Israel Forever!

Jerusalem

My personal Bible reading this morning had me in Jeremiah 31. In this chapter, God expresses His desire to restore Israel, not because Israel is sinless, but because God is faithful to keep His promise. All end-times prophecy centers on the nation of Israel, which is precisely why Satan has worked throughout history to destroy the nation. If Satan can destroy Israel then God can be shown to be unfaithful and unreliable. If God cannot keep His promises concerning Israel, neither can He keep His promises to us about our eternal life. That is why this is so important.

The prophecies of Israel’s restoration have been partially fulfilled. After almost 2000 years of diaspora, from which no culture in history has ever survived, the Jews, no matter where in the world they lived – Spain, Poland, Germany, Russia, America, etc. – they maintained their identity, customs, traditions, and even to a great extent, their language. Then on May 14, 1948, they became a nation once again, and they continue to attract Jews from all over the world. They are growing stronger in number, in wealth, and in science and technology. God’s promise has been and is being fulfilled in our time. And Satan hates it! Those that call America the Great Satan and Israel the Little Satan are Satan themselves.

But God is not blessing Israel because they are “good” or better than any other nation on earth. In fact, Israel is a very secular nation. It has, perhaps, one of the largest percentages per capita of homosexuals in the world. Many of the Jews keep the customs and traditions but are really atheist in their beliefs. The truly religious Jews hold the minority in the nation. So, God is not blessing them because they are faithful to Him. He is blessing them because He promised to do so, and God keeps His Word.

However, one day very soon, all the Jews that survive the coming events of “Jacob’s trouble,” aka, the Tribulation, will finally return to God.

For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Jeremiah 31:6-9)

God says …

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)

In that day – during the Millennial reign of Christ – all of Israel will turn to God. “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

And here is how sure God’s promise is. God says that when the physical laws that govern the sun, moon, and stars cease to function, then will God break His promise. When man is able to discover the boundaries of the universe or discover the foundations of the earth, then will God’s promise cease to be in effect. Hear this …

Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:35-37)

God has been faithful to keep His promise to Israel thus far and unless the physical laws which govern the universe cease to function – and it is God who established and maintains the physical laws – God will keep His promise to Israel, not because they deserve it, but because God is faithful. For those of us who have placed our faith, trust, and hope in Christ for our eternal salvation, we can know without a doubt that He will be faithful to keep His promises to us.

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Nacho

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the [little] dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:27)

This last week was a sad one for June and me. We had to say goodbye to our 15-year-old, geriatric Chihuahua, Nacho. Nacho, although surprisingly full of energy, was showing his age. He limped, albeit quickly, on his arthritic legs. Sometimes his right shoulder would lock up, and he would cry out in pain, and after a gentle massage from me, he would return to his “normal” self. He was losing his hearing and sight, which made him aggressive toward our other two dogs if they approached him unexpectedly, especially when he was trying to eat. Eating was another problem. By now, he had lost several of his molars, so he had difficulty chewing his kibble.

The last month or so, we noticed that Nacho was losing weight. Nacho was big for a Chihuahua – a lean ten pounds – so he did not have much to lose. We could count the vertebras on his back and his ribs were beginning to show. His weight loss concerned us, so we started feeding him soft canned food, but that did not seem to help. Finally, he started urinating all over the house, even after going out for a pee-pee run. He had never done that before. We concluded this was the beginning of kidney failure for the old guy.

June and I are moving to Nebraska next month. Unlike Texas, Nebraska winters can be brutal. We thought Nacho would not do well in that cold climate, with his skinny, arthritic body. That and the fact that he would be going to an unfamiliar house that he would have to navigate with his poor eyesight. Then there were the bladder control issues. We thought about putting him up for adoption, but who wants a geriatric dog with multiple health issues that could linger for another three years? (Chihuahua’s can live up to 18 years.) Oh, and did I mention that he exhibited signs of dementia? Sometimes he would walk into a room, stop dead in his tracks, and stare as if he forgot why he came into the room.

So, we thought it best to have him put to sleep. I was stuck with the dirty work, and it ripped my heart in two. It was all I could do to maintain my composure and not break out bawling there at the animal shelter. I reserved that for the drive home. June met me when I arrived home, and we embraced and cried all over each other.

