Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Marriage, Covenant & Virginity

My beautiful country, Australia, is currently holding a postal survey with the question:

“‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry? Yes or No

The last votes are due in next week and we find out the result in about a month.

Putting aside the emotional, subjective opinions both for and against I just want to share about the beauty and essence of marriage. Once we see the prophetic pinnacle of truth and loveliness that marriage is I believe it will speak for itself.

And yes I am going to bring the importance of virginity into it, because marriage and virginity are inextricably linked, whether we like it or not.

 

The Bible and Weddings

The Bible begins with the wedding of Adam and Eve and it ends with the wedding or marriage supper of the Lamb – Christ and His Bride.

For God to begin and end His Book with two weddings shows us that He esteems marriage highly.

But what many miss is that God holds marriage so highly that the entire Bible is about marriage – yes the whole thing from start to finish and everything in between.

The Bible details God’s dealings with humankind. From the Garden of Eden in Genesis we see God’s desire to dwell amongst people and to be in relationship with them. Why did He even create the earth and in fact human beings at all? Because He desired fellowship with them. He desired to share the love that is within the Godhead (or trinity) with others. God is in His very essence love, and Love is self-less and seeks to give and to share.

We need to remember that God always deals with us humans on the basis of 2 things :

  • His Son and
  • Covenant (which entails blood)

 

The Bride of Christ

Adam was a picture of Jesus Christ. He was put to sleep, his side was pierced and his blood shed, in order for his bride to be created from his side.

Jesus was put to sleep (died) on the cross. His blood was shed and it was from His own pierced side that His Bride, the Church, was created.

God gave Adam Eve, and God has given Christ the Church.

Thus Adam and Eve were in a covenant relationship sealed by blood, just as we are in a covenant relationship with Jesus. He instituted the new covenant at the Last Supper He had with His disciples on Passover, where He said

“In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” Luke 22:20

All throughout history God has dealt with humanity on the basis of covenant and that covenant is always sealed by blood. Each covenant is also a picture of Christ. Consider the Noahic and the Abrahamic covenants as further texts to study.

 

The Wife of Jehovah

God dealt with Israel in the Old Testament by covenant, and this actually took the form of a marriage covenant.

“The relationship of Israel as the Wife of Jehovah is viewed throughout the Scriptures in various ways and facets…..The entire format of the Book of Deuteronomy is that of both an ancient treaty and an ancient marriage contract. In this book, Moses took all the various facets of the three earlier books and presented them in the form of an ancient marriage contract. In this book we find the marriage contract signed between Israel and God whereby Israel becomes the Wife of Jehovah.” (Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum)

In the Passover the sacrificial lamb’s blood was shed and painted on the doorposts to save the Israelites. This was the shed blood to ratify the covenant and it also pointed to the ultimate Lamb whose blood was shed to save the world.

 

Covenants and Blood

Every covenant that God cuts with humankind is sealed with blood.

Why?

Because every single covenant is a picture designed to point us to something greater.

*Jesus*

Jesus is what it is all about. The whole Bible, the whole creation, the whole thing!

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:14

That Love from God is sent to us in His Son. That desire of God to dwell amongst His people He has brought about through Christ. His shed blood is the seal of the ultimate covenant, the New Covenant between Jesus Christ and humankind. When we enter into covenant with Him by faith in His finished work on the cross we become part of the Bride.

And Marriage is no different.

 

The Marriage Covenant

Marriage is a covenant designed to point us to something far greater. It is designed to point us to Christ and His Bride.

““For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” Ephesians 5:31, 32

Marriage therefore is a prophetic sign post to point us to Christ and His work on the cross.

Every time a man and a woman stand up before God and human witnesses and say their vows they are painting a picture of Christ and His Bride and the ultimate wedding – the marriage supper of the Lamb.

They are witnessing to the angels, the demons and the earthlings that The Bridegroom has made a covenant with The Bride and He is coming back to get her.

