Greg Laurie - Walk This Way
Israel is bordered by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The country of Israel spans a total area of 20.770 square kilometers. That is basically the size of new jersey. Yet Israel is considered to be the epicenter of the world. The city of Jerusalem located on a plateau in the Judean mountains between the Mediterranean and the dead sea is considered to be the epicenter of Israel. Hey think about this. The children of Israel wandered around in this very desert for 40 years.
Hey why was that? Is it because men were in charge and they didn't want to stop and ask for directions? Or was it because they were wandering around and around in circles? Yeah. I think it was the latter. Abraham fought a war here. David hid from king Saul in the caves right around here. And of course the story of Masada took place and king Herod actually built that as his getaway palace. Hey I am all about history and tradition and I can walk. I have ridden camels. I have ridden donkeys. But today I am visiting the dead sea and I plan to put a lot more horsepower into this journey.
On this day trek my friend Ido Keynan a seventh generation Israeli and my beautiful wife Cathe are all buckled in our jeep. The terrain is pretty rough and rocky. And we are up for adventure as we set off on this four wheel excursion. As a guide you know where you are headed and you know something about where you are going. In this case he just overflows with a wealth of knowledge and a sense of direction. Mesmerized by his stories, his insight, and accounts from scripture our two hour journey came to life with some vivid depictions. So when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness is this what it would have looked like to him? Pastor Greg, it is exactly how it looked to him because what is 2.000 years?
Look around you. The same formations that you see of those mountains and of those hills, of those narrow passes, that is what our Lord saw every morning and every evening here in the desert. As you can see there is no electricity. There is nothing that is of the 20th or 21st century. Everything you see over here is natural going back all of the way thousands and thousands of years ago. This is the wilderness. There is nothing here for miles and miles away. This is where it was chosen to take our Lord for 40 days and 40 nights away from any civilization to be tempted in any way possible. That is where he was. In this area because this is the Judean wilderness. That is an interesting one folks. You are going feel that and that little bump is a slide off the left back wheel. Here we go. Hallelujah.
Greg Laurie: I did it better than him. Oh my goodness. It is like the other one looked so hairy and then I hit nothing.
Cathe Laurie: I am glad these are padded bars back here.
Greg Laurie: Just hold on monk.
Cathe Laurie: Yeah.
Greg Laurie: This is crazy. It was in 1947 that a young Bedouin shepherd discovered in these Qumran caves some well-preserved written remains and then later in 1949 archaeologists excavated which were later to be referred to as the dead sea scrolls. Now pastor, the dead sea scrolls. Do you believe in luck?
Greg Laurie: No.
Ido Keynan: Good. Do you believe that things happen just as they happen?
Greg Laurie: No.
Ido Keynan: So why do you think the dead sea scrolls were found?
Greg Laurie: To confirm what is taught already in scripture
Ido Keynan: Amen. And you are so right. At a certain point God decided okay I am going to bring my people back to my land. I have got to prove to the world that they have the right to a deed. And what is the deed? The Bible. So let me find them the oldest one and that is 2.000 years old that if anyone comes to say hey come on what you have today is not what they had 2.000 years ago you can prove it.
In this neighborhood of Jerusalem there are many bazaars and open markets and I am meeting with my good friend Joel Rosenberg, best-selling author and speaker, for a cup of really good espresso. Joel and I are going to meet in an area called the Shuk. It is one of the newer open markets still honoring the layout and structure of the past but it is more along the lines of well home depot meets whole foods.
Greg Laurie: I wanted a bit more insight on the people of the holy land. The significance of what is happening today in Israel as it relates to Bible prophesy and why Jews from all around the world are uprooting their families, selling their homes, and quitting their jobs and moving back to the land of their ancestors. The land of their bloodline. The land of Jesus.
Greg Laurie: What is it like to live in Israel now? You were born where?
Joel Rosenberg: I was born in the United States in upstate New York. Syracuse. I grew up in the States. My father was orthodox Jewish. Came to faith in Jesus as Messiah in 1973. Thought he was the first Jew since the apostle Paul who believed this.
Greg Laurie: Because there were so few...
Joel Rosenberg: He never heard of a Jewish person who believed that. Never met one. And in 1973 there weren't that many. But the spirit of God was moving. Not just among Jewish people but the whole Jesus movement. You got saved in that time. My parents. I a couple of years later in 1975.
Greg Laurie: When Israel became a nation on may 14, 1948 there were how many Messianic believers here?
Joel Rosenberg: Maybe two dozen. Twenty three that I know of. Twenty four. Maybe there was 12 more. I don't know.
Greg Laurie: Today maybe approximately how many?
Joel Rosenberg: 15.000.
Greg Laurie: See that doesn't sound like a big number but comparatively and considering it is Israel it is a big number.
Joel Rosenberg: Right. And if you go from 23 people 68 years ago, 23 to 15.000.
