Thursday, January 28, 2016

PSALM 89 - MORE PROOF OF GOD'S FUTURE PLANS FOR ISRAEL


  Reform theology concerning the nation of Israel is poison to the Christian Church.  Reform, also known as replacement, theology falsely teaches the heresy that God has rejected Israel and the Church is now the recipient of all God's blessings and promises, replacing Israel as God's chosen people.  As I have previously written on this topic, for replacement theology to be true, much of the Old Testament has to be completely ignored, due to the fact that much has been foretold about God's future plans for the forgiveness and restoration of Israel.  click here to check out how EZEKIEL 20 disproves reform theology   How we view God's plan for Israel shapes our understanding of God's Word and our understanding of end times.  If God is done with Israel, the book of Revelation becomes irrelevant and meaningless.  Daniel's 70 weeks of years prophecy is worthless and every promise God made to Abraham and David must be broken.  If God breaks a promise, He is no longer God and all bets are off.

     Psalm 89 is one of a plethora of passages that prove the Replacement crowd wrong.  Psalm 89:1-4 A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite. I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.  For I said, "Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness."   You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant:   'I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.'" Selah. 

     David was king of Israel.   At His Crucifixion, Jesus was ultimately charged with being King of the Jews.  If there is a throne, there must be subjects.  In relation to the Church, Christ is the Bridegroom, in relation to Israel, He is King.  Right now, for a time, Israel is estranged from God, as Jesus, Daniel and others foretold would happen.  As I demonstrated in my last blog on the subject, Israel will repent, in Jesus' name, and cry out to God for salvation during the 70th week of Daniel, a time also known as the 7 Year Tribulation.  click here to read how Psalm 80 foretells Israel's call for salvation  In order for God to fulfill His promise to David, Israel must be redeemed.  Eschatologicaly speaking, a renewed and forgiven Israel fits in with a literal view of scripture, especially prophetic scripture,


     In response to a Tweet I sent out, this week, a fellow Tweeter tweeted me with "Israel is done" and included some articles that showed turmoil in the promised land.  Included in the article were some references to Christians being tricked by Zionism.  Jesus promises to rule and reign from Mt. Zion, so yes, being on the side of Christ, I would consider myself a Zionist.  I do not believe Israel is currently right with God, nor do I believe that everything Israel says and does is automatically right, after all, they have been caught spying on America. Also, Tel Aviv is one of the most decadent cities on earth.  There is good reason why the events of the Tribulation will be so difficult for Israel, God will use great tumult to draw Israel back unto Him so the events of Psalm 80 are possible.

    In the mean time, God's promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel still stands.  Even when Israel was under God's heavy hand of discipline, the Father punished the nations that reveled in Israels demise. To get an idea of how God deals with those who hate Israel, check out Ezekiel chapters 25-31.  There is no question that God loves and protects Israel.  This was evident when a rocket fired into Israel, in Summer 2014, made it through Israel 's missile defense system and was supernaturally knocked into the sea before it could hit land and harm God's chosen people.  This event made headlines around the world you can read the article here - CLICK

      I stand with Israel because God stands with Israel.  Anti-semites in and out of the church would like to see Israel destroyed, evidenced by the Presbyterian Church USA's decision to side with Palestine over Israel by divesting itself from any company doing business in or with Israel.  you can read how PCUSA spit in God's eye twice recently -CLICK  This is dangerous ground, but can be expected from an organization that calls itself a church yet votes to recognize same sex marriage, a direct violation of God's word.

    Israel was, and is God's chosen people.  Israel is God's elect.  The church is grafted into Israel and falls under the promises and protections of Israel, the church does not replace Israel.

   We are commanded by scripture to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.  That peace will not come until Messiah returns.  God promises to establish Israel forever.  In that promise is the blessed hope of salvation through Jesus, King of the Jews!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

PSALM 80 - ISRAEL CALLING FOR MESSIAH IN TRIBULATION (JESUS IDENTIFIED IN OT SCRIPTURE)


