From time to time I return to South Africa, the land of my birth. Living outside of it and returning gives me a view of things that is a little removed from the scene and thus, hopefully, objective. South Africans, of all colors, are friendly warm and keen to engage anyone in conversation. Arriving at Passport Control at Oliver Tambo international airport is no exception. The presiding immigration official, upon my arrival at his kiosk, warmly greeted me and then went on to ask me questions about the USA and what it’s like to live there. As I left him he called out, “Give my regards to Obama when you get back!” I dare say there are few places in the world where one will find such a happy and jovial attitude. South Africans laugh at themselves and everyone else which constitutes a real breath of fresh air in a world that it so hung up about itself and the need to be politically correct. It was a joy to be home!
But what of home? Some nearly twenty years after the demise of Apartheid the country has taken on a new character and it is refreshing to see black people occupying important positions in all segments of society. They are kind, helpful and full of smiles. They have a new dignity because they are in charge and have in many cases risen to the challenge of building a new South Africa. To see young black men running out onto one of our great rugby fields donning the green and gold of the Springboks is breathtaking to say the least. More than this, they are in the team because they are damn good! (Oops excuse my English) Who can fail to glow with pride as the spectators, mainly white, demonstrate their joy at seeing one of South Africa’s black rugby stars handle the ball by shouting out, “The Beeeeast.” When the bastion of “Broederbond Sport” is free from racial prejudice and intrigue then you know that a miracle has taken place in South Africa. Actually a God-given miracle!
But what of the future? Here there are disturbing signs that all is not well in the Rainbow Kingdom. South Africa’s young and fragile democracy is being challenged by the very people who have been elected to defend and strengthen it. This is no exaggeration, consider the following:
The undermining of the judicial system
Recently a very competent prosecutor was placed on suspension by the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) because she was investigating corruption and fraud that involved senior local government and national political figures that were close to the President himself. Fearing that she would be successful she was suspended and charged with wrong doing. After fighting a long drawn out legal action, that cost her everything even her home, she was finally exonerated and cleared of all wrong doing. This essentially means that political figures of great power and influence consider themselves above the law and they will not hesitate to falsely use the law to hide their crimes. There is thus one law for the political elites and another for the man in the street. If not corrected this abuse of the SouthAfrican judicial system will breed distrust and fear; two realities that define most Banana Republics.
The undermining of a free press
Democracy means that the people, through their chosen elected officials, rule the country. The people then require effective means to “police” those in power.
This means three things:
1. There must be an unfettered and free press.
2. There must be the right to express peaceful public dissent……….and,
3. The rights of minorities must be guaranteed.
The ANC led government intensely dislikes criticism and recently, because of their overwhelming majority in the Parliament, they passed a law that would effectively curb the freedom that the press has hitherto enjoyed in South Africa. In essence this law would make it difficult for journalists to know when their criticisms of the government are crossing a red line and thus exposing them to prosecution. This in turn would deter them from being too critical; exactly what the government wants! To the credit of the government, though the bill has been passed, President Jacob Zuma has yet to sign it into law because he knows that the moment he does so the Democratic Alliance Party will immediately challenge it in the Constitutional Court. Should they be successful in this challenge the government will suffer an humiliating defeat.
The issue is, that a law to reign in the freedom of the press has been passed by the ANC government and this gives notice as to the real intentions of the government and this is not good because this in turn is the proven road that all dictatorships travel by!
The undermining of the rules of the land
The country was recently rocked by what is called Guptagate! This blatant disregard of the laws of the land was perpetrated by the President himself with the support of his inner circle of friends. In essence a plane chartered by very wealthy businessmen and women from India was allowed to violate South African air space and evade the normal entry procedures for visiting foreigners by illegally landing at Waterkloof Air-force Base. To add insult to injury, they were then permitted to illegally enter the country and be escorted by the police as they drove to Sun City for a big party.
The message the ANC government sent to the country is that once again the elites and friends of government are not subject to the laws of the land especially if they have money. In reality this again means that the laws of the land are only applicable to the tax paying majority but not to the ruling elite who will disregard them at the “drop of a hat.” Thankfully, because of the national outcry, the Guptas from India were forced to leave in the way that all visitors to the country leave; through proper procedures at Oliver Tambo International Airport. To date no one in the government has taken responsibility for this fiasco.
