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Archive for August 2020 – Page 2

Israel’s Promise of some Real Estate

Noah’s prophecy concerning the LORD God of Shem is tied to a physical seed, the Jews, and a physical land, the land of Palestine. Many sincere believers today want to disassociate the Jews from this land saying that the land promised by God is spiritual in nature. Taking the Word of God in its literal sense, the Bible refers to a literal land, the land called Palestine. The simple words in the original promise, “to a land that I will show you,” cannot be minimized (Gen. 12:1). God called Abram to go to a land. This land is forever tied to our spiritual heritage in Jesus Christ and to the coming King and His kingdom. In fact, the land is at the very heart of the promise.  

 

God assured Abraham that it was a material land. He promised him “all the land which you see” (Gen. 13:15). Later, after Lot had chosen the beautiful parts of the land, God told Abraham to walk through the parts that remained and said that it would all belong to him (Gen. 13:17). It is always best to let God choose. The almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, does not give and then take away. His gift is forever.  Not only did God promise Abram that He would give him a land, but He said that He would give it to him and “his descendants forever.” This promise is based solely upon the decree of God with no hidden attachments or addendums. It was not based upon human merit or failure. God gave solely on the basis of who He is, not on the basis of who Abraham was.

 

Unconditional covenants from God are always marked out with the words “I will.” “I will” means that what God says, He will do.  The land was occupied for a time by the Canaanites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and others, but God passed the promise of land down to Isaac’s son, Jacob (Gen. 35:12). It did not stop there. The promise was passed on to Moses (Ex. 6:2–8). After the death of Moses, God renewed the promise with Joshua (Josh. 1:2).  God said to Abram, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Gen. 15:7). It is as though He was saying, “Listen carefully, Abram. I’m not going back on this.”

 

Abram responded, “O Lord God, how [literally, on what basis] may I know [yada, may I have the intimate knowledge] that I will possess it?” To what does the tiny pronoun “it” refer? The answer is critical. “It” refers to the land. Abram never had to worry about two things: the perpetuation of his seed or his reception of the land. God alone walked between the sacrifices (Gen. 15:17). How could Abram (and everyone who reads these words) absolutely know that the Jews would inherit the land? Because God alone made it secure. How conclusive is that?  On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants, I have given this land.”

 

The boundaries of the land are from the river of Egypt (Nile River) to the great Euphrates River (Gen. 15:18). This includes the Red Sea and all of the surrounding country. The western boundary of the land of Israel in the kingdom will be the Nile River. Someone said that the Red Sea is to become a Jewish lake.  The eastern boundary will be the Euphrates River. The eastern Sudan region includes Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Palestine. That is a chunk of land. The Jews will not inhabit this land in its entirety until the kingdom reign of Jesus Christ. When the Son of David returns, He will hold in His hands the title deed to this earth in the form of the seven sealed scroll (Rev. 5:1). A part of the earth is portioned out for the land of Israel and their capital city of Jerusalem.

 

Israel is now in open rebellion against the living God. Has God broken His promise to Abraham? Not at all. Someday, and I believe soon, God’s people will occupy this land in its entirety. However, and this is a “big” however, God’s promised blessings on an obedient Jewish nation is tied to a conditional promise. He said that if they walked in His statutes and kept His commands, He would give rain for their crops and their land, and trees would produce in abundance. They would have plenty of food and would live in peace with their enemies. God said that He would set His tabernacle in their midst and that He would be their God and they would be His people (Lev. 26:1–13). As we often say, “I think I hear a ‘but’ coming.”  And we do!

 

If the Jews turned their backs on God again, He would judge accordingly. God put in play five cycles of discipline, each worse than the previous one (Lev. 26:14–33). First: loss of health, pain, inability to raise crops, lost battles, lost freedom (Lev. 26:15–17). Second: If they still failed to serve the living God, He would bring on them seven times the punishment of the first cycle plus there would be no rain, therefore no crops (Lev. 26:18–20). Third: seven times the punishment of the first two cycles, plus the invasion of wild beasts taking the lives of children and livestock (Lev. 26:21–22). Fourth: seven times the punishment of the previous cycles, plus being delivered into enemy hands and famine (Lev. 26:23–26).Fifth: seven times the punishment of the above, as well as cannibalism, high places and altars destroyed, cities laid waste, land becoming desolate, and people scattered throughout the world (Lev. 26:27–33).  Once again, the Jews broke God’s covenant with them, so God put them through the five cycles of discipline. In 70 A.D., they entered the fifth cycle of discipline when the Roman emperor Titus laid siege to the city of Jerusalem, starved them out, and burned their temple. Thousands of Jews died. God then scattered them throughout the nations where most of them remain today. But not for long! Blessings!

