A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Bible history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible history. Show all posts

October 15, 2023

"The Lord Has Chosen Zion; He Desires It For His Dwelling Place!"

At first, this post might seem designed specifically for Christian Believers, but I think it is an important topic for secular readers, as well.  We all need to understand each other and our different opinions concerning the land of Israel. But most of all, we need to understand what Zion means to God.

This subject has been on my mind for some time, and in regards to the current situation in Israel [which will affect the entire world], an understanding of who and what Zion is needs to be clarified. Whenever I write about my Biblical view of Israel and my interpretation of their role in these End Times, I am often called a "Zionist Christian" and I am often typecast with labels like "your pro-Feast, Jewish flair" .... whatever that means.  So I believe it is crucial for readers to know where I stand on Israel and how I view her.

For just a moment, let us table the horrendous news coming out of the Middle East, and focus on the subject of Zion. First of all, when I speak about Israel, most times I am referring to the land according to my Biblical worldview. I see the nation of Israel as that land promised to God's Chosen People in the Bible. And I recognize that there is a distinction between the future prophetic restoration of that land, and the existence of the current state of Israel. I know that Jesus will not return again until God turns the focus of His saving mercies on Israel again, and Israel responds to God through Jesus Christ. That hasn't yet happened in a national sense. 

In fact, there is not much about the modern state of Israel that coincides with the Biblical Israel. And that's where the confusion over "Zionism" comes in. Let me explain this term from my Biblical perspective first.  From an initial understanding of the word "Zion" in the Bible, it is synonymous with "City of God", and it is a place that God loves. (Psalm 87:2-3).  Zion is Jerusalem. Mount Zion is the high hill on which David built a citadel. After King David's conquest of the ancient city, he built his royal palace there, and Zion/Jerusalem became the seat of power in Israel’s ancient kingdom. When his son, Solomon, built the Lord's temple in Jerusalem, the word Zion expanded to include the temple area, what we call the Temple Mount today.

As Biblical time marched on, Zion grew figuratively to mean Israel as the people of God in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Zion refers to God’s spiritual kingdom.  I admit it is confusing and covers a wide scope of understanding.

And to make matters even more complicated, in this modern century, the word Zion and Zionist have taken on negative connotations among a wide variety of people. As we've witnessed this last week, there are those who see the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland as illegitimate, and desire to "drive them into the sea" or destroy them completely. And there are obviously those who do not know the history of the Bible, or what it says about the Jews and their ancestral land, and why it is so important to them.  For centuries the Jews had been exiled around the world from the land that God promised them, and there was a collective desire to return and resettle their ancestral lands and to revitalize and cultivate their native Hebrew culture. They longed to return to the Biblical Zion.

But after the atrocities of the Holocaust and with the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, this love of Zion became a nationalistic and political movement, rather than a religious or cultural identity.  Zionism, today, continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the nation Israel and address threats to its continued existence and security. It has little to do with God's view of Zion. 

Let me be clear in explaining my sensitive position, and please read the next couple of paragraphs before you pass judgment ... the state of Israel, as it exists today in the Middle East, does not represent the Israel that will say, "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord." They are largely a secular and political state, with no religious connection to Yeshua, their Messiah at all.  They are true political Zionists.  However, the population also includes a sizable number of religious Orthodox Jews who remain blinded to their future, and most probably view themselves as Zionists from a historical, Old Testament perspective. But I also want to point out that there is a growing population of Messianic Jews, who know and believe in Yeshua as the Biblical Messiah, and are evangelizing "in the Name of the Lord". And I praise God for this remnant that is returning to the true identity of Zion in the land.

But the nation of Israel, as a whole, has a long way to go to return to their Scriptural identity. They are still in rebellion and refuse to recognize their Creator and Messiah. Tel Aviv has declared itself the "gay capital of the world", as proclaimed by one Israeli citizen: "Israel isn’t a regressive Taliban state based on ancient scriptures. It is a modern, democratic and progressive society built on democratic values. The people of Israel have chosen to have a free, secular, democratic and pluralistic society where gays are not only tolerated, but where gay culture is celebrated."  Does this sound like the Biblical Zion?

So, having said all this, when I look at modern Israel, I choose to focus my prayers on the small, but growing numbers of Messianic Jews who see the real reason they are "back in the land", and who recognize their calling and purpose. When I say I love and support Israel, I am looking beyond the nationalistic, political reality of the current state of Israel and seeing them as God sees them... His beloved Zion; I see the devoted Jews who have surrendered their lives to their Savior Messiah and are faithfully working to bring about His return.

