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

Showing posts with label God and Israel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label God and Israel. Show all posts

March 17, 2024

God Is Not Through With Israel! Warning To Those Who Interfere With His Plan

One of the most defining experiences of my faith was when I discovered Romans, Chapter 11. It began 16 years ago, and has proven to be a thoroughly captivating effort to know my God at a deeper level -- both from an intellectual standpoint, but more importantly, at a heart level. Sadly, this journey did not come about because my church pointed me to it; nor any church I have attended since. This was a singular exploration ignited by a Christian friend who suggested that I might want to read this chapter if I was seeking to know more about God. 

And as we grow ever closer to cataclysmic events in the world that threaten to destroy the nations, Romans 11 is so crucial to understanding God's heart for His people, and how He will respond to us, depending on if we can see and understand the significance of this revealing chapter in these days and the days to come. Therefore it frustrates me immensely to realize that the majority of the Body of Christ do not perceive its relevance. Furthermore, it saddens me to witness the failure of institutionalized Religion to teach the faithful the truth of this foundational directive. It will have consequences for all mankind!

As we watch the delicate balance of the world's governments lean towards war and destruction, and as we particularly observe the increasing tension between our country and Israel, I want to share what Romans 11 cautions us about God's plan for Israel, and how it affects us; primarily as Christians, and secondly, as a nation. So, let's dive in!

The Western Church has done a good job of relating how God has blinded the Jews for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah. But there's a whole history that precedes that event, and one that has continued after the Lord's crucifixion for daring to claim that He was the Son of God, who could forgive mankind's sins and rebellion. The Church has been so hyper-focused on the state of the Jew's unbelief that it has even created its own religious theory called Replacement Theology, which claims that "The Church" has replaced Israel as God's chosen people! That is a heretical charge that will only lead to dire repercussions for those who act on it. And it's one more reason why it's important for you to read and understand Romans 11, which completely debunks this theory.

From the first verse in the chapter, the Apostle Paul confronts the very question of Israel's standing with God. I love the Amplified version: "I say then, has God rejected and disowned His people"? Paul's answer: CERTAINLY NOT! And he speaks as an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin; as one who originally agreed with rejecting Jesus. He was known as a persecutor of the people of "The Way" [who were followers of Jesus who believed in His divinity]. He makes it very clear that God has known and specifically chosen Israel for His purpose. And then Paul relates the story of the prophet Elijah [whom God called to minister to Israel] and who pleads with God against Israel for their disobedience -- for tearing down God's altars and killing all the prophets, until only Elijah is left. 

Paul then asks the question of the reader, "But what is God's response to him [Elijah]"?  The answer? Among the disobedient, unfaithful, and rebellious Israelites, God has kept for Himself a remnant; a small believing minority according to His choice. Paul points out that Israel failed to obtain God's favor by obeying the Law, instead of His favor through belief in Jesus as the Messiah. But we see God's plan in the fact that there were a chosen few who did receive His favor. The rest became hardened and callously indifferent. Sadly, it continues until today. But lest you believe that this blindness is the ultimate fate of Israel forever, Paul continues his reasoning... has Israel stumbled [in order] to experience eternal spiritual ruin? Again, Paul answers his own question: CERTAINLY NOT! 

And here is where Paul reveals God's Divine Plan for mankind .... Because of Israel's rejection of Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, Christ's sacrifice has brought the opportunity to receive the gift of Salvation to the Gentiles [who were the unbelieving pagan peoples] in order to make His chosen people, Israel, realize what they forfeited, and hopefully jealous enough to seek Salvation for themselves. Then Paul puts forth a proposition for us all to consider: If Israel's rebellion and rejection of Jesus has brought us the richness of Salvation and a relationship with God ... how much more will we receive when their fulfillment and reinstatement takes place!! 

Paul, in a masterful stroke of debate, then addresses the Gentiles [us]. He confirms the thought that since He perceives God's plan for the ultimate fulfillment of Israel, and is bringing the Good News of Salvation to the Gentiles, he is actually increasing his ministry to his fellow Jews. He can speak to them as a Jew, revealing God's reasons for their hardening and hopefully, stirring them up so they will seek God's truth, and thereby see some of them [a remnant] saved. And he points out that "If the first portion of dough [offered as the first fruits of the harvest of souls] is declared holy, so is the whole batch. And if the root (Abraham and the patriarchs) are declared holy, so are the branches (the Israelites). We must remember that the first Believers in the Body of Christ [Christians, if you will] were Jewish -- that includes all the disciples and most of the authors of the Bible. So, if the conversion of these Jews [the first portion of the dough] was holy and good, then the whole batch will also be holy and good, when the complete harvest is brought in. And it is the complete harvest at the end of the age that we are awaiting!

