Posts Tagged With: Israel
Many of us I’m sure, are familiar with the story of Ruth in the Bible. This story I believe as many others do, is a message to the Church today. There is an application in the story that God wants us to hear and understand. Before I come to the application, I will summarize the story.
There was a man named Elimelech who had a wife named Naomi and two sons. They left the promised land because a famine had come upon it. They did not seek the Lord, as many did in the times of the Judges, but they went out of the land and settled in Moab. As time passed by, Elimilech died and Naomi was left with her two sons Mahlon and Chilion.
These two sons married Moabite women, named Orpah and Ruth. After some time both of their husbands died. Naomi was heartbroken about the loss of her sons. She lost her faith and joy and decided to return to the promised land.
So the three went out towards Israel, the promised land. But when they came to a bend in the road, Naomi told her two daughters in law to stay in the land of Moab and their gods. She said, I have no more sons to give you, return to your homes. Orpah turned around and went back to her land and her gods, but Ruth clung to Naomi.
She was not going home and she was determined to go with her Mother in law into the land of Israel, to the hometown of Naomi which was Bethlehem, Ephrathah in Judea. So she petitioned Naomi and said some of the most beautiful words written in the Bible.
“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.” Ruth 1:16-18.
Ruth had fallen in love with Naomi and the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. Both of them set their eyes towards the promised land and went on their way to Bethlehem.
One day Ruth was gleaning the fields and she met Boaz who was very kind to her because he had already learned about her and how she was a good daughter in law to Naomi who was a relative of Boaz. As Ruth was coming home, Naomi was amazed at how much Ruth had gleaned. She asked her which field she was gleaning in and she told her that it was the field of Boaz.Naomi was beside herself and thanked the God of Israel who had shown favor on her.
Long story, short, Naomi became the match maker and Boaz married Ruth. They had a child together who’s name was Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of the future King of Israel, David.
What can we as the church learn from this story? How is it relevant for us as believers who believe in the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob? What is the application for us today?
In the ancient Jewish culture the names of people had meanings. The name Elimilech means “God is King” and Naomi means “pleasant.” Ruth means “friend or friendly” in the Hebrew and Orpah means “to turn the back of the neck.”
That is what Orpah did, she turned her back of the neck towards Naomi and went back to Moab and her gods. Not so with Ruth, she embraced the Jewish people and the true and living God of Israel and God blessed her beyond her wildest imagination. She became the great-grandmother of King David. From the line of King David came Jesus the promised Messiah i.e Yashuah which means “salvation.”
Just as Orpah turned her back on Israel, so today many of the churches have turned their backs on Israel. They teach a replacement theology and that all the blessings and promises that God gave to Israel are now belonging to the church. At a time that Israel needs us most, many have turned their backs.
But there are some within the body of Christ that want to bless and support Israel. The Land of Israel is God’s land. It belongs to Him and no one else. It is the Land where He gave His only begotten Son and it is the Land where Jesus will return to rule as King from Jerusalem. It is the Land where God will reveal His Son to the Jewish people.
Just as Ruth loved the Jewish people, so we as the church need to love and support them. We need to pray for them and help them to return to the land given to them so long ago by God through a promise to Abraham.
God is fulfilling the Abrahamic covenant today and all the unconditional blessings that come with this covenant. He wants to bring back His people to the covenant of faith, not of the law. The law was given to Israel 430 years after Abraham because they had left the faith and went after other gods and everybody did what was right in their own eyes.
The law was a Tudor, showing people that they can never live up to the righteousness and Holiness of God. Now that God has brought them back into the land, in unbelief as prophesied in Ezekiel 36 and 37, He will one day open their eyes and they will see Yashua. The will believe, just as Abraham believed and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
We as true biblical believers are not sons of Moses and the law, we are the sons and daughters of Abraham by the grace of God through faith.
We need to bless Israel and the people of Israel and worship the LORD in spirit and truth. Israel is not out of the picture and God has not cast them aside. Israel is the apple of His eye. We as the church have a role to play in these last days. If we want to be blessed by God, we need to stand with His chosen people.
Ruth chose to go with Naomi to the land and she loved the God of Israel and He blessed her there. This is what God wanted all along, the Jew and the Gentiles coming together as one, which was and is part of the unconditional covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15.
“I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”Genesis 12:3.
“…just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.” Galatians 3:6-9.
There is a beautiful story in the Bible, that many of us are very familiar with. It is the story about Jesus meeting the woman at the well. This woman was a Samaritan. Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, in fact, they were hated by the Jews, probably even more than the Gentiles.
The rabbi’s would travel around Samaria to go north, although the distance would have been much shorter by traveling through Samaria. They went out of their way not to go through Samaria, because of their extreme dislike of the Samaritans.
