The Testings of God

The Testings of God

2018 devotionals 2018Devotional

 

            “Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing

             toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into a dry land; they

             went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him.

             He rules by His power forever; His eyes observe the nations;

             do not let the rebellious exalt themselves.”

                                                                                                Selah

            “Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise

             to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow

             our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have

             refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid

             affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads;

             we went through fire and through water; but you brought us out to

             rich fulfillment.”

                                                                        Psalm 66:8-12

 

Definition of terms:

Trials and tribulations constitute that process whereby God deals with our characters. The “Testings of God” is that process whereby God deals with our love for, and friendship with, Him.

God is actually looking for friends but a friend of God is a person that actually does what He commands. Consequently such a person will be entrusted with the secrets of heaven!

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No

             longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know

             what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for

             all things that I heard from My Father I have made known

             to you.”

                                                John 15:14-15

 

An invitation to understand the sovereignty of God (V5-7)

If we do not have a good understanding of the sovereignty of God we shall not be able to trust Him; we will establish our own ways and thus become rebellious. Consequently Jesus will not have His way with us and we run the risk of disqualifying ourselves from participating in His purpose. Trusting God based on our understanding of who He is is at the root of building a friendship with Him.

An invitation to worship God (V8-9)

Worship is that activity whereby we chiefly describe the worth of God. By it we give God what He is due in righteousness and we behold His power and glory. This calms us down and makes us candidates for a miracle. (Acts 16:25-28)

An invitation to embrace the testing of God (V8-12)

 Testing imparts the ways of God into our lives and usually it is:

  1. Mysterious

There is not always a discernable reason as to why one is put to the test other than that God believes the time has come to accomplish additional things in one’s life (1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Peter 4:12). By the testing process of God we discover things about ourselves that we didn’t know existed and we change!

  1. Refining

The process by which silver is refined is different to that of gold! That is, the refiner takes particular care over each piece of raw silver to ensure that it is not over heated and spoiled. When he gets it right the silver is pure and easy to work with. If he gets it wrong the silver may still be pure but it becomes hard to work with and is consequently used for less important projects. Paul alluded to this in 2 Timothy 2:20-21.

  1. Difficult

God traps you, like a bird, in His net and leads you through paths that are difficult just like He led His people into a desert and there He tested them and they, we are told, “murmured in their tents” (Psalm 106:25).

  1. Humiliating

Sometimes God will even allow others to gloat over you even though you know that you are in the right and have done nothing wrong. This teaches us to let Him vindicate us in due time. It is a hard lesson to learn but learn it we must (Romans 12:17-21).

  1. Blessed

Those who endure the testings of God will emerge into “rich (or abundant) fulfillment”. This implies that Jesus has a wonderful purpose for your life that He can only bring you into by the process of testing. Do not forget this.

Three examples

Peter

 Peter was put to the test at the trial of Jesus and was humiliated by a little girl. He found out a lot of things about Himself, learned the lessons and changed. It was He who once had no boldness, who was able to stand up on the Day of Pentecost and with boldness preach the gospel (Acts 2:14). Peter’s denial of Christ was in fact a breach of friendship and consequently Jesus was more heart broken than Peter (Luke 22:61). For this reason when Jesus met up with Peter at the Sea of Galilee, after His resurrection, He asked Peter three times whether he was indeed His friend (John 21:15-17). The word that Jesus uses here for love is not agape’ but phileo which designates the love of friendship!

Abraham

He was called by God to sacrifice Isaac upon whom all the promises of God in terms of world redemption rested. Abraham was tested as to whether He really believed God and trusted Him no matter what; even when no way forward is evident. Abraham was brought to a dead end and only the word of God sustained him and because of this God called him His friend (Isaiah 41:8). It is important to recognize that God called Abraham to do something that God never really intended him to do. It was in effect a test that had to do with the matters of trust, friendship and obedience. Consequently God shared the complete DNA (secrets) of world redemption with Abraham! The Lord placed a similar test before us at the beginning of this year and so told us to apply for a ministry position on the Isle of Wight. As it turned out He had no intention of sending us there but He did put us to the test to see if we would still obey His command and give up everything again to follow Him. This is what His friends do!

Joseph

God spoke to him about his destiny and then put him through circumstances that would appear to contradict everything that God had said (Genesis 37:7-11). He was sold into slavery by his brothers, taken to a foreign land, falsely accused, thrown in jail and then raised to the right hand of power and his brothers did indeed come before him and bow down! (Psalm 105:16-22) If God has really spoken to you about a particular destiny that He has for you then you are probably a good candidate to have it all taken from you! The question is, will you give up or better still are we the friends of Jesus? This means; are we involved with the kingdom of God in order to fulfill our purpose and destiny or to be the friends of Jesus?

False Teachings of the End Time

False Teachings of the End Time

2018 devotionals 2018Devotional

 

                        “For false christs and false prophets will rise

                         and show great signs and wonders to deceive,

                         if possible, even the elect.”

                                                            Matthew 24:24

 

  1. Truth

There is no doubt that one of the great signs of the end time is the re-emergence of the state of Israel on the stage of world history. This is a sign without precedent, as it constitutes the first time in over two thousand years that the Jews have sovereignty over Jerusalem again. Jesus placed this reality in the basket of His signs pointing to His second coming (Luke 21:24). He also stated that in the days in which this miracle occurs there would be world-wide upheaval, wars and rumors of wars and the arrival of a perilous time, such as the world has never seen before, called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21). Israel on the very brink of annihilation at the hands of a global attack will be saved out of this tribulation physically and spiritually (Zechariah 12:1-10). This spiritual salvation will be the “trigger mechanism” for the return of Christ to the Mt of Olives. That is, Israel’s recognition of Jesus’ messianic credentials will bring about what Paul called “resurrection from the dead”. This means that the Church of all ages will come out of their graves and, together with living believers, will rise to meet Christ as He comes again in great power and glory to place His feet on the Mt. of Olives (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

This picture that I have painted above is the one that scripture gives us and it is the one that was embraced by the early Church. The blessed hope of the Church is not a renovated world system because of some great end time revival but it is indeed, and only, the second coming of Jesus (Titus 2:11-13). The present world is actually passing away (1 John 2:17) because it is an “evil age” (Galatians 1:3-4) and God is determined to bring it down and He will. Every city and nation will be brought down as God visits the planet with what scripture calls the Day of the Lord (Revelation 16:19)(Joel 3:9-17). Our hope is not in the man made systems of this world but in the living God who by His glorious Gospel has saved us and given us a longing for a new heavens and a new earth wherein righteousness will dwell (2 Peter 3:13). You need to be assured of this: That we are approaching a global upheaval the likes of which the world has never seen before and, as the prophet Daniel stated, wars and desolations are determined until the end! This is not an eschatology of pessimism but one of hope because it is anchored in the truth of God’s word and in the promised coming of Christ.

The documents of the Early Church, that is the very Church founded by the Apostles themselves, testify to this understanding of scripture. Here below is a sample of these writings all of which were written before the fourth century.

The Epistle of Barnabas

“The final stumbling-block approaches. We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger; as becometh sons of God. That the Black One (Antichrist) may find no means of entrance, let us flee from every vanity, let us utterly hate the works of the way of wickedness.”

Justin Martyr

The man of apostasy shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us Christians….”

The Shepherd of Hermes

“Happy ye who endure the great tribulation that is coming on.”

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

“For the whole time of your faith will not profit you if you are not made perfect in the last time. Then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself.”

Irenaeus

“….and they shall give their kingdom to the Beast and put the Church to flight.”

“But he (John) indicates the number of the name now, that when the man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is.”

Hippolytus

“Now concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the Church from the adversary (The Antichrist). That refers to the one thousand and three score days during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church.”

Tertullian

“Now the privilege of the favor awaits those who shall at the coming of the Lord be found in the flesh, and who shall, owing to the oppressions of the time of Antichrist, deserve an instantaneous death which is accomplished by a sudden change to become qualified to join the raisings saints..”

The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles

 “…for through the abounding of iniquity the love of many shall wax cold. For men shall hate, and persecute, and betray one another. And then shall appear the Deceiver of the world, the enemy of the truth, the prince of lies, whom the Lord Jesus shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth, who takes away the wicked with His lips; and many shall be offended at Him. But they that endure to the end, the same shall be saved..”

  1. False truth

 In recent years a new message is being preached by Evangelicals, Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals and this message is false but it is being accepted and embraced everywhere and essentially it states that much of Matthew 24 and the other great eschatological passages of the Bible have been fulfilled and now we await a great end time revival that will actually transform nations, rehabilitate all spheres of human endeavor and usher in peace and then, and only then, Jesus will come again.  This is actually Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology or Postmillennialism built on the foundation of Preterism (The belief that all of Matthew 24 etc. has been fulfilled by past historical events)(1). Indeed many of the propagators of this error are telling us that a soon coming spiritual revival in Israel will bring resurrection blessing and power to the nations thus sweeping multiple millions into the Kingdom of God. All of this sounds very triumphant and wonderful but in reality it is a false teaching and in fact a very dangerous one at that because it is based on a totally false exegesis of Romans 11:15 and thus does not prepare Christians for the great trials that are about to come:

“For if their being cast away is the reconciling of

                         the world, what will their acceptance be but life

                         from the dead?”