Romans 11 then addresses the familiar passage about broken off branches and wild olive shoots, and the merging of the two through grafting. I have heard so many different explanations for what this passage means, but at its heart, it's really very simple. It reveals the entire olive tree as a picture of the people of God. The "Branches" are the Jews; the "wild olive shoot" represents the Christian Gentiles; the "nourishing root" is made up of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), who were the ancestors of the Israelites, called by God. We need to understand that our grafting in was by the sovereign will of God; it was not a natural occurrence to graft in a wild shoot to a natural branch. That would only result in an unfruitful harvest. But this grafting was by Divine Providence; not by anything we did to deserve it. In fact, Paul cautions the Gentile Believers, "Do not boast over the [broken] branches and exalt yourself at their expense... remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root that supports you".

This is where the modern-day Church has often missed the boat. The Christians who believe in Replacement Theology feel that Christianity and Christians are superior to Israel in God's eyes. Not true! We must understand that they were temporarily broken off because of their unbelief, and we were grafted in because of our faith. It is only by God's grace and kindness that we now enjoy His favor because we have believed in the truth of Christ's deity and sacrifice. We must see and understand that God did not spare the natural branches, not only because they continued trying to secure God's favor through their works of the Law, but also because of their rebellion in rejecting Jesus's deity.

BUT, I want to take a moment to take a look at a principle that must be discussed at this juncture in the post ... Here's an addendum to the understanding of the olive tree narrative. We will only remain grafted in [and seen as God's people] if we continue in our faith and obedience to Him. Paul says, "otherwise you, too, will be cut off ". If we, as a person, or a nation, think we are secure in God's kindness and grace because we call ourselves a "Believer", or "a Christian nation", and yet we do not respect the understanding that a future remnant of Israel will once again resume their place of honor in God's plan to save the whole world, then just being Saved will not deliver us from God's judgment. It is worth repeating Paul's words again: "Appreciate the gracious kindness and the severity of God ... continue in His kindness [through faith and obedience], or otherwise you, too, will be cut off". I am not saying we lose our Salvation. But I am saying we are jeopardizing His protection and His deliverance from judgment. Think very seriously about that! 

So, how do you think we, as a nation, will fare with God when you consider how we are treating Israel in the present circumstances in our world? It doesn't matter whether Israel and its leaders are acting righteously -- or not; if they currently see Jesus as their Messiah yet -- or not; if they resemble the righteous remnant that God says He will always have in Israel -- or not. It matters that there IS a remnant that will step into their position when God wills it! We must continue to exhibit our faith and obedience, strengthening that remnant for their position in world history! That is our purpose in God's plan!      

Now, I want to return to Paul's conversation, and one that I don't believe many Christians have been taught or discern ... Paul says if the unbelieving Jews do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again As Paul so eloquently articulates, "For if you [Gentile Christians] were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and against nature, were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much easier will it be to graft these who are the natural branches back into [the original parent stock of] their own olive tree"? Paul then lays out the foundation of his argument. We must not think ourselves wise enough to see the whole picture, but recognize that God [through Paul] was revealing what had before that moment in time, been hidden ... a partial hardening/blinding has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of Gentiles have received Salvation. And only God knows what that number is, which is why we must continue to witness of the saving grace of Christ -- because it is all for the sake of Israel!!

You read that correctly! It will be because of us and our spreading of the Gospel that all Jews who have a personal faith in Jesus as their Messiah will call on the Name of the Lord and be Saved! Hallelujah! As hard as it may be for you to see God's plan, it is brilliant and full of mercy and love for all people! Yes, Israel and the Jews are [at the present time] enemies of God for our sake -- so that more may receive Salvation! But from God's standpoint they are still His chosen people and greatly loved by Him for the sake of the Fathers of our faith (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). And here is the verse that you need to grasp with all your heart and mind ... "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. [That means irreversible; binding; everlasting]. He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call". 

