Posts Tagged Israel

I’ve Got to Give My Readers a lot of Credit

I’ve got to give my readers a lot of credit for being such an insightful and discerning bunch. The best evidence for this is found in the comments (and a little reading between the lines):

Post – Number of Comments to Date:

So much for trying to get you guys involved in current events. It’s arguments, silly facebook quizzes, and spur of the moment theological questions from now on.

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Hamas Says Israel is Distributing Gum to Boost Sex Drive of Youth in Gaza

This is even funnier than the Jerusalem Post story about the KKK leader who was apprehended in Israel I wrote about this morning.

Hamas is accusing Israel of distributing chewing gum that boosts the sex drive of youth in the Gaza Strip. While I suspect the Israeli government would love for young men in Gaza to take a “chill pill,” I doubt this is what they had in mind. I think in the long run it would be counterproductive.

There has been no official comment from the IDF, but a military source called the allegations “absurd.”

But, I will say this, the next time I’m in Israel forget the olive oil, wine, and souvenirs, I’m stocking up on gum.

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KKK Leader Arrested In, Of All Places, Israel

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that a high-ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan, who is wanted on charges in the US, was arrested in, of all places, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Mickey Louis Mayon, who was arrested Monday, is one of America’s 100 Most Wanted for assault, setting fire to vehicles belonging to federal agents, and other violent crimes. Apparently, Mayon fled to Israel in 2007 using a one-way ticket.

Perhaps this was his attempt at voluntary rehabilitation.

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Will There Be an End-Times Revival?

In a friendly discussion with my blogging buddy Polycarp over at The Church of Jesus Christ on his post Charismatic Movement: Alive or Dead?, we each agreed to write posts about whether there will be an end-times revival.

You can find his excellent post here, wherein he very skillfully maintains there will not be an end-times revival. Surprisingly, however, despite my task of demonstrating that there is scriptural authority for an end-times revival, I must confess that there is not much in his post I disagree with, other than the ultimate conclusion, of course.

I think a few issues get confused when discussing this subject matter thereby creating distinctions, whether with or without real differences. First of all, I agree with Polycarp that the last days will be very difficult:

[Paul to Timothy] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 Timothy 3:1 (KJV)

I do not, however, see these (difficult times and end-times revival) as being mutually exclusive. Whether you believe we are in the midst of the last days or not, I think most would agree that these are perilous times and that there is a considerable revival taking place right now in places like South America, China and other parts of Asia and Africa. So, both are indeed possible.

I think, too, the term “revival” is used loosely suggesting some sort of spiritual resurrection, which I firmly believe will happen (more on that in a moment), but it also gets used to suggest some worldwide mass coming to Jesus. I’m less comfortable with the latter because I’m not entirely sure scripture goes that far, but I don’t negate the possibility. Therefore, to the question of whether the end-times revival will be worldwide or include mass numbers, I must simply answer, “I don’t know.”

With that in mind, the most widely used scripture to support the notion of an end-times revival is found in Joel 2:

28 It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.

29″Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. The Day of the LORD

30″I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,

Blood, fire and columns of smoke.

31″The sun will be turned into darkness

And the moon into blood Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

32″And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD will be delivered…

My friend correctly points out that in Acts 2 Peter applies this passage in Joel to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit experienced by Peter and the others on the day of Pentecost. However, I see this as the beginning of the outpouring referenced in Joel and not the end.

In support of this, it seems that Joel 2:31 is a parallel prophecy to Revelation 6:12 where, “The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red…” (NIV), which suggests to me that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit began, and did not culminate, at Pentecost. The culmination to come “before the great and awesome day” when the Lord comes.

Moreover, I find no where in scripture where this outpouring comes to an end. Lastly, at the time of Pentecost, Peter had no indication yet that the Gentiles were some how going to be a part of God’s plan. His encounter with Cornelius and strange bedclothes had yet to occur, and He specifically addresses “Men of Judea” and “Men of Israel.”

Thus, the pouring out on all mankind, while appropriate to Peter’s sermon as the beginning of said outpouring, must have been still future in its completion.

I have always found that on questions of church theology, the book of Romans seems to provide most of the answers. On this question of theology, Romans 11 I think provides the clearest instruction.

First, and as an aside, albeit an important one, Paul cites Joel  2:32 in eliminating the distinction between Jew and Gentile in Romans 10:13. It is apparent that Paul viewed Joel’s prophecy as continuing and still future.  More importantly, Paul explains:

11 I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!…15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written…” (NASB)

If Israel’s rejection of Christ meant my reconciliation, what must their acceptance be? Paul equates it to life from the dead. That sounds like a revival to me. I would love to be around when, “all Israel will be saved.”