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      The book of Psalms is Israel's song book.  The book of Psalms is also filled with prophecy concerning Israel's future, specifically in the latter days.  Psalm 80 gives a view of the tribulation, with Israel calling out to God for salvation, specifically calling out for Messiah.  The opening verse gives reference to a time of judgment, alluding to the visions of the prophet Ezekiel.  Psalm 80:1  To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm. Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.  Ezekiel had experiences with God that included encounters with Christ seated on a platform being carried by Cherubim.  Chapter one of Ezekiel gives a detailed description of the Cherubim and what seems to be some kind of powered craft they operate.  Ezekiel 10 identifies the "being" seated on the platform above the Cherubim as God.  Scholars agree that this figure must be Christ in a pre-incarnate appearance, also known as a Christophany.  
     The significance of the reference to Ezekiel is that Ezekiel's ministry was to Israel during the Babylonian captivity, when the nation was being judged for it's disobedience toward God.  Ezekiel's early ministry was to warn Israel to repent for it's sin letting the nation know that God's judgment was imminent.  Ezekiel's later ministry consisted of comforting the exiled Jews, encouraging them with God's promises to restore Israel and descriptions of the reign of Messiah.  There will be another day when Israel experiences the wrath of God, when Israel will repent and call out for Messiah, specifically Jesus Christ.  This time is what we refer to as the Tribulation, also known as the "Time of Jacob's trouble" and "the 70th Week of Daniel." The Tribulation will culminate with Christ returning to rule over Israel for 1000 years, which we see vividly described by the prophet Zechariah who ministered to Israel after Ezekiel's ministry ended and the people came back into the land: Zechariah 12:9  And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.  "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. The people of Israel will recognize Jesus when He returns, and I believe they will not only be expecting Him but calling for Him to rescue them.  Psalm 80 gives us clues that this is the case.

     Verse 2 leads us to the understanding that the Psalmist recognizes that the Messiah will come from the line of David.  Psalm 80:2  Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us!   Verse one references Joseph being led by the shepherd of Israel and here, in the next verse, we see reference to Joseph again, albeit through his sons Ephraim and Manasseh.  Also in verse two is Benjamin.  The reason these names are significant is because  A).Jacob counted Joseph(for a number of reasons) as his first born son, even though he was 11th born, thus rightful ruler over the descendants of Jacob and B). Benjamin was the tribe from which King Saul hailed, Saul being the first king of Israel chosen by God.  The Psalmist is reaffirming God's choice to reject these two tribes as leaders and establishing Judah, David's line, as ruler over Israel. The Messiah, Jesus, a direct descendant of Judah and David will rule over Joseph and Benjamin.
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     Verses 3-16 demonstrate that Israel is in distress and calling out to God for salvation :Psalm 80:3-16  Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!   O LORD God of hosts, how long will you be angry with your people's prayers?   You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.  You make us an object of contention for our neighbors, and our enemies laugh among themselves.  Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!   You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.  You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land.  The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches.  It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River.   Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?  The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it.  Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine,  the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.  They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face!   Here we see Israel acknowledging that they are in distress and under threat of total destruction.  Israel recounts the deeds that God has done on their behalf and also acknowledges that, even though the enemies of Israel have wrought destruction, it has ultimately come from the hand of God.  This acknowledgement is necessary for true repentance.  Finally, the Psalmist, speaking on behalf of the nation, or, most likely, recording future pleas from the nation of Israel, records the call to God of Hosts for salvation.  The call from Israel is for help for the Vine that was planted by God's Right Hand.  We know, by virtue of the Gospel accounts, that Jesus Christ sits at the Father's right hand.  In this same passage is mentioned "the Son you made strong for Yourself"  In other translations the word Son is rendered branch.  Both of these are references to Messiah.  Isaiah 11 identifies the Messiah as the Branch of Jesse.  It would seem that at some point during the 7 year Tribulation, Israel will recognize their plight as judgment from God and they will acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and call out for His salvation - both physical and spiritual.

     Not surprisingly, in the next verse, the Psalmist, and Israel by inference, cries out again, more emphatically for the right hand and Son of Man.  Psalms 80:17  But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!  For believers, hindsight is 20/20. We know that Christ referred to Himself as The Son of Man.  Christ did this because He knew that the religious leaders would understand that He was bringing warning and judgment on Israel as the prophet Ezekiel had.  Ezekiel was called son of man by God.  We can see here that Israel will one day call out for the savior and they will recognize that the savior is Jesus Christ, the self proclaimed Son of Man, Jesus Christ, who is seated at the right hand of the Father. Amazingly, at the time of this writing, the Psalmist had no concept of the Messiah being seated on the right hand of the Father or of His calling Himself the Son of Man.  These things are written purely by the inspiration of God and speaks of events in the future.  Very exciting when you think of the intricacies and subtleties of prophecy.  No word or phrase is wasted, every passage has significance.