Undermining business confidence
The ANC government rules with the support of the Trade Union Movement known as Cosatu and the Communist Party. This means that radicals are always pressing for new laws that will transfer the wealth of the country to the “have nots.” They call this the struggle to achieve economic freedom. They therefore want to see the mines and other national business institutions nationalized and thus given to the people.For many of these people Mugabe of Zimbabwe is a hero even though his policies of achieving economic freedom totally bankrupted the country and increased poverty and hunger. I have tried to read as much as I can about this policy and have been struck by the fact that in the desire to achieve economic freedom you will never find the words dedication, qualification, education, commitment, hard work and discipline! It’s all about taking from those who have and just giving it to those who are disadvantaged, disinvested and discriminated against. It’s a failed policy the world over and it undermines investor confidence wherever it is implemented.
A recent report carried in the Financial Times stated that South Africa’s draconian labor laws coupled with the threats of the implementation of a nationalization policy were negatively impacting on the business environment and that indeed the country was in financial decline. A fact verified by the poor performance of the economy over the last fiscal year.South Africa should be the economic engine of Africa but in fact is fast being overtaken by Kenya, a nation that is now rapidly attracting foreign investment because of an open and liberal business environment. What South Africa needs is jobs and lots of them but as long as it is obsessed with race in the business sector it will never get these. Affirmative action is to some degree required and necessary but when it becomes incompetent tokenism and a road to get something without earning it it is a problem and in the end an insult to those who benefit from it.
Undermining the future
A recent report revealed that South Africa’s educational system is one of the worst in the world. It even lags behind that of Zimbabwe! This means that millions of children are getting an education that is hopelessly deficient. It also means that the future of these children is being ruined and with it their financial prospects. As always the Minister of Education will not take responsibility for this fiasco and sadly it looks as if nothing will change.
This problem is exacerbated by the high levels of crime. All countries have a crime problem but South Africa’s crime problem is unique and one of a kind. I have traveled the world over and have never encountered anything remotely near to South Africa’s crime levels. The country is now rated one of the most dangerous countries in the world! Crime is affecting all segments of society and all communities and it is thus dismembering families, creating a huge psychological and social problem and ruining the future of the country. To escape it hundreds of thousands ofSouth Africans have left for safer shores abroad and with their departure is the loss of expertise, experience and initiative; values that really make a difference in building the nation. One may call these people names for leaving but I have listened to their trauma and cannot blame them for going. For many it is just too late to go so their futures will be lived out by residing behind brick walls, barbed wire, laser beams, electric fences, security gates and panic buttons. When one ventures out beyond these security barriers one has to be extremely vigilant and one has to have one’s pockets filled with coins in order to pay off the ever present car guards etc.
Sadly the government seems quite incapable of effectively dealing with this problem and if this continues the countries future prospects will be dim. After all who wants to live in a national prison and pay taxes for the privilege?
National elections will shortly take place in the country. The electorate should have free access to the positions taken by the competing parties so as to vote in an informed and educated manner. These parties should therefore be free to hire any company, organization or newspaper to get their message to the people. In a democracy the people have a right to be informed in this way and all parties should honor and respect this. However, not so with the ANC because any news outlet or information network that conveys the opposition’s point of view is economically boycotted. That is, the ANC mobilizes its grass roots supporters to sever ties with these entities and thus economically hurt them. Naturally, it works and thus the voice of the opposition is silenced! This is not democracy but the early signs of dictatorship; the drive to retain power at all costs. If the foundations of building a strong democracy are being undermined just twenty years after Apartheid I fear that South Africa, with all its initial promise of hope, will turn out to be just another failed African state.
The picture that I have painted above is not a fictitious one; it is based on fact and is therefore a real one. South Africans are however a resilient people and thus far have overcome many obstacles in their pursuit of freedom. I sincerely pray that they will find a way to really entrench freedom in the country and overcome these challenges. The transition from Apartheid is now over and the new government must take hold of the future and accept accountability for its actions. Nation building is not a game and the country needs Statesmen/women and not politicians. The Father of the new nation, President Nelson Mandela, was a real statesman and a remarkable gift to the nation. His legacy was built on respect for all people, courage to act when one stands all alone and vision for what the future can be. He placed the country on the right path and served as a guiding light even when he was no longer in power. As I write he lies dying in a Pretoria hospital and it is my hope and prayer that the vision of a proud, successful South Africa does not pass away with him. The burden of responsibility that now lies on the shoulders of the next generation of rulers in South Africa is indeed a great one.
