Silence

silence

Silence. We fear silence. It’s to be avoided at all costs. We keep the television on at home and the radio playing in the car. If a newscaster is quiet for too long, he gets embarrassed. When the preacher pauses, we get nervous. When was the last time you and your spouse rode along in silence?

There’s actually a lot of sound, just not much worth hearing. Sometimes, silence is desired. It’s healing, even therapeutic. Leave the earbuds in the car and walk through nature. The sound of birds, crickets, and a chorus of basso profundo frogs is the perfect inoculation against the ruckus of the world.

People talking without speaking

People hear without listening

Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence (1964)

The folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel bemoaned the silence despite a chorus of noise all around. Nothing was said worth listening to. There was only The Sound of Silence.

They were correct 60 years ago, and they are still right today.

Silence. When Words Hurt

Sometimes, it’s better to be silent. When tragedy struck Job, his three friends came and sat in silence with him. They said nothing for a week (Job 2:11 – 13). There are times when words are ineffective and may bring more pain. In tragedy, there are no magical missives. A gentle hand on the shoulder may be best.

We may become too aggressive in our desire to show concern and offer aid. We don’t mean to cause harm, but sometimes, week intentioned words are misheard or misinterpreted. As students of human behavior, we can sense when we are getting too close or too personal. “I love you” may be the only words they need.

Silence. When Words Help

There are times when carefully directed discourse can bring encouragement and healing to the hurting soul.

Paul said it this way: Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:6). He seems to be talking about our interactions with unbelievers. But one key phrase is so useful for us today. He says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” Have you eaten food without enough salt? Unsalted speech is also tasteless.

The king questioned why Nehemiah was sad. Nehemiah explained that his home, Jerusalem, lay in ruins. The king asked what Nehemiah was asking for. Then, before saying another word, Nehemiah “prayed to the God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 2:4). The King gave Nehemiah all that he asked for and more. Prayers need not be elaborate or long. Pray before speaking.

Our parents and grandparents often advised us to count to 10 before answering or speaking. Words can help but only when well considered. Never respond in anger for you will surely regret it later.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” wrote James (James 1:19).

Slow down. Think. Make sure you say something worth hearing.

Gideon

Gideon: How’d He Do It?

Gideon

There are many spectacular events in the Bible. There were the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and later the Jordan. The Blind and deaf were healed and people were raised from  the dead. In a separate category, there was the Creation, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection. But there is one miracle, actually a series of miracles, that has always fascinated me: Gideon’s victory over the Midianites in Judges 6 – 8.

Israel had returned to their wicked ways, and as punishment, God allowed Midian to enslave them. Gideon is an unremarkable man from an unremarkable family in an unremarkable tribe in an enslaved nation (6:15). Yet, he is told by an angel that he “shall strike the Midianites as one man” (6:16). After three different, convincing, miracles, Gideon attacks the army of Midian with 300 soldiers divided into three companies. The Midianite army numbered 135,000 swordsmen( 8:10)! That’s a ratio of 450:1! I don’t think the vaunted Navy Seal Team Six would take on such a battle. But one more thing: Gideon’s army carried no weapons (see 7:20 for their armaments). How could this unremarkable man command one of the greatest victories in Israelite history?

The answer is pretty straightforward: He didn’t.

The victory over Midian was God’s work. Gideon was just an obedient servant. He wasn’t a great tactician, and he was not a great warrior. He wasn’t much of a leader at all. He was just a servant.

But he and his countrymen were prone to taking undeserved credit. In Judges 7:2, the Lord said, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” In verse 9, God tells Gideon, concerning the Midianite army, “I have given it into your hand.” This was no common victory; it was all the power of God.

While Gideon was not responsible for the victory, his faith and obedience were required. The three chapters in view record three moments when God helped build Gideon’s faith. In Judges 6:36 -40, Gideon asked for and received two miracles, which boosted his faith. He asked for a fleece to be laid on the ground and moistened with dew while the surrounding ground would be dry. The Lord’s angel caused that to happen. Next, Gideon reversed the request. This time, the ground would be wet and the fleece dry. Again, the miracle occurred, and Gideon was encouraged.

The third faith-builder came when Gideon and his servant were sent to infiltrate the Midianite camp. They overheard soldiers talking of a dream in which a cake of bread tumbled into their camp, struck the tent, and flipped it over. The soldier said, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon, the son of Joash, a man of Israel. God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp” (vs. 14).

