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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Israel, The Church and The Nations - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Israel, The Church and The Nations - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Israel, The Church and The Nations - Part 1
TOPICS: Israel, God Is Moving

I wanna continue a little series we've been working through called "God is Moving" because I believe he is. God is moving in the Earth in most unprecedented ways, ways I've never seen in my lifetime. I hear evidence of it week after week. People come to me with reports of God's supernatural involvement in their lives, miracles that are happening. We see evidence of it just in so many ways. We also see evidence that evil is moving, with a greater brazenness, a greater boldness, than ever expressed in my lifetime. Brazenly standing in the public square mocking God, biblical worldview, biblical principles, to the point that if you're indifferent, if you're lukewarm, it'll cause you to stand in the shadows.

It's decision time, to decide whether we're gonna move with the Lord or we'll be swept along in the tides that are going in another direction. It's a season where I believe the middle is in great trouble, that sitting on the fence is no longer a reasonable imagination for a posture that you can hold. It's an exciting time, but it's a time for the church to be prepared. It's a time for a bit of a change of cadence on our part. I happen to think that's a good thing. I spent my adult life in the church and I'm grateful for the church of Jesus Christ, but I want to see us flourish. I want to see us shine in this season and I wanna do my best to help the church be prepared.

In this session, we're gonna talk a bit about Israel, the church, and the nations. Some of this I have written down because I could get emotional and we would end up in the weeds. I have been to Israel since last Sunday. We made a very quick trip. There were some meetings that we needed to take and there's a little opening in the calendar and we stepped through it. On Thursday, we were standing on the edge of Gaza and spent the day looking at memorials to more than 1000 Israelis who were brutally murdered, October the 7th of last year. I tell you, some people have denied it and say it didn't happen. It's the fabrication of the media and I can tell you they lie.

A few weeks ago, we were in Washington, D.C., at the Israeli Embassy and we saw some raw footage of that day, but it was a totally different experience to stand on the ground in those communities. A dear friend of mine, a man I've known for 20 years, lived in one of those neighborhoods and he said, "I locked my family in the house. The only weapon I had was a knife and I stood in front of my front door. And I actually," he said, "I saw the terrorists. They were four doors down, and they turned and went the other direction". We left Friday morning and by last evening there were missiles falling in Jerusalem. So I've been to Israel since last Sunday. There were some necessary meetings for me to attend.

And as we traveled home on Friday, I made some notes, sitting on a plane, and I'd like to begin by just sharing those. It's the safest way for me to have this dialogue. Israel today is a nation besieged. There's a heaviness that has settled upon the people that I've never seen. I was there during the intifada. I've been there when wars have broken out. I've been in and out of Israel since I was a boy, but I've never seen the heaviness that rests upon the people today. The price of freedom to our friends there seems very high. The determination of their adversaries seems unrelenting. Their enemies boast. They're filled with an arrogant pride and a sense of confidence. Their trusted friends amongst the nations, such as the United States, have stepped away and demanded that Israel submit to their murderous enemies.

In Israel, there's an unprecedented loss of trust in their own leaders, in the government, in the military, and ultimately in their security. There are grim warnings, and they're no longer just grim warnings, of impending attacks from powerful nations and their proxies. The economy is struggling. Propaganda regarding Israel flourishes. And the truth, when it's spoken, is whispered; it is seldom boldly declared. Those that understand the truth don't want to incur the wrath of those propagating the antisemitic lies, so silence tends to dominate. It's in stark contrast to what's happening in other places in our world. There's a hatred expressed towards Israel and the Jewish people that is not expressed uniformly.

There is no real move against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, who has destroyed his nation. He used poison gas against his own people. Millions of Syrian refugees were driven into Europe and there were simply no calls from the international community, nor from the Muslim street, to return them to their historic homes. They were happy for them to become permanent refugees, invaders, if you prefer, of Europe. That's a very stark contrast to the attitudes towards Palestinians. There's been no real move against Sudanese leaders who have fomented a seemingly endless civil war. Untold numbers of innocent people have been brutally murdered, and you've not heard our State Department or the United Nations calling for some humanitarian whatever.

There are no significant sanctions on China today who boldly works to destroy our own national interest without apology, with great clarity and persistence. They oppress their political opponents violently. They utilize slave labor, they limit human freedom, and we celebrate them as an amazing society. We give billions of dollars to Iran who, as a matter of public policy, fund terrorist organizations. They threaten innocent civilians in multiple nations. If you haven't been watching, more dollars, more US dollars, have gone into Iran in the last 3 years through direct support or the purchase of their petroleum than we have given to Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel combined.

If you're not watching, that means we're funding the violence that Iran is perpetuating around the Middle East and throughout the world. They say repeatedly and consistently, they intend to destroy Israel, the little Satan, and the United States, the Great Satan. And we fund them. There's no real cry or even interest in a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine and their war with Russia, even though 500,000 people have died in a war, to be clear, which we largely provoked. There's no real move on our own continent against Mexican drug cartels who are trafficking women and children on our own border, funneling fentanyl into our country, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. But we are told consistently from the halls of Congress and from media sources, elevated platforms of academia and even from pulpits, that Israel is an unacceptable aggressor and the perpetrator of genocidal intent.

