Who Owns the Land of Israel?

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*** God’s Word, His oath, and His everlasting covenant are guarantees …. Nobody is authorized or permitted to sell, barter, give away, or negotiate any part of the land for any reason! ***

“And I give to you (Abraham)and to your descendants after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

— Genesis 17:8

To study the nation and land of Israel is to pursue what is, without question, an additional proof of the existence of God. No other people or ethnic group even comes close to the endurance record of the Jews. And no other tract of land on earth has ever attracted so much daily attention. All of it is related to claims for territory by both Jews and Arabs.

In this connection all eyes are on politics and political maneuvering; but the issue goes far deeper. Almighty God is getting ready to prove something – that His Word is accurate and invincible.

So the question is who owns the land? In Leviticus 26:40-44 God gives a prophetic warning to the people through Moses. They had turned their backs on Him, yet He promised He would still remember them, and also “The Land!”

What is it about this remote piece of real estate, no larger than the state of New Jersey — a virtual dot on the world map – that would cause God to be so interested in it and make such a firm commitment to it? Joel 3:1-2 clears up the mystery. This passage concerns the end times when He will bring judgment and justice. Here He clearly identifies Himself with Israel, as “My people” and “My inheritance.” Then He levels a final indictment against the unbelieving nations. Why? “Because they have divided my land.” Many years after promising the land to Abraham and his descendants, He still calls it “My land”.

Now, to whom was the land given and entrusted? Scriptures answering this question in detail are abundant. To conserve space, we will not attempt to quote them verbatim, but the reader should search out and read them. Here is a sample: Genesis 12:1-7 (the original land grant), Genesis 15: 18, and Genesis 26:4, plus others to follow. God’s Word, His oath, and His everlasting covenant are guarantees that what God Himself entrusted to Israel in terms of territory is unquestionable and everlasting! God Almighty, who owns the land, entrusted it to a particular people whom He commanded to possess and dwell in it. They were to conduct their lives in accordance with His statutes and commandments. The land belongs to God, and nobody – not the United Nations, Washington, European Union, or the Peace Table – nobody is authorized or permitted to sell, barter, give away or negotiate any part of it for any reason! What we have here, then, is God’s divine plan clashing head-on with human politics.

Scriptures tell us that Israel violated God’s conditions, and actually rebelled, resulting in disqualifying themselves from tending God’s land. As a result, both people and land entered into a time of shame and desolation. Jerusalem became a half-ruined, flea-infested village. The blessing had been withdrawn; rainfall diminished and almost everything became desert. And yet these same Scriptures also spoke of hope that this calamity would not go on forever; that there would be a restoration, a healing and a fruitfulness. (Please refer to Ezekiel 36: 5,6,8). Here is a prophetic vision thousands of years ahead when the Jews would be gathered and returned to their homeland. Verses 15 and 24-27 of the same chapter speak of the Lord’s continuing passion for the land. The promise here for spiritual restoration will take place but it will not and cannot happen until the Jews are returned to the land.

Over 1900 years have passed and most of them have been years of desolation and despair for both people and land. But the season of restoration has begun. Isaiah 66:7-9 speaks prophetically of a nation being born in one day. This prophecy was fulfilled in amazing detail on May 15, 1948. Within 24 hours of its introduction, the UN passed a resolution declaring Israel to be a sovereign nation. It was then promptly announced by the new Prime Minister, “This nation shall be called Israel!” She then fought three wars perpetrated by the Arab nations with the sole intent to drive her into the sea, but with God’s help and many real miracles, she prevailed.

In spite of the truth of Scripture and factual history the cry for “Palestinian Autonomy” to replace the nation of Israel continues to come forth with a surprising number of supporters outside the Arab world. So who are the “Palestinians”? Where did the name “Palestine” originate? Here are the answers:

There never was a “Palestine” state. There never was a “Palestine” entity. There never was a “Palestine” culture. There never was a “Palestine” language. There never was a “Palestine” government. They, who claim to be “Palestinians” are simply Arabs. And the Arabs own and control 99.9% of the Middle East, compared to Israel’s 1/10th of 1%. In the year 70 AD, when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, the Emperor named the region “Ceasarea Palestinia” a derivative from the ancient Jewish enemy, “Philistines”. This was a deliberate slap at the Jews by the Roman Emperor.