And that is why marriage is so attacked. The enemy wants to remove or pervert the testimony and the prophetic signpost between a man and a woman because it points to Jesus.

 

Virginity

When a man and a woman stand before God and humankind and pledge their “troth” or vows to each other they have entered into a covenant relationship, whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not.

Nowadays we hold marriage and vows so lightly that we don’t even begin to realise their huge spiritual significance. But in the spiritual realm they are binding and they change the situational realities of the two who have entered into covenant. For instance, the spiritual headship of the woman transfers from her father to her husband. And the husband becomes responsible for the woman (and any future children) in every single way – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Whether we like it or not.

So upon entering covenant relationship with each other, there needs to be blood shed to ratify the covenant made.Image result for picture of marriagevows

This is where virginity comes in to the picture.

When a man and woman are virgins and consummate their wedding vows on the wedding night, blood is shed. Scientists cannot explain the purpose of the hymen in the female anatomy. They suppose it must be left over from some evolutionary purpose. But God put the hymen there on purpose so that blood would be shed to seal the marriage covenant.

When both a man and a woman enter in to the covenant of marriage as virgins God has a special blessing for that marriage. That marriage is entered into according to His divine order and He is thereby free to bless abundantly.

For those whom may have entered the marriage covenant as non-virgins, do not fear or feel condemned. God will do a restoration work for you. Simply confess to Him and ask for His forgiveness. Ask Him to bring your marriage into divine order and to bless the fruit of your marriage. God is a good God, full of love, and desires to give and restore.

And this is the essence of our covenant-making, covenant-keeping God.

 

God bless!

Belinda 🙂

 

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The Shemitah

At this time there is a lot of discussion going on about “The Shemitah”. So what is it and why should we be interested in it?fact sh

Before I begin to answer these questions, I want to mention that the notes which follow will not attempt to cover this subject in great detail but will try to give a brief outline about it, so that readers will have a better idea of what it is. For anyone wanting to study it in greater depth, I would refer them to the many good publications available giving more detail about the Shemitah.

 

A Day of Rest

Without stating the obvious, everybody knows that the week consists of seven days – from Sunday, the first day of the week, through to Saturday the last day of the week. In the Book of Genesis we read that after six days, when God had finished His creation, He rested on the seventh day, blessed it and made it holy (Genesis chapter 2 verses 1 to 3).

When God rested on the seventh day following His creation, He thereby established the seventh day as a day of rest and holiness. But it was not until the Israelites had left Egypt in the Exodus that we learn where, for the first time, they were commanded to observe the Sabbath. There we read that the Sabbath was to be a day when the Israelites ceased any worldly activities, rested and devoted the day to the Lord; the Lord laying down severe penalties for anyone who did not observe it (Exodus 31:14 – 15).

For Jews, Saturday is the Sabbath, the day of rest, the day set aside to worship God. The word Sabbath is a Hebrew word meaning rest. Christianity has moved away from Saturday worship to Sunday worship. I am not going to go into any discussion here about which day is the right day to worship, especially as I believe that we as Christians should anyway be continually worshiping our God and not reserve that for only one day in the week.

 

A Year of Rest

So while we understand that every seventh day should be regarded as a Sabbath, what is not as well known is that every seventh year is a Sabbath year. (I use the present tense because it is a permanent requirement by the Lord even though it is not properly observed today.) In Leviticus chapter 25:1 – 4, we read where the Lord commanded the children of Israel that, when they came into the land He was to give them, the land itself was to observe a Sabbath to Him. They were to work the land for six years “But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord”.

Not only was the land to lie fallow, but the year was to be kept separate because, unlike any of the previous six years, no work was to be done: no sowing, planting or gathering was to take place. The lands, fields, vineyards and groves were to be left to the poor and anyone could eat from them (Exodus 23:10 – 11). In ancient times this could be easily done, but in this modern world it would be much more difficult to achieve and would be a somewhat radical undertaking. Yet the Lord commanded it and would undoubtedly prosper those who abide by it.

