Tag Archives: Israel

Happy Passover

Sundown today marks the beginning of Passover 2024. Passover marks the deliverance from slavery to freedom by the death of a firstborn and the death of an innocent lamb. It’s also an act of judgment and mercy born in the heart of the gracious, loving, and just Most High God. Amen.

Sin and death seem linked, as do innocent blood and forgiveness — forever.

On Earth at the moment, the scope of anti-Semitism and humanistic rebellion against this magnificent God is noteworthy. Similar situations have had their moments in history but have not swelled to the proportions seen in the past century and at this moment. Nor has it been seen to this extent in people professing faith in God. What does this portend for us as human beings? A time for war?!

Angels, demons, and the people they influence worldwide are players in this cosmic and cataclysmic scenario. The most important part and factor is the judgment of the Almighty—how and when He will choose to act, but act He will, out of justice and love.

There will be deliverance and protection for his own, those who fear him and draw near in fidelity and obedience. And there will be judgment on the evil and the unjust — a removal of cancer, if you will, for the nations and His creation. Selah.

Happy Passover 2024, as you remember the gracious, merciful Holy One who initiated this deliverance and the Passover of the death angel who judged a rebellious, idol-ridden world power bent on destroying God’s chosen people.

Worship the lamb and celebrate the victory he gives and makes possible over sin and death — also over sin and slavery.

“Pesach Sameach” 

    פסח שמח  

       Happy Passover

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“’O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?’

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NLT).

“Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ …
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2).

“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).

Christmas and Hanukkah 2023

On an early-morning, 3-mile walk around our neighborhood with my wife, we stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. Soon, our conversation turned to soul care — reading the Bible habitually, praying, staying in a community of faith — and abiding in the Light.

“Soul care” seems to be jumping out to me everywhere. Ron, my neighbor, came into the yard yesterday evening, catching me putting the last touches on our Christmas angel, and he was there for the lighting ceremony just as the sun was setting and Hanukkah was beginning. While enjoying a beautiful moment and sunset, our conversation turned to “soul care” — the habits, disciplines, and rhythms of the Christian faith and subsequent peace.

Hanukkah is from the Hebrew word for consecration. Hanukkah, according to dictionary.com is “A Jewish festival lasting eight days, celebrated from the 25th day of the month of Kislev to the 2nd of Tevet in commemoration of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees following their victory over the Syrians [168 BC] under Antiochus IV, characterized chiefly by the lighting of the menorah on each night of the festival.” Sometimes spelled Chanukah, it is also called the Feast of Dedication or the Feast of Lights.

Bethlehem Light

On our morning walk, we also discussed that “people believe what they want to believe.” When it comes to Bethlehem, can you really overlook such a carefully placed puzzle piece? You can if your heart doesn’t want to know, see, or believe.

On the same note, if you do want to believe there is a God who cares, Who is there, and always does what He says from generation to generation, then pause at Bethlehem. Open your eyes, your ears, your heart, your soul, your spirit, and peer in wonder at a humble Baby and the very heart of your Creator God.

The sky was full of light that night! Happy Hanukkah.

Bethlehem and Hanukkah

What do these two have in common? Other than both will begin on the same day December 25, 2024 — light! Those living in darkness will see a great light in Galilee of the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:1-2, Matthew 4:14-15). A prophet, priest, and King is born in Bethlehem, Judah, as predicted by the prophet Micah (5:2). Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” is a fitting beginning for Jesus, who would call himself the “bread of life.” The Lion of Judah, the Son of David, was born in the same town David was, 1000 years earlier. Seems like too big a coincidence, doesn’t it?

The religious (those trusting in their own knowledge and works) didn’t see it. Check for yourself. Does any prophet come from Nazareth? (John 7:52). Who else doesn’t see? And who does? That’s a fascinating study within itself as you follow Jesus’ life and ministry on the pages of the Gospels.

It’s by invitation only! But the guest list is immense, in keeping with the wealth and goodwill of the Host. There is an RSVP stated or implied, and that’s our only responsibility, apparently. 

Please, stop what you’re doing. Put worldly cares and your to-do list aside. Enter into the joy of the Lord, where there is feasting without strife and rest — where there is true life.

Take care of your soul. Start living your faith or keeping your faith in an ever-increasing and deepening fashion. There dwells light and life — love and joy.

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But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity
” (Micah 5:2).

But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:1-2).

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst’” (John 6:35).

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” (John 8:12).

Love What God Loves

As barbaric and evil as the October 7, 2023, attack on Israel by its Palestinian neighbors in Gaza was, the anti-Semitism that has come to light around the world since then may be even more disturbing. There are people marching, rioting, burning flags around the world, and threatening violence against Jews who probably don’t know a Jew or who have never met a Jewish person. How do you explain that? Outside of dark, evil spirits?