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
preached the gospel to Abraham before-
hand, saying, “In you all the nations shall
In recent years a number church convocations have come to conclusions that are unbiblical but widely believed in Christian circles. The first was the special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Catholic Bishops convened in 2010. Speaking of Israel’s place among the nations they concluded that, “the Abrahamic Covenant has been annulled.” By doing this they can remove Israel’s divine right to the land of Canaan and to Jerusalem. Naturally, if this be true, then Israel enjoys no biblical significance, her modern day restoration is an accident of history and she takes her place amongst the nations of the earth like any other. God has no more purpose for her than He does for Zambia or Switzerland!
The second convocation was that of the Lausanne Conference of Evangelicals that gathered in Cape Town also in 2010. They agreed entirely with the Bishops of Rome in that their pre-conference statement noted that… “we strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to Jewish people today or to the modern Israeli state in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged, inasmuch as they deny the essential oneness of the people of God in Christ.” Thankfully, after this convocation and because of much pressure, they altered this statement to reflect a more open and neutral view on the matter. However, it is to be noted that to believe in a national destiny for the Jewish people in the land of Canaan does not in any way deny the “essential oneness of the people of God in Christ” because we believe that all people be they Jew or Gentile can only be saved by appropriating by faith the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
The third convocation is the one just recently held by the Church of Scotland in 2013. This convocation not only stated that Israel’s modern day restoration has no biblical significance but it went on to cast doubt on the historical veracity of the Abrahamic Covenant thus implying that at no time in history did it guarantee Canaan as a homeland for the Jewish people! This abuse of scripture by this gathering of so called learned clergy is breathtaking to say the least; especially in the light of Genesis 17:7-8 and Psalm 105:7-12.
Once again, simply put, this means that for these church movements Israel’s modern day restoration enjoys no biblical significance whatsoever. Christians can and should ignore it and move on to more important spiritual things. The Catholic Bishops were at least honest in that they recognized that to hold their position on Israel they have to define the “battle ground.” That is, they must declare the Abrahamic Covenant entirely obsolete and abolished by God Himself. There is just one problem for them in this regard and that is that scripture nowhere says it. It is an argument from silence and wishful thinking!
In fact, if anything, the New Testament scriptures everywhere affirm the ongoing efficacy of this covenant even going so far as to declare that it cannot be annulled (Galatians3:17), that it constitutes an example to believers of God’s truthfulness and unswerving faithfulness (Hebrews6:13-20) and that the finished work of Jesus on the cross was to make good its promises (Galatians3:9; 13-14;). Indeed, if we are Christ’s we are “Abraham’s children according to the promise (covenant).” (Galatians3:29)
Moreover, I know of no Christian Zionist who affords a privileged place to Jews or Israel. If anything, the call of God over the Jewish people was never a “privileged place” but a place of servant hood, suffering and rejection for the sake of the world! As a gentile believer in Christ Jesus I would not want their role in history, but truly I have been eternally enriched by it because “salvation is of the Jews”, “we share in their spiritual things” and from them “Christ came who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
To assert then that, since Jesus’ coming, the Abrahamic Covenant has been abolished or somehow reconstructed is quite frankly theological ineptitude! The scriptures nowhere support this theory. In fact, if accepted, these convocations are guilty of the very theological position that they claim to be against! That is, they are guilty of being dispensationalists because they endorse the movement of one plan of God to another throughout history. This is classic dispensationalism! We reject dispensationalism in all its forms because there has only and forever been one plan of God for the salvation of the whole world (Revelation13:8). This plan was unveiled and promised in the Abrahamic Covenant which, according to Paul was the first and foundational proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. (Galatians3:8) The fact that this saving initiative also promised land as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people (Genesis17:8-9) has always “stuck in the throat” of many people and groups. (Nehemiah2:19-20; 4:1-3; 6:1-2)
The fact is; all nations are blessed and saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus because of the peculiar servant role that Israel has played out on their behalf. A calling that Paul admits is irrevocable! (Romans11:29) For this role or call to be removed the Abrahamic Covenant has to be removed but, if that ever happens and it will not, God’s decision to save the world also has to be removed! It is worthy of note that, years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials, the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant to wavering Jewish believers as an example of God’s faithfulness to his word, character and promises. Apparently he was wrong!
