Proof texting is a method by which a person appeals to a Biblical text to prove or justify their theological position or belief without regard for the context of the passage they are citing. While proof texting is often used in the theological realm, today we are seeing it surface in just about every area of life.

When we study the Bible there are many forms of “criticism” that must be used. For instance there is Text Criticism that aims to determine the process by which a Hebrew text has been transmitted and comes to exist in its various forms. It also tries to establish the original wording of the text and consequently what is the best form for the modern reader.

Another form of criticism is Historical Criticism which is concerned with the context of the passage or writing. Some questions asked would be: what specific historical situation is described, what was the cultural situation or event that is being dealt with, and why was the passage written in the first place.

Then there is Grammatical and Literary Criticism. These focus on the composition, structure, and mood of the text. Also what themes are in the text, what is the style of the text, and are there breaks in the continuity of thought of the passage or text. Is an acrostic feature being used? Or a chiasm used for parallels or comparisons?

Another form of criticism is Form Criticism which is concerned with not only form but also genre and the “Sitz im Leben” (situation in life) of the unit or passage. So, is it oracle; and if so, what form does it take? What genre are we dealing with: a psalm of lament or thanksgiving, a hymn, a narrative, an apocalypse? What is the situation in life: was it composed, used, read in the home, around the campfire, at the royal court, at the city gate, on the steps of the Temple? Asking all of these questions can help us more fully understand what is being said.

How is tradition involved? Tradition Criticism looks at how the story “grew” over long periods of time. How has the author adapted the tradition; has he or she added to or subtracted from the tradition.

Finally, there is Redaction Criticism that looks at the final form and author of a passage or manuscript. What changes have been made? Has something been added to the text? Is there a final interpretation that is different from the original author?

Anyone who wants to study the Bible has to be aware of these techniques in order to fully understand the Bible’s message and meaning. Yet so few take the time to be critical in their thinking (not only regarding the Bible but other writings and philosophies on life as well) or to study and delve into meaning. Yet, that is our responsibility, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, we live in a world of “snippets” today: Twitter, Face Book, the News, headlines. In fact, we don’t even know who the authors are most times. Pseudonyms are hidden behind to mask the fear of “being found out.”  Take a short snippet, put it on your Face Book page or Twitter time line to prove your point all the while knowing your “followers” won’t read the source; but rather, will applaud you for your insight. And why not, that is exactly what the media does. News stories in thirty seconds because the public doesn’t seem to want any more. Reporters who put forth their opinion as fact are the norm today. This is proof texting and it is in all areas of life.

But where does the responsibility lie? Even though we don’t like to admit it, it lies with us. We need to demand more of ourselves and others; but we don’t. Knocking, seeking, asking are no longer to be desired. Just give me a short sermon (no more than fifteen minutes) entertain me with song, tell me I’m good so that I can feel good about myself, and send me home till the next week. Repeat. And please whatever you do, don’t ask me to think or reason, I just want to relax and “do my thing.”

Today the common expression is “I get my news on the internet.” I needn’t tell you how dangerous that is do I? Read an analysis? I haven’t the time. I am busy cramming myself with food, drink, drugs, and meaningless activities. I have no time to just “be” and think and read. Just tell me what to think. Our schools are like this—“teach” the kids to pass the test. Tell them the questions, and then tell them the answers!

I saw a short “snippet” today used to disparage an author and his beliefs. The quote used was taken completely out of context; yet the person writing it didn’t seem to care. In fact the “quote” was really a re-quote, cut, pasted, and photoshopped. So who really knows what the original author said and in what context it was being said. Yet none of this seems to matter today. I found it very disturbing and indicative of our society. It is a sad commentary and unfortunately the dumbing of our society continues. Sadder still is that our leadership (in the Church, government, wherever) exploits this. They seem to know we are ignorant and apathetic, and use it to their advantage; not only taking our money but our minds as well. As a society, we must return to critical thinking if we are to survive. If not, we will be led to slaughter and it will be our own doing.


