Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

The Desolation of Israel

 

 

Shortly before Jesus was crucified, He met with His disciples just outside of Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives to share with them the future, especially as it concerned Israel and Jerusalem.  He warned them of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He also spoke to them of the signs that would occur before  His return to reign on this earth.

 

The Mount of Olives is an extremely important geographical location as far as Jesus is concerned.  Not only is it where He met with His disciples just before His trial and crucifixion to share His Olivet Discourse which we are presently studying;  it is also the location of the Garden of Gethsemane where He often resorted to pray, as He did the night in which He was betrayed by Judas.  It is also the place where He ascended back to Heaven after His resurrection from the dead, as witnessed by His Apostles.  This is described in Acts 1.   Finally, it will be the place where Jesus returns to this earth in His glory to put down His enemies and rule over this earth in the Millennium. That event is prophesied in Zechariah 14.

 

Note the questions of His disciples.  When will the temple be destroyed? What are the signs of Jesus’ return and the end of the Age?

 

JESUS WARNS US TO NOT BE DECEIVED CONCERNING PROPHECY

 

The basic answer to these questions concerning prophecy is a warning from Jesus to not be deceived. Luke 21:8, Mark 13:5  and  Matthew 24:4. Understand that there is much deception, confusion and wrong thinking in the world when it comes to prophecy concerning Jesus.

 

There are three parts to this prophesy concerning Israel, as found in Luke 21.

 

Part 1. The destruction of the temple is prophesied in Luke 21:20-24. That event took place in 70 AD when the Roman army captured and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, including the temple. Not one stone was left  upon another.

 

Part 2. The last half of verse 24 “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled” is the transition. It refers to the past 2000 years in which the Jews have been scattered and trodden down by the Gentiles throughout the world. In all this time, Christ’s true Church has been a friend to the Jews as we lovingly seek to lead them to their true Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many have been saved and have come into the Church, the Body of Christ. They have learned the wonderful truth in Galatians 3:27-29 that in Christ Jesus we are no longer Jew nor Gentile, but one new body, the Church.

 

Part 3 of Prophecy, Luke 21:25-32 describes the seven years of Tribulation which follows the secret rapture of the Church. This is known as the time of “Jacob’s Trouble” prophesied in Jeremiah 30:7. Here is found the promise that the Jews will be supernaturally saved out of it. This will be the time, yet to come, when Anti-christ defiles the temple and the Holy Place as prophesied in Daniel 9:27,  Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:3-4  and in Revelation 13.

 

THE DESOLATION OF ISRAEL

 

Consider the ongoing desolation that has dogged Israel through their 4000 year history.  Her story has been a sad, sad story of ongoing sorrow and heart ache. 

 

The name Israel and the word desolation  are such a sad contradiction. God chose Israel to bless her and make her a blessing to the whole world, as  prophesied in the Abrahamic Covenant found in Genesis 12,13 and 17. The desolation has followed them because they have turned away from God to go their own way.

 

Read a synopsis of her story in Ezekiel 16.  It describes her as a castaway new born baby lying out in the field to die.  The story goes on to tell how God found her in the field and pitied and loved her and took her to be His own child. The story goes on, telling how she grew up to become a beautiful young woman. 

 

Then in verse 15 the story takes a turn for the worse. This young woman turned from her loving God and became a harlot chasing after false gods and living a life of wickedness and rebellion against her God.  The chapter goes on to describe God’s judgment on her and her abominations.

 

Then in verse 60-63 the story has a happy ending as God remembers the Covenant that He had made with Abraham, her father. 

 

In the latter chapters of Ezekiel starting with chapter 34 and continuing to the end of the book, the future of Israel is unfolded for us and it is truly an exciting, wonderful future that awaits this people who have rejected their Messiah for so many centuries.

 

It’s the same with the words Christian and desolation.  They also are contradictory.  God saved us to bless us and make us a blessing to others. Desolation follows us as we rebel against God and go our own ways.

 

Let me give you just a brief summary of Israel‘s perpetual desolation.

 

From 1800 BC to 1400 BC  Israel was desolate as slaves in Egypt for 400 years.   You remember that God used Moses to deliver them from slavery and start their journey to their Promised Land of Israel. Joshua completed that journey by leading them into the land of Canaan, their permanent Home.