The Lausanne Conference, the Catholic Bishops and the Church of Scotland are not only guilty of dispensationalism but of also casting doubt over the character of God in that He has lied! But God is not a man that He should lie. (Numbers 23:19) (Titus 1:2) They have thereby disqualified themselves from participating in one of the most remarkable acts of God in history and have failed to “rightly divide” the word of God. One wonders whether the pressure of having to be politically correct has caused them to do this?
It needs to be borne in mind that the position held by Christian Zionists today was also held by great Christian leaders throughout history including the Wesley’s, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, Professor Jacob Janeway of the Scottish National Church, Robert Murray McCheyne, Sir Isaac Newton, the early church leaders, as reflected by the documents of the early church, and many thousands more down to the present time.
That we are, and all should be, concerned about issues of justice and righteousness in the Middle East and elsewhere is a given. We should be committed to the “whole counsel of God” and are. However, I want to know why these church convocations have abandoned the people of South Sudan where two million Christians, in the last decade and more, were killed at the hands of Muslims and why they have said and done nothing about the “forgotten war” in central Africa that has thus far claimed the lives of four million people? And, what of the thousands of Christians who are being murdered across the Middle East and Africa today by Muslims not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Muslims that are being murdered by their fellow Muslims in Libya, Syria and Iraq? Obviously righteousness and justice for these convocations is a matter of “special selection.” Or, are these people left without hope because, in most cases, they are African?
“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your
Trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and
Contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.”
The “Super Snooper” is the Christian who thinks that it is his spiritual duty to debunk anything pertaining to Christianity that is part of the prevailing culture. In fact this mission, which he or she embarks upon, isolates them from the world that they are called to reach with Christ’s Gospel and turns their witness into something more like hot mustard and vinegar than that of salt and light. Sadly the Super Snooper is proud of his position and never questions why his community of believers is small and ineffective and why his children have rebelled against the system. They defend these realities by affirming that they are the true “little flock and remnant.”
The truth however is that we do not preach against the culture wherein we find ourselves but against sin and ungodliness that afflicts every society. The prevailing culture in Jerusalem in Paul’s day was one of Temple ritual and observance of the Law and he knew that he would have to work with it rather than against it as he preached the Gospel. For this reason he bowed to the culture and did the things that it practiced in order to preach the good news of Jesus. (Acts 21:15-26) The Super Snoop sees this as compromise and failure.
The Target Area
High on the “attack list” of Super Snoopers are Christmas and Easter. At a superficial level their arguments seem plausible but on closer inspection they fall apart. In the western world the celebration of Christmas and Easter have become culturised. That is, part of the fabric of how people live and thus these celebrations constitute their way of life. The commercial world has recognized this and has therefore exploited this way of life as it does all of the prevailing culture. The fact that the commercial world exploits a ball game does not mean that the players on the field do so or the fact that big concerts are exploited by the commercial world does not mean that the musicians or artists do so. It also does not mean that we should never go to a concert or ball game. In like manner, all the Bible believing evangelical churches that I know, and I know a lot of them, always celebrate Easter and Christmas in its biblical context and use these celebrations to reach out to the world with the saving message of Jesus. It is a known fact that many unreached people attend Church once or twice a year at Christmas and Easter because of the culture they live in and thus the Church is afforded a unique opportunity to reach people with Jesus’ message of salvation. The Super Snoopers happily forego this opportunity and so lock their churches on Christmas Day and Easter. “It’s all paganism” they assert and they would rather see people go to a lost eternity than have them in their meetings on the 25th December! By contrast Paul exploited the prevailing culture in which he lived and became all things to all men that he might reach some! (1Corinthians 9:19-23) He even used a pantheon of pagan gods in Athens to do this! (Acts 17:22-34) There is no doubt that whoever built the statue in honor of the “Unknown God” did definitely not have the God of the Bible in mind. It was an unknown pagan god that the builder had in mind and Paul exploited this. The Super Snooper would never do a thing like this just as he wouldn’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th December because the day has pagan associations way back in the past.
