOW HAS NEVER BEEN CONFIRMED BY GOD TO THE CHURCH that declared Israel to be a nation in 1948. And it is the height of irony that many of the very same people who consider the United Nations to be a tool of the coming anti-Christ (but not America, even though America is a charter member, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and the U.N. headquarters is in America, and America is the #1 source of funds for this body, no America is “a Christian nation” with Christian – actually most freemason, deist, unitarian, and enlightenment rationalist – founding fathers!) accept the UN’s testimony that Israel is again a nation rather than God’s, and start their prophetic clock based on Israel’s the date of recognition by the same anti-Christ UN!

But alas, that is another issue altogether. But let us take for granted that the U.N. was acting on God’s behalf and doing God’s will, and that their recognition of Israel in 1948 happened according to God’s providence. (I readily admit that there is much precedent for such a thing happening all over the Bible. The key difference: those things were declared as such by prophets and were able to be verified as fulfilled prophecies. For instance, the prophets gave the exact time that the Jews would remain in Babylon AND the name of the king who would free them. It is because of the precise and literal nature of these fulfillments that God-hating atheists claim that said prophecies were written after the fact.) If that is so, when does the generation time clock expire? How long is a generation?

Now this issue has gotten some premillennial dispenationals into trouble. First premillennial dispensationals went by the modern western idea of a generation – 20 years – and stated that the great tribulation would begin by 1968. After it did not, it was revised to the older and better – but still worldly and western – idea of a generation, which was 40 years. So, it was stated that the great tribulation would start in 1988.  An example of this trouble:

“Only if the Bible is in error am I wrong, and I say that unequivocally.  There is no way Biblically that I can be wrong; and I say that to every preacher in town. ( Edgar Whisenant, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988).”

But even calling a generation 40 years is wrong, because it is not the Biblical definition. So the question must be asked: what is the Biblical definition of a generation? The answer: there isn’t one. At least, not one that can be described in a hard fast set number of years. Example: consider the time that Israel spent in Egypt, a period of about 400-440 years. According to Genesis 15:15-17, that was four generations! Genesis 15:16 in particular: “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” So in this instance, a generation would have had to have been at least 100 years, possibly longer.

So does that settle it? Well, no. The Bible also speaks of the time spent by Israel wandering in the desert as a generation See Numbers 32:13 and more specifically see Psalm 95:8-11 “Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

So obviously a Biblical generation does not refer to any fixed period of time. Some Bible scholars have tried to resolve this by claiming that a generation refers to everyone living during a period of time. When the last person who was alive during that period dies, then the generation ends! Well, Bible examples make that problematic. For one, when the Israeli exodus generation passed, Joshua and Caleb were still alive. Further, to use the preterist/amillennialist view, there were most certainly still Christians alive after the generation or age of which Jesus Christ was addressing in the Olivet Discourse ended in 70 A.D., as they included none other than the apostle John! In addition to John, it is well known that the many Jewish Christians did not die during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, but remembered the warnings of Matthew 24-25 and similar, obeyed Jesus Christ and fled, many of them taking the gospel with them. We know this because the refusal of Jewish Christians to die defending Jerusalem (and yes, the fact that the Jewish Christians were told to leave Jerusalem and obeyed doing so should give modern dispensationals who put so much modern emphasis on that city some pause!) was one of the primary reasons why Jewish Christians were made the scapegoat for the destruction of the nation, expelled from the synagogues, and ostracized by the Jewish people a few decades later.

Now there are some who refer to a generation as an age, specifically an age in salvation-redemptive history. That is consistent with the idea that the sojourn in the desert constituted a spiritual age, as did the end of the Jewish age with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D. Regarding the latter, the church age had not yet started when Jesus Christ spoke for He had not yet gone to the cross, resurrected, ascended, and sent the Holy Spirit. However, that still leaves the problem of the four generations in Egypt! Had it been referred to by scripture as a single generation, it would have been easy to harmonize that reference with the generation in the desert and the generation of the time of Jesus Christ’s first advent as major periods in salvation history. However, it does not, so we cannot.

Thus, the conclusion must be reached is that there is no way to know how long a true generation is, that is one that fits Biblical and prophetic purposes. For that reason, we should respect Matthew 24:36, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:32, and perhaps best Acts 1:7, which reads “And he [Jesus Christ] said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” Thus, even if the creation of Israel in 1948 was the beginning of the generation that will include the great tribulation, none of us has any idea how long that generation shall be. Instead, only the Ancient of Days, God the Father Himself, knows! So, it is best for Christians to be content with the duty of comfort ourselves with and sharing with others the gospel of Jesus Christ! Repent sinners for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!

The Three Step Salvation Plan

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

How Does Premillennial Dispensationalism And Covenant Theology Interpret The Parable of the Tenants In The Vineyard Matthew 21:33-44?

Posted by Job on August 26, 2009

The parable of the tenants of the vineyard of Jesus Christ is as follows.

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

The Word of God for the people of God, praise be to God.

