search
top
Currently Browsing: Israel

The War on the Cross

(From History/Bridgeman Images).
(From History/Bridgeman Images).

Christians frequently ask me why Jewish people struggle with the image of a cross. My response is always the same, “It’s the history attached to the cross that gives Jewish people a reason to eschew this symbol sacred to Christians.” Who is responsible for this theological war waged on the New Covenant significance of the cross?

In the past 200 years, Christians have shouldered the sign of the cross in their wars on so-called infidels. Even today, followers of Jesus brandish the cross at political events. Onlookers are led to believe the Christian message is in full support of various civic causes-good and bad-when the cross is displayed at these protests.

Hence, there has been a war on the cross in ancient Christian history. This same confusion regarding the biblical significance of the cross is apparent when evangelicals glue the cross symbol to contemporary secular political aspirations.

To elaborate on this pressing question uttered by Jewish people, I authored an article in 2016. I used the subtitle “The Roots of the Problem of the Cross in the Eyes of Jewish People.”

In this short piece, l focused on the torrid history of the medieval Crusades. Recently I revised this composition and added additional insights.

In this revised article, I am mostly concerned with several parallels of the Crusader mentality leaking into modern evangelical Christianity’s political stance. The imagery of the cross as the vehicle of God’s spiritual redemption is distorted by a cadre of Christians. Sadly, these actions confuse many Jewish and non-Jewish people.

The Cross Appears Where It Should Not Be

For the past 5-6 years, the cross symbol has appeared at political rallies as a Christian stamp of approval of an event, a candidate, or a political ideology. Zealous Christians are hijacking the cross imagery for their purposes. In their patriotic fervor, the protestors seem unaware of the military stigmas attached to the cross from the Crusaders.

For example, at the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building, both peaceful and militant evangelicals wielded the cross as they protested the national vote that elected Joe Biden as president. From a well-researched article on Christian nationalism from the Joint Baptist Committee, we learn:

One of the most ubiquitous symbols on January 6 was the Christian cross. Latin crosses are “the principal symbol of Christianity around the world,” according to the Supreme Court, and, as used on January 6 by the insurrectionists, one of the clearest displays of Christian nationalism.

Sword & shield with light-painting illumination

They [participants at January 6 event] erected an 8-foot wooden cross in Freedom Plaza (at the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue) and another 8-foot tall cross at the Capitol that became disturbingly iconic after the crowd prayed around it

The Cross is Used to Send a Message It Should Not Give

I embrace the American freedom to express one’s political views. Nonetheless, I am stunned at how the flagrant use of the biblical symbol of divine pardon is thoughtlessly attached to extreme right-wing politics. For further information on the appearance of Christian symbolism at the January 6 event, click here.

How can the redemptive symbol of Christianity be conjoined with any form of partisan politics? Does any political group possess the authority to utilize the crucifix icon to support their cause?

The way I see it, when a political faction adopts the image of the cross in connection with their viewpoint, this action implies their perspective is THE authoritative Christian way of thinking. The message is clear: Any faithful follower of Yeshua (Jesus) will and should back any ideology that commanders the cross to bolster their outlook.

This misuse of the cross to support a secular political effort is reminiscent of the militant Crusaders who affixed the cross to their shields as they rampaged across Western Europe.

Need I say modern evangelical patriots are NOT determined to harm anyone as the Crusaders did. Nevertheless, when the cross is displayed at an event where government property is destroyed, attacks on law enforcement personnel take place, and anger is unleashed on dissenters, how is the redemption promise of the Messiah communicated?

My title, “The War on the Cross,” describes how the misuse of the cross by followers of the crucified Messiah clouds our salvation declaration. Rather than zero in on those who reject the good news of salvation, believers in Jesus need to discern how we can be the ones making war on the message of the death of the Suffering Servant.

(more…)

Andy Stanley’s Scapegoating of the Jewish Scriptures

It’s about time! Some evangelical superstar had to say something. We can no longer ignore the gorilla of extreme conservative politics running berserk in today’s evangelical Church. In Pastor Andy Stanley’s book, “Not In It To Win It,” the author boldly goes where most evangelical leaders fear to tread.

The pastor of North Point Church in Alpharetta, GA is exasperated over the current trend of evangelicals who align themselves with right-wing conservative elements. He raises eyebrows in his criticism of pastors, Christian podcasters, and leaders who “lined up behind their political party of choice and leveraged our sacred text to validate political talking points.”

Most importantly, Pastor Stanley recognizes this development is detrimental to the cause of bringing the good news of redemption to all people.