Not so with Jesus, He came up from Judea, traveling towards Galilee which is north of Jerusalem. Jesus did not choose the longer route in order to avoid contact with the Samaritans. In fact, He had a divine appointment with that woman at the well. “But He needed to go through Samaria.” John 4:4.
Jesus knew exactly what He was doing, this divine appointment was foreordained and was God’s plan. Jesus arrived at the well around noon time i.e the sixth hour shortly before the woman would come to the well to draw water. It is interesting that the woman was all by herself, normally the women would come early in the morning to draw the water. Some believe that the woman came in the later part of the day because she was somewhat of an outcast in her village. As we learn later on in the story, she had several husbands and she was living with a man that she was not married to.
Why did Jesus go out of His way to meet this particular woman? Even she was baffled that a Jew would talk to her.
“Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:9-14.
At first the woman did not understand that Jesus was talking about spiritual things to her. At this point she had no idea that she was talking to the Messiah, the true and living God in the flesh. This woman had no idea that this encounter with Jesus would change her whole life and the life of many more Samaritans that came to faith because Jesus went out of His way to meet the women at the well.
What can we as believers learn from this story today? The religious leaders of Jesus’ days would go out of their way no to come in contact with the sinners and avoid them at all cost. What about us? Are we willing to go out of our way to meet sinners, those who do not yet know Jesus? Or are we more comfortable living in a Christian bubble, no contact with those outside the church? I wonder how many divine appointments we may have missed. Jesus went out of His way many times, in fact He sought out the sinners and even dinned with them. He cared about those who were lost.
Should we not have the same heart as Jesus did, telling people about Jesus and the promises of God that can change many peoples lives? Our testimony as believers and the love of God can change the heart of many, if we are willing to go out of our ways and to meet people like the woman at the well. Because of Jesus’ testimony about Himself to the woman at the well, many people of that city believed in Him and were saved. Salvation had come to them because Jesus was willing to go out of His way.
I pray that we have the same urgency and compassion that Jesus had. What the world needs is Jesus. The world needs to know about Jesus, not religion but the forgiveness, salvation and eternal life that God promised to all those that believe by faith. A loving relationship with the living God. Let us be the messengers of light to a lost people and a hopeless world.
“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” that is, the word of faith which we preach: that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:8, 9, 13-15, 17.
I had some very interesting discussions after writing two relating articles about faith verses works. Is a person saved by faith alone or does he or she have to do something to earn their salvation?
I believe that the scriptures are very clear that people are saved by grace through faith and not of works. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:8,9.
Now to me it can’t get any clearer than that. Paul wrote this so that no one can boast about what they did in order for God to save them from wrath.
One person was bringing up repentance, he wrote that repentance is part of salvation, which means that the repenting person is actively involved in the salvation process. Is that really so, do people have to repent before they are considered saved? Repentance means a change of mind/heart. I believe that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, He is in the world to convict people of their sin. Some receive it and some will reject the truth. My pastor once gave a nice analogy about repentance.
When the Babylonians invaded the land of Israel, they took captives and transported them to Babylon which was in what is now modern-day Iraq. The Babylonians not only took the people, they burned down their homes to the ground, so that there was nothing for them to come back to. That is what believers should do, burn down their homes, spiritually speaking.
The question is, does repentance come before salvation and can we consider repentance as work? I believe that repentance must come first. There are several verses that would back up that believe. Jesus spoke of repentance many times in the gospels. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”Mark 1:15. Jesus confirmed that a person must repent, which means the acknowledgment that they have missed the mark and are sinners in need of forgiveness.
Luke wrote: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38. At first glance that sounds like that a person needs to repent before receiving the Holy Spirit, i.e to be “born again.”
Peter was talking to the Jews that had rejected Jesus as their Messiah. It was the day of Pentecost. Many believed that day, about 3000 souls were saved. The crowd listened to Peter as he preached that Jesus is the promised Messiah and many had a change of mind (repentance). They believed the words of Peter and realized that Jesus was the Messiah that the patriarchs and prophets spoke about. That change of heart was a genuine repentance which resulted of the Holy Spirit indwelling them.
Question, was that change of mind the works of man or was it the Holy Spirit that convicted the crowd? It is interesting, because in the very next verse, Peter said this: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:39. “As many as the Lord will call.”
Sounds like it is God’s work. He is the initiator and He is the One that saves. Did these 3000 people do any kind of works or did they simply believed God through the message preached by Peter? Where did the faith that they all had come from? Did they earn it or do something that triggered faith in them? I believe that is was the work of the Holy Spirit that convicted the people and brought about a change of heart. They heard and believed the truth.
Paul said in the book of Ephesians, Faith is a gift of God. It is all God’s sovereign work and I believe there is nothing anyone can do to either earn salvation or work for their salvation. People are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. No one can please God by their works. Abraham had no works, yet God declared Abraham as righteous. “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Gen 15:6.
