WISDOM FROM THE WORD

“The righteous shall flourish…
like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12)

WISDOM FROM THE WORD

The righteous shall flourish…

like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12)

Behold Israel

How many there are upon this old earth who despise the nation of Israel and would rejoice to see her fall.  Perhaps you’re one of them?  Yet how very, very interesting the development of things in that troubled land of Palestine.  It may be that some despise Israel’s existence, but none can deny the stubborn, even miraculous reality of that people in that place.  What other people throughout history have been scattered from their land and dispersed among the nations of earth as they for nearly two thousand years, and yet have been amazingly restored as a nation.  And how else are we to look upon the incredible phenomenon of Israel except that the true God is doing just what He said He would do with that nation?  God has promised repeatedly in His Bible that He would surely bless Israel and even regather her to her land.  For a small sampling compare Isaiah 43:3, where God proclaimed Himself “the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour”.  Then He went on to give His word that He will gather His sons and daughters “from far . . . from the ends of the earth.”  In Isaiah 54:7-8 God explains to the people of Israel that “for a small moment have I forsaken thee” because of their stubborn rebellion against Him.  But then “with great mercies will I gather thee . . . saith the LORD thy Redeemer”.  In Jeremiah 24:6 the Lord promised His people that He would “bring them again to this land” and “plant them, and not pluck them up.”  In the closing verses of Zephaniah the Lord calls upon Israel to rejoice, for “the LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty”.  How would their God show His power over all?  “Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee” and will “bring you again, even in the time that I gather you.”  The God of the Bible could not have made it more clear what He would do with His people, that He would “assemble the outcasts of Israel . . . from the four corners of the earth” (Isa. 11:12), that He would hold their right hand saying, “Fear not; I will help thee” (Isa. 41:13).  Over and over again God has declared that He will preserve the Jewish people, and even that He will destroy those who seek their harm.  Now BEHOLD ISRAEL, and tell me He isn’t already doing it!  Be honest now.  The God of the Bible is the only One who can say “I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee”, that He might show Himself the only One truly mighty.  These promises He made thousands of years ago, and they have stood through long centuries when it seemed impossible that the Jewish people could even survive as a race, let alone ever be restored to their land.  Yet BEHOLD ISRAEL!  They are there!  They are still there, in spite of the fuming frustrations of the nations gathered around them.  How else are we to take the amazing reality of Israel’s extraordinary existence against all odds, except as clear confirmation that the God of the Bible keeps His word?  And that he is stronger than every other so-called god.  What else?  The true God, who is defined and described in the Bible, loves and preserves Israel rather than wishing for her death.  So it’s a question of which god really is God.  Is it not obvious?  Who is the God proven strong by the amazing existence of Israel?  Please be wise to think carefully how God proves Himself, and proves Himself Almighty, and displays His gracious purposes in Israel’s stubborn existence.

How can it be that so many have died in the utterly fruitless effort to remove the “smudge” of Israel’s existence, and her existence right in the bosom of a race and religion that hates her most, except that the true God has willed her existence?  Why does Israel only seem to go from strength to strength with every effort to destroy her, except that it’s the true God for her after all?  And this even when her enemies had almost all of the odds in their favour in the early days of Israel’s statehood?

Oh I hear the response of some who cry of adverse circumstances conspiring against victory over Israel.  “Take America out of the way and they would crumble in a moment!” they cry.  But who, my friend, put America in the way?  Who is the true Master of circumstances?  ON DISPLAY!  If you would see it.  On display, in a thriving Jewish nation!  Just stand back for a moment and take a fair and honest look at it.  See how Israel has been well-favoured by circumstances, and that for over 6 decades.  Can you honestly tell me this does not reveal the God who must be believed, the God who is indeed the greater, the true?  The same One who proclaimed centuries ago that He would bless His people, and is now keeping His word against all odds.  Are you really so sure that America out of the way would do the trick?

Look to Israel’s ancient deliverance from Egypt recorded in the book of Exodus.  See how by circumstance God showed Himself greater than the false gods of ancient Egypt.  What must we conclude except that the true God is doing it again?  The God who loves Israel is displaying Himself to the world.

