Monday, 25 October 2010

Israel proves the existence of God

A summary of the Bible Hour presentation at the Christadelphian Hall, Blackpool Street, Burton-upon-Trent on Sunday 23rd October 2010.

This blog uses Bible references. If you don’t have a Bible, you can find the Bible text online.

“Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no one can deny the fact that they are, without question, the most formidable race that has ever appeared in the world.” (Sir Winston Churchill)

God said that the Jews are the evidence of his existence (Isaiah 43:10).
They are his chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6) – not for any merit of theirs, but because God loves them and made promises to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy chapter 28 is a promise of what would happen if the Jews were obedient to God, and what would happen if they were disobedient. For example verses 63-67 foretell their scattering and persecution. Jesus gave detail of this in Luke 21:24.
When the Jews committed their greatest act of disobedience, killing Jesus God’s son, they brought these curses upon themselves. The nation was destroyed in AD70 and the prophecies have been coming true ever since.

However, prophecies such as Jeremiah 30:10-11 foretell the return of the Jews from their dispersion.

In the late 19th Century the Zionist movement came to prominence. This was a secular and religious movement with the aim of bringing the Jews back to their homeland. In 1948, the state of Israel was re-established after nearly 2,000 years.

“We cannot deny that [this] is an extraordinary historical achievement.” (Sir Hugh Trevor Roper)

Through the centuries there had been many attempts to find a homeland for the Jews – e.g. Kenya, Madagascar and Vietnam were all suggested. But the prophecies, e.g. Ezekiel 11:17 and Ezekiel chapter 37, had said that they would return to the land of Israel.

“The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.” (Leo Tolstoy)

“What is the secret of the Jew’s immortality?” (Mark Twain)

The secret is the fact that the Jews are God’s people. Not through any merit of their own – the nation is by and large as stubborn and disobedient now as it has ever been – but because of God’s everlasting promise.

The Jews’ survival and return to statehood has been a miracle. They are a witness that God is at work in today’s world.

The Bible goes on to tell what’s going to happen in the future, and the part that the modern Israeli state has yet to play in his purpose …

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Jews, the Holocaust and the Bible

A summary of the Bible Hour presentation at the Christadelphian Hall, Blackpool Street, Burton-upon-Trent on Sunday 10th October 2010.

This blog uses Bible references. If you don’t have a Bible, you can find the Bible text online.

The Bible story is largely concerned with the Jews – God’s people and the ‘apple of his eye’ (Zechariah 2:8).

To be God’s people is a privilege and a responsibility. In Deuteronomy chapter 28 they are offered a choice: to obey and be blessed, or to disobey and be punished.
God repeatedly warns and pleads with his people through the Old Testament prophets. There are warnings of punishment, destruction and exile.

In the 7th Century BC, Tiglath Pileser king of Assyria destroyed the half-kingdom of Israel (see Isaiah 14); the other half-kingdom Judah was threatened, but it was delivered because of the faithfulness of its king and people. But Judah also slid downhill, and 200 years later Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon destroyed the kingdom (see the book of Daniel).

Jeremiah 25:11-14 contains a prophecy that Judah would suffer a 70-year captivity, then the exiles would return to their land. The books of Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah show how this was fulfilled.

By the time of Christ the Middle East was dominated by the Roman empire. The Jews were in their land, but subject to Rome. The gospel records (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) show that the Jews had once again become faithless and disobedient. Jesus prophesied the nation’s downfall (Matthew 24). This happened in 70 AD: the Jews revolted against the Romans, the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and the Jews were expelled from Israel. The contemporary historian Josephus records how this was a ‘time of trouble such as there never was’.

Throughout history Deuteronomy 28 has come true in the experiences of the Jews throughout the world.

“The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.” (Daniel 4:17) Difficult as it is to come to terms with, this principle is particularly seen in the history of the Jews. It explains the inexplicable things that happened to the Jews: God was at work!

The rise of Hitler to power in Germany in the 1930s was improbable. His survival of a number of assassination attempts was hailed as miraculous. Meanwhile Mussolini in Italy survived seven assassination attempts, which moved the Pope to declare that he must have divine protection. Hitler and Mussolini both died ignominiously in 1945, but only after they had inflicted immense suffering on the Jewish people.
The prophecies of Deuteronomy 28 were still coming true. Also with hindsight we can see that God was at work in another way – immediately after the second world war there was a flood of Jews out of Europe to their homeland. The Holocaust was a major factor in the establishment of the state of israel in 1948, in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (e.g. Jeremiah 30:3, 32:36-38, 33:7).

God will never cast away his people (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

There are prophecies about the nation that are yet to be fulfilled. All the indications are that they will be fulfilled soon. Read Zechariah chapters 12 and 13.