Now, this is a parable that should cause trouble to both covenant theology and premillennial dispensationalism. First, regarding covenant theology “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” has to point to a clear distinction, a clear demarcation between Israel and the church. Further, the fact that there were 12 apostles does so as well. The 12 apostles clearly supplant the original 12 tribes of Israel. It is the apostles and prophets that are called the foundation of the church, not the patriarchs of the 12 tribes, and even Moses is only included in the church’s foundation inasmuch as he is a prophet. Further, when Jesus Christ stated that he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist, whom Jesus Christ called the greatest of prophets (meaning greater than Moses) then the church age prophets would have been greater than the Old Testament prophets. Now, it is true that there is one people of God; one elect people, and further that everyone in this elect group was justified by the work of Jesus Christ. However, this group does not only include Israel and the church. It also includes Seth, Enoch, Noah, Job, Melchizedek, Jethro/Reuel, the Queen of Sheba, and many others that cannot be called “Israel” in any sense. Just as Job and the Queen of Sheba were most certainly not Israelites, having no part in the Sinai covenant or Abraham’s lineage, the Israelites are certainly not part of the church. Also: the Bible makes it clear that everyone who is in the universal, invisible church, the actual body of Christ, is born again and thus heaven bound. It is self-evident from scripture that every Israelite was not and is not heaven bound. Yet, covenant theology maintains that “Israel was the church of the Old Testament” because covenant theology was created to support the concept of the state-church where everyone in a given jurisdiction was initiated into by paedobaptism (infant baptism) as opposed to a confession of faith and subsequent believer’s baptism (which is the method that the Bible actually commands and gives examples of whereas there is not a single instance of paedobaptism recorded or commanded in scripture despite the best attempts of paedobaptists to claim that the command “believe and be baptized and you will be saved, you and your house” to the Philippian jailer justifies this doctrine, ignoring the critical “believe” portion of the formula which precludes sprinkling babies) and state church advocates openly acknowledged that not everyone in these churches was born again, that only the ecclesiola within the ecclesia (the hidden invisible smaller subset within the larger church) was going to heaven. Keep in mind: there was never any denial that the state church was one where people were joined to by compulsion (with death or banishment to those who refused) and was maintained not for political purposes but because of the belief that a single religion was necessary for political and cultural unity and stability, not for religious reasons. So, with the need to maintain such political-religious institutions, the notion that baptizing unregenerate and non-elect infants into the church was the same as circumcising non-elect Jews under the old covenant was a natural progression. However, once one actually obeys James 4, Romans 12:1-2, John 14-17 and learns from the typology of the sacrificial system (where it wasn’t even lawful to use tools to cut the stones for the altar or else the altar would be rendered ritually impure by the tools and the hands that used them … the seed of the “by the gracious work of God and not the works of men” doctrine) and removes the holy sanctified church from the unholy and defiled state and larger society, the whole “Israel is the church of the Old Testament” idea falls apart, and the concept of the theocracized government and culture with it.

Now for premillennial dispensationalism. The first servant rejected by the tenants was Moses, which happened when Israel refused to enter Canaan, choosing to believe the evil report over the good report of Joshua and Caleb. The second servant rejected by the tenants was Samuel when Israel asked for a king. Then Israel – or at least the northern kingdom – rejected the line of David. The subsequent servants rejected were the prophets who warned Israel of their apostasy and called them to repent, but ultimately were not heeded. And finally, Israel rejected the Son Jesus Christ. Now a key here is this portion: “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” Please note that while Jesus Christ did not emphasize their interpretation, He did not deny it either. Rather, He assented to it, and moved on to the main point that He was trying to make. Yet the Holy Spirit inspired Matthew to recall and include this answer – which was in no way wrong – for a reason. The destruction of the wicked men who rejected the Son of God was a reference to the destruction of the Jewish temple and the nation in 70 A.D., a topic that Jesus Christ gave more detailed attention to in the Olivet discourse. (While I am not a preterist – whether partial or full – this is the portion of “this generation” of Matthew 24:34 and similar that was fulfilled in 70 A.D. Of the range of meanings of “genea”, it cannot mean “nation or race” for the Jewish nation will never be destroyed, and whether it means “age” or “generation” is of no consequence, as the Jewish age did come to an end at 70 A.D., and it happened within that generation, the people living in that time.)

And this brings us back to “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” What of the premillennial dispensationalists calling “replacement theology” an evil, anti-Semitic heresy? Who was the kingdom of God taken from but the Jews? Who was it given to but the church? In particular, this is a problem for the premillennial dispensational “Jewish millennium” doctrines, which states that after the church age ends, a newer, better Jewish age will begin with Jesus Christ ruling from the Jewish temple, the sacrificial system and priesthood reinstituted (which completely rejects or ignores virtually everything in the book of Hebrews), and all nations and people serving Israel. If the kingdom of God was taken from Israel, then the millennium will not be Jewish but Christian, and Jews will participate only inasmuch as they become Christians and join the church.

Premillennial dispensationalism, however, rejects this and states that the millennium will be one of Messianic Judaism (or what Messianic Judaism is fast becoming, see exhibit 1 and exhibit A, exhibit B and exhibit C and exhibit D and many more!) and not Christianity hence the true Messianic age. In that case, what does that make the church age? A type or foreshadowing of the Messianic dispensation? If that is true, what does that make Old Testament Israel? Premillennial dispensationalism makes Israel the center of God’s salvation-historic plan, and the church goes from the mystery planned but kept secret from the foundation of the world that the prophets spoke of whose true nature will not be revealed until the seventh trump sounds in Revelation to being a “make-work keep busy project” between the two Israel ages, and Christianity becomes an inferior and temporary – though suitable for Gentile purposes – form of the true eternal revelation and religion, which is Judaism. This rejects even the Suffering Servant songs of Isaiah, which states that rather than Israel being the center of God’s salvation-historic plan, the purpose and role of Israel in redemption was transferred to the Son of Israel Jesus Christ, which in these days is accomplished by the Body of Jesus Christ, which is the church.

Now of course, Paul the Benjamite did say that God has not cast aside His people and that all Israel will be saved after the times of the Gentiles are done. However, a contextual reading of Romans (and everything else that Paul wrote, not to mention everything else that Peter, James, John, Luke, Jude, the writer of Hebrews etc. wrote) makes it clear that all Israel will be saved by virtue of hearing the gospel, which means that all Israel joins the Gentiles in the church to form one new man. Premillennial dispensationalism does give a plausible explanation for why the millennium will be a Jewish one: the church will have been raptured. This allows premillennial dispensationalism to interpret the Kingdom of Heaven parables to refer to the Jewish nation during the millennium as opposed to the church age. (Seriously, that is what this system teaches. So, “the pearl of great price” under this system does not refer to either a man giving up everything – his old nature – to become saved or Jesus Christ’s lowering Himself and going to the cross to redeem the church, but rather the Jewish remnant during the great tribulation.) So, while it is possible that Paul’s prophecy “all Israel will be saved” will occur during the millennium, the idea that it will happen with the restoration of the Jewish kingdom directly conflicts with Jesus Christ’s statement that the kingdom was taken from the Jews and given to another nation (the church) and its fruits. Indeed, “all Israel shall be saved” will be counted as the fruits of the church.

