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Tuesday 31 October 2023

True Joy



Sometimes our desire for true joy is sabotaged by our pursuit of selfish, foolish and temporary pleasures. True joy comes from pursuing righteousness.

Blessed or happy is the man who seeks to find joy in the right place.

"Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night. " (Psalm 1:1-2).

To be blessed means to be filled with a true and abiding joy, a deep and grounded happiness, and to be in good favour with the Lord. Through the pursuit of what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true we can experience the kind of joy we seek in life.

The mistake many people make is looking for this joy in all the wrong places. Or even the right places, but in the wrong way. What I mean by that is if you look for joy in the things of this world, but don’t bring that under a banner of recognition that all good things come from above, then we will often find that the things of this world grow dimmer and that they don’t satisfy. However, when we recognize that all these good things are gifts from our loving heavenly father, then the joy is made more real, deep and firm.

Delight in what is good, what is from God, and true and abiding joy will be the fruit.


Monday 30 October 2023

But The Founding Of Israel Is A Powerful Sign?


I wrote recently about how we can be certain that the modern nation of Israel is a work of the flesh and not a fulfillment of prophecy. To some people this is so radical, so controversial, they cannot fathom how this can be so. The founding of modern Israel is such an incredibly powerful sign, such an incredible moment on the world stage, they think: How can such a powerful sign not be a work of God?

Well first, let me say that God is sovereign and so he is in control of whatever happens in the world in some sense. Christians can debate the particulars about how God exercises his sovereignty, but we all agree that he is the sovereign king. He decrees the bounds, he decrees what can and cannot be allowed and much more. So, in this sense we can say that God is at work in the founding of the nation state of Israel today. He is at work in all the nations in one way or another (Ps. 2).

But that is not the same as saying that God has brought Israel back to his land to fulfill prophecy in our day. We demonstrated in an earlier piece that this cannot be the case, because the conditions of the return of Israel are not evident in the modern nation of Israel. We noted these conditions in that piece:

“The Bible does prophecy a return of the Israelites to the land. But for this to be fulfilled it requires:

1) A repentant people, who turn from their sins and rebellion against God.
2) They are now believers who trust in their Lord and Messiah, Jesus Christ.
3) All Israel, not just Judah, but the whole 12 tribes is restored.
4) They will inhabit all of the land, not just the fraction that they do now.”

None of these conditions have been fulfilled. If you want to see the biblical justification for these conditions you can refer to this earlier piece.

So, the question remains: how can such a powerful sign, the return of a large percentage of the nation of Israel to the land, not be a fulfilment of prophecy? Simple, the full conditions of that sign have not been fulfilled and therefore it is reasonable to say that this is the sign of a false fulfilment. The devil is the ruler of this world and he has great power, it stands to reason that he would be able to pull off some incredible signs.

Jesus warned us to be on the lookout for false signs claiming to be about end time fulfilment, “23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:23-24). He also warned that the elect were in danger of falling for those signs.

Paul tells us something very similar and warns us about how the devil works,

“9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9-12).

This passage is speaking about what the coming of the antichrist, or lawless one, will be like. Whether you want to attribute this to Nero, or some future antichrist (I think it is legitimate to apply it to both and many other antichrists as well) note that the coming of the lawless one will be in line with how Satan already works and he works via “all power and false signs and wonders…” My translation of the Greek behind this verse would be “all power, and signs and lying wonders…” similar to the RSV translation (the above quote is ESV).

This does not change the meaning of the verse very much, because both demonstrate that the evil one is capable of powerful signs and false wonders. He has great power and is capable of pulling of powerful deceptive tricks. Tricks that Jesus warns might even be able to deceive some of the elect.

Now consider this: what could be a more powerful false sign or lying wonder than the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in a world that is hostile to its formation? I know some people cannot handle this thought, that it might be a false sign. But bear with me, just do a thought experiment for a moment.

The modern nation of Israel does not fulfil the full counsel of God’s word on the re-establishment of the nation. You can take a passage out of context to say that this is a biblical fulfilment, like this verse, Amos 9:15, “I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the Lord your God.” But when you read the whole counsel of God’s word on the return you can see very clearly this is a false fulfilment. Plus, Amos 9:11-15, which speaks of the restoration of Israel, is quoted by the Apostles in Acts 15 to refer to the establishment of the church.