With renewed faith, Gideon was prepared to obey God even in what seemed an odd battle strategy. The Israelite battalion was now a small company of soldiers. The 300 were further split into 100-man contingents. With no weapons in hand, Israel defeated the mighty Midianites.

The victory belonged to the Lord, but Gideon’s faith and obedience were necessary, too. Could God have won without Gideon? Of course. But he chose to use a mortal to accomplish his work.

You and I fight battles daily. Faith and obedience are required. It was hard for Gideon to see the outcome, especially given the odd tactics. But he believed and was obedient! Faith and obedience are simple tools for accomplishing great things for God. If we trust God’s lovingkindness and obey his simple commands, we will gain the greatest victory of all!

second coming and solar eclipse

The Second Coming and the Solar Eclipse

The Second Coming

The Second Coming of Jesus is real. It stands today as certain Bible prophecy. Jesus Himself said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). No Christian denies a return of Jesus at some point. But, and this is important, Scripture never specifies when Jesus will return. Instead, He tells his disciples to watch and be ready for His return (Matthew 25:13, Luke 21:34).

The certainty of Jesus’ return and the uncertainty of the date give rise to a roiling ocean of foolishness and false teaching. It hurts and disappoints those who trust in it, but it is also fodder for news reports that poke fun at all Christians.

The solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, is the latest “sign” that Jesus is about to return. Eric Vanden Eykel of Ferrum College writes about the constant predicting of Christ’s return through atmospheric and celestial signs. He writes, “Religious theories surrounding this eclipse are part of a larger pattern of attempts to find meaning in astronomical events that goes back thousands of years.” In other words, people were erroneously predicting the Second Coming long before our modern-day charlatans.  

But Jesus said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36, c.f. verse 50). Clearly, these preachers must think Jesus was mistaken!

Book authors and televangelists like Hal Lindsey and John Hagee frequently promote random events as signs of Jesus’ near return. The passage of time debunked Lindsey’s claim that Armageddon would come in the 1980’s. Eykel writes, “Lindsey was wrong, of course; the 1980s did not bring about the apocalypse. But this way of thinking – of seeking to find significance in various random events like eclipses – persists among some Christians.” Hagee is just as wrong.

Christians should vigorously oppose nonsensical end-time teaching. First, because it’s wrong, and second because it harms the faith in the eyes of the lost.

However, stunning phenomena like a total eclipse, a meteor, or a hurricane, bear witness to the power of the Creator. The perfectly tuned Universe which allows for precise predictions of the eclipse’s path and timing, speaks to the demand for a designer. God’s glory is on full display. Why would anyone want to add such silliness to what will be evident in the heavens?

The Bible says Jesus is coming again. The Bible does not say when. Be satisfied in Christ now and live watchfully and expectantly. It’s time for the speculation to pass.

comment, question

Comments Are Welcomed

Your comments are welcome here. You will find a comment box at the bottom of each article. Your thoughts may be briefly held for moderation because spam tends to clutter websites. I take no offense to your statements. I do ask that you conduct yourself with a Christ-like nature as we all search for the truth of God’s word.

So, go ahead, comment! I’m waiting to hear from you.

Division

How to Stop Serious Church Division

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

Millions of individuals make up the church. No two are exactly alike. Because of these millions of differences, the church is inherently diverse. Sometimes, these natural differences rise to the level of church division. I’d like for us to think about these differences and gain some understanding of when those differences become displeasing to Jesus.

Divisions in the church often focus on 1 Corinthians . A friend of this website inquired whether Paul was speaking of denominational differences or differences within the local congregation. He observed, correctly that the context of 1 Corinthians 1 is the local congregation. We must be careful when extrapolating from a localized context into a broader, even global, context of application. Let’s study this passage in this context and see if we can reasonably apply his teachings to the present world of Christendom. I think so.

The Context of 1 Corinthians

The apostle Paul planted the church in Corinth (Acts 18, 1 Corinthians 2:6) and worked with the Corinthian church for about 18 months (Acts 18:11). Some scholars believe that Paul made as many as three visits to Corinth and wrote as many as four letters. The apostle worried about the faithfulness, growth, and stability of all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:28) and had numerous concerns about the brethren in Corinth.

As the first issue addressed in the Corinthian letter, the budding church division is serious. The apostle spends as much space discussing the problem as he devotes to the incestuous man of chapter 5. Members of the local church were so concerned that they wrote Paul for guidance.

