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Weekly Update: Pentecost

Andrew Tucker - 29 May 2020

In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the ‘signs of His coming’ at the ‘end of the age’. Jesus said there will be wars and rumors of wars. Nations will rise against each other, there will be famines and earthquakes – but these will be just the beginning of the ‘birth pangs’. The time of His coming will be characterized by growing ‘wickedness and lack of love. Those who profess faith in Christ will be hunted.

But in the midst of all of this, Jesus says, there will be two positive signs – beacons of hope in the darkness. The first of these is the fig tree whose twigs get tender and its leaves come out, showing ‘the summer is near’ (verse 32). This speaks about the national restoration of Israel.

The other sign of hope is that ‘this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations’. When that happens, ‘then the end will come’ (verse 14).

Over the last 100 years, we have no doubt seen a rise of wickedness in the world, falling away in the Church, and increased persecution. But we have also seen both those signs of hope being fulfilled: the restoration of the Jewish people to the land, and the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ going to the nations.

The restoration of Israel, and the bringing of the “gospel of the kingdom” into the nations, are not separate, unconnected phenomena. On the contrary, the restoration of Israel is a sign that the kingdom is near. More than that, it is part of the inauguration of that kingdom!

As the articles below show, the restoration of the Jewish people to the land is a complex, difficult process. But it is clear that God’s hand is guiding this modern miracle.

There has been renewed Christian interest in the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ since the spiritual revival in the early 1800s, following the massive upheavals caused by the French Revolution. Bible-believing Christians and Jews in Europe began to study God’s word afresh and realised that the great hope offered by the Bible is the coming Kingdom of peace and prosperity on earth when Israel is restored, and the Messiah comes. This idea of the kingdom on earth under Messiah had been lost (or denied) for centuries by most Church denominations. Part of this movement was an understanding that the church has NOT replaced Israel.

It is a message that to this very day challenges the established theology of most church denominations.

Many Christians are awakening to the significance of Israel. Many are looking and yearning for the coming of Messiah and His kingdom. Yet many seem to be asleep.

These days of Pentecost remind us of the first fruits and the harvest. Is it time to pray that the Lord will send out his seventy laborers – his “two witnesses” – into the harvest field with the message that “the kingdom is near”? (see Luke 10 and Revelation 11)

Shabbat shalom,

Andrew Tucker

Editor-in-Chief – Israel & Christians Today


The feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)

In these days, the Jewish people celebrate Shavuot, and Christians celebrate Pentecost. What is the connection?

Daniele Mor of the Jewish Agency writes: “It is often assumed, that when Jews make Aliyah, they are in fact coming home, to the place G-d is directing them back to. While the moment of Aliyah is indeed full of joy, it is at the same time full of fear, full of hardship and quite often with an uneasy feelings of not belonging. It takes time, learning, faith and love to get through these feelings, to shake off the “generation of the desert” and to truly arrive in the Promised Land. In that sense, all Jews making Aliyah are similar to Ruth of the bible whose story we read as we celebrate Shavuot and Pentecost.” Read more..

Rev. Cornelis Kant writes: The book of Ruth is traditionally read in the synagogue during the Feast of Pentecost (Shavu’ot). Ruth is a wonderful story with a wonderful message. Ruth is not only a type for Christians who love Israel, but also a type for Israel itself, who will be redeemed and married by the King of Israel. Read more..

Rev. Willem Glashouwer writes: “On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter in Acts 2 quotes the prophecy from Joel 2. With Joel the outpouring of the Holy Spirit ‘on all flesh’ is put in prophetic perspective. One day the ‘latter rain’ will fall on Israel”. Read more.. 

In his Pentecost message, Dutch Chief Rabbi Binyamin Jacobs writes: “May there be speedily in our day’s eternal shalom – peace – for the whole of humanity, real peace for everyone.” Read more..


Benjamin Netanyahu trial begins

The trial of the Israeli Prime Minister on three charges commenced last Sunday 24 May. It is casting a shadow over the nation. In a blistering speech, the PM attacked the legal institutions and accused many of a conspiracy against him. “There have always been harsh political arguments, but there was always agreement on the rules of the game,” said Dan Meridor, a former justice minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party. “The prime minister needs to model behavior. Instead, he’s taking his trial out to the street. He’s challenging the existing order and it’s very dangerous.” Read more..


