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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Israel, The Epicenter Of Spiritual Warfare - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Israel, The Epicenter Of Spiritual Warfare - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Israel, The Epicenter Of Spiritual Warfare - Part 1
TOPICS: Israel, Spiritual warfare

Hey, it's good to be with you today. Our topic is "Israel: The Epicenter Of Spiritual Warfare". You know, I've been in and out of the land of Israel since I was a boy, and I have come to the conclusion that whatever's happening in the broader world, if we look carefully at the land of Israel, we will see a microcosm. It is the focal point of the spiritual conflict that engulfs our whole world. It shouldn't be a surprise to us. The redemptive work of Jesus, the Jesus story, really began there in the City of Jerusalem, and it will conclude there with the return of the King to that same Mount of Olives. Grab your Bible, get a note pad. We're gonna look at that in some detail today. Enjoy the lesson.

We just returned Friday afternoon from a trip to Israel, about 250 of us. We had a wonderful time. I have made that trip a few times, but it always, it has an impact upon my heart to visit the land of Israel and to see the Jewish people and to be reminded of the vigilance that is required for them to maintain their freedom. They live in a tough neighborhood. There's about seven million Jews who live in the land of Israel. There's another million Israelis who are Arabs, but they're surrounded by tens of millions of people who are sworn to their destruction and their annihilation. That's not an opinion. The leaders of those nations boast about it in the press.

Iran says frequently, just as soon as they can secure nuclear weapons, they will destroy the Nation of Israel. And they live beneath that threat with a remarkable sense of joy and freedom. Fact, every time I visit, they seem to have found a new way to prosper. They found a better utilization for the resources they have. The desert is blooming. If you look at a picture of the Middle East that's taken from high altitude, there's a green line... not a green line drawn by the United Nations. There's a green line where the land of Israel is just flourishing far beyond the nations around them. The greatest limiting factor for Israel throughout scripture and into modern Israeli times has been water, the rainfall. They didn't have a natural source, they don't have the Nile River or the Euphrates or the Tigress, and they were limited to rainwater and what they could capture from that.

But in the last few years, they've brought online several desalination plants, so for the first time in the history of Israel, they have an abundance of water. I thought about that a good bit. I thought, God, is it another way they're looking for independence from you? Because the rainfall really was the governing agent for whether or not they would flourish. And I really, I felt like it wasn't that it was an attempt to be independent or to rebel against God. I think God has a plan for them that will exceed the annual rainfall. So he's just shown them how they could turn the ocean into potable water. God is blessing the land of Israel. There's two things I can tell you for certain God is doing in the earth. He's reestablishing the Jewish people in that piece of land that he promised Abraham he would give to his descendants forever.

And the prophet Ezekiel tells us as he brings them back, that he'll begin to clean up their hearts. The other thing he's doing, it is of equal intensity, is he's purifying his church. I think we've seen a new expression of that since COVID. We were kind of stuck in the quagmire of comfort and convenience and we thought church should be comfortable and convenient, and beyond that it was kind of an intrusion. And I believe God has begun to awaken us. Without a living faith in a real God, we have small hope in the future. And I'm excited about that because if God's beginning to awaken us, it's because an assignment for us, and I believe we will see a move of the Spirit of God that exceeds anything we've known in our lives. The topic for this session is "Israel: The Epicenter Of Spiritual Warfare".

Now, that's not some new revelation, folks. You can track that through the history of scripture or you can track that through the history of nations. There are so many spiritual forces that collide in Israel, if you're just marginally awake spiritually, when you're there you can become aware of that. As we were driving into town the first night, our driver took a street that was driving straight up in front of the US consulate in West Jerusalem, and on the flagpole at the front of the consulate was the United States flag and the pride flag, and a huge banner celebrating "Pride Month". That's what we're exporting to the world these days. But the culmination of this age will be acted out upon the stage in Jerusalem and the areas surrounding it. That's a fact.

God is fulfilling his promises to the Jewish people. He's gathering them from more than a hundred nations and causing the desert to bloom in spite of the hatred that's been directed towards them by the surrounding nations and the community of nations. It should be noted that Satan and his demonic hosts are striving to disrupt, to delay, or even destroy the purposes and the people of God. I hope you don't doubt that. Some of us have become too sophisticated, too educated, too affluent to believe in the devil anymore. As if our refusal to believe in him would remove us from the arena of his influence.

