THIS SUNDAY, Dec. 17th
Choir: Festival of Hymns & Carols (the one with the Hallelujah Chorus)
Preacher: Jason (primary text is Isaiah 7:14)
ADULT CHOIR NEWS
THANK YOU for your tireless work and prayer, all of which made for a wonderful and powerful musical celebration of Christ’s birth this past Sunday. Far too many compliments were shared to list here. Suffice it to say – Christ used you mightily
IS MOVING THE U.S. EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM RELATED TO BIBLICAL PROPHECY?
This past week, in light of recent news, I was asked the following question: “I would like to know if Pres. Trump’s deal to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel has anything to do with prophesy of the end times.”
I am very careful when talking/teaching about biblical prophecy. As with the nearing of Y2K (remember that?), preachers and pundits were spouting off all kinds of irresponsible interpretations of scripture. Some comments made by religious leaders about moving our embassy to Jerusalem have produced more of the same; or, as one editorialist described, “one more example in a long line of Christians saying stupid things that make the rest of us look bad.”
Here was my response to the question I was asked:
Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem by Trump has no connection with specific biblical prophecy. However, it has what I like to refer to as biblically prophetic implications due to the event being a “first of its kind” with regard to Israel i.e. Trump is the first sitting U.S. president to (1) visit Israel on his first trip abroad, (2) visit the Temple Mount Western Wall, and (3) recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Additionally, moving the embassy to Jerusalem exacerbates an already present hatred of Israel by the Arab nations who are relentlessly looking for any reason to wipe Israel from the face of the global map.
Let me be crystal clear: Does the information in the above paragraph have any connection to specific biblical prophecy. No. You won’t find any doomsday predictions here. Does the Bible clearly state that Israel will play a primary role in the return of Christ? Yes. So should any global news related to Israel be of interest to believers. I believe it should. (The fact that, in May 1948, Israel became a recognized state for the first time in 2500 years when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, is, I believe, of tremendous significance.)
Now, back to last week’s news…
The controversy surrounding the move of the embassy to Jerusalem dates back decades. A law passed in 1995 under the Clinton administration considers Jerusalem the capital, and even mandates the move of the embassy there. But no sitting president has had the courage to actually follow through with it due to fear of opposition and intimidation from Middle Eastern Arab states. (The UN is in full panic mode and has called for an emergency meeting.) One editorial stated, “There was a time when 16 countries maintained their embassies in Jerusalem. Succumbing to Arab pressures, however, they relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv, where the U.S. and other countries have long kept their embassies.”
Israel is almost always in the news. (Prime Minister Sharon described the Temple Mount as “the most volatile square kilometer on the planet.”) But, because of how the Bible describes Israel’s role in end-times prophecy, any news that centers around Israel on a global scale (such as last week’s news) should be watched closely.
I could offer much more commentary but this is already too much :))
These are exciting times. God is “moving the chess pieces into place.” And one day the trumpet will sound as God says “checkmate.”
As Jesus, himself, said about his imminent return – keep watching; keep praying.
POPE FRANCIS & THE LORD’S PRAYER
Both mainstream and social media exploded last week in reaction to the publication of a conversation between Pope Francis and a Catholic prison chaplain regarding one line in the “model prayer” (commonly called the “Lord’s Prayer”) cited by Jesus in both Matthew’s & Luke’s gospels. (You can read the context of the story from the National Catholic Reporterhere.) Rather than link an article for you here, simply google “Pope and the Lord’s Prayer” and you’ll find all the news you care to read about it.
So, is the Pope really – actually – suggesting we rewrite a line in the Bible?
The National Catholic Register quickly came to the Pope’s defense with an editorial entitled, “No, Pope Francis Is Not Changing the Lord’s Prayer.” While I agree with part of the Register’s defense of the Pope, I must disagree with some of it as well. Even if the Register is correct and the Pope had no intention of rewording the Lord’s Prayer, it’s the Pope’s commentary on the passage with which I take issue. The Pope states,
It’s me who falls. It’s not Him who pushes me into temptation, as if I fell. A father doesn’t do that. A father helps you to get up right away. The one who leads into temptation is Satan.
At first glance, this seems perfectly logical. Certainly, Satan is the tempter – not God. Jesus’ half-brother, James, wrote, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” (James 1:13). However, God – for His own sovereign reasons – can, and will, permit us to be led into tempting circumstances – which is precisely why Jesus chose to word the model prayer the way he did. After all, Luke records in his gospel in chapter 4, verses 1-2: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” (emphasis mine)
There is much in the Register article about the accuracy of the English translation of “lead us not into temptation”. This I can tell you: as far as the modern English translation of Jesus’ words, “do not lead us into temptation,” goes – the phrase is an extremely accurate and responsible translation based on the oldest and most reliable manuscripts. And, as cited above, Jesus’ words complement fully the passage found in Luke 4.
I read one headline that claimed the Pope’s reason for his comments was because the idea of God “leading us into temptation” makes God “look bad.” After researching, I cannot find that article – so it may well be the Pope never said that. But, while we’re here, let’s address a statement like that. That logic would necessitate the rewording – or removing – of many passages in the Old Testament. For example: God ordering the annihilation of Israel’s neighboring tribes, or God’s “hardening of Pharaoh’s heart,” not to mention the entire doctrine of an eternal hell reserved for those who reject faith in Christ. One is faced with the ultimate question: “Where do we draw the line in rewording biblical passages where, based on human opinion, God looks bad.”
“We preach Christ crucified,” Paul wrote.
Focus on the cross – not on passages that, in myopic human opinion, cast God in a bad light.In sum, whether the Pope’s words were taken out of context or not; whether he really did mean that we should reword part of the Lord’s Prayer or not…
With my utmost respect for my Catholic friends: Pope Francis (and anyone else unsatisfied with the accurate wording of the Bible) – don’t be “led into temptation” to mess with God’s Word. nw
Satan is deftly skilled at using panic and stress to make us forget the most elementary things of God – at least he has done that with me. So allow me to offer a very quick reminder of what is true.
Isaiah wrote, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is fixed on You.” (26:3) The Hebrew imagery for “perfect peace” is the idea of the stillness of the ocean floor while a hurricane rages on its surface.
Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this.” nw
LOOKING AHEAD: HOLIDAY CHURCH CALENDAR
Sunday PM (Christmas Eve), Dec. 24th: Christmas Eve Worship Service at 6pm
Dec. 25th: Offices closed
Dec. 26th – 29th: Offices open 9am – Noon
Sunday, Dec. 31st: One Worship Service at 10:30 (No Small Groups)
Jan. 1st: Offices closed
QUOTE of the WEEK
LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE 🙂
Q: What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney?
Q: What kind of motorbike does Santa ride?
A: A Holly Davidson
Q: What do you call Santa’s little helpers?
A: Subordinate clauses
GRACE NOTES: Being on the Receiving End of Gossip
I received a call last week from a distraught friend who’d just discovered some horrible – and untrue – things said about them. As I counseled them as to what to do (and not to do) I was reminded of this blog I wrote some time back. Perhaps someone needs to be, this week, reminded of these biblical principles where gossip is concerned. You can read the blog here.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick