Jerusalem figures prominently in both biblical history and biblical prophecy, and it is currently the focus of much controversy and political wrangling. As of December 6, 2017, the United States has recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, acknowledging the facts of history but rankling the Muslim world. All politics aside, the declaration that Jerusalem is the legitimate capital of Israel is biblically and historically accurate.
King David first chose Jerusalem as Israel’s capital 1,000 years before Christ. The city was destroyed in AD 70, but, after World War II, on May 14, 1948, Israel once again became an independent state. The U.S. quickly recognized Israel’s restored status as a national homeland for the Jewish people. Then on December 5, 1949, Israel declared Jerusalem to be its capital again. Unfortunately, other nations have been slow in facing the reality of Israel’s independence and its right to choose its own capital.
In 1995, the United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which required the U.S. embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, for twenty-two years, implementation of that law was delayed on the grounds of “national security.” Now, finally, the U.S. has officially recognized the obvious—Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This recognition accords with thousands of years of history and the wishes of Israel itself.
Of course, some are opposed to recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular (and Muslim terrorist organizations) are offended by the thought of Jerusalem being made the legitimate capital of Israel. This is due in large part to the place the Temple Mount holds as the third holiest Islamic site. According to the Qur’an (Surah 17:1), Muhammad made a miraculous night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem in AD 621. There he led worship at “the farthest mosque,” was lifted to heaven, and returned to earth to carry on his teachings. The Dome of the Rock, built in AD 692, marks the place where Muhammad supposedly ascended to heaven. Today the Temple Mount is under the control of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust established in 1187 to manage the Islamic structures in Jerusalem. Under their current rules, access to the holy sites is prohibited to all non-Muslims.
It is important to realize a couple things: first, the Israeli government recognizes the rights of Muslims to worship on the Temple Mount, and it works to protect them there. Second, the Qur’an upholds the rights of the Jews to the Promised Land, which includes Jerusalem: “And thereafter Allah said to the children of Israel, ‘Dwell securely in the Promised Land’” (Sura 17:104; see also Sura 2:122; Sura 45:17; and Sura 57:26).
Normally, every country designates its own capital, and then nations with diplomatic relations with that country build an embassy in that city. For instance, when Brazil moved its capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia in 1961, all the foreign embassies moved as well. The only country in the world whose capital has not been honored this way is Israel. All of Israel’s government buildings, as well as the residences of the President and Prime Minister, are there. Yet not a single foreign embassy is in Jerusalem. We believe that Israel should be afforded the same right as every other country to choose its own capital.
The rebirth of Israel in 1948 was a vital step in the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. The dry bones began coming back together (Ezekiel 37). The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s true and historic capital is another giant step. The stage is being set for the rest of prophetic scriptures to be fulfilled. We may not know all the implications of current events on the prophetic timeline, but one thing we can say for sure is that Jerusalem is a special city. It is the only city in the world where God has put His Name: “In Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever” (2 Kings 21:7).
Awesome reminder of God’s ever-present love.
“Let us study with care and admire with heartiness the grace and compassion of God. There is not a day of our lives that does not demand of us some pious notice of the divine kindness, in sparing, and pardoning, and restoring, and preserving us when we have deserved to be utterly destroyed.’
It is delightful to contemplate the amplitude of the provisions God has made for supplying all the wants of those that fear him. Thus in nature what floods of light, what billions of tons of atmospheric air, what immeasurable reservoirs of water are found for our refreshment and support. Who ever fears that all the water will be drunk up, or the air be poisoned by respiration, or the light quenched by the darkness of earth? God’s resources are illimitable.” –William S. Plumer “Psalms” p. 981
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked: Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke10:40
Let us observe what a snare to our souls the cares of this world may be–if allowed to take up too much attention. It is plain from the tone of the passage before us, that Martha allowed her anxiety to provide a suitable entertainment for the Lord, to carry her away. Her excessive zeal for temporal provisions–made her forget, for a time, the things of her soul.
She brought down on herself a solemn rebuke, and had to learn a lesson which probably made a lasting impression. Alas! how great a matter is kindled by a little fire! The beginning of all this, was a little over-anxiety about the innocent household affairs of this world!