Consider also that the nation of modern Israel is largely atheistic, has a large population that explicitly rejects Jesus, has been encroaching on the land of Palestinians, some of whom have been in the land for centuries and more, and the church is persecuted in that land. But those who believe this is a biblical prophecy give cover to all of this, which clearly is not in the will of God for the nation of Israel to do. There is no mandate for modern Israel to conquer the land, in fact the more the church supports this modern conquest the more this does damage to the witness of the church in the Middle East. Again, it is clearly a false sign.

When you couple this with a Christian support for a Middle Eastern policy that favours Israel and disables much of the other nations in the Middle East, you can see how Christians holding this view can do great damage to the mission of the church. We are commanded to evangelize to Jew and Gentiles, Arabs and Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians, all peoples in fact. However, Christians are seen as agents of a global empire in the Middle East because of a very vocal segment of the church supporting Zionistic policies. Again, this is clearly a false sign, that creates a very large stumbling block for mission.  

It is very hard to explain this to people, because they look at the Bible and see Israel is there and then they look at the Middle East and see that Israel is there and they think: all is well with the world, Go Israel! But if you examine the prophecies carefully you see that they require more than this, as we have demonstrated. Therefore, this is clearly a work of deception and a false sign.

The power of the sign is not the most important thing. The uniqueness of the sign is not the most important thing. The wonder of a sign is not the most important thing. When God does these kinds of signs then you will see such amazingness, but you will also see much more. The most important thing to determine whether it is a true sign or a false sign is how closely does it comport with the word of God and point people to faith in Jesus.  

Let me quote one of our passages from the previous post again, just to be absolutely clear,

“17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God” (Ezekiel 11:17-21).  

Let’s look at all the conditions that God gives for this to be a true fulfilment, in detail:

1)     The Lord will gather these people (this must mean the full 12 tribes right?),

2)     From all of the countries where they have been scattered,

3)     He will give them the land of Israel (without qualification, so all of it),

4)     They will remove all idols and abominable practices from the land,

5)     They will have renewed hearts,

6)     They will be Spirit filled believers,

7)     They will fulfil God’s laws, because they are Spirit filled,

8)     They will worship God alone, as he is their God, and reject all forms of false worship,

9)     This means they will praise the name of Jesus, and worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God.

In other words when this prophecy is fulfilled Israel will be a fully filled and revitalized Christian nation that honours and worships the Father and come to him through the Son, and who are empowered in this by the work of the Spirit.

Can anyone, and I mean anyone, honestly say that the modern nation state of Israel fulfills these conditions? Of course not. It is actually quite dishonourable to make such a claim.

When someone says they believe the modern nation state of Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy show them this passage, or Deuteronomy 30 or Ezekiel 37 or any number of other passages that prophecy a return, and really drill down with them these nine points, or however many points are in those respective passages. They are necessary for the prophecy to have been fulfilled. Until they are, then it is guaranteed that the devil is up to something. And when you look at the fruit of the West seeking to replant Israel in the land, you can see that it does not bear good fruit. It bears war, destruction, strife, persecution of believers and many other ills.

I truly want what is best for the Jewish people and the people of Israel. I support their right to establish a nation. Every nation has a right to exist and every nation needs somewhere to exist. But if you want the best for them point them to Jesus, and do not lie to them by saying that their nation is protected by divine prophecy. This is a grand error and a terrible lie. One day the Messiah will call back his people. Many passages prophecy this, and this will be a good day for the world, because it will mean the fullness of the Gentiles has also come it. But in the meantime, look out for false signs, they are dangerous and they are all over the place.

Saturday 28 October 2023

The Real Restoration of Israel

How can we be certain that the modern state of Israel is a work of man and not a work of God?

