“Al-Quds” is the Arabic word for “Jerusalem.”
Islam has Mecca and Medina as holy cities, but they have added Jerusalem.
The Quds Force is one of the eight branches of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) This force is the only one which was directly responsible to the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khameine.
The Quds Force represents the Muslim Arabs who are bent on the destruction of not only the State of Israel, but all Jews.
Soleimani and the Jews
When he was appointed commander of the Quds Force in 1998, Soleimani increased the scope of the Quds Force to the killing of not only Israelis but also to Jews throughout the world. That included Israeli diplomats in many foreign embassies.
A Few Examples of Soleimani’s Quds Force Terrorism:
NOTE: The mission of the Quds Force was to fulfill Ayatollah Khomeini”s goal of spreading its revolutionary efforts to “free” Jerusalem and, in order to do that, to train thousands of operatives from Hizbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Also, the Quds Force wants what all serious-minded Muslims want, and that is a world-wide caliphate. They want to rule the world. They want to hear the five daily calls to prayer to Allah from every main street corner in the world. Islam is not merely a missionary religion, it wants to be a conquering religion just as they were in the 7th century A. D. And when their forces are ineffective, many of them conclude that they aren’t strict enough in their Islamic behavior.
Islam wants to glorify Hagar and not Sarah, Ishmael and not Isaac and pretend that Jerusalem was a Muslim city from where Mohammed flew his horse to heaven.
* * * * * * * * * * *
According to reports, Soleimani has, over the years, seized control over Tehran’s foreign policy in some foreign countries, and his group operates banks, shipping lines and jetties in some Iranian ports. Daily Alert reports that “hundreds of Iranian and Arab militants have enrolled in Western universities with scholarships from the Quds Force. Uh-oh!
His work was very close to Israel in the north as he worked to establish Hizbollah in Lebanon as well as in Syria. Recently his group has been teaching Hizbollah to produce its own advanced precision-guided missiles.
The Palestinian response to the assassination of Soleimani
The Palestinians mourn his loss. Hamas and Jihad mourned his death as a “martyr,” and erected a “mourning tent” in Gaza. They will miss him as a military mentor, aiding them in their missile barrages into Israel.
Would God permit this Quds Force—Jerusalem Force—to keep going unhindered?
Might God have used President Donald Trump to inhibit the work of this Quds Force? It would seem so to me.
Well, one might ask: “Why does God permit the Israelis to be scorned and terrorized? Why doesn’t the Lord rid Israel of all her enemies?” In reply I would first quickly say that I don’t pretend to know for certain what the Lord is doing; but I do see that in modern times the persecution of the Jews (anti-Semitism) has brought them closer together. Only suffering could do that.
For eons Israel has been fragmented. And for the past hundred years or so, many European Jews have even given up their identity just to fit in with Gentile polite society. Others have simply played down their Jewishness. The waves of persecution have stopped that.
But now, it seems that, though Israel has been scorned especially in the halls of the United Nations, she is seen as phenomenal--continually making great strides in research, development and service to other poorer and struggling nations.
“The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel…
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion….
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
They do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord.”
-- from Psalm 147
We know that God has severely disciplined the Jewish people. If He had not done so, they would not have been gathered together in the land which is the Lord God’s gift.
For the future, watch and wait. See Jerusalem and the nation of Israel continue to be transformed. And know that some day--some glad day in God's future, Israel will acknowledge her Lord, Messiah and Redeemer.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;
May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
And security within your towers.”
-- Psalms 122:6-7
586 B. C. – Jewish Exile No. 1.
When the Jewish people were taken into exile by the Babylonians in 586 B. C. almost all of them were led by the nose to Babylonia.
70 years later when they were held by the Persians (who had defeated Babylon), Cyrus, the Persian Monarch was moved by Almighty God to assist them in returning to their homeland.
Only a portion of them chose to return when offered the opportunity. Many of them stayed in Mesopotamia and other more developed countries. They had become acclimated to a life more affluent and permissive.
Those who did return to Palestine had much of which to repent and much to learn. After that 70-year absence from God’s land, they had to learn:
(1) That their return must involve a return to holy living, renouncing other gods and shunning the people who had settled that land in their absence. Why? Because these other people worshipped other gods. For example, those young Jews who married young pagan, Gentile women were castigated and had to cast out those wives! Nehemiah: “Thus I cleansed them from everything foreign!”
(2) They had to learn as did their forbears that they are a “distinctive people”—set apart to demonstrate God’s glory, righteousness and love.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Also, after they arrived back in their land, they had fierce opposition from non-Jewish settlers who had drifted in and settled there. These were termed “the people of the land.” Recognize that? That’s what the Palestinians are, so they claim, though that is highly suspect as authentic studies will indicate. (See: Joan Peters: From Time Immemorial, JKAP)
These non-natives of God’s land in about 490 B. C. discouraged the returning Jews, just as the Palestinians/Arabs have done ever since the early 1900’s. They reported to the empire’s authorities that the Jews were big trouble. So, the Jews were forced to interrupt the building of the temple.
Ezra 4:4 – “Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them….”