The fault of Martha should be a perpetual warning to all Christians. If we desire to grow in grace, and to enjoy soul-prosperity–then we must beware of the cares of this world. Unless we watch and pray, they will insensibly eat up our spirituality, and bring leanness on our souls.
It is not open sin, or flagrant breaches of God’s commandments alone, which lead men to eternal ruin. It is far more frequently an excessive attention to things which are in themselves lawful. It seems so right to provide for our own! It seems so proper to attend to the duties of our station! It is just here that our danger lies! Our families, our business, our daily callings, our household affairs, our interaction with society–all, all may become snares to our hearts, and may draw us away from God.We may go down to the pit of Hell from the very midst of lawful things!
Let us take heed to ourselves in this matter. Let us watch our habits of mind jealously, lest we fall into sin unawares. If we love life–then we must hold the things of this world with a very loose hand, and beware of allowing anything to have the first place in our hearts, excepting God. Let us mentally write “Poison!” on all temporal good things. Used in moderation they are blessings, for which we ought to be thankful. But permitted to fill our minds, and trample upon holy things–they become an inevitable curse. Profits and pleasures are dearly purchased–if in order to obtain them we thrust aside eternity from our thoughts, abridge our Bible-reading, become careless hearers of the Gospel, and shorten our prayers.
A little earth upon the fire within us–will soon make that fire burn low.
Do we realize what price was paid for our sins, rebellion, anarchy and foolish pride? It cost God His only Son. You who have children, would you sacrifice your only son or daughter for Clifford Olson? How about Charles Manson? Exactly! We can’t comprehend the idea of sacrificing our precious children for anyone let alone an enemy of society. But this is exactly what God did for us, He gave His Son up for us and our depravity, sin and pride.
The question we always want to ask is “Why? I didn’t ask Him to do it? I don’t need His sacrifice to give me happiness, anyway. I can find my own way…” Really? When someone says this to me, or I hear someone saying this on the radio where they have been lifted up as an “intellectual”, I have to laugh to myself. FOOLS! Have you not the faintest idea of how mortal you truly are?
You are a speck who relies on the arbitrary will of God just to wake up in the morning!
God is in control of everything, seen and unseen. That which the enemy perpetrates on man has to get the permission of God to follow through.
“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”
Even the roll of the dice at a craps table in Las Vegas is in God’s control and He decides the outcome. That’s the God I serve, how about you? Do you think that the ugliness of the world and all that happens to man catches God off guard? The book has been written, the end is known and everything in the middle just takes time to play out. Your sin and rebellion was known to God before the foundations of the universe were laid. He knew you would fling your fist in His face and curse His name and go your own way. He allowed it! He might have even ordained it. How’s that for hitting between the eyes? You’re not this high and mighty man-god who has all this power to change your reality and to speak things into existence, you are a piece on a chess board, controlled and allowed to move according to a pre-ordained plan. You and I and the rest of the universe are on proverbial leashes and we might as well accept it and carry on with doing what makes our journey glorifying to God.
This message is for Christians and non-Christians alike. We are all in the same boat here. We have all bucked against the rider and we have all strained against God’s hand, much like a child does when he wants to run off down an aisle that his daddy doesn’t want him going down. He strains and tries to separates his daddy’s fingers, but to no avail. We can come willingly or forcefully, our choice, and that’s our only choice. We can be rebellious or obedient but either way we are fulfilling God’s plans come hell or high water.
Please understand, God had all of this planned out right from the get go. When He rebuked the “snake” for his rebellion and lies He told the enemy that His head would be crushed by the seed of the woman. This referred to Jesus coming out of this promised seed. And truly Jesus crushed Satan’s head when he bowed his face down to the earth in submission and obedience to a triumphant Christ. If only we could have seen that moment when Jesus took away the keys of death, hell and the grave from the enemy. What a sight that would have been!
Jesus went to the earth to suffer and die for you and me because if He didn’t, we would eventually all be consumed by the wrath of an incensed God Who had had enough of man’s sin. Just like man of today who constantly curses God to His face and strives to make life hard for Him, he will too be judged and thrown into an ever-stoked and ever- ready hell. Don’t think for a moment that your sin hasn’t escaped God’s notice. He’s watching, taking names and waiting…ever waiting.