What I mean by a work of man, is that it is a work of the flesh seeking to fulfil the things of God, rather than a work of God to fulfil prophecy. Despite what I have written over the last week or so, you may not realize that I believe in a restored nation of Israel, with Christ ruling from his throne in Jerusalem. Indeed, I believe every nation will be restored to their lands in the Millenium or the new Heavens and Earth because the nations survive the old Heavens and Earth and are there at the end of scripture. The leaves on the tree of life exist for their healing, and it is God who determines the boundaries of nations, not man. God will restore all things, this means he will restore the nations, because they are part of “all things”. This includes, but is not limited, to Israel. There are no promises that the believing physical descendants of Israel get that the Gentiles grafted into Israel do not also get.  

It is because of a literal reading of scripture that we can say for certain that the modern state of Israel is not this fulfilment, it is rather a human attempt to fulfil God's plan, much like the Kingdom of Jerusalem was in the time of the crusades. How can we know this?

We simply need to read what God said about the issue:

"17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 11:17-21)

Ezekiel is clear, when God brings the people back to the land, there will be a revival accompanying it. They will remove all the detestable things from the land, which means idols and symbols of rebellion and truly trust in God, which means they will believe in his Son, Jesus. The modern state of Israel has not done this, they have not repented, or turned to Jesus and their most prominent city, Tel Aviv, is known worldwide as one of the most pro-homosexual cities in the world. This is surely not a work of God.

He re-emphasizes this in Ezekiel 37:11-14

"11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

When the Bible repeats itself, pay attention. When God returns the people to the land, this will also be accompanied by a redeemed, spirit filled people who know their Lord. This has definitely not happened yet. We cannot say that the modern nation of Israel is populated by a spirit filled, Jesus confessing, people of the Lord.

This is also written into the prophecy of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:1-10,

"30 And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. 5 And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. 6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

When God brings his people back to the land, they will be a law keeping, God honouring, commandment following, righteous nation of people. The only way to fully fulfil the law is through Christ, the one who fulfilled the law. Man cannot do that. So, Moses was looking to a time when the people of Israel would look to Jesus Christ, who is the fulfilment of the law. Circumcision of the heart is something we are told in the New Testament the Holy Spirit does for all believers in Jesus (Rom. 2:29). It is the only circumcision that counts now that Christ has fulfilled the law.  

The Bible does prophecy a return of the Israelites to the land. But for this to be fulfilled it requires:

1)     A repentant people, who turn from their sins and rebellion against God.

2)     They are now believers who trust in their Lord and Messiah, Jesus Christ.

3)     All Israel, not just Judah, but the whole 12 tribes is restored.

4)     They will inhabit all of the land, not just the fraction that they do now.

None of these conditions of the prophecy have been fulfilled, therefore we can say for certain that the current state of Israel is a work of the flesh, of man, and because of this it will fail. Most Jewish people do not want to move to the land of Canaan and many believe they should wait for the return of their Messiah before they do (they are right, but his name is Jesus).

My belief is that this whole situation will end up being a lesson to both the Church and to the Jewish people to look to Christ. Because only in Jesus can the promises be fulfilled because they are fulfilled in him (2 Cor. 1:20). It will be especially a reminder to the church not to try and fulfil prophecy before the time is right, a lesson the church has learnt in the past and forgotten and will learn again and forget again, but hopefully not for several generations at least. It will also be a reminder to the Church that we should be about the business of mission, not seeking to conquer the Middle East through badly justified invasions. The Church’s support of the modern state of Israel has done very few favours to the Christian Church in the Middle East, who have often copped the blame for the West’s interventions in that region. A sad tragedy which the Western Church should take some responsibility for and repent.  

If you believe in the restoration of an Israelite nation in the land of Canaan, as many do, this requires you to believe everything the scriptures say about it, and not be selective. It also requires you to be about the work of mission, because until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in this cannot be fulfilled, and it is clear to me by the mission work happening around the world that there are many Gentiles God still intends the church to reach and for him to save. And he wants the church to go out and find those lost sheep.

There will be a Kingdom of the Messiah in Jerusalem, but it will be part of a worldwide work of God to finally claim his world and set up the kingdom of God. When he does that no one will be able to oppose it, he will do it in his time, and it will not look like the modern state of Israel at all. It will be a place of worship of the true Lord, as revealed through his Son Jesus Christ, and it will be a place that people of all nations flock because it will be just one part of God's full claimed and established kingdom. It will not be a place where the church of God is persecuted as they are today, but where those who believe in Jesus Christ are honoured as they exalt Christ, their Lord and Saviour.