Abraham was justified because of his faith which was given to him by God. Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the Faith chapter or hall of faith. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham are on that list. Did Abraham do any work in order to be declared righteous? Was it works or his faith that made him righteous before God. It was faith in God and His promises that gave Abraham a righteous standing before God. Abraham had nothing to boast about, it was all God’s action and all the glory belongs to Him.
The Bible is very clear about that our works cannot please God. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Heb 11:6.
“Diligently seek Him.” I believe that God works differently in the life of every person. Some may hear the gospel preached at a crusade or at a church or maybe from a person that witnessed to them. They hear the message and believe and at that moment the Holy Spirit comes into them, making His abode. They heard and believed, changed their minds and received the gift of salvation. It was the Holy Spirit that worked in them and brought the conviction of their sins. God drew them and they repented.
I can only speak about my own experience that I had on that day when I received the Lord. I did not go to a church or crusade. Nobody witnessed to me. I hit rock bottom about 6 years ago from alcohol abuse and I sat on my patio all by myself, feeling miserable. I remember it so vividly, I cried out, “God if you exist, please help me. I do not want to be like this any longer. This is not me!”
From that moment on my life changed. Something happened that was so amazing. I believe that a genuine repentance happened that day that came from the heart. I did not say, “I repent. I repent.” I do believe that God saw my heart that morning and that it was a genuine admittance that I was wrong and I was in need of a Savior. God began a good work in me from that day on, I never had a desire of drinking again. I firmly believe that the Lord took that desire from me completely. I ask the Lord to forgive me for all the things I had done. I was forgiven and born again that day and fell in love with Jesus my Lord and Savior.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about repentance, sin or anything else that the Bible teaches. I didn’t know about justification, sanctification, let alone the grace and mercy of God. All I know is that the Lord came into my life that day and I never have looked back. How was I saved? By my works? I certainly had no works to boast about. I can’t say that I was an atheist or agnostic. I believed that there was a God, but I never paid any attention to Him or knew much about Him.
On that day something happened and I know that the Holy Spirit came into my life and changed me. Where did this faith come from? Not from me, I had no faith before, it was a gift of God. I believe that God knew that this day of my surrender would come long before I was even born. I lived a life seeking my own pleasures for 46 years and when I hit rock bottom, He was there. God is always there, all a person needs to do is to make a U-turn and there He is.
On that day I was justified because I believed God, just as Abraham did so many years before me. Justification is instant and cannot be changed or improved on. Sanctification is a life long process in which the Holy Spirit works in the lives of every believer to conform them more and more into the image of Christ. That I agree requires participation of the believer, the willingness to surrender all to Him. That is the sanctification process, the Holy Spirit working in the life of a believer.
Sanctification can be painful at times, the Holy Spirit is pointing out what needs to be purged and done away with in our lives. Sometimes we may put up a fight to surrender it all, but one thing is for sure, the Holy Spirit is patient and longsuffering, but He will never let us get away with what is not right in the sight of God for long. He will sanctify us. Sanctification is a process, the Holy Spirit teaches us and shows us what needs to be purged out of our lives. This is the continuous work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the sanctification of every believer.
We need to see things from a spiritual level rather than from the human level. God gave us spiritual understanding and the mind of Christ. God wants us the be holy as He is Holy. He will complete that work. “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;…” Phl 1:6. Again, not our work but His work. He began the good work and He will finish it.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Phl 2:12, 13.
I know that some may not agree with what I’m writing and I am not being dogmatic about this whole issue. I do believe however that it is not us but God that has done it all for us. We have nothing to boast about, not about our own goodness or how wonderful we might think we are and how we deserved to be saved by God. It is by His grace and because He loved us. He loved us so much that He became flesh to become one of us and to die and shed His blood on the cross. That is unconditional love and what could I compare that with? Before I say I did this and I did that, I look at the cross and say; Jesus did that. The thief on the cross? No works and nothing to boast about, yet he was saved by the Lord. The thief had a change of mind that was genuine and from the heart. That in my opinion is what it is all about, the heart. People in the world have a heart problem with a God shaped hole, a void that only God can fill. The Holy Spirit calls people to repent, some will hear His voice and some will not.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16.
So many times I have heard pastors and others say, read your Bible daily, make sure you go to church often. I know people who get up very early in the morning to do their devotionals or have certain routines in their daily walk. Before you misunderstand me, I agree that we as believers should be in the word and study it. I also believe that we need to be in fellowship with one another to sharpen and encourage each other. Prov 27:17.
The reason I’m writing this is because I was thinking about Father Abraham.
The Bible teaches that we as believers in Jesus Christ are sons and daughters of Abraham. “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Gal 3:7.