Yes, people are jumping up and down around the world, protesting for media attention, burning Israeli and US flags, waving Palestinian flags, and defacing and destroying property while they chant “Free Palestine” or “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” 

Not surprisingly, in a recent survey, American college students were asked about the chant  “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free.” They were asked which river and which sea. An overwhelming majority of them did not know. Their guesses were as preposterous and humorous as they were sad and telling — telling that college-educated adults in the US have so little grasp of the history, religion, geography, and politics of the region, as well as the Bible.

My own experience asking three college students in our church wasn’t all that different. That’s also telling. The referenced sea and river are the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The PLO popularized the phrase in the 1960s, calling for themselves to have a state that encompasses all of Israel and for Israel to have no country or state at all.

Those familiar with the Bible will recall that God gave Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and their descendants forever the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River, a much larger part of the Middle East. Israel’s boundaries under King Solomon about 1000 BC — 1700 years before Islam — were as large as they have ever been, but the whole possession hasn’t been under Israeli control yet. All the while, for 4000 years,  since Abraham, Jews have lived in the land. They just didn’t have an officially recognized nation since the Romans destroyed and dispersed them 70-73 AD, that is, until the miraculous return to the land after WWII and the rebirth of their nation on May 14, 1948.

“Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west” (Joshua 1:4— also see Genesis 15:18-20, Genesis 26:3, Genesis 28:13).

So that is a little history and geography lesson. Maybe a theology lesson, too. Grab your Bible and some history books, or do some valid research on the web. This is going to be an important issue going forward to the end of time. You should know what you believe and why it’s important. You should know what is right, historical, just, and true — the facts.

Jesus said, “You shall know them [people] by their fruit,” by what they do, not what they say. Have a serious look at what both sides in the conflict have said and done throughout history, especially since 1948. Then, draw your own conclusions. 

In the meantime, you can dwell on the Bible-stated truth that God hates violence, and God loves Israel. You will always do well to love what God loves and hate what God hates.

“And God loves Israel, declaring, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness’” (Jeremiah 31:3). “The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion” (Psalms 11:5).

Those who do not love what God loves and hate what God hates, those who passionately support violence and hate Israel, are shaking their angry fists at God. This never ends well for them, their political organization, and those who support them.

This is how to make sense of it, even with the smoke and media haze — misguided secular-humanist deception. Harvard? Pit? MIT? CNN? BBC? Beware of deception!

Be aware of these verses: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10b-11).

Choose the age-old wisdom and most basic Bible teaching, “Fear God and keep His commandments.” Or if that seems out-of-date or too draconian for you, “Love What God loves, and hate what God hates,” and you’ll be fine and fare well.

Shalom and Godspeed on your journey to truth — also righteousness, peace, and joy.“For the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Indeed, that’s what Israel is in the process of doing right now. They are freeing Israel /Palestine from a people who love violence, oppress their own, practice lawlessness and injustice, hate Israel, their neighbors, and fire rockets and missiles at them incessantly. You reap what you sow. There is One who sees to it.

May our gracious Creator and King exercise justice and judgment mixed with mercy. It’s His to do. And He is the only One who can.

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To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).

[An article I wrote about end times events in 2018]

A Time for War — Day 19

A Time for War — Day 19

Those who know me know I don’t watch the news much — that is an understatement. I speak to that and why in my latest book Puzzling 2020. It’s something along the lines of these verses and what they convey:

“Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil, he will dwell on the heights; his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks; his bread will be given him; his water will be sure. Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar” (Isaiah 33: 15b-17a ESV).

It’s also so that I can be still and quiet in my spirit and hear impressions from the Holy Spirit. I’m a fighter pilot and a warrior at heart, so I can get as stirred up as anyone. But I try not to do so. Not being tied to the news aids my joy and effectiveness in living the kingdom life God has gifted and planned for me. The following verse speaks to this aspect of living:

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

Who’s Reporting Can I Trust ?

All the above said, I can quickly tell you who’s reporting to trust, or at least that I trust — Amir Tsarfati, a Jew living in Israel. He has a historical, Biblical, and God-fearing perspective. He also has served in the IDF and has military insights and battle-field awareness. I would call it finger-on-the-pulse awareness of how the Israeli defense forces and intelligence community are thinking about the defense of Israel and her people. Also, what’s really happening there on the ground.

Objective, truthful, no hype, to the point — that’s how I see his messages and briefings. If you want to know the man, and hear some of his reporting click below.

Recent Amir Tsarfati Interview where he shares his own life story and Biblical/historical perspective on the nation of Israel. Who is Amir Tsarfati and what is the truth about Israel?

Amir Tsarfati  War Day 17 Report

His Bible teaching is best accessed on his YouTube channel, Behold Israel.

His military and world perspectives are best followed via Telegram. [Download this App then enter “https://t.me/beholdisraelchannel” and select “View Channel.”]

Another Good Perspective

I was in a men’t meeting early this morning that concentrates on the spiritual habits, disciplines, or rhythms like reading the Bible, prayer, mediation, etc. so we can hear better spiritually and follow those leadings to live joyful, productive lives while getting to know the King better and better. The leader, Ron, introduced us to another preacher and his Biblical/historical perspective on Israel, and also the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is excellent, so I’ll share.

Here’s Some Related Music With Relevance to Israel Today

Psalm 121 by Joshua Aaron performed in Jerusalem

Zion by Aaron Shust

Raise Us Up by a Hebrew/Arabic ministry I’ve visited in Jerusalem

Pray! For the peace of Jerusalem, Israel, and the world — to the One Who can make it happen and controls world events ultimately. Shalom שלום

A Time For War

Jeremiah & Ecclesiastes October 2023

How ironic and synchronistic that I am reading Ecclesiastes and Jeremiah at this time, the same time Israel is embroiled in a war against a bloody, evil enemy, gunning down innocent women and children and committing even more grotesque atrocities.

As bad as it is, it’s child’s play compared to what happened to Israel in 722 BC, 586 BC, and 70 AD. If you read the Bible and history, you know this is not at all that unusual and is predictable – just not the time, place, or scope. The Biblical narrative is the only explanation that makes sense as to the why of it all.

My eyes fell on Ecclesiastes 7:14 this morning. And it brought to mind Ecclesiastes 3:8 (3:1-18) where Solomon speaks philosophically of life on the planet before God. He mentions “there is a time for war.”

Israel — A Time for War

It seems the church in the west is woefully ignorant about Israel, her place in the Bible and history, and how God sees her – which is the most important part. How God sees things is how they really are! See Isaiah 46:9-10 & Psalm 2. 

How are Christians, all nations, and all people to view Israel? First, we should honor and bless Israel! God made Abraham a promise, then extended it to Isaac and Jacob and their descendants forever: “I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you, and in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Secondly, we are to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6). Thirdly we are to realize the miracle that is Israel (Isaiah 66:8), and visit Israel if we can. You will bless them, and you will be blessed beyond your expectation! Fourthly, Israel is the apple of God’s eye, and He gave them the land, forever (Genesis 35:10-12 and others). Even if they don’t keep their covenant with Him, He will honor His word to them because that’s who He is – a God that is faithful and keeps His word forever (2 Timothy 2:13, Isaiah 40:8).

Lastly, he will punish or correct his children as any good father would, for their own good. Throughout history God has used other nations to do this or has allowed it – then He has crushed  those people and nations because they raised their hand against Gods anointed, and often went beyond their boundaries in doing so. (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Hebrews 12:6-7 ). God’s judgments are true and altogether righteous (Ps 19:9, Rev 19:2). He can make the punishment fit the crime, and He sees into the very thoughts and intent of every human heart.

That’s enough for this short blog. I have a chapter about Israel as God’s chosen nation and God’s time piece in human history in my latest book Puzzling 2020. The best short history of Israel with an accurate Biblical perspective I’ve read recently is Miracle of Israel (Frazier & Fletcher). The most insightful book I’ve read on Islam is in the past few years is The Mystery of Islam (Little).

Enjoy Your Life — Sow Seed — Let God Be God

As the world focused on Israel again, I found myself reading: “In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider—God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

The secular humanist and Christian humanist (which should be an oxymoron), will focus on Israel or other hot spots of war in the world, wring their hands, watch the news to constantly be in the know, be fearful, and feel that humans must fix this situation! 

People with a proper and accurate view of God and an ongoing relationship with Him, will leave that up to Him, pray, and do what they can or feel led to do, but go about their lives obeying the impressions of the Spirit and doing what their hands find to do — usually to love and serve others and grow their relationship with God by spending time with Him daily. And they will enjoy their lives — a beautiful gift! (Psalm 46:10, Isaiah 30:15, Psalm 121, Ecclesiastes 2:24, Hebrews 4:11-13, I Thessalonians 4:11, Matthew 11:27-30 and many other Scriptures speak to this.)

This year I’ve found myself actively involved in our multigenerational, collegiate community of believers, mentoring and being mentored, helping churches in Honduras and Uganda, and being involved in men’s groups. And I’ve gone with my wife and friends on a Rhine cruise. I’ll blog on these events later. I have a mantra, “It’s better to live life than to record it.” But I am behind blogging and keeping the book’s webpage fresh, so I’ll report soon. I think you get the idea. Read through Ecclesiastes and Jeremiah this month if it isn’t clear. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as you go about doing good (Ephesians 2:10), and spending time with God daily in His Word and prayer. Shalom, and Godspeed as you journey.