No Rest In The Land Of Canaan


There is no rest in the land of Canaan. Not without Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:12, says this, "12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

This is perhaps one of the most famous passages in the Bible. So many Christians know it and believe it. God's word is our sword, dividing between the soul and the spirit. God's word is our spiritual weapon against sin in this life. But what is the context of this famous verse?

The context is that there is no rest in the land of Canaan, but in a better land, one secured by Christ.

Here is the extended context:

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
    on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
    and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
    they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 3:7-4:16).

The person who wrote Hebrews (some think Paul, we don't really know for sure) went out of his way to direct his readers, likely mostly Hebrew Christians, away from looking back to the Old Covenant, or looking back to the land, or to the temple or the sacrifices, or any of the trappings of the Mosaic law. That way lies destruction, that way lies defeat, that way lies spiritual death. What he wanted them to do was look to Christ and look to the hope found in him.

If the writers of the New Testament went out of their way to warn the Jewish Christians that there is no hope or rest for them in the land of Israel, "8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on." Then how cruel would it be for us to tell non-believing or believing Jews that there is hope in that land? Rest was offered there at one point, but the people failed to obtain it, Joshua even failed to obtain it, and rebellion guaranteed there would never be rest in that land.

I believe God will bring physical Israelites back to the land, in the Millenium when he sets up his reign on the throne of David. I believe they will be Christians though at that point who have turned to Jesus and they will worship the Lord Jesus Christ alongside of their Gentile brothers and sisters, when Jesus makes the whole earth his literal kingdom. But before the King returns there is no rest in the land, Joshua could not give them rest, and Netanyahu cannot give them rest. There is no rest in the land, there is only conflict and strife.

How incredible is that a Jewish Christian writing nearly 2000 years ago, could so accurately see what it would be like for his people to try and live in the land? I believe the best way to love the kin of Jesus, the Jews, is to point them to Jesus. In Jesus all the promises are fulfilled (2 Cor. 1:20). There is hope in Jesus. There is rest in Jesus. We can rest from our works because he achieved salvation for us and we do not have to earn this salvation. And one day he will take us all, Jew and Gentile believers, into the true promise land, where we can rest completely.

This is the hope we should preach. This is the hope we should point all people from all nations to. Pointing people to hope in blocks of land and telling them that that is their promise land, will only bring disappointment and a striving that will never cease. I love how insightfully the word of God speaks to the issues of today. For there truly is no rest in the land of Canaan.

Thursday 26 October 2023


Image: Unsplash

Not some, not a few, not some for others and a few for us. All, ALLLL the promises of God find their yes only in Jesus Christ.

"19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1:19-22).

"For all the promises of God find their Yes in him."

No one, Jew or Gentile, can inherit the promises of God apart from faith in Jesus. Frankly why would you want a promise of God apart from Jesus in whom the fullness of the ages has come? And I find it strange that some think you can and there is benefit to fulfilment outside of Christ. It boggles my mind.

If you want to one day inherit the promised land, your only hope is to trust in Jesus. Outside of him all else is nothing but loss, count it Skubala...and we all know what that means. Paul is so clear about this,

"2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish (skubala), in order that I may gain Christ..." (Phil. 3:2-8).

What profit have any of us, Jew or Gentile, outside of Christ? In him is rest, outside of him is war, toil and striving for gain that will be lost anyway.

"11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Cor. 3:11-15).

It is foolish to look for hope in the land of Israel, or really any other block of land on this world. It is foolish to look for hope anywhere but in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Prioritize that which the Apostles of Jesus focused on. Let, the sons of this world fight over places like the land of Canaan, the kingdom of God is our business.

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Whose Side Is God On?


Image: Unsplash

Whose side is God on? Many people make a big error with this because they forget that God is on his own side.

We read in Joshua 5:13-15

"13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so."

When Joshua asks whose side is God on, Israel's or Israel's enemies, the Angel of the Lord says, "No." Why? Because God is on his own side. His side is the winning side. It is our job as human beings to make sure that we bow before God and join his side and not expect God to always be for us. He is for us when we are in his will, but he is against us when we are not. Because God is on his side.

