December 2018   
SMTWTFS
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031   
Bible Search
ISRAEL - ISRAEL AND CHRISTIANS

ISRAEL AND CHRISTIANS

I would like to emphasize one characteristic of today’s world--it is a world of danger. Our society is in a mature version of the warfare that has been going on for all of history, the great conflict between good and evil. The Bible speaks about this age and really gives us some awesome pictures (2 Peter 1:19). The Bible tells us many things we need to watch out for in these days.

·         It tells us that we will see the final maturing of this age in the form of a great war in the Middle East.

·         It tells us that tremendous fire storms will burn a third part of the earth, all the green grass, and a third part of men destroyed and 'the fish of the sea.’

·         It tells us that nation shall rise against 'nation and kingdom against kingdom. By the way, that word nation is the word ethnos, which has a little racial implication. Ethnic divisions will be very, very devastating.

·         It does not say that the world is going to get better, but it says it is going to get worse and worse until finally, “perilous times shall come."

That danger, I think, is coming upon us today.

The Bible says probably 20 or 30 things that will characterize the last days, but some are especially pertinent now.

First of all, the Bible says in the last days there will be a tremendous attention to the Middle East and then a devastating series of wars in the Middle East that will bring history to its consummation. The Middle East is where it all began, and the Middle East is where it's all going to end. The Middle East was quiet for a long time. Just a few years ago, we would have said, "Eh—what's the Middle East? Over there is a fertile crescent, as it used to be called, but now it's nothing but a desert. And you've got a few little countries with a lot of half-sane Arab sheiks running around on their camels and shooting one another and executing their kings and others.” It is now in the process of becoming a battlefield. It is not a safe situation anymore.  The devastating conflicts will continue to break out.

Let’s review some recent developments so that we can remind ourselves that that is the case. More people than ever have heard that the Bible teaches of the coming consummation of history. They have read expressions like "the last days" and "are these the last days?" We have descriptions in the Word of God about what the world will be like as we move to the end of time. Are we moving into that time today? Are these, in fact, the last days?

Some of this concern is because of oil. Oil produced in the Middle East is costing the United States alone about $90 billion a year. That, with other strange insanities that threaten to break our economy. Oil has made the Middle East tremendously strategic.                                       

The second thing that has made the Middle East strategic is Israel. Israel is seen by the Arab powers as an unwelcome presence in the midst of a situation where they almost had it made. Israel is geographically the land bridge between Europe, Asia, and Africa called “the Levant.” The life of the area was interrupted in 1948 when Israel became a state. Israel has continued to thrive and be politically dominant and to be a vast provocation in the rest of the Middle East.

The geography of the entire area is a third reason why the Middle East is important. The valley of Armageddon is centrally located. Any army that tries to get anywhere from north to south in the world, from Europe to Africa, has to move right through this area. It's nothing but desert to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. The valley is the crossroads to the world. To the east, it goes to China, and to the north, it goes to Europe.

The fourth reason why the Middle East is becoming newly pro-active in the world is Moslem resurgence. Moslems conquered a pretty large area of the known world back in the 5th century A.D. They did so by the sword. They came sweeping into North African towns, put a knife to somebody's throat, asked them if they wanted to be a live Moslem or a dead whatever they were, and they instantly converted to the Moslem faith, called Islam, and so the Moslem faith got underway. Islam has been a religion for 1300 years, but now it has taken to itself a new arrogance about world conquest.

The Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran made pronouncements such as "The real issue in the world today is not between Iran and the United States, it is between Islam and paganism." What he believes, and what the new Moslem priests believe, is that the Moslem faith, Islam, is the only true religion in the world. It is this arrogant faith that leads them to begin to fantasize again that maybe Allah would once again give them the weapons and the young men and the enthusiasm and the drive and the motivation to move out for their program of world conquest. They dream about the future, and a future that will remake the glories that once were, and bring them into a greater glory.

The Moslem faith is tied to the money coming into the Middle East, which gives this missionary vision of the world tremen­dous drive. Moslems have said they are going to plant a Moslem worship center in every major city of the world, and they are doing this. You’ll find mosques in New York, London, Washington, Philadelphia, and smaller cities like Madison, Wisconsin. They want a new missionary vision to take over their people and to extend the call to convert to the Moslem faith everybody in the world. Perhaps you didn't know it, but there are about 850,000 Moslems in the United States.

Another factor is the Dead Sea, a good thing to keep an eye on. It has long been suggested and is now being shown, that the Dead Sea has enormous wealth, the kind of wealth that could produce fertilizer for agricultural abun­dance to lands that are now untellable and provide food for those facing starvation. Chemicals in the Dead Sea can be used to make gunpowder and are very strategic for small arms development. So the Dead Sea repre­sents a source of good chemicals that could newly replenish the agricultural and war-making potential of many nations.

So we have in today's world a new attention to the Middle East which was totally unforeseen 50 years ago and as to this extent even 30 years ago. The prophetic Scriptures tell us that there is coming a time when there will indeed be a tremendous battle in which Russia moves in attempt to conquer the nation of Israel. It will not succeed in that battle, by the way, but 5/6 of that army will be destroyed in a devastating response from the Lord Himself. But the rise of the Middle East as to a strategic situation the world is a demonstration of the fulfillment of the prophetic Scriptures that relate to the last days.