So, for any Christians who believe in Replacement Theology and accuse me of supporting a Zionist state, you need to understand that I do not share your doctrine. I do not believe that the Church (and especially not the Western Church!) has replaced Israel as God's chosen people. I read Romans 11 and do not try to corrupt it. I accept it word for word ... Gods gifts and His call are irrevocable [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.] ... And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant (My agreement) with them when I shall take away their sins.

And for the secularists and atheists who discount the Word of God, I will agree with you that the Zionist State of Israel is not perfect. I do not blindly uphold it as the Israel of the Bible. But you need to understand that it is not yet that Biblical nation of Israel with whom God established a covenant .... but one day it will be. And it is the future Israel that I pray for and long to see come out of its rebellion and recognize its Messiah.  I have close friends who are the beginning of that true Biblical remnant in Israel, and they allow me to see the hope and the promise of Israel's restoration. 

I do not expect this post to change anyone's mind, and it probably won't even help those who disagree with me to understand my position better. I already see people's minds and narratives changing regarding the slaughter of Israeli's this last week... from expressions of horror to voices that are already condemning Israel's divided government and its policies. But if we say we love Israel and we stand with her, we must love Israel through a Biblical lens; we must support her and pray for her to come out of her rebellion and reclaim the covenant of her ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and we must long to see her restored to the fullness of her power in God; restored to her true character and purpose in leading the world to Yeshua.  For all this, I make no apologies. 

And, finally, I pray that the land and people of Israel be returned to the holiness YHWH bestowed on Zion. May the God of Israel comfort them in the midst of this sorrow and tribulation, physically and spiritually living out Psalm 137:1... By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. As we watch this conflagration unfold, let us keep God's view of His land and people in perspective. Let us pray that all Israel will come to know and see His Truth!

Isaiah 60:14      The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.


June 11, 2022

Inflation: A Biblical and Historical Examination

Inflation is a fact. And it sure doesn't look like it is going to disappear very soon. I feel it is important that we try to understand both the historical and the biblical perspective concerning our nation's problem of runaway inflation. If, as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God here on earth, we are to take back territory from the kingdom of darkness, isn't this as good as any area to reclaim? I will begin by telling you that I am not an expert in economics or economic policy. But I'm astute enough to recognize that the financial health of our nation is failing, and our policies are very sick indeed. And I know that this is not how God intends for His people to prosper. So, I wanted to see if history can shed any light on how we got here; and what God's Word has to say about the situation we find ourselves in. So, I hope you will give my layman's analysis some grace, and let's see if we can discover how to pray and take action.

I don't need to tell you that the cost of food and fuel are rising at an alarming rate. These are two of the primary indicators of the stability of a nation's economy. We learned yesterday that the inflation rate, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 8.6%, the highest in 41 years! But I learned today that this calculation is misleading. I would like to introduce you to Kerby Anderson, president of Probe Ministries, a Biblical ministry that pursues ongoing research to address today's issues through honest and respected Christian scholarship. On his probe.org website, Mr. Anderson explains that "Most Americans are starting to realize that the current inflation rate is different than the Consumer Price Index." What that means is that we are told the inflation rate is 8.6%, when in reality that figure is associated with the CPI. According to Anderson, the reason that this figure is misleading is because it excludes food and fuel costs from its rate of "core inflation", even while the media suggests those very commodities are at the heart of the figure they quote as the inflation rate. (Are you scratching your head like me, about now)? He goes on to say that there are various economic websites that "conclude that the real inflation rate is more than twice the CPI estimate!"

So, what is the projection for the state of our economy (and I would submit, for the existence of our country)? Can history shed any light on our circumstances, and does the Bible offer any clues or advice? First of all, it always seems that the Roman Empire is used as "the gold standard" to measure the success and longevity of nations and societies, as well as their collapse. I went to DailyHistory.org to avail myself of the information included in their article, What Role Did Inflation Play in the Collapse of the Roman Empire. I urge you to read this informative article because the parallels to what we are experiencing will astound you. 

As you will read, Rome's collapse was the result of several factors that combined to create a “perfect storm” of civilizational destruction. Among them is the often over-looked role of inflation. The article asserts that "once the Roman economy was hopelessly ravaged by inflation, the borders of the empire were open for the Huns, Goths, and Vandals to take what they wanted." Sound familiar? 

But at the beginning of the Roman Empire's economy, the value of their currency was literally worth their weight in silver, bronze, or copper. As the Empire grew, so did their economy and they enjoyed the effects of prosperous trade with the world's markets. Sound fiscal policies helped the emperors keep inflation in check. "The money supply increased proportionately with the increase in trade. Taxes were also kept low: each province only paid a one percent wealth tax and a flat tax on all adults. All of this helped keep prices low and the wheels of government moving effectively, but by the end of the second century AD things began to change."