And we must demand that they stop and care for an enemy who is sworn to destroy them. That is the most common mantra. An enemy who, in an unprovoked attack, murdered more than 1200 men, women, and children. An enemy who, without apology, raped, tortured, and mutilated. An enemy who took more than 120 hostages and has not released them, nor have they allowed the Red Cross to provide wellness checks. And I'm sad to report that most Israelis that I talked to imagine the majority of the hostages are not even alive. For clarity's sake, to continue on this path for us as a nation, for us as a church, without severe judgment requires you to believe that there is no God.

What are we doing? Well, I wanna spend the time we have talking about Israel, the church, and the nations. And I would submit to you that an awareness of the people of Israel and what's happening in the land of Israel is more than some theological subset that you could afford to be interested in or not. To fail to understand what God is doing in the land of Israel and with the Jewish people, leaves you unprepared to understand what he's doing in our own world. And I would invite you away from the temptation to be distracted by the activities of your families, by the plans for your summer vacation, by staring at your financial portfolio. I'm not opposed to vacations or families or finance, but in America, we still retain enough freedom and liberty that you can have the inappropriate imagination that you can medicate with distractions.

I assure you there's no distraction today in Israel that's sufficient to keep them from being aware of the problems they have. And that scenario is not far from us. So it requires of us a change of cadence, a new response. I wanna start with Israel and the church. I'm back on your notes. It's safer ground for me. There's some remarkably exciting things that are happening. God is moving in the land of Israel in ways I've never seen. He's revealing himself to the people. It's true, it's a very difficult time. The streets of Jerusalem are empty. The hotels are almost empty. It's a wonderful time to visit. You don't stand in line anywhere, but unless you've seen it when it's healthy and vibrant.

I had a meeting with a businessman who's a friend of mine. He's a believer, second generation believer, there and he had a call from a young woman who lives in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is one of the most secular cities in Europe. And the young woman had had a difficult life, far from God, and in a place of desperation, she made the trip to Jerusalem to go pray at the western wall, the Wailing Wall. It's a part of the foundation wall of Solomon's Temple, the holiest place in Judaism, and the people there go to pray, religious and secular alike. They take little prayers and they roll them up and they slip them into the cracks in the wall. And if you visit there, it's not uncommon for the wind to be blowing and there'll be prayers in the wall and prayers blowing around on the ground.

And the woman made the trip to Jerusalem to go to the wall, to put in a prayer. And she told my friend, she said, "I rolled it up and put it in the wall: 'Jesus, if you're real, let me know.'" It's a point of tremendous division amongst the Jewish people. And she slipped it in the wall and she turned to walk away and she said, "Well, I made my way through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem". She said, "I can't explain it, but I understood without a doubt that Jesus was real and alive".

Israel and the church, we have one covenant that unites us. There are not two separate paths to God. There's not a Jewish path and a Gentile path. There is one path. The church did not replace Israel in God's purposes. Large segment of Christendom, particularly evangelical Christendom, likes to say that wherever you read Israel or the Jewish people, you can just pencil in the church. It's bad theology. We stand together, the Jewish people and the Gentile believers. We stand together in God's unfolding purposes. And both Jew and Gentile believers are opposed by the spirit of antichrist. What you see falling out of the sky on the people of Israel today is a physical expression of the spirit of antichrist. And if you've even marginally read your Bible, you know before we end this season, that that spirit is going to be unleashed on us.

So what we're watching should be a wake-up call. The hatred expressed towards the Jewish people will, without question, be just as fully expressed towards every believer in Jesus of Nazareth. You won't hide because of a nation that you think will protect you. The Bible gives us a completely different scenario. There are differing places in God's unfolding purposes. I want to look at Romans chapter 9, says: "The people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen".

I understand that for many of you, the topic of Israel or the Jewish people is pretty marginal in your spiritual formation. But I would point out to you this isn't some marginal passage from the Hebrew Bible. This is the book of Romans, the most remarkable treatise on the Christian faith that's ever been penned, in my opinion. And in the midst of that, the apostle Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, points out to us the contribution of the Jewish people in the plainest of language, the debt that we have to the Jewish people. Without the Jewish people, we would have no vision of the divine glory, the covenants, the law, the temple worship, the promises of God. We would have no patriarchs, we would have no Messiah, we have no story.

And I assure you, the Jewish people have suffered greatly for being a covenant people. And the expression to them for that from the Gentile nations of the world has been consistent hatred and the most vocal and the most persistent expression of hatred towards the Jewish people has come from the Christian church. That is a simple matter of history. If you're not aware of our history, I don't have the time today to recite those facts to you, but I assure you they are true. Ephesians 2 and verse 12 speaks to us. Paul's writing to a church of believers, predominantly Gentile, non-Jewish believers. He says, "Remember at that time you were separate from Christ, the Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now," now is a timing word. It's different than before and it isn't about the future.