The Jewish-Israel connection to that land goes back 5,000 years, and the Jew’s right to the land is God ordained. He said He would bring them back, never again to be pushed out. Hear the words of Jeremiah, chapter 33, verse 24: “Have you heard what people are saying? They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation, but this is the Lord’s reply – I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws of night and day, of earth and sky. I will never abandon the Jews ….” (TLB).

Now Ezekiel 11:17, “Therefore say, thus saith the Lord God; I shall gather you [Israel] from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give YOU the land of Israel.”

Case closed!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

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Jesus, Our Passover

(Note:  My wife Pam and I conduct “Christ in the Passover” services every year during the Passover/Easter season. These services include the full Passover celebration, including the complete Seder dinner. In each element of the service, we explain how that particular element represents Jesus Christ, and how He fulfilled the purpose of every aspect of the Passover celebration. Many of the photos with this article are from those services.)

“These are the appointed times of the Lord; holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed.  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of that month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover”  Leviticus 23:4-5.

In the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Leviticus, Jehovah God commanded the children of Israel to faithfully recognize a full calendar of feasts that He was setting before them.  He ordered Moses to proclaim to His people that these were the “Lord’s appointed times.” In other words: “I, the Lord God Jehovah have established them, and the times set are my times.”  What God did in these two sentences was to establish what is known as “The Seven Feasts of Israel.”  All of them would bring remembrances of some great thing Jehovah God had done for His people; and prophetically point to the future fulfillment of each by the coming Messiah.

It should be noted that on His last night on earth, just before His crucifixion, our Jewish Messiah Jesus chose to celebrate Passover with His disciples.  He placed His personal imprint on the celebration that night, in a way that would impact the Church for all time.

The Feast of Passover is the convocation that begins the Festival Year for the Jews, and occurs at the beginning of spring.  Exodus 12 and beyond tells in great detail the story of how the Israelites were delivered from Egyptian bondage and slavery.  The critical time slot in this saga was the night of the tenth plague.  From this historic night, God begins to set dates.

Now, we need to understand that the Hebrew calendar is much different than the Roman calendar we use today.  It is a lunar calendar, based on the phases of the moon, not on the revolutions of the earth around the sun. Each month starts with a new moon, and reaches a full moon in the midst of a 28-day cycle.  Passover always falls on the first full moon of spring, in the month of Nisan, the first month of the Sacred Festival calendar, and the month that is equivalent to our April.

Almond trees in bloom. Courtesy USAF, via Wikipedia.org

An interesting sidelight here is the beautiful story of how God uses the almond tree at this time of year.  This tree grows profusely in the land of the Hebrews and blooms at the end of winter.  Even if a Jew could not read or understand the calendar, he would not miss Passover. All he had to do was watch the almond tree: when blooms appeared, the next full moon was Passover.

Well, what is the meaning of Passover?  In one word: SALVATION!  On that night in Egypt, because of “a male lamb without blemish” and its shed blood, there was deliverance and life!  The message in both the Old Testament and New Testament is very clear: the Blood of The Lamb saves and delivers. That blood delivered the Jew from Egyptian bondage and death and the Christian from the bondage of sin and death.

It is no coincidence that Jesus was sacrificed on Passover.  He spoke with resolute firmness in Matthew 26:27, “This is my blood of the New Testament, shed for many for the remission of sin.” John the Baptist had declared earlier as he introduced Jesus on the banks of the Jordan River, “Behold the LAMB of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  God set the dates, and the principle involved here is present in all of the remaining feasts.

Table Being Prepared for Passover Seder Dinner
Table Being Prepared for Passover Seder Dinner

The faithful Jew today celebrates Passover in commemoration of the deliverance of their ancestors from Egypt while looking forward to the ultimate deliverance through the Messiah to come.  On the other hand, the Christian today, both Jew and Gentile, celebrates Passover, not only recognizing the deliverance from Egypt, but also seeing the feast as a prophetic shadow —  pointing to the Messiah, Yeshua Jesus, who has already come and fulfilled this wonderful convocation.  In Egypt the Hebrew children marked their house with the blood of the lamb.  Today, as Christians we mark our hearts and body with the Blood of Christ, the true Paschal Lamb of God.  We have already been passed over; the death angel cannot touch us. Our eternal life has already begun — RIGHT NOW!

On that night, at the Passover table with His disciples, Jesus took the unleavened bread, gave thanks and broke it.  He then passed it to the disciples and said: “Take and eat, this is my Body given for you…”  Then He raised the Third Cup, “The Cup Of Redemption,” prayed the prayer of thanks, and passed it to the disciples saying, “Take and drink; this is my Blood of the New Covenant  shed for you…”.  And thus, our Holy Communion was born!  As they ate the Bread and drank the Cup Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” He is literally saying, “I am now the Paschal Lamb of God; it is My Blood that saves from death and brings life more abundantly.”

Enlarged Representation of the Seder Plate Showing the Foods Eaten at the Mean
Enlarged Representation of the Seder Plate Showing the Foods Eaten at the Mean

Not only did Jesus fulfill the Feast of Passover by going to the Cross, but He also fulfilled the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Feasts.  He was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, arose from the Tomb on the Feast of First Fruits, and sent the Holy Spirit to His church on the Feast of Pentecost. In the not too distant future, He will fulfill the 5th Feast — The Feast of Trumpets — when He comes for His Bride!  Can you shout “GLORY!”?

 

Power-Points from God’s Word: # 1 – Trust

TRUST - LAKE - GOSPELGIFSLet’s talk about trust; specifically, trust in God and His Word. One of the most important lessons we need to learn in life is that God has a plan for our lives — after we are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit — that supersedes any plan that we may be pursuing. The big lesson to learn here is to “let go and let God”

One of my favorite characters in the entire Bible is David, who in my opinion was one of the greatest men to walk on this earth. He was the greatest of all the kings of Israel, and there was a reason for his greatness: It centered on “trust!”

In his early teen years, the sheep field was David’s church, where he developed a heart for God and trusted Him to the point where virtually everything he touched “turned to gold.” Even bears and lions could not stand up to him. That was his lifestyle — TRUST!

Then something dramatic happened to him one day.  He was summoned from the field by his father, and there was Prophet Samuel ready to pour anointing oil over his reddish blonde hair. As the oil ran down his handsome boyish face, the Prophet announced, “By the direction of Almighty God of Israel, I anoint you the next King over Israel.”

And then came the experience of a lifetime for the appointed shepherd-king — GOLIATH: Two feet taller and 400 pounds heavier than the tallest and heaviest NBA player.

Twice a day for six weeks Goliath instilled frantic fear into the army of Israel — including King Saul. David happened to be visiting his brothers on the battlefield and saw what was going on. Noticing that nobody in the army was challenging Goliath, he rose up and declared, “I’ll take care of him.”

 He approached him with a sling shot declaring ( paraphrased) “You come to me with a big body, a big mouth, and pounds of armor and weapons, but I come to you in the name of the God of Israel, and He will give me your head.“ And God did! David let go and trusted God!!

What about you? Are you trusting — or are you just “hoping so”?  Let’s get out of the “hope-so club” and trust Him. Let go and let God. He will never fail us! GLORY!

~
(Artwork is courtesy of Jim Sutton, GospelGifs.Com)

Journey To The Altar

We want to take a little journey to and into the mighty Tabernacle of God. Specifically, we will make our way to the Altar of Incense. We follow the pattern laid out in the Torah, the Law of Jehovah God.

Replica of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness by Petri Paavola

Begin to imagine with me: Picture in your mind how a priest of Israel would move from his bed in the early morning hours. Visualize what he is seeing, and feel the intensity of emotion as he gradually makes his way to the Altar of Incense.

Lots have been cast among the priests, and he has been chosen to burn the incense this particular morning. Since the choice was made by casting lots, sometimes a certain priest would be chosen for this honor only once in a lifetime.