 This “life from the dead”; otherwise translated as “resurrection from the dead”, means exactly what it says in that, according to Paul, Israel’s spiritual recovery will trigger the literal and real resurrection of the dead and usher in the visible second coming of Jesus. “Life from the dead” means then that all the saints of all of history will come forth from their graves to meet Christ in the air as He descends to the Mt. of Olives. It is to be noted that Paul’s teaching in this regard is further clarified in verses 25 and 26 of the same chapter. That is, it is only after the fullness of the Gentiles has been gathered in that Israel gets saved; not before, and consequently the Deliverer (Savior) will “come out of Zion.” Meaning that Zion or a Jewish Jerusalem brings Christ back to the earth. Jesus in fact said that this would be the case (Matthew 23:37-39)(Luke 13:34-35).

The fullness of the Gentiles is completed before Israel’s acceptance of Jesus’ messianic credentials and not afterwards as these false teachers assert. So then there are not two “fullnesses of the Gentiles” in scripture; only one. To teach otherwise is a contradiction of the context and is just nonsense and yet this is exactly what is being taught with the expectation that the nations will get saved in a manner never seen before after Israel comes to faith. This is not true. Israel is not a catalyst for a world-wide revival. If anything she is a catalyst to save the world from utter destruction as her spiritual restoration brings the King of Kings back to the earth at a time when things are so bleak and dark that God has to shorten the time in order to save humanity from total annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22).

Furthermore, those propagating this error frequently support their error by quoting passages from the Bible that refer to the coming Messianic Reign of Christ or what is known as the Millennium. That is, these passages describe global conditions after Jesus has come a second time and not before. Sadly the unsuspecting unable to “rightly divide” scripture buy into this error and so one such passage is Isaiah 2:2-4:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the

                         mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on

                         the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above

                         the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people

                         shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the

                         mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;

                         He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His

                         paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the

                         word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge

                         between the nations, and rebuke many people; they

                         shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their

                         spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up

                         sword against nation, neither shall they learn war

                         anymore.”

 Again, this picture of peace and absence of conflict only applies to the age to come or to what the Bible calls the “regeneration” when Christ sits on His glorious throne ruling and judging the nations with a “rod of iron” (Matthew 19:28) (Revelation 12:5). The consummation of our age will be characterized by global conflict, on a scale never seen before, the falling away or apostasy of millions of Christians (2 Thessalonians 2:3), great natural disasters and upheavals, the persecution of the Church, the rise of a new Hitler or Beast, who will be destroyed by the second coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8), (2) and the Great Day of the Lord. In fact Jesus warned that the situation will deteriorate rapidly, just as an expectant mother experiences a growing intensity in her birth pangs, and that consequently those days will have to be shortened lest no flesh survive on the earth (Matthew 24:21). This is not a picture of some great global revival but in fact just the opposite and, if we do not prepare ourselves for it, we may well fall away or, worse still, give our allegiance to a new global order actually driven by Satan himself and characterized by great signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Jesus, concerned about the state of the Church in the world in the end time, wondered whether He would find the faith on the earth when He comes again (Luke 18:8).

The picture I have described above is not pessimistic but biblically realistic and anyway our hope is not in a rehabilitated world that is passing away but in the coming of Christ and His visible and regenerated kingdom on earth (Hebrews 9:28). Beyond the “birth pangs” then is a new age of peace and joy in a world finally free from war. We are also not going to lock ourselves away with our “end time prepper provisions” and hope for the end to come. This too is certainly not biblical. No, we are going to do everything possible to call people out of the world to the cross of Jesus since this glorious Gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness and then the end shall come (Matthew 24:14). We have good news to preach and we had better do so now, more than ever, for indeed the “night cometh when no man will work.” (John 9:4).

Even so Lord Jesus come!

Malcolm Hedding

 

(1) Preterism is an eschatological teaching that was compiled in 1614 by a Jesuit Priest called Luis de Alcazar. He did this specifically in order to counter or resist the Reformation in that Luther, and the other reformers, accused the Pope of being the Antichrist. The strategy was simple: If all the Antichrist passages of scripture were fulfilled in AD 70 then it is not possible to accuse the Pope of being an Antichrist!

(2) The fact that the Antichrist is destroyed by the coming of Jesus a second time is consistent with Daniel’s prophetic oracle and constitutes proof that the events of the end time, as described by Matthew in his 24th chapter, were not entirely fulfilled in AD 70 and beyond. They have more than one fulfillment and are therefore what we call “progressive prophetic fulfillment”.

 

Faith to live by

Faith to live by

2018 devotionals 2018Devotional Weekly Devotional

 

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who

             comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those

             who diligently seek Him”

                                                            Hebrews 11:6

Definition

Faith is the unshakable belief in the reality and existence of God and that He is able to do anything and everything when diligently petitioned.”

 

  1. The nature of our commitment to Christ

The Bible tells us that when we surrendered our lives to Christ we handed our lives fully and completely over to Him. We surrendered possession of ourselves to the God of heaven!

“… and He died for all, that those who live should

             live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died

             for them and rose again.”

                                                    2 Corinthians 5:15

 

            “Or do you not know that your body is the temple

             of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have

             from God, and that you are not your own?”

                                                       1 Corinthians 6:19

  1. The nature of faith

The messianic believers referred to in the book of Hebrews did not expect to be persecuted and abused when they embraced Christ as their Lord and Savior. They expected a different outcome and so when these difficulties arose they were disappointed and considered abandoning their faith and returning to Judaism. Consequently the writer of the book exhorts them to continue and to have faith in the reality and goodness of God.

That is, he desires that they should entrust themselves to Him and in so doing he reminds them of the Prophet Habakkuk who, having encountered the same dilemma, was told by God that he would have to trust Him by walking in faith. Hence we have the famous statement, “The just shall live by faith.” True faith does not determine the outcome but believes that whatever the outcome it will be for our good and that God has indeed answered (Hebrews 10:32-39). Actually, this is precisely Paul’s point in Romans 8 where he declares that in fact we do not really know the outcome of our prayers but we confidently entrust ourselves to a loving God who will cause “all things to work together for good” for those who love Him (Romans 8:26-28).

Hebrews 11:1-6 is a response to Hebrews 10:32-39 and a preamble to the great passage that follows, which many call the “role call of faithful people.” In other words the context of the chapter will reveal what his definition of faith in verse one of chapter means i.e.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the

             evidence of things not seen.”

It is very important to note that in every case here mentioned faith is a positive response to the self-revelation of God. That is, people accomplished great things not because they knew the outcome of their journey but because they knew the God of the journey! This is precisely why the more one knows the Bible so the more one comes to know who God is. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Consider this: Abraham did not know where he was going when he left Ur of the Chaldeans and he did not know that Isaac would be spared when God called upon him to sacrifice him. Enoch so trusted in God that, though he was well pleasing to God, he did not know that God would one day take him. Moses’ mother trusted in God but did not know that when she put Moses in the river that Pharaoh’s daughter would find him and adopt him. Neither did she know that she would end up nursing her own son. She had faith in God but did not know the outcome. Some of these great saints trusted God but never expected to be sawn in two and then all of them died having never experienced the full outcome of their faith (Hebrews 11:13). They had faith in that they fully entrusted themselves to God, as they were not their own, and they left the outcome to Him.

In fact it must be noted that Abraham’s biggest mistake was to seek to determine the outcome of his walk of faith by manipulating the production of a son through one of his servants called Hagar. He could not trust God and consequently his attempt to “determine the end” gave birth to Ishmael and with him came a huge conflict that still rages to this day. Despite all of this Abraham remains a great man of faith who was able to trust God fully with his life.

Seeking to determine the outcome is actually like playing “Russian Roulette.” It’s a dangerous game and while sometimes it works in most cases it doesn’t and the consequence are not good to say the least. For instance, in the case of healing, not even ten percent of people prayed for are healed in the way that we hoped for and firmly affirmed. A lot actually die even though time and time again we pronounced them healed and urged them to hold to this positive confession. The burden placed upon these people is immense and truly quite cruel but we persist in this call to faith because we have falsely believed that this is what faith is. It is not! Please remember that even Jesus struggled with the outcome of His faith journey and had to learn to entrust Himself fully to God His Father:

 

“…who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up

             prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears

             to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was

 heard because of His godly fear, though He was a

             Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which

             He suffered.”