Amos From Tekoa, Who Dat?

imgres There were fat cows, the best of the breeds, grazing on fertile land in the Northern Transjordan region during the time of Amos, the prophet. At this time the Israelites went to worship at Bethel, which means House of God. The problem? It wasn’t God’s house; God was in Zion or Jerusalem! At Bethel the higher echelon of the Northern Kingdom would burn incense and present their sacrifices at the altar. By the way, this is where Jeroboam, the first king of the North, set up golden calves. He felt he had to do such so that his people wouldn’t defect to Jerusalem, or the South. Sounds like our churches today who are afraid their offerings will fall off if “their” people visit another church. Pastors have been known to say: “better not go there, they teach lies, they are false prophets, they don’t preach the Word” and on and on. So Jeroboam commissioned his own priests and instituted his own feasts. He told his people they could worship where they pleased and how they pleased, as long as they stayed in the North. In Gilgal Jeroboam’s people presented their thank offerings with leaven (a symbol of sin in the Scripture) and even worshiped other gods. If it were today, they would be singing Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way!”

At this time Israel was prosperous (the Dow was over 15000) and politically secure, a time of successful military ventures. It was the golden era. Jeroboam II came to power and the entire kingdom believed that God was pleased with them; after all, they were prosperous. In the midst of this, the prophet Amos appeared on the scene and the Word of Lord came forth. Amos spoke about 2800 long years ago, but his prophecy reads like today’s newspaper.

God’s people during this time were intensely and sincerely religious. But theirs was a privatized religion that ignored the poor, the widow, the alien and the orphan, and that degraded faith to culturally acceptable ritual (you decided if that speaks of the church today). Worst of all, Israel’s religious leaders sanctioned the political and economic status quo; they pimped their religion for Jeroboam’s (Obama’s) empire.

Enter Amos. He preached from the lunatic, pessimistic, and unpatriotic fringe. He was blue collar rather than blue blooded. He claimed he was neither a prophet nor even the son of a prophet in the professional sense of the term. He was a shepherd, a farmer, and a tender of fig trees, a small town boy who grew up in Tekoa, about 12 miles southeast of Jerusalem and 5 miles south of Bethlehem. The cultured elites of his day despised Amos as a redneck. Furthermore, he was an unwelcomed outsider (not from inside the Beltway). He was born in the southern Kingdom of Judah, yet God called him to thunder a prophetic word to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the name Ted Cruz comes to mind).

Amos’ fiery rhetoric opposed the powers of his day. With graphic details that make you wince, he describes how the rich crushed the poor, how sexual debauchery was prevalent, how the legal system was corrupt, how justice was sold to highest bidder, and how predatory leaders exploited the vulnerable. Worst of all, Amos told how the religious leaders aided and abetted all of this. To the priests who defended, legitimized, and justified Jeroboam’s political power, Amos delivered an uncompromising word of warning (Amos7:7-17).

In the midst of prosperity; Amos, out of step with his time, predicted failure, war, and devastation. And the most startling of all, Amos said it was God who would bring this upon the people. Amos’ words spoke of moral failure in every level of society: the law, the leadership, the economic life, and even worship (church life) Amos saw luxurious living for the rich, exploitation of the poor, loose moral standards, corruption in public life and religious life. He saw a religious life based on ritual rather than piety.

For Amos, there was no “Mishpat” (justice) and no “Tzedakah” (righteousness or right standing with God). In the Hebrew, Tzedakah is an attitude which is needed to produce Mishpat. One needs right standing with God in order to be just. Because one is righteous, justice is done. Tzedakah is a condition of the heart. It is a relationship with God that allows justice to flow through you. Has anything changed today? Just asking!

Amos spoke about injustice in the courts, no justice for the poor or weak. There was debt slavery (human trafficking). The upper class was exploiting the lower classes. There were burdensome interest rates on loans or no loans at all. People were being cheated at every turn. Furthermore, sexual morality and respect for others had completely broken down. Yet the leaders, the rich, were confident God as with them! The religious ceremonies were conducted with euphoric almost drug-like singing, dancing, etc. The priests, the prophets, and judges were intimately associated with all of this.