That made me think, most of us have more than one Bible, we read and study it and we go to church. We have home fellowships and study groups, conferences, conventions etc. We are on the social networks sharing our faith with others and so on. These are all good things and we should and need to share our faith with others that may not yet know the Lord. On the other hand there are many that claim to be Christians that go to church on Sundays, listen to the sermon, give an offering and think they’ve done their duty.
Is that’s what it takes to be a Christian? What about Abraham whose name was Abram when he was called by God to leave his country of Ur and to go to a place God would show him? Abram was a gentile i.e non-Jewish when he was called and through him and his son Isaac the nation of Israel came into existence. Abraham was before the law that came 430 years later through Moses. Abraham did not have the law, the Bible, a church to attend or any of the things that we enjoy today. Yet God declared Abraham justified and righteous.
What was is that made Abraham righteous before God? Was it his works or a weekly routine? Did Abraham do any of those things that get emphasize in the churches today and people feel obligated to do them, thinking that otherwise they are not alright before God?
There are many that feel condemned if they don’t read the Bible for a few days or miss church a few times. Is that what God requires of the believers? I don’t think so.
Now again, don’t get me wrong, as believers we should know the scripture and they should be on the heart of every true believer just as King David said: “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11.
As I mentioned before, Abraham did not have the scriptures as we know them today. He did not know the written law, but God declared him righteous. Abraham was declared righteous because he of his faith and he believed God and His word. “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Gen 15:6.
Abraham believed God and His promises. It was faith and faith alone and not his works that gave Abraham a righteous position before God. “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” Rom 4:2.
Just as the Galatians did in the days of the apostle Paul, so many people today think that they are justified because of their works. That is contrary to what the word of God teaches.
“This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” Gal 3:2, 3.
Believers in Christ Jesus are justified and declared righteous before God because of their faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross through His blood. He has done it all for us and there is nothing that anyone can do to improve on that by works. It is by faith alone. Believers are saved by His grace through faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph 2:, 9.
Just as Father Abraham believed God, so must we come to Him by faith. The law, works, the physical church or certain denominations cannot save a person, neither can a pastor or anybody else. It is by believing in Jesus Christ that saves a person.
The thief on the cross had a change of mind/repentance in the last moments of his life, no works to speak of, yet Jesus told him that he would be in Paradise with Him. It was faith that saved the thief. And so it is with every believer, we can read the Bible over and over again, attend church 5 times a week, but the only thing that truly saves is faith.
Please don’t stop reading and studying your Bible or stop going to church, that’s not what I am trying to say. I have met so many people in person and online that think that they are obligated to do certain things in order to be alright with God. The only way to be alright before God is to believe.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
I hear about Christians getting slaughtered in Sudan or persecuted and killed in the Middle East by radical Islamist just about everyday. There is a pastor in Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani that has been sentenced to death because he is a believer in Jesus Christ. The Iranian regime, governed by Sharia law gave him a chance to recant his confession in Christ which he did not. This man is a true believer that even though he was threatened with hanging he will not denounce his faith in Jesus. The Iranian regime has also declared that their goal is to wipe out Israel from the map and Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever happened. I was watching the O’Reilly factor yesterday and the son of Oliver Stone whose name is Sean Stone converted to Islam and is pretty much a defender of Iran and it’s regime.
Newsweek has a bloody picture of Jesus on its front page with the title “War on Christianity.” There is an all out war against Christians around the world. This war is real, in Sudan the Arab radical Islamist from the north slaughter the black Christians in the Nuba mountains which is the border between Northern and Southern Sudan. They kill men, women and children with machetes, burning down churches by the churches. These brothers and sisters in Christ endure heavy persecution and many are facing death by the sword. Christians are hated by radical Muslims and there is no tolerance towards people of a different faith.
Everyday I read the articles and reports about what’s going on and it saddens me to hear and see these gruesome reports that come out of Africa and the Middle East. The Syrian government is killing its own people, Iran will soon have a nuclear weapon to attack Israel and the war against Christianity is becoming a reality. Can we as believers here in the west, especially here in the US even imagine what these brothers and sister have to endure and face everyday? The White House and the President who supposedly is the most powerful men in the world has been silent for the most part on many of these atrocities. Just yesterday Franklin Graham was on Pierce Morgan’s show talking about the crisis in Sudan and how the radical have once again started to bomb the churches in the Nuba mountains.
He also addressed the dire situation the Iranian pastor is facing and that he could be hanged within days. Graham said that the President hasn’t called anybody to the White House for a prayer meeting or to put pressure on the Iranian regime to free Youcef Nadarkhani, instead the President apologized to the Afghans because our military accidentally burned some Qur’an”s. He did that on the same day when two American service men were killed because of the incident. What is wrong with that picture? Mr. President, stop bowing down to the Saudis and stop your political correctness when dealing with countries like Iran. We don’t have to apologize to the radical and the radical regimes, they attacked us. They should apologize to us for killing our brave service men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. Christians didn’t fly the planes into the World Trade towers, radical Muslims did.