The Nature of the Problem                                                

Brethren in Corinth were separating themselves based on their allegiance to their teachers. Even those devoted, at least in word, to Jesus had fallen into the divisions.  These groups were dividing or denominating themselves into discreet groups. There is no evidence that these groups deviated from the unchangeable doctrines of the faith. Hence the importance of reminding the brethren of their unity in Christ and their membership in the one body.

From time to time, I’ve termed the Corinthian division “incipient denominationalism.” The church is divided by those who believe in Christ but teach differently than He did. Protestants agree on little. Indeed, given the differing doctrines that divide us, it is no wonder that the world pays little heed to the gospel. Let us abandon denominationalism now. The ever-growing number of churches that cannot agree with one another hinder evangelism.

Let us all stand together on the foundation of God’s word alone. Let us reject any teaching that is not surrounded by and supported by the teaching of Jesus and his inspired writers.

But when does a grouping become a division? When does it rise to sinfulness? When does immaterial separation become material, the irrelevant, relevant?

How We Group

Shared Experiences

People group themselves with others who have shared similar experiences. Men tend to hang around men, women with women. Those who like to hunt and fish seek others of similar hobbies. Mothers of small children seek support from other women. When you travel and coincidentally meet someone from your hometown, you feel an association with them (c.f. Acts 18:13). Sports fans coalesce around others who hold the same team allegiance.

Shared Trauma

Suffering causes us to seek others who can truly empathize with our pain. Chronic illness, or the death of a spouse or a child, cannot be understood by those who have not also experienced a similar loss. As a minister, I try to understand, but I can only go so far. People need others who have passed through the same dark valley to comprehend their struggle.

For example, the grip of addiction has given rise to social groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, as well as related support groups for families of the addicted. Shared trauma forges strong bonds between sufferers, hopefully for their betterment. The apostles clung to one another after Jesus’ death (Acts 1:12 – 14). They shared the terrible loss of Jesus in a way few others could understand.

Shared Faith

Peter writes to those who share the same faith with him (2 Peter 1:1). This “like, precious faith” (NKJV), binds individuals together into a kingdom of righteousness. Strength comes from association with others who hold the same beliefs. God, in great wisdom, brought his people together in the one body, the church (Colossians 1:18), because in the body, common blessings and a common strength are found. This union revolves around and is centered on Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is a moment of personal and shared reflection as we gather with one another and Christ (Luke 22:14 – 23).

Division as a Matter of Priority is Serious Church Division

Good things can become bad. There are at least two ways this can happen. Maybe you can think of others. If so, please add them to the comments.

Elevation is Serious Church Division

Good things become bad when we view our social group as more important than others. This superior viewpoint denigrates others who are not in the group while giving unwarranted praise to those in the group. For example, members of a Bible class might think they are spiritually superior because they attend the class, while others do not. Surely, those others are less Christlike!

Jesus taught us to affect the world positively. He called his followers “the salt of the earth” in Matthew 5:13. We are to have an impact in every corner of life. That includes the home, the workplace, the school, and the public square. But a chosen candidate must never upstage our unity in Christ. All political candidates have serious failings. As we try to affect society as salt, we make choices. But it’s easy for those choices to become so rigid we allow them to cause church division. Shameful!

Sports rivalries may evolve into angry disputes over which team is better. What began as joking and good-natured ribbing after a victory may turn hurtful and generate anger. Our sports group is not that important. Whether my team wins tonight or loses, there will be no difference for me tomorrow. But the unity of the body of Christ has enormous implications now, tomorrow, and into eternity.

Any earthly issue that is elevated above unity with Christ is sinful. When we elevate the things elevated by Jesus, we stand on solid ground.

Exclusion is Serious Church Division

Things can become bad when we exclude others from the fellowship that Christ has added.

Historically, the church division has been caused by many immaterial things. We’ve divided between rich and poor, black and white, republican and democrat. We have saddened our Lord by these unimportant divisions.

The brothers in Corinth had coalesced into small groups around their favorite preacher. They may have been excluding others from their groups and shunning them. It’s not clear what the mechanics of the issue were, but whatever it was, Paul sternly rebuked them.

Still, The church must draw lines sometimes. We must exclude the divisive person (Titus 3:10; Romans 16:17; Galatians 5:20; 2 John 10). We defend the faith (Jude 3), and rebuke where needed (Luke 17:3). Our mission is to draw lines where Jesus drew them and nowhere else. No one has the authority to change the tiniest command of Christ. We must always stand for truth. What we must not do is exclude from our fellowship our fellow brethren in the Lord. We must not contribute to church division.

