Monthly Archives: August 2011

Will Today’s Israel Survive As A Nation?

In September, 70 A.D., General Titus and his Roman army finally defeated the Jewish zealots after a long siege of Jerusalem. The last few hundred Jews stood on the roof of the Temple, pleading to God for help. They were quickly overcome by Roman swords and thrown off the roof to the ground below. Later, their bodies were tossed onto piles and burned.

The magnificent city and its Temple were destroyed, not one stone left upon another. Only a small section of wall still remains today and is known as the Wailing Wall.

Josephus, the historian, estimated that 1.1 million people – mainly Jews – were killed in the siege. Another 95,000 Jews were captured and forced to be Roman slaves.

Where was the Lord God of Israel during all of this slaughter? Didn’t He care?

Forty years earlier, thousands of Jews stood along the road and watched Jesus as He headed for Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday. All wondered if He would declare His kingship over Israel during the upcoming feast of Passover. He paused on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem and the Temple, and He prophesied:

If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now, they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation. (Luke 19:42-44)

Jesus proclaimed on that day what would eventually happen to Jerusalem in 70 A. D.

Then, in 66 AD or 67 AD, depending on which sources you read, a Christian gave a prophetic word to the Jerusalem church. In the prophecy, believers were reminded of Jesus’ above prophecy and were warned anew about the upcoming devastation of Jerusalem. All believers were advised to move out of the city.

Over the following two years, one third of Jerusalem (approximately forty thousand people) fled the city for safety in far off cities. Surely, the Christians would have related the prophecies of Jesus and the other believer to their Jewish neighbors and friends. If nothing else, the empty homes and not seeing the believers in the Temple’s courts should have been continuous reminders that something was wrong.

Yet, the remaining Jews in Jerusalem and the pilgrims who came for Passover in 70 A.D. ignored the warnings and were then slaughtered by the Romans.

And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)

Are the times of the Gentiles fulfilled for us believers of today?

This is an important question, especially since the Fig Tree Parable Theory, which has been taught by almost every reputable Christian teacher and preacher, is not working out well. The so-called prophetic time period has come and gone.

Twenty-seven years after Jesus spoke about the times of the Gentiles in Luke, Paul wrote:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery – so that you will not be wise in your estimation – that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I will take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25-27)

According to the Apostle Paul, the times of the Gentiles can not be fulfilled yet because all of Israel is not being saved right now. The Jewish branches are not yet being grafted back into the olive tree (the church).

So, will today’s Israel survive as a nation?

I have great doubts that Israel will continue to survive as the nation it is right now. If Israel is not totally removed from the world scene, it may at best survive as a discarded remnant. But this in no way presupposes that I do not agree with all of the prophecies for Israel in the Old Testament and the New Testament because I do. If God said it, I believe Him. It’s just that I sadly believe the times for the prophecies to be fulfilled for Israel’s greatness have not yet arrived and may be many years off in the future from now.

Undoubtedly, if I’m correct, there will soon be tremendous hardships for the Israeli people. As Jesus prophesied in Luke 21:24 – “…they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations.” 

Many Jewish people may die and many may be forced to flee to other nations.

But I can offer this one sign of hope to the Jews who are living in Israel right now:

This time when you see the Christians packing up and leaving Jerusalem and Israel, it’s time for you to flee, too. Don’t linger.

(Art Katz: the late Jewish prophet and teacher has a great website filled with awesome teachings here.)

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San Francisco: God Loves You, But… (Part 6)

If callings were chosen by popular elections, Saul of Tarsus would have garnered the same number of votes as King Herod or Caiaphas for the calling of apostle: zero. After all, Saul hunted believers down, murdered them, tossed them into prisons and tried to force them to blaspheme. He was the main reason Jerusalem Christians opted to go on long missionary trips.

In addition, historians described Saul as a skinny, 4’6″ lightweight who was not much of a speaker. These traits would have also hindered Saul’s popularity because the Grecian style of leadership with its polished oratorical skills and a strong physical presence were admired by the Gentiles.

Yet Jesus said, “Saul is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel…”

The Lord’s reasoning behind His choice: “…for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

So what did God see in Saul’s heart?

He saw Paul the apostle to whom God could reveal His mystery of Christ, that the Gentiles and the Jews would be joined together in the Bride of Christ, His church. He also saw a man who would willingly suffer afflictions for Christ and His body.

Today, there are some who want to downgrade Paul and his teachings and just go with the red letter words of Jesus in the four Gospels. They don’t like Paul’s teachings on sexual immorality and other subjects. But if this were actually followed, where would the guidelines and revelations of the Church come from?

