bless the jews

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#5554
Apr 20, 2013
 
False Teachings about Israel


A number of false teachings about Israel are accepted by many Christians.
1 Right to the Land

Many Christians believe that Israel has the right to all the land within the biblical boundaries of Israel. It is true that God gave the land to the children of Israel when Joshua led them into it, but the promise is conditional on obedience to the requirements of the covenant. While promising to bless Israel, God also warned that if they failed to obey him, they would be removed from the land. He did not give the land in perpetuity. It was a gift, conditional on obedience to his law.

While promising to bless Israel, God warned that if they failed to keep their side of the covenant, they would be removed from the land.

If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other (Deut 28:58, 62-64).

God warned Israel that if they rejected him, they would be scattered among the nations. This warning was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed and the people scattered throughout the earth. Given that God scattered them, they cannot claim title to the land until God gives it back to them. His word promises that he will do this after he has poured his Spirit on Israel. He has not yet poured out his spirit on Israel, so they do not yet have a right to the land.

Israel does not currently have a divine right to the land. The conditions of the covenant still apply. The Jews lost their land because they rejected Christ. Until they repent, they do not have God's blessing on their ownership of the land. At present, Israel's right to the land depends on a United Nations decision and a successful defence of the land. This title is as legitimate as that of many other nations, but it is not a divine right.

The Mosaic covenant made life in the land conditional on obedience to God. It also promised a promise of return to land contingent of faith in God.
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#5555
Apr 20, 2013
 
When you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers (Deut 30:2-5).

The Jewish people still have a claim to their homeland, but it depends on their turning back to God and fulfilling their covenant. Until Israel fulfils the covenant by coming to faith in Christ (Deut 30:1-5) it does not have a covenant right to the land. It holds the land by right of military conquest. Unfortunately, land won by military power can be lost be by military power.
Israel’s and the Kingdom of God

Many Christians believe that he Kingdom of God will be established from Israel. This is not correct. Although Israel receives the gospel, it will not go back to having a special role in the world. In Old Testament times, God worked through the nation of Israel. In this age, he is working through the church, so he will not go back to working though a chosen nation like Israel. However, when Israel has come into the church, God will be able to work through Israel again, as part of the church. Old Israel will have joined the New Israel, the Church. Once this takes place, the church will have a completeness that it did not have, while the Jews were stuck in darkness.

When Israel is grafted into new Israel, two great streams in the workings of God will have come together. When they come together, he will be able to work together in a mightier way. This is what Paul meant in Romans 11, when he wrote of the calling of the Jews bring blessing to the world.
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#5556
Apr 20, 2013
 
Re-building the Temple in Jerusalem

Many Christians believe that the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. There are several reasons for this belief, but they are all incorrect.

Some Jews would like to see the restoration of both the temple and its sacrifices. This view fails to understand the change brought about by Jesus ministry. His death was the perfect sacrifice, so there is now no need for sacrifice or altar (Heb 8,9). To establish sacrifices in a restored temple would be a terrible insult to Jesus. The reason that God allowed the temple to be destroyed in AD 70 was that the sacrifices offered there had become repugnant to him. Once Jesus had completed his sacrifice upon the cross, the sacrifices in the Jewish temple were no longer necessary. They had been replaced by Jesus' one, true, perfect sacrifice, and should have ceased. When continued after the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, they were an abomination to God. The tearing of the temple curtain at the time of the crucifixion showed that a better way to God had been opened. If animal sacrifices are restored, Jesus will be insulted and the wrath of God provoked.

Note: the temple described in Ezekiel 40-44 has animal sacrifices, so it must either be a spiritual temple or a prophecy for Old Testament times. The prophecy cannot be literally filled now that Jesus a perfect sacrifice has been completed. The valley of bones described in the preceding chapter and river flowing to the sea in the following chapter are not literal, so the Ezekiel temple is most likely a spiritual picture of a heavenly reality.

Some Christians believe that the temple will be restored as a place of worship without sacrifices. People will go to the temple to worship Jesus. However, this view also fails to understand the change wrought by the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, but through faith, we are seated with him (Eph 2:6). We do not need to go to a temple to meet with him. Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we can commune with him wherever we are. The Holy Spirit is present throughout the world, so here would be no benefit in going to a temple in Jerusalem. There is now no function for a temple as a place for worshipping of God.