Admittedly, I think there are a lot of when, where, and how’s that need to be worked out, but it seems to me that the end-times revival is the answer to the falling away, apostasy and lawlessness to come. Jesus instructs us, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 (NASB)

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus, and we are to:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that [He] commanded [us]; and lo, [He] is with [us] always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19 (NASB)

I see it this way: the prophecied gloom and doom are the symptoms, the end-times, worldwide revival we are charged with carrying is the cure. Sure, some folks will not take their medicine, ignore their ailments, or seek help elsewhere, but among those who find Jesus, there will most definitely be revival.

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At Least He Said It

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden suggested that the Obama administration would not stand in the way if Israel  attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities.

While it’s not a ringing endorsement of Israel’s stand on Iran, in political parlance he may as well have said, “pull the trigger.”

Reminded that the U.S. could impede an Israeli strike on Iran by prohibiting it from using Iraqi airspace, Biden said he was “not going to speculate” beyond saying that Israel, like the U.S., has a right to “determine what is in its interests.”

I think we should continue to remind our political leaders that what is in Israel’s best interest is in our best interest.

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This is Shocking-Only 6% of Israelis Think US Government is Pro-Israel

I think Christians have long thought of the United States as Israel’s only friend in the world, but the Israelis don’t seem to agree.

According to a Jerusalem Post poll, only 6% of Israelis see the United States government as pro-Israel (down from 31% a month ago). Considering that the poll has a margin of error of 4.5%, this is shocking. By contrast, 50% of those polled believed the Obama administration to be pro-Palestinian.

With friends like us, who needs enemies? Admittedly, I don’t think a newspaper poll is definitive, but we should be sensitive to our government’s response to Israel. I think scripture and history demonstrate that our actions are crucial to our own well-being.

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I Think Netanyahu is Right

Haaretz is reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu said that all of the arguing over the Israel’s stance on settlements is impeding progress on peace talks. And, while I cannot be sure about that, I do think Netanyahu is right when he says:

“If we are asked to recognize a Palestinian state as the nation-state of the Palestinian people, then the very least is that the Palestinians should recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,”

What value is there in Israel, which many if not most “Palestinians” view as illegitimate anyway, supporting a Palestinian state. The problem-causing factors are unwilling even to recognize the other, so why bother seeking recognition from the other?

I will give Netanyahu this: he is willing to say what a lot of people think but are unwilling to say.

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Thought for the Day-Rethinking the Cross

Why do we use the instruction to, “take up your cross,” as an excuse for living a burdened or less-than-abundant life?

I don’t find anywhere in scripture where Jesus instructs us to take up His cross. I agree, the cross He bore was burdensome, shameful, heavy, dark, sinful, and condemning, but, because of that, our’s is not.

Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30.

I think sometimes walking in liberty (for us) is more burdensome, so we try to carry the cross Jesus carried for us. When all you have known is bondage, the unfamiliarity of freedom can feel burdensome.

I remember studying in one of my political science classes the distinction between “freedom from” and “freedom to.” I think we as Christians frequently only get as far as “freedom from” this or that. However, the freedom Christ paid for by carrying our cross is beyond “freedom from” it is “freedom to” be what God has called us to be.

God freed the Israelites from Egypt’s bondage and freed them to take their promised land. But, a good chunk of the Bible is about Israel’s inability to walk in the “freedom to.” And they had a pretty hard time walking in “freedom from” also. How often did they want to go back to Egypt rather than continue on in the wilderness?

It’s an altogether human thing to try to make our freedom more burdensome than our bondage. Is this our cross?

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Tony Blair Says There Could be Middle East Peace Deal Within a Year

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

The Jordan Times is reporting that Tony Blair said there could be a Middle Eastern peace deal within a year if all sides will agree to peaceful negotiations.

It certainly seems like both sides are giving (a little), but please forgive my skepticism. While I think we are scripturally mandated to, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6), I don’t find in scripture where such a peace will be fully realized until Christ’s return.

…maybe that’s why we’re supposed to pray for it.

So, while we may not see the kind of peace everyone is hoping for anytime soon, I think we should still pray for peace. And maybe, just maybe, we will see more peace than exists now.

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Esteban is Giving Stuff Away Again

The Bible at QumranIn honor of his return to the blogosphere and move to WordPress, Esteban Vazquez is giving away a copy of The Bible at Qumran: Text, Shape and Interpretation, Peter W. Flint (ed.).

All you have to do to win is (1) announce his change of address (http://voxstefani.wordpress.com), (2) link to the giveaway, and very cleverly (3) provide your most creative theory about the Qumran community (note that he said “most creative” not necessarily most probable or accurate) in a comment on his blog.

You have until Monday, June 29, 2009 to enter, and the winner will be announced June 30. Good luck.

The comment thread on that post ought to be fun, so check it out.

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