At The Jerusalem Conference:
Israel's Leaders - Present & Future.
Friday, February 19, 2010
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Welcome to this edition of The Bible in the News with Paul Billington at the Jerusalem Conference in Israel. We have spent the past three days at this Conference listening to journalists, political leaders, academics,
military experts, economists and others who are involved in trying to direct Israel's path forward in the Middle East and in the world.
Out interest in this Conference is kindled by our firm belief in the fact that Bible prophecy is fulfilling today, and as far as Israel is concerned through the developments taking place within this nation. God has brought this people back to their ancient homeland, and the growth of the nation continues to fulfill those prophecies of the return such as Ezekiel 34 where God said through the prophet: "I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land..."
This Return has now been going on for just over a century, so that today there are some six million in the Land. But this return has not been without considerable opposition from the world, and it has not been without hardship and pain. They have been brought back to face hostility from regional neighbours and continuing trials and problems.
Some of these difficulties and problems were discussed during the Jerusalem Conference this week. For example, the unity of the city of Jerusalem; the threat from Iran, the hostility of the world's media, the future of relations with the United States (especially since the Obama Administration took office). We heard the issue of counter-terrorism discussed and matters related to that, such as intelligence. A useful analysis of the whole history of the Return and the Israel-Palestinian conflict was given in a live interview with Professor Bernard Lewis - one of the most informed historians alive today. The whole Conference was very intense, and the information will take us many weeks to digest. The final session was a speech by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Many interesting details emerged from this information-packed Conference. A clear connection was made several times between modern Israel and her Biblical past. The opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni made the connection, as did Dr. Gavriel Barkai the archaeologist and Director of the City of David Temple Mt. project. What we did not hear however, was any direct reference to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in Israel's development today. Several ideas were put forward concerning the Palestinians and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) - make the Palestinians Israeli citizens said one, just give them the Land and let them have their own State said another - But they do not really want a State, said yet another. Lots of ideas, but no real consensus - and certainly no attempt to consider a direction given by the prophets. Sadly, we have to conclude that this is still a people that walk in darkness. They know not their God and remain in ignorance of His great redemptive work. They do not understand where they are or where they are going - except in vague terms that are of no help to them.
One big mistake is identifiable among this people - and it is a mistake that all believers need to take to heart. They make every effort possible to either follow world opinion, or else compromise with it. They seem unable to learn the lesson that as God's chosen people, they cannot please the world. We should all take note of that! It was the apostle James who said (chapter 4:4) "...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
As long as Israel tries to accommodate world opinion instead of following the direction given in their own Scriptures, they cannot prosper. As long as they try to be like all the nations, as they did in 1 Samuel 8:20, instead of recognizing God as their leader and authority, they will not be able to succeed or find peace. The voice of the people - the very democracy that Israel is so proud of today - is a fault that must yet be faced and rectified. There is a voice that Israel should take heed to, and that voice is God's voice - not that of the people. Let the world serve its god of democracy but let the people of Israel serve the God of their fathers.
Many leaders were heard at the Jerusalem Conference this past week - political leaders, religious leaders, academics and so forth. These leaders speak with an uncertain sound - they all have different views and offer different (and human) solutions. But let the words of Hebrews 1:1, 2 be noted. TO THE HEBREWS the apostle wrote this:
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds."
Here is the leader that Israel must give ear to. As it is written (verses 8,9).
"But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."
So it is that we look for the coming Kingdom of Israel - something that the present State of Israel must yet give way to. Israel's present trouble and pains will prepare her for this development when the Lord shall "restore again the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6). Perhaps one day a Jerusalem Conference can be told the Truth about the Gospel (i.e. Good News) of the Kingdom. Who will herald this news to the children of Israel? Could it be one or more of the prophets risen from the dead? Could it be Elijah (Malachi 4:4-6)? Time will no doubt reveal it, and meanwhile we pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Join us again next week for more Bible in the News.
Printed: Friday, February 19, 2010
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