The most common belief is that Jesus will return to earth and rule the world from the temple in Jerusalem in a millennial kingdom. The teaching that Jesus will personally come back to establish the Kingdom of God is one of Satan’s worst lies. The church has given up on establishing the Kingdom of God because Satan has fooled it into believing it cannot happen until Jesus returns.

The truth is that the Holy Spirit will establish the Kingdom using the church. In Daniel 7:27, there is a description of the Kingdom coming to power, when all the “power and sovereignty under the whole heaven is handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High”(while the Son of Man is seated with the Father). The bible declares that God will bring the church to victory.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose, which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:10,11).
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#5557
Apr 20, 2013
 
This passage teaches that the defeat of Satan and his forces will be accomplished through the church. Christ will not have to return to display his glory, for his glory will be displayed through the victories of the church. These victories will take place "now" in the present age.

God’s people will establish the Kingdom while Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. He returns to receive the kingdom established by the church and hands it back to the Father (1 Cor 15:24,25). Since Jesus does not have to come back to earth to establish the kingdom, he does not need a temple to rule from. The belief that the temple needs to be rebuilt before the Kingdom can come is part of Satan’s lie. Christians who want to see the temple rebuilt are declaring their lack of faith in God’s ability to fulfil his promises through the church.

Jesus does not have to come back to Jerusalem to rule the world, as he is already reigning as King of Kings. If people would obey the voice of the Spirit, his rule can be complete now. Jesus appears at the end of the when the spiritual world is opened wide to the people on earth. Those who believe that he must return Jerusalem to reign do not understand the glory of his appearance.
Holy Land

Another strange belief that has emerged in recent years is the doctrine that prayers prayed in Jerusalem are more effective than other prayers. The doctrine is based on the idea that Jerusalem is built on land that it is holy. In the Old Testament, the activity of the Holy Spirit was sporadic, so God used special places and special people. The Cross and Pentecost made the concept of a holy land redundant

God no longer has special people. The Holy Spirit has been poured out on all flesh. Everyone who is called by his name can hear him speak.

Every Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so he does not need a temple or special city as his dwelling place. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent, so we do not need to go to a special place to meet with him.

We are kingdom of priests, so God does not need to re-establish a Levitic or Aaronic priesthood in Jerusalem. Jesus is the perfect high priest who has finished the job that they could not do.

The Holy Spirit is present wherever two or three followers pray in his name.

The land of Israel is no more holy than any other piece of ground. Jerusalem is just another place where people can live and serve God.
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#5558
Apr 20, 2013
 
Removing Palestinians

Some Christians believe that the Palestinians should be expelled from the land, in the same way as the Canaanites were ousted. One suggestion is that they should all move into the nation of Jordan. However, God has not said that they can be forcibly removed from the land. The biblical prophecies about the return to the land are not like the Exodus. They do not say that the Jews will expel the inhabitants of the land with force and violence. They prophesy that people will return in joy and live in peace. Taking the land by force is not part of God’s prophetic plan.

We must understand that God placed the Palestinians in Israel for a purpose (Acts 17:26). He wants them in the land, so that he can demonstrate the power of the gospel when Israel returns to blessing. Destroying the Palestinians or forcing them out of the land is not part of his plan.

There is plenty of room in the land for both peoples, so the Palestinians do not need to be expelled. God is quite happy for refugees who fled their homes in 1948 to return and share in the wonderful things he plans to do there.
Removing the Barrier

The Israeli government is currently building a wall that divides the promised land. This is a denial of God’s plan. He intends to pour out his spirit on all the people in Israel, whether Jew or Palestinian. He will change the hearts of all people living in the land, so that they can live together in peace.

He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility… His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace… to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Eph 2:14-16).

Jesus died to break down the hostility between racial groups. He loves to create united communities from people who were at war with each other. He intends to do this in Israel. When all groups in Israel believe in Jesus and receive the gospel, the Palestinians,

will no longer be foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household (Eph 2:14).

Very few Christians believe that the Holy Spirit could achieve this. Most have never prayed for it to happen. Many Christians have moved to Israel to pray, but few have taken the gospel to the Palestinian people. That has severely restrained the Holy Spirit.