As the article on DailyHistory.org infers, around 200 AD, the Empire suffered a recession, which was compounded by the so-called “Antonine plague,” which was brought back from the eastern provinces by Roman soldiers. Since the plague led to the widespread decimation of the Roman population, wages increased rapidly – much too rapidly. In our current state of affairs, this sounds a lot like "the stimulus packages" that flooded money into our economy. In Rome, the result was a drastic increase on the prices of goods that had never before been witnessed in Rome: inflation was only one percent in the first two centuries AD, but prices doubled after the plague. And to make a long story short, other factors included an influx of people from the countries they conquered, the exponential growth of their military industrial complex, and the devaluation of their currency due to too many coins in circulation. Again, I ask ... sound familiar?

But now, I come to the part of this post that interests me the most. What is the Bible's view on this monetary nightmare that is overwhelming our country? We recognize that our national debt is soaring. Our government is spending more than it is making. It is that simple. We are allowing our southern border to be inundated by unprecedented numbers of people who are being subsidized by the government. Where is that money coming from? It is being printed, not earned through trade. We are swimming in an ocean of debt, both nationally and personally. And what does the Bible tell us is God's opinion on this? I think Proverbs 22:7 sums it up quite nicely: "The rich rules over the poor; and the borrower is servant to the lender." I think "slave to the lender" is more appropriate.

The Bible also warns that both individuals and their government should have honest weights and measures. Proverbs 20:10 tells us "False weights and unequal measures— the Lord detests double standards of every kind." The manipulation of our currency is dishonest and corrupt. It is cheating the American people whose hard-earned money is being confiscated for immoral purposes. But what can we Christians do to minimize the pain of inflation and poor economic policies? We must begin by getting out of debt. The Bible makes it clear that we are to "owe no one anything", "and the wicked borrows but does not pay back". Being free of debt is one of the best ways to avoid the consequences of runaway inflation. We must live within our means, even if our government has not. Sadly, we, like the Roman Empire, have gotten used to our prosperity and instant gratification. Our grandparents saved until they could pay for their needs with cash. If you didn't have the cash, then you learned to live without it. "For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? (Luke 14:28).

But we have become used to having whatever we want, whenever we want, by swiping a plastic card. When interest rates are low on those credit cards, then paying them off, or at least making the minimum payment, convinces us that it's a good practice. Why should we deny ourselves the pleasures of life? But as we face inflation, recession, and rising interest rates on everything, that pain is about to become palpable. And being a Christian does not forgive us those debts. 

We must also see ourselves in the economic woes of biblical Israel. As Probe.org points out, "God pronounced judgment on the land because the country that once was full of justice had debased the currency and its products. Your silver has become dross, your best wine mixed with water (Isaiah 1:22). People were cheating each other by adding cheaper metals to their silver and by adding water to their wine." Probe.org further explains that "In a statement by someone regarded as one of the most important economists of the twentieth century, British economist John Maynard Keynes noted how inflation affects a nation and its citizens. He said: “By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. He also added, “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law that come down on the side of destruction and does so in a manner that not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

As Americans, we know that there are economic laws that govern the prosperity of our nation. As Christians, we know that God also has moral economic laws, and His laws are higher.  We must not despair nor think that He cannot deliver us from this quagmire in which our greed and corruption have us mired. But we must do our part. We must not live in debt and we must demand that our leaders be moral and upstanding; that they govern with righteousness. As 1 Corinthians 4:2 says, In this case, moreover, it is required [as essential and demanded] of stewards that one be found faithful and trustworthy. We do not need to follow in the footsteps of ancient Israel or the Roman Empire. Do we have the will to make the personal sacrifices needed to set our overspending back on track? Do we have the courage and strength of mind and faith to call our elected officials to account for the trust and responsibility we have consigned to them? I fear we have greatly offended God by the manner with which we have stewarded the blessings He has given us. It's time we repent for our negligence and return this nation to righteousness. Educate yourselves and make the necessary changes that are pleasing in His sight.

Ezekiel 22:12      In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but Me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God.


May 31, 2022

Do You Know You Are Part Of The Tree?

"If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree". This is a quote from Michael Crichton, famed author of such fabulous novels as Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and The Great Train Robbery. It's a great quote, and one that relates to my thoughts today.

I want to discuss why I often get frustrated with Christians who don't seem interested in studying the past of our faith in order to understand the significance of God's truth for today or the future. If we're honest with ourselves, we can all see that things aren't right with the world. Some are able to face the dreadful possibilities without fear, while others would rather cling to the knowledge that our destiny is to be in the presence of the Lord at the end of this world. If we don't look too closely at the present, nor make the effort to study the past, then the image of that heavenly future helps us to sleep better at night. But does it benefit our commission from Christ and our responsibilities as citizens of Heaven on earth?