And so, the temple under construction stood unfinished for 17 years before the work resumed. They had to learn that this return had to mean a return to obedience to the Mosaic Law and to the God who had called them into being under Abraham. They also had to settle for a much smaller and more modest temple in Jerusalem. This helped lessen their pride.
WHAT THEY WERE LEARNING: The restoration of the land and people doesn’t come easily. But….
“The hand of the Lord our God was upon us…” – Ezra 8:31-32a
* * * * * * * * * * *
Jewish Exile No. 2 – 1900 A. D. to the present.
Modern Israel is a nation of returned Jews--back from their exile after two millennia! But….
Not all Jews have returned to the land from their exile. Six million Jews remain in America. But they don’t consider themselves as in exile. And furthermore, they are disappearing through intermarriage!
And now, a strange spirit of anti-Semitism is increasing in America. There is widespread hostility towards them especially in the New York Area and on university campuses, places that used to be Jewish turf. American Jews, just within the past few months, are feeling noticeably less secure because of anti-Semitic terrorism and hateful demonstrations against the policies of the State of Israel.
* * * * * * * * *
However, for their part, the Israeli Jews constitute an immigrant country.
These, like their ancient brothers and sisters, do not officially have the whole land that they possessed before their exile. Under the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate, all the designated land would be theirs in which to settle. But the same British who provided this land later took the largest part of it and gave it to the Arabs.
From a biblical point of view, modern Israelis have shown timidity and lack of faith in God. Aren't I blunt? But true, they were magnificently brave during the 6-Day War; but then, brave Israelis tip-toed into the forbidden territory following that war. Their enemy wouldn’t negotiate with them nor would they recognize Israel as a nation. Israel had subdued her enemies on every side in just six days! And yet, the Israeli leaders decided they would forbid their own Israeli citizens from ENTERING this conquered land. And so, Judea and Samaria would not be opened up the slightest bit (at first) to any Jews!
Nevertheless, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) came to be occupied by an increasing number of determined Jewish “settlers”. How did that happen? Because little by little, those few religious Jews went in and put up housing, defying their own Jewish/Israeli government. The trickle became larger until it was quite a phenomenon; and the government had to give in. The building of infrastructure in the West Bank began.
Here we are—a half century later, and they are still tiptoeing, still guarded and still checking with America and the U. N. In fact, the liberals among them are guided by the European outlook: Judea and Samaria should be given back to the Arabs; and the Jewish “settlements” on that “West Bank” area must be abandoned in response to Palestinian demands.
To them, the basic parameters of the State of Israel are and should be presently determined not by the will of God, (laughable to many of them) but by human declarations, for example: The British Mandate, The Fourth Geneva Convention, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, other international laws, and by coordination with America’s State Department and President.
NOTE THIS: They do NOT have a motto like America’s “In God we trust.” And so, they lean upon a nation that DOES have this motto!
QUESTION: So, is the nation of Israel--the nation of former exiles--timid or brave?
ANSWER: They are strong militarily, but they are weak in relation to their relation to the Most High God and the strength that only HE can give.
This generation of Jewish exiles from all over the world is WEAK in spirit. They have a high degree of intelligence and they have produced technological “miracles,” but there is a huge vacuum in the soul of the nation.
And therefore, the long delay in claiming the land.
NOTE: Those who settled in the land in Ezra’s day did so in spite of virulent opposition. The opposition came from people of mixed or other races who knew not the true God. The strength of the returning Jews came from the Lord.
“When the…Arabs and Ammonites….heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward, they were very angry, and all plotted to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it…So I (the man Ezra) stationed the people…and said to them: ‘Do not be afraid of them. (Nehemiah 4:7-10 NRSV)
" Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome.” (Nehemiah 4:14 NRSV)
What can the Spirit of God effect in human/Jewish lives?
QUESTION: Can the human heart be softened? Can stiffnecked pride be transformed into humility and stubbornness become pliable?
ANSWER: Yes. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
In Christian conversation that would be a “conversion” or being “born again.”
And in terms of a movement, it would be “a spiritual awakening,” or “a revival.”
In American history, we term that sort of national event “A Great Awakening,” when the whole nation is caught up in an awareness of God’s power and love. When that happens, people are bold to speak of spiritual reality. We have had three of those “Great Awakenings” in American history when most of the nation is caught up in it, the first being in the 1730’s. Many lives are changed for the better. Individuals become convinced of their sinfulness and rejoice when they experience God’s grace. Hardened hearts become tender. In the churches, worship styles become less starchy and more meaningful.
The Spirit has moved and does move among us.
But the Spirit cannot be maneuvered, nor is He altogether predictable. Just as Jesus said to the Jewish leader, Nicodemus: “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3)
QUESTION: Could there possibly be a spiritual awakening in Israel—and among all among the Jewish People?
ANSWER: “Well, that’s a stretch,” you might be thinking.
QUESTION: But don’t they need it?
ANSWER: Yes, and here is what I’ve read from various American rabbinical leaders as they evaluate their people’s religious condition:
1) Many of their people do not value Jewish traditions (their feasts, Sabbaths, etc.)
2) Most modern Jews would be embarrassed to have conversations about God and religious experience.
3) In the synagogues and temples there is much more talk of social justice and social service than of religious experience.