Pauls wrote that Jesus has broken down the “dividing wall of hostility”(Eph 2:14). His words are actually a prophecy. Israel is building an enormous fence half the length of the land to separate Palestinian cities from Jewish settlements. This is the opposite of what God is doing. He is breaking down barriers through the power of the gospel, so it is ironic that the people of the messiah are building a “dividing wall of hostility” across the Promised Land. An even greater irony is that Christian America is funding the wall. They are actually opposing God plans and giving Israel a false sense of security. Their hope is Jesus, not a wall. Paul is prophesying that the fence will come down, in the same way that the Berlin wall was smashed.
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#5559
Apr 20, 2013
 

Judged:

1

Ethnic State

Many Christians believe that Israel should be a Jewish homeland, but God does not want a Jewish state. When the gospel sweeps the land, all the descendants of Abraham in Israel will belong to Christ and be heirs of his promise. There will be no need for a separate Palestinian or Jewish state.

When the people of Israel accept the gospel, they will no longer see the Palestinians as enemies, but as children of God. They will go to them asking for forgiveness and to share the gospel. Some Israelis will make restitution to the Palestinians who had been forced off their land. Instead of trying to destroy them, they will look for ways to bless them. The humility and contrition of the Jews will be a powerful witness, so many Palestinians will also become Christians. This will allow God to establish his kingdom in the nation of Israel.

Israel will fulfil its original calling by demonstrating the power of the gospel to the nations. In a nation divided by religion, Jesus will bring peace by destroying hostility and division. The sight of Israelis and Palestinians living in unity will be a tremendous witness to the world.

The Old Testament promised that Jewish Christians will have a tremendous impact in the world. Isaiah prophesied that during a time when darkness had come into the world, the glory of the Lord will arise on Israel and shine brightly. Nations will be drawn to that light (Is 60:1-3,19). When the people of the world see the power of the gospel to change Israel, many will come to see what has made the difference. When they see what Jesus had done, they will be amazed and give glory to God.
Militaristic Christianity

Some Christians are captivated by the power and might of the Israeli defence forces. Israel is a major exporter of weapons to the world. This is quite different from Samuel’s time (1 Sam 13:19-22). Christians who endorse Israeli militaristic activity are doing the Jewish people a disservice, as confidence in military power will eventually lead to disaster. Military force cannot keep the people of Israel safe. The Christians who prophesy that God is on Israel’s side will have difficulty explaining what has happened when the Israeli defence forces are defeated.

Christians should pray for the Jewish people and look for opportunities to bless them, but blessing is not the same as endorsing the militaristic activities of the Israeli government. True blessing can only come to Israel through fulfilling the covenant.

The odd thing is that many Christians seem to have more faith in the ability of the Israeli army to accomplish God’s purposes for Israel, than they have in the Holy Spirit working through the Church. They assume that the safety of the Jewish people depends on the military power and the Israeli state. This widespread confusion comes from a distorted understanding of the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught that his kingdom would be established by the Holy Spirit, moving in the church, preaching the gospel and teaching the nations to obey him.
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#5560
Apr 20, 2013
 

Judged:

1

In the last two centuries, this belief has been overshadowed by a different gospel. Most Christians no longer believe that the Kingdom of God will be established by the Holy Spirit working through the church. Their only hope is Jesus return. They believe that Jesus will return and force all the nations to obey him while ruling a powerful empire from Jerusalem. Supporting a militaristic Israel is natural for Christians who want Jesus to establish his kingdom using force.

This popular view is an awful distortion of Jesus character. The cross is proof that God will never force people to obey him. Jesus has full confidence in the Holy Spirit.
Prophetic Marker

Many Christians believe that the emergence of Israel is a marker for biblical prophecy. This is incorrect, because the Zionist movement got the timing wrong and ran ahead of God’s plan by building a nation using political alliances and military power. God allowed this to happen, because he works all things for good, but it was not his timing.

The emergence of Israel had to happen so that God’s greater purposes can be achieved, but the timing of these events did not match God’s plan. The six-day war was a well-executed military campaign, but it was not an act of God. Since these events were not part of God’s plan, it is risky to turn 1948 and 1967 into markers on a prophetic timetable.
Israel and the Second Coming

Many Christians believe that the existence of the state of Israel is a sign that the second coming is near. They assume that Jesus comes back to Jerusalem when he returns. This is not true. Jesus appears in the air and his followers will be caught up to be with him and the existing earth disappears. He does not return to Jerusalem.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thes 4:16,17).