Lying in his bed near the Tabernacle, he begins to wonder about this great honor. Moses and over three million Israelites are still asleep in their tents spread out over the desert floor. He is the one among these millions who has the responsibility of burning the incense. He wakes up as the sun is rising in the east–sitting up in bed, half awake, it dawns on him that this is his morning to go to the Altar of Incense. His pulse races as he stands up from his bed.

And there, laid out at the foot of the bed, are his priestly garments. There sits the breastplate, and as he trims the torch in his tent, all the brilliance of the jewels begin to awaken him even further. He puts on the robe and tunic, the sash, the turban, the breast piece, and the ephod. They are blue, purple, and scarlet in color. The jewels are beautiful. He begins to think about the skillful craftsmanship required for these articles: skills given by God Himself. Embroiderers, metal smiths, jewel cutters — all made and consecrated for this special purpose.

He pulls back the flap of his tent. The cool morning desert air smacks his cheeks. He smells the scent of the burning sacrifice that burns 24 hours a day. He looks out among the tents housing three million people — hears the muffled sounds of babies crying. Torches are spotted here and there throughout the desert camp. He hears the low rustle of camels and sheep. And he begins to think. Why me? Why am I up at this hour — the only one on this day among my people who is privileged to enter into the Holy Place?

And there on the desert floor he sees — yet again — as if it has snowed — fresh manna. God is on time. Manna covers the desert floor.

He hears the shuffling of his feet as he approaches the Tabernacle. The goat skins covering all the tents of this people are black. And there, standing out amidst all of that blackness, is a white linen fence — right in the middle of the camp. God’s Tabernacle. God’s dwelling place among His people.

He moves, clad in his priestly garments, toward the gate, not to the north, nor the south, nor the west, but through the east. And there before him, as he stands at the gate just before dawn,is a 30-foot opening — the Way into the Tabernacle. There he sees four 7 1/2-foot poles: one of blue, one scarlet, one purple, and one white linen. He looks at each tent peg and sees gold tops and poles of acacia wood overlaid with silver.

Suddenly before him is a terrific sight: the largest piece of furniture in the Tabernacle: the Brazen Altar. He can see the heat emanating from the bronze square. There is the scent of death — blood sprinkled over the top and smoke rising heavenward. He looks at all of the consecrated tools set apart for this very purpose. He sees the  pots, shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat fork.

There is the fire pan and the sensor. He picks up the sensor, picks up the tongs, fills the sensor with hot coals. He realizes and is reminded of his sinfulness and his lack of qualification to move any further. But he walks a few paces to the laver of cleansing — a large bronze basin. He looks into the water with the light that he has. He washes his hands and his feet, still asking, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this privilege?”

tabernaclekit22 - petri paavolaHe moves forward to the Holy Place with his sensor, having picked up one half pound of incense. In the Holy Place he looks to the left and sees that the lamp stands in need of oil. He thinks, “ A privilege to see it, let alone having the privilege to add to it.” To his right is the Table of Showbread, and before him is the Altar of Incense — 18 inches by 18 inches by 3 feet high. All alone, he no longer hears the sounds from the people in the camp. He places fresh coals into the sensor; he sprinkles on the incense; he begins to weep, still asking, “Why me?” His nostrils are filled with the sweet fragrance; the Holy Place is filled fresh with the aroma. There’s something pure about it — something clean — pleasing — so special it is unexplainable. He even feels clean. He has been washed, and his conscience is clear. He drops to his knees — right next to the veil that leads into the Holy of Holies — as close as one can get to the Ark of the Covenant without going in. His garments are saturated with the fragrance. He begins to commune with the Lord. Overwhelmed!

Now, let’s look at 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people; that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Wow! Listen to what the Word of God is speaking to us. Literally, you are that priest! I am that priest! We, the redeemed of the Lord — with our perfect spirits within us. We are priests; today, tomorrow, and all the days to follow. We have access to the Holy Place right now. There is no lot casting; we have already been chosen.

Picture yourself in that position — interceding and thanking Jehovah — your God — for His blessings and answers to your prayers — worshiping Him with praise and prayers. You go to the altar of incense, and you are saturated with His holy fragrance. You reach out to spread that glorious aroma of his love to others. The price has already been paid by Jesus, and we have the privilege of releasing this wonderful fragrance of His eternal redemption and total salvation to the entire world.