                                                Hebrews 5:7-8

Faith is the unshakable and unswerving belief in a righteous and good God who will always answer our prayers but in His way. To determine the outcome is to play god. Another way of putting this is to say that, faith is believing in God in such a way that you can feel, see and touch Him. (1 John 1:1) When you have this “substance” in your hand you know that God will do everything you ask of Him, but again, in His way. Oral Roberts, the great healing evangelist of the last century, recognized that the majority of the people he had prayed for in his great healing crusades were in fact not healed. Of course a small percentage were but he was honest and concerned enough that he embarked upon the building of a hospital.

  1. The challenge of faith

Do you have faith? That is, are you able to entrust your self to Him so that He can do anything He likes with your life; even heal you by taking you home? This is precisely where we come apart because we strongly desire to determine the outcome because we are, rightly so, consumed with compassion, sorrow and yes self-interest. We want our friends and loved ones to continue with us and so we construct prayers that are more a commentary on these desires than real faith. I have seen so many people, even dear friends of mine, go through this “spiritual obstacle course” and then when they died and were not healed, as was so fervently affirmed, discouragement, confusion and even anger at God set in. On the other hand, as a Pentecostal preacher, I have indeed seen many people instantly healed and set free from their terminal illness. In this I have greatly rejoiced but it was faith in God and not in the outcome that did this and also Jesus gives us the gift of faith by the Holy Spirit whereby we just know for certain that if someone is prayed for they will be instantly healed (1 Corinthians 12:8, Acts 14:8-9). This is all true and we must affirm it within the boundaries that our faith is in God and He has the right to do with His children as He pleases.

  1. The foundations of faith

We need to live our lives in such a way that God can help us in our time of need. We must be true to our verbal commitments to Christ and we must live holy lives. We have handed our lives fully over to Him as Lord and Savior and so we must live in harmony with this act of dedication. Failure in this regard means that God Himself may well strike us down with physical weakness, sickness and even death. No amount of so-called believing faith will reverse this except real and sincere repentance. Paul warns of this when giving instructions about taking the communion elements. We must take these “judging ourselves” meaning that we must consider our commitments to Christ based on what He did for us on the cross. To “eat of the bread and drink of the cup in an unworthy manner” will invite God’s correction and judgment (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).

Conclusion

There is a real need for biblical counseling and care when dealing with people who are facing real and serious life threatening medical challenges. We must tell them the truth and thereby affirm that God will answer their prayers and those of the ones who stand with them. Indeed He will heal them but in three possible ways: by reversing the condition instantly, by the use of medical attention and treatment and by taking them home. In every case they will be healed because they entrust themselves to Him. And, in every case, He will deposit His supernatural power, strength, blessing and peace upon them.

Sometimes the end of this struggle can appear to be so definite and hopeless especially if the person we were believing God to heal died. However an understanding of the word “end” in the Bible fills us with real comfort and hope. In the Greek this word “TELOS” does not mean the end of the matter as of something definite and conclusive but rather it means the conclusion of a set of circumstances that actually pave the way for the “new” to come. An example of this is that the end of the age is not simply to bring the present age to a close, but to allow a new age to emerge wherein peace and righteousness will prevail and dwell. Those who come to an end in this world are passing into something glorious! We do indeed mourn the loss of their presence but we also rejoice in their triumph in Christ.

May we forever hold this in our hearts!

Malcolm Hedding

The Word of God

The Word of God

2018 devotionals 2018Devotional Weekly Devotional

 

                        “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord God,

                         that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine

                         of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the

                         words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to

                         sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and

                         fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not

                         find it.”

                                                            Amos 8:11-12

We live in a time when our world, that is the western world in particular, is literally awash with numerous and various translations of the Word of God and then to add to this we have all sorts of study aids to the Bible and commentaries that seek to address every book contained in this scared volume. And yet, for all of this, we still have congregations that are in the most part biblically illiterate and cannot in truth tell one much about the books of the Bible that they read. There is indeed a famine “of hearing the words of the Lord.”

At one level we must ask, “Why is this so?” And the answer would probably be: Because the people of God are not really encouraged to “receive the word implanted” (James 1:21) or thoroughly ingested by those who occupy our pulpits. Rather the people of God are encouraged to read snippets of the Bible every day that essentially disinvests them from acquiring an understanding of it contents. By contrast the Bible itself encourages us to dwell in its pages “day and night” and Jesus likened our intake of it to that of our daily consumption of food (Matthew 4:4).  Actually, to be honest, we all eat too much and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had too much to eat of the Word of God. Sadly this is not true and in the main, despite all our translations and various “helps” the average Christian knows very little about the Bible.  Paul well knew the power of the Word of God and so when he finally took leave of the Ephesian Church leaders he said, “So, now brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Acts 20:32). There is indeed a famine of the words of the Lord!

The context of Amos’s statement above is that of a people who, having the Word of God, have nevertheless not taken its pages seriously and have consequently lived in wicked ways and have even sought for ways to undermine its pages in a manner that it appears to condone this wickedness. Jesus understood this twisted practice of the human heart and said in response, “ But why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46)” Today the biggest threat to the true Church is the wider church itself in that many denominations and movements that once, by their founding fathers, supported a Bible believing faith have actively sought to dismantle this by condoning behavior and practices that are in reality clearly condemned by scripture. This has impacted their understanding of marriage, family, sexual purity and mission in the world. Peter, in his day, encountered these same people and warned his readers, in his second epistle bearing his name, about them (2 Peter 3:14-18). Churches that remain true to the Word of God are therefore despised and ridiculed by so called fellow expressions of the Christian faith and this encourages the ungodly to join this throng of abusers. The God of the Bible warns through Amos His prophet that these evils will bring upon those who practice them a famine of the words of the Lord. They may seek the words of God and in so doing “run to and fro” but it will not help until they repent and amend their ways.

So then, apart from there being human reasons for which the Bible is a closed book to many in the Church today, there is in fact a heavenly reaction to neglect, wickedness and distortion that locks the truth of the pages of scripture from them. In short the famine “of the words of the Lord” is sent from heaven as judgment or as an instrument of correction with the hope of bringing them to repentance. We should note this carefully.

In the end we must humble our hearts before this amazing book and approach it with great reverence because it is fully inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) or “God breathed” (2 Peter 1:19-21) and we should cultivate reading habits of it that enable us to absorb, understand and know it contextually. When we do this, as the Psalmist declares, it will become “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).” Indeed we should read all of Psalm 119 in order to appreciate the extreme importance of living in the Word of God.

When I first came to Christ He showed me that I needed to live in the Bible and read at least ten chapters of it a day. I did this by the grace of God and consequently my life has been transformed and my understanding of its pages has been enlarged. I then agree with David when he wrote the following:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel

                         of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners,

                         nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight

                         is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law he medi-

                         tates day and night.”

                                                            Psalm 1:1-2

 Malcolm Hedding

 

Israel in the New Testament

Israel in the New Testament

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            For many “there is the settled conviction that the Israel of the

            Old Testament has been ‘replaced’ or ‘fulfilled’ in the Church

            of the New…but the Jewish nation as a whole is no longer

            God’s chosen people and must be regarded, treated and judged

            like any other. The Jews as such no longer have a place in the

             plans and purposes of God…I believe that Israel has a future in

            God’s purposes; that He has not finished with Israel; that neither

            the people nor the place have been left behind in God’s purposes.”

 

                                                                        David Pawson

Today old and yet false theological schemes are emerging that challenge the biblical credentials underpinning Israel’s modern day restoration. The recent 70th year celebrations of Israel’s independence coupled with the democratic decision of the American people to move their embassy to Jerusalem has ignited intense debate in the wider Church about these things and consequently these false teachings are being asserted again. They all have one thing in common and that is that Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys no biblical significance and is nothing more than a political coincidence. The teachings of which I write are the following:

Replacement Theology

Fulfillment Theology…and,

Dominion Theology

In the first the Church is now the sole expression of the purpose of God on earth and as such is the “New Israel of God.” The Jewish people, having failed God, have forfeited the promises made to them in the Abrahamic Covenant and especially those that promise them everlasting possession of the land of Canaan for the purpose of world redemption.

In the second Jesus in His own life and body fulfills all the promises that God made to the Jewish people in the Abrahamic Covenant including those that have to do with bequeathing to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.

In the last of these, that is Dominion Theology, the Church is destined to take dominion over the world and set up a type of global expression of Christendom. Once this has been achieved, in that the seven mountains of human activity have been Christianized, Jesus will come again. In other words the Church ushers in the Millennium before Jesus comes and therefore there is no need for a restored Jewish state in the land of Canaan to do so. Only a restored Church can accomplish this and thus this false teaching asserts that a new type of empowered Christian is going to emerge who will bring the Kingdom of God to the world in a new and dynamic manner. Consequently, once again, Israel’s modern day restoration is irrelevant and therefore enjoys no biblical credentials. Dominion Theology is nothing more than the emergence of an old teaching called Post-Millennialism.