For Amos, Israel were God’s chosen people, a covenant people; and should be held to a higher standard than other nations. What about us in America? We hold ourselves out to be a nation chosen by God and morally superior don’t we? When justice (mishpat) is ignored, society suffers according to Amos. In fact, it dies.

One last thought. As long as the church (God’s called out people) looks like the rest of the world, what do you suppose God thinks of our worship?

I hate, I reject your festivals,

Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.

Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,

I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of you fatlings

Take away from Me the noise of your songs;

I will not even even listen to the sound of your harps.   Amos 5:21-23

It is not the worship that is wrong; it is rather, the condition of the heart.

Lastly, Amos’ words were preserved because he addressed them to the people as a whole; not just to a leader. God’s covenant is with all the people individually and equally. All must bear the task of keeping that covenant. No longer will God punish only the king or leader for the nation’s evil, but He will hold the people as a whole responsible. God have mercy on us and on America!


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While reading tweets I came across this one:

“If you don’t have Jesus on your Cross in your Church, Do U have the true Presence of Jesus in Communion, in the teachings? Or: Empty Cross?”

So of course I immediately replied:

He is Risen, no longer on the cross. So communion w/0 Jesus on Cross in church is communion w/ the risen Lord. Not meant to offend!

As you can see, I did not want to offend my Catholic Twitter friend. I continued to meditate and mull over what was being said by each of us. The following contains some of my thoughts on the subject.

Of course Jesus died on the cross for me, taking away my sins; dying in my place (and yours). Without this sacrifice, His shed blood, I would not be forgiven and would remain in a state of sin expecting to meet the devil upon my demise. But that is not the case, thank God. Jesus did do that remarkable work on the Cross; but His work did not end there. If it did, I and many others would be worshipping a dead person. How foolish would that be? (A topic for another time)

The fact is that after defeating the devil and releasing the captives by taking the keys of death and Hades, Jesus rose from the dead. The Scripture states that my life is hidden in Christ life (Col 3:3). You see I died with Christ and I also rose with Him. His resurrection gives me the ability to lead a victorious life while I am still here on earth. That’s how I became a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

As a new person in Him, I have power over the enemy (the devil) and power to conquer the trials and tribulations of life. Furthermore, I get to serve a risen, alive God. See Heb 7:25 and Eph 1:20. While I remember what Christ did for me on the Cross, I commune with my Risen Savior. I can’t leave Him on that Cross. I think so many Christians miss the joy of Christianity because they fail to see the victory of His Ascension on a daily basis. Jesus is making intercession for me (and you) right now to Father God. He is alive. When I commune with Him and pray, I am speaking to someone who is no longer on that Cross but who is alive and wants to have fellowship with me. How glorious is that? You just can’t fail knowing that, can you?

The Apostle Paul tells us that we are MORE than conquerors through Christ (Rom 8:37). So if God be for us, who can be against us (Rom 8:31)?

While it is good to remember Christ did die for us, it is also and always important to remember that He is alive in us, not some far off place in the sweet by and by. The same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead dwells in me (and you if you are His [Rom 8:11]) fellowships or communes with me and empowers me to live a victorious life in Him. It doesn’t get any better than that. So when I commune with Christ as His child, acknowledging that He went to the cross for me but at the same time realizing where He is now, I commune with that cross being empty!

And just as another thought: both Catholic, Protestant and Messianic can learn from one another and come to the unity of the faith thereby presenting a glorious picture of God to an empty, dying world! We have a long way to go, don’t we?


The Counting of the Omer

rUmV1947808[1]From the second night of Passover until the day before the Jewish holiday of Shavu’ot (Feast of First Fruits or Pentecost–May 15, 2013), the Jewish people engage in a time of “Counting the Omer.” A period of seven weeks or forty-nine days is counted, as commanded in Leviticus 23:15 and Deuteronomy 16:9.          The omer was a measure of barley (approximately 2 quarts) that the Jews brought as the afternoon offering on the second day of Passover.  All of these numbers have significant meaning. Seven is, of course, completion. Thus, seven times seven is the superlative way of saying “completion.” Fifty is the number used for the year of Jubilee, when servitude and debt were forgiven. The giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai happened on the fiftieth day from the second night of Passover, according to the rabbis.