The Hypocrisy of Super Snoopers
Sadly it escapes Super Snoopers that in order to hold their position they must reorganize the very calendar by which they live and do their business because all the days of the week are in fact named after pagan gods! So, they will celebrate births, weddings, anniversaries and even deaths on these days but definitely not Christmas or Easter and sadly they cannot see the hypocrisy of all this. I recently met a person like this and he invited me to meet him on Woeden’s Day at a certain time. Woeden’s Day is Wednesday! When I pointed this out to him he was unable to explain his position. He was a hypocrite by default not by intention and I lovingly pointed this out to him. The Super Snooper is therefore selective in his war with the culture around him; he has withdrawn from this culture and has thereby disconnected himself from the purpose of God and, unlike Paul, attributes wisdom and spirituality to himself by so doing. Many are sadly ensnared by this stuff.
An examination of Church history reveals that Christianity designated the celebrations of Easter and Christmas on particular days not to bring paganism into the Church but to demonstrate the triumph of the Church over the pagan origins of these feasts and days. To condemn the celebration of these days because of the ancient pagan root attached to them would be the same as condemning Paul for using a pagan idol in Athens to preach the good news of Jesus. We end up hypocrites!
The Testimony of Great Christians
Great Christians, that we all honor and respect, down through the centuries celebrated Christmas and Easter. No one can deny this and to assert that they were in some way blinded is arrogance at its best. They brought thousands, if not millions, to Christ and they used every opportunity to do so including Christmas and Easter; eternity will testify to this. The Super Snooper wills say on “That Day”, “Lord we knew you were holy and righteous and closed our doors on Christmas Day and Easter in order to honor You and so here I give You the “talent” back that You gave me. It has not been multiplied in honor of Your name.” I will leave you to consider what our Lord’s response will be but Matthew twenty-five verses twenty-four to twenty-eight might help you?”
In addition there is no harm in decorating one’s home during these celebrations, with a Christmas tree! Even the Lord God of Heaven decorates His great messianic Temple with trees. (Ezekiel 41:18-20) Actually, many of us decorate our homes anyway with trees! One can enter many homes and find them done out with small decorative trees. The thing is, we do not worship these trees and in all my sixty-one years of living under the sun I have never seen a real Christian, or anybody for that matter, worship a Christmas tree. Have you? It is merely a thing of beauty and it goes back to the great Reformer Martin Luther who encouraged Christians everywhere to decorate trees with candles in honor of Jesus’ birth. The Super Snooper will of course try and make his case against Christmas Trees by quoting Jeremiah ten verses one to five which has to do with cutting down trees and decorating them with the express intention of worshipping them as gods. Christmas trees have never been put to this use and this is why almost all the great preachers of history have endorsed them and decorated their homes with them.
The Real Casualties
A home beautifully adorned to honor Jesus is a place of blessing, warmth, love and precious memories. Christmas and Easter in our home was always traditional, still is, and the precious memories of family and friends together, reading the Word of God, praying and giving thanks to God for the gift of Jesus’ life and death, will remain with us forever. We took strangers and lonely people in at Christmas time and shared the wondrous love of God with them. Was God pleased? I think so. By contrast the Super Snooper locked his home and Church, hid away and said “Humbug!” Sadly, the real casualties in all of this were his children. They entered the homes of fellow Christian friends and saw the beauty, felt the warmth and wondered why they couldn’t share in all of this? For these kids Christianity became a “kill joy” and when they went home and enquired of their parents why they didn’t celebrate as other Christians did they were told, “Because these Christians are not as spiritual as we are and are doing pagan things!” How else could they answer? In most cases, and this too I have seen in all my years of church planting and ministry, these children rebelled against the Christian faith and departed wholly from the Church. I could tell you story after story in this regard.