These are the same fanatic radicals that want to wipe Israel off the map, destroy America and the West. If any Muslims says that Islam is a peaceful religion, I doubt that very much and if the so-called peaceful Muslims are silent about what’s going on with the radicals of Islam, than they have become irrelevant.
Thinking about that, made me wonder, what are we as Christians suppose to do about this? Let me say first that I am not talking about every believer here in the US, I’m just broadly generalizing and please don’t take it personally if you read this. There are many good and strong believers that care and go out of their way to help those in need. In general however, most of American Christians go to church on Sunday’s and think they have done their duty. They sit in a nice comfortable pew and listen to either a sermon or a Bible study in an air-conditioned facility, coffee and donuts afterwards, a little fellowship and off they go. Is that all or should we be more in tune about what’s going around the world to our brothers and sisters in the faith? There are a lot of activities and events, special concerts and many programs throughout the week. That in itself is not a bad thing, but are we that voice in the world for those who have no voice and are desperately crying out for help? Do we genuinely care about people who are persecuted and killed because they believe in Christ?
I hope that many of us are. I have to admit that we live pretty comfortable lives here in the US, which may change one day. Are we ready for that day? Or will we unlike the Iranian pastor turn away from Jesus because of persecution? We are living in days where prophecies are being fulfilled just about everyday, yet many of the churches or denominations have no clue about Bible prophecy or what some of these current events mean to us as believers. We are living in the very last days and I believe that the Lord will come soon for His bride. Will He find us sleeping as the five foolish virgins or awake and on alert as the five wise once? Israel is God’s time piece and we need to look at Israel because everything relating to the end times is centered in Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount or the epicenter.
I wish I could go over to Iran and talk to Ahmadinejad and ask him to let Youcef Nadarkhani go, or to be in Sudan standing with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes I feel like James and John who asked the Lord if they should call for fire to rain from heaven and make an end to all of this. There are many good Christian organization already over there. There is Far Reaching Ministries led by Wes Bentley that trains chaplains for any kind of situation that may occur. Many of them know that they may never come home again. They are risking their lives every single day for the furthering of the kingdom and they are willing to give their lives and reach people with the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
I don’t have all the answers, but there is one thing that we as believers can do. Praying without ceasing. The prayers of the saints avails much. We can be a voice if we want to and not let the opposition silence us as some would love to do. The Lord Himself said: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Mat 5:13.
If we are silent we will loose the good fight and we will be trampled under foot. Political correctness is killing this country and the liberal agenda is anti Christian. Just as the liberals are uniting for their causes, we as believers can unite and speak up and fight the good fight. We can be that voice crying in the wilderness….unless we let the enemy silence us.
Personally, I would like to finish the race as Paul did: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2Ti 4:7.
Looking at the headlines today about the unrest in the Middle East makes one wonder, what’s next? It all started with Tunisia when one man set himself on fire. That set off a wave of protest throughout the Arab world what the media calls the Arab spring. Sudan became two countries, the North and the South with a border along the Nuba mountains. There are reports that came out just recently that a Bible college and 4 churches that are set up by Samaritan Purse have been bombed by radicals Islamist in South Sudan. Sudan is an ongoing battle to this day.
Next came Egypt and the removal of Mubarak after long and heavy fighting of the people against the regime. No one is really certain what the new government will finally look like. Egypt has been a long-standing ally of the US and had a peaceful existence with Israel, which seems to fade fast.
And who can forget Libya and Qaddafi’s regime? He and his son vowed a long and bloody battle. Many people died until Qaddafi was captured and killed by his own people. Now the Syrian regime is in the news and has killed at least 5000 protesters since the unrest by the people started. Just recently the UN failed to come to a resolution to oust Assad, even though the people of Syria are crying out to the world for help. Russia and China are the two countries that are opposed to the ousting of Assad.
The UN has been ineffective many time and is in my opinion irrelevant. They are headquartered in New York City. It might be a good idea to vacate the building and set up shop somewhere in the Middle East. At least it would be much easier traveling for Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez who hate the US anyways. And now Iran again is threatening with the annihilation of the state of Israel. Just recently the supreme leader came out with a statement why it is religiously justifiable to wipe out Israel. http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/ayatollah-kill-all-jews-annihilate-israel/
Israel is under tremendous pressure and it seems that the world has abandoned Israel. A nuclear Iran with a rogue regime like Ahmadinejad would be world-changing. Israel cannot allow for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon that would be aimed at them. Just today the Israeli Ambassador to the US declared that Israel will act unilateral if necessary. There are many speculations floating around if and when Israel will attack Iran. Many believe that it could come as early as this spring. Although sanctions have been imposed by the UN and the US, they have not deterred the Iranian regime from developing a nuclear weapon.