Why you? Why me? Because we have been chosen — now!
Glory and Shalom!!

 

 

Without Hanukkah, There Would Be No Christmas

DAD'S CROSS OF DAVID - PALE GREEN

I do not hesitate to say, or apologize for saying, that our Christian heritage is in Judaism. If you dig down into our foundations deeply enough, you discover the Jew. That is not only a spiritual truth, but also a historical fact. Jesus was a Jew—100%, full-blooded, full-fledged Hebrew. This was in God’s plan. That is why He called Abraham and, through him and his wife Sarah, established the Jewish nation. Through this Jewish bloodline would come the promised Messiah. No other nation or ethnic people on earth at that time were worthy of that honor. It had to be a brand new people living and worshiping under the law of Jehovah God.

From that point, everything should have run smoothly, but it didn’t. Israel had her problems with sin and idolatry; plus she had her national enemies who also were responsible in part for her sins. You see, Satan did not retire when God cast him out of Heaven. He knew something big lay up ahead, all of which would be to the glory of God. So he never missed an opportunity to try sidetracking every move he thought was God’s. And, without question, his special target throughout the Old Testament era was the Jewish people — the children of Israel. He didn’t want to merely harass them or make them suffer. He wanted desperately to annihilate them—wipe them off the face of the earth. He is still trying to do that today.

And that brings us to a special time in history when Satan almost succeeded. It was in the period between the Testaments, specifically 168 BC. Something happened that culminated into a celebration known as Hanukkah, an 8-day long holiday celebrated by the Jews to this day. And because of Hanukkah we have Christmas. And if there had never been a Hanukkah, there would be no Christmas!

In the period I referred to between the Testaments, the children of Israel were under the iron rule of the Syrian king named Antiochus. Not only did Antiochus subject the Jews to a life of suffering, but he was also openly determined to destroy the very foundation and unique identity of Judaism. He prevented the Jews from ever using the Temple, but he didn’t stop there. He forced them to abandon every phase of their religion. He banned Sabbath, circumcisions, all worship of Jehovah God, and all traditions that dated back to Moses. He destroyed all of the writings of the scribes that he could locate. He erected idols all over the Temple, including in the Holy of Holies. Then as the ultimate act of desecration of God’s temple, he sacrificed a pig on the altar of God.

The Jews were totally defeated and demoralized. This was one unique time in Jewish history when the enemy came within a fraction of destroying all traces of a recognizable Jewish culture. And any chance for a promised Messiah to be born into Judaism would have vanished.

But in 168 BC, at the height of the reign of Antiochus, there was an aged Jewish priest named Mattathias who one day struck down and killed one of Antiochus’ commissioners and an apostate Jew, who were in the process of offering up heathen sacrifices in the temple. Then he leveled the altar and escaped with his five sons into the wilderness. He organized a guerrilla band to oppose Antiochus. Two of his sons were killed in the process, and Mattathias died shortly thereafter.

But the eldest son, Judas, took over. Judas and his guerrilla band defeated every military unit Antiochus sent against them. During this time Judas won the name “Macabbee,” which means “the hammerer.” Within three years, Judas Maccabee and his band of Jewish guerrillas miraculously recaptured the city of Jerusalem and the temple.

They promptly set about destroying every semblance of heathen presence. They thoroughly cleansed the temple and rededicated it to Jehovah God and to the worship of Him alone.

The temple was rededicated on the 25th day of the Jewish month of “Kislev,” which corresponds exactly to our month of December. The name Hanukkah means “dedication.” The celebration is also referred to as “The Feast of Dedication,” and the “Festival of Lights.” The common Hebrew phrase connected with Hanukkah is “Nes Gadoy Haya Sham,” which means: “A great miracle happened here.” Truly, it was a great miracle: Judaism was saved from oblivion.