4) Their common watchwords are “inclusiveness” and “choice.”
5) They are ignorant of the Torah teachings.
6) In America, 70% of their non-Orthodox young people are marrying Gentiles, making their numbers fall precipitously.
7) They are spiritually malnourished.
(For more detail, see my book, Israel the Chosen, Chapter 11, “The Crisis of Judaism.”)
This is true of a very large portion of modern Jews, especially in America. Do they need a revival? They surely do.
THE TESTIMONY OF THEIR PROPHETS
Their ancient prophets scorched the ears of their hearers, writes the late Abraham Joshua Heschel, himself a Jew. Hear him: “They [the prophets] speak and act as if the sky were about to collapse because Israel has become unfaithful to God….The prophet’s words are outbursts of violent emotions.” (Heschel: The Prophets)
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
Who have eyes and do not see,
Who have ears but do not hear.
Do you not fear me, says the Lord,
Do you not tremble before me?..
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart.”
-- Jeremiah 5:21-23 (NRSV)
Does this apply to modern Jews? Yes. They need a revival.
* * * * * * * * *
But the prophets also say that in the latter days the Spirit will become very active in the house of Israel.
In my opinion and from reading these prophecies, I believe we are in the preliminary stage of this revival in Israel. (more of this in a later blog).
NOW GIVE HEED TO THESE PROPHECIES
The Prophet Ezekiel: The Lord speaking-- “I will take you from the nations….A new heart I will give to you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit within you…. And you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations.” (Ezekiel 36:26, 31)
“Oh dry bones, hear the word of the Lord….And the breath came into them…” (Ezekiel 37:4,10)
“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 [their Messiah]…” (Zechariah 12:10) Yes, a true revival involves Yeshua: He is recognized and gladly accepted.
What a glorious revival that will be!
This will occur when most Jewish people will be in Israel; and Jerusalem will be the center of this spiritual activity.
“The nations shall see your righteousness,
And all the kings your glory,
And you shall be called by a new name
That the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.”
(Isaiah 62:2-3 (ESV)
“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David, their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4-5
“I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I will display my holiness before their eyes. I will take you - from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.” – Ezekiel 36:23-24 (NRSV)
“Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (36:28)
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Look at this.
As of 2018, the Jewish population in the U. S. was 6,925,475. The Jewish population in Israel was 6,744,000.
So, what will motivate American Jews to return to their land—the place where the Lord wants to deal with them? ["I will take you - from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.” – Ezekiel 36:23-24 (NRSV)]
AGAIN, THE QUESTION: What might excite or stimulate them to go? Would it be the beauty of the Judean hills… the beautiful cities including Jerusalem…the ancient archeological findings…the feeling that one is tracing the steps of the patriarchs and kings of Israel? Would it be the longing to be close to their rich tradition and the delights of living with their own people—the descendants of Abraham?
ANSWER: Presently, those attractions are of insufficient appeal to the American Jews.
ANSWER: Because they are in love with America!
(I am not blaming the American Jew. I am searching their minds.)
EXPANDED ANSWER-- these reasons:
The Jewish people have felt safe living in America.
The Jewish people have felt accepted in America.
The Jewish people have had the opportunity to strive for affluence in America.
The Jewish people have had religious liberty here. Those who are turned off by their traditions of Judaism can, in America, not worry about it. They don’t feel bound by “Halekhah”—the collection of Jewish Law.
The United States has accepted them. In contrast, Israel’s immigration policy is NOT inclusive. It is controlled by the Orthodox rabbis. This generation of American Jews look askew at that.
The difference: openness and diversity in America versus restriction in Israel.
Proof of this preference for America is this:
In November of 2013, Commentary Magazine (a Jewish periodical) reported the Pew Research Center’s “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.” That portrait revealed that most American Jews “are now choosing not to live as Jews in any real sense.” Just one example: intermarriage rates are now at 70 per cent. The article’s title: “Loving Us To Death: How America’s Embrace Is Imperiling American Jewry.” Author: Jonathan S. Tobin.
* * * * * * * * * * *
THE NEXT QUESTION: What would it take for the American Jews to move to Israel? Since the prophets of the Old Testament—The Tenakh—prophecied that God will call them from the far corners of the earth, what would it take for the American Jews to immigrate to the land—“their land”—in biblical terms. They may not say to themselves that it is their land. But we speak here from the perspective of the Bible.
QUESTION: To put it crudely, God wants them in the land. What is He going to do to get them back there?
PLEASE: Do not think that I, Quinton Everest, need to see them go from us. I am a lover of the Jewish people and try to increase my encounters with them.
ANOTHER QUESTION: What prompted most of the Jews to go there in the 20th century? What caused those “alijah’s” to occur? (Alijah—literally “to go up”) --the great movements to that land in the 20th century?
ANSWER? FEAR! The threats, persecution, pogroms, waves of terrorism and the holocaust of the late 19th and 20th centuries in Europe. That was the motivation for the largest surge.
* * * * * * * * * *
ANNOUNCEMENT: Anti-Semitic acts are on the increase in America. Terror against the Jews. Just last Sunday a man using a machete entered the home of a rabbi in a home just north of New York City and knifed five Hasidic Jews celebrating Hanukkah.