The Ongoing Saga
Sadly, all of this doesn’t stop with Easter and Christmas but spills over into other areas of faith and practice. For instance, I know Christians who will not use the name of Jesus in a culture that is traditionally gentile and Christian. They will quickly rebuke you and demand that you use Jesus’ Hebrew name only; Yeshua. In the Jewish/Israeli world this might be a “key” but even here I have discovered that Israelis, who I lived amongst for fourteen years, prefer Gentile Christians to use the word Jesus. But to be counter culture in a predominantly Christian culture is not smart or helpful towards leading the people of this culture, who are only familiar with the term Jesus, to Christ. Again, upon enquiry, their churches are small, out of touch with the culture around them and, to be honest, strange. I have been in many of these and have looked for the sign “exit.”
More problematic still is the fact that many pro-Israel Christians begin to propagate these things in their churches resulting in pressure groups forming that in the end cause division and schism. This should not be as it brings the legitimate Israel ministry into disrepute and puts ministers on their guard about allowing it to enter their churches. This too I have seen over the years. To have a biblical understanding of Israel should make one an added blessing to the local church and not a source of confusion and more than ever these Christians should have a heart for global missions if they love Israel; for when the “fullness of the Gentiles have come in then all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25-26) Paul exhorts us to me mature in our understanding and not given to doubtful disputes and things that are not essential. (1Corinthians 14:20)
In the end, I would far rather have overflowing churches on Christmas Day and Easter than empty ones and I would far rather have homes beautifully decorated that build precious and godly family memories than empty and barren ones. I would prefer in every way to hear the wonderful stories of the Incarnation and the death of Christ read to family and friends, accompanied with prayer and praise to God than silence and I would prefer to sing the great and marvelous Carols of the Church on Christmas Day than have the doors of the Church locked. I find great joy and peace as I meditate quietly on Good Friday on all that happened to my dear Savior and I happily join the great throng of those who enter the House of God on Easter Sunday to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus.
Quite frankly, we don’t need any more “unreformed Scrooges’ but what we do need is godly families that will take advantage of the prevailing culture, as Paul did, to share the Good News that Jesus has conquered death for all people and calls all people everywhere to respond to His love through repentance and faith is His finished work on the cross.
On November 29th the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state of the United Nations. This decision gave increased credibility and leverage to the Palestinians in their future negotiations to make this a reality and so the consequences of this decision will be far reaching. It will not escape the astute observer of these things that this decision by the world community to disinvest Israel of her land and Capital took place on the 29th November; for it was on this date 65 years ago that this same body recognized the existence of Israel as a nation state. Now this world forum is seeking to give added strength to a people who through their leaders have waged a relentless war of terror against the Jewish people. This war is not for a state of their own but for the removal of the Jewish State in its entirety. This is not a radical right wing position but rather one that is based on the track record, charter, declarations and deeds of the Palestinian Authority.
Their unaltered charter, in violation of the Oslo Accords, continues to call for Israel’s destruction; their school text books do the same and incite hatred of the Jews, their public statements in Arabic over the years, as monitored by Palestinians Media Watch and MEMRI, have called for Israel’s destruction and removal and in April 1994 in Johannesburg after Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, Yasser Arafat assured a Muslim audience that the PLO had not moved away from the 1964 Phased Plan for the destruction of Israel. Faced with an unprecedented offer of peace from the Israeli government a few years later, that included most of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, he rejected it and provoked a second Intifada. This Intifada deliberately targeted and killed hundreds of Israeli citizens including school children of all ages. Sadly, much of the Western media excused these atrocities and thereby found a way to always blame Israel for them! At no time has Israel ever gone after civilians in an attempt to protect herself from this unrelenting and sustained conflict. Yasser Arafat was not a freedom fighter but a terrorist and indeed the father of modern day terrorism and now his Holocaust denying successor Mahmoud Abbas has been rewarded with statehood by the international community. This is a disgrace and more of a commentary on the evil that lurks in the corridors of the United Nations than anything else. Thankfully Canada and the United States of America called it for what it was and rejected the motion.