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Mat 24:27).

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (2 Pet 3:10).
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#5561
Apr 20, 2013
 

Judged:

1

The second coming is a worldwide event, so Israel does not have to be in existence for it to occur.

The creation of the state of Israel is an important event, but it must be kept in perspective. It is an event that had to happen, but it is not God's ultimate purpose for Israel. His real goal is to bring Israel into the church. The restoration of the land is just a prior event to make that possible. It is a sign that the times of the Gentiles are drawing to a close.

God's main goal is build a church that can establish the Kingdom of God. Even Israel must fit with this goal.
Timeline for the Church

In recent years, a strange doctrine has emerged that events in the church are determined by what happens in the nation of Israel. Some Bible teachers urge Christians to watch what is happening in Israel to know what will happen in the church. They say that when things go well in Israel, then the gospel and the church advance. This is a perverse teaching.

Firstly, what happens in the church is determined by the Holy Spirit. He is not constrained by political or national leaders in any nation. The only thing that constrains his work is the unwillingness of Christians to obey him. We can hold back his activity by refusing to trust him.

Secondly, the leaders of the nation of Israel are not Christians. They have refused to acknowledge that Jesus is their messiah. They do not walk in the Spirit, so they do not hear his voice. Most are fully secular. As long as the leaders of Israel fail to keep God’s law, they are outside the blessing of the covenant. A nation in this state cannot determine the work of the Holy Spirit on earth.

Thirdly, what happens on earth is largely determined by the church. When the church is weak and lost, the world goes downhill. When the church is in touch with the Holy Spirit and walks in his power, the world is changed.

A nation that rejected God cannot shape the destiny of the church. On the other hand, there may be a parallel between state of the church in the West and Israel. They are both missing the will of God, so they both face a troubled future.
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#5562
Apr 20, 2013
 
America and Britain

A strange doctrine has taken hold among Christians that claims that God blesses nations that support the nation of Israel. This doctrine is built on Genesis 12:3.

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.

The verse is quoted as final proof, without any discussion of who should be blessed. It is not clear that it would apply to a desolate house. There no discussion of what blessing means. Providing military support may not be what God had in mind.

The historic proof claimed for this doctrine is the suggestion that Britain lost its empire when it stopped supporting Israel. America has been blessed, because it has provided military and political support for Israel.

A closer look at history shows that this doctrine depends on a re-write of history. The British were always ambivalent about the Jewish people, so how did they get such a large empire in the first place? If their policy did not change, why did they lose their empire? For most of the twentieth, the United States was ambivalent about the Jewish cause. During the 1930s, many Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany were refused entry in to the United States. Some of them died later in the death camps. During the Second World Ward did very little to stop they death camps. They could have bombed the rail lines going to them, but chose not to. During the 1950s and 1960s, America was not the main supporter of Israel. Their strongest support came from France, trying to perpetuate their role as a big noise in the Levant. The Israel Air Force flew French Mirage fighter planes. Israeli tanks were armed with French guns. If God blesses nations that support the nation of Israel, France should be humming. Instead, they have continued the decline that began earlier in the century and has never stopped.

American support for Israel only got serious in the 1970, when Evangelical Christians got stirred up about the issue and the Middle East became an important theatre of conflict in the Cold War. The Russians were getting involved in many Arab countries, so America supported Israel as a counterweight. America experienced a huge growth in military and economic power during the period from 1917 to 1965 when its support for Israel was weak. The 1950s were probably its best years. When America got serious about supporting Israel, it went into decline, experienced a defeat in Vietnam and long period of stagflation in the economy.

The doctrine that God blesses nations that provide military and political support for Israel does not make sense. God blesses nations that obey him.

The idea that nations can gain blessing by blessing the nation of Israel undermines the cross. It is salvation by good works. Salvation and security come through faith and repentance. Using this doctrine as a prophetic lens will create prophetic confusion. True prophets use a much broader standard for assessing the performance of a nation.
Epochal Events

Many Jews see the Holocaust as the pivotal event in their history. The problem with looking back to this event is that causes the people of Israel to see themselves as victims. In a bad case of the ends justify the means, defence of the Jewish people has been used to justify extreme force and violence.