 

The Sabbath Year and Connection to God’s Judgment

In Leviticus chapter 26 the Lord tells the Israelites that He will bless them if they keep His commands: these include references to the land. However, as He did with His commands concerning the keeping of the Sabbath day, He also told them that He would punish them if they disobeyed Him regarding the rest the land was to receive, again laying down punishments they would get in the event of disobedience. In verses 33 to 35 of Leviticus 26, the Lord clearly told them what sort of punishment they could expect if they disobeyed His commands regarding the land. He said: “I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. Then the land will enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the Sabbaths you lived in it.”

Many years before they were taken into captivity in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah was given a word from the Lord warning the Israelites that because of their disobedience they would go into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. They were also told that when the seventy years were completed they would return: their punishment would be over because the land would have received the rest it had been denied previously (Jeremiah 25:11 – 12).

It is an interesting historical fact that the Israelites were in the land for 490 years: from the time they occupied the land until they were led away in captivity to Babylon. In that 490 year period there were seventy Sabbaths. We know that the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon for seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah in chapter 25:11 – 12, that being their punishment and also the time required for “the land to enjoy its Sabbath years all the time that it lay desolate and they were in the country of their enemies.”

 

source: idisciple.org

source: idisciple.org

The Lord’s Release – Shemitah

In addition to the requirement to observe Sabbath years, the Israelites were also required to cancel all debts on the last day of each Sabbath year. The Lord commanded that on the last day of the Sabbath year, all debts were to be cancelled. In English this is referred to as “the Lord’s release” (Deut. 15:1 – 2). It is from the Hebrew for “release” that we get the word “Shemitah”. In the Hebrew calendar the last day of a Sabbath year is Elul 29 which, by the Gregorian calendar, falls mainly during the month of September, although on a few occasions it occurs during the first few days of October.

Although the last day of the seventh year was called the Shemitah, in time the whole year was referred to as the Shemitah year. The Shemitah is a reminder that God is the source of all blessings; both spiritual and physical and when God is removed from life then removal of the blessings will also follow.

 

The Shemitah and Israel Now

Now that many Jews are back in most of the land, and are themselves in control of it, do they observe the Lord’s requirements for the Sabbath year and the Shemitah day? The answer is basically no, although there are examples of some who have done so and are known to have prospered from it. However, the majority do not but, with the help of rabbis, many amongst them who are convicted to try to keep the Shemitah year and day, resort to all sorts of manoeuvring to get around the biblical requirements. For instance, some schemes involve “selling” land to foreigners or special courts at the beginning of the Shemitah year, continuing to work the land, and “buying” it back at the end of the year. They have devised similar schemes regarding the release of debts on Elul 29! The idea behind these schemes is that the law applies to Jews and not to foreigners or special courts; the latter being regarded as acceptable because they are not individuals, so are not bound by the Lord’s decrees.

So in a roundabout way many in Israel today are keeping the requirements of the Sabbath year including the release of debts on its last day. However, religious Jews do not accept these practices and one can only wonder what God thinks about all the scheming going on regarding the land and the release of debts on Elul 29. In the example of the exile to Babylon, we have seen that the Israelites were severely judged and punished when they failed to observe Sabbath years.

 

The Shemitah and Other Nations

The big question facing us now is: “Does the Shemitah apply to nations other than Israel”?

I cannot find a direct biblical answer to this question although we do know that God does punish gentiles and nations, including Israel, for disobedience towards Him. However, as Jonathan Cahn suggests in his book The Mystery of The Shemitah, throughout history there have been many recorded events that have occurred at the time of the Shemitah, or shortly afterwards, negatively affecting nations; too many to be written off as mere coincidence. These events have taken the form of economic or other problems or the start of wars. The other question we need to consider is whether the Shemitah applies when the Jews are not back in the land and in control of it as was the case before 1948. Even here the answer appears to be yes, especially when we look at the example of developments against the Jews of Germany in 1938, a Shemitah year.