Israel’s planned “annexation”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Palestinians residing in the Jordan Valley would not be granted Israeli citizenship after the region is annexed by Israel, but will remain citizens of a future Palestinian entity. Read more.. 

Khaled Abu Toameh reports in JPost: PLO declares agreements with Israel have ended. ‘There’s a feeling that most of the world stands with us on the issue of annexation,’ senior official in Ramallah says. Read more..

Many in and outside Israel are critical of the plans to apply Israeli law and jurisdiction to parts of the West Bank. However Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser argues that “The application of Israeli sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria is not an obstacle to a two-state solution but an opportunity.” Read more..


Israel, Iran and Palestinian terror

It is important to realize that Israel is constantly defending itself against an ongoing and relentless military and security campaign of terror networks embedded in Palestinian society, many supported by Iran, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP.)

Jonathan Spyer reports: “Like Islamic Jihad, Teheran’s long standing proxy among the Palestinians, the PFLP is a small organization with a somewhat eccentric ideology possessing little appeal among the broad masses of the conservative, religious Palestinian population.  It possesses, nevertheless, a tight organizational structure, a cadre of fiercely loyal militants and a willingness to engage in violence. It now appears that Teheran’s steady investment in the movement over the last half decade has begun to deliver results.” Read more..


Israel, Hezbollah and Lebanon

Israel’s northern border is also very fragile. Marking 20 years since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of “the great war that will open all fronts at once,” saying that it would be “the end of Israel.” The Hezbollah leader stressed, however, that there are “no indications that Israel intends to launch a war against Lebanon.” Read more..

According to Prof. Efraim Karsh and Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, “Israel’s May 2000 rushed evacuation of its security zone in south Lebanon and the desertion of its longstanding local allies there tarnished the Jewish State’s deterrent posture and helped spark a string of large-scale armed confrontations with Hezbollah (2006), the PLO (the so-called “al-Aqsa Intifada”), and Hamas (2008/9, 2012, 2014). The withdrawal transformed south Lebanon into an ineradicable terror entity that can harass northern Israel at will and expedited Hezbollah’s evolvement into a formidable military power armed with 150,000 rockets and missiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel.” Read more..


New study supports historical authenticity of the Bible

A major study released last week shows Canaanites maintained coherent genetic mix even though they were widely dispersed, and it can still be discerned in modern Arabic-speaking and Jewish population. Read more..


The El Al Captain who flew Adolf Eichmann to justice 

Aaron David Fruh wrote this week in JPost: “Sixty years ago, at dawn on May 22, 1960, El Al captains Zvi Tohar and Shmuel Wedeles guided their four-engine Bristol Britannia passenger airliner out of the heavens toward Lod Airport near Tel Aviv. When the wheels gripped the runway, both Tohar and Wedeles breathed a sigh of relief, after completing their long-distance flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina, a span filled with intrigue and danger.” Read more..


“God’s Plan” – Video teaching by Johannes Gerloff

Episode 25 in the series of teachings by Israeli-based Bible teacher and journalist Johannes Gerloff:

God promised a land to Abram and his descendants. Most people occupy a certain territory as basis of their existence, as a place, where they legitimately may reside and build their lives. God, however, seemed to have something else in mind, when He promised the Land of Israel to Abram.

 

“Signs of the Times” – Video teachings by Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer

Episode 5: Frightening.

Frighteningly accurate was fulfilled what the greatest of the prophets – the Lord Jesus Christ – said in response to the questions of His disciples, When will all this happen? More than a million Jews were slaughtered by the Romans in the year AD 70, and hundreds of thousands were sold as slaves on the slave markets in the Middle East. Since then, the ‘times of the Gentiles’ over Israel continue and they will only come to an end at the coming of Messiah. Today, planet earth is on its way to that wonderful moment as Jews are starting to return home to the Promised Land of Israel.

 

Scripture for the week: Luke 10:1-23

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say,11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

 

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