I promise you he believes in you. For thousands of years, God has been involved with the Jewish people and the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. I would remind you briefly that we are indebted in a tremendous way to the Jewish people. Without them, we would have no story, because the Book of Romans reminds us that theirs are the covenants of God, the promises, the prophets. Through them, God has given us scripture. Through the Jewish people, we have a Messiah. It's fashionable in many aspects of the church to say that the church, God has replaced the Jewish people and his purpose is with the church. I believe that's a misunderstanding of scripture and a very destructive idea.

The Bible teaches us that we've been grafted in, that the promises that God made to the Jewish people have become promises that inform our future. Not because we are special, but because we've been grafted into that original covenant. So, far from setting them aside, they're at the center of what God is doing in the earth. I wanna look at three separate things. The first two I'm gonna touch quickly because I wanna get to the third one in a bit more detail. But one of the ways of understanding what's happening in the earth today, both with the Jewish people and the people of God in general is in terms of the promises of God, the blessings of God, and the judgment of God. And if you will listen quickly, I'm not gonna read all those scriptures I gave you. You can relax.

Some of you know me, if we read them all, we'd be here for dinner. But I wanna start with the promises of God. Apart from the promises of God, your life and my life would be dramatically different. I'm an advocate for work, folks. I like a vision, I like a plan, I like effort, I like diligence, I like determination. All of those things are high on my list of things that I wanna cultivate and include in my journey through time. But I will readily admit to you that the promises of God are the most hopeful part of my existence.

You see, the promises of God inform us that there's something to be achieved or experienced which is candidly impossible without God's involvement. I hope you have a life plan that is dependent upon God's involvement. If your life plan is about what you could achieve and you can accomplish and what you feel like you could define success trough your abilities, you are forfeiting the best part of your personality and your future. God's given all of us gifts and abilities and opportunities, but he has given us promises that offer us something that could only come from the hand of God, and if you're not living a life of faith that's pointed at receiving, qualifying, benefitting, meeting the conditions for the promises of God to be a part of your life, you are leading a diminished life no matter how much success you've had, I think we're experiencing that as a nation.

I brought you just some samples of that. It goes all the way back to the Book of Genesis, and I've told you many times that Genesis introduces us to the big rock ideas of the Bible. The rest of the Bible kind of fills in the story, but you're introduced to the principles in the Book of Genesis. In Genesis 12, we meet Abram. And God said to him, "If you'll go from your country and from your relatives in your father's house to the land I show you, I will make you a great nation". Now that's a promise. He didn't say I'll make your business succeed. I'll give you a great idea. I'll give you some creative ability, or some athletic skills. He said, "I'm gonna make you into a great nation". Not just a nation, not just a middling nation.

I'm gonna make you into a great nation. But he didn't stop there. "I will bless you, and I'll make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you". Well, go big or go home, Abram! Everybody on the planet's gonna be blessed through you. I'd call that a promise. Particularly, by this point he's a Bedouin. He's a traveling sheep herder living in a goatskin tent. Oftentimes, his Wi-Fi doesn't work. And God said he's gonna bless everybody through him. That's a promise. In Genesis 13, we get a bit more of the promise. "The Lord said to Abram, 'If you lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, north, south, east, west; all the land you see, I'll give it to you and your descendants forever.'"

We're several millennia on the other side of that, and you know what? Abraham's descendants are living in that land. It's the most improbable of circumstances. A promise God made to him is being lived out in front of our eyes. Do you believe in the promises of God? Or do you think that's some sort of Hollywood drama or something that preachers dream up to try to ensure compliance to the set of rules that they're gonna hold up before you? I think we've treated the promises of God pretty shabbily. We live as if there is no Creator. We're willing to trust him with our eternity 'cause we're far more interested in time.

And so we just kinda blow, yeah, you know, whatever. Whatever comes after that, we're not really sure anyway, so if there's a promise out there, yeah, you can put my name down, but stay out of my way. I wanna manage my life through time. I'll define the agenda. I'll decide what's right and wrong. I'll define what's moral and immoral. And we forfeit the promises of God. Now, Genesis 15, Abraham's still complaining a bit. His circumstances aren't changing very dramatically and he looks like the promise that's been made to him won't be able to be fulfilled. And God comes back and says, "Don't be afraid, Abram, I am a shield to you. Your reward shall be very great".

I wonder if you live with the imagination that God will reward you. I've been surprised. I've been in some pretty heated debates with people that would say to me, argue passionately, that there really is no reward, that we all get the same thing. It's like heaven is government issue. Equity will reign. You know, equity is not a heavenly idea. It really is not. Equality perhaps. Equity comes from someplace else. But the promise of scripture is that God will reward you if you will pursue him. And he said to Abram, I will see to it that your reward is great. The promise of God. I can make it a bit more personal from the New Testament, if you'll allow me.