 

They were further desolated for another 300 years during the time of the Judges.  This was a time characterized by failure and defeat, although God came to their rescue whenever they cried to Him for mercy.  Overall, the story of Israel under  the Judges is quite pathetic and depressing.

 

Then starting with I Samuel, we read the story of the kings of Israel.  Saul, the first king, was the people’s choice, rather than God’s choice.  It was a story of sin, failure and defeat. 

 

Then followed the stories of David and his son, Solomon. Though both men failed God personally, God in His sovereignty and grace, gave them each forty years to reign over Israel.  Solomon’s especially, was a peaceful and prosperous reign. Following Solomon’s reign, because of the pride and stubbornness of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, Israel and Judah divided as two separate nations, Israel with ten tribes and Judah with two.

 

The story of the kings of divided Israel and Judah are a mixture of good, but mostly evil kings and the abominations that overtook them for another three hundred and fifty years.

 

Finally in 722 BC,  God allowed the Assyrian Empire to conquer the ten northern tribes of Israel and disperse them throughout the nations of the world, where they are to this day.

 

Then in 586 BC the Babylonians conquered the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, taking them into captivity for seventy years.  In the meantime Persia conquered Babylon and in time freed the Children of Judah to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple and city.

 

Four hundred more silent years passed as Israel pined in their desolate state awaiting the birth of their promised Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Both Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, and Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, were from the line of Judah; thus Jesus is the rightful promised King of Judah. Though Israel rejected Him as their Messiah and King,  He is one day returning to this earth to reign over them, as well as the whole world in His Millennial reign.

 

ISRAEL‘S OPPORTUNITY TO BE SAVED TODAY

 

In the meantime, the desolation of Israel has continued these past 2000 years as the Jews continue to await their promised Messiah.    Thank God that during this time countless numbers of Jews have been converted to Christ and have been joined by God’s Spirit into Christ’s Church, along with converted gentiles.  As Christians, our identity is no longer Jew or Gentile. We are one new Body, His Church, a New Kingdom, loving grateful subjects of the Lord Jesus, whom we have gladly made King of our lives.  All of this wonderful truth is taught in the New Testament,  especially in Romans, Galatians and Ephesians.

 

We live in a world that scoffs and mocks God and uses the name of Jesus, our precious Saviour,  as a curse word.  They despise Him, as they do all of those who publicly confess Him as Saviour and Lord.

 

WILL GLOBAL WARMING DESTROY THIS EARTH?

 

Liberals who deny the inspiration and authority of the Bible are very concerned about man bringing an end to this world as we know it through pollution and  so-called “global warming”.  Dear friend, though most Christians are angered by man’s thoughtlessness and carelessness in polluting this beautiful planet; man is not powerful enough to destroy this earth.  Talk about pollution, wait until you see what God is going to do to this planet during the tribulation! You can read about it in The Revelation. the last book of the Bible.

 

When Jesus returns to this earth in His glory, following the seven years of tribulation, the earth will be refreshed and returned to its original beauty and pre-curse state. Then for one thousand years Jesus will reign over this earth, showing sinful men and women the blessedness of life under His sovereignty.

 

At the end of the thousand year reign of Christ, sinful man will once more rebel and Christ will put a final end to all rebellion. In an instant. Then Christ Himself will cause this  earth and the universe as we know it to be imploded into nothingness in one tremendous explosion.

 

After that He will create a new Heaven and a new earth wherein dwells only righteousness. Read the final chapters of Revelation and decide whether you want to be a Christ receiver and spend eternity with Christ in Heaven  or be a  Christ rejecter and spend eternity in Hell.

 

There are those who believe that since the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, that is proof that Jesus returned at that time and established His Millennial Kingdom. Millennium means one thousand years. It has now been two thousands years since that time and I still see no evidence of Jesus’ reign on this earth,  So I reject that prophetic position.  At the same time, no true Bible teacher rejects that God who rules from Heaven is sovereign in the affairs of men and that genuine Christians ought to  bow to His Lordship. Lord willing,  I will deal with this prophetic confusion among Christians in the next article as we contrast Pre and Post Millennialism.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Olivet Discourse | Comments Off on The Desolation of Israel

For to me to live is Christ.

