Friday, 12 September 2014

Bible Prophecies: Will there be peace between Israel and other nations?

We are living in a time where Israel is always in the news. Recently it was in the news for war in the Gaza strip.
In 2006, there was war between Israel and Lebanon.
2000-2005 - Second Infatida. Palestinian uprising against Israel.
1987 - 1993 - First Infatida, again Palestinian uprising against Israel.
1982 - Lebanon war
1973 - Yom kippur war between Israel and the coalition of some Arab states.
1967 - Six day war between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
1956 - Seuz Crisis between Israel and Egypt
1948 - Palestine war between Jewish and Arab militants...
(from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Israel )

We see Israel in war with its neighboring nations ever since the birth of Israel in 1948. This often raises the following questions in our minds - Will there be peace between Israel and other nations? or Can someone bring a peace agreement with Israel and other nations? What does Bible prophecy about the future of Israel?

Today, I would like to bring to your attention a Bible prophecy about a peace deal signed between Israel and other nations.

Daniel 9:24-27 - It's popularly known as Daniel's 70 weeks.

24 “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.

25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 

27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.

To understand the concept of Daniel's 70 weeks, please go here.

In v27, we see "he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week".

'he' - refers to the prince who is to come in v26. He is known as the anti-christ.
'covenant with many' - refers to some kind of agreement with many nations to bring peace.
'one week' - refers to a period of 7 years. This can be understood from the link provided above.


'But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering'

'middle of the week' - after 3.5 years.
'end to sacrifice and offering' - Sacrifices and offerings happen in Jewish temples. Two Jewish temples were constructed and both were destroyed. The second one was destroyed at around AD 70. Since then there are no sacrifices and offerings. Here it refers to the 'end' of 'sacrifice and offering', which means that by the middle of 7 years the third temple has already been constructed and sacrifice and offerings were resumed.

Right now, the Jewish temple cannot be constructed because of the presence of Al Aqsa Mosque in the same region. Many believe that the sanction for the reconstruction of third temple will be given during the covenant made by the anti-christ in the beginning of 7 year period. I have noticed an online funding campaign for the building of third Jewish temple here.

As per the Bible prophecies, the Anti-christ will make a covenant of peace with many nations sometime during the future. Not only that, he will break the covenant after 3.5 years which marks the beginning of the great persecutions.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Bible Prophecies: Israel and the second coming of Jesus Christ

Bible prophecies are very interesting and accurate. It's interesting to note what Bible says about Israel and how is it related to the second coming of Jesus Christ and end time events. This small nation, Israel, plays an important role during the end times.

1. Prophecy concerning the return of Jewish people and prosperity of land: As we know, the Israelites were scattered throughout the earth at AD 70. They were driven out of their homeland(Palestine) by Romans at the end of AD 73. The Romans then destroyed Jerusalem and annexed Judaea as a Roman province.
Bible prophecies say that the scattered Jewish nation will come back to their homeland and the land of Israel will flourish.

Ezekiel 36:8  "But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home."
Ezekiel 36:10 - "and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt..."
Ezekiel 36:24 - "For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land."

We see the fulfillment of prophecy in 1948, when Israel was announced as a nation and they were given land in their own place. We see the land also flourished and produced much fruits after the return of Jewish people.

2. Return and rebuilding of Israel will initiate the second coming of Christ:

Psalm 102:13-16 - "You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity. The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory."

Matthew 24: 32- 34 - "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

We can see some hints from the other passages in Bible that the fig tree refers to Jewish nation.

Joel 1:6,7 -  A nation has invaded my land, a mighty army without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vines and ruined my fig trees. It has stripped off their bark and thrown it away, leaving their branches white. 

Jer 24:8-10, 29:17-19, Hosea 9:10 - In all these verses we can see Jewish nation has been compared to the fig tree.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Devotion: Trust and Fear (Psalm 56)

Trust and fear never go together. When we have so much trust in a person we don’t fear that person. When we have so much trust that a person will help us in a troublesome situation we will not fear that situation. That’s what David is also saying through this Psalm. Fear nothing when God is on your side.
This is the phrase that David is repeating twice in the Psalm.  – v3,4 and v9,10,11.
We can see the fearful situation that David is going through. As said in the heading – A Michtam of David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.
V1 – Men would swallow me up, v2 – Enemies would hound me all day, there are many who fight against me, v6 – They gather together and mark my steps, they lie in wait for my life. That’s the situation he is in when David is writing this psalm. He is surrounded by people who wait to take his life. In the midst of these situation, David is saying that – “In God I have put my trust, I will not fear. What can flesh do to me” (v4).