At the end of the evening prayer on each of these forty-nine nights, a Jew recites a blessing and then verbalizes the number of that day. At the end of the counting a special grain offering was brought to the Temple. This offering was waved in different directions, to demonstrate God’s all-encompassing presence.

What is the significance of this counting for us today, you might ask? Foremost, this counting expresses one’s eager anticipation of receiving the Torah or Law on the fiftieth day after experiencing the liberation of Passover. The word for Egypt in Hebrew (mitzrayim) means limitations and boundaries. It represents all forms of conformity and definition that restrain, inhibit or hamper our free movement and expression. Therefore, leaving Egypt means freedom from constraints. After leaving Egypt, the Jewish people spent the next forty-nine days preparing themselves spiritually for the most monumental experience of all time: the giving of the Torah (Law) to Moses and the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. God did not just drop the Torah on the people. There was a journey and the forty-nine day period of the counting of the omer is that journey.

Hence, this forty-nine day period is meant to refine and spiritually prepare ourselves for the event, not unlike the Lenten period which is meant to prepare us for union with the Risen Lord. It is during this period that we strive to grow and mature in our spiritual state. The Torah, as well as other Scripture, does not allow us to become satisfied with our current level of spirituality. Instead, it tells us to set high goals for ourselves and then methodically strive to reach each goal. It is a forty-nine day spiritual journey from Exodus to Sinai. It is a fixed time, emphasized by the actual, out loud counting of each day, to become fit receptacles for God. There are specific attributes to be contemplated each week: lovingkindness, justice, compassion, fortitude, humility, bonding, and sovereignty. Further, each one of these is to be contemplated in light of the other for each day of the week.

After we have accomplished all we can do on our own, through our own initiative and contemplation, then we are worthy to receive a gift from above (God’s grace). We receive the ability to commune with the Devine. We made the journey into God’s all-encompassing presence. Hallelujah!

 “And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering-the day after the Sabbath-you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete; you must count until the day after the seventh week-fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord.” Lev.23:15-16

IS THERE AN EIGHTH DAY FOR SUKKOT (The Feast of Tabernacles)?

imagesFirst came the blast of the Shofar or trumpet to assemble the people and to announce the coming of their atonement. Then the Day of Atonement came. At that point the people became cleansed of their sin and were able to fellowship with God. For God, it didn’t matter where the people were; in the city or in the field for harvest. He would meet them wherever they were. Therefore, during harvest, the Jews built booths (Sukkot) in their fields in order to fellowship with the Lord there. This was a time of great rejoicing, celebration, and fellowship.  It was to last seven days. Now, that’s a party! By the way, the number seven represents completion. Sukkot therefore is a complete time of fellowship and rejoicing with the Lord.

But then, what does the Lord do? In Numbers 29:35 the Lord tells us that on the eighth day of gathering, we are not to work again but to hold back or tarry with the Lord. We are to have a solemn gathering (atzeret). This day is called Shemini Atzeret, the eighth day of gathering (October 8, 2012). Eight is the number of “dedication” in Hebrew (more of that in my Hanukkah teaching). Could it be that since we have heard the Shofar, since God provided the atonement, and since we have celebrated joyously for a week, that we are now to dedicate ourselves to the Lord?

Could it be that God so jealously desires the fellowship of His people that He doesn’t want to let us go? In Zechariah 8:2 the Lord says “I am exceedingly jealous for Zion. . .” Does He so jealously desires our fellowship that He is unwilling to let us go and begs us to stay with Him yet another day? The answer is a resounding “yes.” His people (in the Old Testament) will not gather again for six months (Passover). Hence, he pleads “stay longer, be with me, let us worship together.” God will miss the gathering of His people, the music, the festivities, the unity.