 

When is the Next Shemitah?

It is important to note at this point, that going back to ancient records, Jewish scholars have been able to accurately identify when the fact sh 2Shemitah years occur. Even as I write now we are coming to the end of the current Shemitah year. It ends on Elul 29th which this year is from sunset on 13th September, 2015, through to sunset on 14th September per the Gregorian calendar; about a month hence.

Before listing some of the “upheavals” that have fallen at the end, or about the end of Shemitah Years, it would be well to consider the timing of the Shemitah years. They begin on Tishri 1, or Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish civil year, and end on Elul 29. It is important to point out here that in the northern hemisphere the Shemitah year begins and ends at the time of the summer harvests. As pointed out earlier this is usually during September.

 

Notable Events Which Occurred At or Near the End of Recent Shemitah Years

1973. The “Yom Kippur War” – October 6th to 25th. Although the war began badly for Israel, it managed to win that war but it took a heavy toll on Israel and Israelis. More importantly, the longer term aftermath of this war resulted in enormously negative consequences for Israel itself and the world at large – the rise of Arab hegemony. I consider its negative after-effects to equal those of WW1 and WWII.

1987. The big “Black Monday” stock market crash on October 19th occurred only four weeks after the end of the Shemitah year on September 23rd. In this instance the fallout from the crash turned out to be surprisingly small although it took two years for global markets to recover.

2001. The stock market plunge on September 17th and the following global economic and political uncertainty was undoubtedly triggered by the Al Qaida attacks in America on 9th September, 2001. The stock market was immediately closed and reopened on September 17th, the last day of the Shemitah.

2008. The infamous GFC – Global Financial Crisis. The stock market crash happened on September 29th 2008 – Elul 29th!

2015. 13 – 14 September ? ? ? September 17th is the final Day for US Congress to vote concerning the “Iranian Deal” – the deal aimed at curbing Iranian nuclear expansion. It is a bad deal for Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, yet is being promoted otherwise by the US Administration and the key nations involved in the deal – the P5+1.

Everyone can hardly fail to realise that the world is in turmoil, economically, militarily, naturally and spiritually and is surely ripe for judgment. The news is full of it; a lot predicting very difficult days ahead.

Thus the final question we need to ask is: “Are we likely to experience any major negative developments in the world this September or within a short time after the end of the Shemitah year and after the day of the Shemitah on 17th September?”

All I can suggest is: “Don’t be surprised if major upheavals occur during the coming months”.

In closing, I would like to remind readers that, as Christians, we need to remember Jesus’ injunction:

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28)

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in our series “Bible Prophecy”.

 

Related Articles:

Blood Moons 2014/2015: A Wake Up Call

Bible Prophecy: We are close to Christ’s Return

Bible Prophecy: Warning to Nations

 


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Jesus and the Brazen Laver

bronze-laver-priestFollowing on from Jesus Christ and the Brazen Altar, we will now look at the Brazen Laver. As we have been discovering in this series, every item of furniture in the Tabernacle of Moses was a type or a shadow of the reality that is now available to us in Jesus Christ.

The Brazen Laver is a wonderful picture of two things:

  • the Word of God; and
  • sanctification, (or separation)

 

The Laver was Made From Bronze Mirrors

“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” Exodus 38:8

Mirrors in those days were made from highly polished bronze, not glass. Bronze is always a picture of judgment in the Tabernacle. And wow – what a picture it is. Imagine moving forward from the Brazen Altar, where the blood of an innocent animal has been shed for your sins, to the Brazen Laver where you now wash your feet and hands. As you do so, you are confronted with your reflection in both the water of the Laver and the bronze mirrors holding the water.

…. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:22-25 (emphasis mine).

 

The Word of God ExposesthVT2OSNBU

Once you are at the Laver you cannot escape the confrontation of your own reflection.

You are exposed.

