From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
If someone was to ask you how you know God exists what would you say? There are many things that could be said to answer such a profound and important question like that. However, the greatest way to know the answer to that question is to see God's hand fulfilling His prophetic promises to His people before the world. In other words, when God predicts that something will happen, sometimes thousands of years beforehand, and it finally comes to pass in precise detail before our eyes, we need to take notice. To that end, there are literally 100's of such Divine promises in the Bible that have been and/or are currently being fulfilled before our very eyes. An example of this principle can best be seen in the prophetic prediction and promise made by the Lord Jesus that He would rise again on the 3rd day after His crucifixion. In passages like Matthew 16:21 we hear,
One of the hardest parts of life is watching people we know and love die from a terrible disease., Among the top diseases on that list is cancer. About 1 in 6 people will die from cancer, and over 9.6 million people died from it in 2018. Cancer can be a cruel disease. It leaves victims and their families devastated through a series of terrible treatments that range from chemotherapy to radiation and surgery. As a pastor, I have watched many people die from this dreaded disease and done their funerals. I personally know how cancer has destroyed the lives of many wonderful people and their loved ones. Cancer is truly like a wasting plague and has been a terrible scourge to humanity. Just look at the cancer cell pictured in this article and imagine that cell multiplying and destroying your body. Cancer's cost to our world is beyond words.
As I think about all the drama and pain behind cancer, I remember well graduating from college in 1977 and one of my friends said their life goal was to find a cure for cancer. What a wonderful thought and mission in life! And yet over the past 40 years or so, it didn't seem that such a cure was going to happen. But we were wrong! In the last few weeks it seems that a possible cure for cancer has been discovered in Israel. The Jerusalem Posted just reported on January 28 that a potential breakthrough has been discovered that may lead to all cancer being cured. That news sounds unbelievable and perhaps too good to be true. The Post article says,
A small team of Israeli scientists think they might have found the first complete cure for cancer. "We believe we will offer in a year's time a complete cure for cancer," said Dan Aridor, of a new treatment being developed by his company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), which was founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator. AEBi developed the SoAP platform, which provides functional leads to very difficult targets. "Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market," Aridor said.
In an amazing move of boldness and courage, President Trump declared today that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and vowed to move the American embassy there from Tel Aviv in the near future. Prior to today's announcement, Jerusalem had been the only national capital city of any sovereign state where the United States had not placed their embassy due to political tensions. In a desire to support Israel's right to exist and name its own capital, President Trump said,
That is why, consistent with the Jerusalem embassy act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.
And while this move, a Trump campaign promise, was hailed by many as wonderful and long overdue, it has been challenged and cursed by many others as an unnecessary provocation and a possible prelude to war with the Islamic world and beyond. The rhetoric on both sides is very heated right now and that surely will not change. However, even though this issue is "up in the air" for the foreseeable future, it is an issue at the heart of the Lord's eternal purposes for all of us. It is an issue that every person on Earth should be prayerfully considering tonight and thinking about for their future.
One of the most important issues of life is finding a place we call "home." As the old saying goes, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." Whether we realize it or not, we are all hardwired to long for a place we call "home." The confusing part of that issue is the fact that where we live may not ever feel like home. Sometimes we live in places that just end up being a place where we sleep at night. Home is far more than a bed to sleep in at night. Home is a feeling, a state of mind, a place that means something to us on a personal and/or spiritual level that cannot be put into words. And because the average American moves about 11 times in their life, the idea of finding a real home can feel almost impossible for some.
One of the great stories about the search for home is told in the 1939 classic movie "The Wizard of Oz" starring Judy Garland. In the movie, Judy portrays a little girl named Dorothy that runs away from home and can't seem to ever get back there. The entire movie follows Dorothy's travels in her search to go back to her home in Kansas. Throughout Dorothy's journey she runs into a wicked witch that seems to make the return trip seemingly impossible. The culmination of the movie is when Dorothy finally clicks her ruby slippers together and says over and over, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home." The movie ends with Dorothy back in her Kansas home where she lives "happily ever after" with her family. The power of that timeless movie endures until today because we all want to go home.
We are surely living in exciting days as we watch the Lord's purposes for Israel unfold before our eyes. Some of the most prophetically important moments for Israel in her history are under way right now. In the past, the United States has been a stalwart friend to Israel from her beginning as a nation in 1948. However, recent actions by the outgoing Obama Administration and Secretary of State John Kerry reflect a deep enmity against Israel that has seemingly been hidden and building for the past eight years.
As a case in point, on December 23, 2016 the United Nation's Security Council voted to condemn Israel's building of new settlements in the West Bank as a "flagrant violation of international law." The United States had the power to stop this action, as a permanent member of the Security Council, but chose to abstain from the vote, thereby insuring that the measure would pass. Secretary Kerry defended the decision to abandon Israel by stating that Israel "can be Jewish or it can be democratic." In other words, if Israel continues to build Jewish settlements in the West Bank, areas contested since the Six Day War in 1967, there will never be any way for there to be a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
As we joyfully prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ in a few days, it is exciting to see the Lord confirming this glorious truth to the world in an amazing way. The Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the 3rd Day, as He promised during His public ministry in Matthew 16:21. However, many have missed the Resurrection of Israel as THE greatest modern witness to our Lord's victory over sin, death and Hell since the apostolic age.