Shemini Atzeret is a separate holiday. The symbols and rituals of Sukkot are not observed. A prayer for rain is recited because the rainy season is coming. There is candle lighting and a prayer over the wine (Kiddush) is said. In Israel, this eighth day is combined with a non-biblical holiday, Simchat Torah (rejoicing over the Torah). In the Diaspora, Simchat Torah becomes the ninth day of celebration. Nine, in Hebrew, is three (perfection) times three (perfection). Another subject for another time, but could it be that God wants to perfect us until we become like Him? You know that answer!

For the Jewish people, perfection comes in the Torah. Although it is a non-biblical holiday, Simchat Torah marks the completion of the cycle of the Torah readings in the synagogue. The rejoicing over the Torah makes a statement. Whatever the law denies, whatever suffering God’s people have undergone for upholding His law, the covenant as written in the Torah, affirms and enriches life. On this eighth or ninth day, the Torah is taken out of the Ark, and delight in His law is observed with great rejoicing, dancing, and singing. It is customary on this day for the Jewish people to go outside and dance around the Torah announcing their solidarity with world Jewry and declare “Am Yisrael Chai,” the people Israel lives, and to declare “Od Aveeynu Chai,” our Heavenly Father lives.

One further note of reflection, Shemini Atzeret is the eighth day—that is the day after seven. Seven being a perfect number in Judaism, signifies a complete unit of time. Thus, the eighth day is the day after time. It is not just the promise of redemption but the actual moment of it. God said, “Remain with me (atzeret) an extra day,” a time beyond time. Shemini Atzeret is a taste of the Messianic Age, a time when we are one with God. This all climaxes with Simchat Torah. Instead of circling around the Torah scrolls (as is done on Sukkot), the Jewish people circle with the Torah scrolls. We take the connecting link between us and God (His Word), our marriage contract, and circle around with the One who fulfills everything. What greater joy is there than to know we are one with God.


imagesSunday, September 16, 2012, at sun down begins the Jewish year of 5773. Does this year have any prophetic significance? Do the numbers really mean anything? Well, the prophets of “doom and gloom” are certainly out there saying “yes.” Let’s take a look at the Hebrew letters and numbers 73 or “ayin gimmel.”

Ayin (ע) is the symbol of sight and insight. It also represents the number 70. It is the letter or number of perception for its name “ayin” means eye. Ayin is related to the Hebrew word that means spring of water (as in Gen 16:7). Just as a spring brings water from the dark depths to the light of the sun, so the eye brings the perception of the world into the human mind. Through the narrow eye the entire universe is brought into focus. There are approximately 248 organs in the human body, and their movements are directed by the eyes!

The eye is the window of the brain, since it is through the sense of sight that man perceives external impressions that he then internalizes, enabling him to understand them more thoroughly.

Just as man is considered a miniature world, corresponding to the universe, so is the eye of man regarded as a microcosm of the universe. In Jewish tradition, the eye is the world: the white represents the ocean, and the iris the land; the pupil is Jerusalem; and the image in the innermost center is the Temple. According to Jewish sages when an observer looks into someone else’s eye, he sees his spiritual self. If he makes himself worthy, his reflection may be described as that of a living Holy Temple. For the Jew, the Divine dwells within the person himself not just in a Temple.

Man’s outlook and perspective, represented by the ayin, is considered the barometer of his character. Just as the person is guided by his eyes, so also is a nation guided by its leaders. If the leaders are proper and correct, then that generation is regarded in that light.

As a caution, it should be noted that men can be misled by their tempted eye (like Adam and Eve) and can turn their vision toward uses for which their Creator had not intended them. By doing so, they turn their bodies (and nation) into instruments of shame and sin. The safeguard is to make the eye a vehicle through which we can remind ourselves of God and His commandments and thus, overcome that temptation. That’s why the Scripture in Deuteronomy 6:8 commands God’s people to always set the Scripture before them, as a reminder of what our eyes should see.