The holocaust is not the pivotal event in Jewish history. Israel has two pivotal events. The first pivotal event was Jesus, the Son of God, declaring that Israel was left desolate. The second pivotal event will be the day when the people of Israel say,

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord (Matt 24:39).
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#5563
Apr 20, 2013
 
The blessing of God is the only thing that can secure a safe future for the Jewish people. Those who trust in military power and political alliances will be disappointed.

Hugging the holocaust has led the nation into a moral quagmire. The holocaust has become a justification for immoral actions, particularly by the Jewish state. Fear of another holocaust justifies faith in violence and war. Anger about the holocaust is a justification for propaganda, deception and lies. Fear of what might happen is used to justify ruthless and violent state power. The holocaust will eventually be used as a justification for ethnic cleansing.

In this moral abyss, violence is good, deception is necessary, propaganda is truth. The prophets warned of the dangers of moral confusion.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter (Is 5:20).

By defining itself in terms of the holocaust, Israel has fallen into a moral abyss. Worse still, the spirit of the nation has been captured by the evil forces that perpetrated the holocaust.
Passionate Blindness

Some Christians have developed a huge passion for Israel. In many cases, the passion is so strong that I wonder if these people are descendants of Israel without knowing it. This could also explain it is not universal amongst Christians. It does not seem to be mandatory, so Christians who do not share it should not be condemned.

I believe that God is stirring up this passion to get Christians praying for the Jewish people to come to faith in Jesus. A great flood of prayer is essential, because the fullness of the Jews is the next big event in spiritual history. It opens the way for a massive advance of the gospel and a huge victory of the Kingdom of God. God needs a host of Christians praying for this pivotal event.

However, the problem with this passion is that it makes Christians vulnerable to false teachings about Israel. Consequently, most of these Christians do not understand what God is doing in the Middle East. Their desire to see Israel blessed leads them to assume that Israel has returned to the place blessing. They forget that Israel can only return to blessing when they recognise Jesus as their saviour and messiah. Until that happens, Israel is stuck on the downside of the Mosaic covenant.

Christians should be praying in the events that will bring the descendants of Israel to faith in Jesus, are actually praying that God will bless the nation of Israel in its current situation on the wrong side of the covenant. Unfortunately, they are praying and believing for something that cannot happen. Worst still, they are encouraging their governments to take actions that could disrupt God’s plans. These Christians have made a huge commitment to the nation of Israel, so they will be bitterly disappointed and disillusioned by the way that events play out.

The scriptures require Christians to bless Israel and pray for the Jews, but blessing the Jewish people is not the same as blind support for Israel. The Israeli state is not God’s vehicle for blessing the Jewish people. It will eventually become a curse for the Jewish people, because it offers a false security that takes them away from faith in Jesus. God will bless Israel by the cross and the Spirit.

To achieve his purposes for the children of Israel, God needs a cohort of Christian prophets who can speak his prophetic word at exactly the right time. He also needs evangelists to take the gospel in the right way at the right time. Unfortunately, most of those who are being called to these roles have disqualified themselves to committing themselves to teachings that do not fit with God’s plan for bringing about the Fullness of Israel. It would be sad if a lack of prophets held back his plans.
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#5564
Apr 20, 2013
 
However, the problem with this passion is that it makes Christians vulnerable to false teachings about Israel. Consequently, most of these Christians do not understand what God is doing in the Middle East. Their desire to see Israel blessed leads them to assume that Israel has returned to the place blessing. They forget that Israel can only return to blessing when they recognise Jesus as their saviour and messiah. Until that happens, Israel is stuck on the downside of the Mosaic covenant.
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#5565
Apr 20, 2013
 
Consequently, most of these Christians do not understand what God is doing in the Middle East.
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#5566
Apr 20, 2013
 
They forget that Israel can only return to blessing when they recognise Jesus as their saviour and messiah. Until that happens, Israel is stuck on the downside of the Mosaic covenant.
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#5567
Apr 20, 2013
 
Remnant

God sometimes uses traumatic events to shake people loose, so he can draw them back to him, but he does not do this just for fun. He will only send shaking judgement, if he has a remnant faithful to him, who are equipped to serve those who are shaken and get them back on to the right way. If the remnant is not prepared to demonstrate the love of God during the crisis, it is wasted and evil benefits. A crisis can open people’s hearts, but if no one is there to pour oil on their wounds, the scars will harden their hearts to the gospel.

An earthquake cannot preach the gospel. This was true in Paul’s day. The Philippians jailor became a Christian after the earthquake that opened the gates of his jail.