This is exactly what the Word of God does. As we read, study and meditate on it we behold ourselves as in a mirror. We are exposed for who we truly are and we cannot hide from it because it is “alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12)

We see where we fall short of the standard of God’s Word and we are convicted and pierced by it “even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. (Hebrews 4:12)

This work of the Sword of the Spirit is so close, so intimate, even to the division of joints and marrow. The marrow is inside the bone-joint. How sharp is that Sword and how dextrously is it handled by the Spirit that it exposes those hidden, secrets places in our souls that contain even our innermost intents of the heart!

The priest in the Tabernacle would cut up the sacrifice for the offering with a sharp knife. This is God’s intention for us. That He would be able to work in us in order to conform us to the image of His Son through the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). He wants to expose and cut away all that is soulish and instead fill us with the life of the Spirit.

 

Justification Vs Sanctification

Once we have been to the Brazen Altar, a type of the cross of Jesus Christ, we are justified before God.

“We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10).

rickeyminor.orgWe are saved by blood and delivered from condemnation at the Altar.

Whilst the Brazen Altar is a picture of our justification, the Brazen Laver is a picture of our sanctification. This is the second aspect of salvation and it is to do with separation.

The penalty for sin is dealt with at the Altar, the cleansing from sin at the Laver.

 

The Word of God Cleanses

Just as “Aaron and his sons…wash(ed) their hands and their feet in water from (the Brazen Laver)” (Exodus 30:19), so too the Word of God cleanses us.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” Ephesians 5:26

As the priests came into the Tabernacle their feet would have been dusty. Their hands would have needed cleansing after their work. The Brazen Laver had two washing basins, one for the hands and one for the feet.

  • Hands speak to us of our service for God.
  • Feet of our walk with God.

Daily we need to be washed by the water of the Word of God. Even though we are saved, as we go about life in this sinful world we pick up dust and dirt along the way. In order to fellowship with the Lord and come into His presence we need to be separated unto Him daily by the cleansing of the Word. The Laver shows us that whilst sin has been dealt with once for all at the cross, we need to come daily confessing our sins so that we may be cleansed from any defilement of the world.

 

The Word of God Brings us to Maturity

The Laver also speaks to us of going on to maturity in Christ. At the Altar we have been born again, but at the Laver we grow as we look into the mirror of the Word of God. Those heart-motives and intentions that were exposed by the mirror of the Word are also cleansed away by the water of the Word.

We must remember that the priests regularly came to the Laver to wash. We are now “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) and we too must come regularly to the Word of God to be convicted, cleansed and sanctified.

The Word of God is integral to maintaining our life in Christ. The Brazen Laver could not be avoided in the Tabernacle on the way into the Holy Place.  The priests were required to stop there and take the time in order to be convicted, cleansed and set apart. So too must we take the time to spend with our wonderful Saviour in feeding on His Word.

God bless! 🙂

 


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Bible Prophecy: Significant and Dangerous Times for Israel

bloodmooninjerusalem

source: pray4zion

Blood Moons, Passover & Nisan

When God prepared to take the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, He decreed that the first Passover would take place on the eve of the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish religious calendar. Subsequently that first month was called Nisan. He further decreed that each year on the eve of 14th Nisan through to the eve of Nisan 15th, Passover would be celebrated as a festival to the Lord. The full story is found in Exodus chapter 12.

This year, 2015, Passover was celebrated beginning on the eve April 3rd through to the eve of April 4th.

We believe it is also important to point out that this year two blood red moons, total lunar eclipses, occur/ed. The first has already occurred on April 4th, Passover, and the other will occur on the 28th September, Feast of Tabernacles.  In Genesis chapter 1 we read that they, the two lights in the sky, serve as lights and also signs, but in Joel chapter 2 we read that the sun will turn dark and the moon to blood before the coming of the Day of the Lord. In Matthew 24 Jesus also refers to the moon failing to give its light at a time when the Son of Man appears again.