Jesus taught the very same thing.

John 15:10, "10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love."

When those who claim to be his people do not act like it, God is not for them. Which is a message we should all take to heart.

Monday 23 October 2023

Tolkien Was Red-Pilled On WW2.


Image: Unsplash

Tolkien was red-pilled on WW2 before it was cool. I have just started reading The Lord of the Rings again for the first time in many years and in the introduction to the 1991 Tolkien addressed the idea of whether or not his work was an allegory. He explains that it was not, and in the process why it is explicitly not an allegory for World War 2,

“It was written long before  the foreshadow of 1939 had yet to become a threat of inevitable disaster, and from that point the story would have developed along essentially the same lines, if that disaster had been averted. Its sources are things long before in mind, or in some cases already written, and little or nothing in it was modified by the war that began in 1939 or its sequels.

The real war does not resemble the legendary war[1] in its process of its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dur would not have been destroyed but occupied. Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth. In that conflict both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not have long survived even as slaves.”[2]

Some people believe that World War 2 was a clear case of the good guys verse the bad guys. But those more familiar with Churchill’s machinations behind the scenes for war, both in the early 1900’s before WW1 and prior to WW2, and of the ambitions of FDR in the United States, and especially of the evil of Stalin in working hard to set up the conditions for a big war in Europe, know that it was more a baddies verse baddies affair. Every side was evil. 

It is a big red-pill moment when you learn of the corruption that got the western world involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. It is a far larger shock to the system when you realize that the same corruption was behind the second world war. A war many consider motivated (at least on the allies side) by as pristine motives as you can get for a war. 

But it is an encouragement to see the view that Tolkien held. Because he is clearly saying here that if his book, The Lord of the Rings, were an allegory, then every side would have been evil. That would have been a terrible book indeed, just as it was a terrible period in the history of this world.

Not all wars are bankers wars. But most wars are unnecessary wars that cost rivers of blood for little benefit for the average man. Don’t fall for war propaganda. It is good to want to defend your nation, but if your men are called to a far off land, far from your own country and told they must fight there to defend your nation, ask some hard questions. Because if there are borders, between borders, between borders, before that enemy could threaten your own people, then you can be pretty certain that they are not about the business of defending your own country. They are fighting for foreign interests. 

Tolkien was red-pilled before it was cool. How could he not be? His insight into the inner workings of mankind are first class.  

List of References

[1] The war in the Lord of the Rings.

[2] J R R Tolkien, 1991, The Lord of the Rings, HarperCollinsPublishers.

Saturday 21 October 2023

Are Christians A Part Of Israel?


Image: Unsplash

Are Christians part of Israel? I have briefly addressed this on my blog and on other online posts, but some people are still struggling with the concept that Christians are part of Israel. So let me come at this from another angle.

Some Christians say that they are the ones who interpret the Bible literally, and because Israel is a literal flesh and blood people that inhabited the land of promise, we have to limit the name of Israel to this nation, it cannot apply to the Church. This Israel was a real nation God brought out of Egypt.

Hosea the prophet tells us this "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos. 11:1).

Here the prophet is talking about a literal event; the nation of Israel being called out of Egypt. We call this the Exodus, and it is the central salvation event of the Old Testament. Yet the Apostle Matthew applies it this way,

"13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matt. 2:13-15).

Matthew says this passage in Hosea is a prophecy about Jesus, the Son of God. It is still a literal event, Jesus literally came out of Egypt, but it shows Israel is not just a nation, Jesus himself is the true Israel, the true Son of the Father. So already we see from this passage that Israel is more than just a literal nation.  

Now consider this, when we are saved from our sins and become Christians we become co-heirs of Christ, and are adopted as sons of God,  

"14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:14-17).

Let me say it again, at salvation we become full-fledged sons of God. Paul says sons in verse 14, because this is a biblical (and ancient) terminology meaning we get all the rights and privileges of an heir. To be made a son is to be made an important heir, like the Son himself. What an amazing and incredible gift from God. We don't deserve this, we did not earn it, it is a free gift to all who believe in the name of Jesus Christ.

