January 05, 2017

Israel's Right to Exist

[Dear Reader: This article began as an email with a cherished brother in Christ regarding the state of Israel. I leaned towards the spiritual aspect while he towards the political, and whatever disagreement we have is due only to our respective starting points. The discussion board is open for additional comments.]

Michael Savage is emblematic of the hardness of heart that afflicts "Israel" both secular and orthodox. I have kept private my own views regarding the state of Israel as it would surely increase the level of hostility already felt by those who are offended by the message of Jesus Christ.

The fact is that the state of Israel is apostate. If we remove the blinders what we see is a nation that rejected the Messiah. The Divine covenant was contingent upon their faithfulness, but they broke the covenant and were expelled from the land just as YHWH had warned.

Yeshua stripped them of the promise, and ceded it to the Gentiles (the New Covenant). I am perplexed by evangelicals who seem to overlook the fact that Israel exists in a state of condemnation. "There is no condemnation," wrote Paul, "to them who are in Christ Jesus." But as for Israel ...

J. Vernon McGee did not believe that 1947 represented a Divine return. He said if G-d had returned them to that land He would have done so in peace and safety.

What troubles me is that over one million Christian Palestinians have been displaced from their homes. These people are not Arabic, but descendants of the Aramaic people who lived in Judea and Samaria since the days of the prophets. They reside today in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem, but mostly in Gaza and the West Bank. Where is the compassion of the evangelical church who so dismissively ignores the plight of their brothers and sisters in Christ?

The disputed settlements have caused injury to Christians who are caught in a life and death struggle between the sons of Isaac and the sons of Ishmael. With whom should the body of Christ grieve?

This will not be resolved until Messiah returns. In any case, the Holy Land was always symbolic of the New Jerusalem. Not until then will the righteous inhabit the land (new heavens and earth) in peace and safety.

I doubt Michael Savage can make the connection between man's fall and the calamity that has plagued the world since Eve ate of the fruit. But neither does the Dispensational church correctly interpret Scripture with regards to Israel and the day of the Lord.

From the Tanakh (Jewish Publication Society, 1917) Genesis 16:12 reads:
And he shall be a wild ass of a man; his hand shall be against every man; and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.
Of course, the angel of the Lord was speaking to Hagar about her son Ishmael. How true this has been for thousands of years; and more so in this age of Islamic terrorism. It is a false notion to believe that Islam is a religion of peace since, by the word of the LORD, Ishmael would not be a peaceful man -- nor, by inheritance, his descendants.

We can't know the mind of the LORD. He told Ishmael that he would become a mighty nation, and possess vast resources (oil). The Arabs have been a thorn in the flesh, and the Gentiles were raised up to provoke jealously, I believe, because of Israel's rejection of Messiah.

The term in the face is a Hebraism, or colloquialism for in your face. The modern translations correctly interpret it to mean hostility as he will live in conflict with his brothers.

G-d foreknew all of this. I don't understand it, and dare not question His sovereignty. If by the decree of Cyrus the Jews returned from Babylon, does it follow that by U.N. mandate they returned from the diaspora?.

We know in hindsight that G-d raised up Cyrus for that very purpose. And we know that the LORD expelled Israel from the land in 70 AD. These were prophetic fulfillments. When Jesus said that He would take the kingdom from them and give it to a people who would produce its fruits, there was no further promise of return. When Messiah spoke of the end of the age, the Jews understood what He meant -- the end of the Jewish age which the Rabbis teach was the Roman holocaust. The Hebrew Bible always speaks of the LORD coming in judgment. This is why, after His resurrection, the disciples asked if He would restore the kingdom at that time, and Jesus said it was not for them to know the times and seasons. But for 2,000 years false prophets have so predicted, and brought reproach to the body of Christ.

The kingdom of God is not of this world, and will not be fulfilled here.

Dispensationalism has run wild with all sorts of end time scenarios that are both intriguing and far-fetched. The most interesting is that the countdown to the day of the Lord began in 1947 with the return of the Jews to Israel. However, this is found nowhere in Scripture. What evangelicals do is mangle Ezekiel's prophecy of the return from (Babylonian) captivity, and apply it to modern times. They do this upon a contrived interpretive method known as double-fulfillment; and defend their interpretation based on the spurious claim that G-d never fulfilled His land promise to Israel. 

