My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

16 July 2006

Coming and Going

Sorry I haven't posted lately. Bad blogster, bad.

Rest assured that I have plenty of cool things to talk about: church planting stuff, family conference, more thoughts on worship, how funny our 2-year old is.

But now we're leaving for vacation. Internet connection at our intended destination is doubtful. Lord willing, we'll catch up on the other side.


For less-than-light reading: because of the new mini-(soon to be major, it seems) war between Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanon, I've been reading about what exactly Hezbollah is. Here's wikipedia's helpful entry. I'm quite confused about Middle East politics. Any help would be appreciated, except from Christian radio stations, who seem to think that this all means Jesus' return is in 2.348 weeks. The best counsel I've gotten about the whole thing is to (1) pray for the leaders (1 Tim. 2:2) and (2) pray for the Christians in Lebanon & Israel. They don't get much press, but they do exist and need extraordinary amounts of grace right now.


Tamara said...

This is not a prediction that the Middle East conflict means the world will end soon. This is just a question for you personally. As you walk with God do you not find yourself with a twinkle of hope and joy when Israel becomes the center of attention? Whether it be from a war or something else. Doesn't it make you think, maybe today could be the day of the Lord's return? No one knows the time of the end. But I could watch hours of new coverage on the subject because I always want to know what is going on over there anyway. If you ask me the church has forsaken our covenant God. We have an obligation to the Jewish race and the land of Israel. I know you can't talk a lot on the internet. Better if we talk one on one. You know I am enthralled by all the activity.

Sir Ryan said...

All of the Elect are God's chosen people, now. What does ethnicity have to do with anything?

If we (America) have any obligation to Israel, it's due to the fact that we helped to create this mess by "giving" them a country in the first place after WWII.

I've heard that the formation of Israel was the result of politicians believing that Israel had to have its own country in order for Christ to return.

Sorry to insert myself into this "personal" conversation.

Sir Ryan said...

[double comments!]

Nothing has changed on the eastern Mediterranean in fifteen years. Hezbollah, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are still dedicated to destroying Israel.

What has changed is the American president and his Congress. Now when the American president has the guts to say that Israel is well within its rights to defend itself from death proclaiming terrorism, with military force, the rest of the powerful nations in the world are falling in line with Israel and the American president.

Quite a change. Did you notice?

original item
Not a Christian author, but he has insightful posts on politics and economics sometimes...

Alicia said...

Like Sir Ryan said, the Lord's Israel is the church worldwide, the spiritual body of Christ, not the citizens of today's country of Israel. They, unfortunately, like others who do not confess Jesus as Messiah and Lord, are missing a key component of belief for genuine salvation. It is indeed true that Christ could return at any time.

Josh said...

As Internationl Relations was a part of my major, I'd like to clear some things up first. The nation/state of Israel was not an American invention in 1948. We gave no people no land. The land known as Palestine was occupied by Britain. After much campaiging by Zionist founder Theodre Hertzle (I think that's spelled right) Britain finally relented and turned the land over to be re-founded as the nation of Israel. Hertzle had gone to numerous European countries (including Belgium...that's right, the Congo almost became the new Israel) and being turned down time after time and after much consulting with many in the new Zionist movement, Palenstine was targeted and received...after Hertzle's death even...I think.

Anywho, American's (more specifically American Christians) have not caused this mess, but we have certainly added to it and it has lead to much of our foreign policy. It is so much a part of our foregin policy (thank you EVERY President since 1948) that Israel is likely to remain an Ally (which isn't bad), but for all the wrong reasons.

Tamara said...

Sorry Jared I must have started another debate on accident.

I think the idea that the modern church has replaced Israel is a false statement. It is a doctrine that the church has adopted, but the Bible never stated this as fact. There are numerous promises that God gave to the Jewish race specifically that has yet to come true and will come true when the church finally realizes we have become arrogant in our faith. "How much more will their acceptance be!" I know faith in Christ is a must for salvation. I am dealing with the promises of God toward the nation.
Josh, I am currently reading a book on Theodor Herzl. The man inspires me. He basically started the Zionist movement single handedly. Even if you believe Israel shouldn't be a state I think one can at least admit the tenasity of this man was God given.
Sir Ryan: Define elect. Election use to refer to the Jewish people. Now we are in a covenant of grace. Let's not forget that more than half the Bible is devoted to God's dealing with the Jewish nation and the Jewish people. How many times in the New Testement did God rebuke people. "I have only come for the lost sheep of Israel." His mission on earth was to save them, but because their zeal was misplaced He showed favor to the Gentiles. This was in my book a side bar to the greater glory of God. His burning passion is for His people (Jews) that will be made known through His (Elect) church. God is a covenant God and the Bible is full of jealousy for Israel. Personally speaking I would watch my words before I say race is of little importance. We are talking about decendents of Abraham, David, and others. They deserve honor.