Many Jewish publications both on-line and in periodicals are asking why the upsurge of anti-Semitism in America. Many of them are truly alarmed. For example, in a dialogue between Rabbi Mark Golam and David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, Harris stated that the attacks against Jews in New York is now an epidemic. Jews are singled out for terrorist acts. Most people in America have been unaware of harassment, especially in New York City, unless it involves multiple victims; but these physical acts against Jewish residents are worse than ever according to reports.
The sources of this Jew hatred are many: neo-Nazis, white supremacy, black anti-Semitism, Islamist anti-Semitism are just some of the groups. In addition, on university campuses across our nation, the Palestinian-Israeli tension is blamed on the Israelis, and those demonstrating often express their opposition to Israel with vehemence and sometimes violence. Those doing this are most always ignorant of history and usually misrepresent international law.
What if this phenomenon continues to increase in our nation? How will our Jewish friends react? For instance, will the millennial Jews stay in America, or will they eventually, along with other ages of Jews, elect to pack their bags for Tel Aviv?
Be watchful and prayerful.
The Lord says………….
“Do not fear, for I am with you,
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And from the west I will gather you:
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up,’
And to the south, ‘Do not withhold;’
Bring my sons from far away--
And my daughters from the end of the earth.”
-- Isaiah 43:5-6
Jerusalem has often been in the news this year.
After prolonged waiting, America has placed its embassy in it. It was appropriate given the fact that it is Israel’s capital. We had waited and waited for the Palestinians to agree to negotiations that would settle the “Jerusalem question.” We needn’t have.
The Jewish people have now been returning for over a century. Jerusalem is their center.
In this Christmas Season, those who are familiar with the oratorio, “The Messiah,” know these phrases:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people says your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem.”
That was in the time of Jewish exile.
The following prayer has been in the Jewish prayer book for centuries….and it remains there (from The Koren Siddur, Prayer Book, 2015)
LEADER: “Reveal Yourself from your place, O Our King, and reign over us, for we are waiting for You. When will You reign in Zion? May it be soon in our days, and may You dwell there forever and all time. May You be exalted and sanctified in the midst of Jerusalem, Your city, for generation to generation forevermore. May our eyes see Your Kingdom, as is said in the songs of Your splendor, written by David Your righteous anointed one.”
* * * * * * * * * *
Let’s go to late 19th century Russia where persecution of the large Jewish population was merciless. In that environment where the longing for Jerusalem was deep and strong, a movement sprang up in many cities. It was known as--get this: “Chibbath Zion,”—“LOVE OF ZION.” Jewish authors began issuing the call with the slogan “Oh house of Jacob, let us go forth.”
Fast forward just a couple of decades to Theodore Herzl, founder of the Zionist Movement in Eastern Europe and then beyond. Early on as head of this movement, Herzl the European travelled to Jerusalem, hoping to meet the German Kaiser, hoping to get support for a Jewish land company there.
Herzl was shocked and disheartened!
The Condition of Jerusalem Just Before the Modern Return
Herzl wrote in his diary:
‘Shouts, smells, tawdry colors,’ he wrote in his diary, ‘people in rags crowding the narrow, airless streets, beggars, cripples, starving children, screaming women, bellowing shopkeepers. The once royal city had indeed sunk to the lowest depths.’
Yes, it was in the lowest depths of squalor and tyranny.
* * * * * * * *
But the wars of the 20th century brought about the opportunity for….
THE RETURN OF THE JEWS TO ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM
And the war of 1967 to exterminate Israel brought about the opportunity for…
THE FREEDOM AND UNIFICATION OF JERUSALEM
Abraham Joshua Heschel, in Jerusalem when the Jewish forces in the Six Day War of 1967 took the holy sites in East Jerusalem:
"Jerusalem, our hearts went out to you whenever we prayed, whenever we pondered the destiny of the world. For so many ages, we have been lovesick….In our own days the miracle has occurred. What happened on June 7, 1967? God’s compassion has prevailed. So many devastations. Thousands of communities wiped out. Synagogues burned, people asphyxiated. No tombstones, no graves… In its solitude, the Wall was forced into the role of an unreachable tombstone for the nameless dead.”
IN THAT WAR OF 1967, THE WALL WAS TAKEN BY THE ISRAELI ARMY
“Break forth together into singing,
You waste places of Jerusalem,
For the Lord has comforted his people.”
-- Isaiah 52:9
The Wall was redeemed, in a way of speaking. Jerusalem was one!
* * * * * * * * * * *
And now…. now the condition of Jerusalem? It is now ranked—get this--
Jerusalem, ranked as the fastest-growing tourist destination in the world!
And now, in our time, Jerusalem is becoming the world’s fastest-growing tourist attraction, according to the UK business intelligence company, Euromonitor International, reports. In the year 2018, the city entertained 3.93 million tourists from overseas. In 2019, it is expected to have a whopping 38 per cent growth to 4.8 million. (Michael Raz-Chaimovich)
The magnetic power of this city is now growing more and more powerful. We might reflect on the prophet Isaiah’s ancient but increasingly relevant portrayal of this magnetism:
It shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the house of the Lord
Shall be established as the highest of the mountains…
And all the nations shall flow to it,
And many peoples shall come and say
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may teach us of his ways
And that we may walk in his paths.