Another indication that we may well be living in the last days is the European situation. The Bible teaches that as we come into the last days, there will be ten kingdoms and a revived Roman Empire., The European nations put back together become a strategic economic military and political block.  They will finally be led by a most interesting person whose name is the Antichrist.

The rise of China is another interesting scenario. China has a population of a billion people. Revelation chapter 9 says the kings of the East will move into battle in the last great battle, the Battle of Armageddon, with an army of 200 million.  How many is 200 million? More than fought on both sides in World War II. How could one country furnish that many people? At the time the Bible was written, there probably were not 200 million people in the entire world.  Mao Tse-tung said that in the battle for the world, China would supply 50 million men. He quickly revised it: “When China fights for the conquest of the earth, we will put 200 million people in the field.” Now China has close to that population, and global determination exists to put that army on the field.

Matthew 24:7 and Luke 21:29-30 are other evidences that we are moving into the last days. Throughout Scripture, the fig tree is a symbol for Israel. Here Jesus is predicting that the “fig tree” Israel and “all the trees,” other nations that people may never have heard of, will suddenly become strategic and have their place in the sun, their recognition. Many small countries have become significant because uranium, plutonium, chromium, or other forms of metallurgy were discovered there (Luke 21:31).

In its early years, the state of Israel was really very little beyond a desert. Very quickly, industrious Jews came from many parts of the world and began irrigating, fertilizing, and developing agricultural skills. Israel today is a marvel! You can travel from one end of that nation to the other and see spacious fields of orchards, truck gardens, and irrigated lands. In between are spacious cities, not just some little places with huts, but with modern facilities and hotels. Israel has developed nuclear and other technological capabilities, including building its own aircraft and many of its own weapons. Most of all, it has a sense of destiny, of driving, of moving ahead. By the way, as the sense of destiny increases in Israel, the sense of America’s young people is dropping into a dark abyss. We wonder if they will quit smoking pot and wonder if the will go to school.

I have a suggestion for you because I know the implied question for many of us is, What shall I do in times like these?"

I hope you will become one who not only encourages people to believe but also becomes strong in the Lord yourself so that you can be the source of spiritual maturity in the lives of others. In other words, be a student of the Word of God and make disciples of others.

Let's talk about how a Christian gains influence in the world today. I think that we can only discuss that subject by first discussing what a Christian is.

·         A Christian is a person who has received Jesus Christ as his or her per­sonal Savior.

·         A Christian is one who believes that Christ died for all sins on the cross of Calvary, accepts that fact as the basis of salvation, and as a result has everlasting life.

That's what a Christian is—one who believes the gospel. A Christian is not primarily one who lives a certain way or joins a certain church or any of that. A Christian believes in the finished work of Calvary.

You are supposed to do something about the fact that you are a Christian. That's why the Bible says in Philippians 2:12,

continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

That doesn't mean work to be saved. You are not saved by works. Romans 4:4 continues,

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

You are not saved by works, but when you are a Christian, you are to work out that salvation that has already been worked in you so that it will be used of God to touch the lives of others. Therefore, having believed the gospel we need to do something for the Lord. I would like you to see is this colossal set of possibilities that are before us in America today. The possibility of a nation touched with the story of the gospel and deeply moved and becoming a fountainhead of terrific influence across the world, that nation marvelous spirituality and doubtless were effective.

I try to press myself with that stark necessity. I ask myself rather regularly, what have you done today that is a real credit to Christ? What have you done today that is a serious threat to the devil?" I have three commit­ments in my life in these last days: Evangelism, Christian development, and the defense of the faith. I hope that you will steel yourself so that you will be spiritually perceptive to the place where you won't let bad theology, like the theology of confrontation--which is another thing we don't have time to discuss today--or liberation theology or the theology of hope or just some poor subversive doctrine enter into your life and the lives of your friends. You have to be set for the defense and the propagation of the gospel, and I am going to suggest that you commit yourself to a program like that that will be most useful in times like these.

The first Psalm refers to a man that whatever he does prospers. Not what he thinks about, what he prays for, what he hopes for, what he feels spiritually led to, but what he does. The prospering of your life does not come because you hope for the best or even because you're very spiritual. The prospering of your life in the sense of influencing the life of others comes because you do the things that a spiritual life implies. I want you to see this as a very important spiritual principle for our time.

We have 50,000,000 born again Christians in America whose influence will go for nothing unless they start doing something about it. Lots of Christians are relatively ineffective at influencing their society because their faith never takes the form of good Christian living or of passing out a tract or of picking up the telephone or of talking with a physical voice to some­body else about Christ. Let no one ever be so much of a fool to say, “l love God, but  God has called the Pastor to speak for Him, but He's just called me to be a sweet and disconnected spiritual wallflower singing, 'Jesus wants me for a mushroom to vegetate for him each day.'"

Not so. God has not called the preacher to talk and you to do nothing. The Bible says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." In other ways it says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord do something about it.”

 

THE INVITATION

You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).

To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).

You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:

         Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.

      Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.

      I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.

      Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.

                     In Your name I pray, Amen.