Jewish teaching states that God has 70 names, gave the Torah, which has 70 names, to Israel, which has 70 names and which originated from 70 people who went down to Egypt with Jacob and was chosen from among 70 nations, to celebrate 70 holy days in the year (52 Sabbaths and 18 feasts). The Torah was transmitted to 70 elders and safeguarded by the Sanhedrin of 70 sages, who were called the eyes of the community. There are 70 facets to Torah which was translated into 70 languages to make it understandable to 70 nations, and was engraved on 70 stones after Israel crossed the Jordan on their way to the Holy Land. In the Holy City of Jerusalem, which had 70 names, they built the Temple, which had 70 pillars.

After the Flood, 70 nations descended from Noah; 70 languages emerged at the building of the Tower of Babel; the Jewish nation began with the 70 people who came with Jacob to Egypt; and in Eternity or the world to come, 70 prime nations will recognize God as the One and only God and ruler of the world!

As you can see the decade of the 70’s has much significance. This is year 73, so that our eyes must be directed to the number 3. Three is the number of Divinity. It is also the number of kindness and culmination. Gimmel (ג) is the name of the number 3. It has the same origin as the word “gamol” which means to nourish until completely ripe. These words represent the performance of kind deeds as well. The word also means “camel.” The camel received this name because it can go for a long time without drinking; and thus, is equipped to endure tremendous stress, which enables it to survive the perils of the desert. Thus, the camel for man is a performer of kindness!

The letter gimmel and the number 3 represent God’s eternal beneficence. Without God’s loving kindness (chessed in Hebrew), the entire world could not exist, even for a moment. Day in and day out He gives us his loving kindness and grace. He gives us the spirit of life, wisdom and strength, the use of our limbs, sensation, speech, and sight. Psalm 25:10 tells us that all the paths of God are kindness and truth.

The number 3 is an anchor number. It is said to unite two opposing factors into a perfect entity. For instance, when kindness and justice are united, we find truth. In man, there are 3 parts: spirit, soul, body and father, mother, God. The number 3 is a unifying number.

Here is an interesting illustration of Hebrew gematria (the Jewish system of assigning numbers to letters and words). The 27 letters of the Hebrew alphabet can be divided into sets of 3. When they are set in triplets the gematria of the middle letter of each triplet is the average of the other two. In any of these triplets, if we add al 3 letters and divide the total by 3, we get the value of the middle letter. Proverbs 22:20 says: Have I not written for you threefold things of counsel and knowledge?

For the Jewish people, using the eye to see what God has done and will do and to see the presence of God in all things is the essence of the year 5773. The convergence of all this for the Jew is explained in their prayer: “Blessed is the All-Mericiful who gave His three-part Torah (Pentateuch, Prophets, Writings) to his three-part nation (Preists, Levites, Israelites), through the third-born Moses (Miriam and Aaron came first) on the third day in which the people sanctified themselves in the third month of the year.”

Let us use our eye to see God clearly this 5773.


images“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” 1Samuel 12:22

God promised Abraham and Jacob that their descendants would be like the sand on the seashore. The waves on the shore have been stirred up, they have roared and have tossed the sand to and fro. Nevertheless, the sand is there. God’s word is being worked out. The rage of man and demons has unleashed countless onslaughts against the Jewish people in many different areas and at many different times; but like the sand on the shore, they are here.

It is so important to understand that the Jews did not choose to be God’s people. It was God who chose them. It cannot be a wrong choice because the Creator of the universe is the One who made that choice. No matter how contrary circumstances may seem, God will not forsake His choice, His people. It is not because the Jews deserve His faithfulness, but rather it is for God’s own name’s sake. It is God who is faithful whether we are or not. God’s name is committed to Israel, the Jewish people; His honor is at stake.

In the New Testament, Jesus Himself gave us the same assurance: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). At times we may not be in any way conscious of His presence, but by His Holy Spirit, He is with us. No matter where we go, God is present by His Spirit; invisible, often imperceptible, yet inescapable. For the unbeliever this may be a terrifying thought; but for the believer, it is a comforting, strengthening assurance.

Several thousand years ago, Jeremiah proclaimed: “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare in the coastlands afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock’” (Jeremiah 31:10). This scripture has been and is continually being fulfilled today. God is gathering the Jewish people into the nation of Israel and will keep Israel as a shepherd would do.