-- Isaiah 2:2-3 (ESV)
40,000 to 50,000 Jews from around the world recently converged on the site of Sarah’s burial place in Hebron and its sister city, Kiryat Arba, in honor of Israel’s matriarch. The Cave of Machpelah is the burial place, and on it is built the “Tomb of the Patriarchs.”
She passed away some 3800 years ago. Today her descendants still honor her.
She was a beautiful woman even in old age. And at age ninety she brought forth her son, Isaac. Why? Was that just a quirk of nature? No, her son was the long-promised one who bore the seed of the covenant.
These forty to fifty-thousand celebrators acted as though that was a real, historic event. Bless them! God is great!...and brought forth this son through a woman that had long ago had her menopause. They really believed the biblical record. And there are about 300,000 visitors to this tomb and cave annually….who believe. Bless them!
To these Jewish folks, I say: “How wonderful to know your ancestral relatives! In contrast, I know nothing even about my great grandmothers on either side.”
One benefit of the gathered Chosen Ones being in the Holy Land is that they can once again celebrate the people and events of biblical history, experiencing them as historical and not just legendary tales. Caves and tombs, of course, are not the only connections between then and now in Israel. Manuscripts, pots, coins, seals and so much more which are found all the time now in Israel corroborate biblical stories.
Israeli control of the land has been helpful to archeology. And archeology has been helpful to Israel.
A foremost scholar of Hebrew history, John Bright, in his most well-known book says this:
“The patriarchal age has been has been illumined in a manner unbelievable.” So much “material and inscriptional remains have come to light and have been analyzed. We now have texts by the literal tens of thousands contemporaneous with the period of Israel’s origins.” (John Bright: A History of Israel, 1981)
Unbelief in the biblical narrative used to be the accepted thing in some circles, Jews included. There is now a gradual reversal. With Jews in control, the belief factor as regards the Bible’s history, is growing stronger. Evidence of biblical history is increasing through the uncovering of the place names, people names geography and artifacts.
So….Israelis are living their past.
The Biblical Account
At the death of Sarah, Abraham went to purchase the field and cave from Ephron the Hittite. Ephron graciously offered the cave as a gift, but Abraham refused and insisted on giving the full market price of 400 shekels of silver for it. Thus, he insured that there would be no doubts about the ownership of that land.
That was the first piece of land that became Israel's.
Subsequently, Abraham himself, Rebekah and Isaac, and Jacob and Leah were buried there.
* * * * * * * * * * *
LET’S CHANGE DIRECTION HERE: QUESTION: What is the key spiritual principle of Abraham’s life?
ANSWER: It’s right there in the text of Genesis chapter 15. The Lord again appears to Abraham and repeats his promise of a son plus nations that will come after him. At first, Abraham questions the Lord. But then, after further explanation, it says this: “Abraham believed him [the Lord] and he [the Lord] counted it to him [Abraham] as righteousness.”
That is the key to being just before God—believing His Word. The Apostle Paul explains this in Romans 4 and Galatians 3.
That is the key.
The MESSAGE of the story of Abraham and Sarah is the MESSAGE of FAITH.
* * * * * * * * *
The Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs above the Cave was built by King Herod over 2,000 years ago. Despite its Jewish history and its three rooms named after Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the tomb was declared a Palestinian World Heritage Site in 2017 by UNESCO. The largest of the three rooms is forbidden to Jews except for 10 days per year. Yet….
Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible and is the world’s oldest Jewish community.
SO THIS BRIEF OBSERVATION:
The FAITH of Abraham was the key to his friendship with the Lord: HE BELIEVED GOD. But this property is now
largely controlled by Islamic officials whose religion is based upon the law, i. e. THEIR LAW—Sharia.
The failure of the Jewish people to believe in their God makes its way into my mind often. It’s not that they don’t have any need for His help; their need for divine assistance is continually present. Both the diaspora, the Jews residing in other nations, and those who are citizens of the State of Israel—both groups face an ongoing enmity from other nations and people. To put it simply: both groups of Jews need the Lord.
Do you see the incongruity in that statement—they “need the Lord?” It sounds like a phrase that only the evangelicals would use. Right? The Jewish people wouldn't.
Try talking to one of them about God. Try asking your Jewish acquaintance if he or she asks the Lord God to help them in their personal lives.
Or try asking one of them if they’ve thanked the Lord for His help. I have. One elderly gentleman who, with his second bout of lymphoma lay in a hospital room, looked at the crucifix on the wall and asked Jesus to do something for him. And he recovered! I asked him if he then thanked the Lord for his recovery. He just laughed. That's all.
In the Torah, God calls His People 'stiff-necked.” That’s harsh, isn’t it? But one can understand its usage. Yet many of us dearly love these people!
* * * * * * * * * * *
QUESTION: Who today asks help for the Jews as they face their enemies? ANSWER: The evangelicals, not just of America, but world-wide. Yes, the evangelicals call on the Lord to strengthen and protect the Israelis in their land.
