The Battle of Jerusalem – Week 3 / January 20th

The Battle of Jerusalem – Week 3 / January 20th

2017Devotional 2017Devotional

Jerusalem, by its very name, is the city of peace precisely because the city is an imperfect replica of a heavenly one; which scripture terms as, “The Jerusalem Above” (Galatians 4:26). This heavenly city will be the eternal home of the redeemed of all ages and but the present earthly Jerusalem is the “gateway” by the cross to that perfect heavenly and eternal abode. Singular and crucial to this story of epic proportions are the Jewish people who have been designated by God to be the custodians of these treasured truths! (Romans 3:1-2)

 

  1. The Eternal Purpose of God

This may be defined as: That divine initiative to gather a holy family from all the peoples of the earth by which the heart of God will be rejoiced and the purpose of God through the ages will be fulfilled. This truth is reflected in Paul’s second letter to Timothy when he writes:

 

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our

                         Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the

                         sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

                         Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not

                         according to our works, but according to his own

                         purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus

                         before time began.” 2 Timothy 1:8-9

 

To achieve this divine initiative the God of the bible made a remarkable choice.

 

  1. The Amazing Choice of God
  • Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). God called this unique gentile into a special relationship with Himself. This would be for the saving of the world.

 

  • Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Acts 3:13). The patriarchal structure of Israel reflects the eternal purpose of God. That is, He is a God of promise or covenant (Braham), a God of atonement or sacrifice (Isaac) and a God of change or transformation (Jacob).

 

  • Abraham’s Covenant that is eternal, unchanging and guaranteed by the immutability of God Himself. (Hebrews 6:13-18). This means that in all aspects, including that of the land of Canaan nothing will ever change. God Himself declares that He is the Lord and He does not change. Numbers twenty-three and verse nineteen states, “God is not a man, that He should lie…”

 

  • Abraham’s children; the vehicle of world redemption. (John 4:22; Romans 3:1-2; Romans 9:1-5) Everything we have as Christians is Jewish, even our Messiah.

 

  1. The grave warning of God

 “Behold, the whirlwind of the Lord goes forth with

  fury, a continuing whirlwind; it will fall violently

  on the head of the wicked. The fierce anger of the

  Lord will not return until He has done it, and until

  He has performed the intents of His heart. In the

  latter days you will consider it.” Jeremiah 30:23-24

 

The construction of the Bible is such that it begins with an emphasis on the serious consequences of sin and rebellion against God. The heart of man has become “desperately sick and wicked above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and deserves nothing less than the thundering of God’s anger and wrath (Hebrews 12:18-21). We downplay our depravity to our spiritual loss! (Hebrews 10:26-31) This is especially true because God has determined in Christ to reach out to us and save us from our sins. He did this through the Jewish people and their eternal city Jerusalem! In short, by Jesus’ death in Jerusalem we are “saved from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

 

Moreover, since Israel has been the means by which God has brought His love and gift of eternal life to us our dealings with her and with her eternal city will determine whether we are blessed or cursed (Genesis 12:3).  This is no small matter and we “laugh it off” to our peril. Balaam, who set out to curse Israel, was restrained by the Holy Spirit and instead declared, “Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you” (Numbers 24: 9) This applies to the Church and to the nations of the world. We have been, a long time ago, warned of this:

 

“And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem

                        a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave

                        it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of

                        the earth are gathered against it.” Zechariah 12:3

 

                        “For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; though I

                         make a full end of all the nations where I have scattered

                         you….” Jeremiah 30:11

 

It is interesting that we are presently witnessing a concerted effort by the world community to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control. This warning is clear; in doing so they will rupture themselves!

 

  1. The Final Battle of God

 “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, and your spoil

 will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the

 nations against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the

 houses rifled and the women ravished. Half of the city

 shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people

 shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will

 go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in

 the day of battle. And in that day his feet will stand on

 the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.”

                                                Zechariah 14:1-4

 

The final and great battle of world history will be over the great city of Jerusalem. The “powers” of evil, both seen and unseen, will increasingly seek to dismantle Israel and disinvest her of her Capital, Jerusalem. In doing this they are, as they have always done throughout history, attempting to frustrate and liquidate the purpose of God on the earth. A Jewish Jerusalem is the platform, and thus the destination, of Jesus’ return to the earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  All the scriptures pertaining to the visible second coming of Christ portray Him as returning to a Jewish controlled Jerusalem.  In fact Jesus comes to defend His people living there! (Zechariah 12:8) This amazing day will be and is being resisted by all the powers of darkness and so we have to choose on what side of this battle we are going to stand? Will we risk persecution, demonic resistance and unpopularity and side with Israel or will we side with the Devil and his hordes, the Bible calls them the “sons of tumult.” (Numbers 24:17)

