Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Be Effectively Involved in Middle East Affairs!

I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establishes, and till he makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth. [Isaiah 62:6-7 (KJV)].

We hear something every day about things happening in that part of the world known as the Middle East. The present resident of the White House in Washington DC makes his comments on a regular basis about what our republic is doing and how it will be involved as conflicts seem to be ever expanding in different locations. Other nations are getting involved also in one way or another now that ISIS has moved to the forefront and is considered to be a threat to world stability!

As noted in comments in another place, world leaders have yet to realize they are dealing with the most dedicated Muslims you will find anywhere in the entire world! The United States and Israel are certainly priority targets as ISIS seeks to purge the world of infidels and usher in a “purified” world where Islam is in full control of all nations. That means complete eradication of all infidels—all who are not Muslim by way of a practicing religious faith or who refuse to convert and become Muslim when given the choice! The holy book of Islam, the Quran, specifically directs that Muslims not take Christians and Jews for friends. The reason is simple – Christians and Jews along with all other non-Muslims are identified to be infidels and pose a corrupting influence to the Muslim who wants to be faithful to Allah!

However, in spite of what ISIS and other groups of dedicated Muslims are doing, a dedicated Christian can exert influence on Middle East events that will have greater and longer lasting results than all the Muslims together will be able to accomplish!

God has revealed a lot of things about the future of Israel. The nation and its prominent city, Jerusalem, are in for dramatic changes. The original covenant God made with Abraham was far reaching in its scope and the end is not yet. The Old Testament prophets gave explicit details as to miraculous changes that would take place according to God’s time table for the Israelite people. Here are just a couple or so to show what a different world it will be at some point in the future:

The word which Isaiah, the son of Amoz, saw about Judah and Jerusalem. And it will come about in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord will be placed on the top of the mountains, and be lifted up over the hills; and all nations will come to it. And the peoples will say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob: and he will give us knowledge of his ways, and we will be guided by his word; for out of Zion the law will go out, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will be the judge between the nations, and the peoples will be ruled by His decisions: and their swords will be turned into plough-blades, and their spears into vine-knives: no longer will the nations be turning their swords against one another, and the knowledge of war will be gone forever. [Isaiah 2:1-4 (Bible in Basic English)].

Again the word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain. [Zechariah 8:1-3 (KJV)].

And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. Zech 14:8-11 (KJV)

These are but a few statements of the great changes in store for the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem. They are more than enough to stir the emotions of those who have chosen to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and who believe that God will fulfill all His promises regarding the Israelite people.

But there is a way by which we can be directly involved in the affairs taking place in the Middle East rather than sort of sit on the side lines, witness what takes place from day to day and shake our heads in dismay and say, “Something ought to be done about that situation!”

Consider this:

We are clearly instructed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem – how else can you interpret such a command as found in Psalm 122:6-9: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good.” [Psalms 122:6-9 (KJV)].

Second, we are to be persistent in “bothering” God about this matter until He takes the action necessary: “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. They will never be silent day or night. Whoever calls on the Lord, do not give yourselves any rest, and do not give him any rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it an object of praise throughout the earth.” [Isaiah 62:6-7 (God’s Word)].

What is your response to God’s challenge to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to keep insisting that He will make Jerusalem to be an object of praise all over the world? Yes, it is your golden opportunity to be directly involved in the affairs of the Middle East and not simply a frustrated observer!

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. [1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)].

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Playing the Devil’s Advocate for a Moment!

{Jesus continued,} “I have said these things to you so that you won't lose your faith. You will be thrown out of synagogues. Certainly, the time is coming when people who murder you will think that they are serving God.” [John 16:1-2 (God’s Word)]

They are referred to as “extremists” and “terrorists” with the references intended to separate them from the main body of those who practice the religion of Islam. In recent times the group known as ISIS has been labeled in such terms. They have killed quite a large number of non-Muslims and this includes Christians. They have beheaded individuals, and recorded these “executions” on video. Outrage has been continually expressed and world leaders scramble to put together a plan and muster military groups to combat what is perceived to be a threat to the peace and well-being of people in many different places in this troubled world.

But stop and think this through as well as doing some reading in the holy book of Islam known as the Quran. These persons so vilified and threatened by leaders such as the present resident of the White House in Washington DC are actually among the most dedicated Muslims you will find anywhere in the world! They are simply attempting to purge the world of infidels (a term used frequently in the Quran) and to usher in an age in which Islam dominates and controls the entire world! The laws as outlined in the Quran which are regarded as extremely harsh by non-Muslims will be the standard for all living persons. And of course, all living persons will either have converted and become Muslim or will be put to death as infidels. Infidels have no legitimate right to existence in a purified Muslim world! One command given in the Quran is that Muslims are not to take Christians or Jews for friends. The reason is simple – Christians and Jews are among the infidel crowd and they are a corrupting influence.

But there is a problem among Muslims just as there is a problem among Christians. There are Muslims who are willing to compromise their faith and do not have the degree of dedication that the ISIS bunch has. A Muslim “scholar” presented his interpretation of the statement about taking Christians and Jews for friends – he would be regarded as a “liberal” – actually a traitor to the faith! Just as in Christianity we are plagued with “scholars,” teachers, church leaders, and pastors who do not believe the Bible is actually truthful in what it says! This is seen especially in denials that Jesus Christ is God revealed in human form, and performed many miracles during His ministry here on earth. The worst is the denial that He is exclusively the only way of salvation and reconciliation to God! Further that He did not really come back from the dead 3 days later following His crucifixion!

A Christian truly dedicated to his/her Lord takes the position that Jesus is indeed the only way of forgiveness and salvation. Such a Christian becomes involved in efforts to see the world converted to Jesus Christ and envisions a world in the future as being ruled by Jesus Christ and His resurrected saints.

So also the dedicated Muslim sees a future world in which Islam is in control and all infidels have been eliminated or have been converted and are devoted now to serving Allah!

The means by which the “mission” is carried out stands in sharp contrast – as much difference as there is between the brightest day and the darkest night. Dedicated Muslims are given sanction to use violence to advance the cause. Christians, however, in following the New Testament are motivated by love and are never to resort to violence – if a person rejects the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is their choice and nothing by way of retaliation is to be done to them. True, the history of Christianity is not without blemish – some horrible things were done in times past in the name of Christianity, but it cannot be supported by an honest and open-minded interpretation of the New Testament which stresses that love is one of the fruits of a loyal Christian!

Here in the United States in recent decades there has been the growing problem of compromise regarding various religious expressions. For a number, when it comes to religion, it is a bit like a popular buffet experience. You simply look at the table and select which “faith” appeals to you and that will be just fine. All religious “faiths” are on a level playing field and all have a legitimate claim to addressing issues such as life, human relationships, responsibility, accountability, final judgment (if such a thing exists), death and life beyond!

When it comes to Christianity and Islam, these two are totally incompatible if you take each of their holy books seriously. But if you take the view which a growing number are taking then you reject the radical parts and adopt the common approach of “in order to get along, then go along!”

If you want to see an example of true dedication then look at Muslims that make up a group known as ISIS! And here and there you may find a Christian also dedicated who says, “There is no way to Heaven except through Jesus Christ and in order to be a Christian with hope, you have to repent of your sins, forsake them, and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life! And if a Muslim expects to get to Heaven, he/she will have to do the same thing!”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. [Acts 4:8-12 (King JamesVersion)]