Greg Laurie: Is it harder for someone who is Jewish to believe in Jesus as Messiah than it is for a gentile - a non-Jew? Is it a harder process?
Joel Rosenberg: Well it is a miracle in any case. But God does say in the scriptures that we have a partial hardening. That we have a blindness. Because God sent Yeshua Messiah to us first. He came to his own. John chapter 1.
Greg Laurie: His own received him not.
Joel Rosenberg: His own received him not. We didn't get it. Most of us didn't. Obviously a few did. But then to put him who gets it who did receive him to them he gave the right to become children of God. So the Gospel went from Israel to the gentile world. Many Jews did come to faith in that time. But not the majority. Not even close to the majority
Greg Laurie: Oh thank you.
Joel Rosenberg: Oh hey now we are talking. Thank you. Toda raba.
Greg Laurie: Cheers.
Joel Rosenberg: Cheers. Welcome to Jerusalem. It is fun to have this conversation here.
Greg Laurie: Thank you. And you have called Jerusalem the epicenter.
Joel Rosenberg: I have.
Greg Laurie: Why? The epicenter of what and why that word?
Joel Rosenberg: Well epicenter is a geological term. Obviously it is the point above the beginning of an earthquake. I am using that term because this is the center of God's plan and purpose for the nations. Ezekiel 5:5 God says, "I set Jerusalem at the center of the nations". That's true. Ezekiel 38:14. I put Israel at the navel of the earth. Literally the belly button of the earth. And then acts 1:8. The Gospel will go from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the very ends of the earth. That is true. So you and I are from the ends of the earth. Right. You are really from the end of the earth. You are from California. I am from New York. But this is the beginning. The Gospel went from here. Now it needs to come back here. And this is you know when you look at all of the prophesies there are more prophesies about the future of Israel and their people than any other nation in the scriptures.
Greg Laurie: And you think about the critical role that Jerusalem plays. I mean of all of the cities in the world. You know Paris and Moscow and you know Washington, DC and yet the Bible speaks of this tiny little sliver of land called Israel. And in the tiny little sliver of land this little city called Jerusalem. Here we are in the very middle of the epicenter. The tip of the sphere if you like you know and it is all happening right here.
Joel Rosenberg: This has been a city that God has chosen for himself. That is what he says. I chose Jerusalem as a sovereign act. He could have chosen Tokyo. He could have chosen Costa Mesa. He could have chosen wherever. But he chose Jerusalem to be the city of the great king.
Greg Laurie: That's right. If I forget you o Jerusalem let my right hand forget her cunning. It is like God said I will never forget you. So God remembers this city. That is the city of the past. But now the city of the present. Bustling city. We have kind of the old city that people will often go to. The Arab Quarter is there. Then around that area is the Western Wall which the lower part of the original stones from Herod's era or before. I think Herod's era. Then up above you see the crusader and the various groups that have built on this wall. Jewish people, not only Jewish people, but primarily there at the wall taking little slips of paper with prayers. Why is that a holy site to them?
Joel Rosenberg: What we see as the Western Wall is a portion of the retaining wall that was built. The temple was above it. There are no stones left from the temple. Jesus himself said there would be no stones left. Not one stone left upon another. Out of judgment.
Greg Laurie: What is the future of Jerusalem in the Bible? What is going to happen here in the future?
Joel Rosenberg: Well there are several things. First of all. We know that a third temple will be built. That is right. We know the temple will be built. There will be sacrifices. So a temple will be built. Then we know that the Antichrist, an anti-Messiah figure from European Roman rebuilt empire will come and take over. He will invade the beautiful land Daniel tells us. He will desecrate the temple. Jesus tells us. Daniel says it.
Greg Laurie: He will seem like a good guy at first.
Joel Rosenberg: He will seem like a peacemaker. He will seem like a diplomat. Like finally somebody has come to make it right.
Greg Laurie: And rebuilding the temple for the Jews.
Joel Rosenberg: The temple will probably have already been built. It is possible that he is involved in that. But it is possible that it is already rebuilt. Prophesy scholars differ on that.
Greg Laurie: We know he desecrates it. We know he will desecrate it. He will in fact probably set up his throne inside the temple because he proclaims himself to be God. We know that Daniel tells us this. Paul tells us this through the Thessalonians.
Greg Laurie: There is nothing weird about Bible prophesy. These are extreme people. But sometimes people will see that and want to sort of throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Greg Laurie: That's right.
Joel Rosenberg: And so a lot of the church, a lot of pastors have said look I don't want to be identified with the prophesy nut so let's just not go there. We are not going to preach this stuff. But 27% of the scripture that is a big chunk of change, right. You ignore that at your peril. There is something serious that God wants us to know about the future.
Greg Laurie: That's right.
Joel Rosenberg: And not just about Israel's future, not just about Jerusalem's future, or the future of Israel's neighbors or her enemies whom God also loves. It is about our future.
Greg Laurie: That's right.