Jesus bridged a gap between us and God. An impassable gap that we could never traverse on our own merits. Man tries but ultimately fails. The gap is Christ-shaped, not man-shaped and only Christ could fill the gap between us and God. He had to die in order to save man from himself and God. He gave us the antidote to our sin-sickness. He gave us a way out of our depravity and selfishness. He made the way to our Father’s loving arms.
Who killed Jesus? Who put Him on the cross? Who drove the nails into His hands and feet? Who pounded the crown of thorns into His precious head? Was it the Jews? Was it Satan? Was it the political powers at large? Yes and no. Those were the players in the story. Characters who were choreographed and positioned perfectly to play their roles in this drama of life, death and life again.
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
God was pleased to crucify His own Son to satisfy His own need and demands for justice and righteousness. God needed a sacrifice to atone for our sins and His Son stood up and took the fall for us. He dove on the grenade and took the brunt of His Father’s anger and wrath and drank the cup until there was none left.
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.
Yes, Christmas is about friends, family, presents, food…etc. But regardless of the pagan roots, and regardless of how many Christians refuse to celebrate this day, this family remembers Christ Jesus, Who came to this earth, humbled and emptied out. Who lived a sinless, holy life and died on that horrid cross.
Does it not make sense to look for ways to give Him the glory He so richly deserves? If we can find that which is redeemable and focus on that, are we not honoring God? My children know that Santa doesn’t exist. They know that we don’t worship the Christmas tree, but it stands as a symbol of the tree that God hung Jesus on, the glorious and perfect ornament that made the cross beautiful.
One more thing…I have had people, Christians, stand up and say, “I refuse to celebrate Christmas because of its pagan roots”.
Okay then, if you are to be dogmatic about Christmas, then be dogmatic through to its logical end. The days of the week are named after false gods. The months of the year are as well. Many vehicles are named after gods and religious symbols, and I’m sure that if we did the research, we would find that almost everything in our day and age has its foundations in paganism. You see…? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Focus on the glorifying and ignore that which has no merit to it. Turn your head away from the commercialism and focus on giving, serving and looking for opportunities to tell others about Jesus Christ, the best gift of all.
Great reminder even for the saints.
Hypocrisy! – Charles Spurgeon Audio Sermons
Luke 12:1 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be[a] on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
Of all the doctrines of the Bible, none is so offensive to human nature as . . .
“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.
And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian.”
All the people in the synagogue were filled with rage when they heard this! They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him down the cliff!” Luke 4:25-29
We learn from these verses–how bitterly human nature dislikes the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. We see this in the conduct of the Jews of Nazareth–when our Lord reminded them that God was under no obligation to work miracles among them.
Were there not many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah? No doubt there were.
Yet to none of them was the prophet sent. All were passed over in favor of a GENTILE widow at Zarephath.
Were there not many lepers in Israel in the days of Elisha? No doubt there were.
Yet to none of them was the privilege of healing granted. Naaman the SYRIAN was the only one who was cleansed.
Such doctrine as this was intolerable to the Jews of Nazareth. It wounded their pride and self-conceit. It taught them that God was no man’s debtor, and that if they themselves were passed over in the distribution of His mercies–they had no right to find fault. They could not bear His teaching. They were “filled with rage!” They thrust our Lord out of their city–and had it not been for an exercise of miraculous power on His part, they would doubtless have put Him to a violent death by hurling Him off the cliff!
Of all the doctrines of the Bible, none is so offensive to human nature as the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. Man can bear to be told that God is great, and just, and holy, and pure. But to be told that “He has mercy on whom He will have mercy”–that He “gives no account of His matters,” that it is “not of him who wills, nor of him who runs–but of God who shows mercy”–these are truths which natural man cannot stand. They often call forth all his enmity against God, and fill him with wrath. Nothing, in short, will make him submit to them–but the humbling teaching of the Holy Spirit.
Let us settle it in our minds that, whether we like it or not–the sovereignty of God is a doctrine clearly revealed in the Bible, and a fact clearly to be seen in the world. Upon no other principle can we ever explain why some members of a family are converted–and others live and die in sin; why some quarters of the earth are enlightened by Christianity–and others remain buried in heathenism. One account alone can be given of all this. All is ordered by the sovereign hand of God!
Let us pray for humility in respect of this deep teaching. Let us never doubt that at the last day the whole world shall be convinced, that He who now “gives no account of His matters” has done all things well!