In past generations, Christians broke down our culture into those who know Jesus and those who don’t. Instead, a significant segment of evangelicals has divided our society politically into the Left and the Right.

A few months back, I was amazed listening to a message by modern-day “prophet” and evangelist Mario Murillo in which he stated the “enemy of the Christian is the Democrats.” Even Jesus did not designate the Romans or the Sadducees as enemies of His followers. Yeshua viewed His day’s political and religious parties as lost sheep in need of salvation, not ideological adversaries.

Evangelicals have turned a new corner where Jesus’ followers are intent on changing our world through endorsing political efforts, passing laws that reflect conservative principles, and supporting Right-wing candidates regardless of their ties to white Christian nationalism. Stanley points out that Jesus no longer changes lives in this revised evangelical era. Instead, Right-wing political activism is the key to the transformation of our broken society.

The past five years have been extremely challenging since I am not 100% on board with the angry tenor of evangelical conservative politics. I’ve witnessed ridicule and rejection from fellow evangelicals on social media because of my convictions.

Brotherhood in the Lord has been trumped by something or someone else. I sense my spiritual connection to certain Christians is no longer enough.

Nevertheless, I consider myself an independent who embraces the core tenets of conservatism.

We are not here to “win” elections, argues Stanley, but for a greater purpose: to radiate the love and compassion of Yeshua to bring non-believers to His redeeming power.

The key takeaway points I gained from “Not In It To Win It” (NIITWI), in addition to my observations, are as follows:

*Evangelicals have shifted the focus from sharing the good news to supporting political causes

*Evangelicals have opted to cancel fellow Christians who do not align with their conservative political viewpoint

*Evangelicals are placing their trust in political activism to change America’s culture more than the power of the Messiah Jesus

*Evangelicals have little issue aligning themselves with Right-wing politicians and talk show media stars who have the reputation of being white nationalist and even antisemitic

*Evangelicals have revised the Christian message as one bent on saving America rather than Americans.

*Evangelicals have no biblical basis for espousing the idea God made a covenant with America.

In Matthew 3:2 the prophet John the Baptizer in the New Covenant admonished his fellow Jewish seekers, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Today many evangelicals have revised John’s call to prepare oneself for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Today Matthew 3:2 has been revised to say, “Vote, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

(more…)

Is Our World a Safe Place Anymore? (Genesis 11:1-9)

Photo by Marcus P. on Unsplash

Residents of Afghanistan are fleeing their war-torn country to escape a repressive Taliban rule. A recent earthquake decimated the population of Haiti. Unexpected forms of Covid-19 threaten to infect more Americans. Residents of US cities are at one another’s throats over issues like masks and vaccinations used to prevent the spread of Covid. Even churches divide over being compliant with government orders to close their doors to curtail potential virus contamination. Climate control remains a hot topic for those who believe our environment is crumbling due to human indifference and mismanagement of our resources.

No wonder people inquire whether we are teetering on the brink of Earth’s final days. Recently, someone asked me if we are experiencing the last of the birth pangs Yeshua mentioned as portents of His return (Matthew 24:7-8). Is this the end? Can we look at current events as guaranteed signs of the final moments of the last days?

In 2006, I delivered a message on the questions Christians raise when we face troubling situations. Surprisingly, the list of disturbing signs of the last days was not too different 15 years ago. Devastating earthquakes. Powerful hurricanes. The predicted economic collapse of the stock market. Ongoing, persistent poverty. Increasing wars and terrorism. Political upheaval. Lack of trust in our news sources. False teaching among evangelicals. The moral corruption of our trusted leaders. Continual skirmishes in Israel. Not much has changed.

Again, I raise the questions on everyone’s mind, “Are the events mentioned above indicators of the final days? Are we in alignment with the Scriptures, or are we interpreting the Word of God the way we want out of sheer panic?

I felt it would be timely to revisit this message and apply its relevance to 2021 as we rush towards the dawning of 2022.

Israel as the Centerpiece in the End Times

In his book, The Will to Live On, Herman Wouk tells the story of a meeting he had with Israel’s first president David Ben-Gurion.  Wouk writes in his book, “My wife Sarah and I visited Ben-Gurion’s house in the Negev desert.  And the next day we traveled to Sde Boker or “the fields of mourning” kibbutz, in a command car escorted by a jeep with a mounted machine gun.” Wouk writes, “For back in 1955 when this took place, this little country was being harassed by terrorists from Egypt and Gaza.”