Know this! All of Israel who believes in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God will be Saved! It has always been God's plan that we understand this mystery. It has always been His plan to save the whole world through the fullness of Israel as His chosen people to carry out His plan. That fullness involves: 1) the full number who will be saved by calling on the Name of the Lord; 2) they will operate in full power from God; 3) they will operate in the full character of God; 4) they will enter into their full purpose as the world leadership who will shepherd nations to faith in Christ. 

So, can you understand that even though it may not look like it at the moment, God is working His plan! Israel's future is connected to His plan for the Body of Christ. And woe to those people and nations who interfere with that plan or work, hoping to destroy Israel. I am personally aware of the small remnant of Israelites and Jews who are stepping into their Divine role. I see God at work and trust that He will bring His kindness to those who support this holy remnant, and His severity to those who come against His chosen remnant. Pray that we as people and a nation make the right choices. Now is not the time to be disobedient and ignore God's warnings. For from Him and through Him all things live and exist; and to Him all things are directed. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen.

Jeremiah 30:24.     The fierce [righteous] anger of the Lord will not turn back until He has fulfilled and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart [mind]; In the latter days you will understand this.    


October 21, 2023

Bible Prophecy and The Heavenly Chess Match Between Good and Evil

 As I alluded at the end of my last post, I want to continue to look into the historical perspective of the conflicts in the Middle East, both from a Biblical point of view as well as taking a look at recent events in this modern age. I think it is important that we try to understand the big picture and do some real critical thinking on this subject.

Back in 2015, I was beginning to see a sequence or development of events coming into view. At the time, it was all about Russia and what was going on between the world's superpowers in the Middle East. It was all over the news that Russia had deployed a small, but consequential military force into Syria, which had the potential of changing the dynamic in that war-torn country.  It had been four years since the start of the Syrian civil war, with U.S.-backed rebel forces fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad and his faithful Syrian army. The sectarian war created a breakdown in authority, providing the opportunity for ISIS to get a foothold and begin building their caliphate.  Russia said that they wanted to assist Syria in fighting ISIS, and that was their primary objective in coming to Syria's aid. 

But, as always, when global powers begin making military moves, there is more to the story.  From what I was able to gather, there was a history of a Russian/Syrian alliance, all the way back to the 1970s when Assad's father, Hafez al-Assad, aligned with Moscow. In fact, Syria is [still] among the last proxies, or representatives, of the Russian political influence in the Middle East. Interestingly enough, that puts Russia on the same side as Iran, who also provides military aid and guidance to Iran's proxy, Hezbollah. Apparently, in 2015, Vladimir Putin was getting a little concerned that Iran was having too much influence in Syria, hence the show of military force.

Fast forward to today, and 8 years later, it's looking like the age-old dynamic of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is once again in play. And, as always, oil is the common factor of all these conflicts. So, in 2023, we are left wondering if Russia and Iran are now aligned, perhaps to foil the prospective treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia. And interestingly enough, I wrote this in 2015: "There are also those who surmise that Russia's escalating presence in the Middle East might forecast a threat to Western interests; or on the other hand, provide valuable intelligence and military aid in fighting Islamic jihad.  Either way, Russia gives themselves a way to bargain for Western and European concessions in regards to Ukraine and economic sanctions". As you can surmise, it's a never-ending game of moving pieces on the cosmic chess board.

And just as in 2015, Russia now seems to be partnering with China to form a coalition against U.S. and European interests in the region. There are so many players on the field and they change partners so many times that it is difficult to discern what their plan is. Can I make all the puzzle pieces fit nicely to form a clear picture to determine if these are End Times events? No. But there is enough going on that my spiritual radar is up. And it just seems as if the world is careening towards [if not an apocalyptic alignment of a one-world government, economic, and religious system], then at least an Armageddon-style conflict that will result in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecies of an emerging New World Order and Anti-Christ kingdom.

And I can't help it, but I just sense that the global elite are manipulating events, alliances, and heads of state. To be honest, I'm finding it very difficult to find the truth in the midst of all the chaos. I don't trust the "official line" we are being told by any of the participants in this human tragedy. Who is on which side? Are the coalition forces really working together, or are they each trying to benefit their own political agenda? How do the various factions of the Islamic faith play out in relationship to each other and their goal to wipe Israel off the face of the map? 