In actual fact, there are two miracles that link Hanukkah and Christmas, and understanding them will raise your joyful appreciation of both. First, there was the preservation of the Jewish people. Had Antiochus been successful, the Jews and Judaism would have gone the route of all the other nations that are today nothing more than archeological history. (e.g. Philistines, Amalakites, etc.) There would not have been a chosen nation for Christ to be born into. So whenever you are tempted to doubt God’s saving power, remember Hanukkah and His loving power for the Maccabees: all odds against them, yet they miraculously prevailed. He is the same God, who today delivers His people, Jew and Gentile.

The second miracle of Hanukkah is the miracle of lights. Antiochus and his thugs had extinguished the Seven-branch Menorah that was to burn in the temple continuously. The victorious Jews searched for oil to rekindle this sacred flame. They found only enough for one day, and it would take eight days to get more. In their excitement to rekindle the flame, they didn’t wait. They lit it with only one day’s supply of oil. Miraculously it burned continually for eight days. This is why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight full days, and why a nine branch candelabra is used in the celebration. The “Shamash,” or servant candle is lit first; then it lights all the other candles one at a time each night for the eight nights. On the eighth night the full candelabra is brilliantly aglow.

John 10 tells us that Jesus went up to the temple at the Feast of Dedication. Isn’t it appropriate that He would choose that moment to declare, “I am the light of the world. He that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”? (John 8:12.)

Like the “Shamash,” the Servant Candle (Jesus) lights our way and sends His Holy Spirit to ignite us, to fire us up, so we can shine His light into a dark world.

So the miracle of preservation made Christmas possible, and the miracle of light reminds us of the prophet’s voice: “He shall be a light unto the Gentiles … and His salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6).

Finally, there is the common theme that links Hanukkah and Christmas, and it is that of “God with us – Immanuel.” There is a traditional Hanukkah hymn that reads like this: “Rock of ages, let our song praise thy saving power; thou amidst the raging foe, were our sheltering tower; furious they assailed us; by thy arm you availed us; and thy word broke their sword when our own strength failed us!”

God has promised to be with us, His people, in every endeavor of our lives, and this promise was forever sealed in the Name the prophets chose to call Messiah. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call His name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14).

Jesus was born to die and then rise up victoriously. Born to light our way and make us lights. Born to be worshiped and adored by Jews and Gentiles alike. He is the Hope of Hanukkah and the Christ of Christmas.

These two holidays share their significance in the person of Y’shua, Jesus, our Rock of Ages.

(Hanukkah begins December 9, 2012)

Journey To The Altar

We want to take a little journey to and into the mighty Tabernacle of God. Specifically, we will make our way to the Altar of Incense. We follow the pattern laid out in the Torah, the Law of Jehovah God.

Replica of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness by Petri Paavola

Begin to imagine with me: Picture in your mind how a priest of Israel would move from his bed in the early morning hours. Visualize what he is seeing, and feel the intensity of emotion as he gradually makes his way to the Altar of Incense.

Lots have been cast among the priests, and he has been chosen to burn the incense this particular morning. Since the choice was made by casting lots, sometimes a certain priest would be chosen for this honor only once in a lifetime.

Lying in his bed near the Tabernacle, he begins to wonder about this great honor. Moses and over three million Israelites are still asleep in their tents spread out over the desert floor. He is the one among these millions who has the responsibility of burning the incense. He wakes up as the sun is rising in the east–sitting up in bed, half awake, it dawns on him that this is his morning to go to the Altar of Incense. His pulse races as he stands up from his bed.

And there, laid out at the foot of the bed, are his priestly garments. There sits the breastplate, and as he trims the torch in his tent, all the brilliance of the jewels begin to awaken him even further. He puts on the robe and tunic, the sash, the turban, the breast piece, and the ephod. They are blue, purple, and scarlet in color. The jewels are beautiful. He begins to think about the skillful craftsmanship required for these articles: skills given by God Himself. Embroiderers, metal smiths, jewel cutters — all made and consecrated for this special purpose.

He pulls back the flap of his tent. The cool morning desert air smacks his cheeks. He smells the scent of the burning sacrifice that burns 24 hours a day. He looks out among the tents housing three million people — hears the muffled sounds of babies crying. Torches are spotted here and there throughout the desert camp. He hears the low rustle of camels and sheep. And he begins to think. Why me? Why am I up at this hour — the only one on this day among my people who is privileged to enter into the Holy Place?