“When we were leaving, Ben-Gurion came out with his straight Zionist line. “You must return here to live. This is the only place for Jews like you.  Here you will be free.”

And Herman Wouk said, “Free?  Free with enemy armies with their leaders threatening to wipe out the Zionist entity?  Free?”

And Ben-Gurion said, “I did not say ‘safe,’ I said ‘free.'”

In the light of recent rocket attacks on Israel (2006) launched by the terrorist group Hezbollah and hundreds of thousands of Muslims protesting against Israel in the streets of Baghdad, in Tehran and Libya, the Jewish nation is not in a safe situation.  

America’s support for Israel is bringing our country deeper into the crosshairs of Islamic terrorists. 

In 2006 Yemenite president Ali Abdullah Saleh said, “I hope all countries bordering Israel will join the war. Arab countries should allow the transfer of weapons and people to Lebanon and Palestine. Every Muslim has the individual duty to fight on this front.”  

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov from Pexels

Here is another disturbing quote that exposes radical Islam’s hatred of Israel, spoken 15 years ago by Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, “Everyone realizes the attack on Lebanon was a Zionist-American operation. It is the first step towards taking control over the Middle East and over the entire Muslim world. Bush and his American partners will be considered just as responsible and accountable for these events as the evil and depraved leaders of the Zionist regime.”

On the positive side, the Los Angeles Times took a poll on August 2, 2006. According to the census, most Americans—59%–consider Israel’s bombing campaign in Lebanon in self-defense justified.  Albeit, Americans are divided about how closely we should align ourselves with the Jewish state.  The time will come when we will have no other choice but to get involved.  And the question is: Will America stand by Israel, not if, but when the whole world turns against Israel?

After reading multiple blogs on ScriptureSolutions, the user is made aware of how important Israel is in understanding the timeline of the last days. Bible students who omit Israel as a primary focus before the return of Yeshua will experience frustration trying to stitch together the events of prophetic history.

Fifteen years ago, I studied the tower of Babel to gain insight into humanity’s aversion to God and His decision to make Israel His elect nation. It may come as a surprise to realize the events at the ancient tower of Babel connect to the biblical timeline of Israel’s history leading into the modern era.

The World’s Relationship with God in the End Times

Is the world safe anymore?  Where is all this conflict heading? What’s the bigger picture?  

Genesis chapter 11 is the story of the tower of Babel. This account provides us with a picture of a world bigger than Israel and the United States. At the tower of Babel, a spiritual energy emerged that changed the course of history. After the Flood of Noah, the remainder of the human race gathered together at the famed Tower of Babel. This remnant of humanity conglomerated in one place in defiance and arrogance against the Creator God.

The modern person must know this same spirit, according to prophecy, will be unleashed again in the last days.  As the world once attempted to evict God from His Creation symbolically at the tower of Babel, we will try again at the end of time.  

Yes, Israel is crucial to interpreting end times prophecy. Israel is the centerpiece of the prophetic stage before the return of Israel’s Messiah. With Israel, God’s focus is primarily national. However, His intention has always been to bless the global community through Israel. Yet, before the coming of the awaited Redeemer, the international scene will take once more turn for the worst as we see at Babel.

Of course, how the world either draws close to God or shuns Him will affect how the nations treat Israel. Before God blesses the planet Earth through Israel, the world community must first acknowledge the God of Israel. Sadly, this realization will become a lost commodity at the end times. The farther society runs from God and renounces Israel, the more unsafe the world becomes.

Any environment becomes unsafe when humanity wants nothing to do with the Creator. Signs exist today that the same spirit of detachment from God witnessed at the Tower of Babel makes its presence known once again.

What are the signs of a world where safety in God is missing? 

(more…)

Did Jesus Give Away the Land of Israel to Christians (Matthew 5:5) Part 3

Introduction

I could not contain my excitement when I entered Bible College in Dallas, Texas in 1971. I looked forward to learning New Testament Greek, studying the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament, and researching multiple schools of theology. Attending Bible College was a dream come true. And it was, for the most part.

I devoured every class offered in Bible and theology. I signed up for Leviticus and Hebrews to better understand the connection between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant.

Hermeneutics or Biblical Interpretation was one of many required courses. My professor was a graduate of the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). Yet, he took pride he had rejected the dispensational theology he learned at DTS. In other words, he became a replacement theologian. He did not affirm God has a plan for the nation of Israel other than the need for individual Jewish people to accept Yeshua.

As the professor unraveled his theology in class one afternoon, he proudly announced he is a spiritual Jew. In fact, in an arrogant tone, he declared he was a “true Jew.” I almost fell out of my chair. I did not believe my ears.

