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Watch 2022 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Israel and God's Promises - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Israel and God's Promises - Part 2


Allen Jackson - Israel and God's Promises - Part 2
TOPICS: Israel, God's Promises

Well, in John chapter 4, it's a part of Jesus's ministry. Do you remember when he visited the village in Samaria? The Samaritans are still occupying that biblical heartland, the mountains of Israel, and the Samaritans and the Jews had nothing to do with one another, so when the exiles came back, the Samaritans hadn't left, and there was tremendous antagonism between the Samaritans and the Jewish people, even in our New Testament. Well, Jeremiah said that they'd plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria, and they would drip with wine and oil from the olive trees.

Today, that's true. There's still a Samaritan presence in that heartland, but it's a very small group of people. A couple of years ago, we spent a day in Samaria, and we spent an afternoon with the man who's the leader of the current Samaritans there. We literally met with the Good Samaritan. Very old. So the Samaritan people are still there, but in the time of the New Testament, the antagonism, the hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans was so great that what Jeremiah was talking about hadn't been fulfilled yet. I think that fulfillment is what's takin' place from 1948 until today, that literally God has caused that desert to bloom and those hills to drip with wine and oil.

Look at John 4, in verse 9: "The Samaritan woman said to Jesus, 'You're a Jew and I'm a Samaritan. How can you ask me for a drink?'" And these parentheses are not mine that are added. They're a part of the text. "For the Jews don't associate with the Samaritans". They have nothing to do with one another. So what Jeremiah was talking about was still hundreds of years away. It's a very important idea because, so oftentimes, we want prophecy to come to us in big blocks, multiple chapters that tell us the whole story. And what we see, the way it's applied in our New Testament, and I'm not gonna walk you through that in this session, but oftentimes, there'll just be one sentence taken from the prophets, and Jesus will say, "This is what the prophet meant right here".

And Jeremiah talks about their restoration. Daniel knows it's time to go back after seventy years because he was reading Jeremiah when he's a slave in Babylon, but Jeremiah also saw that the people would ultimately be restored to that land in a way far beyond what the exiles would do. You see, we need an openness to the Word of God and to imagine an authority in God's Word that exceeds our polite sermonizing. We've spent too much time in the seat of the skeptics. We're far more willing to follow the science than we are to follow the Spirit, and I'm not suggesting either/or. I'm an advocate for science, but I'm also an advocate for following the Spirit. We're far more willing to believe that Wall Street will determine our economic future than we are the Spirit of God's involvement in our lives, and I think that is deception. I'm not opposed to Wall Street and to the tools and the things that God makes available to us, but I don't trust them to secure us.

John chapter 4, a little further, verse 19, "The woman said, 'Sir,' to Jesus, 'I see that you're a prophet.'" He's just told her, he told her to go get her husband, and she said, "I don't have a husband," and Jesus said, "Well, you've told the truth. You've had five, and the man you're currently sharing a house with, you're not even married to," and her response is "I think you're a prophet". "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem". There's this hostility between them. "Jesus declared, 'Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know, and we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.'"

Those are the words of Jesus. Salvation for all humanity, to every human being, people from every nation, race, language, and tribe, knows salvation because of a Jewish rabbi. That's the truth. The New Jerusalem that's coming down out of heaven will have 12 gates, and above those gates will be the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. The New Jerusalem is gonna be a very awkward place for people who don't like Jewish people 'cause right at the center of the city will be a throne, and on that's gonna be that same Jewish rabbi guy. So it's important to know, as you're reading the prophets and reading your Bible, that the restoration of Israel has taken place more than once.

That's relevant for you and me. More than once, God's people have drifted off course. On more than one occasion, God has disciplined his people. On more than one occasion, the judgment of God fell upon his people in some rather harsh ways, and, yet God would restore them. We'll look at a little more history in another session. I keep sayin' that, but then, kind of the traditional answer amongst most Christians that think about it just casually is the reason the Jewish people have suffered is that God rejected them 'cause they rejected the Messiah. I'd like to suggest an alternate perspective: The Jewish people have suffered horribly across many periods of history and many places in the world, but it's equally true today that the Christians are the most persecuted religious group on the planet. It's awkward.

We don't like to talk about it because, if we talk about it, if we acknowledge it, there might be some responsibility that we were incumbent to respond to, so we just prefer to look away or say, "The statistics are misleading," or "It's not that significant," but it's only not significant if it's not you. I think a far more plausible and a far more reasonable understanding of why the Jewish people have suffered so is to understand the nature of the spiritual conflict in the earth. As much as I believe in the glory of God and the kingdom of God, I believe there is a prince of darkness who oversees a very orchestrated and well-ordered kingdom of darkness, and I don't know that we think about it often, but I would submit to you that Satan knows the Scripture far better than you or I, and he opposes the purposes of God.