This means Christ is also our brother through adoption. We read in Hebrews,

"10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, ‘I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise’ (2:10-12).

We are adopted into the family of God, we are made full-fledged members of his family, and Christ is our brother through that adoption. Now remember, he is an Israelite, so we are therefore adopted into Israel. To be the brother of an Israelite is to be an Israelite. To be in Christ is to be in Israel. This is the privilege of every Christian, no matter where they come from.

This is not a work of the flesh, but of the Spirit who through grace makes us co-heirs and brothers of Jesus plus also members of Israel. And because we are members of Israel, we are also heirs of all the promises to Israel which are claimed by the Son, Jesus Christ, the true Israel.

I hope this is helpful for people. I also hope this excites you, because such is the great mercy of God that he would take Gentiles, who were far from him, and make those of us who believe in him full co-heirs with the Son of God. Wow!!! This is an incredible privilege and gift and no one has the right to tell you that you do not have this privilege, just because you don’t have the right genes or parents.

What this also shows us is that Replenishment theology is the correct position on God's people. To illustrate this, God’s people are likened to branches on a tree throughout scripture. God doesn't replace the tree, but he also does not let the dead branches remain in the tree. He cuts out the dead branches and grafts in new branches. All based on faith,

"15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:1-7).

"17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root[c] of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you” (Romans 11:17-22).

These passages teach precisely the same important truth, that the tree is a firm foundation and branches must be in the tree and have faith and bear fruit to remain in the tree. If not they will be cut out.

Replacement theology (a term coined in the 1980's) is a slur that some Christians use to criticize those who teach in line with the scriptures that the Church is Israel. Those who use this term misunderstand the historic position of the church. The historic position of the church is that the tree = Israel. Christ is the true Israel. All who are in Christ are in Israel.  Branches that do not bear the fruit of faith are cut out, branches that bear fruit are grafted in. The tree is always preserved.

Our heavenly Father is called the vinedresser or gardener for that reason. He prunes the vine, he trims the tree, replenishing it continually. Good gardeners do this. 

So, if you believe in Jesus rejoice and again I say rejoice. For your salvation is an incredible gift and privilege. God makes us his heirs of promise, he makes us co-heirs with Jesus, the true Israel and he grafts all who believe into the people of God, Israel. Let no one tell you otherwise. This is a great privilege, but also a great responsibility.

Friday 20 October 2023

A Nation of Whores


Image: Unsplash

Australia has officially been labelled a nation of whores,

“Australia is officially the most promiscuous country in the world

Australia has been labelled as the most promiscuous and sexually-open country in the world.

A worldwide study looked at 45 countries' sexual habits and gave each a Global Promiscuity Index score with Australia coming out on top.

It weighed up six factors including the number of sexual partners, rate of sexually transmitted diseases, mean age people lost their virginity and attitudes towards prostitution and premarital sex…

With all factors considered Aussies earned an impressive index score of 360.14 in front of Brazil with 340.66.”[i]

Though I wonder if whores is the right word, because though prostitution is legal in Australia, generally Australians just give it away, like the Israelites of old they scorn payment. And why do we consider whores worse that those who are promiscuous? There is no doubt the prostitution is an abhorrent and immoral profession, but the idea that promiscuity is better has always confused me.

Even the Bible says this,

“30 How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different” (Ezekiel 16:30-34).

It is not profitable to try and work out which sin is worse, because they are different manifestations of the same precise sin: fornication.

The fact that Australia is so high up on the list is another bit of evidence that our nation has been given over to its depravity and sin. Australia has long been called the lucky country, but how long can that luck last if our nation continues to reject God so thoroughly?

List of References


Thursday 19 October 2023

Christians Are Persecuted In Israel


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One of the most disturbing trends amongst Christians today is the misidentification of the people of God. The Bible has been consistent on this throughout every page: God’s people have always been those who believe in him, no matter their race[1] and those who do not believe in him are not his. As John the Baptist so eloquently says,

“7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham” (Matt. 3:7-9).