According to the teacher, God wiped His hands of the nation of Israel. Presently, the Lord formed a “new nation of Israel” made up of Gentiles removed from Jewish tradition and culture.

Photo courtesy of Photo by Raimond Klavins from Unsplash

According to my professor, God has no interest in the physical land of Israel or in preserving the Jewish nation as He promised to Abraham. All the references to the land and the Jewish nation in Scripture are realized in the Church. I was nauseous. I wanted to bolt from the classroom.

I ended up in my car after class, trembling and shaking. Questions bombarded my brain. Was God lying to Abraham about the Jewish nation to issue from his loins? Can God be trusted not to give mixed messages in His promises? Do my Gentile brothers in the Lord truly know what is contained in the Jewish Scriptures? What does replacement theology do with the many prophecies that guarantee the nation of Israel possession of the land forever? Was I in the wrong faith? How could I look at these Texas Christians and think of them as Jewish?

Why do I share this story? Truly, my encounter with this professor who espoused Replacement theology set me on a lifetime journey of disproving this teaching that is harmful to a proper understanding of God’s commitment to Israel. Hence, I have undertaken this series of articles on the use of Matthew 5:5 or the third beatitude by replacement theology advocates to remove Israel from the proper focus of God’s eternal plan for His cherished people.

Since Yeshua quoted Psalm 37:11 in Matthew 5:5, the Bible student must grasp the context of this Psalm to comprehend how Jesus was using this passage. In the last article, we looked at five themes of Psalm 37. Now we will dig into the passage itself as it leads up to verse 11,  “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (ESV).

Was Jesus removing the land of Israel promised to the Jewish people and handing it off to the “meek”? Of course, the meek, according to RT, refers to Christians. However, since followers of Jesus are a spiritual people whose citizenship is in heaven, the “land,” according to RT, now refers to heaven, not the geographical strip of land in the Middle East adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

After studying ReplacementTheology since 1971, I have concluded this is not a study of an impractical issue but a defense of the truthfulness of God’s character. Can His word be trusted? My concern in every article I have written and every sermon I taught on this subject is the veracity of God’s character and His word in light of the shadow cast by RT on the Church. This same burden drives my passion for writing this series of articles.

(more…)

Is Israel the New Evil Empire?

Introduction

When I picture an Evil Empire, Darth Vadar, Star War’s devious leader of the Dark Side, prowls across my mind.  Throw in a squadron of Imperial Stormtroopers clashing with Rebel Alliance combatants, and we have an accurate description of an Evil Empire.  

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash



But the modern nation of Israel as the “new Evil Empire”?  No way!  Yet some Christian leaders are accusing the Jewish nation of playing the role of ambassadors for the Dark Side in the Middle East.

This article was originally written for The Messianic Times in 2007. Since the accusation of Israel as an apartheid nation continues in some evangelical circles, I thought it would benefit the readers of Scripture Solutions to take a look at the issue once again.

My major concern is not only with the politics involved in the incrimination of Israel but also with the fact this indictment stems from anti-Israel evangelicals.

I presume some evangelicals cited in this article have either changed or eschewed their position or doubled down on their viewpoint. It is not the purpose of this reprint to update the negative views held by these evangelicals towards Israel. This piece is a reflection of what was taking place 14 years ago among Christian leaders in their perspective on the modern state of Israel.

One further observation. Many of the links included in the first article are no longer operable. So I have deleted them from the text and retained the links that are still active.

What Christian leaders would possess the chutzpah to assign this sinister caricature to the Jewish state? 

An evangelical call to unmask the so-called Evil Empire

Rev. Donald Wagner, director for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Chicago’s North Park University, addressed the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) held in Birmingham, Alabama in June 2006.  Though Wagner offered his remarks on Father’s Day (June 18, 2006), his vilification of Israel could hardly have pleased the Heavenly Father, the Holy One of Israel. 

Wagner, the founder of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, referred to Israel as part of a “globalized empire” that employs such things as “weapons and the international media for its gain.”

Appealing to an evangelical audience, the Chicago professor challenged his listeners, “We have to unmask the face of the evil empire.”

Wagner, who had recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land declared,  “It is time that we start using the word apartheid. In fact, it is worse than apartheid.”

Other Christian leaders have unfortunately provided the fodder for Wagner’s biting words towards the Jewish nation.   

(more…)

« Previous Entries

top

Bad Behavior has blocked 363 access attempts in the last 7 days.

Verified by MonsterInsights