 

To be honest this great day of the battle for Jerusalem has already begun. It has accelerated and escalated in recent weeks by the UNESCO decision to designate Jerusalem “Islamic”, by resolution 2334 at the UN that seeks to remove Jerusalem from Israeli sovereignty and now by the “Paris Conference” that sought to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. In short Israel is on a collision course with the world but the world is on a collision course with Jesus! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

 

Malcolm Hedding

           

Thoughts to Ponder – Week 2/ January 9th

Thoughts to Ponder – Week 2/ January 9th

2017Devotional 2017Devotional

Of late I have been spoken to and touched by a wonderful verse from scripture. These words have made me think, meditate and consider my response to them. I therefore share this verse with you in the hope that it will do the same for you. I sum it up as:

The Desire of God

“Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of
Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord- for wheat
and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and
the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
and they shall sorrow no more at all.” Jeremiah 31:12

In its immediate context this verse is referring to a glorious day of redemption that is coming to Zion. The chapter tells us that it will spring forth because God will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and by it they will come to have a personal knowledge of God Himself (Jeremiah 31:31-34). So, clearly the verse in context is teaching us about the blessings of being redeemed in Christ Jesus by virtue of His finished work on the cross. In this regard, it therefore applies to us; a fact that Paul confirms in his Roman letter when he writes that Jesus was sent to confirm the promises that God had made to Israel and to save us Gentiles by God’s mercy and grace. (Romans 15:8-9)

What caught my attention is the fact that God, by His goodness, gives His flock three things:
1. Wheat
2. New Wine…. and,
3. Oil
Wheat is a symbol of God’s precious Word; it is the very bread of life and God has given it to us. The blessedness of the Bible is beyond our ability to appreciate and we should always remember this. It is a veritable treasure that can transform our lives if received properly (James 1:21) As far as Paul is concerned the Word of God is to be “rightly divided” (2 Timothy 2:15) and held in reverence (respect) because it is fully inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). The challenge from heaven is to so take hold of the pages of this book that you begin to live it as a walking picture of it! (2 Corinthians 3:1-3) We must be “living epistles’ being read by all men. I fear that not too many of us have embraced “the wheat of God” in this way.

New Wine is a symbol of a life that is filled with the very purpose of God. We can so easily get caught in a form of devotion and practice that is formal and routine. God wants us to have “New Wine.” That is, something fresh, joyful and infectious. This means that our Christian walk is attractive and thereby elicits questions from those who do not know Christ. Jesus spoke of this when He called our attention to the principle of “new wine” which essentially challenges status quo Christianity. In fact, the “new wine Christian” has to very often seek new fields of witness and practice as the old formal expression of following Christ cannot cope with it! (Matthew 9:16-17) Only a living relationship with Jesus will impart this new wine to us.

Oil, as we all well know is a picture of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is this that sets us apart as Christians. That is, we are anointed ones just as Jesus was the Anointed One or Christ! Paul exhorts us to be filled with the Spirit and thereby baptized into a world of the supernatural. (Ephesians 5:18) We are to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), give expression to manifestations of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7), and we are to build ourselves up by praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20). Jesus warned that when He comes again He might not find His people filled with His “oil.” (Matthew 25:1-13) We should take this very seriously!

Now then all this brings us to the most important part of all of this. That is, our text says that as a consequence our souls, “shall be like a well-watered garden.” This is truly a wonderful picture of spiritual health. I am an enthusiastic gardener and recently my garden was designated “The Garden of The Quarter” by the Trustees of our sub-division. This is not to brag but rather to say that I know something about a well-watered garden in that, if is well irrigated, properly prepared and then ready to be watered, it will spring into life with a beauty that is truly therapeutic. The result is one of freshness, beauty and enjoyment. There is nothing better. Now hear this, God wants our souls to be well-watered gardens and this will only take place when we ensure that our lives are being nourished by wheat, new wine and oil. Moreover, it is God Himself that delights in the well-watered garden of our souls for He visits “our garden” and rejoices in its beauty and fragrance:

“Awake, O north wind, and come, O south! Blow upon
my garden, that its species may flow out. Let my beloved
come to his garden and eat its pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16

If then you have any desire for the days that are ahead let this desire be to embrace the desire of God. Let the breath of Christ blow upon the well-watered garden of your soul. You cannot aspire to anything better.

Malcolm Hedding