Furthermore, if Paul had not appeared on the scene, Peter and James would have most likely caved into the Jewish influence on the early church. And today our churches would be little more than a revamped Temple 2.0 System, complete with circumcision, priesthood and sacrifices.

Thank God for the Apostle Paul, right?

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9: 37-38 Amplified Translation)

Likewise, the Lord has looked down on San Francisco, especially the Castro District, and has seen men and women who have hearts much like Saul of Tarsus. He’s not concerned that these people are now actively engaged in lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender life styles because He remembers Saul the murderer. He knows how the life changing power of His heavenly light and just one divine  experience will cause each to ask, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then, He will answer each one, “…I am Jesus …”

The Lord doesn’t want to lose any of these callings as each has been specifically chosen to be a leader in His Church for the dark days lying ahead in America. So important are these callings that the Lord has assigned teams of fully prepared  fishermen and hunters who will search through the alleys, streets and haunts of San Francisco for these prized callings.

The teams of fishermen and hunters will suffer bloodshed, pain and jail cells. Who will persecute these teams? The chosen Sauls. Yet, the chosen Sauls will have the gospel preached to them by how the fishermen and hunters handle the persecution: with humility and love.

In the end, the chosen Sauls will come out of San Francisco as Pauls who will help lead the Church into victory after victory. What Jesus said about the woman who wiped His feet with her tears and hair will be true of these chosen Pauls:

For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:47)

CONCLUSION

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San Francisco: God Loves You, But… (Part 5)

In early 1994, one of my closest high school friends died after a long battle with cancer. His death really bugged me because I had prayed and fasted over a long period of time for him.

Was I mad at the Lord about my friend’s death? Yes.

Doesn’t scripture state that “all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you?” I prayed for my friend to live, but he died. How could I ever really trust that particular verse again?

On the three hour trip back to the small Illinois town of my youth, I poured my heart out to the Lord. Although I felt comforted, I had no answers. As I walked up to the church, some high school friends delayed me. We chatted about old times for a few minutes.

This delay caused my parents to walk on without me. When I finally stepped into the sanctuary, there was quite a line ahead of me. Standing there, I asked, “Lord, did my friend make it into heaven?”

Now, this is not a question I recommend believers should ever ask the Lord because what if you don’t like His answer, then what? Yet, I was so upset about my friend’s death, I asked anyway. You see, not only was I asking for his healing, but I was also asking the Lord to save him.

The procession slowly crept toward the closed casket sitting at the front of the church. Just as I arrived at the casket, the Lord spoke to my heart, “He’s not in this casket. He’s in heaven with Me.”

I could have danced and shouted for joy. It was one of my happiest moments ever.

Then, I turned the corner and faced my friend’s wife and family. They were standing on the left side of the altar, receiving funeral attendees. As I inched toward them I began crying, not a few tears but buckets of them. I wailed and was almost out of control. People turned to look, but I could not stop.

My friend’s wife, his two children and his parents comforted me, instead of the other way around. I was such a mess. Finally, I sat down next to my parents in the middle of the church. Somehow, my crying ceased.

What was that all about? I thought.

Piano music announced the beginning of the service. As the pianist played, the Lord spoke to my heart. “Your friend was called to be a prophet and he didn’t make it into his calling. The misery you felt was just a fraction of what I feel when a person doesn’t make it into his calling.”

The Lord’s words caused me to break down and weep. My parents, on the left side of me, and my sister, on the other side, tried to comfort me, but what could they do? My heart was shattered by the grief of the Lord.

Eventually, the misery passed.

After some songs and family testimonies, the pastor began the eulogy. I listened to her, but once again, the Lord spoke to me.

“My church is mostly a bunch of losers. They pray for the sick, but when the person dies anyway, they aren’t upset or mad. They just think they did their duty and at least made an effort, and that’s good enough for them,” said the Lord to my heart.

My jaw dropped, wondering what was coming next.

“Major League players all want to win, but after a while, players on losing teams don’t mind losing. After all, they still receive their large paychecks. So, it’s no big deal to them. But players on winning teams hate to lose, absolutely hate it. They will do anything to win and whatever sacrifice is needed, they willingly do it for victories.

“I want My church to hate losing,” He said.

His words, “I want My church to hate losing,” exploded within me. Its echoes bounced off every corridor and passageway of my mind. Once again, I wept.

This happened seventeen years ago and it still resonates within me.

What does this experience have to do with San Francisco?

(Continued in Part 6)

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