5 Ways to Stop Church Division

  1. Develop a sense of personal humility. When we elevate ourselves above others, we create seeds of division. Paul wrote, Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). A humble spirit is a key spiritual attribute that we should develop. It will help us, but it will also help stifle division from self-elevation.
  2. Actively associate with many different people. You cannot learn about a woman from a man. You cannot learn about a black man from a white man. You cannot learn about a Republican from a Democrat. Jesus sought associations with all social strata. In John 8 Jesus showed true compassion to an adultress. In Luke 7:36ff, Jesus ate with a Pharisee. In Matthew 8:5ff, he enters the home of Roman Centurion. As we broaden our circle of friends, we learn to love.
  3. Be the Mixer. Ok, this one can be tricky, but create events involving people from all walks of life. Be the one who brings people together. Help others see the value in the strengths of others. Jesus’ apostles included a tax collector and a zealot. There’s an example of being a mixer.
  4. Refuse to Build Walls. We must learn to say “no” to divisive thoughts, plans, and actions. Help others tear down walls, but never hand a brick to a wall-builder. When Jesus died, the veil of the Temple was torn apart (Mark 15:38). Division between God and man was removed. When Cornelius, a Gentile, was baptized, the division between Jews and the rest of humanity was shattered (Acts 11:18). Jesus was a wall-wrecker, not a wall-builder.
  5. Add Unity to Your Prayer List The prayer of Jesus in John 17, uttered moments before his betrayal and arrest, includes this precious plea: “Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17:11). We should mimic His prayer every day to combat church division.

Blood really is thicker than water, especially the blood of Jesus. Let us stand together and stop church division! Will you tear down barriers between yourself and others? Will you be a builder?

Welcome to the New Site

This is the new home of what was once called the Preacher’s Study Blog. Thank you for dropping by. I am Bryant Evans, the chief cook and bottle-washer on this new website. All of the content is available from our days at the Preacher’s Study Blog, and we will add new material from time to time. If you have a question you’d like us to explore, drop us a note, and we will try to answer it Clearly and Biblically.

During the transition from the old site, I expect some bumps and maybe even a few potholes. Please bear with us as we get things smoothed out.

Again, thanks for your visit!

Who is Apollos

Who is Apollos? This good man is mentioned only ten times in the Bible, twice in Acts (18:24; 19:1), eight times in 1st Corinthians (1:12; 3:4, 5, 6 & 22; 4:6; 16:12), and once in Titus 3:13. Little is known about Apollos directly, but Paul writes as if he was influential in the church and an important friend of his. It has even been suggested that Apollos was the mysterious author of Hebrews. It’s probably as good a choice as any, but it’s far from certain.

The greatest compliment paid to Apollos is that he was “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). His knowledge positioned him to expect the coming Redeemer and to be prepared for his reign as King.

Apollos knew of Christ and had been so instructed. Yet, his knowledge was incomplete, although his fervor burned brightly. He only knew of the baptism of John (vs. 25), which by now was decades out of date, having been superseded by the baptism of Christ. Paul encountered a group of men nearby who likewise were unaware of Christian baptism (Acts 19:1 – 7). It could be that these had been taught by Apollos or that Apollos had been associated with the same community. But, it was necessary that the 12 men of Acts 19 were newly taught and baptized appropriately.

As for Apollos, he was also corrected by Priscilla and Aquila. The text does not say he was “re-baptized,” but given Paul’s requirement in Acts 19, it is all but certain that he was.

The inclusion of Apollos in Holy Writ offers an example to be emulated. There may surely be more, but I see three key attributes that should mark the life of every Christian.

Apollos desired to know truth.

Our subject is described as “competent in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). Translations use words like well-versed, able, or even mighty. To describe his command of the Bible as he possessed it. I find it difficult to think of many complements greater than this. To reach such a point in life, he must have spent considerable time in the study of the law and the prophets.

Today, we enjoy tools not even imagined by the people of the first century. The Scriptures are available easily and in our native tongue. Our ever-present cell phone easily holds the entirety of the Bible in multiple translations. Home computers allow near-instant searching of the Bible for entire phrases, not just a single word. Would it not be grand to be described as someone mighty in the Scriptures?

Apollos was passionate for Christ.

This good man was obviously educated as he came from Alexandria, a center of Mediterranean civilization, learning, and scholarship in North Africa. He is also described in Acts as being “eloquent.”  This word may refer to his speaking abilities or to his deep knowledge. Given that his knowledge is described as competence, it likely refers to an ability to preach and teach.

