Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Proof of the Existence of God

Israel has always been proof of the existence of God, with the many biblical prophesies about Israel and their fulfillment. They continue to be fulfilled even to this day. The very fact that Israel has survived as a nation and is thriving while living surrounded by enemies on every side is amazing proof that God has allowed this to be.

Israel is a testimony to God’s promise of the land to Abram (Gen 15:17-21). The land was taken from the Jews through the many invasions of foreign powers. None of those invasions escaped the sovereignty of God. After World War I, there arose a steady movement of Zionism, which was the re-establishment of Israel on its land. Many offers were made to help establish a Jewish state on African land or in South America, but Israel always held out for this land—the biblical land.

It was on Saturday, November 29, 1947, the vote to allow Israel to become a nation took place in the United Nations. It was a historic moment that moved many Israelis to tears. The United States exercised a significant influence in making this happen. Then on May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day. The U.S. State Department and many other countries had been against the creation of the Jewish State for fear that it would generate aggression by the Arab States. War was threatened, and many saw the rumor of war on the horizon against the newly born State of Israel.

Sure enough in 1948, the same year of Israel’s birth, Israel was required to fight for its survival. Neighbors on every side attacked the tiny nation of Israel to deny its foundation, but the newly formed IDF defended itself and survived, in The War of Independence. Then again, Israel’s enemies attacked in 1967 and 1973, but each time Israel was victorious. In each of those wars, Israel was vastly outnumbered but not defeated. We are seeing God’s promise to Israel fulfilled before our very eyes.

The fact that that little strip of land belongs to Israel today with all of the forces in the world that have fought to keep the Jewish State from forming is amazing. God continues to astonish us with his sovereign power as he fulfills his promises. From 1948 and even before, Jews have migrated by the millions back to Israel. The gathering from all the nations is a fulfillment of prophecy by Jeremiah and Isaiah.

For those of us who love Israel and pray for the peace of Israel, we can see God’s handiwork in this nation. The borders of Israel are not so far from what God promised Abram in the book of Genesis. Israel is indeed proof of the existence of God.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Friend of God

Most people have many acquaintances but very few friends. Friendship is a bond of connection that has formed through mutual experience and admiration. Your respect for each other and mutual enjoyment makes the friendship endure. There is a strong bond that has formed between you. You trust each other, and you enjoy each other’s company. You can easily talk to each other, or you can sit in silence because you are entirely comfortable with each other. You know you can count on your friend to be there in tough times. When your friend has a need, you embrace it as your need. You know your friend will drop everything and be there for you when you need him. Treasure your friends. If you have a friend, you have a treasure. Having a friend is a treasure beyond things that money can buy.

The best marriages have experienced this kind of friendship, and the best parent-child relationships have experienced this intimate friendship. However, the best friendship anyone will ever know is friendship with God. Abraham experienced that: He is called “Friend of God” (Isa 41:8). That is quite a compliment.

Genesis 15 records a conversation between Abram and God. It is an exchange of words and feelings. We can learn some valuable things from this conversation. God began by letting Abram know that he would be his shield, and because of that, he did not need to be afraid (Gen 15:1). As the conversation progresses, it becomes clear that Abram is confused as to why God has not delivered on his promise. God had previously promised Abram that he would have a son, but that had not happened. Abram proposes to God a way to make that happen—through the adoption of his servant Eliezer. God corrects Abram and reiterates his promise again: Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed, you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be” (Gen 15:4)

Abram did not verbally respond, but the scripture speaks to us clearly telling us what happened next: Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Abram believed God, and God counted that belief as righteousness. He placed Abram in right standing with himself. This became the verse that influenced the Apostle Paul in the writing of Galatians and Romans. Paul uses the experience of what happened between Abram and God to explain how salvation works. We believe God’s Word, and God makes us righteous. It was not what Abram did but what he believed. His faith was credited as righteousness. This one verse has made such an impact on our understanding of faith. Abram trusted God—to keep his promises. Though it took a long time and seemed impossible, God did keep this promise to Abram.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A New Birth of Freedom

The battle of Gettysburg was a meeting of engagement, neither General Robert E. Lee, General George Meade nor President Lincoln expected this battle to happen when and where it did. The two armies just ran into each other at this little town in southern Pennsylvania. 

The engagement resembled a three-act play, growing as more and more actors converged on Gettysburg. General Meade, commander of the Army of the Potomac, had only been in his position for three days when the battle started. Before these three days ended, 165,000 soldiers descended on these few acres in the bloodiest battle of all of North America. More than 50,000 men fell as casualties in this brutal battle.

Like the unpredictability of a game of poker, the first day’s battle went the way of the South on July 1. If Lee could have withdrawn, he would have been declared the victor, but the next two days took the victory away. On July 3, 1863, General Lee put all his cards on the table when he sent 13,000 soldiers into the Union middle. The result was a crushing defeat and a massacre for the South. Lee retreated toward Virginia in the rain. Unfortunately, it took 10 days for General Meade to mount a pursuit against the Army of Virginia and by that time, Lee and his men had crossed the Potomac. Otherwise, the war might have come to an end much sooner than it did.

A few weeks after the battle, David Wills, a Gettysburg attorney, coordinated plans for a national cemetery. Up until this time, men had been buried where they fell. The date was set for November 19, 1863, Edward Everett would be the main speaker, and the President would be the secondary speaker at the dedication ceremony.

Edward Everett spoke for 2 hours and eight minutes while Lincoln’s address was a mere 272 words that were delivered in about two minutes. The speech stirred the nation and continues to speak to us today.
Lincoln started his speech with a look back at the founding of the nation with the words, “all men are created equal.” Was this proposition true, and did it really mean anything? Lincoln thought that it did. In 1776, the nation experienced a birth of freedom, and now 87 years later, it was experiencing a second birth of freedom. The first birth brought freedom from tyranny from abroad, and the second birth brought freedom for those still living under oppression at home.

Lincoln made a comparison with what “we say here and what they did here.” He pointed out that though this was a dedication ceremony, “we can not consecrate— we can not hallow— this ground.” The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.” Lincoln finished the speech pointing out what the nation’s part was—“to make sure these brave men did not die in vain.” We must make sure we preserve this freedom—freedom that endures— “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Now 243 years later, we see what has been given us in our freedom. We must ask for God’s help to preserve these liberties. We need insight to not be beguiled by enemies within and courage to defend our freedom that came at such a high cost. We are hearing that socialism will bring us such prosperity. Can we not remember those failed political attempts? There have always been demagogues who have promised a paradise they could not deliver. But, in pursuing these utopias, those poor people lost their freedom. God help us to hang on to what we know to be dear and precious—our freedom!