John is telling the Jewish religious leaders something important: it is who you have faith in and how you live which makes you people of God, not who you are descended from.[2] This theme is consistent throughout the Bible and never changes. As Paul tells us again and again it is those who have faith, who do not trust in the flesh, who are children of God. God’s people have faith in him and in the New Testament in Jesus Christ, his Son, and those who are not of God reject him and reject his Son.

So, knowing this, we have to say that the only times that God’s people are attacked in Israel is when Christians are persecuted by those who practice Orthodox Judaism or sometimes by Islamic radicals (though this is less often).

As the Guardian reports,

“The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Holy Land has warned in an interview that Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government has made life worse for Christians in the birthplace of Christianity.

The Vatican-appointed Latin Patriarch, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said that the region’s 2,000-year-old Christian community has come under increasing attack, with the most rightwing government in Israel’s history emboldening extremists who have harassed clergy and vandalised religious property at a quickening pace.

The increase in anti-Christian incidents comes as the Israeli settler movement, galvanised by its allies in government, appears to have seized the moment to expand its enterprise in the contested capital.

“The frequency of these attacks, the aggressions, has become something new,” Pizzaballa told the AP. “These people feel they are protected … that the cultural and political atmosphere now can justify, or tolerate, actions against Christians.”[3]

As NBC news reports,

“But church officials and Christian leaders in Israel say this was far from an isolated incident. As tensions over Jewish and Muslim holy sites have erupted in recent weeks, spiraling into violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Christians in the Holy Land say they’re under attack, too.

Although they blame a minority of Jewish extremists for the attacks, they say Israel’s far-right government has fostered a culture of impunity for attacks on non-Jews, emboldening the nation’s most extreme elements.

In January, ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmakers allied with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed imposing jail time for Christian proselytizing, although after a global outcry, Netanyahu said he would block the bill.

Dimitri Diliani, head of the Palestinian National Christian Coalition, said he felt “more threatened” now by “Israeli policies than any other time.”

“Staying here and protecting our heritage is becoming more difficult,” he said.

In Christianity’s holiest city, churches have been graffitied and clergy who live and work here report being frequently spit on, harassed and even physically attacked by extremist Jews. Christian leaders say most incidents are never thoroughly investigated.”[4]

As Al Jazeera reports,

“Christian leaders in Jerusalem say never have Israeli attackers felt more emboldened than under the far-right ruling coalition.

Jerusalem – Nothing about the attack or what happened since surprised Miran Krikorian. The Armenian owner of Taboon and Wine Bar in the Old City of Jerusalem was not surprised to receive a call the night of January 26 that a mob of Israeli settlers was attacking his bar in the Christian Quarter and shouting “Death to Arabs … Death to Christians.”

It didn’t surprise him how little effort the police made to catch the perpetrators; after some press about the attack and a lack of arrests, police told him two months later they detained three of the suspects among the mob. But they also asked for his surveillance video, despite the videos being already online and surveillance cameras omnipresent in the Old City…

…Hostility by fundamentalist Jews towards Jerusalem’s Christian community is not new, and it is not just Armenian Christians who suffer from it. Priests of all denominations describe being spat at for years. Since 2005, Christian celebrations around Holy Week, particularly Holy Fire Saturday, have brought military barricades and harsh treatment from soldiers and settlers alike, with the number of worshippers allowed inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre drastically limited, from as many as 11,000 historically during the Holy Fire ceremony to now 1,800 since last year, with authorities citing safety concerns.

But since Israel’s new government – the most right wing and religious in its history – came to power, incidents against Christians in Jerusalem have reportedly become more violent and common. At the beginning of the year, 30 Christian graves at the Protestant Mount Zion Cemetery were desecrated. In the Armenian Quarter, vandals spray-painted “Death to Arabs, Christians and Armenians,” on the walls.”[5]

As The Times of Israel reports,

“The picture of safe coexistence painted by Israeli officials is starkly at odds with the experiences Jerusalem’s Christian leaders themselves describe. While they readily acknowledge that there is no organized or governmental effort against them, Christian clergy in the Old City tell of a deteriorating atmosphere of harassment, apathy from authorities, and a growing fear that incidents of spitting and vandalism could turn into something far darker.