The recent war with Hamas in Gaza is part of the same conflict. Having pulled out of Gaza in 2005 with good intentions Israel was rewarded with over 12000 missiles that have rained down on her southern towns and villages. No nation would accept this without a permanent holt to this aggression but once again, by the pressure of the international community, Israel has been bullied into pulling back from a total defeat of these terrorists and this by an Islamist in Egypt who certainly fully supports Hamas and seeks only by this move to consolidate his power base before moving on to deal with Israel in the future! It is a sad day when international politicians of all stripes can no longer discern between good and evil and thus, in the near future, there will be a campaign to rehabilitate Hamas and give it legitimacy!! These calls are already being heard.
We are therefore witnessing the rise of global anti-Semitism and with it a sustained attack against Israel. This attack has been pursued through two strategies: First, that of conflict and terrorism and second, by litigation, the smear of Apartheid leveled against Israel and campaigns to disinvest boycott and sanction Israel. Sadly, many main line churches have given their support to this attack. We are looking at warfare and “lawfare” against Israel and now this will escalate! The goal is to discredit Israel, delegitimize Israel and finally dismantle Israel. The Israelis are putting a brave face on the UN decision but nevertheless it is a serious development and the future will demonstrate how this will be played out. The UN decision of the 29th November has put “the wind at the back” of Israel’s enemies and they will now take full advantage of this. For the present we thank God for the USA and Canada that have stood firm in their support of Israel but we must know that the enemies of Israel will do all that they can to corrupt and break the unshakable relationship that exists between the USA, Canada and Israel.
Seventy years ago thirteen million Jews were threatened in Europe and six million were exterminated while much of the world watched silently. This must not happen again. Now is the time for Christians everywhere to stand up and be counted. We must do all that we can to befriend the Jewish people and Israel. We all have a sphere of influence that we can tap into.
The following words are by Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, please note them carefully:
“In choosing not to stand idly by as the age-old hatred of the Jewish
people has been transferred to the “collective Jew”, I have been speaking
up against the new anti-Semitism that is so pervasive today in the world.
It targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, as the source
of injustice and conflict in the world. It is perversely couched in the language
of human rights. Just as conventional ant-Semitism denied Jews the right to
live as equal members of humanity, the new anti-Semitism denies the State
of Israel the right to live as an equal member of the international community.
Worse still, when this new anti-Semitism expresses itself in the call for the
destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, it is no longer hate speech,
it is incitement to genocide. And we have to name it for what it is.”
The dangers are clear and we must rise to meet them, just as John Baird does, knowing all the time that in the end the battle is the Lord’s and He will not fail His people.
Thus prayer and intercession must be the power behind all that we do.
Praying for our national/political leaders is the number one issue for Christians! You would not think so if one listened to the prayers of God’s people today and yet issues of great national concern are handled by such leaders and even the lives of millions of people are affected by their decisions. This is not a small matter! Generally Christians are profoundly ignorant of the spiritual principles that are involved in this matter and if not ignorant they are confused. That is, many have concluded that their citizenship is in Heaven and therefore we can abandon the world to its own devices! This view crippled the voice of the Church in the Holocaust and six million Jews were murdered and some 53 million people died in the wider conflict of the Second World War! We live under this cloud to our shame.
Sadly many Christians think that the President of a nation should be a preacher like person and at the very least a committed Christian. This is also a delusion and not necessarily biblical. For sure the Bible calls leaders the “servants of God” but not in a Christian way. They are set in place to bring order, law, peace and justice to a people and to, at the very least, acknowledge the involvement of God in the affairs of men. (Romans 13:1-7) The American nation was founded by men like this who were not really “born again” believers but who certainly acknowledged the crucial hand of God in the affairs of men. (Proverbs14:34) To this day the One Dollar note proclaims, “In God we Trust.” America’s prosperity and power has more to do with this than we think. (Psalm 33:12) Its future however does not look good as the Democratic Party has abandoned God, betrayed Israel and the Jewish people and has embraced a culture of chaos that dismembers the family as we know it and celebrates the murder of millions of unborn children all in the name of women having the right to determine what they do with their bodies! God is watching! More troubling still is that millions of Americans think that this is “progressive”, as they put it and so fifty percent of the nation supports this platform. It’s nothing of the sort but merely the moral break-down of the nation and, as Lance Lambert put it recently, the rapid paganization of the State. It’s not new but as old as Sodom and Gomorrah! America is in decline because it is in conflict with the God who made her great.