While we do not wish to place undue emphasis on the appearance of blood red moons over Israel, we would like to point out that when they have occurred in the past, significant events have occurred which had a great impact on Israel and the Jews.  According to ancient Jewish tradition, a lunar eclipse is a harbinger of bad things for Israel.  If that eclipse is blood red, tradition regards it as a sign that war is coming.  And blood red moons that happen during Biblical festivals seem to be particularly significant.

Another  date  of  significance  occurred  this  year.  That date  being  13th Nisan,  or  in  the Gregorian calendar, April 2nd 2015, the day before the eve of Passover commenced.

Nisan 13th, 474 B.C.

King Xerxes (One night with the King)

King Xerxes (One night with the King)

But first, before we look at the importance of this date as it relates to 2015, let us go back nearly 2500 years to Nisan 13th, 474 B.C. The book of Esther chapter 3 records that on that date King Xerxes of Persia, modern day Iran, issued orders, sealed personally by him, for all the Jews to be killed and annihilated on the 13th day of the last month of the year, called Adar; that was to be eleven months after the signing of the initial decree.

These orders had been engineered by Haman, one of the king’s nobles, who held a grudge against the Jew Mordecai  and his people.  Later we read that  through the intervention of Queen Esther, the

Haman (One Night with the King

Haman (One Night with the King

tables were turned on Haman and all those who planned to kill the Jews.  Not only was Haman hanged but the king issued a decree enabling the Jews to arm and defend themselves on the very day that the Jews were themselves to have been annihilated on Adar 13.

Nisan 13th, 2015 (2nd April, 2015)

Fast forward now from 13th Nisan 474 B.C. to the 13th Nisan, 2015 – or 2nd April, 2015, the day before Passover Eve.

What happened of significance on this day this year that is of concern for Israel?

source: news.com.au

source: news.com.au

On that day the P5+1, US, UK Russia, France China plus Germany, announced that a framework deal had been agreed upon between themselves and Iran (Persia) to enable Iran to continue with elements of its nuclear programme. Once the final agreement is signed, set for a future date, sanctions will be lifted. Of course Iranians were Jubilant, but many called for the destruction of Israel and Jews.

We know full well that Israeli leaders are very concerned about the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran and that the agreement so far does not appear to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the near future; something being played down, especially by president Obama. Furthermore president Obama has also played down the need for the agreement torouhani include a clause recognising Israel, as he seemed concerned that it would jeopardise any agreement. Surely that alone speaks volumes about Iran’s trustworthiness!

So in modern times, as in the times of Esther, there are those who are actively seeking to wipe Israel off the map even to the timing of such events lining up with the biblical past; Iran being in the forefront of that movement.

Conclusion

Can we draw any conclusion from these events?  Yes we believe we can.

Within the next few months Israel can expect to have to face some very difficult times, even a threat to her very

source: thomfiles.wordpress.com

source: thomfiles.wordpress.com

existence but in the near future can also expect an “Esther” to arise and turn the tables on those plotting to destroy her, even to retribution against them – the end date, as it was in 474/5 B.C. was 13 Adar, sometime in March 2016.

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in our series “Bible Prophecy”.


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Bible Prophecy: In the News?

As we sit in front of our televisions and observe the present conflict going on between Israel and

Source:wikipedia

Source:wikipedia

Hamas in Gaza, one cannot help but recall that Gaza is sometimes mentioned in God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Following are a few important scriptures concerning Gaza and we cautiously ask whether any of these scriptures have any relevance to this present conflict?

Firstly, we wish to point out that some of these scriptures prophesied events that were to take place shortly after those prophecies were given; when God was angry at the way the Philistines had treated His Covenant People. However, it is also worth pointing out that the Bible is often written with “multiple fulfillment” in mind; that is there may be numerous fulfillments of a particular prophecy until the final prophetic fulfillment occurs. The classic example is the appearance of the antichrist. A number of antichrists have already appeared, such as Antiochus Epiphanes, until the “final” antichrist appears. This is confirmed in 1 John 2:18 where we are told that many antichrists have already come. So is it possible that those prophecies of old have any relevance to the situation in Gaza today?