It is funny – not funny, ha ha – how an animal can take over such a large part of our hearts. I had a love-hate relationship with Nacho. He was neurotic. He was skittish. He was aloof, almost cat-like, not warm and loving like most dogs. He was loud. Oh! He was oh so loud! But we had our moments. When I would reach out to pick him up, he squirmed away as if I was about to beat him (I never did), but when I finally picked him up, he would lick my face out of obligation (I think). Still, I loved the weirdo.

Nacho loved to sing along when anyone sang. I remember one Fourth of July when June and I were visiting family in Nebraska. We went to the Fourth of July parade in Platte Center, NE, and we took Nacho along with us. Before the parade started, a high school girl stared singing the National Anthem. By the third measure, Nacho was loudly singing right along with her, and I could not shut him up. I was so embarrassed!

When I was growing up, my parents would always sing “Las Mañanitas” on our birthdays. We have kept up the tradition, and when my siblings’ birthdays come around, I call them up and sing “Las Mañanitas” to them. Nacho was always ready to join in. He stopped singing when his hearing dimmed. Even when I held him and sang, he stopped joining in.

He also howled when I called him by his “full” name – Ignacio Panza Con Patas Carrasco. (Panza con patas means “belly with feet.”) It was the funniest thing. I would say his full name, and he would start howling. I do not know why. Did he understand he was being insulted? I don’t know, but when we had guests over, I would always entertain them with Nacho’s antics.

 

Nacho protesting being called by his full name – Ignacio Panza Con Patas Carrasco!

Nacho came to us when he was about eight weeks old. He was about five inches long – about the length of our TV remote control. He gave us a lot of his love in his own weird way. He had a way of “talking” to us in a way that made himself understood. He was really smart. I will miss him. I am sure that if there is a “Doggie Heaven,” he’ll be there. I miss you, Viejo!J

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Limited Patience

For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. (Jeremiah 4:22)

Jeremiah prophesied at the time just before, during and after the Babylonian captivity of Judah. As I read the first chapters of Jeremiah, I recognized the United States in the litany of charges God leveled against the nation of Judah. I mourn as the words on the page ring true as applied to the nation that I love.

Judah abandoned God and turned to and worshiped demonic gods. They still went to the Temple and offered sacrifices, but it had become a meaningless routine. “To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me” (Jeremiah 6:20). They were going through the motions, but treating the LORD no different than any of the other gods they worshiped. By this point in their history, Judah had gradually fallen into idolatry in the course of 200 years or more. God had been patient with them sending prophet after prophet to warn them of the dangerous road they were on, but they did not listen. “Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it” (Jeremiah 6:19, emphasis mine).

God had it with Judah! On three separate occasions God told Jeremiah, “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee” (Jeremiah 7:16, emphasis mine). Imagine offending God so badly that He will not listen to the prayers of those who pray for you! This is how low Judah had sunk. “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble” (Jeremiah 11:14, emphasis mine). Judah had crossed the line. “Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them” (Jeremiah 11:11, emphasis mine). “Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good” (Jeremiah 14:11).

Judah’s list of sins was long and wicked. Not only did they worship idols fashioned after demonic gods, but they offered their babies as burnt sacrifices to these gods. They practiced sexual sins of all kinds. They took advantage of the poor and the widows. They listened to false prophets and rejected the prophets of God who spoke God’s truth like Jeremiah. This was no small thing and they breached the limit of God’s patience. Their rejection of God resulted in their demise at the hands of the Babylonians.

The warning God gave had both a short-term and a long-term application. The Babylonians carried out the short-term application and the Romans carried out the long-term application in A.D. 70 that lasted for almost 2000 years. However, God demonstrates His mercy in that He does not retain His anger forever. He also demonstrates His faithfulness in that He will not break His promise.

Although Israel and Judah were unfaithful to God with their idolatry, He determined to keep His word, not for any merit of this unfaithful nation, but because of His own integrity. He made a promise to Abraham long before Israel became a nation and the only collateral, He gave was His name.[1]God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19, emphasis mine).

