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O Little Town of Bethlehem

In Articles by Israel My Glory1 Comment

The prophet Micah wrote during extremely difficult days in the history of the Jewish nation. Crime was rampant, greed was everywhere, Judah’s leaders were cruel, and righteousness was nowhere to be found. So God was preparing judgment. Yet despite everything, He inspired Micah to encourage the nation: Someone special was coming, and He will change the world. Micah 5 begins with a prediction of Jerusalem being besieged by invaders from Babylon1 but quickly moves into one of the most important, well-known Messianic prophecies in Scripture, giving hope and assurance of better things: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth; and this One shall be peace (Mic. 5:2, 4–5). The Jewish people were being oppressed, robbed, and defrauded by their leaders. But someday God will give them a righteous …

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Hear! O Israel

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THE BOOK OF MICAH is one of the 12 Minor Prophets in the Bible—minor not because of content but because of size. The Minor Prophets cover similar themes as the other Prophets, but they also emphasize social justice and true worship. The books are shorter than the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings); the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel); and the works of Moses, who was also a prophet (see Deuteronomy 34:10 and Luke 24:27). Moses’ books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) are labeled Torah (Law). Micah is also one of the nine pre-exilic Minor Prophets, meaning it was written before the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 BC and the Babylonian Captivity. The remaining three are post-exilic, written after some of the Jewish people returned from Babylon. The prophet Micah came from Moresheth (Possession) in the rolling foothills of the Promised Land, about 23 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near ancient Philistia. The area was also called Moresheth-Gath (Possession of Gath), not to be confused with Mareshah, a few miles away. Moresheth is also 17.5 miles west of Tekoa, the hometown of the prophet Amos, whose ministry 50 years earlier …

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Apples of Gold—July/August 2016

In Articles by Israel My Glory2 Comments

Recently I was waiting for the bus to Jerusalem when two young men asked me for directions to a synagogue. I gladly told them the way. One replied, “We want to pray, but we have already been to that synagogue, and it is locked up tight.” I asked, “If every synagogue were locked, would you not pray?” They looked at me strangely. Then one asked, “How can you pray without a minyan?” A minyan is the quorum of 10 men required to conduct a Jewish worship service. I replied, “God is not looking to see if you pray in a synagogue. He looks at your heart. If you pray to Him from your heart, your prayer will be heard in heaven.”God is not looking to see if you pray in a synagogue. He looks at your heart. If you pray to Him from your heart, your prayer will be heard in heaven. The young man asked, “How can you pray without a tallit and without tefillin?” A tallit is a prayer shawl, and tefillin are phylacteries. I replied, “Those things are not important. The Lord wants our hearts. When we give God our hearts, we give Him our very lives” …

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Israel Leads The Way To Driverless Cars

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INArnold Schwarzenegger’s 1990 sci-fi classic Total Recall, the protagonist gets into a heated argument with a self-driving cab, driven by an artificial intelligence-challenged automaton. The film takes place in 2084 on Mars. But fully autonomous cars will be a reality right here on Earth by 2021. That, anyway, is Mobileye CEO Ziv Aviram’s vision of the not-too-distant future. Aviram founded Mobileye in 1999 with professor Amnon Shashua of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Their company is best known for inventing a technology to alert drivers to obstacles. Using that proprietary obstacle-sensing sensor system to gather millions of miles of driving data, Mobileye is working with many of the world’s biggest auto manufacturers to pave the way for self-driving cars and trucks. “Autonomous cars are not a dream anymore. It’s not a matter of if. It’s matter of when,” he said. The first of three phases, he said, was the advent of semi-autonomous driving, which is already available in some cars today, including Tesla’s Model S. Drivers can push an “auto- pilot” button when they’re on the highway, and the car will remain in its lane and avoid other vehicles. But the driver must still remain attentive, and the technology is …

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The Divine Separation

In Articles by Israel My Glory1 Comment

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” So said Sir John Dalberg-Acton in the 19th century, and nothing happening in the world to date has contradicted him. In fact, when you examine the Mosaic Law, his statement seems almost biblical. The Mosaic Law strictly separates the three most important offices: prophet, priest, and king. Prophets could be kings, as David was. Priests could be prophets, as Samuel was. But kings could not be priests, and priests could not be kings. The kings were never to interfere with the spiritual ministry of the priests, and under no circumstances was the king to be united with the priesthood. To control a nation spiritually and politically vests too much power in a single human being who, by his very nature, is a sinner and therefore susceptible to corruption. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Nebuchadnezzar exemplified someone who had absolute power. He ruled the entire known world in the days of the prophet Daniel. In interpreting a dream for him, Daniel told him, “You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory. . . . You are this head …