In short she needs the gift of repentance!
So these principles apply to leaders and nations:
1. God raises up leaders and puts them down. (Daniel 2:21)
2. The spiritual state of the nation is measured by its attempt to honor the Ten Commandments. (2Chronicles 7:17-18) These Commandments are written and stamped on the hearts of men even if they do not have access to them as a written code. Their conscience reminds them of them and when they respond accordingly the blessing of God falls upon them. (Romans 2:12-16) As a consequence God establishes peace in a nation and prospers it and enables the Gospel to be freely preached (This is God’s “common grace” at work in a nation-see Matthew 5:45). Make no mistake these Commandments civilized the Western World and made it great (Genesis 35:11; 17:5-6) but today they are being removed from the public domain and the halls of government. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.” It is no coincidence then that many of the great halls pertaining to America’s public and political life were emblazoned with this moral code! The trampling on this code goes hand in hand with America’s plunge into darkness and away from God. It is to be noted that America’s Founding Fathers saw themselves as a covenant people whose values were based on those of Moses. The word Federal actually comes from the Latin word Foedus which means covenant! So, in 1636 for instance, John Cotton presented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a legal code taken directly from the book of Deuteronomy. This foundation became the bedrock upon which America was built and it was no coincidence that the constitution was signed under the now famous Liberty Bell that has upon it an inscription from Moses that states; “…..Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 25:10)
3. God gives peace, power and prosperity to nations that embrace the yardstick of Moses and He thus gives opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus to be proclaimed. Consider the following:
“Our modern world defined God as a “religious complex” and laughed at
the Ten Commandments as OLD FASHIONED. Then, through the laughter,
came the shattering thunder of World War. And now a blood-drenched,
bitter world-no longer laughing-cries for a way out. There is but one way
out. It existed before it was engraven upon Tablets of Stone. It will exist
when stone has crumbled. The Ten Commandments are not rules to obey
as a personal favor to God. They are fundamental principles without which
mankind cannot live together.” (America’s Prophet by Bruce Feiler)
Israel was forged into a nation and given real freedom when God gave her moral laws by which
to live. This concept or idea governed the lives and thinking of America’s Founding Fathers.
4. When nations abandon this moral code they move to a point of inviting the judgment of God to fall upon them. (Isaiah 24:4-6) This judgment is progressive and cataclysmic. Progressive because it is recognized in the proliferation of sexual perversion, the worship of creation, natural and national disasters and the type of leaders that it gets. God has handed over the nation to its perversions by removing what we call the “gates of consciousness” from its peoples. The consequence is that perversion becomes acceptable, celebrated and approved but actually all this is evidence of the judgment of God. (Romans 1:18-32) It is cataclysmic because the nation is finally overtaken by disaster. Before this point is reached the “spiritual gatekeepers” (Prophets) speak out and begin to warn the nation and its leaders. (Isaiah 14:32)(Jeremiah 7:25)
5. Somewhere in the progressive phase of God’s judgment, that we already see “burning in America”, the nation reaches a point of no return. It deserves a terrifying judgment and only God’s grace and mercy can avert it. We are now fast approaching this point! (Jeremiah 18:1-10)
6. A nation’s attitude to Israel and Jerusalem in particular plays a major role in its blessing or cursing. This includes attempts to divide the land of Israel. (Genesis 12:1-3)(Zechariah12:1-9)(Joel 3:1-3)
7. The Church of the living God must “stand in the gap” and call out to God for mercy. (2Chronicles 7:14) We are, I believe, challenged by the God of heaven to take this position today! We must listen, learn, repent and act!
God says, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
Rightly do we gather here today to pray and call out to God for mercy. We must ourselves repent of our wickedness, slothfulness and sin and humble ourselves before the throne of Heaven. November the 8th will not be the choice of men through a ballot box but the choice of God determined by what He knows about the nation. We should expect the worst or ………………?
Note: Readers of this article will be interested to know that two proposals were put forward in 1776 in terms of what the Great Seal of America should be. One of these proposed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson was that of an engraving of Moses leading the children of Israel out of bondage and through the Red Sea to freedom. Freedom came from the moral Law of Moses!