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A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.

He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him” (Ecclesiastes 3:8-14).

In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider—
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him
” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you
‘” (Psalm 122:6).

Grace & Humility

Grace to the Humble

Judean Wilderness near Jericho

With the advent of June, the DaySpring calendar with quotes and Scriptures that lives in our bathroom is speaking about humility.

June 1: “We have the perfect example of humility in Jesus. If He could bow to His Fathers will, and consider others as Himself, then it is our honor to do the same.”

June 2: “Lord, I ask for Your help to truly humble myself, seek Your face, turn from my wicked ways and pray more fervently.”

June 3: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Stone Mosaic Sea of Galilee

As someone has wisely said, when you see a “therefore” in the Scripture, you need to stop and ask yourself, “What’s it there for?” Then go back and read above it, or the context. I’ve included those verses below, and the context is humility.

We really can’t make too big a deal about humility, in our life and in our relationship with God.

In Psalm 34:2b we find the phrase, “The humble shall hear …” Evidently, not being prideful or boastful or trusting in oneself, but being humble is integral to hearing the voice or whisper of God.

Magdala

We know that satan’s biggest issue was pride and boasting that led to self deception. That’s true of secular humanist too, those who disregard God and make themselves out to be their own gods, and masters of their own fates.

But to all this boastfulness and pride the Scripture would say, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV

In fact the Scripture and prophets remind us in many places of a proper posture before God, “Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20b NKJV

Nazareth

Christ Jesus

To Whom did this magnificent, all powerful, all knowing God — the Creator and Sustainer of all, exalt to the highest place? And give the highest name?

His most humble and obedient Son.

Could this be the trait about God Himself He admires most? In Himself, the Trinity — the triune One God?

And in His creation? Especially His sons and daughters? Think about it.


Caesarea

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.”
Psalm 34:2 NKJV

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 NKJV


Neighborhood Bicycle Ride

“But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:20

“The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalm 11:4

“Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.” Zephaniah 1:7

“Be silent before the LORD, all people, for He has roused Himself from His holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13


“I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully,’ And to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn.” Psalm 75:4

“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.” I Samuel 2:3

Valley of Decision

 This morning in our FYV Fellowship Matthew study, the location of this spot came up. I sent the following email to the leaders of the group in response and thought you might be interested as well. I hadn’t listened to Gene Little’s words in awhile, but they are timely perhaps and true. I invite you to listen with ears that hear, and see what you hear? For yourself?  Blessings
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More recent visit with my editor and friend – Jerusalem

Greetings Friends,

Good to be with you this morning.

I would not be clear on where the Valley of Jehoshaphat was myself except for a personal trip I took to Israel in 2017, when my lodging host in Jerusalem in a serendipitous fashion offered to take me to some of his favorite off-the-beaten-path places. Here’s what happened as he handed me his phone when arriving at the rim of the valley at Teqoa, and said “Record what I’m about to say.” I did, and that was that! Take one, take only, on the spur of the moment, without warning, then off to see Herodium, and his favorite, lesser-visited, Jerusalem sites. :):)  After getting home I added the introductory music, photos, title and sent it back to him. Since that’s a hobby of mine. Enjoy!
https://youtu.be/8_FgqGDbpdE

https://bibleatlas.org/tekoa.htm

“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, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land.” Joel 3:1-2

From The Mt of Olives across the Kidron Valley
Most likely Joel’s Valley of Jehoshaphat

Many think this prophecy about the Valley of Jehoshaphat is the same location as the Valley of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron 20:20). After looking into it, I think they are a few miles separated geographically, but maybe not that different spiritually. His blessings as you ponder… or study further… and His grace to you and yours.

Addendum

After trading emails back and forth with Alan, a men’s Bible study leader, and doing more research the following came to light.

I never knew their was a reference of the Kidron Valley also being called the “the Valley of Jehoshaphat.” That’s where the confusion or debate comes from I would guess. This started in the 300’s A.D.? The ancient Jewish sources say there was no valley by that name. Wikipedia may have it as close as anyone, with their three insights or possibilities.

[1] The judgment we discussed will likely be in the Kidron Valley, between Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate and the Mt of Olives, which Joel called “The Valley of Jehoshaphat” for some reason. Perhaps symbolically? As the LORD vanquished Jehoshaphat’s attackers in his day. Certainly that’s what Joel heard the Spirit say to write. Maybe it was known as such to people in his day, and has been lost in antiquity? There is after all, much mystery in the Word… seemingly on purpose at times! As well as, much revealed!

[2] Jehoshaphat witnessed the LORD’s promised deliverance in his day near Teqoa… about 10 miles south.

The Word is always understood better in community with illumination by the same Spirit Who breathed it. 🙂 Grace be with you all.