Galatians chapter 3 says, "Christ redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles". Gentiles is the fancy New Testament word for everybody that's not Jewish. We don't share DNA with Abraham, but the blessing God gave to Abraham can come to us through our faith in Jesus the Messiah. " that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit". In Matthew 5, Jesus gave us a promise. He said, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me".

Said if people get torqued up with you because of me, you're blessed. Doesn't feel like a blessing. I've had people a bit torqued up with me because of Jesus, and I have to say in the moment that that's being directed at you, that often does not feel like such a wonderful blessing. But he said, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". Imagine if all the UT fans in the house, who are listening I said to you, you could win the National Championship if you'd be obnoxious, there'd be no hesitancy. You'd wear nothing but orange and white and drive up and down through Alabama nonstop.

This is our year! Don't you know you're offending those... you could care less. Don't you know you're hurting... oh, you don't care. They had aspirations and dreams, too bad. We win this year. Then on your way home, detour through Georgia. Give them a taste too. How is it that as Christians, our primary concern has been that we don't offend? We'll bury every truth, we'll hide every reality, we'll do our best to... Seems to me, we will yield almost any contentious place. We'll say our thoughts are changing. Maybe the Bible's out of date. Maybe our faith should be amended. How is it we've compromised the ultimate virtue?

Now, with the promises of God come the blessings of God. It's a slightly different category. The blessings of God in your life or mine are outcomes which exceed reasonable expectations. When things happen to us that are beyond some of the parts. They're more than just good fortune or coincidences. We have outcomes when people look at us go, that's just hard to believe. And the only real explanation is God blessed us. He gave me the opportunities, or he gave me the diligence, or he gave me a favorable response when I needed one, or he gave me an idea when I was up against a wall. And if we're arrogant and filled with pride, we'll imagine we're self-made people, but we know on the inside of ourselves that there's been something else at work.

We've been blessed by God. We've lost a little bit of this in our nation. And I'm not pointing at the secularists. We've lost this in our churches. We've been reluctant to admit that God has blessed us. We're reluctant to talk about the exceptionalism of Jesus or the uniqueness of our nation and the contribution of faith to our freedoms and liberties, again because we wanna be accepted by a diverse culture, and we think diversity is a greater value than our faithfulness to the truth. Folks, we have to come back and recenter. Being faithful to the truth of God should be the center compass point of our lives. Amen. The blessings of God.

I brought you some examples. In Genesis 39, there's a story about Joseph. Do you remember Joseph? Joseph was the youngest. He had several older brothers. They put him in a diminished position. Inheritance would have gone to the eldest, so he's kind of at the bottom of the pecking order, but he's his father's favorite. So he's arrogant and prideful. Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave. That's called a dysfunctional family. Right? I mean, it wasn't like they ate his dessert, or they hid his homework, or they told stories about him on social media. They sold him as a slave, and he finds himself sold by Ishmaelite slave traders in Egypt.

And there's a comment about Joseph in Genesis 39. It says, "The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. And when his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. And he put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned". God blessed Joseph. It wasn't because Joseph had been to the Wharton School of Management. He didn't have a Harvard MBA. He's gonna become the Prime Minister of Egypt, but it's not because of his outstanding resume. It isn't because he'd had the best education. Quite the opposite. He grew up as a spoiled, petulant, arrogant child, and then he went through the horror of having his family betray him at the most fundamental level.

It's hard to imagine something that could cause you to be more torqued than that. He coulda been filled with anger and hatred and resentment and bitterness, but somehow he avoided that and he finds himself a slave in a foreign nation, and God blessed him. Do you have room to imagine God's blessing in the midst of circumstances that are less than ideal? You see, we get stuck here. We get focused on the ways that evil touches our life. We get stuck on the places where disappointment intrudes into our world. "We had a plan, and our plan isn't coming about. I don't like my circumstances and I'm not gonna serve God until he does what I want him to do".

You've got your own version of that, but I've stood on the field on more than one occasion and shaken my fist at the night sky and said, "I don't like the way you treat your friends". I've learned that God can withstand my rage about his poor job performance. But at the end of the day, I have to reconcile my relationship with him. And because Joseph could do that, it says that God blessed him and he prospered wherever he went. Now, his path didn't get better immediately. He goes from that circumstance to something worse, he finds himself in prison. I didn't put the passages in; some of you know them. It says that God blessed him there and he became in charge of all that was done in the prison. And he goes from the prison to the prime minister's office, and ultimately he's restored to his family. God blessed his life. In spite of circumstances, in spite of evil.

That's what the blessings of God are, outcomes which exceed reasonable expectations. How many of you'd like the blessings of God? Me too. They extend from his promises. I'll give you a New Testament example in Luke chapter 1. It's speaking of Zachariah and Elizabeth. They're the parents of John the Baptist. John's father was a priest and he's serving in the temple. It was his rotation, so he's serving into the temple, and an angel appears to him. "The angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. And when Zachariah saw him, he was startled and he was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him, 'Don't be afraid, Zachariah, your prayer has been heard.'"

He got an angelic messenger to tell him his prayer had been heard. Wow! Careful. I've come to the conclusion that when you have big interventions, it's because there's big guidance and big assignments coming. You know, I used to have the habit of saying... I used to take care of horses a lot in one season of my life, and I'd walk in the barn every morning and it was time to feed, so they'd start to make noises and I'd talk to them like they were people. And I used to walk around saying one day one of my horses is gonna speak to me. And we had a person visiting my parents who was a lot more mature in the Lord than I was at the time, and she said to me, "Allen, have you ever thought about the position Balaam was in when his donkey spoke up"?

And I at least was humbled enough to say, "I withdraw the request. I don't wanna get into that bad of a spot". But an angel comes to visit John and says, "Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He'll be a joy and a delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth. He'll be great in the sight of the Lord". Wow! John hadn't even been conceived yet, and the angelic messenger said he will be great in the sight of the Lord. Don't tell me they're not children. "He's never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he'll be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth".

The blessing of God upon Zachariah and Elizabeth. The blessings change our lives. They bring outcomes that exceed reasonable expectations. Would you like the blessings of God? I'll tell you how to get them. The good news is you don't have to chase them. You don't have to beg for them. In fact, I would suggest you shouldn't pursue them. If you will make your life goal to honor the Lord, to walk uprightly before him, the blessings will find you. That's the nature and the character of God. His desire is to bless those who walk uprightly before him. The scripture says that his eyes search the earth looking for men and women whose hearts are turned towards him.

It's stated a little differently in Deuteronomy 28; I put it in your notes. It's Deuteronomy 28, it's the chapter of blessings and curses, and it says, "If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all commands I give you today, the Lord will set you on high above all nations on the earth. And all these blessings will come upon you and will accompany you if you obey the Lord your God". The blessings will overtake you. They will track you down.

There used to be a trailer from one of the Indiana Jones movies. I forget which one of the forty-two it was in, but one of them, and Indie was running through a cave, this long cave and behind him there was an enormous stone ball that looked like it was gonna overtake him and crush the life out of him. That's my mental picture of the blessings of God. They are bearing down upon me, and if you wanna watch the collision, just hang around. You don't have to chase the blessings of God. If you will determine that you're gonna walk uprightly before the Lord, this is not easy. This is not simple stuff, because there's a myriad of voices inviting you to ungodliness and a lot of internal messaging telling you, you deserve it. Helping you justify it.

In our current culture there are far more voices encouraging you to make a lifestyle choice that will bring something to you other than the blessings of God, but if you're willing to be different and you're willing to honor the Lord in your life, in your relationships, in your heart, in the way you do business, how you conduct yourself, the blessings of God will come upon you. It's the scripture. We just read it. Even when evil touches your life, even when you should be filled with anger and rage and hatred, and be demanding something of someone, the blessings of God will determine a completely different outcome from you. Become a person where the blessings of God come.

I don't believe you could understand our nation and our story apart from the blessings of God. It's not our natural resources; there are many nations with abundant natural resources. It's not some special aspect of our character. We're a melting pot. We've come from the nations of the world. We were driven out of or unwelcome in most places of the world, and we came here and in our brokenness and what we didn't have. Somehow with God's blessing, we've become the most prosperous nation in the history of civilizations. We have more freedom and more liberty. We're more diverse. Oh, I understand we don't celebrate those things. Hatred at the moment has the microphone.

Hey, before we go today, I wanna invite the blessings of God into your life. We don't earn 'em, we don't qualify for them. We honor God and he pours out his blessings upon us. Let's pray:

Father, I thank you for your great love for your people. And as we choose you, I pray that you would literally open the windows of heaven and pour out your blessings upon each and every one of us. Thank you for your faithfulness. In Jesus's name, amen.

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