I just keep returning to the Bible's prophecy in Zechariah 14, that "I (God) will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped." Just like in Ezekiel 37-39, it is God who brings the enemies of Israel against them in order to shake their world  in the hope that they will abandon their worldly ways and return to their original purpose in His plan for the redemption of mankind [by leading the world to the knowledge of the God of Israel]. At this point in history, and as I have explained in my previous post titled The Lord Has Chosen Zion, the current state of Israel [just like its history] does not resemble the nation God planned to be His spokesman. 

In fact, the reality of modern Israel mirrors the historical nation that the prophet Isaiah lamented over in Chapter 1 of his prophetical book. Although a vision and prophecy was given to the prophet Isaiah about the destiny of the nation of Israel during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, the king of Judah, it also foretells the future of the tribe of Judah during the End Times. Furthermore, I believe its message should be heeded by our own nation, as well.  I just love the multiple layers of significance that the Bible holds throughout all generations!  Those who say it is no longer relevant in our time are sadly (and dangerously) deceived.   

 Isaiah laments his sinful nation ... he accuses them of immorality and criminality; they have forsaken the God who made them a great nation above all others, and they now only show Him contempt -- worse, still, they ignore Him. Because of their "detestable disobedience", the future of their country is bleak. Their land has been attacked by enemies and strangers occupy what was once so generously bestowed upon them.  And then the prophet tells them something that should have stopped them in their tracks, and caused fear to bring them to their knees.  The nation of Israel -- indeed, all the world, including today -- knows what befell Sodom and Gomorrah.  Ezekiel, Chapter 16, tells us: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me...".  The purpose of this post is not to dwell on the sexual immorality and perversion that were practiced in Sodom and Gomorrah [and indeed, in today's society], but to take to heart the judgment that fell on them, and will be due us if we don't repent and return to God. I also want to encourage you and and pray that you will recognize the hope that is in the remnant that will survive. 

Isaiah received spiritual perception in the 7th Century B.C. to minister to the nation of Judah. He knew that God had a purpose for them, but he needed to make them see how far they had wandered from Him. All Israel knew that God had poured fiery sulfur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, completely destroying them and all of their inhabitants. (To this day, the area where Sodom and Gomorrah were located remains a desolate wasteland.)  So Isaiah wants them to ultimately understand what God did out of the midst of that tragic judgment, and how they deserve the same verdict. He points to a particular nature of God as their reason for hope.

He tells them that "the Lord of hosts" spared a remnant, and it is that Sovereignty and Mercy that He wants his nation to recognize.  And it is very important to take note of the name for God he uses in this verse.  In Hebrew, "the Lord of hosts" is spoken of as Jehovah-Sabaoth.  From our human perspective, this is the name of God to run to when there is no other help.  From God's perspective, this is the name He uses when He wants us to know that He is not only the One who delivers us, but also the One who judges us. He wants us to bow our knee to Him.  This particular name of God meets our failure, and offers deliverance.  

Isaiah wants Judah to realize that their actions deserve the devastating and complete punishment that befell Sodom and Gomorrah. They need to acknowledge that Jehovah Sabaoth -- "the Lord of hosts" -- has rightly judged them, but He is also going to deliver them by the means of that remnant.  A small group will survive His judgments in order to fulfill God's purpose for them.

Over 700 years later, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah's forewarning of a remnant, in Romans, Chapter 9.  He says, "And Isaiah solemnly cries aloud over Israel:  Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved [from perdition, condemnation, judgment]"!  Paul is trying to tell the Hebrew nation that God's own prophets have foretold this sad and frightening truth -- that their disobedience deserves full destruction [as happened to Sodom and Gomorrah], BUT through God's mercy, He will leave them a remnant that will survive ... a Jewish remnant that will bow their knee to their King and Messiah.  

If you will take the time to look into the current state of Israeli affairs, you will find both the same faults of ancient Israel in the Bible, and the same corruption, immorality, and deception that plagues all the nations of the modern world. But whatever happens in this current conflict we need to be praying that Israel will be drawn to their destiny; that God's name will be more honored through this Jewish remnant, and the world will be more blessed.  This is the purpose of "God's chosen people" -- that a remnant will come forth and declare God and offer salvation to the world.

Isaiah knew it; Paul knew it; and we as the Christian component of the Body of Christ should and need to know it. We need to draw the comparisons with our own fallen state, and come out of our own Sodom and Gomorrah and fulfill our purpose in God's will!

Jeremiah 10:10     But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.