Whatever the Apostle Paul did before and after his conversion, he did with all of his heart, soul and strength, whether it was persecuting Christians before his conversion or preaching the Gospel after his conversion.

 

Acts 9 records Saul’s conversion, who was  then renamed Paul.  It records that immediately he began to face rejection, opposition and  persecution; not only by the lost, but by the young Church itself.  As Jesus, His Saviour and Lord, Paul was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. 

 

He was beaten and imprisoned repeatedly for the Gospel. 

 

He sorrowed constantly for His people, the Jews, who rejected Christ.

 

He sorrowed for his brethren, fellow preachers of the Gospel, who often turned against him, as recorded in II Corinthians 12:15, Philippians 1:14-16

and II Timothy 4:10-16.  These preachers were envious of Paul’s spiritual power and success. They were attempting to compete with Paul, rather than recognizing themselves as his fellow-laborers.

 

SO WHAT?

 

His attitude towards all this garbage heaped upon him was,  “So what?” “What then, notwithstanding”, he says in Philippians 1:18, “In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached and I therein do rejoice and will continue to rejoice”

 

So it is for every faithful servant of God.  We can rejoice, regardless of circumstances, whether we have bought a new home, or lost it, whether we have a  job or have lost it, whether we are hospitalized or enjoying good health; whatever our circumstances; we can rejoice in Jesus, our Saviour and Life.   As Romans 8:28 teaches, every circumstance, joyful or painful, is working together for our good.

 

Paul was confident of the supply of his needs through the provision of the indwelling Holy Spirit and that the supply of those needs would result in his salvation; that is, his sanctification, his full spiritual health. In other words, it was going to make him a stronger Christian.

 

Paul didn’t know what lay ahead for him; but he was confident that whether by life or death, that the Gospel he preached would succeed in doing its work. He was always aware that he was Christ’s chosen vessel. Anananias had shared that special message from God with him at the time of his conversion to Christ.

 

Persecution of Christ’s enemies and misunderstanding and meaness of fellow Christians did not deter him from  preaching the Gospel.

 

Paul really didn’t care what happened to him.  All that mattered to him was that the Gospel he once hated and fought against was furthered through his efforts.  Though in chains in Rome, and though misunderstood and miserably treated by others, it really didn’t matter.  Paul was thankful for every opportunity to preach the Gospel.

 

He was assured through his knowledge of God’s Word that whatever happened was going to work out for the spread of the Gospel  and for his  salvation from his imprisonment, whether by life or death.  He knew the God of the Psalmist David who wrote repeatedly of how God delivered him.

 

He had witnessed Stephen’s stoning and death, and he never got over it. He had watched him die fearlessly and he knew God would give him that same faith and courage to face anything.

 

He didn’t care that there were mean-spirited, fellow preachers of the Gospel who hated and despised him and tried to make him look bad, even as they preached.  He really didn’t care who got the credit for winning people to Christ. He was just glad the Gospel; was preached.

 

He was truly thankful for the faithful Christians who prayed for him and he was confident that through the provision of God, all his needs would be supplied.

 

In all his difficult circumstances and unfaithful “friends” who would gladly stab him in the back, no one could steal his joy that he had in knowing and serving Christ.

 

Does Christ and His Gospel consume you 24/7? 

  

As John the Baptist’s motto in John 3:30 was “He must increase. I must decrease”; so his aim was “that Christ be magnified in his body.”  His one purpose in life is summarized in Philippians 1:21  “For to me to live is CHRIST.  To die is gain”   From the moment he was converted to Christ on the road to Damascus until the day he was executed,   the Christ he once hated, was now the Christ he loved with a consuming passion.  He was a one track man.  Christ was everything to him.  For Christ he was willing to suffer the loss of all things.

 

God doesn’t call every believer to be a preacher or a missionary, but He does call us all to that total dedication to Him, to use our strength and our resources to help spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, starting with your next door neighbor.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Philippians | Comments Off on For to me to live is Christ.