Understand also my mission feild is related to this nation so I have bias. :)

Catherine said...


Bernard Lewis has written several excellent books discussing the Middle East that provide good historical perspective on how these conflicts have been percolating for centuries. Probably too heavy for vacation reading though!

Mahmoud Darwish wrote a...well, it's not a poem and not a book, but maybe a lyrical essay (?) about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon in the 1980s. It's called "Memory for Forgetfulness" and although it does give some context about the conflict, the more interesting aspect is Darwish's grappling with how to be a Palestinian intellectual in exile, finding identity in exile, and so forth. It was interesting to read about that from a Palestinian perspective, versus a Jewish Diaspora take on exile.

Wish I could point you to better resources, but the ones with which I'm more familiar are, um, not really available to you. :)

Nathan Stockwell said...

"I think the idea that the modern church has replaced Israel is a false statement. It is a doctrine that the church has adopted, but the Bible never stated this as fact."

Actually a lot of MODERN churches see it your way, because your statement is a fairly new idea if you compare two hundred years with two thousand years. It's called dispensationalism and some of its better known promoters are Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Jack Van Impe, and as Jared alluded to, every Christian radio station in our corner of the country. In fact, two of the names I listed use the same term "replaced" (actually, "replacement theology" is what they call it) when mocking others who disagree with their view of biblical prophesy. Extra points if someone can pick them out of the list.

You state that the Bible nowhere states that Israel is the Church, what do you mean when you speak of "Israel" in your statement? Do you mean the nation, the unbelievers, or the believers? The nation, of course, included both unbelievers and believers much like the visible church does today. Then we come to what you would count as proof against your statement? Would it be enough that Jesus applies the promises given to Israel to the Church? Would it be enough that Paul says in Galatians 3:16 that, "Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.", and in verse 29, "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise."?

"Understand also my mission field is related to this nation so I have bias. :)"

Amen to that, the Christians (both in Lebanon & Israel) in that part of the world need all of the support they can get. Just don't tell the government, or be really outspoken, because you could get in really big trouble since the government really doesn't like Jesus. Forget about door to door, passing out fliers or any of that other stuff because as they would tell you, "We are talking about descendents of Abraham, David, and others." In fact, much of modern day Israel resembles a pagan nation that needs Christ. Unfortunately many in the American church turn a blind eye to how much the state of Israel suppresses the Gospel because “they are God’s chosen people”. No they’re not, or at least they are not for the reason most of them think! Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." not to sit back and watch events unfold in Israel to figure out when we will get rapture out of here.

What was it John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:9? ". . . and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham."

Jeff Kessler said...

Following His parable of the wicked tenants, Jesus tells the Jewish religious leadership in Matt. 21:43: "Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits."

The church is the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16), which is why singing the Psalms in worship today (post cross) can and does make sense.

"The Blood of the Moon" by George Grant. A pretty good quick read on the roots and history of the Middle East conflicts.

"The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" by O. Palmer Robertson A good book, especially on the role of the land of Israel. Hint: God cares as much about Carroll Co. Indiana as He does the modern real estate we call Israel.

"Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?" by Keith A. Mathison. If you want to know what is wrong w/ dispensationalism, (and there is much wrong) this book is a good place to start.

Jeff Kessler

Tamara said...

I will admit this is a touchy subject for me. It is touchy because we are dealing with a very strong word. That word is covenant. God promises in the word to save a remnant of Messianic Jews that will receive specific promises of God. (Rom 9:27-28) It is to this group I am referring. The Gentile church claims some promises that are for the saved remnant of Israel alone. Like you said this is a fairly new idea. I was never really taught this. I received insight into it by just reading the word. Then I found books about it later. God states in Zechariah 8, “I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes with great wrath I am jealous for her.” God never "Divorced the nation of Israel." I think using the word divorce is the correct statement because God says Jerusalem’s land will be married. I do not think He is speaking of the spiritual church here. I think He is speaking specifically to the nation. I will in no way down play the church. God says she is the bride. Her inheritance is in the heavenly Jerusalem. Salvation is one of the marks of the church and will show forth a great glory. But there is still special glory attributed to a Jewish believer, which I hope no Christian argues. As far as a dispensationalist I don’t claim to be one. They believe in some doctrines that I am not fond of….the rapture being one of them. At the risk of sounding monotonous I am merely stating that the church is so ready to claim the promises of God without realizing those promises are extremely specific to the burning affections YAWEH has for the Jews. Sorry if I still sound wacky to you reformers. It is funny because when I consider Psalm singing and your teachings on election and covenant I thought for sure you would jump on this bandwagon. Jeff I will check out that book.