QUESTION: Do the Jewish people see the possibilities inherent in the recent ruling by the Trump Administration in changing the illegality of Jewish “occupation” in the “West Bank.” “It’s not illegal to go and reside there,” says Secretary of State Pompeo. ANSWER: Hardly any of the diaspora Jews. But quite a few in Israel are probably pondering this question.
QUESTION: Who prays for God’s help for the Jews as they look to the areas in Judea and Samaria with the wonderful possibility of expansion there? ANSWER: Again, the evangelicals. Hm-m.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
A common term for Judaism is “The Jewish Faith.” But where is their faith? Could you show me who among the Jews expresses faith in God’s power? Hm-m.
Psalm 78 consists of a narrative-poem about Israel’s history of unfaithfulness.
A fire was kindled against Jacob;
His anger rose against Israel,
Because they did not believe in God
And did not trust His saving power.
The reference is to Israel when they began their trek in the wilderness: they were hungry and they saw NO POSSIBILITY of God satisfying their hunger out there in that dry land. So, they COMPLAINED to high heaven.
They spoke against God, saying,
Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
They were in mutiny, ready to retrace their steps and return to Egypt! The God of Heaven through His servant Moses had performed all those plagues; but Israel ignored that and could only see their present need. He had already performed signs and wonders in that desert. But….THEY FORGOT HIS PAST WONDERS.
Modern Israel won two major wars against many nations by the year 1967. And yet, they could not believe that the land they recovered in the war of 1967—won in six days—was a victory accomplished with God’s assistance and that this recovered land was to be placed in their trust for use in enlarging their borders. No. Most of them couldn’t believe that. They were too sensitive to the opinion of the U. S. State Department, the United Nations and the European Union.
Now, in 2019, can they believe that the recent ruling by the U. S. Administration is a glorious opportunity to populate Judea and Samaria? It’s been given to the nation of Israelis on a silver platter.
The new policy announced by Pompeo is thus: The settlements 'are not inconsistent with international law.” The land Israel is 'occupying” is 'not Palestinian territory.”
The land that is 'occupied” has had a Jewish presence for thousands of years....and was recognized as legitimate in the Mandate for Palestine, adopted by the League of Nations in 1922. It has never belonged to any other sovereign country, according to Melanie Phillips, Jewish British journalist and author of The World Upside Down and other books; but it has been under the governance of empires. (See her article on “Negotiation in a War of Extermination is no Solution but Surrender.” – 11/23/2019)
The door has been opened. How will the Israelis proceed now that the Trump Administration has acted?
Who knows how the Prime Minister will guide the nation? Netanyahu has been mostly silent on the future prospects for Israel. He seems forthright at times and reticent or timid at others.
Perhaps the reader is thinking: this is being written by just a man with a seminary degree. He’s a religious professional, so his emphasis is naturally from a divine perspective. That's true. But let me quote from an Oxford and Princeton graduate with doctoral degrees:
"The recurring propensity among segments of the Jewish population to take to heart the
indictments of besiegers and persecutors, and to ascribe to themselves the power to change dramatically the attitudes of their enemies by self-reform, is in important respects a contravention of the religious tradition. For it shifts the focus of redemption from the rapport with God to rapport with the Jews’ tormentors, from self-reform in conformity with religious-moral codes of behavior to self-reform in conformity with the indictment of the besiegers. "(Kenneth Levin: The Oslo Syndrome, Smith & Krause, p. xvi)
Since the Peace Process began in these modern times, that has been the case: the Israelis have thought that they could in themselves pacify their tormentors--the ones who teach their children that the Jews are descendants of pigs and apes and that the land of Israel is Allah's. Yes, the Israelis were caught in this trap of thinking that they, in and of themselves, could bring their enemies to accept their existence. They took that way--not the way of confidence in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to whom the Lord God gave His promise.
There you have it!
Joshua Chapter 5 – The Commander of the Lord’s Army appears to Joshua alone.... And Joshua worships.
Joshua and the people of Israel had crossed the Jordan River and were ready to go to battle against the corrupt Canaanites. They had circumcised the males and afterwards had celebrated Passover.
Now was the time. Joshua was their leader.
Yes, but there was another leader, and he appeared to Joshua out of thin air. The record says: Joshua “looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand.”
Joshua spoke up and said: “Are you one of us, or are you one of our adversaries?”
The man replied: “Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
“And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped, and he said to him: “What do you command your servant, my lord?”
The commander of the army of the Lord said to Joshua: “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.”
That encounter was timely. First, Joshua had just taken leadership after the death of Moses. Secondly, he was preparing for the first battle in the Promised Land—the battle of Jericho.
It would be a challenge, but The Commander would assure success. Israel’s inheritance of the land, promised to Abraham—400 years previously!—was now to be a reality. It was guaranteed by the leadership of "The Commander."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Remember the twelve spies from Israel who had first spied out the land and had announced that it would be suicidal to attempt a military challenge that would open up the land of promise to Israel? “It can’t be done,” they said.
But now, Joshua was leading the new nation of Israel to go and do what was seen as IMPOSSIBLE. Now he was more confident than ever; for he, Joshua, had talked with THE COMMANDER OF THE LORD.