He hates the Jewish people because salvation for all humanity comes from the Jewish people, and the Messiah that's coming back to the earth to bring an end to his season as the prince of the power of the air comes from that same Jewish people, and Satan hates that, and I think it's Satan's hatred for the purposes of God that has brought the tremendous suffering to the Jewish people, that it's a tragedy that, very often, the Christian church has been the vehicle for that suffering. Another day.

Genesis chapter 12. It's very near the beginning of the book. God's making a promise to Abram, and I think it's worth noting: "The Lord said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I'll make you into a great nation and I will bless you, and I'll make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I'll curse, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'" Pretty straightforward language, not easy to be confused by. It's just the magnitude of the promise that is so stunning.

God says to Abram, who, by this point, is leading the life of a Bedouin, a tent dweller, a herder of flocks, and he said, there's seven promises he makes: "I'll make you into a great nation. I bless you. I'll make your name great. You'll be a blessing". That's not rhetoric. That isn't hyperbole. It's not some form of language that suggests exaggeration. It's the Creator of heaven and earth. We're just 11 chapters, 12 chapters into the story, and the Creator of heaven and earth is using the same authority of his words that we meet in Genesis 1 and 2, to say to Abram, "I will bless all people through you".

Just imagine if you went home and Gabriel was sittin' on the front step, and he said, "I'm gonna bless everybody on your block through you," or imagine he said, "I'm gonna bless everybody in Rutherford County through you". Could you just cause the traffic lights to turn green when I approach? I'll be good with that. But God said to Abraham, "All people will be blessed through you". He said, "I'll bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, the Creator of heaven and earth will curse". If you're not in the habit of blessing the Jewish people, you ought to build a new habit. You ought to build a new habit. It's a very unique promise. There's not another one quite like it anywhere in Scripture. There's just not a parallel to that.

Which really brings us into this notion of discipline that I don't want us to imagine it's unique to the Hebrew people or the Jewish people. I wanna imagine that we can learn and understand what to expect about God's discipline in our life, based upon how he's responded to the Jewish people 'cause God's character is... there's not an Old Testament God and a New Testament God. The character of God didn't morph at some point in there. Abraham saw Jesus. Jesus told us that. Moses understood the role that Jesus would play in God's unfolding narrative, and I think, Jeremiah 15, this is a pronouncement of judgment upon his covenant people, the people for whom he promised they could stay in this land forever. The land belongs to them.

"The Lord said to me, 'Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence. Let them go. And if they ask you, "Where shall we go"? say, "This is what the Lord says".'" "If they wanna know what the word of the Lord is, you tell them, 'This is the word of the Lord.'" And then listen, "Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity". That's God's word to a generation of people in a city where the temple, a city where they're keeping the kosher rules, a city where there's a daily sacrifice, but a city where the hearts of the people are far from God. They have all sorts expressions of religious activity, but their hearts are far from God. He's delivered them so many times under such miraculous, supernatural conditions that they've lost any imagination that they will ever forfeit their place, that God's protection is permanent and abiding and constant no matter how immoral or ungodly or hard-hearted or carnal. They just think they're secure.

Now, it has my attention because that feels like the world where I live. We've been so blessed. We've had so much. And with just a casual glance at our history, we can say, you know, there's been a tremendous Christian influence, a desire to honor the Lord and our nation from the founding of our oldest universities, to the establishment of our legal system or our founding documents or how we've educated our children or the values that we've expressed towards one another. It's unmistakable part of our history. I understand there's an initiative that's relatively recent to kind of tear that down and discourage that or bury that or hide that, but it's true, and we have presumed upon that, and so because of that, you know, we have overcome so many things and been delivered through so many things that nothing could thwart our momentum, so when I'm reading this chapter, it gives me pause.

Look at verse 3: "'I'll send four kinds of destroyers against you,' declares the Lord, 'the sword to kill and the dogs to drag away and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I'll make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah the king of Judah did in Jerusalem.'" Hezekiah was a good king, godly king, God-honoring king. Hezekiah is the one for whom the sun went backwards. And his son was Manasseh, is wicked. I mean, next to Ahab, he's on top of the list.

God said, "'Who will have pity on you, Jerusalem? Who will mourn for you? Who will stop to ask how you are? You have rejected me,' declares the Lord, 'You keep on backsliding. So I will lay hands on you and destroy you. I can no longer show compassion. I'll winnow them with a winnowing fork at the city gates of the land. I'll bring bereavement and destruction on my people, for they have not changed their ways. I'll make their widows more numerous than the sand of the sea. At midday I'll bring a destroyer against the mothers of their young men, and suddenly I'll bring down on them anguish and terror. The mother of seven will grow faint and breathe her last. Her sun will set while it is still day. She'll be disgraced and humiliated. I'll put the survivors to the sword before their enemy,' declares the Lord".