The key is that Apollos used his talents to teach God’s word. Every Christian is endowed with different talents. These gifts are given by God for His own glory. No Talent is too small or insignificant for God’s work. May we take what we have and devote it to God’s glory.

Apollos was prepared to change.

Few people like change – I don’t. But change is a greater part of life than stasis. Our world is dynamic, as are we. We are not the same people we were just a few years ago. Apollos was knowledgeable of the Scriptures, but he was not teaching the whole truth. There is nothing to suggest a deliberate attempt to twist the Scriptures. Rather, there were some things he did not know. When Priscilla and Aquila recognized his shortcomings, “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). These two were not scholars. They were hard-working tentmakers. Apollos was not arrogant or haughty., he accepted their correction. This great, humble man was willing to change. Later, he became a pillar of the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:5, 6).

May we always be willing to make changes as we grow and learn more and more of God’s word. Without growth and change, there is only a slow withering and death.

I am thankful that God included Apollos in the Scriptures, aren’t you?

Quick Answers

quick answers

I’m going to disappoint you. Despite the title, there are no quick answers here. In fact, you cannot survey even the smallest subject with quick answers – not even the subject of “quick answers.”

Just now, the top story at cnn.com was six paragraphs, three of which were one sentence in length. At competitor foxnews.com the top story was longer but still a brief 11 paragraphs. The median length of a television news story with video is a scant 41 seconds according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

We scan, we skim, we don’t study. We’re just not very interested in depth.

Brevity can be good. Who needs to spend a half hour thinking about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce other than Swift and Kelce themselves? But some topics demand greater attention.

Quick Answers and the Spiritual Life

Americans have entrusted their spiritual knowledge, and by extension, their eternal life, to their preachers. We might ask, “Does the Bible say I shouldn’t do this?” We hope the preacher will give us an answer not exceeding a couple of sentences. We have little interest in his reasoning, just his final conclusion. That’s a dangerous approach. It’s not that the preacher deliberately wants to hurt you, but what if he is wrong? What if his reasoning is flawed?

Never trust a preacher with your spiritual life.

Jesus declared that we can “know” the truth (John 8:32). To know anything requires investigation. An investigation requires a search for facts, an analysis of the source, and a final determination of truth. It’s not always easy.

Preacher’s Study Blog Can Help

We began our work here many years ago. The goal then, and now, was to offer serious Bible study. Despite our work, we still would be embarrassed to know that you trusted us for quick answers. We hope you will delve into our articles, reach your own conclusions, and engage with us through the comments. Your thoughts are always important to us.

Some articles will encourage you while others will challenge long-held beliefs.I think we are successful when we do either. We have never accepted money and we never will. But we would appreciate if you would pass on our articles. It would mean a lot!

Israel map

Today’s Israel

The monstrous attacks by Hamas have thrust Today’s Israel into the news. Unspeakable brutalities against Israeli women and children fill the news reports. There is neither excuse nor justification for these terrible crimes targeting civilians, especially women and children.

Some popular news commentators, trying to rally support for Israel, are suggesting that today’s Israel is the same Israel of biblical times.  Is it? Christians may support Israel because it is our staunchest ally in the region. They see Israel as one of the most stable democracies in the world. In short, the Israelis are our friends. Supporting Israel because they are supposedly “God’s chosen people” is an error.

Today’s Israel is not the Israel of the Bible.

Origins – Biblical Israel

The Lord promised Abraham that his offspring would be a great nation. He also promised them possession of the land where nomadic Abraham traveled (Genesis 12:1-3, 7). Two generations later, God changed Abraham’s grandson Jacob’s name to Israel. He would have 12 sons who would become the basis for the Biblical nation of Israel.

Almost 500 years later, Jacobs’s 12 sons would grow to over two million people. By then, they had become slaves in Egypt. They prayed to God for deliverance; he heard their prayer and remembered his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 2:23-25). When Pharaoh refused to release the slaves, the Lord brought a series of plagues upon the land. Eventually, Pharaoh could withstand God no longer and released the Hebrews (future Israelites).

The Hebrews traveled eastward to Mount Sinai where God formed them into a nation. Because of their lack of faith, they then wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. Finally, God brought them into the land of Canaan and settled them there. Although the Israelites were in and out of captivity in their new homeland, they maintained a presence in the land until the year 70 A.D., when the Romans utterly destroyed them.