These are days when absolutely no one knows, in the natural, what will happen tomorrow in Israel. A war could break out at any time without warning. But in the midst of it all, God’s protection of Israel is guaranteed, no matter the political pressures. We have His word on it and God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19).

In Psalm 147:1-2 we read: “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” This scripture is being fulfilled as you read this. It is taking place in Israel today, as the descendants of Nazi victims rebuild the land to which God has called them. This is good news not only for the Jews but also for the church as well. God is bringing His people, Jew and Gentile, into their inheritance, healing wounds and binding up broken hearts.

It is important for us all to acknowledge the truth of what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well: “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). Without the Jews, we would have no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles, no Bible, and most importantly, no Savior! The Bible makes it clear the God requires the Christians of all other nations to acknowledge their debt to the Jews and to do what they can to repay it. In Romans 11:30-31, Paul summed up what he had been saying about the debt and the responsibility of the Gentile Christians toward Israel.

For just as you (Gentiles) once were disobedient to Got, but now have been shown mercy because of their (Israel’s) disobedience, so these (Israelites) also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you (Gentiles) they (Israel) also may now be shown mercy.

In other words, because of the mercy that has come to the Gentile Christians through Israel, God requires the Gentiles in turn to show mercy to Israel. How can this be done? First, the church can cultivate and express an attitude of sincere love for the Jewish People. The church can seek the good of Israel through prayer as Romans 10:1 exhorts. Finally, the church can seek to repay their debt to Israel by performing practical act of kindness and mercy.

The Lord says that the regathering of Israel in our day is a banner raised by Him for the nations to see. Events in Israel and Middle East today are at the center of world attention and media coverage. This period of Israel’s regathering at the end of the age was marked out clearly on God’s prophetic calendar 3000 years ago.

Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion; for it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come. Surely Thy servants find pleasure in her stones, and feel pity for her dust. So the nations will fear the name of the Lord and all the kings of the earth Thy glory. For the Lord as built up Zion; He has appeared in His glory…This will be written for the generation to come; that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.  (Psalm 102: 13-16, 18)

Now is God’s appointed time to have mercy on Zion and to show favor to her. This is not something that Zion or the Jewish people have earned, but something that comes from God’s sovereign grace and mercy. The main purpose here is to bring glory to God’s name in the sight of all the nations by fulfilling His promises to Israel. We have the privilege of living in the time that the psalmist foresaw. It is the church’s duty to bring praise to God by showing mercy and love to Zion, the Jewish people.

It is of tremendous importance that we grasp the fact that when God makes a covenant, He will never break it. We need to know that. “My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of my lips” (Psalm 89:34). The essence of divine revelation is centered in covenant. If God were to break His covenant, we would have no hope. If He were to break His covenant with Israel, why would anyone think that He would not break His covenant with the church? You may say, “Well, Israel failed God.” No doubt. But can you honestly say that the church has not also failed God? Frankly, in my own eyes, I see Israel receiving a covenant and failing dismally. However, I also see the church receiving a covenant and failing even worse than Israel.

The Bible is true, relevant, and up-to-date. God keeps His covenant and promises. He is sovereign. In restoring the Israelites to their land, God has set the stage for the last act of the drama of this age. Every prophecy that relates to the close of this age is predicated on one important factor—the presence of Israel as a sovereign nation within its own borders.

All of this requires a response from God’s church, His believing people. We are not permitted to remain neutral, apathetic, or indifferent. God demands a response. God commanded us through the prophet Jeremiah: “For thus says the Lord, sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chiefs of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel.’ Behold I am bringing the from the north country and I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and she who is in labor with child together; a great company, they shall return here” (Jeremiah 31:7-8).

God is asking us to intercede for Israel. He is saying, “I am restoring My people. I am regathering them, and I am asking you to unite with Me and My purposes.” When God intends to do something, He tells us we need to pray it into existence. It’s one of those mysteries of God. In other words He says, “This is My intention but it will not happen until you pray.” The church has a tremendous responsibility to be totally committed to the outworking of God’s purposes in history. Are you part of that church upon which God is relying?