It's a very sobering passage. It's why I wanted to start with Jeremiah 31, 'cause that's the other end. God said, "I will restore you. I'll bring you back, but you can't escape the reality of who you are and what you are. You won't humble yourselves. You won't repent. You won't bow your knee. You won't turn loose of your carnality. You won't stop your expressions of greed and immorality. You think you're safe, and you're not safe," he said. It's a dangerous thing to presume upon God's grace and his covenant and his mercy. I think the question that I hear echoing from Christians is "Well, what about grace? We believe in grace, the favor of God, the blessing of God".

I believe in grace too. I'm the poster child for grace. I don't want what I deserve. But in Hebrews chapter 12, for those that are keeping up, that's New Testament. Says, "Endure hardship as discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you're not disciplined, and everyone undergoes discipline, then you're illegitimate children and not true sons". Do you think we continue to behave as we have behaved and escape discipline and imagine that God is a just Father? What are we thinking? Our lack of concern for the powerless amongst us, I don't mean those without cell phones. I mean, the unborn or the elderly, those places where their voices are so small and their strength is so diminished that they can't defend themselves. We don't defend them well.

In Hebrews 12, verse 14, same chapter, these all come from the same chapter: "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy". Make every effort. Don't make an occasional effort or an intermittent effort or a periodic effort. Don't try. "Make every effort to", do what? "To live in peace with all men and to be holy. Make every effort to be holy because without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God", how do you miss the grace of God? Well, it seems, to me, that the objective of God's grace is to turn you back to him, not to extend license, "that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one, no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau. For a single meal he sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son," an expression of carnality so profound. "My spiritual inheritance is so insignificant, I'll trade it for a meal".

He considered the things of God to be insignificant, shabby, until he wanted them, and then, when he wanted them, there was tremendous emotion and effort, and anger divided a family because now he attached value to them, but in a previous time, he was so carnal, it just didn't matter that much. "I just want what I want right now". This is New Testament stuff. "Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears". It feels very similar to what God is saying to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: "Your tears aren't gonna move me this time". Verse 22, "But you've come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You've come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven".

Woo-hoo, sounds like a gathering I wanna be a part of. "You've come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel". Abel's blood was crying out for vengeance and Jesus's blood for mercy. "See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they didn't escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he's promised, 'Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.' The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken, that is, created things, so that what cannot be shaken may remain".

My opinion, we're witnessing the foreshock, kind of the precursors, to God shaking the earth. I could take you through verse after verse. God says, in Isaiah, that a day is coming when the towers will fall. I believe all the engineering magnificence that we have managed to accomplish, God, in one day, will humble. God said, "I will shake everything that can be shaken. Your hearts are a long way from me". I know, to a certain degree, I'm preaching to the choir, but I would submit to you that the choir needs a good sermon too. I think it's time for the church, for God's people, to humble ourselves and to ask the Spirit of God if there's anything within us that separates us from God's best, to do our best to separate ourselves from materialism and carnality. I'm not opposed to nice things, folks. We've done enough life together.

I think you know that, but I don't wanna compromise my integrity. I don't wanna diminish my testimony. I don't wanna step away from the primary passions of my life to accumulate things or to pursue pleasure. I don't wanna compromise biblical ideals around morality in order to provide selfish indulgence simply because there are celebrated names or powerful names or educated names that say a biblical worldview is antiquated. I don't believe God has revisited those things. I don't believe God is evolving. I believe we're stepping away from him. I don't know all that the future holds. I know this: If God's people will humble themselves and pray and seek the Lord, I believe we can see expressions, tangible expressions of his mercy.

If we persist in our ungodliness and our wickedness, just as certainly as he brought judgment to the city of Jerusalem, he'll bring it to us, and I don't want us to be either unaware nor unprepared, so I would suggest that a good beginning point is to begin to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and to pray for the Jewish people. We are indebted to the Jewish people. Without them, we have no Scripture. We wouldn't have the Ten Commandments. We wouldn't have the prophets. We wouldn't have a Messiah. We wouldn't have the letters to the churches. We would have no story. It's not to say they're perfect. I don't think you should observe Jewish holidays or keep kosher rules. I'm not asking you to submit to Rabbinic Judaism. I'm suggesting that we owe a debt to the Jewish people, and the greatest persecutors of the Jewish people for the last 2.000 years has been the Christian churches. That's just a statement of fact.

So I brought you a prayer. Actually, I borrowed one. David did a pretty good job. It's from Psalm 122. I just changed a pronoun or two, to give it a bit more of a direct application to us. Why don't you stand with me? And as Israel begins to come back in the news in a more forward-leading way, and you hear the commentaries and the opinions that "this portion of the land should be given away," or "this portion should be divided," or "they're an aggressor," or "they're an apartheid state," I want you to begin to listen with the ears that you have from Scripture. It will help you interpret much of what's happening. Let's say this prayer together:

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels". For the sake of my brothers and friends, we will say, "Peace be within you". For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, we will seek your prosperity, amen.

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