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     In the last two verses, we see Israel calling on God for salvation and restoration:    Psalms 80:18-19  Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name!  Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!   This is the final cry of Israel as a nation, the call that brings them back to God once and for all, the cry that acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah, that they need the salvation of God through the sacrifice of Christ.  God promised Israel to restore them and forgive them of all sin:   Jeremiah 31:31-34  "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.   For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."  Jesus declared, "I am the Way the Truth and the Life and no man comes to the Father but by Me."  If God promises to forgive and restore Israel, and Jesus is the only way to that forgiveness and restoration, we can conclude that Israel must at some point acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and repent before God on that basis.  I believe that Psalm 80 is prophetically recording this event, when Israel acknowledges Jesus as Messiah, facilitating Christ's return to establish His 1000 year kingdom.

    Sometimes, very subtle clues in scripture have earth shaking ramifications!



Sunday, January 3, 2016

WHY OUR SPIRITUAL GIFTS ARE ESSENTIAL TO A HEALTHY CHURCH

   Every member of the Body of Christ is essential and every member has a spiritual gift, chosen by God, especially for them.  The health and proper function of the Body of Christ relies on every part... well, doing it's part.  Every member fulfilling their role.

 Our Pastor delivered a great message out of Ephesians 4:7-16, this morning.  He spoke about finding your spiritual gift and using it.  I can attest to the fact that I am never better than when I am operating in my gift.  I believe my main gift is teaching God's word and when I am doing that, I am at my best.  I am not the best Bible teacher, but I am the best version of me when I am teaching.  This has nothing to do with my ability or lack thereof, it has everything to do with being obedient to the calling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. I do not say any of this to draw attention to myself or anything I do, but to make the point of how important it is to be who God made you to be.

     This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in an outreach in the homeless community.  The two brothers I went with were gifted as evangelists. Being with then and listening to them naturally share with people made me realize how much I am not gifted in the area of evangelism.  I did not feel badly nor am I discouraged as I recognize my gifting is not in evangelism.(this does not excuse me from sharing my faith, as our Pastor pointed out)  I have a different gifting which is just as valid and important, as the gifts God has given to every believer.

     The two mistakes we often make is elevating some gifts above others, and expecting everyone to operate in one specific gift(usually evangelism).  In today's message, we saw from Ephesians 4:16 how every one of us, operating in our gift, is necessary for the body to function.  As I pondered this, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians  12:22-24  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty,  which our more presentable parts do not require.  There are essential organs and ligaments, without which, our bodies would cease to function.  These parts are protected by our skin and bones and are never meant to be exposed or displayed.  Just so, many believers have roles that are best carried out under the cover and protection of other believers.  This is a difficult thing, as many time, we destroy or banish the weak among us.  When we deem someone's gift or role as unnecessary or even a nuisance, we rob the body of an essential function. There are also parts of our bodies that we do not put on public display, parts we refer to as our "private" parts.  We protect certain areas of our body for modesty sake, yet we would not be willing to part with those parts...  In the body of Christ, some people may, by gifting, fall into the category of "private" part.  People who need extra care and attention, yet are vital to the healthy function of the Body of Christ.

     I have, in the past, been part of a church that valued only productive members and any one who became needy or "a burden" were marginalized and ultimately driven off.  This was a grave error and led to many broken lives and ultimately, the failure on the part of the pastor to achieve his goals.  Every member is vital and must be treated as such.  If you have ever had an appendectomy, you know the pain involved in losing a "non-essential" part of your body.  When we fail to recognize the unique and essential gifting of each member and when we fail to help each member recognize and operate in their gift, we are doing great spiritual harm to the Body.

     It is necessary for every believer to study and learn to use their spiritual gift(s).  Romans 12:4-8 is a great place to start.  I firmly believe that everyone has at least one gift on that list.  A spiritual gift assessment is also a great tool for discovering individual gifting.  TAKE AN ASSESSMENT HERE

     Discipleship is a key component in developing and using spiritual gifts.  Get involved with a meaningful discipleship program or start one of your own.  Feel free to contact me for a program I developed and implemented.  I would love to share the material free of charge.  If everyone operated in their gift, serving would be joyful.  You know the the good feeling in your body when everything is functioning normally and you are healthy, this is what happens for the local church and the Body of Christ when we all do our part.

     We must start viewing our brothers and sisters as vital and we need to assist each members we are gifted to assist.  At the risk of being vulgar, imagine if your hand refused to take care of personal hygiene in the restroom.  A nasty job, to be sure, but necessary for the proper health and function of the body.  The same goes for the church, someone has to help care for the parts that cannot care for themselves so they can accomplish their role properly.

    We are commanded, by scripture, to study to show ourselves approved unto God.  What better way to kick off the new year than by developing a deeper relationship with God, utilizing your spiritual gift(s) and fulfilling your role in the Body of Christ?  I promise you it will be a journey that you will never regret!