This is a series about the nation of Israel. You will discover its past, its present and its future and recognize the miraculous nature of God throughout all of it. Then you will learn how all of this applies to your life, as the same God of Israel is your God, too!
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The Rock Of Truth
Driving through Israel this week my son Nicholas made the comment, “God must like rock!” I knew exactly what he meant. From the rocky hilltops and slopes of Samaria and Judea, to the jagged outcroppings of the Judean wilderness, to the many houses and buildings made of Jerusalem stone, you begin to think that God must like rock!
As I stood looking at a towering mountain near Qumran that overlooks the Dead Sea, I thought how time marches on but the massive rock remains. Against all the elements of nature and the events of human history, the rock proclaims, “I shall not be moved.” And it isn’t.
There is theology in the geology of the Bible. Maybe Paul had that idea in mind when he wrote, “But God’s truth stands firm like a great rock, and nothing can shake it” (2 Timothy 2:19 TLB). In a world of revisionist history and moral relevance, God’s truth stands firm and unchanging. Times may change, but truth remains the same.
For example, much of the world considers Israel’s presence in the West Bank an illegal occupation. Some go so far as to say the Jews have no history in the area or right to be there. The truth of God’s Word sets the record straight. Israel’s history in the land goes back some 4,000 years to the time when God gifted it to Abraham. All of the land, not just a fragment, is their God-given possession. That rock of truth will never be moved!
We live in a day of confusion when the attempt is being made to redefine marriage, family, gender, and sexuality. In the midst of this moral chaos, the rock of biblical truth remains unchanged. Marriage, family, gender, sexuality and other related issues are what the Bible says they are. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Religious pluralism and inclusive Christianity affirm truth in all religions, faiths, and spiritual traditions. They honor the “many paths to heaven” claiming salvation is possible through Christian and/or non-Christian means. Against these winds of false doctrine the rock of God’s truth stands unmoved. Speaking of Jesus Peter announced, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Whether it be the existence of God, the nature of God, the love of God, the way to God, or any other God-related fact, the Bible gives the accurate answer that never changes.
While many are building their lives on the sands of human opinions and ideas that lack substance and stability, build your life on the unchanging rock of truth! God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).
Pastor Todd Weston
The Rise Of Antisemitism
There is a troubling movement in America. It’s the resurgence of antisemitism in the United States. Antisemitism has reared its ugly head over the years from various groups within our country. This xenophobic toxin has recently expressed itself in the halls of our government with anti-Semitic comments from freshman Democratic Rep. Ilan Omar of Minnesota, and the resistance of some on the radical left to specifically condemn those remarks.
The term “Semite” or “Semitic” actually has biblical roots. It refers of the descendants of Shem, the oldest son of Noah. Genesis 10:21 says, “Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.” The word “Hebrew” is derived from the name Eber. Jews are Semites, descendants of Shem. Antisemitism is prejudice, discrimination, and/or hostility against Jews.
Antisemitism is nothing new. Trace the history of the Jews from their Egyptian slavery to modern times and you will read the story of the inexplicable hatred and repeated mistreatment of an entire people group. No matter what the enemies of Israel may claim, this global bias is not based on political or geographical ideology. Rather, its roots go back to Satan’s diabolical hatred of the Jews as recorded in the Bible.
In his seething rage against God, Satan hates the nation of Israel. He hates Israel for what it is, a unique nation created by God Himself. He hates Israel for its role in history — a nation committed to the worship of the One True God. He hates Israel for its place in God’s plan of redemption — the receptacle and keeper of the written revelation of God, and the human channel through which the Messiah entered the world. And He hates Israel for its future role in God’s eschatological agenda.
The story of Israel goes back some 4,000 years to a descendant of Shem named Abraham (his original name was Abram) whom God called out of his homeland of Ur of the Chaldeans. Among other things, God promised to give Abraham a new homeland and make of him a great nation, a nation through whom all the people on earth would be blessed.
God then added this promise/warning in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Those who bless and support Israel become recipients of God’s favor. But those who commit the sin of antisemitism and curse Israel will incur His wrath.
The recent surge in antisemitism in the U.S. is confirmation that Satan has not changed his mind concerning Israel. Hatred of and hostility toward the Jews will be a hallmark of the Last Days and will culminate in the Battle of Armageddon, Satan’s ultimate “final solution.” The good news is that Satan’s plan will fail with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ!