The bottom line: Jesus Christ specifically stated that the kingdom was transferred from the Jews to the church, and this message was modeled by His choosing 12 apostles to replace the original 12 patriarchs of Israel, and it was repeated by the writers of the New Testament. Though the Bible does say “all Israel will be saved”, at no point does it say that the kingdom (meaning the focus of God’s economy, the people of God, the people that give God prayer, worship and praise that He accepts, and the people that God works through to carry out His purposes) would be transferred back to Israel. No scripture text that can be interpreted as claiming that the kingdom would revert from the church back to Israel can be found in either the Old or the New Testament, and no doctrine based on scripture can be formed to even explain why this will have to take place. Now the kingdom was taken from Israel first for their breaking the Sinai covenant terms in Deuteronomy (read first where Deuteronomy predicts that this will happen, and second where Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and other prophets state that the old covenant was broken and will be replaced) and second for their rejecting Jesus Christ. The new covenant will not be broken and the church will not and cannot reject Jesus Christ because of A) the promises of the new covenant and B) the church is Jesus Christ’s own Body and as such is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and God the Father, and no part of the Godhead can reject or be divided against Himself. So, the only way that the kingdom of God can revert back from the church to the Jews is the rapture of the church. With the church out of the picture (meaning out of the way) things can simply revert back to how they were in the Old Testament, right? Pardon me, but that would mean rejecting the cosmic effects of the incarnation, the cross of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection. Like time itself, salvation history only goes forward, it cannot go back. Moreover, the book of Hebrews describes the ultimate relevation of God to be through Jesus Christ by way of His incarnation, cross work, resurrection, and return. Premillennial dispensationalism makes the salvation of Israel during a second age of grace the ultimate revelation of God, and removes Jesus Christ’s own Body in order to facilitate it!

It really is no surprise that premillennial dispensationalism is so attractive to Messianic Jews who want to retain the essentials of their old system. It treats the church age as just an interstitial intermediary between the first Jewish age and the second Jewish age, and further one that happened not because it was God’s plan and the climax of His salvation plan all along, but only as punishment for the Jews for first failing to keep the Torah and second for failing to accept Jesus Christ. Once these errors are atoned for, things go right back to where they should have been all along! Further, premillennial dispensationalism re-instates the wrongheaded ideas about the millennium/Messianic age that Jesus Christ corrected! This is probably the one good point that the amillennialists do make: that the Jews in the time of Jesus Christ were expecting a political liberator and ruler who would usher in the Messianic age and institute a global Jewish theocracy and a time primarily for the benefit of Jews, not the God-man Saviour who would usher in an age of grace for the benefit of all nations. The Jewish religion still teaches the error of the Pharisees and Sadducees to this day, and premillennial dispensationalism – which includes most strands of Messianic Judaism – tells them that they are right about everything save the timing.

The core of premillennial dispensationalism is that God ceases dealing with His temporary vehicle the church and begins dealing with the Jews anew. However, unless premillennial dispensationalists can identify a part two of the parable of the tenants that describes when this will happen (and more importantly, how and why such a thing will happen in a manner that makes it consistent with New Testament doctrines and promises) this area of their doctrine is Biblically unjustified. Premillennial dispensationalism teaches that their doctrines concerning the millennium allows for the fulfillment of all the promises made to Abraham, David and Israel under the old covenant. However, in order to accomplish this, their doctrines require breaking the promises made to the church under the new covenant!

So, just as the parable of the tenants is very problematic for covenant theology by declaring an explicit distinction between the church and Israel, it is even more so for premillennial dispensationalism by explicitly proclaiming that with regards to their place in God’s economy, just as the the second temple could not match the glory of the first (for it did not include the ark of the covenant with the rod that budded or the tablets of the law), for the Jews the former things are no more, and their only place in the latter things (which are greater than the former because the latter is founded on better promises, bought with the Blood of Jesus Christ and hence incorruptible) will be inasmuch as their place is found alongside the redeemed and grafted in Gentiles in the church.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

LAND, SEED, AND BLESSING IN THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

Posted by Job on July 29, 2009

From Psalm 45. Hopefully they will not mind my wholesale appropriation.