Those holding to these theological positions constantly claim that the New Testament does not support a restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Canaan. In fact for them the New Testament does just the opposite in that it teaches that in the light of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection men everywhere should now repent regardless of ethnicity, race, position or gender. This of course is true but only partly so! Indeed a careful examination of the pages of the New Testament will reveal a different story. A story that will confirm that no part of the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or adjusted and that God still remains faithful to all the promises He ever made to the Jewish people in it. This in turn means that Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys significant and amazing support from the New Testament scriptures. Consider the following:

 

  1. The Abrahamic Covenant

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac,

 and he who had received the promises offered up his only

 begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall

 be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up,

 even from the dead, from which he also received him in a

 figurative sense.”

                                    Hebrews 11:17-19

 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He

 could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying,

 “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply

 you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the

 promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath

 for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God,

 determining to show more abundantly the immutability of His

 counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things

 in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong

 consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope

 that is set before us.”

                                    Hebrews 6:13-18

It is the Abrahamic Covenant that promises the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession for the purpose of world redemption (Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12). The Covenant was conditional upon Abraham’s obedience and was certainly “cut” with him by God in an unconditional manner. That is, God alone undertook to fulfill all the promises and obligations in it (Genesis 15:12-21). Indeed Abraham, having been put to the test, gave full obedience to the command of God that required that he, Abraham, should sacrifice Isaac upon whose existence all the promises of land, of a coming Messiah and of global salvation (blessing) rested (Genesis 22:1-2).

 

Abraham believed that God would still fulfill these even if Isaac were taken from him leaving him with no heir. Because he demonstrated unswerving faith in the promises of God, God considered Abraham His friend (2 Chronicles 20:7) and swore by Himself and by His word that He would be faithful just as Abraham His friend had been faithful! Theirs was a true friendship based on the fact that God does not lie. Those espousing the errors outlined above believe that God did in fact lie and has broken His friendship with Abraham by dishonoring His promises that He made to him. In fact the truth is just the opposite because God remains faithful to all His promises to the Jewish people because of His friendship with their Fathers, which includes Abraham! Paul picks up on this in Romans 11 when he makes a remarkable statement that goes like this:

Concerning the Gospel they are enemies for your sake, but

             concerning the election (that is, God’s call over their lives)

             they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and

             the calling of God are irrevocable (that is cannot be changed

             or removed in any way).”

                                                Romans 11:28-29

In Galatians 3 Paul recognizes that while the Abrahamic Covenant has many parts actually as a Covenant it cannot in any way be annulled. It is one Covenant and no part of it can be changed because God is faithful and a true friend to Abraham.

“Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a

             man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds

             to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made.

             He does not say, “And to seeds” as of many but as of one, “And

             to your Seed”, who is Christ.”

                                                Galatians 3:15-16

For Paul then the Abrahamic Covenant cannot be adjusted in any way (‘no one annuls or adds to it”) but this is exactly what the preachers of these false teachings do. They adjust (add) things that the very nature of the Covenant precludes one from doing. Here Paul is referring to that part of the Abrahamic Covenant that promises that salvation would come to the world through one individual (seed) and not by the giving of the Law given to the many (seeds). In this vain, Luke admits that the many holy men of God who came to Israel, to fulfill their ministries, did so because of the promises that God made to the Jewish people in Abraham. So, John the Baptist came into the world precisely because God remembered His people and His promises to them in Abraham and this too was true of Christ. Speaking of whom he records Mary’s Song as follows:

“He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has

             sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remem-

             brance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and

             to his seed forever.”

                                                Luke 1:53-55

And then of John the Baptist he records Zacharias’ Prophetic word as follows:

“That we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand

             of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers

 and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore

 to our father Abraham: to grant us that we being delivered from

 the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness

 and righteousness before Him all the days of our lives.”

                                                Luke 1:71-75

So, it is clear from these passages that the apostolic writers recognized that in the Abrahamic Covenant God made promises to the people of Israel that embodied land, deliverance, the coming of a herald to the nation and the arrival of a Messiah. In short in sending John and Jesus to the people of Israel God honored the promises that He had made to His friend Abraham.

In Galatians 3 Paul firmly entrenches the unshakable nature of the Abrahamic Covenant because for him:

It promised salvation in Christ and not by means of the Law (Galatians 3:16).

It is everlasting and cannot be annulled (Galatians 3:15).

It is, by virtue of being in Christ, the means to receive the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14)…and,

It is, by virtue of being in Christ, the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Galatians 3:29).

It is to be noted that in Galatians 3 Paul is seeking to combat those who were seeking to destabilize the Church by insisting that aspects of the Law had to be observed in order to be saved (Galatians 2:11-21). These people were called “Judaizes”. Paul is thus demonstrating that 430 years before the Law was given on Mt. Sinai God promised in the Abrahamic Covenant that salvation would come to the world through a “Seed” (Christ) who by His death on the cross would save us from the curse of sin (Galatians 3:13). The Law, writes Paul, serves as a  “tutor to bring us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24). Paul is definitely not here debunking the other parts of the Abrahamic Covenant that bequeath to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession as some erroneously assert. He was only dealing with the issues surrounding the Law and Grace.

  1. Jesus

 Jesus, recognizing the call of God over the nation of Israel, said:

“Salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22

 This is an amazing statement in that in reality Jesus is the only Savior and yet He recognized that the Jewish people, in their historical journey, undergirded only by the Abrahamic Covenant, are the custodians of redemptive truth. Even Jesus needed their historical journey because by it the Word of God was produced that gave Him context and credentials for His redeeming work. That is, “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). Paul reinforced the same truth in Romans 9:1-5.

Jesus knew then that the Abrahamic Covenant had made promises to the many (the Jews) and promises to the One who would bring blessing (salvation) to the world, that is, Himself. There is no other way to interpret this statement and to therefore assert that somehow God held true to all His undertakings to Abraham for 2000 years until Jesus came, and then broke them is ludicrous but this is precisely what these three false teachings claim.

It follows then that the modern day restoration of Israel is in fact no coincidence but the outflow of God’s word to “the fathers.” Also, the fact that salvation is of the Jews; means that their existence, revelation, land and Messiah are testimony to the irrevocable call that God placed over their national destiny for the blessing of the world. This call has nothing to do with racial superiority but rather with blessing (salvation) for the nations and yet the nations, and even segments of the Church, resist this call and thereby in fact resist the purpose of God. This was true of old and it is true today. Israel exists only for the blessing of the nations; even the Arabic speaking nations! If only they would recognize it.

It is also worth noting that Jesus foresaw an end-time return of the Jews to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and, in response to a question put to Him by His Disciples, affirmed that a day would come, known only to the Father, when the “kingdom would be restored to Israel” (Acts 1:6). This clearly implies a restoration of the Jews to Canaan with Jerusalem as their Capital!

 3.Romans 9, 10 and 11

             “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ

             for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh,

             who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the

             glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service

             of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and

             from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is

             over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

                                                            Romans 9:3-5

 It must be, and should be noted, that according to Paul the “Israelites” remain the recipients of “the covenants” and “the promises” and Paul is confirming this to Christians who come from a Gentile background. If this be true then who are we to assert that this is actually not true since he writes this after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus? The false theological systems, mentioned at the beginning of this paper, actually claim that by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ the promises made to Israel in the covenants and especially in the Abrahamic Covenant have been altered, changed or abolished. Paul uses the present continuous tense in this passage meaning that all the covenants and promises related to Israel remain intact.

Actually the very fact that Paul dedicates an extensive part of his Roman Epistle to the question of Israel is highly significant in that this alone proves that the Jewish people take and hold a unique place before God in terms of His plan for the salvation of the world. If they were like any other nation, as is asserted by these false teachings, why would he bother for certainly he does not write about Australians or Canadians in this way. What is it about the Jewish people that demands a unique explanation? The answer is the following:

They are, “beloved of God”, even in their unsaved state “for the sake of the Fathers(Romans 11:28b). That is, God has remembered all the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and will not renege on them. Indeed He will not go back on His “election” of them. Meaning that though unsaved they remain “elected” in the sense that they carry the redemptive purpose of God in their national destiny.

They are, “enemies of the Gospel for your sake” (Romans 11:28a). This is a remarkable statement in that it acknowledges that Jewish unbelief has enabled the Gentile world to hear the Gospel. No other nation on the earth is an enemy of the gospel for our sake and this underlines the fact that even in their unbelief the Jews are a blessing to the world!

They are, not cast away from the promises of God because they “stumbled” over Christ and so they have not been disinvested from anything that God said to them. Paul writes:

“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall (be dis-

             inherited of God’s promises to them)? Certainly not! But

             through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has

             come to the Gentiles.”