And with Netanyahu already under scrutiny from Western allies over policies toward the Palestinians and attempts at sweeping judicial reform, deteriorating safety for Christians — or at least Church leaders disseminating that narrative — could become another serious diplomatic problem for Israel’s embattled government…

…The next week, the Maronite community center in the northern city of Ma’alot-Tarshiha was vandalized by unknown assailants over the Christmas holiday.

Jerusalem’s Armenian community buildings were also targeted by vandals, with multiple discriminatory phrases graffitied on the exterior of structures in the Armenian Quarter. According to the Armenian Patriarchate, “revenge,” “death to Christians,” “death to Arabs and gentiles” and “death to Armenians” were all graffitied in the quarter.

The attacks kept coming. On a Thursday night in late January, a gang of religious Jewish teens threw chairs at an Armenian restaurant inside the city’s New Gate. The vandalism at the Church of the Flagellation occurred the very next week.

And last week, a resident of southern Israel was arrested after attacking priests with an iron bar at the Tomb of the Virgin Mary in Gethsemane.

“Terrorist attacks, by radical Israeli groups, targeting churches, cemeteries, and Christian properties… have become almost a daily occurrence that evidently increases in intensity during Christian holidays,” said the Greek Orthodox Church.”[6]

And lastly, as Religion News Service reports,

“As anti-Christian incidents perpetrated by religious Jewish extremists have increased in number during the past several months, church leaders are pleading with government officials to take the matter more seriously.  

Until recently, those pleas have gone largely unheeded. Preoccupied with an unprecedented political crisis sparked by the December 2022 election of a government dominated by nationalists and ultra-Orthodox Jews, Israeli officials have given little attention to the anti-Christian assaults, say church leaders. 

Bishop Rafic Nahra in Nazareth, Catholic patriarchal vicar for Israel, called the police response “weak.”

“If synagogues were being attacked, the response would be stronger,” he asserted.

Police have arrested only a handful of the teenagers and young men who have spat at nuns and priests in the Old City of Jerusalem, vandalized church property and disrupted Christian prayer gatherings.  

This inaction has spurred even more attacks by dozens of religious extremists scattered around the country, according to resident Christians.”[7]  

These are not isolated reports and they are not new, even though all of these reports come from 2023, this does not show that Christian persecution is new in Israel, only that it has recently gotten worse.

Are you aware that Israel is one of the places on earth where Christians are persecuted and attacked regularly? Especially on certain holy days? I suspect that you are not. In fact, I can only think that the absolute complete support many Christians display for the nation of Israel shows that they are unaware of this persecution. It is even worse to say that the people who are persecuting Christians are the people of God.

It is one thing to condemn terror attacks against civilians. That such an act would garner a harsh response from Christians is understandable. To then turn around and say that Israel are the people of God is to go way too far and this needs to be challenged, even if it is not popular to do so.

This is what the Bible says about persecution of his people and where it comes from,

“16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea” (Rev. 12:16-17).

Who are those that “keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus”? Christians, whether Jewish or Gentile. Those who hold to faith in the name of Jesus Christ. There are Christians of both sorts in Israel. There are even some Christians in Gaza who trace their descent all the way back to the primitive church of the Apostles. Incredible isn’t it? But such is the perseverance of the saints, the people of God, they can survive and flourish in even the most unfavourable conditions.

As Christians we should not instantly side with any state that tolerates persecution of our brothers and sisters. Israel needs the gospel as much as Iran, China or many other parts of the world where Christians are a persecuted minority. It is a travesty that so many Christians today do not understand the concept of who the people of God are according to the Scriptures, but then, they have been led astray by many bishops and preachers who have taught them the wrongs things on this issue.  

List of References

[1] Observe in the Bible how many Gentiles joined the people of God, people such as Rahab, Ruth, Obed-Edom, Uriah the Hittite, Job and many others who were not Jewish or even Hebrew, starting with Abraham himself who was Aramean to be begin with.

[2] I also think there is a bit of an allusion here to the fact that Jesus is going to extend the invitation to his kingdom to all peoples, and that he is going to take those with a heart of stone and turn them into hearts of flesh. Praise God that he did as well.