The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”(Acts 16:29-30).

This was not a spontaneous response to the earthquake. What made the difference was seeing the faith and joy of two men who had been “stripped and beaten”“severely flogged” with “their feet fastened in stocks”.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25).

The jailor became a Christian, because he had seen two wounded and bound men praising and worshipping God in the middle of the night. The jailor was a hard, tough man. His heart was blown open, because he saw the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Paul and Silas during their time of crisis.

If his earthquake had struck on any other night of the year, the jailor would not have become a Christian. He would have cursed and beaten the prisoners and carried on with life. The living faith of Paul and Silas made the difference.

Shaking is pointless without a prepared remnant.
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#5568
Apr 20, 2013
 
America

America is still quite a long way from the tipping point, so people with discernment should expect to see Shaking Judgments, as the Father attempts to shake those who are slipping away in hope of drawing them back. Prophets should be active in providing advance notice and helping God’s people to prepare. Christians should make the most of the time to proclaim the gospel and turn their nation around, before the tipping point is reached.
2. Warning Events

When the Christian influence declines and society is close to the tipping point, the powers of evil begin to show off. The devil is not very creative, so he just does on a smaller scale, what he would like to do, if he had much more authority, but does not. These events are warning signs for those who alert. Christians who understand their times will able to discern these signs and get an early warning of what is going to happen, if society continues in the way that it is going.

When Jesus was asked about a couple of nasty events that had occurred, he rebuked the people for being able to read the weather signs, but not understanding what was happening in their time

He said to the crowd:“When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say,‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say,‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time (Luke 12:54-56)?

They asked about some Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices another group who have been killed when a tower fell on them. His response is interesting.

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem (Luke 13:2-4)?

These events were not the judgment of God falling on people who had fallen into sin and rejected him. They were sign of the general state of Jewish society. Jerusalem was getting close to a tipping point. God’s influence in Israel had increased significantly when the people started following Jesus, but now their initial fervour was slipping away. If the people turned against him, the forces of evil would cement their authority in the land.

Jesus warning was blunt.

I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish (Luke 13:5).

These two events were the powers of evil flexing their muscles. Jesus warned that if the nation continued on its current path towards the tipping point and without turning away, evil would gain greater freedom in their county and worse destruction would follow . If they pursued their opposition to Jesus right to the end, they would completely lose God’s protection and be totally exposed to evil. That is exactly what took place.

The people of Jerusalem rejected Jesus and he was crucified. These actions totally eliminated God’s protection. Forty years later, the Roman armies besieged Jerusalem and smashed down its walls. Many people who had taken refuge in the temple had their blood spilt on the floor. The final destruction copied the warning events but on a far greater scale. The two events described by Jesus were a “type” of what would happen, if the nation continued on its current direction.

People with discernment soon realised the people of Jerusalem would not receive their saviour and would harden their hearts against God’s plan of redemption. Jesus confirmed their understanding when he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and warned his followers how to escape the devastation by fleeing to the hills (Luke 21:20-24). Christians who had discerned these events and heeded Jesus warning, were able to escape to safety before the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem.
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#5569
Apr 20, 2013
 
Warning Events have the following characteristics.

Warning events are not sent by God.

Minor occurrences of evil are often a sign that society is getting close to the tipping point.

Being abnormal and unusual, these events are noticed by everyone.

These mini-disaster may appear to be random events, but they have spiritual significance.

The forces of evil begin to show off and try out the evil they intend to do, if they get greater control of society.

They are a warning of more serious perils that will follow, if people do not get back under the protection of God.

Warning events reveal the mind of the devil, as they are often a type of what he will do if he is given a free hand to wreak worse evil.

Warning events are indiscriminate. They can hurt sinners and the righteous, because the devil does not care who he hurts.

The event says nothing about the character of the people who are harmed and everything about the nature of the society they live in.

These events are not redemptive; just destructive of relatively innocent people.

God can usually restrain the forces of evil to limit the scope of the tragedy.

God always works good in the midst of evil, so the Holy Spirit uses the shaking to stir up his church.

Christians who understand the times can sharpen their gospel preaching.

Christians should respond to a Warning Event with prayer to release the Spirit to move in their society.

Seeing the powers of evil overstepping the mark should stir up the church to push back against them by preaching the gospel boldly.