            Romans 11:11

 In fact their “fall” is “riches for the world” (Romans 11:12). Again, if God has no other destiny for them as a nation then why would Paul write in these terms and indeed he goes on to declare that their recovery, spiritually speaking, will mean for the Gentile world “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15). That is, the literal resurrection of the dead for Gentile Christians. Jesus is not coming again until the full restoration process now unfolding in Israel will be completed. Peter agrees fully with Paul on this as, when preaching to the “men of Israel”, he said:

            “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be

             blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the

             presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who

             was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until

             the times of the restoration of all things, which God has spoken

             by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

                                                Acts 3:19-21

 They are, to be dealt with by kindness and appreciation. Paul warns that if Gentile Christians despise unsaved Jews and deal with them arrogantly and wickedly God is watching and will in the end even remove them from the olive tree of salvation! This is serious business and it is here that vast segments of the Church have failed and have sinned before God and continue to. This reality only pertains to the Jewish people and no other nation and this in turn indicates that as a nation they stand in a unique place before God. We should read the following words of Paul very carefully:

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being

             a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them

             became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do

             not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that

             you do not support the tree, but the root supports you. You will

             say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.”

             Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you

             stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if god did not

             spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.”

                                                Romans 11:17-21

 The historical record of Christian Anti-Semitism is wicked, awful and overwhelming and much of it has been driven by the three false theological systems mentioned above. These false teachings all have one thing in common; they disinvest the Jewish people of their unique national destiny and consequently assert that there is no biblical significance to their modern day restoration. The New Testament refutes these false claims everywhere. And so, finally:

They are, the recipients of a destiny given to them in Abraham that is “irrevocable(Romans 11:29). The word “irrevocable” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as: “That which is unable to be changed or reversed.” Paul here affirms that when God called forth the Jewish people in Abraham He made promises to them that He would never, in any way, go back on. How strange it is then that so-called Christian theologians have no understanding of what the word “irrevocable” means. Actually they have the same problem with understanding the word “everlasting” found in the pages of Genesis.  This theological ineptitude has robbed the Church of truth, displeased God and brought much misery to the Jewish people. If only we had properly read the New Testament after all, as concerning the Jews, “we share in their spiritual things (Romans 15:27)!

 Important Summary

 It is important to note then that any careful and honest examination of Romans 9,10 and 11 will reveal that unbelieving Israel enjoys a relationship with the God of the Bible that, while not saving, is real and unique and that no other nation on earth enjoys. According to Paul unbelieving Israel is “beloved for the sake of the fathers”, has not been rejected or “cast away”, enjoys a calling that is “irrevocable” and those who mistreat or despise her could be removed from the olive tree of salvation. This is New Testament theology and consequently two questions have to be asked:

  1. On what biblical grounds does unbelieving Israel enjoy these blessings? The answer is, and can only be, the Abrahamic Covenant…and,
  2. What other nation currently on the earth enjoys such blessings and protections? The answer is, none!

Malcolm Hedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce and Remarriage

2018 devotionals 2018Devotional Weekly Devotional

 

There is no doubt that divorce for any and every reason is a plague in the Church and more important still it robs the Church of God’s presence and blessing. To be honest, I fear that, apart from the intervention of God, the “horse has bolted” and not much will be done to rectify the matter since many preachers and respected leaders are themselves guilty of license in this area. This matter must be urgently addressed by the Church, for no other reason than to attract the blessing of God to our communities. Nothing is more destructive to society than the break- up of Christian homes. This must be stopped, families must be secured with biblical values but where there is divorce this should be governed by scripture; all the time avoiding very hard-line or ‘anything goes positions’. Above all we must call for restoration and clothe ourselves with compassion. It is with this in mind that I write this paper.

 

For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce

                                                 for it covers one’s garment with violence,” says the

                                                 Lord of hosts….”

                                                                                                Malachi 2:16

                                                “Furthermore it has been said, “Whoever divorces his

                                                 wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.” But I say

                                                 to you whoever divorces his wife for any reason except

                                                 sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and

                                                 whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits

                                                 adultery.”

                                                                                                Matthew 5:31-32

                                                “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or

                                                 sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has

                                                 called us to peace.”

                                                                                                1Corinthians 7:15

The Historical View

While early Church leaders had differing views on the matter they generally moved between two positions on divorce and remarriage. That is, divorce and no remarriage as in Tertullian…or…divorce in the case of “uncleanness” or adultery and remarriage as in Origen’s view. He stated that God’s divorce of Israel for spiritual adultery and remarriage to the Church is proof of this (Jeremiah 3:8)! Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274) put in place the Catholic Church’s position on divorce. That of no divorce at all but divorce could be had if the aggrieved party requested an act of nullification from the Pope called, “Divorce a Vinculum Matrimonii.” As you know, Henry the eighth requested this, didn’t get it and consequently broke with the Catholic Church. Strangely, God was in this so what does this say to us?

This view is called the “kinship View” as it views marriage as a sacrament by which the parties are made one and thus in dissolvable (Genesis 2:24). They are one both spiritually and physically. The other Orthodox Churches generally followed this view and within their fraternity it is still embraced today though many of their adherents have abandoned it because of the infiltration of secularism.

The Protestant View

This is where it really becomes intriguing because the Protestant Leaders departed significantly from Rome on this matter as they accused Rome of propagating their view to lure people into celibacy in order to fill the dwindling ranks of their monastic orders. So, the Protestant View, held by great leaders like Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus and Martin Bucer, was that divorce could take place for fornication (which in the original language (pornea) means adultery, homosexuality, bestiality and sexual perversion of any type) and that the offended or innocent party could remarry but only in the Lord. They also viewed what is called “Paul’s Exception” (1Corinthians 7: 14-15) as referring only to abandonment because of one’s faith in Christ and thus they also permitted remarriage. The word used by Paul, in terms of not being in bondage, has roots indicating that one is not in “legal enslavement” and implies remarriage, but only again in the Lord.

As a matter of interest Luther and Calvin spoke of marriage as a civil institution thus over-reacting to the Catholic position of a sacramental institution. This Protestant view is also called the “Majority View” but there are evangelicals, who subscribe to what they call the “Minority View.” That is, the minority view in the evangelical world which holds that divorce for adultery is permissible but not remarriage. The same rule applies to “Paul’s exception”, if applied.

Modern Day Evangelicals

In this world scholars like William Heth, Professor of New Testament and Greek at Taylor University, are the most influential. Heth held the minority view for years but now holds the majority view and writes:

“The majority of evangelicals believe that Jesus permits remarriage after divorce for marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9) and that Paul sanctions remarriage when Christian spouses are abandoned by unbelieving mates. (1Corinthians 7:14-15)”

People like Heth believe that “sexual union is the indispensable means” for the consummation of marriage both in the Old Testament and the New. This union when violated by adultery is destroyed and this is why Jesus permitted divorce, and in his view, remarriage. As to the latter he writes, “Jesus cannot be construed as teaching an “exceptionless absolute” based on Mark alone because both Matthew and Paul qualify Jesus’ prohibition of marriage after divorce.” Moreover, in terms of the full biblical record valid divorces always included the right to remarry but only in the Lord. So then it can be deducted that valid divorces are God’s permissive will for some innocent victims of divorce. It must be stressed, in my view, that Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:9 clearly justify divorce for immorality and permit remarriage, only in the Lord. Having said this it seems to me that it is inconsistent with the heart of God, as revealed in scripture, that the innocent partner in a broken marriage not only be subjected to the trauma and distress of such a break up but also be barred from the joy and comfort that comes to one in a “new” marriage.

Adultery actually must be persistent and everything must be done to seek restoration rather than divorce. It is precisely here that the modern day Church has lost its way. Divorce is permitted for every reason under the sun and the consequence is that many lives, mostly children, are brought to ruin. God hates it! In Jesus’ day, as the records prove, a man could divorce his wife for burning the food; and they did! Many then believe that Jesus spoke strongly about this to rectify the chaos and place the emphasis in the right place just as He did when He said that one has to hate one’s family if you wanted to follow Him (Luke 14:26). We must then embrace a very high view of marriage since it is not simply the union between a man and a woman but also a reflection of the unity and love that exists between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Our emphasis should not be on forgiveness but faithfulness and the boundaries of marriage, divorce and remarriage have to be significantly narrowed.

For me then both sexual immorality and abandonment violate the fundamental biblical components of marriage and, if persisted in, leave the innocent party without any options at reconciliation. They are consequently not in legal bondage and can remarry but only in the Lord. These “two violations” have to be carefully and thoroughly proved and serious efforts at restoration should be our first and paramount concern. The evangelical theologian Hays writes:

“The Church must recognize and teach that marriage is grounded not in feelings of love but in the practice of love. Nor is the marriage bond contingent upon self-gratification or personal fulfillment. The church has swallowed a great quantity of pop psychology that has no foundation in the biblical depiction of marriage…….When marital union is rightly understood as a covenant, the question of divorce assumes a very different aspect. Those who have made promises to God should trust God for grace sufficient to keep those promises, and they should expect the community of faith to help them to keep faith, by supporting them and holding them accountable.” Blomberg adds:

“Married people should always be seeking ways to improve and enhance relations with spouses rather than wondering how they can get out of commitments they have made.” This is so very true!