Whom to trust

It is very important that on whom we trust. It could be possible that we trust the wrong person. Our trust may be sincere but if we trust in the wrong person it’s all meaningless. David’s trust and confidence is in God and in no one else.
V3 – Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. , v4 – In God I have put my trust.
I think David had more things to trust rather than God. – His army, the chariots, the number of horses, his 300 mighty men. Often he had trusted in wrong things also but from his experience he has said in other psalms – It is better to trust in God rather man, princes or chariots and horses.

God is trustworthy

But is God trustworthy? A God who is living far-away, we have not seen through our physical eyes. Is he really trustworthy? But David had the confidence that He can be trusted. He never felt God is so far away. Our God is a God who takes note of everything that happen in our life. That we can see in the following verses.
V8,9,10 – So beautiful! Our God is one who sees our situation, cares for us. He is aware of our wanderings. – Psalm 121:8 – The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in.
V8:b - He sees our tears. Out tears are not in vain. It has a value before God and it is recorded. That’s the confidence of David. Malachi 3:16 – The book of remembrance where are our cries, our pains are recorded. And a day will come where the righteous and unrighteous are clearly discerned.
V9 - The greatest confidence of David was that God is for Him. No matter how cruel or how strong his enemies were, he was sure that God is for Him.
That’s the reason why David is writing about the deliverance in past tense as something which has already happened. V13.

Conclusion

Let us trust in the God. Our God is really trustworthy. Let us not be fearful of the situations because trust and fear does not go together. David as conclusion of the Psalm understood the reason why he has God delivers him from all the troubles – v13 – That I may walk before God in the light of living. So let us not be fearful in this world. Let us trust in Him who keeps record of our wanderings and our tears. And let us walk before God in the light of living. 

Devotion: Though your sins are as scarlet..(Isaiah 1:18)

These days I was thinking about the extent of God’s forgiveness. Sometimes we misunderstand the God’s forgiveness or can God really forgive all sins? Is God’s forgiveness just forgetting things? When Moses asked God to reveal himself in Exodus 34:6,7 – 
He says
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

That’s how God introduced himself, I am merciful, I am gracious, I forgive iniquity and transgression and sin. And those who are guilty, those who don’t ask for forgiveness he punishes them. I was thinking is there any sin which God cannot forgive and will not forgive. New testament says about a sin which God does not forgive in Mark 3 – Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which was committed by the Pharisees. The saw the miracles and they were aware that Jesus performed these miracles by the power of Holy Spirit but they willfully attributed it to the work of Beelzebub. That was the blasphemy against Holy Spirit. Today those who are true believers cannot commit that sin as we acknowledge and accept Holy Spirit. So there is no other sin which God can’t forgive.  

When we turn to prophet Isaiah, we see - Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool – Isa 1:18

This verse I feel is the one of the best verse which explains forgiveness. Two words are used to represent the worst of the sin that one could commit – Scarlet and Crimson. These two are the Red colors which are at the end of the color spectrum, next to orange.

In this verse, we see the condition for forgiveness - repentance and the effect of forgiveness – reconciliation or restoration of the states. Today I would like to give the true meaning of God’s forgiveness. Its not just forgetting things, the effect of forgiveness is restoration of previous relationships.

Repentance
Israel’s sin is mentioned in the verses above - the faithful city has become a harlot and murderers. But God says wash yourselves clean, stop doing evil, whatever it may be I, though it is as scarlet. I will forgive you. Here we see the extent through which God can forgive.
The sins that are not forgiven are those sins which we don’t take it to Him. Rahab was forgiven, David was forgiven, King Manasseh of Israel was forgiven, and Apostle Paul was forgiven.

Reconciliation
The effect of the forgiveness is reconciliation not just forgetting sin. After forgiveness, your sin and your condition will not remain as scarlet or crimson. But a change will happen, you will be made white as snow, like wool. White shows the purity. The other extent.