Whether they point to the present conflict or not, they are nevertheless important to consider in the light of this present conflict.

Jeremiah 47:5

Verse 1 of chapter 47 of Jeremiah tells us that the prophecy was written before Pharaoh attacked Gaza and in verse 5 it was fulfilled when Pharaoh attacked. Yet we have to ask the question whether it is not being fulfilled yet again at this point in time? It reads:

“ Gaza will shave her head in mourning; . . . “

Gaza is presently in a terrible state; much of it because its own foolish behaviour towards Israel.

Amos 1:6-7

6 This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom, 7I will send fire upon the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses. . . . . “”

It is thought that the “whole communities” referred to in that scripture were in south Judah. Yet, in many ways does this not describe what has been going on there now? Certainly through use of their tunnels, Hamas operatives planned to abduct Israelis and take them back to Gaza where they were to be held hostage and possibly even killed. Certainly Gaza has had reprisal heaped upon her.

 

Zephaniah 1:14 reads:

“The great day of the Lord is near- near and coming quickly.”

Verses 4 to 7 of chapter 2 are about judgment on Philistia, of which Gaza was a part. Here we specifically look at verse 4 of chapter 2 which reads:

Gaza will be abandoned . . . “

In these passages Zephaniah is exhorting all to repent, not only Gaza, before the destruction comes that will sweep over the earth in the day of God’s wrath.

Zechariah 9:5

Zechariah chapter 9 is a Judgment on Israel’s enemies. In verse 9 we read:

“. . . . ; Gaza will writhe in agony, . . . “

Surely we can say that at this time Gaza is in agony; presently as the Israelis try to destroy the bases from which rockets and other acts of war have been aimed at her. But there will come a time when God Himself does it – for His own name’s sake.

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.


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Bible Prophecy: Brother Against Brother

When we look at what has been going on in Syria since the beginning

Image courtesy of transconflict.com

Image courtesy of transconflict.com

of 2011 and when we look at what is going on in Iraq at present, we surely cannot help but be horrified by all the seemingly senseless killing going on: faction against faction, each wanting to be in absolute control. We know that religiously all the combatants essentially follow the same faith, although we know they have split into two main groups, Sunni and Shia, and mostly they also have the same ethnic heritage; the majority of Syrians referring to themselves as Arabs while Iraq’s dominant ethnic group are regarded as the Iraqi Arabs.

This is not about who is right or who is wrong in the conflicts taking place there at present, nor is it about the involvement of the US, Russia, Britain or Europe, whether directly or from behind the scenes, but it is an attempt to try to get some understanding of the root causes of the whole situation there.

As Christians we cannot help but be reminded of Ishmael and Esau from whom the Arabs are descended. At this point it will be meaningful to look at a few scriptures regarding these two “patriarch’s” of the Arab people.

Firstly, and importantly, we learn that through “the angel of the Lord” God granted a special blessing to Ishmael. Speaking to Hagar, who was then pregnant with Ishmael, “the angel of the Lord” said:

“I will so increase your descendents that they will be too numerous to count”. (Gen. 16:10.)

Later in Genesis 17:20, God reaffirms this promise to Ishmael.

hagar

However, in Genesis 16:12 the angel of the Lord also announced to Hagar that her son, Ishmael,

“will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers. (Gen 16:12.)

As for Esau, we learn that included in Isaac’s blessing to him, were the words that he was destined to “live by the sword”. (Gen 27:40.)

In both these scriptures, without being too simplistic, we seem to find a fitting and vivid description of the incessant feuding that goes on between the Arabs themselves, their neighbours and others: a situation that has been going on since those words were spoken by God and by Isaac and one which we surely are witnessing going on now in Syria and Iraq?