Sir Ryan said...

Thanks for clearing up my bad history, Josh. I don't know who let me use this computer, but they should've been more careful.

Jon said...

A few quick notes. These probably won't help with the question of a divine sanction for Israel, but hopefully it will clear up some of the questions surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The Zionists were originally a Marxist/socialist group that wanted to create an agrarian, exclusively Jewish proletariat state. In addition to Marx, they were influenced by the teachings of Theodor Herzl, a 19th Century visionary, who first articulated the Zionist position. Herzl died in 1904. By the time the movement had control of Israel, they'd essentially abandoned their goals of being Marxist and agricultural in favor of high industry. All that remains of the original Zionism is the ingrained sense that the "Jewishness" of the region is important.

Meanwhile, "Palestine" was a term applied to the region by the British in 1917. They established its boundaries around 1921.

During Israel's War of Independence (1947-49), at least 700,000 Arabs were forced to leave the region. Some went to the Transjordan (the region--now in Jordan--immediately east of the Jordan river). Others went to Syria or Lebanon. A large population remained in the Gaza Strip (on the Mediterranean Sea) and the West Bank (a roughly potato-shaped region on the western side of the Jordan River).

The war radically shifted the demographics in the region. Where before, the Jews had been a small minority, the combination of Arab evacuations and massive Jewish immigration in the years following the British declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, has made Jews the dominant group in Israel proper. Many of these immigrants were fleeing Europe after the fall of the Nazi's in Germany.

In 1967, the Israelies occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Before the recent Jewish pullout from Gaza, there were approximately 3.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank compared to approximately 195,000 Israelies.

Because of high Palestinian birthrates, Israeli Jews have historically been dependent on immigration to maintain their dominance in the region, but now Jewish immigration is drying up, and it's likely that the Jews will soon no longer be the largest group in the region. Obviously, they are already small minorities in the WB and GS.

Israel is a relatively advanced, post-industrial society, with a GNP of approximately $120 billion and an average per capita income of $19,000, which is close to the average of the European Union. Palestine (WB and GS) on the other hand, had, in 2000, a GNP of less than $5 billion and a per capita income less than 1/10 that of Israel's.

The idea of Jewish "holy places" in Israel is one that was foreign to Judaism until about 1968, when in became an ideological motivator for devotees of a movement called "Greater Israel" to establish Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Now these holy places form an important part of the Israeli economy--mainly from western Christian tourists.

The "Oslo II" agreement between Israelis and Palestinians in 1995 transformed the West Bank into a seemingly random collection of Palestinian and Israeli settlements, bypass roads, checkpoints, and disconnected territories. If you look at a post Oslo II map of who controls what in the West Bank, it looks like a potato-shaped piece of swiss cheese.

MarkPele said...

tamara, Jeff Kessler is right, implicit in the Dispensational theology is that Christ failed. Christ's mission was to save the Jews and become a historical king in the line of David. When the Jews rejected Jesus, God the father had to come up with a backup plan, which was to make the national Jews jealous and to return to plan A - the historical reign of Christ.

Romans 9:27-28, especially reading the beginning of 27 where it says "And just as ISAIAH foretold" (emphasis mine) The future sense of the passage seems to juxtapose two fulfillments. The first was the remnant of Israel that went into captivity and returned, and the second was the remnant of Israel that remained in the True Vine and converted to Christianity. Again, from Matt 3, John the Baptist says concerning the Israelites, "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." That axe fell in A.D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem.

Tamara said...

"implicit in the Dispensational theology is that Christ failed."

