Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Will There Be Peace in Israel?

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has ancient roots. Will there ever be peace? Following is an excerpt from “Israel: What You Need to Know” by David M. Virkler:

The heart of the conflict basically boils down to two opposing ideas. For the Israelis, the issue is their right to exist as a nation. For the Palestinians, it is the desire to see Israel cease to exist as a nation.

The trouble goes back much farther than the current conflict or previous uprisings and even farther than 1948. The present situation is fulfillment of an astounding prophecy tucked away in Genesis 16. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, panicked and thought God’s promise of a child needed her human help. She gave Hagar, her Egyptian maid, to Abraham as a wife, and Ishmael was born. Hagar’s pride over her child-bearing resulted in friction between the two women, and Hagar and Ishmael were sent away into the wilderness. There, God sustained them and gave a promise of relative greatness for Ishmael and his progeny. There would be a problem, however. “He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Genesis 16:12)

The descendents of Isaac and Ishmael—today’s Jews and Arabs—would live together, but they would not get along. This conflict may be mitigated from time to time, but it will not be eliminated until the millennial reign of Christ when Israel, Egypt and Assyria will join in worship of God (Isaiah 19:24).

Eventually, there will be peace in Israel, but it will be false peace. Antichrist will convince the Jews to accept his leadership. He will confirm a previously-made covenant likely among Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and, yes, the Palestinians (Daniel 9:24-27). Antichrist will break this pact after three and a half years, and then, literally, all hell will break loose (Revelation 6:8).

Following the seven-year Great Tribulation, Christ will return to earth. His feet will touch the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount (Zechariah 14:2-4). He will rule in Jerusalem after the world’s armies are destroyed there, and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). Only then will there be a true peace in Israel.

God told Abraham, “I will bless those who you, And I will curse those who curse you.” (Gen. 12:3) Israel has a unique place in the plan of God, and many evangelical organizations in the United States have this concept as a basic plank in their denominational outlook. We in America have likely been blessed because of our country’s position as Israel’s ally. Pray for wisdom for our government’s leaders that they not abandon that view and our blessing be lost.

The events in the Middle East clearly indicate that the stage is being set for the rapture of the Church (I Thessalonians 4:16 & 17) and subsequent seven-year Tribulation. We must be ready to meet the Lord at any moment, and we must be diligently about the business of winning lost souls for Christ.

Psalm 122 enjoins us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Verses 6-8 say, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”

Real peace in Israel will come only through her Messiah—our Savior, Jesus Christ. Rejecting the Messiah meant a missed peace for the people of Israel. Until our prayer for the peace of Jerusalem is fully answered in the Millennial rule of Christ, personal peace is available to any individual by receiving Him as Savior. Trusting Christ gives us the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). When people respond to Christ inwardly, they can promote peace outwardly. “For He Himself is our peace, who…has broken down the middle wall of separation…that He might reconcile…both to God in one body through the cross….” (Eph. 2:14, 16)

If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, do so today! In a world where peace is often temporary, elusive or even impossible, you can have lasting personal peace with God and the peace of God.

Click here to read the entire article “Israel: What You Need to Know” as well as a companion article by Dave on “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. You will also find articles on other Middle East countries. Click here for information on ordering the print versions of these articles.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A True Global Event?

It is the single largest sporting event on planet earth. And although other great sports championships may include the term "world" in their title, only the World Cup of soccer really fits the idea of a global sports competition.

The governing body for the great event is known as FIFA. It stands for the Federation International Football Association. The championship has been awarded every four years since 1930 with the exception of 1942 and 1946 when it was interrupted by World War II. Spain won the last tournament in 2010, which was held in South Africa.

The 19 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight different national teams. Brazil has won five times. Also, they are the only team to have played in every tournament and have been the host nation for the 2014 games. But their dream of victory at home this year was crushed by an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Germany by a staggering 7-1 score. In the current format, 32 teams compete for the coveted title with only one earning the right to be called the world’s best.

The World Cup is the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the mighty Olympic Games. To reveal the scope of the tournament, it has been estimated that the 2010 final match was viewed, at some point and for some duration, by over 3 billion people world-wide. That was an estimated 45% of the earth’s entire population - a staggering figure by any standard.

When considering the masses that follow this great global spectacle, and especially the numbers at its conclusion, another amazing future occurrence may come to the minds of some who are familiar with prophetic truth as it appears near the conclusion of the biblical record.

Revelation chapter one refers to those who have been redeemed by Christ. It reveals both how they were saved and what they have become in and through Him. “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5b, 6)

But the passage then turns its attention to a great future event that will dwarf all the World Cups ever played put together in both scope and importance. Verse 7 reads, "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen." This will truly be a global event without equal!

What an amazing moment that will be – a sudden slice in time when the entire world sees and recognizes who Christ really was and is. For some, it will be a shocking and horrifying realization. But for the believers who make up His precious family, it will be an incredible glorious experience. It will be a spectacular moment when they approach the final time leading up to an unbroken span of eternity complete with rewards and blessings that cannot begin to be imagined.

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Bill Breckenridge