Christians who can interpret the warning to get a sense of what is going to happen in the future will be able to prepare in advance for the next crisis.

Warning Events are usually ignored by the world.

Warning Events are often ignored by Christians, because they just assume that the disaster is a judgment against bad people. This self-righteousness produces complacency that causes them to miss the opportunity to prepare.

Warning Events are a sign of significant authority shift in society. If society continues on this current path, evil will become the new normal and Evil Events will become more frequent. Christians should use the time to prepare.

Spiritual climates change slowly, so a number of years might pass between the warning and the fulfilment. The Church should use the time between to rise up and cut off the fulfilment by preaching the gospel in power. If the number of Christians increases significantly, God’s authority will be expanded, and the principalities and powers can be squeezed out again.
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#5570
Apr 20, 2013
 
Protection

Christians should heed the warning and get together to protection themselves and their families. We will be more secure, if we live close to others who are committed to supporting each other. Those who stand alone can be picked off one by one.

The Bible teaches teaching is that we should deal with evil by resisting it.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:7,8).

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (1 Pet 5:8-9).

These commands are plural. Protection from evil is achieved by Christians coming together to support each other. The same applies to the spiritual armour in Ephesians 6. The armour is not for individual protection. The spiritual armour only works among a group of Christians are bound to each other by love.

Christians must make sure that they understand what is happening their times and take appropriate action.
3. Evil Events

Once a society has moved past the tipping point, evil principalities and powers have freedom to do their stuff.

God is no longer on the throne, so he is powerless to intervene. He has given authority on earth to humans, so if they have passed it on to the forces of evil, rather than to him, he can do nothing about the situation in the short term.

The activities of the forces of evil have the following characteristics.

Evil events are often directed against Christians (or Jews), because the devil hates them.

Evil events are nasty and hugely destructive, because the devil loves to “steal, kill and destroy”(John 10:10).

Evil events are not redemptive. They are just evil for the sake of being evil.

God always works some things for good, even if evil is unrestrained. He will always produce good things, event in the midst of the most troubled times.

Between 1933 and 1944, 14 million civilians were killed in Eastern Europe by forces controlled by Stalin and Hitler. A few decades earlier, Germany and Russia had been under strong Christian influence. This shows what can happen when Christian societies slip past the tipping point.

Predominance of evil has been the normal situation in many cultures for most of history. People living in the western world with its strong Christian influence often forget this.

When the people in a society reject God’s protection, the enemy is free to do his stuff, and he is not nice. This is what we are seeing now in many parts of the Western world. Storms and earthquakes, wars and economic crashes are not usually God’s judgments. They are signs that we have given evil a free hand in our society.

The Holy Spirit does not glorify evil, so Evil Events do not get much attention in scriptures.
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#5571
Apr 20, 2013
 
4. Protective Judgments
God sometimes assesses a nation and decides that it has become so evil that it is beyond saving. In this situation, he then has no choice but to allow its destruction to minimise evil. I refer to these as protective judgments, rather than destructive judgments, because their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. God does not engage in mindless destruction. He always destroys empires when that it is the best way to constrain evil.
The cross totally changed the situation on earth. Most Christians have no idea of the extent to which God’s ability to work on earth was constrained prior to the cross.
Until Jesus died and rose from the dead, God could not pour out his Spirit on all people. The Holy Spirit could only work in the hearts of a few special people: prophets and godly kings. He did not have the power to change hearts or convict people of sin. He could not cause people to be born again.
Raising up prophets was extremely difficult, because most were corrupted before they were old enough for God to use them. Samson is an example. God wanted to use him as prophet and his parents kept him holy, but he was overtaken by a spirit of violence and foolishness that severely limited his ministry. Hannah’s prayer and dedication of Samuel was a huge turning point, because she provided God with a man who was holy enough to be an effective prophet (1 Sam 1:11). Moses’ sister and mother faithfulness were critical to his emergence as prophetic leader. These were rare exceptions.
There was no ability to cast out demons. If demons gain control of a society, there were no tools for dealing with the situation. As there control increased, greater depravity would emerge. Stirring up another nation to destroy an evil culture was often the only way to prevent the depravity from spreading. The demons would not be destroyed, but they lost the cohesion they gained by working together in one place.
God chose a special nation to help him change the world, but they lost their way and continued to be part of the problem.
In the Old Testament environment, prompting one nation to destroy another was often the only way to restrain evil. This did not destroy the evil spirits, but the disruption of war breaks down their uneasy unity and causes them to fight against each. Concentrating in one place allows them to leverage their evil. When evil spirits are dispersed and isolated, they do much less harm.
Sodom is an example. It was taking depravity to new level, so God needed to stamp out the evil before the rest of the land was contaminated. In this case, he was able to use volcanic activity, because Abraham’s authority in the city gave him permission to take action.
The longer a ruler is in power, the greater their ability to do evil, so allowing a new one to emerge was often the best way to deal with evil rulers.
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#5572
Apr 20, 2013
 