 

 

 

A Little History Lesson

Having caught a mountain top glimpse of the amazing earthly kingdom of the God-Man (Zech 14:9), we are ready for a history lesson. As mentioned earlier, the future kingdom began with Noah’s prophecy concerning Shem and Japheth (Gen. 9:25-29) and God’s promise to Abraham  to treat kindly those who treated Abraham kindly, and deal harshly with those who dealt harshly with the Abraham’s family (Gen. 12:3). God is the architect of all history. He recorded history in advance because He knew that the Jews (and us) were hardheaded and quick to forget God and give paganism praise (Isa. 46:9-10; 48:3-5). The familiar statement, “God works in mysterious ways,” is true. But God’s “mysterious ways” are recorded for us in the Bible so they are not mysterious at all. Abraham’s family (Isaac, Ishmael, Esau, and Jacob) grew in Canaan. The family of Jacob’s (Israel’s) twelve sons became a small clan. They needed to grow into a great nation.
God had a plan! He caused a famine throughout the land and famines were bad news. He wanted to use the famine to move the Jews into Egypt so they could grow into a larger nation of people. This fulfilled the prophecy He had given to Abraham (Gen. 15:13). What happened is truly incredible. Joseph – Jacob’s favorite son was hated by his brothers. They knew their father favored him (coat of many colors) and he was always squealing on them (never good). Jacob sent Joseph to find his brothers (not a good move) and report to him (the brothers knew). The brothers saw him coming (could not miss the coat) and conceived a dastardly plan. They beat Joseph up and threw him in a pit. This was horrible but it got worse. His brothers sold him into slavery to a group of Midianites headed for Egypt, which was horrific. The brothers lied to their father saying that Joseph had been killed. Life became a painful time for a dad and a whirlwind nightmare for his young son.
God always has a plan! Joseph had been suddenly removed from his happy home of security and peace into a rapid sequence of truly bizarre, heart-wrenching events: some bad, some good. But then – amazingly and miraculously, Joseph ended up the second in command over all of Egypt. What! This allowed Joseph to help move Israel into the land of Goshen in Egypt, giving his entire family the peace and prosperity necessary for them to grow. God is the genius of all history! His brilliance shouts to us through Joseph’s words later spoken to his disloyal brothers. “You sold me here, but God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). You sold; God sent! Amazing!
God put a tremendous exclamation point on the entire life of Joseph and his brothers (which I believe in some shape is every believer’s story) with these truly searching words “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). God is the only Being capable of not being the author of evil and at the same time using evil for His good. How is this translated for us today? God works all things in our lives for His glory and our ultimate good (Rom. 8:28). Incredible!
Eventually, a new pharaoh came on the scene who did not know Joseph (Ex. 1:8). God began to stir the pot again! The pharaohs feared the astonishing growth of Israel and brought slavery into their lives – lest they rebel! Astoundingly, God used painful work to toughen his people, preparing them for a long and treacherous journey ahead. God never makes mistakes! Then it came time to move.
God miraculously deployed a man named Moses for the task of leading the Jews back home. Our Lord pummeled Egypt with a series of potent plagues – the last of which was the death of the firstborn of every family. Death is man’s most feared enemy! But God gave hope. Every Jewish family – and the Egyptians if they would listen – was to select a lamb of the highest quality. They were to kill it at a specific time and place its blood around the door of their homes. God sent His angel of death to search for the blood. When the Angel saw the blood, He would pass over that family and the firstborn would live. No blood – no life (Ex. 12)! This became a glimpse of God’s redemption of another group of people through the shed blood of His Special Lamb – the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ who was sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7).
Pharaoh had enough. He let God’s people go! Across the Red Sea they went, then through the desert, and eventually back home, into the Promised Land. The reason behind all this? God chose this nation. He chose them to be a holy people to Himself. Why did He choose them? He chose them because He chose to choose them. He loved them! Why did He love them? He loved them because He chose to love them. His choice was not based upon any human qualities, but He had made a promise and He would never go back on His word (Deut. 7:6-8). God chose them to be a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth (Deut. 14:2). God called them “My elect in whom My Soul delights” (Isa. 42:1). God included the promise of His kingdom to the Jews.
“I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, And My servants shall dwell there” (Isa. 65:9).
“They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isa. 65:22).
“For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure” (Psa. 135:4).
“He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye – I love this small line. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming, and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people [this is us], and I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you. And the Lord will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for He is aroused from His holy habitation” (Zech. 2:8, 10-13).
Be silent indeed! Blessings!