The character of the promises first made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, and later reiterated and expanded in 12:7; 13:15-17; 15:1,4-21; 17:1-9,19; 21:12; and 22:16-18 has long been recognized, in some sense, as foundational to all of redemptive history subsequent to this epochal event. How we understand the precise nature of these promises, therefore, will largely shape our understanding of all of redemptive history from the call of Abraham to the eternal state. An understanding of these promises that concentrates predominantly on their physical aspect, and therefore sees an ongoing necessity for Middle Eastern geography to be reserved for the ethnic offspring of Abraham has several problems: first, it little accords with the understanding that the patriarch himself had of the covenant promises; second, it is in violation of clear fulfillment formulas found later in the Old Testament; and finally, it fails in its intent to understand literally the promise of eternal possession of the physical land by the physical offspring of Abraham. The discussion of the first of these points will be reserved for the main body of this article; but it will not be out of place here to touch briefly on the other two. As regards the former of these, we find stated in Joshua 21:43-45, in very specific terms, that God had fulfilled all that he swore to the fathers. Later, in I Kings 4:20,21 and II Chronicles 9:26, we see the precise geographical boundaries promised to Abraham in the actual possession of Solomon, at the height of Israel’s political history. Immediately subsequent to this complete fulfillment of the land promise in its physical aspect, its typical purpose then having been realized, Israel as a nation began to lose possession of the extreme portions of its geography, never again to recover them. Can this historical reality be consistent with the promise made to Abraham that “all the land which you see I will give to you, and to your seed forever”(Gen. 13:15)? Those who understand the permanence of the promise to mandate a renewed future possession of these boundaries by the nation of Israel have the same fundamental problem that they criticize in the interpretation which considers the physical aspect of the promise to be done away with upon its fulfillment under Solomon: namely, that this geographical possession will one day end; the one interpretation is no more consistent with an eternal fulfillment than the other. The old earth will one day melt with a fervent heat to make way for the new (II Pet. 3:10); and as soon as this dissolution of the old earth takes place, (including the geographical regions promised to Abraham), a literal fulfillment of the land promise becomes impossible. The nature of the promise made to Abraham is such that, any fulfillment which is not eternal does not do it justice. God’s promise to Abraham must extend to him and his seed for all eternity, including that portion of eternity in which the land of Palestine no longer exists. There must be a time, therefore, when the physical land promise is done away with, and only that aspect of the promise which was eternal remains. Whether this transition is placed immediately subsequent to the height of Israel’s glory or immediately prior to the dissolution of the earth has no bearing on the reality that what was promised to be for Abraham’s seed forever is actually not forever. The Abrahamic promise, then, could never be eternal unless something other than the physical land of Palestine is fundamentally intended by the promise. And if something other than the physical land isintended by the promise, then it would be vastly beneficial for us to ascertain the nature of this original intention, together with the ramifications that it has for our understanding of God’s unfolding plan of redemption. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the fundamental intention of the land, seed, and blessing aspects of the Abrahamic covenant was, respectively, (1) An eternal place of restored fellowship with God; (2) An eternal people enjoying a restored fellowship with God; and (3) A universalization of the promised blessings of this fellowship which is, at the same time, a specific localization of those blessings within Abraham. This understanding will be demonstrated, first, by an examination of the promises in connection with Abraham’s history; and second, by an examination of the promises from a New Testament perspective.

The “Land” Promise Intended an Eternal Place of Restored Fellowship with God

From the time of his first being called out by God and commanded to go to a land which Jehovah would show him, Abraham demonstrated an understanding of the nature of that land which transcended mere physical possession. Hence, the first thing we see of Abraham’s sojourn in the land of Canaan is an occurrence which eventually becomes a pattern: Abraham experiences a divinely-initiated encounter in which he enjoys personal fellowship with God. He immediately builds an altar at that place of fellowship; and, at later periods of his wandering, he returns to that specific place to call upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 12:7,8; 13:3,4). Eventually, we find Jehovah revealing himself and Abraham building altars and calling upon his name throughout the land of Canaan, which Jehovah had promised to him. We read that Abraham built altars or called upon the name of the Lord at Shechem, Bethel, Hebron, Beersheba, and Moriah, all places within the boundaries promised to him by Jehovah. And, although he traveled outside of those boundaries, for instance journeying twice to Egypt, we never read of him building altars or calling upon the name of the Lord except in the land which God had promised to him. From the beginning, then, we find a pattern linking the promised land to places of theophanies and personal encounters with Jehovah, and places where Abraham was led to respond to those theophanic experiences in worship and personal fellowship.

Furthermore, Abraham never truly possessed the land which Jehovah had promised to him. And, although he was rich and powerful, he never sought to take possession of the land by wealth or force, excepting the single incident of his buying a burial plot for his wife. In fact, at times when he might have gained some of the land or its wealth, as when he defeated the coalition of kings and was offered compensation for it, he adamantly refused, fearing that his possessions might then be construed as coming from human hands (Gen 14:22-24). In rejecting this portion from the king of Sodom, Abraham demonstrated an understanding of the nature of his promised blessings as transcending the mere physical. He had ample opportunities to seize the city of earthly foundations; but he already possessed the conviction that the land which was promised to him was a city of spiritual foundations, a city in which the redeemed might enjoy everlasting fellowship with God. In the circumstance of God’s bountifully providing personal encounters of fellowship with Abraham in the land of promise, while at the same time denying him the physical possession of that land, we perceive a divine safeguard against a crassly physical hope which longed for a city of bricks and stones as the pinnacle of the land promise made to Abraham. Abraham demonstrated a lively faith which steadfastly embraced the eternal hope which glowed alluringly beyond the hills and valleys of Canaan and found satisfaction only in an inheritance of unending personal fellowship with Jehovah at the place where he would choose to set his name. Tragically, many of his descendants, lacking his spiritual perception, failed to look beyond a physical land in which God’s presence was nowhere to be found except as mediated through a cumbersomely wrought cult of ritual approach.

The “Seed” Promise Intended an Eternal People Enjoying a Restored Fellowship with God

One of the most striking statements Abraham had of the true nature of the blessings promised to him comes, appropriately, at the occurrence of the official inauguration of the covenant, in which God swears by himself that he will give Abraham a seed and a land (Gen. 15). Although God had promised Abraham several specific things falling into the general categories of land, seed, and blessing, when he sums up all those blessings at once, he declares, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1). At the heart of the covenant, then, God himself is the intended fulfillment of the promise. Therefore, every true understanding of the promised blessings must be able to be subsumed under that head. The land promised to Abraham was only included in the promise because it was integral, in some way, to the reality of having God as his portion. This point is vital for understanding the nature of the promises as they relate to Abraham and his seed. Yes, the Lord made Abraham the father of many nations: Israelites, Edomites, and twelve Arab nations all sprang from his loins. But the ultimate fulfillment of his being made a father to a great people, or to many nations, could only come by his being a father to those whose exceeding great reward was Jehovah. Hence, when we find the original promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 repeated and developed in Genesis 17, we find the very essence of the covenant promise made manifestly clear. In verse 4-8 of the latter chapter we read,

As for Me, behold! My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you a father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, greatly so, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your seed after you. And I will give the land to you in which you are a stranger, and to your seed after you, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. And I will be their God.