Conclusions

I have now, chiefly because of my research on this matter, come to the “Majority View.” I have to recognize that this view was held by great spiritual leaders that we admire and quote in our sermons all the time and yet I admit that there are still issues to be resolved. However, I believe that people holding my view have to be stricter and stronger in asserting the biblical position on this matter and I believe that people holding to the “Minority View” need to be a little more caring for the injured and innocent party since great preachers have also held this position. Both positions have been long accepted views within the evangelical Church. This is like grappling with God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Once we hold a strong position either way we tend to be unbalanced. I am guilty of this as we all are from time to time!

Malcolm Hedding.

Israel at 70

Israel at 70

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“In Israel in order to be a realist you must believe in

                                                            miracles.”

                                                     David Ben Gurion

 

            “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances

             of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and

             its waters roar (The Lord of hosts is His name): If those ordinances

             depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also

             cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

                                                            Jeremiah 31:35

 

            “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the

             waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink

             wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat  fruit from them.

             I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up

             From the land I have given them.” Says the Lord your God.”

                                                            Amos 9:14-15

70 years ago, as a consequence of the United Nations partition vote, Israel came into existence as a nation with international approval and legitimacy. Though resisted at the time by five Arab armies that attacked her, she bravely withstood this unprovoked act of aggression and emerged proud and stronger than ever. Israel’s arrival in 1948 on the stage of the world was against the tide of history and in every respect a living miracle that has continued to unfold before our very eyes. There is in fact no explanation for Israel’s survival other than that the God of Israel and of the Bible has been, is and will be, behind it. In the end, because of His remarkable intervention in this regard all nations will come to know that He alone is the Lord of heaven and earth.

For some, even and sadly in the church, this miracle enjoys no biblical significance just as there were those who claimed this when the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile to rebuild their state some 500 years before Christ. They too shouted out in resistance and attempted to wage war against the returning exiles on the grounds that such a return was unjust and a violation of their concept of social justice (Nehemiah 4:1-14). Nothing has changed! They failed then and they will fail now.

Scripture clearly affirms that Israel will exist as a nation before God just so long as the sun, moon and stars are in the skies above us and it further states that a return of the Jews, to the very land of their forefathers, will take place one day wherein they will never be plucked up or removed from the land again (Amos 9:14-15). Quite clearly the prophet Amos is not speaking about their return from Babylon as they were indeed plucked up again and exiled in 70 AD. No, this amazing prophetic statement   by Amos has only found fulfillment in our day! We rejoice in the inspiration and remarkable accuracy of the Bible.

Of a truth all of this happened because of God’s faithfulness to His covenant made with Abraham some 4000 years ago. This covenant, having many parts, including that of a coming Messiah, guarantees that the land of Canaan is the everlasting possession of the Jewish people (Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12). According to Paul, and the writer of the book of Hebrews, this covenant can never be annulled or adjusted (Galatians 3:15; Hebrews 6:13-18). Because of these faithful undertakings God has always restored His people to His land that He, in His desire to bless the world, bequeathed to them. In short, we serve a faithful God Who has demonstrated in Israel’s restoration that He can be trusted because His mighty deeds are validated by scripture and confirmed in the earth. Most of all they are to be seen especially in His kindness to the Jewish people. Truly, the time to favor Zion has come (Psalm 102:12-15).

My friends, Israel will not be dismantled though many have tried and still will attempt to do so because the God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps as He watches over her (Psalm 121:4). They who would attempt to remove Israel from the earth in the name of their false gods will first have to remove the God of the Bible from His glorious throne! In the end, though great nations attempt to dismantle Israel, they will rupture themselves and, as in the past, vanish into oblivion (Zechariah 12:1-3).

So then, a people who have experienced such destruction and loss through the centuries can rightly rejoice on the 70th year of their restored and glorious third commonwealth. We rejoice with them and we bless and pray for them because their existence has only been for the blessing of the world and still will be, even for those who have been most set against them. This is a day of great rejoicing since it comes on the heels of a glorious jubilee year that has witnessed the decision to return the USA Embassy to Jerusalem. By the way this is only the beginning since our eyes will yet behold great and wonderful things in Zion as Israel moves closer and closer to the amazing destiny that God has for her. Blessed be the God of Israel!

Malcolm Hedding

Peddlers of Deception / The Social Justice Issue

Peddlers of Deception / The Social Justice Issue

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                                “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives

                                 of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down

                                 to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there

                                 on account of My people Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations;

                                 they have also divided up My land.

                                                                                                Joel 3:1-2

                               

 

                “The Arabs have taken into their own hands the Final Solution of the Jewish problem.

                 The problem will be solved only in blood and fire. The Jews will be driven out.”

                                                                                Jamal Al-Husseini, May 1948

 

A new initiative

Segments and leaders of the evangelical church are being drawn away from the traditional and mainstream position on Israel by an initiative that claims to take the high moral ground by proclaiming a commitment to social justice. This invariably means that Israel constitutes an occupying oppressive regime and that the Palestinians are the ones requiring social justice. To bolster this narrative images of the defensive barrier wall are displayed to achieve maximum propaganda effect. After all images like this return our thoughts to the Berlin Wall, the Belfast Wall and the walls of one type or another put in place by the Apartheid regime. One has to admit that the imagery is powerful and it takes well informed minds to counter them. The lack of such information has duped many evangelicals; some of them very well known. This new initiative, designed to discredit pro-Israel evangelicals breeds on ignorance and in fact on lies! It also seeks to smear Christian Zionists as uncompassionate Palestinian and Arab haters. This is just not true! David Solway observes that, “The usual understanding of Israel as an aggressive, colonial, apartheid state robbing the Palestinians of their heritage is quite possibly the greatest political scam of modern times. It is the outcome of a mixture of historical amnesia, ideological prejudice and reflex hostility, which keep it mind-proof.” Those promoting this scam are peddlers of deception!

An old story

Newt Gingrich, an erstwhile Republican Party candidate for the US Presidency and an astute historian, recently shocked the media world when he stated that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” However, being the respected historian that he is, no one was able to challenge him; not even the liberal anti-Israel academic world! His facts were “water-tight!” This is just a reality. This however does not mean that he was demeaning the people who now claim a Palestinian national identity. It simply means that he told the truth and, as we found out, the truth hurts. Social justice must be built on the truth. This is why it was necessary to dismantle the Apartheid regime since the awful oppressive record of the white minority government of South Africa was true. It could not be disputed; but in the Middle East we have a claim to land by a people that were in fact invented and indeed never did have a history of national statehood in Palestine. The people who do are the Jews and their claim has a four thousand year history!! Isn’t that amazing; but you would never believe it if you listened to the narrative projected by the new peddlers of deception. When we “sell the truth” we will, in the end, fall.

At the beginning of the 20th Century and up until 1948 all peoples living in British Mandated Palestine were designated “Palestinian”, even Jews! I have personally seen many identity documents testifying to this. It is a fact. This means that there never was a Palestinian People, as we know them today. The truth is the new Palestinian people were invented by the PLO as a tool to further their struggle to completely destroy the State of Israel. Yasser Arafat, probably the most famous Palestinian, was in fact an Egyptian! This “invention” took root in 1964 at a time when the PLO and its various partners had everything they say they want now; even the Old City of Jerusalem, and yet they drew up a charter having “destruction clauses” that essentially called for the removal of Jewish sovereignty over all the remaining areas of the region. This they called the “Phased Plan” for the total destruction of Israel. Note; they drew up a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and not a constitution calling for Palestinian statehood even though they possessed Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (The West Bank). In short they created a people group as part of their strategy to destabilize all of Israel and, as they put it then, “to drive the Jews into the sea.” This is the truth and social justice activists must take this into consideration.  This in turn means that the Palestinians never actually existed as a state and therefore Israel has never occupied their so-called territory. Israel’s claim to all the territory west of the Jordan River is also legal under international law as it was verified by the League of Nations in 1922 under the San Remo Agreement and thereafter confirmed by the United Nations in 1948. This too is the truth.

This of course brings us to the Oslo initiatives of the 1990s. The fact that Israel, by a process of negotiation, agreed to cede territory to the Palestinians changed the equation but it did mean that Israel, that had a right to the land by international law, was demonstrating a commitment to social justice by agreeing to give it away. It also meant that if she remained on it after the Oslo Accords having been signed she would be designated an occupier.   However, it also meant that the Palestinians, through their leadership, would have to be honest peace partners and disavow violence and thus remove the destruction clauses from their charter. This they have never done. Thus up until the Oslo Accords Israel was not an occupying force. As we all know the Oslo agreements were hammered out between the Israeli leadership headed up by Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO leadership headed up by Yasser Arafat. The truth is, Arafat was a dishonest peace partner; he never intended to keep his side of the agreements and even said so in Johannesburg  in 1994; just five months after he had  shaken the hands of Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin on the lawns of the White House. All the while Israel, by September 2000, had fully withdrawn from the Palestinian territories in compliance with the Oslo dictates and yet the Palestinians began an Intifada (uprising) in September of that year on the grounds that Ariel Sharon, the then housing Minister, could not visit the Temple Mount. Years later Arafat’s wife Sulha admitted that the Intifada was strategically planned because her husband was not prepared to give away, as she put it, “The Palestinian inheritance.”