The Bible has prophesied many of these things and I believe we are at the verge of an all out war of biblical proportions. Could this be the Gog and Magog war spoken off in Ezekiel 38 and 39? I don’t know, I don’t want to make any predictions, but we are seeing some events unfolding as we have never seen them before. I have a strong sense that by this summer, we will see some events happen that could possibly cause an all out war in the Middle East. The escalation of Iran vs Israel could be the trigger for biblical prophecy to unfold right in front of our eyes. Iran wants to create chaos, in the Shiite religious belief, chaos will usher in the 12th imam or the Mahdi. It is Islams version of the Messiah, which is the Antichrist in Christianity.
What exactly will happen in the near future is uncertain, but I believe we have never been closer to the escalation of Gog and Magog. Many Bible scholars believe that Magog is Russia and as many of you know the former Soviet Union has changed dramatically over the last years. Many of the southern states are Islamic and are at the north of Israel with other Islamic countries virtually surrounding Israel. I have spoken to some Jewish scholars and some believe that China is part of Magog as well. That of course is a possibility, China sides with Russia on many decisions made at the UN. One thing is for sure, Israel has many enemies that surround her.
Coming back to Syria for a moment, there is a prophecy about Syria in the book of Isaiah that declares Damascus will be a heap of ashes. “The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1. That has not happened yet, Damascus is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Seeing what’s happening in Syria, maybe that prophecy is not too far off? Whatever happens in the near future, we need to look at the Middle East, especially Israel. Israel is the center of the world, Jerusalem is the center of Israel and the temple mount i.e Mount Moriah is the Epicenter.
It is also time for us Christians to stand with Israel, our current administration has thrown Israel under the bus and Israel will once again face the threats virtually alone. But on thing is for sure, Israel is the apple of God’s eye and God will not allow anybody to wipe them off the map. His promises to Abraham, Issac and Jacob will be fulfilled and the predictions about Gog and Magog will be fulfilled. God is in control and He will preserve and protect His chosen people. Let us all pray for the people of Israel that face a constant threat of annihilation from her enemies. If this escalation will result in the war of Gog and Magog or maybe a precursor, who knows. The stage is set. We are in the final act.
“For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”Psalm 83:2-4.
- Ezekiel 35, the Arab-Israeli War before Ezekiel 38 (antwrites.com)
- Insights of a Former Cia Director: Is an Israeli-iranian War Imminent? (flashtrafficblog.wordpress.com)
I came a cross a video on YT where a Jewish believer made the case that Christians use the wrong name for God and Jesus. First let me say that God is a title not His name. People of course use the word God very frequently and there are other religions that have gods. The name of the God of the Bible is revealed as YHWH or the “I AM.”
The person in the video made the point that YHWH is His name and Christians should call Him YHWH instead of God. The name Jesus in our English translation is derived from the Greek word Iēsous. That is the name the NT writers used in their epistles and the gospels in the Greek Septuagint. Most of us Christians that speak English use the name Jesus. The same is true in German and Spanish, just with a different pronunciation. I do believe that most believers know that Jesus’ name in the Hebrew is Yehoshua or Yeshua, which means God or YHWH is our salvation.
What about calling Him Jesus rather than by His Jewish name? The point made in the video was this: if someone goes to France and meets a person named Pierre, which in English would be Peter and calls him Peter instead of Pierre and that person says stop calling me Peter my name is Pierre.
Would he not get offended if the other person keeps on calling him Peter? I’m not sure what to make of this, is it wrong to call our Lord and Savior Jesus? Many people who are not believers think that Jesus Christ is His first and last name. Christ is also a title i.e Messiah. What is your opinion? Is it a legalistic way of looking at a name or does the man have a point and we should call “Jesus” by His Jewish name? I think it would be difficult to change something that has been going on for centuries.
On a personal note, my given birth name is Freddy and sometimes people call me Fredrick or Fred. I can handle Fred but don’t like Fredrick, that is not my name. Would Jesus feel the same way? Would He say my name is not Jesus it is Yehoshua or Yeshua? I don’t really know, but I do like the name Yeshua. Should we call YHWH by His title (God) or by His name? Well, I’m not getting legalistic about it. It’s not any issue essential for salvation. I believe that “God” or “Jesus” know Who we mean when we say Jesus or God. I welcome your input and feedback on this.
I was led to write this article after some comments I received about my post “Good without God?” Arguments were made that we can have moral values without God and that many people who are Atheist, agnostics or other can do good things to better society. I don’t disagree with those statements. People can do good deeds or have compassion and love others. Morals, on what are we suppose to gauge moral values? If we gauge moral standards and values on human philosophy and thinking, who determines the moral code for society to live by? One persons moral values may not be another persons moral values. One persons morals may be immoral to another. Who would set the standards for a moral society? Who would get to decide what is moral and what is not?