At the heart of this reiterated covenant promise is the reality that Abraham’s true seed would be those whose God would be Jehovah. This promise, “I will be their God,” is given twice, once in connection with the seed that Abraham would father, and once in connection with the land that God would give to them. It is readily apparent from these verses that the Immanuel principle — the principle of God being the God of a certain people and dwelling with them alone of all the nations of the earth — is a vital principle for understanding the promise made to Abraham. At the heart of the seed and land promises, and in fact what constitutes the very essence of those promises, is the reality that Jehovah will be their God. This “Immanuel principle” is the substance of all later redemptive history, and the precise content of the Abrahamic covenant.

In safeguarding against a literalistic/physical misunderstanding of the “seed” aspect of the promise, God found it expedient to go to considerable lengths. Hence, he closed Sarah’s womb, making her barren for the entire fruitful period of her life; then, he awaited the fulfillment of the promised seed until Abraham himself was beyond the age of reproductive virility; and additionally, beyond the age of Sarah’s natural fertility even if she had been capable of bearing children in her youth. Finally, he brought about a seed to Abraham through purely physical means (i.e. Ishmael) simply to declare that this physical seed was not the fulfillment of the seed promise(Genesis 16). In these circumstances we see that a purely physical seed could never meet the criteria for being the seed of which Abraham was promised an innumerable multitude. Instead, a seed to whom Jehovah sovereignly gave life out of death was to be the nation which fulfilled the promise given. It would have benefitted the later descendants of Abraham who presumed upon the favor of God by virtue of their genealogy to have considered well this point.

The “Blessing” Promise Intended a Universalization of the Blessings of Fellowship Which Is, at the Same Time, a Specific Localization of Those Blessings Within Abraham

In the phrase we have recorded for us in Genesis 12:3, “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed,” we ascertain the striking circumstance of Abraham’s blessing being at once universalized, so that all the families of the earth come to share in its riches; and at the same time localized, so that the fountain of this world-encompassing blessing is in some sense within Abraham. That Abraham is seen as the source or location from which the blessings comes, and not merely a dispenser or mediator through whom it would be disseminated, is the natural reading of the inseparable bethpreposition in the original. This relationship of Abraham’s blessing to himself and to the world, so that he would be, on the one hand, blessed himself, and on the other hand, the location from which the blessing would spring, is vital for understanding the promises made to him. The precise manner in which the blessing was said to be both for Abraham and in Abraham must have been initially somewhat obscure: but by the end of his life, Abraham would have understood that the promised blessing was to come through a person, the one seed to whom the promises were ultimately referring. When God favored Abraham through encounters of personal fellowship, he connected those events with reiterated promises that he would give the land in which fellowship with God was made possible to his seed (Genesis12:7; 13:15; 17:8). Hence, Abraham would have learned to connect in some organic sense the place of fellowship with God to the advent of the seed promised to him. This connection would have led to an intensification of his desire for the promised seed to come. And as he remained frustrated in his continued expectation, and utterly failed in his own attempt to produce it through other means, he must have come to understand in a fuller sense how vastly significance this promise was, that it could only be accomplished by the all-powerful God performing that which is impossible. The first instance in which we are forced to recognize, to a large degree, this mature understanding in Abraham is when the Lord appeared to him and gave the promise, “He that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir” (Genesis 15:4). It is in this context that the statement is made that Abraham believed in the Lord, and he counted it for righteousness. What was it that Abraham believed that was sufficient to stand as the grounds of his justification? It could not have been simply that God would give Abraham a child of his own. This indeed happened when Abraham fathered Ishmael, and yet it was not the fulfillment of the promise that God had made. The only fulfillment consonant with what Abraham had come to expect was a seed who would bless the nations, a seed who would provide fellowship with God, a seed who would possess the land where God dwells with man, and a seed who could only be brought about through the accomplishment of the impossible. In other words, what Abraham believed was that God would supernaturally send a seed who would be the ground of blessing and fellowship with God. All of this becomes more manifest when Sarah commands Ishmael to be cast out, having rejected the thought that the son of the bondwoman should inherit with her own son. In God’s response to Abraham’s initial displeasure at this idea, we find that Sarah was essentially right. When God came to reinforce to Abraham the decision that Sarah had made, he reiterated the principle that it was through a specific seed in the future that the blessing would come. Sarah’s desire was indeed appropriate because, “In Isaac shall a Seed be called to you.” In adducing this promise, God was indicating that Ishmael by all rights should be cast out because he had no part in bringing in the promised blessing; instead, the Seed who would bring Abraham the blessing was in Isaac. It is significant that Isaac is not said to be that seed, but rather that the Seed who would be called to Abraham, the Seed who would be the grounds for every blessing given to him, was in Isaac — again, the natural reading of the bethpreposition.

This consideration of Abraham’s history compels us to credit him with a much greater understanding of the Messianic hope than some interpreters have given him. It is not some raw, blind faith without content (or with a content of which the full extent is the birth of a child essentially the same as any other child) that justifies a man. It is only faith in the promised Christ and his victorious work of redemption that justifies. This was the content of the belief that Abraham had, and for which he was counted righteous. The essential correctness of this assertion is borne out later by the nature of the test to which God put Abraham’s faith. When God put Abraham’s faith to the ultimate test, he did not ask for some task that was entirely unconnected to the content of his faith. Instead, he gave a command to Abraham that was so constructed that his response to the command would indicate precisely what it was he believed about the promises of God. God had already revealed that the Seed who would come to bless all the families of the world was in Isaac. When God commanded Abraham to put Isaac to death, and Abraham obeyed without hesitation, he demonstrated that he believed in a coming Seed who could be put to death and yet be brought to life through the power of God. Abraham’s faith had grown so that even the death of the one in whom the promised Seed still resided could not overcome his belief in the triumphant life of that Seed. Abraham had grown to trust in the resurrection power of God by which he would make the promised Seed victorious even over death. By the end of Abraham’s life, therefore, we must conclude that he understood that the blessing which would come to all the families of the earth was in him before it came to be in Isaac, by virtue of the fact that he was in the genealogical line of the Messiah that was prophesied from the time of Adam. In this respect, the blessings which Abraham hoped for, blessings of a people of God enjoying a place of fellowship with God were to be universalized so that they touched the whole earth; and at the same time localized so that they were in Abraham.