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Today, some Jewish intelligentsia and pacifists have reacted negatively to the Zionists. They argue that Jews of all people should not have nationhood where force is necessary to maintain boundaries. Rather, they should be advocates for universal peace. They should be happy to be guests of other nations, not fight for populated land.
Left-wing Jewish groups renounce just about any kind of fighting for their people, both literal warfare and verbal.
Verbal warfare? Many American and European Jews detest defending or affirming their own Jewishness and their own people.
Literal warfare? The efforts of the State of Israel to provide for its security by maintaining a modern military establishment are severely criticized by some Jewish people in Europe and America.
Many of these modern, left-wing Jews have been enamored with the ideal of the pure, universal brotherhood of mankind. That, to them, is the kernel of truth in Judaism, and that is what they embrace, not necessarily a land of their own.
What are they thinking? Well, they have taken a liking to American and European society. They are secularists--and probably "globalists." To them, their traditions are distasteful.
They turn up their noses at the Jewish Defense Forces. Any action that the IDF takes is deemed a war crime. They would scoff at anything in the Joshua narrative as being irrelevant.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
The Lord God had His own reasons for the battles that Israel would fight.
1. He had told Abraham that 400 years would pass before Abraham’s descendants would settle in the Holy Land. First, among the Canaanites who lived there, the iniquity of the Canaanites would have to be full up…filled with iniquity. Then, the land would be available to Israel.
2. In the 19th century and before the Jewish people began to populate the land, it was generally a wasteland. There was constant fighting between villages, and thievery was widespread among the Bedouins and residents.
3. The land needed the Jewish People and the Jewish People needed the Land.
4. It would take more than smart diplomacy to get the land into the hand of the Jews. It would take international agreements, battles, wars and fierce struggles. But behind it all, it is the Lord Who is the ultimate force behind all of these historical events.
Despite the present unbelief of much of Jewry, the Lord, once again is The Commander. And Israel will sooner or later have to acknowledge that and bow before Him, as Joshua did.
“Help us, O God of our salvation,
For the glory of your name.
Deliver us, and forgive our sins,
For your name’s sake….
Why should the nations say,
‘Where is their God?’”
-- Psalms 79:8-9 (NRSV)
Monday’s statement by U. S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, changed the face of American policy in the Middle East. He declared that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not illegal per se (in or by itself).
WHOA! The world-wide consensus since the time of Moses—well, at least since the end of the Six-Day War of 1967—has been that the “settlements” are illegal. After all, many top flight lawyers have declared such.
(The world consensus has so often been contrary to reality when it comes to the Jewish people.)
The best arguments present a different view.
Pompeo himself has the courage to contradict the consensus. His statement: “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate,” the Trump Administration has concluded that “The establishment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”
The consensus has insisted that Israel is an “occupying power.” But that’s not true. Under international law, you have an “occupation” when one country takes over the territory of another. But Israel did NOT do that.
The so-called “West Bank” (named as such by the Arabs) when Israel took it had been under the control of not the Palestinian, but the nation of JORDAN! Jordan appropriated it during the Israeli War of Independence.
Then, they expelled all Jews from that West Bank territory—that is…from Judea and Samaria (and I mean ALL). They destroyed the synagogues and made latrines out of the gravestones.
And….those Jordanians did NOT let the Palestinians have any part in the governance of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). And…they did NOT give the Palestinians citizenship.
It was NOT Jordan’s land to keep. But they KEPT it until the Israelis took it 19 years later.
So Jordan performed an inhumane operation.
* * * * * * * * * * *
So, Israel has patrolled the area since they defeated the Jordanians in 1967. But the Israeli governments have had a terrible time figuring out what to do with it. At first, they made it unlawful for Jewish people to live there. Then, the authorities began to look the other way. That led to planned settlements in designated areas.
But now, with this new American policy, Israel will get bolder and is already thinking about annexations of some of Judea and Samaria. Annexations? (More about this in a later blog.)
* * * * * * * * * * *
QUESTION: Who is behind this decision? Let me, in a few words, take a leap at this question.
ULTIMATE ANSWER: It is God, Lord of Heaven and earth. Isn’t it just the Trump administration who is doing this for political reasons? No. It is God who brought Trump to the fore. It is God who brought the Secretary of State Pompeo to the fore.
How do I know that? you ask. From reflecting on His Word. From the assurance that these are His Chosen People. From reading their history of faithfulness and unfaithfulness. From reflecting upon God’s promise to this People and His ways of dealing with them in their history. God used world leaders in the 20th century to bring about His will for His People; and now in this 21st century it is the same.
Secretary of State Pompeo is a man of faith. He believes in the God Who saves and Who is faithful to His people. He acted in faith, love and wisdom with ratification by President Trump.
QUESTION: Why didn’t the Lord act before…and through some other person and administration?
ANSWER: Because of timing—His timing. He has punished His People by having them drink the wine of His wrath, sternly humiliating and disciplining them. But now, even with their enemies all around them, He is exalting them. They are successful…growing…increasing in influence, power and productivity.
And those who have blamed them for the strife in their Middle Eastern neighborhood are seen to be wrong. Clearly in the wrong. The Jews of 20th century Palestine are not to blame; for there was strife and terror in Palestine—indeed in all the Middle East, but especially in Palestine—prior to the Jewish people’s return in the early 20th century.