When the modern State of Israel came into being as a renewed nation on May 14, 1948, very few people saw any connection to the Empty Tomb of the Lord Jesus. And yet, the parallels were striking. The Lord Jesus Christ rose on the 3rd Day after 3 days in the grave, following the Cross and His suffering. In a similar way, the Jewish people rose again from the dead after their suffering and Holocaust. At the end of World War II, the Jewish people were virtually dead as a nation in Europe. The Allies were shocked and horrified as they liberated the death camps of Europe to find piles of dead bodies and a level of horror and suffering unseen in human history.
I barely finished writing about the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris last week, when yet another scene of Islamic violence took place in Mali today, murdering at least 20. As this mayhem continues to grow daily, the entire world is increasingly on edge with news stories that seem to run 24/7. Recently, King Abdullah of Jordan was quoted as saying that he believes this escalating violence and terror has brought us to what will eventually turn into World War III. The King, himself a Muslim, is uniquely positioned inside the Islamic world to see where this violence is going to lead us in the near future. The only world leader that doesn’t seem to have any clarity about the seriousness of the hour appears to be President Obama.
The idea of a coming world war seems very scary to everyone…..as it should! While many have forgotten the devastation of World War I and II, the old newsreels are still available to watch and remember the past. And yet, few want to do it and even fewer want to see any parallels with the present hour. The idea that we are replaying the issues of World War II, in which powerful nations did nothing to stop Hitler’s violence and threats before the eventual war started, is lost in our current battles with Islamic terrorism. Naïve and delusional politicians still believe they can appease the terrorists and end up with “peace,” as did Neville Chamberlain and western leaders before World War II. As a result, instead of facing the harsh reality of the hour, the recent tragedies are just a “setback” according to President Obama, not a wakeup call to decisive action. The lessons of history have been lost…..again!
As we continue to watch the recent deadly tensions in Israel between the Israelis and the Palestinians over the Land and control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, most people fail to see the profound issues that are under way. From Presidents to Popes, no one seems to have found any lasting answer about what to do. Finding a lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis has turned into the most vexing political and spiritual problem in history.
At the heart of this conflict is the belief that the Israelis are occupying lands that belonged to the Palestinians before the State of Israel was reborn in 1948. The Israelis are seen by many as a group of people who stole the land from its rightful owners and continue to take more and more of it through their growing settlements. In addition to the land, there is also a spiritual issue at work as well on an even deeper level. The majority of Palestinians are Muslims and believe Jerusalem to be the 3rd holiest city to Islam after Mecca and Medina. This belief has led to charges that the Israelis are trying to steal the Temple Mount and Jerusalem away from them.
This past week has marked yet another season of murder, violence and tension surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. What else is new? The Temple Mount area, and the surrounding Old City of Jerusalem, has become the most fought over area in human history. This pattern has seemingly gone on for the last 4000 years or so…..ever since Abraham visited the area with his son Isaac in Genesis 22. When you visit Jerusalem today, one never knows if you will be able to visit the location or not due to the unpredictable political and spiritual issues surrounding the area. It is as though the tensions of the whole world are somehow contained in that small piece of ground. While few may care or even understand the issues, all of our lives are somehow eternally connected to those few acres in Jerusalem, its’ peace and future. Jerusalem has truly become the “Ground Zero” for every event in our world today.
The current tensions on the Temple Mount primarily express a conflict between Jews and Muslims. The Jews see the Temple Mount as the location of their two holy temples built by Solomon and Zerubbabel, where they worshipped the God of Israel. Muslims, however, refuse to even acknowledge that these temples were ever built there, let alone expressed true worship to the true God. Instead, the Muslims believe that this area is central to the Islamic faith. Regarding this issue, Wikipedia states:
Have you ever heard someone say, “Never Again,” referring to an event of history? That phrase is always used to refer to the Holocaust during World War II in which over 6 million Jews were murdered, largely in the crematoriums of the Nazi regime. The phrase “Never Again” is designed to express moral outrage for what happened and to serve as a powerful statement to make sure it never happens again. Because the Holocaust evokes such horror in the minds of most people, any time its memory is brought back you have an audience. So when former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, now presidential candidate, accused the Obama Administration last week of marching the Jews in Israel to the ovens of the Holocaust in their nuclear deal with Iran, it created a media sensation and deep reaction around the world.
I wonder what the conversations are like in Israel today about Iran. I wonder what Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is thinking right now about Israel’s’ relationship to the United States. Surely the Israelis have to be worried and concerned after the world’s recent nuclear “deal” with Iran. After all, a thousand miles away in Tehran, the leaders of Iran are plotting to destroy them and make no apologies about saying it publicly on a weekly basis. Some Iranian leaders have even spoken about finishing what Hitler started in Europe. Not exactly the kind of language that gives you much peace and security for the future.
What has started to dawn on the Israelis in the last few months is that they are alone in world. When the State of Israel was first resurrected as a modern nation back in May of 1948, the United States was her best friend. President Harry Truman not only became the first world leader to support the new state, but started a strong relationship with Israel that has continued with every successive American administration ... until now. As the drama and tension between the Obama Administration and Israel has continued to ramp up, the Israelis have never felt so alone and confused. What do they do? Where do they turn? Who are their real friends? What’s next?
Much of the world today is watching the drama surrounding an attempt by the USA to broker an agreement or treaty with Iran regarding her right to enrich uranium. This attempt has seemingly turned desperate on the part of the USA and the Obama Administration. Many commentators and leaders wonder why this effort seems to continue since Iran has a history of broken agreements with just about everyone and continues its irrational threats of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” How do you make meaningful agreements with a nation like Iran that is seen by most intelligence experts to be the chief sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East? Good question.