Arafat therefore, and by implication the Palestinians, did not negotiate in good faith. Thus, in what way do they now cry out for social justice? In the end, as it has always been, the Palestinian form of social justice is the complete destruction of Israel. This is the old story that never changes and, if you doubt it, just take a look at the school books given to their children and listen to the sermons preached by their Muslim clerics every Friday. Palestinian Media Watch will be more than willing to give you unedited copies of these. Golda Meir was right when she stated in 1957 that, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel.”

So, given the duplicity that was employed under the Oslo agreements, it is clear that those who require justice, given the painful concessions that they made up until September 2000, are the Israelis! They made ridiculous agreements in their pursuit of peace including being willing to hand over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians, arming them with weapons and offering them 97% of the West Bank and, if this was not enough, they unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and were rewarded with 12,000 missiles launched against their southern towns and villages.  You talk of social justice; well surely the displaced people of Gush Katif would like to receive it! But sadly this narrative is denied, distorted and conveniently ignored because of an old hatred coupled to a militant Islamic religious ideology that cannot abide the existence of a Jewish State in the region. And this too is the truth!

The fact is; the Palestinian leadership has time and time again robbed their people of justice and should be held accountable. By now they could have had a state with significant parts of Jerusalem as its capital but they do not; all because they could not embrace social justice, courage and honesty.

The new reality

That a people now exist called Palestinians is a reality. Three generations have brought this people to a place of viable existence. No one can or should deny it. This means that at least two generations have been trapped in the never ending cycle of violence and intrigue and yet it will surprise many to learn that today Palestinians on the West Bank enjoy a higher standard of living, education and economic prosperity than their counterparts in the region. Consequently, the gross domestic product of their region is in strong positive territory and expected to grow even more during the years to come. Why is this? Because their economy is intertwined with one of the most successful economies in the world today; that of Israel’s. Given the chaos of the so-called “Arab Spring” the West Bank is an island of prosperity. Sounds like economic justice to me!

Sadly at a political level the plotting and hatred continues unabated and so Mahmoud Abbas has recently cemented his relationship, and therefore that of the destiny of his people, with Hamas. There must be no mistake about the significance of this in that it puts the Palestinians on a collision course with Israel because it affirms their commitment, as it always has been, to annihilate Israel. The Israelis must respond, and have, by tightening security to protect their citizens from harm. At a joint statement after their meeting Abbas and Mashaal of Hamas said, “We are determined to resist the enemy and achieve our national goals.”  So, once again there will be no social justice for the Palestinians as the Israeli pullout from Gaza demonstrated. Hamas did not see this as a token of goodwill and an opportunity to build a new economic and social order for their people but rather as an act of weakness and immediately set about building assault tunnels and launching missile attacks in their thousands against the southern villages of Israel. Is this social justice? Jihad against Israel will continue and the Palestinian people will pay the price in having to be continuously subjected to checkpoints, searches, general security measures and barrier walls. We should all weep over this human tragedy and truly Jesus does weep at the checkpoint but not for reasons espoused by some evangelical leaders today! If you ask the attendees at the “Christ at the Check Point Conference” or the Sabeel movement, “Who is responsible for Palestinian suffering?” their answer will be Israel but the facts tell a different story. But this “different story” will never be heard because it is not politically correct to tell it. The peddlers of deception will make sure of it.

The need for compassion

So, where should the church be in all of this? The answer lies in first getting hold of the truth and the facts surrounding the big picture. I have very briefly given these above. When we do this we are better enabled to put forward the call for social justice. Social justice will take hold when leaders are transparent, honest and really committed to peace. What does the history of this conflict tell us? I will leave my readers to answer that question. No wonder Paul exhorted us to place leaders at the very top of the prayer list. Secondly, we need to recognize that there is a small picture that begs for our attention as well. That is, that real men, women, boys and girls are trapped in this conflict on both sides and they need help, care, love and compassion. In Jesus’ day whole communities of one type or another were caught in the conflict that Rome brought to the region. Jesus, almost exclusively ignored the conflict but instead healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the stranger (even the Roman one) and lifted up the broken-hearted. He blessed the children, sat with sinners and taught the multitudes about God. Scripture affirms that He moved from one check point to another as He traveled from the Galilee to Jerusalem and never said a word about them! He knew that the big picture was in the hands of the Father as it is today.

So, our hearts should break as we witness ordinary Palestinian people grappling with the trauma of having to live “caged in” behind walls and impeded on a daily basis by security checks etc. We should also weep for Jewish families that have had their children and loved ones brutally murdered and torn from them. This is no way to live and these images, projected in a way that divorces them from the bigger picture, can turn anyone into a radical activist and they do; on both sides of the divide. A distorted image is no foundation upon which to build social justice. The Second Intifada was given momentum because video footage appeared to show a twelve-year-old boy being shot by Israeli troops. The fact is the video was distorted and edited to make it look like this and a French journalist who witnessed the whole thing later testified in a French court that the boy was in fact killed by Palestinian gunfire. He fled to France because his life had been threatened if he dared to tell the truth. So, once again, the peddlers of deception pushed home their false narrative.

Thus, while some evangelicals gather  to reinforce their distorted narrative and lay blame for everything at Israel’s door let us ask them how many millions of Shekels they have invested in the social upliftment of Palestinians? I am the erstwhile leader of one of the biggest Christian Zionist organizations in the world. I therefore know for a fact that considerable amounts of money were constantly invested in Palestinian communities. In fact the organization I led distributed its social welfare relief into the region strictly according to its population demographics and still does. We cared for everyone just as Jesus did. This is social justice on the move!  It is not selective but gives “voice” to the biblical truth that Jesus loves all people the same. He has no favorites. Compassion is not endless words and an attempt to win an ideological battle. The truth is the truth and it must be well understood and embraced but compassion reaches to the heart and says, because God loves you I will help you. One cannot be unmoved by the tears that flow down children’s faces or by the distress that comes to mothers and fathers trying to get by in a world that traps them in endless discouragement.

The Christian message demands that we hold to the truth, that which is biblical and historical, and that we bring to all the peoples of the Middle East a message of love and hope. When we do this we will be mediators of social justice.

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Peddlers of Deception / Fulfillment Theology

Peddlers of Deception / Fulfillment Theology

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                                “Cultivate the habit of reading prophecy with a single eye to the

                                 literal meaning of its proper names. Cast aside the old traditional

                                 idea that Jacob, and Israel, and Judah, and Jerusalem, and Zion

                                 must always mean the Gentile Church, and that the predictions

                                 about the second Advent are to be taken spiritually, and the

                                 first Advent literally. Be just, and honest, and fair. If you expect

                                 the Jews to take the 53rd of Isaiah literally, be sure you take the

                                 54th, 60th, and 62nd literally also.”

                                                                                Bishop J. C. Ryle-Liverpool 1867

 

In recent years a new form of Replacement Theology has arrived on the Christian scene called Fulfillment Theology. Like Replacement Theology it ends up contending that, since the time of Jesus, the Jews no longer enjoy a god-given national destiny in the land of Canaan. This time around it is not the Church that replaces Israel and takes over all her promises in scripture but in fact Jesus. He fulfills in His life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews; even the promise that Canaan would be the everlasting possession of the Jewish people! Jesus is the Promised Land. This allows the proponents of this theory to distance themselves from the awful evil deeds and anti-Semitic positions that those espousing Replacement Theology have been guilty of throughout the centuries. However, they end up believing the same thing and thus peddling the same deception.

Here for example is what Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College says in his book, “Jesus and the Land”:

“Jesus does not envision a restoration of Israel per se but instead sees Himself as embracing the drama of Jerusalem within His own life….In some manner, the initial restoration of Israel has already begun inasmuch as Christ, the new temple, the New Israel, has been resurrected. This theological agenda is called John’s messianic replacement (or fulfillment) motif…The replacement motif threads its way through the gospel as a controlling idea in the so-called Book of Signs (John 1-12).”

God and Israel’s modern day restoration.

Much of the above is backed up by scripture but falsely so! Therefore, it always comes down to the same thing and that is; to find a way to disinvest the Jews of any divine action or biblical significance in Israel’s modern day restoration. Once this position has been taken Israel can be viewed as any other nation state entangled in an internal and regional conflict. This usually means that any people can lay claim to the Holy Land, and they do, and Israel is constantly portrayed as an occupying bully robbing other peoples of their land and refusing to hand over to them the old biblical city of Jerusalem. The fact that the Jews have a three thousand year unbroken relationship with Jerusalem is routinely ignored and discarded.