And there on the desert floor he sees — yet again — as if it has snowed — fresh manna. God is on time. Manna covers the desert floor.

He hears the shuffling of his feet as he approaches the Tabernacle. The goat skins covering all the tents of this people are black. And there, standing out amidst all of that blackness, is a white linen fence — right in the middle of the camp. God’s Tabernacle. God’s dwelling place among His people.

He moves, clad in his priestly garments, toward the gate, not to the north, nor the south, nor the west, but through the east. And there before him, as he stands at the gate just before dawn,is a 30-foot opening — the Way into the Tabernacle. There he sees four 7 1/2-foot poles: one of blue, one scarlet, one purple, and one white linen. He looks at each tent peg and sees gold tops and poles of acacia wood overlaid with silver.

Suddenly before him is a terrific sight: the largest piece of furniture in the Tabernacle: the Brazen Altar. He can see the heat emanating from the bronze square. There is the scent of death — blood sprinkled over the top and smoke rising heavenward. He looks at all of the consecrated tools set apart for this very purpose. He sees the  pots, shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat fork.

There is the fire pan and the sensor. He picks up the sensor, picks up the tongs, fills the sensor with hot coals. He realizes and is reminded of his sinfulness and his lack of qualification to move any further. But he walks a few paces to the laver of cleansing — a large bronze basin. He looks into the water with the light that he has. He washes his hands and his feet, still asking, “Why me? What have I done to deserve this privilege?”

He moves forward to the Holy Place with his sensor, having picked up one half pound of incense. In the Holy Place he looks to the left and sees that the lamp stands in need of oil. He thinks, “ A privilege to see it, let alone having the privilege to add to it.” To his right is the Table of Showbread, and before him is the Altar of Incense — 18 inches by 18 inches by 3 feet high. All alone, he no longer hears the sounds from the people in the camp. He places fresh coals into the sensor; he sprinkles on the incense; he begins to weep, still asking, “Why me?” His nostrils are filled with the sweet fragrance; the Holy Place is filled fresh with the aroma. There’s something pure about it — something clean — pleasing — so special it is unexplainable. He even feels clean. He has been washed, and his conscience is clear. He drops to his knees — right next to the veil that leads into the Holy of Holies — as close as one can get to the Ark of the Covenant without going in. His garments are saturated with the fragrance. He begins to commune with the Lord. Overwhelmed!

Now, let’s look at 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people; that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Wow! Listen to what the Word of God is speaking to us. Literally, you are that priest! I am that priest! We, the redeemed of the Lord — with our perfect spirits within us. We are priests; today, tomorrow, and all the days to follow. We have access to the Holy Place right now. There is no lot casting; we have already been chosen.

Picture yourself in that position — interceding and thanking Jehovah — your God — for His blessings and answers to your prayers — worshiping Him with praise and prayers. You go to the altar of incense, and you are saturated with His holy fragrance. You reach out to spread that glorious aroma of his love to others. The price has already been paid by Jesus, and we have the privilege of releasing this wonderful fragrance of His eternal redemption and total salvation to the entire world.

Why you? Why me? Because we have been chosen — now!
Glory and Shalom!!

Who Owns the Land of Israel?

*** God’s Word, His oath, and His everlasting covenant are guarantees …. Nobody is authorized or permitted to sell, barter, give away, or negotiate any part of the land for any reason! ***

And I give to you (Abraham)and to your descendants after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

— Genesis 17:8

To study the nation and land of Israel is to pursue what is, without question, an additional proof of the existence of God. No other people or ethnic group even comes close to the endurance record of the Jews. And no other tract of land on earth has ever attracted so much daily attention. All of it is related to claims for territory by both Jews and Arabs.

In this connection all eyes are on politics and political maneuvering; but the issue goes far deeper. Almighty God is getting ready to prove something – that His Word is accurate and invincible.

So the question is who owns the land? In Leviticus 26:40-44 God gives a prophetic warning to the people through Moses. They had turned their backs on Him, yet He promised He would still remember them, and also “The Land!”