Further Support Adduced from the New Testament

In examining the teaching of the New Testament as it touches the topic at hand, we find our conclusions largely corroborated and made explicit. We concluded that the land promise made to Abraham could be ultimately fulfilled only by a place in which fellowship with God is possible. In light of this conclusion, it is striking that the place of rest with God for saints who have fallen asleep in the time of Jesus is a place which Christ refers to as “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). More interesting yet is the observation made of Abraham’s life, concerning which he was said to have possessed that faith by which one draws close to God, that, “He looked for a city which has foundations, of which the Builder and Maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham’s faith did not consist in looking to the ownership of Middle Eastern geography; he looked instead to the land which Canaan could only symbolize, a city which God alone would build. That this city intended a place of fellowship with God is made clear throughout the New Testament. InGalatians 4, Paul declares that believers in Christ are inhabitants of the Jerusalem which is from above, which he sets in opposition to the physical city of Jerusalem. In Hebrews 13, the author declares that we who worship have come to the spiritual Zion. The apostle John looks to a New Jerusalem, one whose chief characteristic would be the presence of God and his dwelling with men (Rev. 21:2,3). In all of these instances we find certain confirmation both of our conclusion that physical Palestine served as the type of a place of restored fellowship with God; and of our conclusion that this was precisely what Abraham understood and believed and awaited.

The second assertion we made, that the seed promise intended a people enjoying restored fellowship with God, is also corroborated by New Testament teaching. In the fourth chapter of Romans Paul makes evident that Abraham was justified through faith in the one who justifies the ungodly. In virtue of this reality, Paul goes on to assert that Abraham, by virtue of his faith, became the father of all those who believe, whether uncircumcised and believing (as Abraham himself was when he believed) or circumcised and believing. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise that he would be the father of many nations came when people from every tribe, tongue kindred, and nation believed, and so demonstrated that believing Abraham was their father. And this teaching is not isolated to Romans alone. In the third chapter of Galatians, Paul explains that, “Those who are of faith, these are the children of Abraham” (verse 7); and again, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all nations be blessed.” So then those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (verses 8,9). How was it the nations were blessed in Abraham? By virtue of the fact they were in Abraham, who fathered them all as the patriarch of the family of faith; and, being in Abraham who believed unto justification, they received likewise the blessings of justification through faith. As Paul sums up later in the chapter, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (verse 29).

The final conclusion we made was that the blessing promise intended a universalization of the blessings of fellowship which is, at the same time, a specific localization of those blessings within Abraham. In demonstrating this, we observed that the promised blessing was to come to Abraham and all those who believe, through his promised Seed; this promised Seed is the long-awaited Christ; and therefore, it is only in Christ, the true Seed of Abraham, that we are blessed together with him. This conclusion is borne out by the New Testament teaching that those who believe are in Christ. Faith brings justification, but only because faith establishes one in a relationship in which he is said to be “in Christ”. Hence we are blessed because we are in Abraham, the spiritual father of us all, as we observed in Galatians 3:7-9; but more specifically, we are in Abraham because we are in Abraham’s seed, Christ. Later in the chapter, Paul clarifies just how it is that those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law…so that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Christ Jesus“ (verses 13,14). The blessing of Abraham comes to the nations because they are in Christ; Christ is the seed of Abraham; therefore, if we are in Christ, we too are the seed of Abraham by virtue of our relationship in Christ. We, not ethnic Jews or Arabs, are Abraham’s true children and heirs.

That we alone are Abraham’s heirs, as his children through faith, is demonstrated by a grammatical feature of our text in Genesis that Paul brings to light in his letter to the Galatians. Ethnic Jews could never claim to be the heirs of Abraham, and therefore the rightful owners of Palestine, for the simple reason that the promise was never made to all of Abraham’s offspring. Paul recognizes this truth in Romans 9, where he observes that, “not because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children. But, “In Isaac shall your Seed be called” (Romans 9:7). In other words, mere ethnic descent was never sufficient to make one a true child of Abraham. The promises were never given to all Abraham’s offspring — as Paul goes on to clarify later in the chapter that Isaac was chosen and not Ishmael, Jacob and not Esau, and so on. This basic point Paul reiterates in Galatians 3, when he observes that the promises were originally made not to Abraham and his children, but to Abraham and his seed, which is singular. This one seed of Abraham, to whom the promises must be fulfilled, was Christ alone (Galatians 3:16). If Christ is the only seed of Abraham to whom the promises must be fulfilled, then those who are in Christ, not those who are ethnically descended from Abraham, are the heirs of the promises. Hence, Paul tells us that we have all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3); that all the promises of God find their “yea” and “amen” in Christ (II Cor. 1:20); and that the nations are fellow heirs and of the same body and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ (Ephesians 3:6). Only to Christ were the Abrahamic promises fulfilled; and therefore only by virtue of being in Christ are we Abraham’s children and heirs.