Now means when? Now. This is the smart group, good. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ". We're described in that passage by the apostle Paul, a Pharisee, an observant Jewish man, if you prefer. He says, "Prior to Jesus's entry, we were separate from Christ and excluded from citizenship in Israel, foreigners to the covenants of promise". You see, there is some connection with the people of Israel that cause us to be partakers in the covenants of promise. In Christ, he said, we have been brought near. Jesus did not make us separate from the covenants God made with Abraham; Jesus made it possible for us to be partakers in the covenant he made with Abraham. We're not something new, we're not special.

You know, one of the great problems of religious people, and it's consistent throughout our history, is self-righteousness. We imagine that we're better than others. If you've grown up in Christianity and you grew up in a particular tradition, which is my kinder word for denomination. I'm not opposed to them, but every group has a tendency to define ourselves on why we're better. "We take Communion better than you do". "Our form of worship is better than yours". "Our translation of the Bible is superior to yours". We find a reason to be better, amen? And we won't typically say it, out loud, we have all the kind of languages, how we wanna work together and we're unified. Baloney.

It's a Greek word, means I strongly disagree. Because there is very little evidence we work together. Oh, we got a lot of fancy language. Formerly we called it liturgy. That means words you very often pay little attention to. Well, what I find amongst both the Jewish community of believers and the Gentile community is we think we're better. So to everybody, Jew and Gentile, we're not special. We're in Christ. That's what we got. Let's humble ourselves. We've been brought near through him. Israel and the Jewish people have a unique commitment from God. He promised them a piece of land, terra firma, a place on this globe. He gave them a physical inheritance. It was a part of his agreement with them. That's a remarkable thing.

In Genesis 13 which is very near the beginning of the book, if you're new to this stuff: "The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, 'Lift up your eyes from where you are and look to the north, the south, the east and the west. All the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever,'" until the United Nations is formed. Until the US State Department says, "No, no, no". No, Almighty God, the one who created the heavens and established the foundations of the Earth, gave that land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob forever. Now some won't like it. Duly noted. And when you meet the boss, you can take it up with him, if you like. To the church, he made a different commitment.

Now, for definition's sake, the church is comprised of people from every nation, race, language, and tribe who believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, and have chosen him as Lord and serve him as King. You can't leave out any part of that. To the church, he made a different commitment. It has to do with promises, but it's not about a promised land. 2 Peter chapter 1 and verse 4: "Through these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world caused by evil desires".

The promise that comes to us through Jesus's redemptive work is not a deed to a plot of ground on this planet. It's to a land of the promises of God, so that wherever we live, whatever language we speak, however we may look, we have status in the authority and the power of God's eternal kingdom and his promises to us in Christ, the Bible says, are Yes and Amen. Understand the distinction. And one did not negate the other. You're not special. Now there's one covenant that unites us and I'm gonna take a moment with this because there are many streams of thought within Christendom that say otherwise. And I would rather just show you the biblical truth than try to point out the fallacies of 40 different things. Know the truth, you'll be okay.

You know, I'm told that people who are trained to identify counterfeit, don't study all the different ways you can counterfeit money. What they study is what the authentic looks like. So that if you pick up something that's false, you'll immediately know that. So I'd rather show you what I understand the Bible to present to us. And what the first is, that there's not two separate paths to God. The Jewish people don't have one path and the non-Jewish people have another. We all find our way into the kingdom of God in the same way. It's very important.

In Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 11, it says, "Therefore, remember," and if Paul's is telling the church at Ephesus to remember something, you can be pretty certain that they tend to forget it. "Remember that formerly you who are Gentiles," and Gentile is the New Testament word that means you're not Jewish. It's everybody else. "You who are Gentiles by birth and called 'uncircumcised' by those who call themselves 'the circumcised'," by those who were Jewish, "(that done in the body by the hands of men), remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ".

What is it that brings us near to God? Joining the right church? Being a part of the right group? Reading the right translation? Taking Communion in the best way? No, it's our affiliation with Jesus and what his shed blood has done on our behalf. Look at Galatians 3: "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you're all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, you're Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise".

Some of you have memorized that 29th verse. "If you belong to Christ". The qualification and that little preposition "if," "if you belong to Christ". Not if you belong to church, not if you belong to some group. If you belong to Jesus. Question: to whom do you belong? What is the authority in your life? Who establishes the priorities? Who makes the demands upon your time and your resources? And if the answer is "I do," then you don't belong to Christ.

There are decisions being made throughout the Earth right now regarding the nation of Israel. Well, that has repercussions in the kingdom of heaven. Let's pray. Let's pray for the peace of Jerusalem and pray for our leaders that they'll make decisions that will bring God's blessings and not his curses upon us:

Heavenly Father, I thank you that you've regathered the Jewish people to the land you promised them and that you're awakening your church to your purposes. Give us wisdom to know how to pray and how to stand in this most unique season, in Jesus's name, amen.

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