For example, Cyrus of Persia emerged to take control of Babylon when it was getting out of hand. King Herod’s died when he became a threat to the merging church (Acts12:21-23). Protective judgments limit evil by eliminating evil rulers.
Jeremiah reminded the nations that God was entitled to destroy them, if they caused too much tumult and trouble.
The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the LORD will bring charges against the nations;
he will bring judgment on all mankind (Jer 25:31).
God has created and blessed everyone on earth, so all nations and political leaders are accountable to him, even if they have not directly made a covenant with him. The standard is higher for those who have made a covenant with God, but every nation is accountable.
Protective Judgments have the following characteristics.
Although these judgments can be very destructive, their primary purpose is to protect the world from evil. If the powerful nation were not destroyed, it would inflict terrible evil on the world.
God sometimes sends a prophet to warn a nation that is on the brink of being destroyed. This ensures that everyone understand that God is at work. Daniel warned the King of Babylon that the ‘writing was on the wall” for his regime (Dan 5). Everyone knew that God was behind its destruction.
The Old Testament prophets announced several protective judgments. These prophecies give God the authority that he needs to bring judgment against the nations that have gone wrong.
In some situations, evil is so entrenched that there is no hope of change. In these situations, no warning may be given.
God will sometimes use a protective judgment to remove a corporate spiritual stronghold from a city or nation. A disaster that sweeps away the political powers that have entrenched it and scatters the spiritual forces that have concentrated their influence within it is often the only way to break a stronghold.
An evil nation that is about to be destroyed will sometimes repent and get a second chance. God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn that it would be destroyed (Jonah 1:1). When he finally obeyed God and sounded a warning, the people of Nineveh believed God and forced their king to change (Jonah 3:5-10).
God is just. He always judges nations justly (Gen 18:25)
My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm (Is 51:5).
This prophecy was confirmed by Jesus. He made a public commitment to justice for nations and cities (Matt 11:20-24). He will treat every individual with justice, but full justice may only be received at the last judgment).
God takes no pleasure in destroying an evil nation that has become a threat to life. He was pleased when the people of Nineveh opened their hearts to him.
Should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals”(Dan 4:11)?
God prefers less drastic methods for dealing with evil nations. When the people at Shinar concentrated evil to oppose God, he confused their language two disperse the influence of evil (Gen 11:8).
God will often rescue righteous people from a city or nation that is about to be destroyed. Lot and his family were rescued from Sodom, before it was destroyed (Gen 19:12-17).
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#5573
Apr 20, 2013
 
Often Partial
Isaiah (13-21) Jeremiah (46-52) and Ezekiel (28-32) prophesied the destruction of various nations that would go over to evil at various stages during Old Testament history. However, when I analysed these prophecies further, I found that prophecies of the destruction of an entire nation are rarer than is usually assumed. In many of the prophecies, the destruction is partial.
The prophet sometimes warns that the king or his armies will be destroyed, but the rest of the people survive. For example, Ezekiel warns of the destruction of Tyre (Ez 27:21), but Isaiah promise that the people will return to their trading activities (Is 23:17,18).
Other prophecies warn that the key cities will be destroyed, but the rest of the nation will survive. Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of the cities of Hazor and Kedar in Arabia (Jer 49:28-33). Isaiah promised a few survivors (Is 21:16) and life in Arabia continued.
A prophet would often warn of destruction at one point in history, but promises restoration at another time. This is the normal rising and falling of nations. Jeremiah warned that Elam would be destroyed (Jer 49:36-31), but promised that it would be restored much later in history.
Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam
in days to come,” declares the LORD (Jer 49:39).
Elam is in modern Iran, so this promise has been partially fulfilled already.

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