Conclusion

The interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant which sees the promises necessitating the possession of physical Palestine by ethnic Jews fails to do justice to the spiritual understanding of the promises that Abraham himself had. As Christ told the Jews of his day, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw and was glad” (John 8:56). Abraham looked beyond the merely physical and placed his hope in the coming Messiah, and in God who would raise him from the dead. This assessment is borne out by a careful study of Abraham’s life. And that this understanding that Abraham had of the promise is essentially correct is made clear by New Testament teaching on the topic. Any interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant that misunderstands the scriptural teaching of what the promises signified, to whom they were made, and who could claim them as Abraham’s true children and heirs is not only wrong, but positively harmful. An interpretation that insists on claiming physical benefits for Israel on the basis of their ethnicity obscures the vast spiritual riches of the Abrahamic promises as fulfilled to Christ and to us who are in Christ; it minimizes the place of Christ as the one true Seed of Abraham and the one in whom are all promised blessings; and it conditions us to be looking for a crassly physical, not to mention false, eschatological hope in the coming of an ethnically Jewish millennial kingdom, instead of understanding and awaiting that blessed hope of all redemptive history, the great proclamation, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). This is the hope of Abraham and all his true children, and the goal of all redemptive history.

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Well This Ends Any Desire On My Part To Advocate For The Palestinians

Posted by Job on June 14, 2009

In large part because of my finding out the truth about Zionism, the modern Jewish religion, and the dishonesty of many prominent premillennial dispensational political activists who knowingly deceive Christians about both, I had begun sympathizing on some level with the plight of the Palestinian people (in contrast with their leaders, Hamas and the PLO) for the sake of the gospel, for humanitarian reasons, and also out of a desire to provide what I felt was a much – needed counter to the “Judeo – Christianity” propaganda deception of the Zionists and the dispensationalists, which unfortunately has deceived a great many decent Christians and Jews. After the events of today, I am washing my hands of both sides of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and am going to simply pray and wait for God to sort it out.

Today Binyamin Netanyahu, a fellow that I thoroughly dislike for reasons that I will not enumerate, made a fair offer to the Palestinians: a state that would be sovereign in every respect save a lack of a military in return for a cessation of hostilities, allowing Jerusalem to remain in Israeli hands, and the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees having to settle in the new Palestinian state as opposed to Israel. Now long term, these conditions are unacceptable: a state without a military is no state at all, and issues regarding east Jerusalem and Palestinians driven from their homes would still have to be worked out.

But this agreement would be outstanding as an intermediate step. It would give the millions of Palestinians now living in tents, refugee camps, or in other countries a place to go, and they would be immediately supported by hundreds of billions in foreign aid. Also, any Palestinian with a sense of irony ought to be able to appreciate the perverse pleasure at seeing the very same Israeli military and police that for decades bombed their neighborhoods and subjected them to checkpoints be FORCED to protect and defend PALESTINIANS while the PALESTINIANS use MONEY FROM ISRAEL AND ITS WESTERN ALLIES to build homes and businesses! Where now the Israeli military protects Jewish settlers in Palestinian territory, the military would be responsible for A) evicting those Jewish settlers and B) defending the Palestinians who move into the homes of very Jews that the Israeli military evicted! The plight and living standards of the millions of Palestinians would instantly be raised, and the Palestinians would have years, decades even, to work on getting still more concessions from Israel.

But alas, it appears that the Palestinians lack any sense of or appreciation for irony. The Palestinian leadership does not care about helping the Palestinian people out of misery, and the Palestinian people does not care about getting out of misery, about going from dirty tents to clean modern homes and apartments paid for with billions in international welfare. They don’t care about moving from having to deal with Israeli bombs, tanks, and police to having complete freedom. No, all they care about is destroying Israel and killing Jews, and are willing to live in poverty and squalor waiting for the chance.

So, Mahmoud Abbas, whom both the Obama AND Bush administrations claim is the “moderate, pro – western respectable peace partner”, rejected Netanyahu’s offer. Abbas rejected Israel’s desire to continue to exist as a Jewish state. (Realize that during the Clinton administration, the PLO pretended to recognize Israel’s right ot exist. We now know that they were lying and have been for the past 10 years.) Abbas claimed not only east Jerusalem but ALL OF JERUSALEM as the capital of the Palestinian state. After years of not even trying to stop terror attacks on Israel’s military and citizens, Abbas rejected Israel’s demand that they be demilitarized. And amazingly, Abbas insists on the millions of Palestinian refugees being allowed to return to Israel if they so choose, despite the existence of TWO “PALESTINIAN” STATES, PALESTINE AND JORDAN, for these “refugees” to live in while receiving new homes and unlimited welfare FOR LIFE!

Now prior to today, Abbas claimed that Netanyahu was destroying the peace process for refusing to commit to a two state solution and stated that violence would result. Now that Netanyahu has committed to a two state solution, guess what? Abbas claims that Netanyahu was destroying the peace process by refusing to allow the PLO/Fatah to bombard Israel’s airport, cities, factories, apartments with rockets and grenades, for refusing to turn all of Jerusalem over to Palestine, and for refusing to allow Israel to be flooded with Palestinians who oppose the existence of Israel!

And yes, Abbas sent the message to the Palestinians to start up a new round of murderous violence against the Jews. Of course, the last round of violence didn’t end because of the Palestinians’ commitment to peace. It only ended because of A) the internal power struggle between Hamas and the PLO and B) because of the security fence. Palestinians have complained for years over how horrible the security fence makes life for Palestinians. Now, in rejecting a chance to be free and on welfare without the worry of having to defend or provide for themselves for the next 50 years, we know that the real reason for opposing the security fence wasn’t the humanitarian effects on the Palestinians, but rather the fence’s successfully stopping Palestinians from getting into Israel to blow up Jewish toddlers.

So why do I not blame the Palestinian leadership while continuing to support the Palestinian people? Simple: the Palestinian people elected these leaders, they refuse to rise up to oppose these leaders, and they generally obey them. If these people wanted an end to the poverty, disenfranchisement and violence, they should be out on the streets demonstrating “take the deal!” Instead, as always, they will obey the PLO/Fatah and Hamas and take to the streets to be mowed down by Israeli airplanes and tanks, and allow their homes, schools, mosques and hospitals to be used as human shields. These people want to see the destruction of Israel and dead Jews more than they want to provide safety, freedom and prosperity to their own children.