Who will rejoice in this decision, and who will not? The read can consider this.
“Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
and the quarry from which you were dug….
For the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.”
-- Isaiah 51:1, 3
More on this subject in a later blog.
Israel Israel is the most unique nation on earth. We know that.
The prophet Balaam was hired by the Moab king Balak to place a CURSE on Israel. But it wasn’t working. The only response Balaam was getting from God was a BLESSING.
A CURSE: Basically, that’s what the Muslim neighbor-nations are trying against the State of Israel today, but it’s not working.
A CURSE: Anti-Semites the world over would like to attempt the same.
Balaam, the ancient prophet, DID get an oracle from the Lord. It was clear. And It was surprising.
Balak has brought me from Aram,
The king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
‘Come, curse Jacob for me;
Come, denounce Israel!
But, he continues:
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?….
Here is a people living alone,
And not reckoning itself among the nations!
QUESTION: The king wanted a curse pronounced on Israel….for what reason?
ANSWER: A mixture of fear and loathing. Fear because the nations were hearing of Israel and Israel’s God who worked miracles, making Israel invincible. Loathing, because they were different.
In the October 31st issue of The Jerusalem Post, this observation is made about the United States under President Trump’s leadership withdrawing forces from Syria: Israel is concerned that as the U. S. leaves, it will create a vacuum; and that means that Israel will be “alone among the nations”--among nations that wish to destroy her and annihilate all Jews. That would be Iran, but Iran would be cheered on by many other Muslim nations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu on October 10th:
“We do not aspire to be ‘a nation that dwells alone’, but that is how we were forced to stand at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War [in 1973]….We always remember and apply the basic principle that guides us: Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat.” (Jerusalem Post, 10/31/2019)
“Alone among the nations.” This from a divine oracle and made clear in history.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Did you ever hear of foreign armies or militias taking positions in Israel on behalf of the Jewish people?
Who came to the aid of the Jews when the Romans besieged Jerusalem. No one. But even though Rome was by far the greater power, the Jews fought viciously and came close to victory. THE JEWS WERE ALONE. Not Greece nor Egypt nor Persia came to her aid.
How about when the five nation neighbors of the State of Israel when they fought to destroy it in 1967? Would any great power go to Israel’s aid? How about…let’s say Russia….no way. Let’s say Japan….by international law they were de-militarized. Let’s say NATO….not. NATO was formed to protect Europe from the Soviet Union. Other countries that might have done it are Communist or Muslim, and those nations were scandalized by the idea of coming to the aid of those "Chosen People,” and were more likely to provide armaments for the Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Iraqis
When in 1967 the American president, Lyndon Johnson was informed that preparations for war were in place for Israel’s neighbors to attack, he pointed out that America was involved in the Viet Nam War and was severely limited in its ability to assist Israel. He urged Israel’s Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, not to initiate hostilities.
But Egypt and Syria had been readying their forces for many months. President Johnson warned: “Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone.” (!) WRONG! The United Nations had already removed its protective forces from the Sinai. Who were the U. N. forces to protect? Israel, of course. But Egypt’s Nasser demanded that they leave! ‘Get out of our way, so we can destroy Israel,’ was, in effect what Nasser was saying. And the UN forces left… leaving Israel alone!
THE JEWS WERE ALONE. Neither the U. S. nor Britain nor Russia nor the United Nations came to their aid in the face of the threat to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Such a small nation. You’d think that some other nation in the world would provide some troops to assist them in their fight for their lives. But NO.
If a small NATO country would be attacked, the rest of all Western Europe and the United States would be required by treaty to come, militarily, to their aid. But not to tiny little Israel.
It is David against Goliath….as usual.
It’s the way it was in the Old Testament. Could Israel depend upon her cousins to assist them militarily? You’re joking. EXAMPLE: The Edomites (next door neighbors), descendants of Esau, rejoiced when Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonians. The Jews were captured. The Edomites came and watched, laughed, danced and gloated and may have captured some of the Jews themselves to sell them into slavery. (SEE: The Prophecy of Obadiah)
No nation ever wanted to get involved in the Middle East just to help the Jewish State.
There are a good number of Jews who despise this characterization of the Israeli people as being alone. They don’t want to be “a people alone”—separate and distinct from others. Some want to be like the Europeans; and they mimic the European calls for universalism, diversity in the population, in philosophy, in the way of life. They rather like their ancient traditions but dislike any dependence upon the Lord.
In 20th century Europe, many were even more adamant: ‘We Jews are no longer a nation but a fossil and should cast off our identity of being chosen. We are just humanists.’
Some despise the Judaism of their grandparents and have retained nothing but an insipid and uninspiring “progressivism.” Let there be freethinking…O yes! But not this separateness from the nations, they say.
Still, they cannot wipe away their identity. For it is God the Lord who graciously has called them.
Here is a people living alone
And not reckoning itself among the nations!
-- (Numbers 23:9)
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P. S. And it is Jesus Christ, also called by the Father, to dwell as one man in the midst of mankind--separate from sinners, alone, yet blessing them in His life, death and resurrection.