On December 6 President Trump announced that the United States embassy in Israel would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Since Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, this seems like a reasonable step to take, yet this decision has been met with protests all over the world. The United Nations voted 128 to 9 to condemn it. The Palestinians have objected and threatened violence because they consider Jerusalem to be their capital.
Israel is unique among the nations of the world. It began when God told Abraham to go to another land and promised to make a great nation of his descendants.
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. The descendants of Isaac became the nation of Israel and fulfilled God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation. Jerusalem became the capital of Israel. God’s temple was there and it was where Jesus was crucified, fulfilling the promise that all families of the earth would be blessed in Abraham. Read the rest of this entry
Whenever someone opposes same sex marriage he is accused of hating gays and his opinions are often called hate speech. Proponents of same sex marriage have attacked those who oppose it and have caused some to lose their jobs and have their businesses ruined. Some people do hate gays but Christians who oppose same sex marriage do so because we care about gays and want to protect them the harm that they will experience.
To see why this is so we need to look at what the Bible says about marriage. The first marriage was between the first man and the first woman. Read the rest of this entry
We are commanded not to avenge ourselves but to leave all vengeance to God’s wrath.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
But just how do we leave vengeance to God? If what another person does to hurt us involves a violation of the law, there is a very easy way. Inform the police and press criminal charges against him. Here is what the Bible says about the role of government.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4)
Did you notice the last sentence? For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. When we ask the government to take action against someone who has hurt us we are not avenging ourselves but turning the matter over to God’s servant. Read the rest of this entry
Exodus 7:1-12:40 describes the ten plagues God had to send on the Egyptians before they would let the Israelites leave to go to the land God had promised them. Yet even after all of this suffering Pharaoh changed his mind about freeing the Israelites and tried to bring them back into slavery. Exodus 14:5-31 tells how God opened the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape and then allowed the sea to return to drown Pharaoh and his army. Israel was finally free to go to its own land and Egypt was in ruins with its ruler dead.
But God’s judgments had another result.
“Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.
Not all of the Egyptians were as hard hearted as Pharaoh. Some of them feared God and took steps to protect themselves. When the Isrealites left Egypt they left behind a group of people who believed in the true God.
When Jesus was being crucified some of the spectators challenged him to prove he was the Son of God by coming down from the cross.
And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.”
If he had chosen to do so he could have come down from the cross. He had earlier stated that if he asked, God would send twelve legions of angels to help him.
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
When the Israelites invaded Canaan they faced enemies who were stronger than they were. They won only because God helped them.
Israel was a nation and like any other nation it sometimes waged wars with other nations. The church isn’t a nation but is a body of people from all nations who have put their faith in Jesus Christ. Because we aren’t a nation we don’t have an army and we don’t engage in physical wars but we are involved in warfare of a different kind.
Chapter four of John describes a meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.
So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
Plato wrote of a conversation between Socrates and a man named Euthyphro in which this question was raised: Does God command us to do things because they are good or are they good because God commands them? Many people feel that either answer creates a problem. If God commands us to do things because they are good that implies that there is a standard of goodness independent of God to which he must conform. If the things God commands are good because he commands them then good and evil exist only because of God’s arbitrary decision to call certain thing good and others evil. This problem is known as the Euthyphro dilemma.
The Bible prophesies a restoration of the Roman Empire just before Christ’s return and many Bible teachers think that the European Union is the fulfillment of that prophecy.
When the EU was formed this belief seemed reasonable. The founding members were Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,and West Germany and these countries are all in territory that was once part of the Roman Empire. But since membership has grown and it now includes nations such as Sweden, Finland, and Poland that were never part of the empire.
Matthew 15:21-28 describes an encounter between Jesus and a Canaanite woman.
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
Chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel describe an invasion of Israel which is stopped by divine intervention. There is disagreement among Bible students about when this invasion will take place. Some think it is a description of the final battle at Armageddon; some think it will take place earlier, perhaps before the beginning of the tribulation. In the Left Behind series it takes place even before the rapture of the church.
When Christians discuss the Bible we are often accused of choosing Bible verses that support our position and ignoring those that oppose it. Usually this takes the form of quoting some law found in the Old Testament and asking why we don’t practice it. Since we consider all of the Bible, including the Old Testament, to be the Word of God this is a reasonable objection that should be answered. Read the rest of this entry