The View from the Top

In order to trace the footprints leading to God’s coming King and His kingdom, we need once more to catch a glimpse of the view from the top. The Lord Jesus said it in His model prayer. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). There is a coming kingdom where God’s will will be done on this earth as it is now being done in heaven. Heaven will come down and be joined to a renewed earth. Like most panoramic sights; hard climb but worth the view at the top. 

The new Jerusalem will descend and settle on the highest hill. It will be the dwelling of the coming King and the capital city of His kingdom. Jerusalem – the city of peace – will be the city on the hill. The mountain of the Lord’s house will be established on the top of the mountains, and people shall flow into it. Many nations will come and say, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths, for out of Zion the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:3). The Lord will judge between many peoples and rebuke strong nations. Swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. War will be no more, and people will dwell in safety under their own fig trees. The Lord will gather His remnant and reign over them in Mount Zion (Micah 4:1–5:5).

In the coming kingdom, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk, and the dumb will sing. The desert will flow with water, the mountains will be no more, and the clouds will be rolled back (Isa. 35:5–6). Everyone will know the Lord, from the least of them to the greatest. Their sins will be forgiven and remembered no more (Jer. 31:34). Everyone will have access to the King. In the latter days, all nations will flow to the Lord’s dwelling place to learn of Him and walk in His paths. His law will go forth from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2–3). All the scattered and lost sheep will be brought home. The people of Israel have been dispersed throughout the world because of their disobedience, but the Lord will gather a remnant of His flock from all countries back to their own land. They will be fruitful and have every need met. They will no longer be afraid or dismayed or lacking.

The Lord will raise up from David a King to reign and prosper and execute judgment and righteousness. His name will be called the Lord Our Righteousness (Jer. 23:5–7). When the King sets up His kingdom, we will see Him in His beauty. Our eyes will see Jerusalem, a quiet home, a tabernacle that will not be taken down. No stakes will be removed, nor cords broken, unlike the tabernacle that was moved with the people of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness. The Lord will be our lawgiver, our judge, and our King. Those who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity. We will finally be home (Isa. 33:17–24). The King will give beauty for ashes.

Isaiah declared that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him because the Lord had anointed Him to proclaim good tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and open the prison to those bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance, to comfort all who mourn, and to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness—that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. The old ruins will be rebuilt, and the ruined cities will be repaired. God’s chosen people will be called priests of the Lord, servants of our God. They will eat the riches of the Gentiles and boast in their glory. Instead of shame, they will have double honor. Instead of confusion, they will rejoice in their portion. They will experience everlasting joy and an everlasting covenant with God. Their descendants will be known among the Gentiles and their offspring among the people. All who see them will acknowledge that they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed (Isa. 61:1–11). The King will rejoice over His subjects. In that day, Gentiles will realize that Israel is God’s chosen people, and all kings will recognize her glory.

God will give Jerusalem a new name, a crown of glory, and a royal diadem. She will no longer be called forsaken or desolate but shall be called “Hephzibah” and her land will be called “Beulah.” The Lord will rejoice over her as a bridegroom does over his bride. God will set watchmen over the city to guard it night and day. No longer will the enemy eat her grain nor the foreigner drink her new wine. Those who gathered it will consume it and praise the Lord. The Lord will proclaim to the end of the world, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him and His work before Him.’” His people will be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and they will be sought out in a city not forsaken (Isa. 62:1–12). The whole earth will be filled with the King’s glory.

The King will judge His people with righteousness and justice. There will be peace and prosperity. The name of the Lord will be feared forever. In His days, the righteous will flourish and enjoy abundance of peace until the moon is no more. Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before the King, and his enemies will lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents. The kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. All the kings will fall down before Him. All nations will serve Him. He will deliver the needy, the poor, and the oppressed. There will be an abundance of grain in the earth. His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. Men shall be blessed in Him, and all nations shall call Him blessed. David, the psalmist, cried out, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen” (Psa. 72:18–20). A favorite glimpse of the kingdom is that of ten men from every nation will grab the sleeve a Jewish man saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23). Wow! The Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man, shall be King over all the earth. “In that day, it shall be—The Lord is one, and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). The first small step on the path leading to this coming kingdom began with Noah’s prophecy, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem” (Gen. 9:26). Blessings!