I wanted to state again I don't claim to be a Dispensationalist. But I do want to reword your statement. You said that this implies that Jesus failed. Dispensationalist actually believe that there is a crucial way in which God brings redemption to the world. First to the Jew then the Gentiles. Then thirdly by the Gentiles having faith the Jews become jealous and then are grafted in again. I only state this because they never say God failed. It is a matter of the full amount of time happening. But, I am not a dispensationalist I just know a lot of them.
Refering to my own beliefs again I am talking not in regards to salvation. I am talking about a seperate people. Jews are spoken of specifically in the Word. In Romans Paul seperates the Gentiles from the Jews in regards to many things. Salvation not being one of them. But as far as favor is concerned I think the Jewish race was given special favor. That is all I am stating. Maybe when I worded it I was unclear.

MarkPele said...

This comes from my view of the New Testament. I believe that the entire New Testament was written before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Not everyone believes that, and especially liberal scholars want to push the dates well into the 100's, saying that the eyewitnesses didn't write the books at all.
I do know that there are some Reformed scholars who believe that there will be a mass conversion of the Jews at some point in the future. I think, however, that the prophesies regarding God's dealing with the Jews are all talking about the time between Christ's death and the fall of Jerusalem. I think that the Jews rested their hopes in their nationalistic pride, centered around the temple. When the temple was destroyed in AD 70, it was a sign to the Jews that God had finally rejected them.
That puts things into perspective - first that the bringing of the Gentiles into the church from Christ's death to AD 70 is the period of provoking jealousy, and second, that to some extent, that by AD 70, the gospel had gone out to the fullness of gentiles (Rom 11:25). The Reformed scholars looking for a mass conversion would say that Rom 11 has a partial fulfillment in AD 70 and a complete fulfillment sometime in the future.
As far as Christ failing, the Dispensationalists claim that the church age is ushered in because the Jews rejected Christ as their earthly king. Because of this rejection, God had to invent another way to fulfill OT prophecy, which was to bring salvation to the Gentiles. This is evident when the Dispensationalists talk about the prophecy of Daniel. Daniel's prophecy talks about "weeks", which are weeks of years. However, the Dispensationalists says that between week 69 and week 70, God had to insert the entire church age, followed by the rapture, and then He would deal with the Jewish kingdom and fulfill week 70. That choice was not God's original plan, but was necessary, because the Jews rejected Christ as the Messiah. Thus God's plans for Christ failed. That's the Dispensationalist view.

Jared said...

You crazy commentators, you! I mention Israel and walk away for a week and look what happens. Good on ya, mate.

Thanks for all the great comments, especially the education from Josh & Jon. Good Biblical insights, too, from Jeff & Mark. (Did I hear Jeff say Carroll County is the new Israel??)

Tamara knows I disagree with her about this, so it's not a new discussion, but hopefully this round has been helpful to everybody.

Catherine - could I read your secret books, please? Just once? I won't tell anyone...

Please keep praying for the saints in the Middle East. They get practically *zero* media coverage, even from the "christian" media (one more reason to be agitated with dispensationalist radio).

Sir Ryan said...

Define Elect.

Those whom God has chosen to be His people before time (predestination, Romans 8:28-30).

Personally speaking I would watch my words before I say race is of little importance. We are talking about decendents of Abraham, David, and others. They deserve honor.

We're all the people of God. "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek" (Romans 10:12, and the surrounding verses). Why would we make a distinction that God Himself does not make?

I know this is all commented-to-death, but I somehow missed this question directed to me earlier.

Tamara said...

Oh well I will make it an even 18. I just had to say something because today at the International House of Prayer ( we interceeded for Israel using NT versus from the Bible. I get extremely irritated when the church doesn't recognize that God does make a distinction. I am not irritated at you, sir Ryan. I understand your perspective though I fail to see the truth in your doctrine. (even though I once held to the same belief)
Again I want to state for a third time that I am not speaking in regards to salvation, but in regards to favor and promise. The verse you quoted is...
Rom 10:12-13
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED."

Again this vs refers to salvation.

But if you read on you find a vs that deals more with the issue I face.

Rom 11:28-32

28 From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God's choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. 32 For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.

I am sure no one will see this comment, but that verse makes me check my every breath. I am dependent on the Jew's disbelief. They are my brothers. But, alas I think Jared would say (Because he is currently teaching from Proverbs)
Prov 10:19
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.

To really "debate" this there would have to be a indepth study. I couldn't even begin to express my love for the Jewish people on a blog. I just know I will never grasp how replacement theology seeped into the Christian foundation. It scares me and truly makes no sence to me. it is unlike God to recognize a people so profoundly and then make no distincition. Even in revelation the word Jew is found. That word has meaning.