Again, reading from the JPS Tanakh:
So the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which He swore to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein (Joshua 21:43).
And G-d warned the Jews that He would vomit them out of the land if they were unfaithful (Leviticus 18:24-30).
For 1900 years the land was ruled by the Romans, Moslems and Brits -- until 1947. How do we interpret that? Was it by the hand of G-d, or a reparation for all that the Jewish people suffered?

The U.N. mandate originally established two states, but the Arabs never wanted peace. G-d, on the other hand, demands justice.
To do righteousness and justice is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3).
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d? (Micah 6:8)
Friends, I have not the wisdom of Solomon. The abstention of the United States regarding the U.N. Security Council's vote on Israeli settlements is clearly a reversal of long-standing American support for the Jewish state. It puts Israel in a difficult position; and makes it harder to arrive at a peaceful solution. I believe that the U.N. vote reflects the outgoing administration's antipathy towards Israel. They wanted to play hardball with Israel from Day One, and this is their cowardly kick in the groin as they exit the door.

The vote, though non-binding, is a diplomatic slap-in-the-face, and serves the dual purpose of tying the hands of the incoming administration. I have never witnessed anything like this in my lifetime, and members of the President's own party are outraged -- especially those Democrats who are beholden to their Jewish constituents.

And while we are talking about how the Russians interfered with the 2016 American election, how does the administration explain its interference in the 2015 election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? According to a Senate Subcommittee, $350,000 of taxpayer funds were funneled through the U.S. State Department to an Israeli peace lobby that was working to defeat Netanyahu. 

The hypocrisy and duplicity of the left is just mind-numbing.

It is difficult to separate the political reality from a kingdom perspective. Israel has a right to exist. Islamic states deny that the Jews ever had a presence in the Holy Land. I strongly recommend that you watch the video series, The Stones Cry Out, a Zola Levitt production. Archaeology has unearthed thousands of years of scientific evidence that the Hebrews dwelt in Palestine long before Ishmael was born. So we shall not debate Israel's right to be there. Iran, a remnant of the Persian Empire, knows very well the history of Cyrus, and his decree to send the Jews home. Home to where? Israel, of course!

The world has hated the Jews ... forever. Jews lament that it was a curse to be the chosen people. The world is in rebellion towards G-d, and it hates those who teach His word. That's why Israel killed the prophets. That's why they were expelled from the land. But to say they have no claim, well, people have been saying that since the Exodus.

Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, wrote in his polemic, Antiquity of the Jews, Against Apion, a classical defense of Judaism.

Even in his day (first century), the world did not believe that the Jewish people had a right to live in Israel. Josephus opened the history books of Egypt, Greece, Phonecia, Chaldea and Syria to prove that the Jewish people (and their religion) had ancient ties to the lands of Samaria and Judea.

The Philistines -- from which the Romans derived the word Palestine -- dwelt in the Gaza strip, but they were not native to the land as evidence suggests they came from across the Aegean Sea.

In his preface, Josephus wrote:
I suppose that by my books of the Antiquity of the Jews ... I have made it evident to those who peruse them, that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity; and had a distinct subsistence of its own originally ...
... since I observe a considerable number of people giving ear to the reproaches that are laid against us by those who bear ill will to us (that our nation is of a late date); I therefore have thought myself under an obligation to write somewhat briefly about these subjects; in order to convict those that reproach us of spite ... and to correct the ignorance of others ...
Josephus wondered how the Greeks could pen a history of the Jews when they could not compile an accurate history of the Grecian civilization.

What we are left then is this ... Blessed are the peacemakers ... (Matthew 5:9).

Who will show themselves as true sons of the living G-d? Who hates their neighbor? Who denies their brother his right to exist?

The sons of Ishmael ...

... or the sons of Isaac?

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

January 03, 2017

Ten Years on Blogger!