 

Our Great Hope!

It is time to start pondering from the Ponderosa once again. Strange phenomena are occurring in the fog created by this bizarre Covid pandemic. One heartbeat quickening observation is of a political nature. I have made it my plan never to mix politics with God’s pulpit. The reason? The Word of God is powerful and mixed with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is enough (Heb. 4:12). In order to be powerful, the Bible must be unleashed – it must be taught. I have been immeasurably blessed that God has given me the responsibility and the ability to do this, and to live in a unique country that grants the freedom to do this (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Always lurking in the shadows of my mind is the truth that Satan is the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4).  His presence is made clear to this writer because I am conscious of his many snares to entrap me. But in these days, I sense that he has a much larger trap in mind. 

 

Paul tells us that in the last days perilous times will come. Time when people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Tim. 3:1-5).  I personally think we are there! If not, disregard the following few lines. The freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution are becoming murky. Jaw-dropping political shenanigans that we thought could never happen, are happening. The stench of anarchy is in the air. Public rebellions have happened before, but I sense that this time it is different. We have become a divided nation. I am not a strong student of history but solid enough to recognize that democratic governments have a short shelf life. I never imagined that in my lifetime I would be writing these words. I feel that it is time. 

 

In order to come to grips with why this is happening, we must seize the biblical worldview that answers the question, why America? In my mind, there are two reasons, and both are tenaciously tethered to Noah’s prophecy concerning the blessing of Shem and the promise to Japheth. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant” (Gen. 9:25-27). In fact, all of world history securely hangs on the truth of this prophecy. This prophecy becomes universally linked to a promise that God made to Abraham. “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you. And in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). Before we get into nuts and bolts of once more interpreting this prophecy in coming posts, let’s start with the end in mind. It is my opinion that not long from now we who live in this great country are going to need hope. It has been well said that human beings can live without many things – but they cannot live without hope.

 

Here is our great hope! There is coming a time when the King of this entire universe, the Lord Jesus Christ, will return to this earth and be crowned King over all of His created order. This small planet, so seemingly unimportant, will become the center of God’s amazing plan for this universe. This cosmic reign will commence when Christ establishes a kingdom over a redeemed earth and reigns over it for a thousand years (Rev. 20:6–9). The Lord Jesus Christ at the end of that time will turn this kingdom over to His Father, who will transform it into a new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness will dwell forever (1 Cor. 15:24-28; Rev. 21-22).  The thousand-year segment of this everlasting kingdom will allow God to finally and forever demonstrate to the human race and the angelic realm that the only political system that will ever work for humankind is one in which God alone rules over the hearts of all. It will not be a republic, nor a democracy, nor socialism, nor communism, nor an autocracy. It will be a theocracy; a kingdom ruled over by the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Our Lord’s kingdom will place on display the immense value of the second member of the Holy Trinity. It will be a time for the Christ to have His day in the sun. Just imagine a world dominated by what is right and fair – a world sustained by a perfect government bringing true peace on earth and goodwill toward men. All weapons of war will be remade into instruments for growing food. No nation will dare to be aggressive against other nations, and war will be no more. The curse from the fall will be removed, and the environment will be restored to the pre-Fall beauty of the Garden of Eden. Wild animals will no longer eat each other in order to survive, and small children will have no fear of any of them. This will be a world ruled by a perfect and glorious Ruler.

 

Imagine a time when there will be no fear of deadly natural disasters or uncontrollable diseases. Envision a time when every court will deliver perfect justice for every case, when truth will be established in every conflict, and when all who deceive will be exposed and judged swiftly. Picture a world where all children from every race and nationality will be fully educated by the King. Physical deformities and social, political, and religious oppression will be no more. All forms of slavery will be abolished. Imagine a world where the length of life will be restored and where the elderly will not grow feeble, will not lose their hearing or sight, and will not fear Alzheimer’s disease or cancer but will grow old with clarity of mind and a sound body. Imagine a world where what is appropriate and right marks every aspect of life, including relationships between people, businesses, and governments. It will be a world where there is absolute permanent peace and where that peace is enforced, a world filled with joy and good health, so much so that people live for hundreds of years. The days will come when there will be such a world. These will be the days of the King (Zech. 14:9). Blessings!