What is it about this remote piece of real estate, no larger than the state of New Jersey — a virtual dot on the world map – that would cause God to be so interested in it and make such a firm commitment to it? Joel 3:1-2 clears up the mystery. This passage concerns the end times when He will bring judgment and justice. Here He clearly identifies Himself with Israel, as “My people” and “My inheritance.” Then He levels a final indictment against the unbelieving nations. Why? “Because they have divided my land.” Many years after promising the land to Abraham and his descendants, He still calls it “My land”.

Now, to whom was the land given and entrusted? Scriptures answering this question in detail are abundant. To conserve space, we will not attempt to quote them verbatim, but the reader should search out and read them. Here is a sample: Genesis 12:1-7 (the original land grant), Genesis 15: 18, and Genesis 26:4, plus others to follow. God’s Word, His oath, and His everlasting covenant are guarantees that what God Himself entrusted to Israel in terms of territory is unquestionable and everlasting! God Almighty, who owns the land, entrusted it to a particular people whom He commanded to possess and dwell in it. They were to conduct their lives in accordance with His statutes and commandments. The land belongs to God, and nobody – not the United Nations, Washington, European Union, or the Peace Table – nobody is authorized or permitted to sell, barter, give away or negotiate any part of it for any reason! What we have here, then, is God’s divine plan clashing head-on with human politics.

Scriptures tell us that Israel violated God’s conditions, and actually rebelled, resulting in disqualifying themselves from tending God’s land. As a result, both people and land entered into a time of shame and desolation. Jerusalem became a half-ruined, flea-infested village. The blessing had been withdrawn; rainfall diminished and almost everything became desert. And yet these same Scriptures also spoke of hope that this calamity would not go on forever; that there would be a restoration, a healing and a fruitfulness. (Please refer to Ezekiel 36: 5,6,8). Here is a prophetic vision thousands of years ahead when the Jews would be gathered and returned to their homeland. Verses 15 and 24-27 of the same chapter speak of the Lord’s continuing passion for the land. The promise here for spiritual restoration will take place but it will not and cannot happen until the Jews are returned to the land.

Over 1900 years have passed and most of them have been years of desolation and despair for both people and land. But the season of restoration has begun. Isaiah 66:7-9 speaks prophetically of a nation being born in one day. This prophecy was fulfilled in amazing detail on May 15, 1948. Within 24 hours of its introduction, the UN passed a resolution declaring Israel to be a sovereign nation. It was then promptly announced by the new Prime Minister, “This nation shall be called Israel!” She then fought three wars perpetrated by the Arab nations with the sole intent to drive her into the sea, but with God’s help and many real miracles, she prevailed.

In spite of the truth of Scripture and factual history the cry for “Palestinian Autonomy” to replace the nation of Israel continues to come forth with a surprising number of supporters outside the Arab world. So who are the “Palestinians”? Where did the name “Palestine” originate? Here are the answers:

There never was a “Palestine” state. There never was a “Palestine” entity. There never was a “Palestine” culture. There never was a “Palestine” language. There never was a “Palestine” government. They, who claim to be “Palestinians” are simply Arabs. And the Arabs own and control 99.9% of the Middle East, compared to Israel’s 1/10th of 1%. In the year 70 AD, when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans, the Emperor named the region “Ceasarea Palestinia” a derivative from the ancient Jewish enemy, “Philistines”. This was a deliberate slap at the Jews by the Roman Emperor.

The Jewish-Israel connection to that land goes back 5,000 years, and the Jew’s right to the land is God ordained. He said He would bring them back, never again to be pushed out. Hear the words of Jeremiah, chapter 33, verse 24: “Have you heard what people are saying? They are sneering and saying that Israel is not worthy to be counted as a nation, but this is the Lord’s reply – I would no more reject my people than I would change my laws of night and day, of earth and sky. I will never abandon the Jews ….” (TLB).

Now Ezekiel 11:17, “Therefore say, thus saith the Lord God; I shall gather you [Israel] from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries among which you have been scattered, and I shall give YOU the land of Israel.”

Case closed!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!