Friends, it is so good to come home. I want to thank our loyal readers who have logged over 100,000 visits. I truly appreciate your support. Messiah Gate (and our political blog, The Conservative Ledger) will be celebrating an anniversary this year. TCL began posting on August 28, 2007. First post on Blogger was an article titled, Bush Right On. It was a short piece about the war on terror.

For the next five years, I posted hundreds of conservative-based articles; and the blog became a modest success with over 12,000 hits.

In 2010, the Lord pressed upon my soul to use the talent He gave me to write Christ-centered articles. Like Jonah, I tried to run and hide; but two years later Messiah Gate was born. On April 27, 2012 the first article posted, Why Christ Died.

TCL, though somewhat dormant, will observe ten years on Blogger while Messiah Gate celebrates a five-year anniversary in 2017.

The credit is not mine. I live and breathe by the grace of God from whom all blessings flow. The Holy Spirit is the author -- I just type the words. For me, it is as simple as that. I don't worry about writer's block. In prayer and meditation I receive inspiration to write on a particular topic. The hardest part is the editing since I have a tendency to digress from the outline.

Blogger, as a platform, is not flashy like WordPress. The interface is pretty simple, and easy to navigate for beginners. Because it is a property of Google, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is built-in which is useful in helping your blog find an audience.

Networking is not my thing -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are like a foreign language to me. I had one follower on FB, and eight on Twitter so those accounts are now closed. In contrast, TCL continued to grow even after I stopped posting new articles in 2012. In five years, Messiah Gate has received over 22,000 hits. Google Plus, which was activated at the same time, received 20,000 hits before I even posted my first article. It has now recorded over 81,000 views.

This is not to toot my own horn, for I give all the glory to God. What I am saying is this, I am an 18th century man living in a 21st century world, and Blogger has made it easy for me to share my gift with an interested audience.

Look, I am not a techie. I don't own a cell phone, or a car; but I did buy a television last year because I missed the Olympics and presidential conventions. Technology is a distraction -- plain and simple. It steals away the time you should be seeking God. A person who spends hours each day on social media, but says they have no time to read the Bible -- well, good luck with that excuse on Judgment Day.

In closing, I am not an employee of Google. Because it is a tech giant, I have sort of a love-hate relationship with the company. But it does provide the avenue by which I can do what I was born to do -- and that is, to write.

There are many blogging platforms out there, but this is where the Lord sent me ten years ago. The WordPress thing was my own decision, and though it was a barren field I did make a couple of meaningful personal connections that made all the dissension and disagreement bearable.

My plan for this anniversary year is to repost some of my favorite articles from the past, and integrate the active with inactive blogs. If my audience will permit, I'd like to go off-topic and write about things that are on my mind in the manner of Andy Rooney, if you will. For example, have you noticed how people commonly answer a question, or start a sentence with so?

Q: Tell me, what did you do last weekend? 

A: So, we packed up the car, and hit the road.

I did some research and found out how that started. Also, have you noticed how television commentators clasp their hands at the waist, and bob their heads as they speak? There's a reason for that, too.
I pray the Lord will grant me the good health to keep on blogging ... for serving Him is the greatest joy.

Copyright © 2017 Messiah Gate

December 31, 2016

We Say Goodbye to WordPress

Reprinted from WordPress:

Friends, this will be my last post on WordPress (as Messiah Gate). The five year-old experiment has not produced enough fruit to make it worth my time and effort.

This blog did not begin on WP, and will not continue there. The decision was made after much prayer and contemplation. I've been writing since I was ten years-old; and my hometown paper published my submissions in its Voice of the People column.

The purpose of life is to figure out what your talent is, and use it for the glory of God. If what you're doing is not working then you have to make an adjustment. We will all stand before God -- both the just and unjust. Those who are covered by the blood of Jesus will not stand in condemnation, but will be judged according to their works.

I am not saying that we are saved by works, but our reward in heaven will be determined by the fruit of our lives.
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
There will be a lot of Christians, standing before the Lord, who smell like they've been to a fire sale -- very smoky, indeed -- yet their souls will be spared the wrath of God because of their faith in Jesus Christ. I think the Protestant church has been too dismissive with regards to the importance of good works, but that shall not be debated here.

