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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Israel, God's Word And You - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Israel, God's Word And You - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Israel, God's Word And You - Part 1
TOPICS: Israel

It's good to be with you again. Our topic today is "Israel: God's Word and You". I just got back from Jerusalem. I went with a tour, I had a couple of weeks in the land of Israel and whenever that happens, I seem to come back with a fresh perspective on what God's doing in the earth and how it relates to his Word. So today's lesson is really the outcome or this series is the outcome of that trip. So grab your Bible and get a notepad but most importantly, open your heart.

I've been visiting Israel since I was a boy and that's been a while. I can still be childish, but it's been a long time since I was childlike. So, I always come away with a renewed perspective on God and my faith, and I'd like to take a session or two and respond to that. In this particular session the title is "Israel: God's Word and You". I would submit to you that what's happening in the land of Israel and with the Jewish people is relevant to you. It's thousands of miles away and it's on another continent and the language is different but what's happening there is very relevant to your spiritual life and what God is doing in the earth.

I would also suggest to you that it's impossible to understand what's happening with Israel and the Jewish people without a perspective from God's Word. I don't believe there's any other way to understand it. It's illogical, it's irrational, it's not all improbable it's impossible apart from God. But the you component is an important part, not of this title, but of this idea because understanding how you and I fit into what God is doing in the earth. I wanna invite you to an imagination that Jesus died on a cross, was buried and raised to life again, not just so you could spend eternity in his presence, but that with your brief journey under the sun, you might serve his purposes.

And we've lost that imagination to too great of an extent. And when I visit the land of Israel and I see the Jewish people, they understand there's a purpose for their lives beyond a larger home or a newer car. And they like those things. They're a secular a culture as we are. Every bit as much, but even the secularists amongst them have this awareness that God is moving in their midst. They may not cooperate with him, they may not keep a biblical standard of holiness, or righteousness, or purity, but they don't question the fact that God is moving and that is his involvement on their behalf. We have lost too much of that.

And so I wanna take this lesson we arrived in Jerusalem about two weeks ago, and the driver that was bringing us into town, the road he chose just happened to my first vision of Jerusalem was with the American consulate in front of us, not the embassy, the consulate. And right on the flagpole with the American flag was the pride flag, and an enormous banner spread across the front of the consulate celebrating pride month. Thought of all the things that our nation has to export. They wouldn't conceive, they would never consider flying the Christian flag in that way because they'd say it was wrong to take a worldview, a biblical worldview and try to represent our nation in that way and yet they take a worldview and represent our nation in that way. We have something better to export.

I arrived home and I received a text and I haven't had the time to investigate it fully, but apparently Belmont University canceled a Promise Keepers event that they had agreed to host because they were not, Belmont was said in the release, it was an email release that was shared with me. The Belmont's commitment to diversity prohibited them from welcoming Promise Keepers onto their campus. It's unimaginable to me when the Christian universities are no longer willing to embrace the biblical worldview in the midst of our culture. It's just unthinkable. It's almost beyond imagination to be in the capital of a foreign nation and see our own nation represented in such immoral ways, it's startling. We have to recognize the brazen, aggressive, and unrepentant attitudes that are flourishing around us.

I read an article since I've been home that said the former CEO of Budweiser, the former CEO was coming out asking for the resignation of the current CEO, because he said they've lost $20 billion in market cap. Since the decision was made to make a trans activist, the face of Bud Light. Now I'm not, you know, it's an awkward position I'm not really an advocate for Bud Light. And don't ask me what I am an advocate for that would be the wrong question. But it's stunning to me the unrepentant determined attitude to take a worldview and force it through the heart of a culture. There's no single corporation that's doing that. It's happening across our nation dozens, and dozens, and dozens, and dozens of companies doing it.

Our professional sports leagues are doing it. And the church, for the most part is afraid to stand up for our own biblical worldview, lest we be offensive or someone call us a name. Folks, we need to understand God has called us for something in the earth. And it's not just to preserve our home, God has called us to something greater. I wanted a single passage which is not easy for me to give you a description of what I see God doing in the land of Israel. And I'll start with Ezekiel 36, 'cause I think it's irrelevant on this topic. It's a prophetic passage talking about what God would do with the Jewish people in the future and I think we're witnesses to what Ezekiel was talking about. He said, "I will take you out of the nations".

The Jewish people living in the land of Israel in an independent way. I say independent, they lived there with Roman overlords but they did that up until 130 AD. In 130 the Jews rebelled yet again. And that time Rome said, "It's enough". They'd rebelled in 70 and at that point the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, they tore down the temple, and they sold the Jewish people in the slave markets of Rome across the empire until they were almost worthless, but 60 years later there was a charismatic Jewish figure Bar Kokhba that convinced a group of people he was the Messiah and he led another rebellion and that time Rome had had enough. They changed the name of the nation. They renamed Jerusalem. They decided to populate the land with citizens from across the empire.

