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Apples of Gold—March/April 2017

In Articles by Israel My Glory1 Comment

The Lord said in 1 Kings 21:19, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?” People are still killing and trying to take Israel’s land. The Arabs constantly seek to destroy us and demand that we compensate them for war damages. This is the highest impudence against heaven! Since I speak Arabic, my Arab neighbors, who have known me for a long time, came over recently to complain about Israel. They said all of the land belongs to them and that peace will not come until Israel ceases to exist. So I opened my Bible and showed them what the Lord told Abraham: Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you (Gen. 13:14–15, 17). I then read to them what God said concerning Israel’s borders: “And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the [Euphrates] River” (Ex. 23:31). They listened intently.“You fled from us like terrified rabbits because you put …

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Creation Calling

In Articles by Israel My Glory0 Comments

The people of Israel bequeathed to the world the revelation of God through the Bible. In this revelation, the creation account in Genesis takes center stage and is recorded as a matter of protohistory. It was an accepted fact until, in modern times, archaeological discoveries revealed that similar accounts of creation were recorded by other ancient Near Eastern civilizations.1 The Sumerian account, the Enuma Elish (c. 1800–1600 BC), says a creator-god made the world and appointed lesser gods to rule it. Its opening lines reflect the wording of the first verse of Genesis: “In those days, in the days when the heaven and earth were [created].”2 The Babylonian account, the Epic of Atrahasis (c. 1700 BC), explains mankind’s creation as a response to a revolt by lower gods who were forced to do heavy labor for higher gods and claims humanity was created by the blood of a slaughtered god, mixed with clay and divine spit. These nonbiblical accounts have similarities to the biblical account. Both view creation as a divine act and teach that mankind was created from the ground and given the work of tending to the land as a representative of the Creator (Gen. 1:27–28). There are …

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Blessings Upon Blessings

In Articles by Israel My Glory0 Comments

Famous 20th-century preacher and theologian Harry Ironside long ago noted that the book of Isaiah evokes glad anticipation in the hearts of believers who cherish “the coming day when Immanuel, of whom this prophet speaks, will take His great power and reign.”1 Ironside was not speaking of the Messiah’s First Coming, though Isaiah prophesied of it notably in chapter 53. Rather, he was referring to a large portion of the book of Isaiah, written in the eighth-century BC, that points to what Christians believe is the future Second Coming of Jesus. Isaiah 60, in fact, is a critical chapter in the final section of the prophet’s vision of the end-times when the Messiah comes to set up His earthly Kingdom. To understand the context of Isaiah 60, we must begin with the end of the previous chapter: “The Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob” (59:20). The language is literal. Zion is the physical city of Jerusalem, and the word Jacob refers to the nation of Israel. The Redeemer-Messiah is literally coming to the  nation to establish His covenant with Israel (v. 21). The covenant involves the Holy Spirit coming upon the Jewish …

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Thy Kingdom Come

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The prayer actually was Jesus’ instructions to His disciples, teaching them how to pray. It begins, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:9–10, KJV). Unfortunately, most people have no idea what the Kingdom actually is. The Kingdom is the real and wonderful future God has planned for Earth when the Savior returns. No more political corruption, racial strife, poverty, sickness, crime, or any of the problems that plague humanity today. The Jewish prophet Isaiah unveiled a remarkable portrait of this future Kingdom. At its inception, a healing will take place that transforms the planet to the way it was before humanity rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden: “The former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isa. 65:17). After seven terrible years of tribulation that will wreak havoc on the landscape and destroy a vast amount of the world’s resources and population, the Lord will return physically to Earth. Those who repent and welcome Him will be redeemed and enter the Kingdom.The Kingdom is the real and wonderful future God has planned for Earth when the Savior returns. …

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Sweet Beulah Land

In Articles by Israel My Glory2 Comments

For centuries the Jewish people have waited for their Messiah to come and set up His Kingdom in Israel. At that time, Israel will receive the Land God promised them in perpetuity. That is when redeemed Israel will experience the fulfillment of all the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1–7) and become the center of worldwide worship and learning. Where in Scripture does God promise this wonderful existence for Israel? One place is in Isaiah 62, where Israel’s future glory is interwoven with the nation’s return from 70 years of captivity in Babylon in the sixth century BC. Like the preceding chapter, Isaiah 62 focuses on the restoration of Israel and the glory of Zion in the Millennial Kingdom. Verses 1–12 appeal to God to establish His Kingdom and to the Israelites to prepare for its arrival. PROMISED RESTORATION Verse 1 pulsates with emotion at the prediction of Israel’s restoration: “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.” Enthusiasm, excitement, and expectation reverberate at the good news that God will not “hold [His] peace” (keep …