Joel Rosenberg: If the God of the Bible said Israel was going to be reborn and everybody said it wouldn't. But it is. What else does that God know that we ought to listen to? Like how to have a personal relationship with him. Right. It is prophesy to say if you don't believe in him and you don't accept his forgiveness through Christ you will spend an eternity separated from him in hell. That is a prophesy. But it is a very practical one. You either choose to follow or you reject him. But that tells us what our future will be.
Greg Laurie: Ok. So the Bible says for those that look for him he will return. Christ is going to return but he is going to return for those who are looking for him. That doesn't mean we stand on street corners you know staring at the sun like a bunch of idiots. It means that we live in anticipation of his return. But I think sometimes people misunderstand how they are to live in light of the imminent return of Jesus. We talk about all of these prophesies being fulfilled. So someone is watching this and they are thinking this. So what? Not like so what it doesn't matter but so what am I supposed to do. So ok. We believe this. Jesus is coming. What should a person do who is a believer in Jesus? What should their focus be? Their priority be knowing that he could come at any moment.
Joel Rosenberg: I think the fact that we are seeing prophesies come true in our lifetime that many even of our church fathers were skeptical at best that they would that is encouraging. The fact that Israel exists now. Not because we are a perfect nation. Not because everything here is going right. But because God sovereignly decided this will be a nation. Because I said it would be and these prophesies are fulfilled this should give us encouragement. God who is sovereign, God who wrote the scriptures, he is moving, and we are definitely in the last days because Israel exists.
Greg Laurie: That's right.
Joel Rosenberg: Ok. Now the question is so what? To me the answer is when I think about looking for the return of Christ what I think that means is we live as though we are going to see in his eyes the face of Jesus soon and the question would be how did we use our time? How did we invest the time that we have knowing that his return was getting close but not knowing exactly when. To me the answer is the great commission.
Greg Laurie: What is the great commission?
Joel Rosenberg: The great commission from Matthew 28.
Greg Laurie: By the way I know. So you don't think I am the worst evangelist. You are an evangelist and you don't know the great commission. Go ahead.
Joel Rosenberg: 101.
Greg Laurie: So define it for us.
Joel Rosenberg: All authority has been given to Jesus. All authority in heaven and earth. Therefore he tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. That's right. Baptizing them in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. Teaching the disciples to obey everything he taught them. Not just bits and pieces but the whole counsel of scripture. And that he would be with us even to the end of the age.
Greg Laurie: That's right.
Joel Rosenberg: This means we need to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every Jew, every Muslim, every communist, every atheist, everybody in the entire world.
Greg Laurie: Yeah. We are not favoring Israel saying oh you know it is only to the Jews. We love the Jewish people. God wants us to. We love Arab people. We love all people. Everybody needs the Gospel. The answer is the same for everybody.
Joel Rosenberg: Absolutely. But unfortunately for a long a time the church has ignored.
Greg Laurie: Yeah it's true. Largely ignored preaching the Gospel to Jewish people or ignored preaching to the Muslim people.
Greg Laurie: It is not just that we are failing to bring the Gospel to Jews and Muslims. We are not bringing the Gospel in the church to anyone. The church is so behind in evangelism right now. You know here is something I have said before is I have actually said I think to not share the Gospel can potentially be a sin. Here is why? There are sins of commission and omission. A sin of commission is doing what you should not do. A sin of omission is not doing what you should do. Right. James says to him that knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. So if I am walking down the street and there is a house on fire. Someone tells me there are people inside. Maybe I will be a hero and rush in and try to save them. At the very least I will call 911. But if I walk by with complete indifference that is criminal. Here we know the Gospel. We are commanded to share it. Why do you think Christians are not doing this?
Joel Rosenberg: It is a lack of love for our Savior. Jesus said if you love me you will obey me. And the more we understand who he is and what he has really done for us. And the consequences of what would have happened if he didn't do it for us. And didn't open our particular eyes to understanding it and the fires of hell, using the fire analogy, this ought to compel us.
Greg Laurie: You know the Jewish people have an expression they use when they celebrate Passover. The expression is next year in Jerusalem. That is their hope to meet again in the holy land and in this very special city that God gave to them. It has been our privilege to walk the streets of Jerusalem. To breathe the air. To think back on what happened when Jesus walked here. You know Jerusalem is the city of our past, our present, and our future. It is a city of our past because well so many biblical events happened here. It is the city where Jesus was crucified outside of its walls. And it is the city where Christ rose again from the dead. But is also the city of our present. Jerusalem is a fulfillment of Bible prophesy. On may 14, 1948 against all odds the Jewish people returned to their land and ultimately got control of Jerusalem as well. Now it is a modern city that is impacting the world. But it is also the city of our future because the Bible tells us that prophesy will be fulfilled in this very place. An end time event will happen around this city. Not Paris. Not Rome. Not Los Angeles. Not Washington DC or Moscow. No. The major events of the world of the end times are going to happen right around the city of Jerusalem. The city of our past, our present, and our future.