Today many Christians back this thesis and even some evangelicals are beginning to abandon their traditional pro-Israel biblical position in favor of Fulfillment Theology. Also the fact that some leading Christian academics and Ministers have thrown their weight behind it is giving added momentum to its dissemination and acceptance. Nevertheless it remains a flawed theological thesis and those who propagate it are peddlers of deception.

Jesus and Fulfillment

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18

When Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law He meant just that! That is, He would perfectly fulfill in His life the moral demands of the Law on behalf of a fallen world. He would thus prove to be a perfect man and would give His life on the cross so as to remove the curse of the Law from our lives (Galatians 3:13). Jesus thus saves us by the power of a perfect and thus indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16). So, in Matthew five, six and seven He was not talking about the Covenant that God made with Abraham but about the Covenant that God made with Moses. The context of these chapters overwhelmingly proves this. Jesus was expounding the inward nature of the Law and our failure to keep it. He would thus fulfill the demands of it by living in us! This is the very essence of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35; Romans 8:3-4). This, and only this, is what He fulfills. To suggest then that He was in some way by this statement debunking the Abrahamic Covenant and assuming that in His person only its promises would now be fulfilled is a giant leap into mere speculation and error.

Moses and Fulfillment

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” Deuteronomy 18:15

 Moses, referring to Jesus, said that God would raise up a Prophet like unto himself. Again Moses was the great Lawgiver of Israel and this coming Prophet (Messiah) would be like Moses unique and “one of a kind.” He would fulfill the obligations of the Law on behalf of a fallen world. Moses was not undermining the promises given to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant by this statement. No to the contrary he was in fact giving it “executive authority.” Abraham’s Covenant is God’s decision to save the world (Galatians 3:8) but Moses’ Covenant is God’s decision to teach the world that it needs to be saved (Romans 3:20). Moses empowers Abraham! That is, the world must be convicted of sin (Moses) before it can be saved from sin (Jesus). The Apostle John put it this way…”For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The fact that Jesus’ life then was in some measure a re-enactment of Moses’ life does not imply that God has torn up His covenant with Abraham. This is a leap of total presumption and those who make it are not on “biblical territory”. Rather it implies that God is going to “tear up sin” in our lives and that Israel would identify the Prophet who would do this by His likeness to Moses! Therefore the nation of Israel has no excuse for not recognizing Him. So, Jesus:

  1. Was born under the Law  (Galatians 4:4).
  2. Lived under the Law (John 1:14-18).
  • Was circumcised according to the Law (Luke 2:25-2).
  • Was taught by the word of the Law (Luke 2:46).
  • Was for forty days in the wilderness proved by the Law (Luke 4:1-13).
  • Went up to a mountain to deliver the Law (Matthew 5:1-2).
  • Died to fulfill the demands of the Law on behalf of all people (Romans 8:3-4).

This proved that Jesus was Moses’ successor but He did not abolish, in any way, the promises of God made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant. These promises set aside the Jewish people as the “vehicle of world redemption” (Romans 3:1-2; 9:1-5) and they designate Canaan as the everlasting possession of the people of Israel (Genesis 17:7-8). Indeed the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant, and God’s faithfulness to it, as proof that He can be trusted and will not fail believers in Jesus who have been saved by the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20).  The writer makes these statements years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials. This is important to note because those espousing Fulfillment or Replacement Theology assert that Israel forfeited the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant because of their rejection of Jesus. To suggest then that these promises have been somehow abolished or are fulfilled by Jesus is just not true. The Hebrew Prophets clearly “see” a day of restoration for the Jewish people that goes beyond their return from Babylon (Amos 9:11-15; Isaiah 2:1-4; Zechariah 14). It is passages like the one in Amos that confound “fulfillment proponents” and lead some of them to state that these scriptures need to be “de-zionized!” That is, altered or removed from the Bible because they predict a future and final return of the Jews to the land of Canaan by which they will never be plucked up again and exiled. Clearly Amos, and for that matter Isaiah and Zechariah, is writing of a day far beyond that of 520 BC because the Jews were exiled again in 70 AD and were plucked up again.

Paul and Fulfillment

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” Galatians 3:16

In Galatians three Paul is not arguing for or suggesting that the Abrahamic Covenant has been reconstructed or entirely fulfilled in Jesus. Indeed then he is not referring to a re-arrangement of the covenant made with Abraham but to an aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant that was enshrined in it when God first made it with Abraham two thousand years before. That is, while the Covenant has clear promises to Abraham’s descendants (plural) (Genesis 17:7) it also holds a promise in a descendant (singular) (Genesis 22:18). In other words, from the very beginning a promise of land and purpose is given to the descendants of Abraham but, at the same time, a promise of salvation and reconciliation with God is given through a descendant; Jesus! The two promises are mutually interdependent. That is, the one cannot do without the other in that the coming of the “Seed” is totally dependent upon the return of the “seeds” to the land of Canaan and Bethlehem in particular in 520 BC. Therefore the gospel of Luke teaches us that Jesus and John the Baptist came into the world because of God’s faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant (Luke 1:54-55; 71-75).

The real point that Paul was making is that salvation is not received by attempting to keep the Law as the Law was only given to convict of sin (Galatians 2:16; 3:24). Only those who exercise living faith in the finished redeeming work of the “seed” can experience salvation. This promise was made 430 years before the Law was given (Galatians 3:17-18). Paul was not tampering with the Abrahamic Covenant and suggesting that it has been reconstructed or abolished; actually he affirms that in no way can it be annulled and this is why it enjoys an authority that he appeals to(Galatians 3:15).

It must be remembered that the promise that a Seed, as of one, would save the world was made two thousand years before Jesus came. If this was the full extent of the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant then God would never have led the “seeds” out of Egypt into the Promised Land. The peddlers of deception are constantly seeking to undermine the Abrahamic Covenant by the contextual abuse of Galatians 3:16. That is, they seek to eradicate the eternal promises in the covenant made to Abraham’s descendants and, if they can succeed in this then they can invalidate Israel’s modern day restoration by asserting that it enjoys no biblical significance.  One cannot and should not read Galatians three like that. This is the absurd position of those who hold to fulfillment theology. The Bible itself debunks this nonsense. It is a false theology just like its sister called Replacement Theology.

Conclusion

In Paul’s time there was only one cannon of scripture, the Hebrew Scriptures or, what many call the Old Testament. It was to these scriptures that Paul was chiefly referring when he wrote, “all scripture is inspired and given of God” etc. (2Timothy 3:16). The same goes for Peter when he wrote that scripture is given by holy men who were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:21). In other words the New Testament, though equally inspired, is in fact, a faithful exposition of the Old Testament scriptures. When we realize this we honor all of scripture and recognize that no “prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation.” Those who seek to disinvest the Jewish people of a biblical significance to their modern day return to Zion are in essence seeking to re-write great God-given covenants that God bequeathed to Israel. They are thereby ‘playing with fire” and placing themselves in conflict with the purpose of God. In all of this it is good to remember that we can do nothing against the truth. (2 Corinthians 13:8) This should make us all tremble!

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Passover 2018

Passover 2018

2018 devotionals 2018Devotional

 

                        “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared

                         to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and

                         worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and

                         godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and

                         glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

                         who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from

                         every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special

                         people, zealous for good works.”

 

                                                                                    Titus 2:11-14

 

In these coming days we will celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The cross of Jesus is the shining light of God’s love for a sinful world and what happened upon it was given power and meaning by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus removed God’s anger and wrath from over our lives and consequently brought us forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God our Father. By the cross and resurrection of Jesus, God our Father in Heaven, has then imputed Christ’s righteousness to our lives meaning that being in Christ He sees us as perfect; just as if we had never sinned. We are the recipients of eternal life and therefore we are saved from an eternity separated from God. This is what it means to be saved!

Death has been conquered and its dark and foreboding sting has been removed from us. It is now a mere doorway to the glorious and real eternal presence of God. We are truly saved from our sins and rejoice in the sure hope of living out an eternal purpose with God our Savior. This is good news indeed and constitutes a glorious message of hope for those who would embrace it. Sadly, according to Jesus, few will!

It is then no coincidence that the history of the human race is divided by the coming of Jesus and His saving work on the cross. The cross towers over history and calls us home to God our Father. Truly every person is living before Christ or after Christ. That is, we either have Him in our lives and are consequently saved from our sins or we do not have Him in our lives and remain in our sins and under the wrath of God. Which is it? I sincerely hope that it is the former since Christ in us is the only way to the eternal glory of God.

May the great God of Israel “who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever, Amen.”

Malcolm Hedding