And from 130 until 1948, for almost 2,000 years, there was not a predominant presence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel or the city of Jerusalem. They were scattered to the far corners of the earth. Then in 1948 at the end of World War II, and with the revelations of the Holocaust, and how the nations had dithered, while the Jewish people were rounded up across Europe, and murdered in wholesale numbers, as many as 6 million of them, men, women, and children. When that became public knowledge, there was enough. It was barely enough but there was enough international sentiment. The Europeans didn't want the Jews back. The ones that survived the death camps weren't welcome back in the cities where they'd been rounded up. It was an awkward problem. And with that and the providence of God, the modern nation of Israel was born.

In May of '48 an Ezekiel's prophecy began to come true, he said, "I will take you out of the nations. I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land". It's unheard of. There is no historical precedent for it. The Jewish people came from more than a 100 nations. Again, they hadn't been independent in almost two millennia. They had no standing army, they had no central government, hey had no stream of resources. The day that they were recognized as an independent nation by the UN. Five surrounding Arab armies declared war on them; armies that were better equipped, better funded, better supported, better trained. In fact, they went through the land of Israel on the radio and with loudspeakers announcing to the population to leave your home for a few days while we drive the Jews into the sea. And inexplicably, the Jewish people survived and the modern nation of Israel survived that initial war.

God said, "I will gather you from all the countries and I'll bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you'll be clean; I'll cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I'll give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; and I'll remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I'll put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God".

God's not finished with the Jewish people. He's not. He hasn't turned his back on them, he hasn't abandoned them. If he would abandon the Jewish people because they had turned their backs on him, then why would we imagine he wouldn't abandon us? He hasn't broken covenant with the Jewish people, he hasn't rejected them. There's some bad theology that flourishes in the church and most of it's motivated by selfish ambition and pride. They have a need for the Messiah the same way we do. There's not a separate path for the Jewish people and the rest of us. Our Messiah is a Jewish rabbi. If you don't like the Jewish people, it's gonna be awkward when you get to next. But I would just call your attention to the sequence of what Ezekiel said would happen because I believe the sequence matters.

It's a good description of what has begun in Israel. God is gathering his people, he's kept his promise. He continues to do that. There's still more Jews that live outside the nation of Israel or it's right at the tipping point of 50% that live in the land of Israel. But Ezekiel said that after he began to gather them, that then he would begin to cleanse those who would cooperate with him. Not everyone will cooperate, but those who will cooperate, God will cleanse from their impurities, from their idolatry. He'll give 'em a new heart and a new spirit within them. God is pouring out his Spirit upon the willing.

It's a miracle of biblical proportions. It's being lived out before our eyes for 2,000 years. Those of us who gave allegiance to Jesus of Nazareth cannot make the statements about the Jewish people in the land of Israel that you and I can make, it's significant. It is of tremendous biblical significance. And it should give every one of us confidence that God will watch over his Word and keep it. Because the real question for our lives is: Is God faithful, can he be trusted? If he can't be trusted with our presence, then I assure you he can't be trusted with our future and he certainly shouldn't be trusted with our eternity. If you trust him for your eternity but you don't believe he can influence your presence, you are confused.

I brought you some verses. I just wanna touch 'em really quickly, I'm not gonna dwell upon 'em, but they're wonderful things to meditate upon. The ones that resonate with you take 'em, memorize 'em, put 'em in your heart. If you're not reading your Bible with us in a systematic way, come on, you're gonna miss the books of Moses. You don't wanna do that. It's the story of how God took a mixed multitude of people and fashioned them into a nation that changed the world and is changing the world until today. Numbers is not dull there's a talking donkey. There's a prophet and a donkey and the donkey is more spiritual than the prophet, that's a book worth reading. Even Hollywood doesn't have the chutzpah to make that story.

1 Peter chapter 1 and verse 23, he says, "You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God". This is the fisherman that Jesus recruited. He writes these letters near the end of his life and his description of the Word of God is that it's living and enduring. You wanna make a daily investment of the Word of God in your life. There are many things that are important to your wellbeing. I don't wanna mislead you, but if you're not making daily investments in the living and enduring Word of God, you are adrift in a culture that is doing its best to convince you there are no absolutes. That all truth is subjective, that you can't really know what true north is in relation to godliness, and holiness, and purity.

And the message of scripture is that you can know, that you can orient yourself, you can orient your choices. That you can say, "I may have these feelings but these feelings aren't helpful so I will not give them place, I will not give them expression. I won't cooperate with them". There's tremendous voices telling you not to do that but from the biblical perspective, from God's Word, his Word endures it's not out of date, it's not out of fashion. Technology has not passed by the creator of all things. He does not look at your cell phone and go, "Wow"! I promise. He's not intimidated by tech. Artificial Intelligence does not threaten him. It's threatening us but it doesn't threaten him.

Jeremiah 23 and verse 29, God says, "'Is not my word like fire,' declares the Lord, 'And like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'" Wow! God's Word like a fire. I set a lot of fires legally. I set the field on fire one day and the firetrucks came. It's embarrassing, and the fireman come off the truck and the first three that approached me said was, "Pastor". And when we addressed the crisis of the moment, they all explained to me the legal way to have a fire. I have tried to cooperate but I'm always amazed at the power of fire. You could spend hours and hours exhausting yourself, cutting up a tree that falls in a field. Hundreds of pounds, enormous effort, and you set it ablaze and it changes entirely the circumstance.