I think we are focused on where we're going instead of where we've come from for a couple of reasons: 1) the Church uses terms like Victory, Hope, We Win, and Glory to describe the environment of the earth at Christ's return because 2) it's too scary to contemplate what the Word of God in the Bible has to say about what will be a harrowing time on earth before His glorious return. And who voluntarily wants to think on the darkness of soul and spirit among earth's inhabitants that will inspire us Believers to adhere to our Hope and Faith? 

So, that brings me to the importance of knowing our history... knowing the history of our families, of our nation, of our Christian faith, of our Bible. True knowledge comes from our experiences; from having gained physical or practical understanding of a subject. If something has not been experienced, how can we say we really know it? Take our faith, for instance. We all agree with the writer of Hebrews who says, "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen". We may not be able to point to something concrete or tangible and say, there .. that's my faith. But when you share your experiences of trusting God in something you can't explicitly prove, it is the history of those experiences that provide evidence for your ability to have faith and hope.

Which brings me back to Michael Crichton's quote ... If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree. It is important that we study and understand the history of the Old Testament and the entire Bible. We must not focus only on the end of the story when we are translated into the glorious Presence of our Savior! If we believe that there is purpose and meaning to our lives for the Kingdom of God here on earth, then doesn't it serve us to understand and comprehend how God has evolved His relationship with man from the beginning until this very moment in our lives? And don't we want to learn from the history He shares in His Word about that journey? Doesn't even the leaf on a tree have a connection to the whole system of a tree?

Let us contemplate that whole structure in nature for just a moment. The function of a leaf is to help the plant produce food by converting the energy that comes from sunlight into chemical energy that the tree can eat. But the life of the tree is dependent on so much more! The leaf is supported by a branch, which provides a way for leaves to act as a net for the sunlight. Tree branches will grow to give the leaf the most light, even if that means growing sideways. But branches don't just exist on their own. They grow from the trunk, which provides structure and protection to the delicate network of branches and leaves, and which grows from the root system. The roots support the tree by absorbing water and storing nutrients for the tree. They also anchor the tree to the ground. A healthy root system is essential for the survival of the tree. And then finally, the roots grow from a seed that is planted. The most basic function of a seed is keep the species of the tree in existence. In His extraordinary plan for the world, God designed all the different functionality mechanisms of a tree to work together to keep the tree's embryo inside the seed alive until conditions are optimal for that seed to germinate with some chance of the seedling's survival.

So, can you see that the existence of the tree isn't just dependent on a leaf and it's singular reality and function in space and time? There's a history to its existence... an interdependent synergy between that leaf and all that came before it. It exists because at some point in time a seed was planted that, at just the right time for its survival, it sprouts and forms a root from which the tree springs forth from the earth, forming a trunk that supports the branches and leaves. In a poetic sense, the trunk is the part of the tree that connects the leafy crown to its roots. There is a history of any leaf on a tree that goes all the way back to a seed that was planted. So it is with our existence in God's plan for the earth and His creation of man. And the Bible is that roadmap. How can we possibly think that just focusing on the end game is all that we need to know? 

Just like that leaf on a tree, there is an interdependence in the history of the Bible; the experience of God choosing Abram to be the seed of a faith that would sprout and grow, developing a divine root system that was destined to overcome the obstacles it encountered in the world. And as those roots spread, they grew into a tree and anchored the True Vine that was Christ. And from the foundation of that Vine would grow branches designed to bear much fruit for the Kingdom. But if we don't understand how it all came about, then how can we truly understand that we are part of the whole system and understand what came before us? We cannot simply say we know who we are based on what we look like when we look in the mirror. We are the fruit that was born from all that has happened to that seed of faith that sprouted from Abram! And if we don't understand all the obstacles and battles that came against that faith, then how are we to learn from those struggles and avoid the same pitfalls that the history of the Bible clearly tells us the long line of faithful suffered? 

The Bible and its history are as much a cautionary tale as they are a promise of an eternal life;  they are a guide for those of us who are the descendants of that first seed of faith. Why would we ever think that this history is unimportant to us -- that all we need to know is the ending to the story? We don't need to stay mired in the failures we find in the history, but we should learn from them so we recognize the strategies of the Enemy and can warn others. Yes, our victory is in Christ; and yes, we win in the end. But if we can avoid some of the temptations and circumvent the mistakes God is gracious enough to show us in His Word .... why wouldn't we? And how are we to avoid the traps that those who came before us fell into, if we do not learn from history? "My people perish for lack of knowledge" goes hand in hand with this dynamic. Let's not just be happy to exist as a leaf in the 21st Century, but let us be fed and strengthened in the wisdom and experiences of the whole tree of our faith.

1 Corinthians 10:11   Now these things happened to them as an example and warning [to us]; they were written for our instruction [to admonish and equip us], upon whom the ends of the ages have come.