As an object lesson, God instructed Jeremiah to go to the house of the potter. There, Jeremiah saw the potter working at the wheel forming a clay vessel. In the process, the vessel developed a flaw at which time the potter crushed it and started over until he completed a vessel that suited his liking. “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:5-6).

We see the fulfillment of this prophecy today. For almost 2000 years the Jews wandered from country to country never having a homeland of their own. Linguists considered the Hebrew language a dead language. The Jews did not speak it, yet they maintained their identity as a people and carried on all of their traditions. They never assimilated into the cultures of the lands in which they lived. Then, on May 14, 1948 God brought them back into their Promised Land from all over the world, made them a nation once, and revived their dead language. No other people group in the history of the world had maintained their identity after such a dispersion. The Jewish people returning to their land and the rebirth of their nation is a miracle of God and a promise kept! Of this day the Prophet Isaiah said, “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8).

There is more to come for Israel. However, what is true for Israel is not necessarily true for the United States of America. We can see many parallels. Regardless of what revisionist historians say, America was founded on biblical principles giving glory to God for His providence. Four hundred years have gone by since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. For most of our History, God was central to our government and our nation, but slowly the leaven of humanism crept in and started eating away at our foundations. About 50 years ago, the cracks in the foundation became more obvious, until now they seem to have crumbled altogether.

One big difference sets America apart from Israel. God never made an unconditional promise to any one of our founding fathers, not even to George Washington. God made an unconditional promise to Abraham; therefore, Israel survives as a nation. We have no such guarantee. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12); but we, as a nation, have rejected God and made the earth our god. Unless we, as a nation, repent and return to God, no hope remains for our survival. I see no prospect of a national repentance. God’s patience is limited, and I fear we have breached the limit.

Yet, even though the nation crumbles – that seems evident to me – God’s people will survive. While God still has His people here, it is incumbent on His people to carry on His work until Jesus comes to take us home. As God’s people, we need to remember that this world is not our home.[2] We are citizens of heaven[3] and we are ambassadors of the king[4] in this foreign land. Let us do the work of an ambassador until the Lord closes down our embassy and calls us home.

If you do not know God and are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 12:2-3; 13:15-16; 15:18

[2]  John 15:19

[3]  Philippians 3:20

[4]  2 Corinthians 5:20

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Something to Brag About

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: (Jeremiah 9:23)

Today’s culture encourages us to put ourselves first above everything and everyone else. It’s all about YOU! In my previous life before retirement, I found it difficult to build up myself on a résumé in order to land a job. Not that I did not have the qualifications for the positions I sought, but the idea of over-emphasizing my qualifications, using just the right words and phrases, seemed a bit dishonest to me. However, that practice was encouraged by all employment counselors and followed by all who sought work. I did it, but I did not like it because it went against biblical teaching that I should “not think [of myself] more highly than [I] ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). Jesus said something similar when His disciples argued among themselves about which one would be greater in His kingdom. Jesus made a small child the example of greatness (Matthew 18:1-4). There is no one more unassuming or humble as a child.

The Bible gives other examples of this concept, for example, our opening verse above. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.” The Hebrew word translated “wise” is châkâm, which can be translated “skillful, shrewd, crafty, cunning, subtle, learned, prudent,” It can also be translated as “wise” (ethically and religiously), the kind of wisdom that comes from God. The remaining definitions for “wise” seem well-suited for résumé building. However, God says not to “glory” (i.e., brag or boast) in such wisdom. What is wrong with tooting your own horn about your talents, skills, abilities, knowledge, savvy, etc.? Well, humanly speaking, while you may be better at one thing than the next guy, there is always someone that is better at it than you. Besides all that, no one can top God’s “wisdom.” The wise Solomon said, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7).

The verse goes on to say, “neither let the mighty man glory in his might.” The Hebrew word translated “mighty” is gibbôr. It means “strong, brave.” It can also mean “powerful, warrior, tyrant, a valiant man.” When God spoke these words to the Prophet Jeremiah, He was addressing the unfaithful nation of Judah, who trusted in their armies and their alliances, i.e., military might. However, the same idea can be applied to individuals who trust in their own strength, be that physical, financial, intellectual, etc. God says not to “glory” in those things for the same reasons given above. We may out-do one another, but we can never match God in might.