Col 1: 21, 22 – He has reconciled us through his death for what – To be holy and blameless above reproach. That is the state that God wants and result of forgiveness is that we are declared holy and blameless before God. Transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God. (V14). That is the restoration happens in our state as a result of God’s forgiveness. Our forgiveness is basically forgetting things and we try to keep them at a distance even after forgiveness. But here God restores the previous relationship that we had with him before sin.

Basis of forgiveness
Col 1:14
The basis for God’s forgiveness is the cross of Christ. The thing which was blocking our forgiveness from God was our sins. But Jesus who bore our sins on the cross and paid the penalty of sin. So that we might receive his forgiveness. If we had not died, we would have remained in that broken relationship with God, still in the kingdom of darkness, in the position of enemies of God. All our sins are forgiven on account of his name. Christ’s death is sufficient to get forgiveness for all our sins. He died for our past, present and future sins. We just need to confess to God when we sin to restore the relationship with God which was broken because of sin.  
Conclusion
Let us thankfully remember the sacrifice of Lord Jesus Christ. Without which we would never come into a relationship with God. Through his death on the cross, by making him sin, we are declared holy and blameless before God. 

Devotion: Riches in Christ ( 2 Cor 8 : 9)

This passage is not primarily speaking about the sufferings of Jesus Christ. It’s a passage where Apostle Paul is encouraging the Corinthian believers to excel in giving like the Macedonian believers. They were collecting money for the persecuted believers at Jerusalem. We can see the conclusion of Paul in v13,14. Paul says the purpose of giving is to bring equality in the church. While exhorting to give selflessly he refers to the ultimate example of giving – Jesus Christ.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of giving. The one who was richer than everyone became the poorest of all to make us rich. This is the maximum extent of giving. He had to give to this extent to bring the reconciliation between man and God. It’s not equality with God but reconciliation.

Jesus's Poverty

Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.  What are the circumstances in which a rich person would become poor? His business has collapsed, or if he has gained money illegally and he is caught, or some loss in the market. We have not heard of any rich person becoming poor voluntarily.
What do we understand about the richness of Jesus Christ? God of all, everything was created by him, for him and through him. But how do we understand the poverty of Jesus Christ? Does this mean his financial status? He dint have a home to take birth. He was born as a son of a poor carpenter. He had to work to earn a living? Is this the poverty of Jesus? No.. It means much more. Even if he was to take birth in this earth as a king still it would be considered as poor. It is clearly depicted in the Phil 2:6,7,8.
God of everything -> Man
Son -> Slave
Dwelling in heaven -> Dwelling on earth without a home.
Sits over everything controlling everything -> Suffering at the hands of the creation.
His humbled himself, his humility was his poverty.
The author of life and one who gives life to everyone – is suffering to sustain his life on the cross.

We are living in a world where everyone tries to be better than their current position. But in Jesus we see clearly against the principles of this world. Did not consider the equality with God but came down from his position.

Our Riches in Christ

What are our riches in Christ? Our richness does not mean our financial status. It does not mean that we became millionaires. Let’s read a verse which clearly conveys about our riches.
Col 1:21,22 – Reconciled, Made us holy, Made us free from all accusation.
Our richness means our access to God which was made possible through Jesus Christ.  We are now reconciled before God. What is reconciliation? We are made right with God, we are no longer alienated from God. We have fellowship with the king of the universe.
We are holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation – We are free from accusation. How can it be? A person who was a thief is no longer called theif from today. A person who is enemy to God is no more enemy to him.
Col 1:13 – From the domain of darkness to the kingdom of beloved son. Then the ultimate richness – our entrance into the kingdom of God eternally. A kingdom where there is everlasting joy, peace and rest.

Conclusion

 To bring equality ie the reconciliation between man  and God, Christ became poor. It also talks about how we have benefited by this giving. How we became rich through the poverty of Christ. As we partake from this bread and wine let us meditate on the ultimate example of giving – the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May this table exhort us to excel in our giving.  

Christian Joy

Why is joy important for a Christian? We know a lot of verses in the Bible that commands us to rejoice or be happy or be joyful. Why is ...