Jesus Christ is the foundation, and this blog is just one of many works that are laid upon the stone of salvation. Those of you who post Christ-centered articles will have to determine, in your own heart, if your blog glorifies God, or appeals to your own self-identity.

The first blog I ever published was titled after my own name. My mother corrected me with aged wisdom -- "It's not about you," she would say; and so I dropped my name from the title. How can I phrase this? I have found that the most successful Christian blogs have been more id-centered than Christ-centered. Do you know what I mean?

I don't want to make the mistake of King David, and conduct a census of my blog. WordPress does that at the end of the year; and the stats are underwhelming. Fewer than 800 people visited this blog, and not even ten felt compelled to like a post, or leave a comment.

The numbers have been declining since 2013. This tree is not producing fruit. What is most discouraging are the hours of study and prayer that go into managing this blog, and then I see a random blog that has only a title -- no posts, no content -- and the blank About page has received ten likes.

There are blogs I follow that receive more visits per post than I have received in the past five years on WP. Again, we have to be careful to not judge ourselves vainly. For example, why do we write? Is it to glorify God, or puff up ourselves? In the end, the story is not about you and me, but our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If I were to consistently water a barren tree ... am I making the best use of the time that God has given me? You have to make that decision for yourself, but as for me the answer is ...

... no.

Think of all the time, each day, that you devote to pursuing your own interests -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, texting, music, television, blogging, whatever it might be ... and measure that to the time that you spend with God. How does it stack-up? Are those hours, spent daily in self-pursuit, building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ? For me, the answer would be no. I mean, do I really have to spend two hours watching Casablanca for the umpteenth time?

Please understand, we all need to relax and refocus; but realize in the stillness that God has given us this time to draw closer to Him -- not binge on a TCM marathon of Bogart pictures. If you are a Christian who has never read through the Bible then maybe that is a task you might complete in the New Year.

As for me, I will continue to write for we cannot hide from the purpose to which He has called us. Think of Jonah, or the man who buried his talents.

The Lord has graciously blessed my work elsewhere, and so I will continue to labor in those fields that yield a good harvest. WordPress only gleaned off this fruit as did Facebook and Twitter which are now deleted.

I was going to post an article on Franklin Graham's appearance at the inauguration so let me say a few things about that. It came to my attention via AOL that a "contentious" pastor had been invited to Trump's swearing-in ceremony. Frankly speaking, it was sort of confounding to learn that the divisive pastor was the son of Billy Graham. Pardon me? Oh, yes, due to his anti-gay agenda the younger Graham is supposedly unfit to attend the gala ceremony. (Because of AOL's tenor I will cancel my account.)

Folks, we live in a day and age where Christianity has become the greatest evil in society. Islam, which has given birth to a worldwide Jihad, is to be respected and revered. After all, they worship the same God as do the Jews and Christians, but in whose name do they terrorize and murder innocent people?

Franklin Graham has murdered no one. His only crime is defending the sanctity of life, and of marriage. Christians are not anti-people. We do stand by God's judgement of sexual immorality whether homosexual or heterosexual, but this is not an indictment of any person, or class of people, but of a behavior deemed by a righteous God to be immoral.

This is what Satan does -- he turns the truth into a lie, and deceives the many who will follow the wide road to destruction for men love the darkness rather than the light; and they certainly don't want to listen to Franklin Graham teach the Word of God.

To answer Caralyn, Is Christianity Dead?, we can take comfort in the words of Jesus. Millennials are fleeing the church in droves which is not a good sign if you are looking for a worldwide conversion before the return of Messiah; but Jesus said that only the few will find life so it should be comforting to know that we need not carry the burden of discipling the whole world. When it comes right down to it we have to be vigilant to work out our own salvation to make sure we can stand before God with a clear conscience.

My closing prayer is that the body of Christ will endure in faith and in good deeds -- that the Holy Spirit will do mighty works until that great and glorious day when Messiah returns. I want to thank the few people who have supported this blog -- God knows who you are -- and may His blessings be poured out upon my Internet church family.

[With God's grace we will continue to post on Blogger.]

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

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