I believe that God Who gave the 10 commandments to Moses on mount Sinai has given mankind a set of moral values and laws which to live by. These 10 commandments are the foundation on which to build a society. God chose Israel to be a nation, to live by those commandment and to be a witness to other nations that had no moral values and did what was right in their eyes. It’s too much to get into it now, but they did some deplorable things, e.g human sacrifices, killing, raping and worshiping man-made idols. In those days those things were standard for most nations, which we would call barbaric today. These things are still happening somewhere in the world, there are still barbaric practices that go on. Just look at Rwanda and the genocide there. Absolute evil without a moral conciseness. Rwanda is not the only place in our times, let’s look at Serbia and the genocide that happened there not too long ago. Parts of Africa and the Middle East with no regards of other people’s life’s and beliefs. They kill and rape because a people group has a different faith then them. They behead people or burn them to death. Is that moral? Maybe those who brutally murder and rape think that it is within their moral standards. Many of us would not agree that those things are moral, but there are others in the world that see no problem with those things according to their moral code and ethics.
I believe that most people know at least some of the 10 commandments, believers or unbelievers. All around the world people know to one degree or another about the 10 commandments. As I stated in my previous article, the law of God is written on the hearts of man. People intrinsically know right from wrong, but many choose to ignore their heart.
Let’s take a quick look at the 10 commandments. (Short version) The 10 commandment can be found in Exodus 20.
1. “You shall have no other gods before Me.. (people invented many false gods).
2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image… (idols).
3. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.. (broken everyday).
4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.. (a day of rest for the people).
5. “Honor your father and your mother.. ( on the decline in today’s society).
6. “You shall not murder.. (no words needed).
7. “You shall not commit adultery.. (get’s broken).
8. “You shall not steal.. (same as above).
9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor… (gets broken).
10. “You shall not covet.. (people desire many of the things others have).
The first 4 commandments are directed towards God. We should honor Him and reverence Him as our Father and creator. We should not make idols and worship something that does not exist. Some people say that they don’t worship anything. If you don’t worship God, you worship something. Yourself, riches and material things, sports etc. God’s name gets used in vain everyday. Jesus has become a swear word, in the movies and society. The sabbath law for the Christian is a subject for another time.
The last 6 commandments are directed towards human relations and how we should live with one another. I firmly believe that if we would all follow those, we would not have the problems in society as we see them today.
These are the moral standards and code we as humans should live by. All of them however get broken every day and today we have thousands of laws in the books because people disobey the commandments given by God. Now, many will say that they have never murdered anyone or committed adultery or have lied etc. The religious leadership in the days of Jesus told Him that. They believed that they kept the law perfectly. Jesus didn’t think so and He actually put the 10 commandments a notch higher. People thought that they kept the laws, because physically they never murdered anybody or cheated on their wife’s. They may have kept the law outwardly, Jesus however showed them that is was and is a matter of the heart.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. ”But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment….”
If someone hates another person, they have already committed murder in their heart.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery” “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
A person may not had sexual relation with another, but lusting after someone is the same as committing adultery.
These passage can be found in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus clearly shows that God looks at the heart and not the outside. If we gauge our moral laws on human understanding and reasoning instead of God’s, where would we be? We as humans cannot know the heart of our fellow-man, even our own heart is unknowable and wicked. God judges the heart of man and here is what God said about the heart of man:
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:1o, 11.
God will judge according to His law and He will look at the heart. There will be a day of judgment for everybody, whether some believe it or not. Everybody will face death one day, no exceptions and stand before God.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment..” Hebrews 9:27.
Jesus narrowed those 10 commandment down to two: Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. “This is the first and great commandment. “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40. If we were to follow those two, we would fulfill the law to love God and not murder, steal, lie etc.
If we talk about moral values and ethics set by man or God, I rather follow the moral code set by God and not of man and human wisdom and understanding. A society that distance itself from God and His standards will ultimately fail. There is no other foundation that can be laid but God’s. If a society turns from God, wants to remove God from its life is a society doomed, sooner or later.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: “and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”Matthew 7:24-27.
- Good without God? (media4lifeministries.com)
- Human Reasoning or God’s Standard’s? (media4lifeministries.com)
- Law Breakers (media4lifeministries.com)
- Relationship or Religion? (media4lifeministries.wordpress.com)
There are many religions in the world and all of them have some kind of a god. Muslims worship Allah for example and Hindus have 330 million different gods. Can anybody really know 330 million gods?