Understanding what it is and from where it arises, no Christian should have anything to do with antisemitism or be affiliated with its purveyors, whoever they may be. “Do not share in the sins of others” (1 Timothy 5:22). Antisemitism is a crime against God that will result in certain judgment. Stay away from it.
Pastor Todd Weston
Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone
I don’t know who came up with the phrase, but I do know we all have one. I’m talking about a comfort zone — that familiar place or situation where you don’t have to do anything new or difficult. You are not tested or challenged beyond your comfort level. You have the routine down, and nothing more is required than what you already know and can easily perform.
It seems to me that many people work hard to find their individual comfort zone and stay in that protected sphere for life. The problem for the comfort zone enthusiast is that God often calls us to new experiences and challenges. That means leaving the cozy comfort zone and striking out into new territory.
We can only imagine how Noah must have felt when God told him to build the ark and prepare for the flood. I would love to have heard the conversation around the dinner table that night! With that single command Noah and his family were launched out of their comfort zone.
The same thing happened to Abraham when God told him to leave everything behind and begin the journey to a new land and way of life. Moses was taking it easy hanging out with the sheep when he stepped aside to check out the burning bush. You never know where one step may lead! God spoke to Moses from the bush and called him to the greatest adventure of his life.
The biblical examples are many. David taking on Goliath. Esther approaching the king. Mary (and Joseph) saying yes to the Incarnation. The twelve disciples answering the call to follow Jesus. Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water. Paul setting sail on the first of three missionary tours. All of these were called in one way or the other to get out of their comfort zone and be part of something special.
Of course, it is easier to abide safely within the confines of the familiar. We can always opt for the risk-free life. But how much could be lost by such a choice? Avoiding the pain, we forfeit the gain. As the saying goes, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for.” Life begins, faith begins, growth begins outside your comfort zone.
In calling us to step outside our comfort zone, Jesus isn’t asking us to do what He has not already done. For love of a lost world, Jesus left the comfort zone of heaven with all the blessings associated with it. The Son of God entered the world He created as one of us. He lived, suffered, and died as a man. But the story doesn’t end there. Read Philippians 2:5-11 and you will learn how the one who lowered Himself to the deepest depths, was exalted to the highest heights.
Don’t be afraid to obey when God calls you to step outside your comfort zone. Don’t shy away when He says to you as He said to the sleeping disciples, “Rise, let us be going.” While the path isn’t always easy, it always lead upward.
Pastor Todd Weston
A Young Boy
There is nothing quite like it!
I’m talking about the look of wonder in the eyes of a child. I am thinking of a particular child. Just a young boy. We don’t even know his name. All we know is that he was among the multitude that followed Jesus to a remote area on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.
After a long day of ministry, the crowd began to grow hungry. Jesus shocked His disciples when He said, “Give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16). The disciples were incredulous. How could they be expected to feed such a large group of people?
As they stood around contemplating the situation, a disciple named Andrew appeared with a young boy in tow. He told his friends, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9)
Nothing about the boy’s lunch was impressive. Barley was the food of the poor. The loaves were probably small, and the two fish were about the size of sardines. Remember, it was the lunch of a young boy, not a grown man.
But in Jesus’ eyes it was more than enough!
Actually, Jesus didn’t need the fives loaves and two fish to feed the multitude. The one who rained down bread from heaven for forty years to feed the millions of Israel in the wilderness could have easily fed the five thousand using nothing more than His creative power.
Even if He chose to use the boy’s lunch, He didn’t need all of it. He could have taken just one barley loaf and one small fish, or a small portion of each. Instead, He took it all. There are all kinds of biblical truths and spiritual lessons in this text just begging to be drawn out! We will address them at another time.
The thing I find fascinating is that Jesus chose to partner with a young boy with a small lunch to do something really big. Together they fed a multitude numbering in the thousands!
I can see Jesus as He took the bread and fish. The Bible says He prayed a blessing over them. I think Jesus then looked at the little boy with a gleam in His eye that said, “Watch this!” And as the boy watched in wonder, the miracle occurred. The five loaves and two fish began to multiply in the hands of Jesus, and the multitude was fed. There were even leftovers!
The story leads me to ask if God really needs our resources to accomplish His work on earth. The answer is no. And yet He chooses to use them so we can be part of something really big like reaching the world for Jesus Christ.
For the rest of his life that young boy had a story to tell. To his dying day he told his friends and family about the day he partnered with Jesus to fed a hungry multitude. Let’s follow the boy’s example and do the same. The multitude is waiting.
Pastor Todd Weston