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What Went Wrong

In Articles by Israel My Glory1 Comment

Contrary to what some people think, the concept of priesthood did not originate with Israel. In the patriarchal period, the male head of each household functioned as a mediating priest on behalf of his family. Job (Job 1:5), Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all erected altars and sacrificed animals to God. The Aaronic priesthood was established when God commanded Moses to take his brother, Aaron, and Aaron’s sons from the tribe of Levi and designate them as priests (28:1). Aaron, the high priest, was consecrated in an elaborate ceremony. His body was washed with water; blood atonement was offered on the altar for his sins; holy anointing oil was poured over him; and beautiful, official garments were draped on his body for service. In the decades to follow, the priesthood was passed down through Aaron’s family. The word priest (Hebrew, kohayn) means “one who officiates.” Priests were not self-appointed but divinely called by God, deriving their authority directly from Him. They interceded for the Israelites by offering gifts and sacrifices for their own sins and those of Israel (Heb. 5:1–4). Priests could have no physical defects and were rejected for service if they failed to meet the qualifications …

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The Greatest Prophet

In Articles by Israel My Glory3 Comments

Prophet, Priest, and King. That is how Jesus’ ministry roles are often portrayed. The Gospels emphasize His role as King of the Jews, though He has yet to occupy that position. The book of Hebrews emphasizes His role as High Priest, both in His sacrificial death and current ministry. Yet, while on Earth, Jesus was primarily a Prophet. So what does that title imply? Every day people wonder, What will tomorrow bring? Who will be elected president? What will happen in the Middle East? Predictions are surely part of biblical prophecy. However, the whole picture is much more comprehensive. DEFINING PROPHET The clearest picture of God’s definition of prophet is found in Exodus: “So the LORD said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land’” (7:1–2). “A prophet,” wrote scholar Walter Kaiser, “. . . is one who receives a word from God, just as Moses acted in the place of God in passing on the divine revelations he received from the Lord to …

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Recycling History

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Israel’s wise King Solomon, with years of world-watching behind him, concluded, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). History is a process of recycling, yet people never seem to learn much from the past; and trashing the “old” ways in a quest to be different doesn’t often deliver what is promised. ROOT AND BRANCH At the root of the most catastrophic failures in the recycling process is the rejection of God and rebellion against His divine standards of faith and practice. Scripture warns and history confirms the dire consequences. Today, signs that we are moving in that same fatal direction are too numerous to ignore. Greg Smith, with the Pew Research Center, told The Washington Post, “What we’re seeing now is that the share of people who say religion is important to them is declining.” Furthermore, “The religiously unaffiliated are not just growing, but as they grow, they are becoming more secular.”1 At the root of the most catastrophic failures in the recycling process is the rejection of God and rebellion against His divine standards of faith and practice.Smith’s observation …

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Apples of Gold—May/June 2016

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Once every two months, I take my wife to the hospital for an eye checkup following a cornea transplant. The last time we were there, two Russian-Orthodox priests sat next to us. We began conversing, and our discussion quickly turned to the matter of faith. Like the many ultra-Orthodox Jews I have spoken to over the years, they were very sure of themselves and showed me their commentaries, which they were positive contained the root of faith. They trusted in the words of men, rather than in the living Word of God. I showed them my small Bible and asked, “Which book is of greater value?” One of the priests answered, “We do not want to see anything in Hebrew because we do not speak that language.” I know Russian, so I replied, “If you like, I will give you a complete translation of any passage in this book.” Then I asked, “Have you ever heard about the Bible?” “Oh yes,” he said. “Do you have a copy with you?” To their surprise, I told them the little book I held in my hand was the Holy Bible. When we began to speak about Jesus, the priests were sure they …

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God’s Way

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“FOR MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NOR ARE YOUR WAYS MY WAYS,’ SAYS THE LORD” (ISA. 55:8). HERE ARE SOME ENCOURAGING STORIES ABOUT HOW GOD IS WORKING DESPITE PERSECUTION. Youcef Nadarkhani, 38, is an Iranian-Christian pastor. He spent three years in prison and was sentenced to death by hanging on charges of apostatizing from Islam and evangelizing Muslims. Although released in September 2012, he was rearrested and released on January 7, 2013. His wife, Fatemah, was arrested in 2010 for apostasy and sentenced to life in prison but was released after serving four months. They live under constant threat of arrest and worse. The Islamic State (ISIS) is crucifying and beheading Christians and, according to the express.co.uk, is sending “teams of trained killers” disguised as refugees into refugee camps to “kidnap and kill vulnerable Christians” and murder them “in their beds.”1 Why does God allow such persecution? Clearly, He is able to protect. He protected the prophet Daniel’s friends—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego—from being burned alive by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 3). Yet, God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8). His plans and ways are inscrutable.God’s ways are not our ways. His plans and ways are inscrutable.Consider China. The …