Origins – Today’s Israel

for almost 1900 years, the Jews had no homeland. In the late 1800s, Jews began to move back to Israel from their dispersion into Europe. In 1896, the development of Zionism began, which is the call for a formal nation of Israel in the original land. After World War I, the League of Nations granted Great Britain a mandate to govern Palestine. Under that mandate, Jews began to return to the British-controlled region. In 1948, as the British mandate was ending, a representative of the Jewish population in Palestine declared the establishment of the State of Israel. The United Nations had given the Jews about 55% of the land of Palestine, despite the fact that previously, the Jews only owned about 6% of the land.

Armed conflict began immediately. Since that time, multiple attempts at peace have largely failed. Today’s conflict in Israel is but the latest in a long line of wars and conflict.

Governance

God governed biblical Israel as its king (One Samuel 8:7). Later, earthly kings ruled over Israel. The ancient nation reached its zenith under King Solomon. The spiritual life of the nation was under the direction of Levitical priests. All Israelite priests were from the tribe of Levi without exception.

10 of the 12 tribes entered Assyrian captivity. Babylon took the remaining two tribes into slavery. Even after their release from captivity, Israel was little more than a vassal state to the superior kingdoms of the region. In 63 BC the Romans conquered the region. The Jews had a puppet king until A.D. 70 when conflict with Rome exploded into war. Jerusalem and the Temple were completely destroyed.

From A.D. 70 until 1949 the Jews had no land to call their own.

Today’s Israel vs. Biblical Israel: Key Differences

Ancient Israel was a theocracy. Today’s Israel is a democracy. Put differently, one was ostensibly ruled by God, while the modern-day nation is ruled by its people.

Ancient Israel was served by a large cohort of Levitical priests. Today’s Israel has no Levitical priests. Divinely specified sacrifices were daily offered in the Temple. There is no Temple today.

Ancient Israel was God’s chosen people (Leviticus 26:11, 12). Today’s Israel is not. Today, God’s chosen people are Christians regardless of their ancestry (1 Peter 2:9, 10).

Has God Broken His Promises to Today’s Israel?

By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” (Romans 3:4)

We forget that God’s promises were conditional. For example, in the passage above from Leviticus 26, notice verse three: “if you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them then…” This is a classic if/then statement. The covenant required both God and the people to comply with the terms of the covenant. Once one party broke the terms, the other party was freed from the covenant.

God was no longer obligated to continue to bless them because Israel had broken the covenant. Remember, this was the nation that crucified his Son. They rejected their final prophet. They rejected the one who came to save them. Consider these verses:

For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you. (Joshua 23:12, 13

But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.” (Joshua 23:15, 16)

There are two important points in this last passage. Notice that Joshua says God fulfilled all of his promises to Israel. He made them a nation. He gave them the land. God provided the heritage through which one would come to bless all nations. God did what he said he was going to do.

Just like the previous passages (Leviticus 26, Joshua 23:12, 13), there is an if/then clause. If they transgressed against God, they would “perish quickly from off the good land.” Ancient Israel violated every command God gave them. As a result, Israel lost their place as God’s chosen people. Today, God’s chosen people are his church (Isaiah 53:1 – 12; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 9:12 – 14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; Revelation 5:9).

We may choose to support today’s Israel for diplomatic, military, or political reasons. But we must not support Israel because they are God’s chosen people. To do so ignores clear biblical teaching.

Are You Dumb?

My Friend Allen Webster has a great article in a recent edition of House to House Heart to Heart. Entitled, “You Gotta Be Dumb to Believe the Bible. Right?” it’s an answer to the people who make fun of our faith. As a new school year begins, many young Christians will face an all-out assault by militant atheists, agnostics, and skeptics. This article, including quotes from Shakespeare to President Washington and General MacArthur, will demonstrate that the greatest minds of modern history believed in God and in his word.

Some doubt God’s existence since He is not perceptible to our sensory system. According to this reasoning, we would also have to repudiate the human conscience, as well as molecular adhesion and gravity. Just because I have never seen Katmandu doesn’t mean it’s not at the base of Everest.

Allen Webster, House to House Heart to Heart,Vol. 28, Number 8

Are you dumb? No! A criminalist who refuses to collect evidence outside the yellow crime scene tape is foolish. Likewise, the scientist who refuses to consider evidence outside the scope of science is foolish. Does science know everything? It does not and never will. An entire sphere of reality exists beyond the natural world, but then, that’s another article.

Make sure you share this with your college student after you’ve read it for yourself.