Muslims say that they know Allah and that he is the true god, yet they have no personal relationship with Allah. A Muslim can never be sure if Allah is pleased with them. Muslims have no assurance of Allah’s love for them. They weight out their good and bad deeds and hope that the goods deeds will outweigh their bad deeds. They hope that Allah will be merciful to them. They also have no assurance to make it to heaven i.e paradise. All religions are either based on a works based or man centered relationship with their god(s). That is what religion is, man trying in vain to reach God on their own merit.
How about Christianity? Can a Christian truly know God? When I talk about God, I am referring to the God of the Bible, the Creator of all things. The only true and living God. In all reality, there is only one true God, all others are man-made and do not exist. I know that will offend many religions and religious people, but it is the simple truth. There is only One true and living God and it doesn’t matter how many different gods people worship. Ultimately they will all face the true God, at the day of judgment.
Many people believe that it is impossible to know God. They say that God is incomprehensible, which He is. How can one know Almighty God that spoke the universe into existence, simply by His Word? It is way beyond our finite minds. When God spoke, His word traveled in the speed of light which is about 186.000 miles per second. Awesome, incredible and incomprehensible. God in the OT was know by Abraham as YHWH and to Moses God revealed Himself as the “I AM that I AM” in the burning bush. God revealed Himself and His awesome powers through various ways to the OT Saints. Adam and Eve before the fall, walked with God in the cool of the evening. How can somebody walk with God Who is Spirit? Moses wanted to see God and ask Him to show His Glory. “And Moses said, “Please, show me Your glory.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” Ex33:18, 20.
God did show Moses some of His Glory, by passing by, covering the eyes of Moses and Moses saw the back or afterglow of God. The result of that was that the face of Moses was glowing when he came down from the mountain. The children of Israel saw the presence of God as a flame of fire at night and a cloud during the day after the Exodus from Egypt. God is so Holy that we as fallen human beings could not stand in His presence and live.
How than can Christians claim to know God personally and have a loving relationship with Him? A Christian knows God because of Jesus Christ. He has revealed God to them. Jesus, the second person of the triune Godhead became flesh and dwelled among us (John 1:14). Jesus is the exact image of God, His character, nature and all attributes. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Col 1:15-17.
In the OT times God appeared to man as the Angel of the LORD. He appeared and spoke to Abraham in Genesis 18. Whenever God appeared to men in human form, it was through the person of Jesus i.e.the pre-incarnate Christ.
He was the Angel of the LORD that spoke to Haggar after leaving Abraham with Ishmael. The Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3:2). The Angel of the LORD appeared before Balaam riding his donkey in Numbers 22. He appeared to Gideon (Jdg 6). Manoah, Elijah and many others throughout the OT.
Whenever God communicated with men in human form, it was the person of Jesus. In the gospel of John in chapter 8 the Pharisees once again attack Jesus accusing Him of having a demon. Jesus is making one of the most profound statements to them: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Jhn 8: 56-58. Jesus took the very name that the Angel of the Lord revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. “I AM.” The Jews understood perfectly well that He said that He is God. That’s the reason they picked up stones to kill Him. Jesus is the great “I AM” or the becoming One.
Christians can know God the Father because Jesus declared Him and we know God because we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus left heaven to dwell with man, He humbled Himself and became one of us. He willfully came to the earth dwelled among us and gave His life on the cross. He came to die for those that would believe in Him through faith. Believers in Christ Jesus are forgiven of their sins. The scriptures are very clear, only God can forgive sins. “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Mark 2:7. They were right, only God can forgive sins and Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. They called Jesus a blasphemer. What they failed to see is that Jesus is God. The Apostle John makes it very clear who Jesus is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3.
Christians believe in the trinity or the triune nature of God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Co-equal, Co-existent, Co-eternal. One God in three distinct Persons but of One Essence. (please see my article on the trinity).
Jesus showed us God. If we know and learn from Jesus we can know God and have a meaningful and personal relationship with Him by abiding in Christ. “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mat 11:27-30.
As true biblical Christians we can boldly claim to know God, because we know and believe in Jesus who is like the Father and He has shown us the Father. One of His own disciples was asking Jesus: “Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Philip wanted to see God, not realizing that God was in their midst. Jesus said: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” John 14: 9,10.
As Christians we can have assurance of forgiveness and eternal life because of our Lord and Savior. We can also come boldly before the throne of God because Jesus opened the way to the Father, He opened the veil to the Holy of Holiest.
The answer to the question in the beginning is a big YES. True believers in Jesus can know God, His Character, attributes, His kindness, His love, mercy and grace towards those who receive the Son. There is only one way to know God and there is only one way to God.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6.
- Jesus or Muhammad? (media4lifeministries.wordpress.com)
- Christianity; the oldest “religion” in the World. (media4lifeministries.wordpress.com)
- The Muslim Dilemma (media4lifeministries.wordpress.com)