Then He says, “let not the rich man glory in his riches.” The wealth of this world is fleeting. If you have it, when you die, it will go to your heirs (if you have a will) or to the government (if you do not have a will). Solomon considered this when he wrote, “Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19, emphasis mine). Jesus also addressed the vanity of material wealth. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20, emphasis mine).

Is there anything about which we can boast? Actually, yes, the Bible gives us something about which we can “glory” in the verse that follows. “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24, emphasis mine). If you want to brag, brag about your understanding and knowledge of God (provided you understand and know Him). God says He exercises “lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness.” If you understand and know God, you will exercise the same things. These are the things in which God delights and when you understand and know God, you will delight in the same things.

If you want to brag, brag on God!

If you do not know God and are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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Preach It!

Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them … And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee. (Jeremiah 1:17, 19)

Sometime before the new year, I determined to do my daily Bible reading in my Spanish Bible (Reina-Valera 1960). I completed reading through the New Testament and started reading the major prophets in the Old Testament. I finished reading Isaiah (Isaías) and started reading Jeremiah (Jeremías) this week. When I came to the passage above, I sent it to my pastor as a word of encouragement.

Jeremiah lived in a time when Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had been taken captive by the Assyrians and Babylon was threatening Judah (the Southern Kingdom). These invasions were God’s judgement on the nation for their idolatry. Judah retained a form of religion. They observed all the prescribed feast days and performed all the required sacrifices, but pagan worship and rituals crept into their religious life. Whatever worship they offered God was insincere and offensive to God. His patience exhausted, God said, “… I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands” (Jeremiah 1:16).

So, God assigned Jeremiah to proclaim His Word to the people with the assurance that they would not want to hear the message. God warned that they would fight against him, and indeed they did. Jeremiah was abused, beaten, and cast into a muddy cistern because he tried to warn the people of what was coming. However, God encouraged him, “be not dismayed at their faces … they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee … to deliver thee.” It seems strange that God warns Jeremiah that He will “confound” him if he is dismayed by the angry looks he gets from his audience. The Geneva Bible notes that “God’s vengeance is prepared against them who do not execute their duty faithfully, either for fear of man, or for any other reason.” In other words, God is telling Jeremiah to speak boldly, without fear, or God will allow him to look foolish before his audience.

We live in a time very much like that of Jeremiah’s day. Forget the secular crowd; they make no pretense of religiosity. The church crowd that has adopted the ways of this world and tried to put a religious spin on it will be our opposition. This is Super Bowl Sunday. Think of all the churches that have cancelled Sunday night services so their congregants can stay home and watch the Super Bowl at home. And even if services are not cancelled, how many “Christians” will skip Sunday night services so they will not miss one minute of the Super Bowl?

That is just a small example. What about the churches that have incorporated “critical race theory” and “wokeness” into their practices? How about those churches that for a long-time now have rejected biblical teaching against homosexuality and women pastors? Not only do they embrace the practice but they allow them in their pulpits to preach! If you speak up against such things you will be ridiculed and labeled as a bigot, a racist, a homophobe, intolerant, etc. They will come at you with a vicious vengeance. As God told Jeremiah, “they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee.” Do you believe that? God says, “gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee.”

Paul exhorted his young protégé, Timothy to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). This exhortation does not apply only to “preachers.” It is meant for every one of Jesus’ witnesses. Like it or not, if you claim Jesus as your Savior, if you claim to be a Christian, then you are a witness of Jesus Christ, for good or bad. We have a message to proclaim, in season and out of season. In other words, when it is convenient and when it is not convenient. Many will not appreciate the message, especially those who fancy themselves to be religious and are not. The adage is true that “the truth hurts,” and you can expect pushback when you deliver God’s Word (not your word or opinion). However, as God told Jeremiah, “I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” God is faithful, and He will keep His promise. The question is, do you really believe that? We live in evil days and God does not want us to go into hiding, but to be bold and proclaim His Word in the midst of opposition. HE will deliver us. We need not fear. Preach it!

If you are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

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