Yes I hear the voice of some who mock what they believe to be laughable aspects of the Bible or Christianity.  You’ve perhaps heard some of their scathing arguments, quoting all manner of “scholarly” drivel for support.  They freely twist Bible statements out of their contexts, turning them into fuel for scorn.  You may have a file full of such arguments against Christians and their Bible.  But would you not be wise to acknowledge that there is no argument against the God of the Bible?  For He displays Himself in a living, thriving Israel, and again, right in the face of the god who hates Him most!  He shows Himself in all of His ancient prophecies fulfilled, in spite of howling resistance.  Look at it, my friend!  All you have is an argument!  Yet look again at how poor an argument it really is in light of the evident facts.  BEHOLD ISRAEL!  The only true and living God has put that little nation on the map, and not only so, but right into the middle of a great seething, moneyed mass of people who live for their death.  And they are still there after all these many decades!  They have been mercilessly attacked by the combined efforts of their surrounding neighbours from the day they declared their statehood.  From a military perspective it is utterly impossible that Israel could have survived the force of her attackers in the early stages of existence in her Promised Land.  And yet they have only flourished in that land God gave to them centuries ago.  If the god of her enemies were truly strong, if he were Creator of all as some insist, then Israel would surely have been wiped out long ago.  But she is there!  She is there still to this day!  And how else could this be possible but by God’s effective hand of protection.

Would you consider the wise warning of the ancient scholar, Gamaliel?  He encouraged the raging, hate-filled Jewish leaders of Christ’s day to beware lest they actually be found fighting against God (Acts 5:34-39).  Think well what you do my friend.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  And if God be against us, who can stand?

Please allow me to take you to the core difference between the religion of the Bible and every other form of religion.  The Bible describes the God who is holy, absolutely pure, without the least toleration of sin.  On the other hand the Bible affirms the sinfulness of all men, with hearts not only wicked but “desperately” so (Jer. 17:9).  The gulf between holy God and sinful man is horribly vast and utterly unbridgeable from man’s side.  Herein lies the great difference.  Other religions offer benefits from their “gods” that are attainable through the steadfast obedience of their followers.  But the Bible presents the God who is so holy, and human sin so evil, that it’s impossible for man to make amends with God by doing good.  The evil of man’s sin-defiled heart already stands in the way of any reconciliation from our side.  It’s too late!  No amount of good deeds can wash our evil away.  Except man’s sin be forgiven and cleansed by God there is no hope!  And again, there is no hope in man for this vital work.

God long ago established the principle that without the shedding of blood there is no pardon of sin (Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22).  In God’s reckoning death is sin’s due.  That’s what Jesus was all about.  God sent His own Son to die in man’s place.  Jesus allowed the punishment and death due to man to fall upon Himself in His suffering on the cross.  He was not weak there, and if you see Him so you entirely misread the situation.  He allowed His death on the cross in grace, that He might carry the power of sin away in death.  He allowed what happened there that He might rise in victory over death forevermore.  He allowed what happened there that all who stand with Him will not bear their own judgment for their sin.  Now in Jesus Christ, through faith in Him, a soul finds forgiveness of sin in the only way he can; not by his own earning, but only by receiving it as a gift from God.  For “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Does this free pardon from God then make a Christian free to sin?  No, it makes a true Christian a loving, grateful child of God, who is learning to not offend his holy heavenly Father by his sin anymore.

Now please understand that if the true God so carefully keeps His promises to Israel, then He shows Himself the God who keeps His words, both promises of good and warnings of severity.  Thus when He assures us in John 3:16 that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” there are things we can know for certain according to His sure word.  We can know that those who believe and receive Jesus will certainly be spared from God’s judgment, receiving everlasting life.  And we can know that those who refuse to believe will just as certainly perish!  What will you do with the sure words of the only true and living God?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31)

“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12)

 

Who is good?

“There is none righteous, nonot one (Romans 3:10)

 

Who has sinned?

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

 

What is the cost of sin?

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23)

 

Who paid the price for our sin?

“But God commendeth (shows, displays) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8)

 

How can I be saved from the guilt and penalty for my sin?

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13)