In time to come we will see this happen again; but on this occasion it will be a much larger conflict than any the world has witnessed to date. It will also be a conflict in which God Himself gets directly involved on Israel’s behalf. At that time God will intervene and through His intervention he will magnify His Name. As a result both Israel and the nations will know that He is the Lord; that it was He who defeated Israel’s enemies.

Here we refer to the war described by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 of his book, when he tells of a vast army led by Gog of Magog which comes against Israel: most commentators interpret this army as being a coalition of Arabic nations led by Russia.

God uses a number of supernatural events to all but wipe out this vast army. However, one interesting method God uses is found in Ezekiel 38:21 where He says: “I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign Lord. Every man’s sword will be against his brother.” Not only will God use a number of supernatural means to defeat the coalition led by Gog, but the coalition of Israel’s enemies will turn on itself!

It will surely be a repeat of what we are witnessing now and what has been foretold in God’s Word and, in view of what we see going on at present as well as noting who the parties are that are now involved, dare we ask whether we are even now seeing the build up to this terrible war?

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.

(Note: All quotes are from the NIV Bible.)


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Jesus I love You, But Not Your Word

This is what I said to Jesus.life

Many times I said it. Even though I had always read the Bible, even from a young child. I read it a lot. I memorized verses even. I believed it was truth, I believed it was the Word of God. And over and over God used His Word to teach me and to speak to me.

But I didn’t love it.

I certainly didn’t desire to read it or look forward to reading it. I did it because I knew it was the “right” thing to do.

Then one day I watched that old “Jesus” movie…. In it Jesus picks up the scroll of the Old Testament in the Temple preparing to read from it. But before he reads Isaiah 61 he kisses the scroll. That simple act convicted me.

I blurted to the Lord in almost desperation: “Jesus, I love You, but I don’t love Your Word. Not like that.”

I knew I loved Jesus. I loved Him with my whole heart and soul and mind and strength. I could see that “in the volume of the book it is written of Him”, I knew that Jesus is the Word made flesh. And it didn’t make sense to me. If He really is the Word made into human flesh, and if I really loved Him, how could I not love His Word as well?

Well of course there was nothing I could do about it. I couldn’t make myself love it nor desire it.

Actually, there was one thing I could do – and that was to be honest with Him about it.

So I was. I just kept telling the Lord what was in my heart.

“Lord I love You but I don’t love Your Word.”

Then gradually my prayers began to change : “Lord, give me a love for your Word. Make it real to me.”

It took some time, but one day I realized that I could honestly say that I now loved His Word.  And I still do. I LOVE it. I desire to read it. I can’t wait to find more treasures in it. I can’t wait to discover my Jesus concealed in the pages of the Old Testament and find His beauty and grace revealed in the New Testament. I love reading the apostles revelations and teachings in the epistles. I often cry as I read it now, I am so blessed with this wonderful, old Book. There is nothing like it.

So what’s the difference now? The Book certainly hasn’t changed.

No, the difference is that now the Holy Spirit is bringing life where before there was death.

This principle is true not only with reading the Word of God, but with everything in the Christian life – doctrine, preaching, church meetings, worship, fellowship, prayer, giving to the poor… it can all be dry and lifeless. It may all be cold, dead duty, ritual or tradition with no life in it if it’s done in the power of the flesh.

Without the Spirit of life breathing His life into something, anything, there is in fact, a ministration of death. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, so when He is in something – whether it is prayer, reading the Word, preaching- there is reality there. There is Life. It rings true to us, it ministers life to us and we are changed by it.

A long, eloquent prayer may bring death…. If there’s no anointing of the Spirit.

A sermon with all the right doctrine may minister death to the hearers…. If it’s not infused with the life of the Spirit.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not an added bonus or extra in the life of a believer – His ministry of Life is essential. As Watchman Nee said “We either minister life or death. There’s nothing in between.”

Let us pray for the reality of the life of the Holy Spirit in every part of our lives, worship and ministries.

God bless you!