I had a conversation with somebody that was on the trip with us that because of circumstances, in fact, I'd given the invitation to read through the gospels. I think it was in a 30 day window. And the man said, "I did that and when I finished," he said, "I'd reordered my schedule to make enough time to do that". And he said, "When I'd finished the assignment," he said, "I kept the time in my schedule". And last year he said, "I read through my Bible four times". He said, "It's changing me. It's changing me". No kidding. 'Cause Hebrews 4, "The word of God is living and active. It's sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intents the thoughts and attitude of the heart".

It's a living thing, it's an active thing. "Like a double-edged sword" the author of Hebrews says. It penetrates our person and our personality. "It judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts". It gives us something beyond ourselves. We have this wonderful ability to self-justify almost anything we want. We'll create something the inappropriateness of someone else's behavior, justifying our own inappropriate behavior. Somebody else didn't meet our need or didn't address us in the way we should, or has some problem and therefore we take license and we feel like it empowers us to be ungodly. We need the perspective of scripture to help us with our thoughts and our attitudes.

There's a principle and it's not widely discussed in the church. We prefer to talk about God as a God of love, and joy, and peace, and happiness. That Jesus came that everybody could have a big hug and a Christmas present. But there's also a principle in scripture that God's truth brings separation. It brings separation. It's what the author of Hebrews says, "It's living and active, it's like a double-edged sword. It penetrates, it judges our thoughts and our attitudes". We are not the ones that do that God's Word does. We put our attitudes and our thoughts in the perspective of God's Word and we have to go, it's aligned or it's not aligned.

I meet people all the time they say, "Well you know what pastor? I know what the Bible says but let me tell you what I think". And I try to be polite, I really do. If you caught me on a bad day and I wasn't, I apologize. But the issue really isn't what I think, the issue is am I willing to submit to the authority of God's Word? But God's truth brings separation. I put Jeremiah 20 in your notes. Jeremiah is the prophet in Jerusalem before the Babylonians come. He has a very difficult assignment, very difficult message to give. I can't imagine raising your hands from ministry and wanting Jeremiah's message. But in chapter 20, he's really complaining to the Lord. He said, "Lord, you deceived". The translation of that word varies from I think it's more helpful to say, "Lord, you persuaded me, and I was persuaded".

You recruited me is what Jeremiah is saying. "You overpowered me and prevailed. I'm ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the Word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long". Do you hear what Jeremiah's saying? I'm delivering the message you gave me and it's made my life more difficult. And he made the book. He's one of the major prophets. Not because he had a better investment portfolio but because of the volume of work that's included in scripture from his life. He said, "If I say, 'I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I'm weary of holding it in; indeed, I can't. I hear many whispering, 'Terror on every side! Report him! Let's report him!' All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, 'Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.'"

Jeremiah wasn't delivering some quirky message that was on the lunatic fringe of his day, he was recruited by God to speak the truth to people. And his awareness, his self-awareness, his recognition of his circumstance based on choosing to stand for God's perspective, is that you've made my life more difficult. The message that I have is not a message that's welcome and I would rather be quiet. But he said, "I can't be comfortable being quiet". He said, "I recognize they're waiting for me to make a misstep". God's truth, separates us. Now some of you will say, "Well, you know pastor, that's Old Testament. I don't like to read it it's a little harsh".

God finished Malachi and he took an antidepressant. Little Zoloft and he whipped out the gospels. So I went to Matthew, it's the first of the gospels. And I chose the passage from Jesus 'cause he's the one that we say is all about love, and peace, and a group hug. And Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I've come to bring peace to the earth".

Whoa, wait a minute. Stop, I looked for another translation that would say it the way I wanted it to say it. I couldn't find one. I even tried the Interlinear maybe I could manipulate the Greek through my own lack of knowledge of the Greek and that didn't work. That's an accurate representation of what Jesus said and it's repeated in Luke's gospel, so it's not some aberrant expression in Matthew. "Don't suppose that I've come to bring peace to the earth, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword". Well that sounds very reminiscent of Hebrews 4. "The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword".

I don't believe Jesus is inciting military violence. He's saying, "I came to bring something that's going to bring judgment in the midst of people". That's gonna separate thoughts and attitudes. "For I have come to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law and a man's enemies will be the members of his own household".

I've been imploring you for several weeks and months now to take the truth to your kitchen tables. To talk about what you believe to be biblical, and right, and correct. It's the hardest place in the world to do it 'cause they're family and we love one another and we want our holidays to be happy. God's truth separates. What will we do with that? Will we choose the truth or will we disown it? Will we not acknowledge it?

It takes true courage to choose God's Word and to stand with his truth. We live in a season where that truth is bringing some separation. As much as we want everybody to applaud or to be our friend, the reality is God's truth will oftentimes bring a separation into our lives. I wanna pray for you:

Father, I pray we'll have the courage to choose you over every other thing. May our love for you and your Word become more real than our love for anything in this world. In Jesus's name, amen.

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