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Isaiah’s Good News

In Articles by Israel My Glory1 Comment

You owe no taxes. You’ve fulfilled all your graduation requirements. Your biopsy was negative. Good news comes in all shapes and sizes, and when it arrives—particularly in the midst of trying times—it is usually like the soothing balm of Gilead. The words of Isaiah 61 may have affected the Israelites of the prophet Isaiah’s day the same way. After 39 chapters of condemnation and impending judgment, the remainder of the book of Isaiah presents good news, encouraging the Jewish people that their God will send them a Redeemer and exalt them, as He promised. A commentator has titled these chapters Redemption Promised: Israel’s Deliverance (40—48), Redemption Provided: Israel’s Deliverer (49—57), and Redemption Realized: Israel’s Glorious Future (58—66).1 In the middle of this final section, Israel receives the good news of its glorious future: the good news of personal release, national redemption, and divine righteousness. GOOD NEWS OF PERSONAL RELEASE Claiming the anointing of the Lord, the prophet2 (see “Identity Check,” page 25) announced good news for Israel’s people, who were poor, brokenhearted captives and prisoners: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent …

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The Man Whom God Knighted

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There is no other biblical personality that has been made more the butt of harsh and unfair criticism than that of the patriarch Jacob, one of the ancestors of the Jewish race. He is depicted as the cunning supplanter and schemer who takes advantage of his guileless and trusting brother, Esau, and robs him twice of his birthright and parental blessing. Jacob is also accused of having acquired sheep and cattle by dubious means in his dealing with Laban, his father-in-law. Having painted him as a black character, his accusers thereupon proceed to point out that the Jews should have all the deplorable characteristics and moral ineptitudes of their ancestor. For centuries Jacob has been a strong weapon in the hands of the anti-Semites against the Jews. It is true that Jacob, perhaps more than anybody else, personified his descendants the Jewish people. Yet after a close scrutiny of his biblical record, we reach the conclusion that the Jewish people have cause to look back with a sense of pride rather than shame upon their patriarchal prototype. It is to the eternal glory of the Bible and a strong proof of its reliability and trustworthiness that the characters described in …

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Apples of Gold—January/February 2017

In Articles by Israel My Glory3 Comments

Here in Israel, most people know the Hebrew song “Ani Ma’amin,” or “I Believe.” In English, the lyrics read, “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah. I believe.” Recently I visited an ultra-Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem, where people were singing this song with great joy. As soon as they noticed me and saw I was not wearing traditional clothing and did not have a beard, they began to ask me questions. They live by the adage, “Respect him and suspect him.” “Are you happy?” one of the men asked. “I am,” I answered, “because it is written, ‘Whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he’” (Prov. 16:20). “Do you believe in the coming of the Messiah?” another asked. “There is a small difference between us concerning that question,” I replied. “You believe the Messiah will come, but I believe He will return.” Then they really became suspicious and called for reinforcements. Soon their rabbi arrived. He began to drill me with questions: “From which dirty book have you read this crazy news that the Messiah will return? Who has brainwashed you? We have never heard such idiocy.” His reaction was not new to me. “There is …

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Tapestry of Grace

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“Why did so many people in the Bible do such bad things? Was it okay that God’s people had multiple wives?” a newly saved young mom asked me. I told her the Bible portrays humanity’s sinfulness honestly, but its record of such behavior does not indicate God’s approval of it. Hebrews 11, the so-called Hall of Faith, praises Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph as role models for trusting God. Yet, though men of faith, they were also sinners who displayed such moral failures as polygamy, dishonesty, and dysfunction in family life. That’s why the real hero on every page of Scripture is God—not man. The story of Jacob and Joseph shows how a gracious, loving God brings glory to Himself through imperfect people who are rich in faith. GOD’S CHASTENING Jacob loved Joseph more than his other children because he was the child of his old age and the firstborn son of his beloved wife Rachel. When Rachel died, Jacob lavished Joseph with favor, giving him the famous “tunic of many colors” (Gen. 37:3). Consequently, Joseph’s brothers hated him. Their hatred grew even worse when Joseph told them about his dreams, which implied they would someday bow down to him …

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Jacob’s Goodbye

In Articles by Israel My Glory1 Comment

People often approach their so-called golden years with an unrealistic view of the future. They envision themselves healthy and enjoying carefree living and financial security. Often, however, the opposite is true. And they are unprepared for the changes and limitations they soon will face. Jacob’s life was somewhat different. He faced trouble earlier but experienced many blessings with his family in the latter years of his life. JACOB’S PLIGHT Jacob’s early life was filled with scandal, intrigue, danger, suspense, family division, difficulty, and heartache—including the supposed death of his favorite son, Joseph, at the tender age of 17. But at 130 years old, Jacob was reunited with Joseph, who had become the most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh. So at Joseph’s request and with God’s blessing, Jacob gathered all his possessions and family of 70 people and made the final pilgrimage of his life, leaving Canaan to live in Egypt. He took a great step of faith, trusting in God’s promise to forge his family into a great nation there (Gen. 46:2–4). Although Jacob and his sons were shepherds (a profession the Egyptians despised), Pharaoh nevertheless gave them the fertile delta region of Goshen. It was excellent land …