It is obvious that the Palestinians do not need more advocates for their political, economic, or humanitarian agenda and plight, for it is now obvious that this agenda is only to destroy Israel and kill Jews, and their plight is due to their single minded devotion towards that goal rather than working to improve their own lives. No, what the Palestinians need – and what the Jews need for that matter – is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christian interaction with Palestinians and Jews should be limited to the gospel. Beyond that, we should leave these people to their own affairs and pray for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 98 Comments »

New World Order Alert: Is The Vatican Going To Team Up With Israel Over Jerusalem?

Posted by Job on May 12, 2009

For those who are not familiar with Caroline Glick, she is very neoconservative and very Zionist. Here, she is stating that Israel should cease working with America and start pursuing a mutually beneficial relationship with Egypt (over Iran) and the Vatican (over Jerusalem). First Egypt: Iran sponsors the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a threat to Egypt’s fragile regime, which will become even more so once Egypt’s aging ruler leaves power. Egypt wishes to reduce Iran’s influence in order to make sure that the nation does not fall into the hands of jihadists. Second the Vatican: Glick asserts that the Vatican could be convinced that the only way to protect “Christian holy sites” in Israel and specifically in Jerusalem is to ensure that they remain in Jewish control and out of Muslim hands.

Now Glick has come out and stated that she opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state for at least two generations, and that during this time Israel should impose heavy measures to keep the Palestinian population subdued, and also take control of Palestinian schools and brainwash – excuse me educate – Palestinian children into hating everything Muslim and Arabic and turn them into pro – western Zionists. After this point, the Palestinians would either willingly desire to be ruled by Israel under terms that benefit Israel and stop demanding a state, or would accept a state that would be Israel’s puppet. In other words, Glick is willing to come out and publicly state what Israel’s neoconservative secular Zionists are usually unwilling to. (This is as opposed to Israel’s paleoconservative and/or religious Zionists, who openly or covertly simply wish to drive the Palestinians out of Israel.)

However, Glick is signaling that she – and the faction that she represents – may be willing to change their tune and give the Palestinians a state much sooner if the Vatican throws its considerable political muscle behind keeping all of Jerusalem in Israeli hands, and speaking out against Palestinian terrorism (which groups ranging from the secular and religious left to conservative Catholics to some Reformed Protestants are willing to pretend does not exist).

Now the majority of Palestinians and Israelis have long favored a two state solution. A dirty little secret is that elements in both the Palestinian and Israeli leadership claim to want a two state solution publicly while working to undermine it behind the scenes. If the Vatican is able to pick off the neoconservative secular Zionists like Glick, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Avidgor Lieberman, that would create a coalition with the moderate and liberal Israelis that would be big and powerful enough on the Israeli side to get it done. The only barrier, however, would be the Palestinians’ putting together a viable government that supports a two state solution and peace. We know that this isn’t Fatah/PLO, and it certainly isn’t Hamas. But it is something that bears watching.

The Vatican joining hands with neconservative Zionist Israelis is just about the last thing that I could have ever imagined happening, but it suits the interests of both sides. By supporting Israel, the Roman Catholic Church helps get past its role in the Holocaust, which badly hurts its image and ability to recruit and retain members in Europe. This will become a particular issue in the next few years when the Vatican elevates Pius XII, the pope who was in charge during the Holocaust to “sainthood.” And the Obama administration’s turning America’s interests in the Middle East away from Israel and towards Iran and Syria – and many believe that this could be a permanent change of policy that will persist no matter which party controls Washington – gives Israel no choice but to seek a new powerful ally. As the EU and Russia have been overtly anti-Israel for some time, it is basically the Vatican or nobody. 

Now as to the Christian Zionist element … I suppose that they will fall in line over this. Ever since the time of Billy Graham and particularly the rise of the religious right, evangelicals, especially dispensationalists, have not only become very friendly with the Vatican, but have actually followed its lead, sometimes knowing it but often not. Dispensationalists have taken school vouchers, faith – based programs, and other initiatives to funnel tax dollars into Roman Catholic dioceses as if it is their own agenda, and also got involved in the Terri Schiavo incident (one completely driven by the Roman Catholic governor of Florida Jeb Bush) and in the process of doing so advocated for the extrabiblical Roman Catholic traditional teachings on end of life issues. And how many Protestant evangelicals love having Scalia, Alito, Thomas and Roberts on the Supreme Court (Kennedy not so much)? And let us be honest: the neoconservative publicity machine, whether it is magazines like the Weekly Standard and the National Review and talk radio … they aren’t dominated by evangelicals. They are dominated by Roman Catholics and neoconservative Jews. Conservative Christian Zionists such as the ones who support torture patronize that media and allow their political AND RELIGIOUS views to be shaped by them. So, if the Vatican and the secular neoconservative Jews (the religious Jews by and large won’t have anything to do with Christians) begin the full court press on talk radio and on the conservative websites that keeping Jerusalem and making Israel secure so the construction of the third temple can take place is all that REALLY MATTERS, then the John Hagee/Pat Robertson contingent (and the many far more respectable and mainstream fellow travelers of this doctrine i.e. those who supported the war in Iraq) will quickly fall in line.

But again, the major shoe that needs to drop for this to actually take place is a viable and (by all appearances) pro – peace Palestinian government led by a (and this would really really help) a charismatic leader to come about. Now that may be Obama’s job: to identify and train such a leader and put him in power (as our government has been known to do in the past … America trained both Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and put them in place, and did similar with the group that is now running Iran). 

Please see link to article where this gets discussed below:

Our World: Opportunity is knocking at Israel’s door

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 936 other followers

%d bloggers like this: