The GOD of Israel of GOD — Part 4 — Captive Israel

O Come, O Come Immanuel … and ransom captive Israel … that mourns in lonely exile here … until the Son of God appear.

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“Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity
.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
11For I am with you to save you,
declares the LORD;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

[Jeremiah 30:10-11]

One cannot tell the story of Israel without telling the story of exile and the long, perilous journey back home. Israel knows suffering full well, passing through the fires of persecution and shedding the bitter tears of lament. The nation of Israel was born out of slavery, and her destiny is one tied to perpetual exile until the end — the consummation of all things and the arrival of the Kingdom of God.

Remember, Israel means to strive, to struggle — both with God and man — and to overcome in the end. Much of Israel’s exile was brought on by her own rebellion and departure from the One True God to serve the gods of the nations, and some of Israel’s suffering has been at the hands of the satanic powers of darkness — who hate God and His covenant people.

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

[Exodus 2:23-25]

Such was the case in Egypt, when Pharaoh and his gods determined to enslave and destroy Israel — God’s chosen portion. Israel was displaced, estranged from her homeland and held captive at the hands of her enemies. The spiritual battle was raging in Egypt over God’s covenant people. It has been raging ever since and will continue to rage until the very end.

It has been written. The patterns of exile and deliverance throughout the Scriptures paint us a prophetic pattern that has been replayed over and again throughout redemptive history. What has been done will be done again.

COVENANT & CONTROVERSY

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And the LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD will drive you. 28And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice. 31For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.

[Deuteronomy 4:27-31]

The unique covenant that God made with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is at the very heart of the perpetual enmity surrounding Israel. The gods of the nations and the devil himself seek to devour the seed of the woman, and by destroying God’s covenant people, Satan is attempting to nullify the word of God and revoke the promise of God.

This is why the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain agains the LORD and His Anointed. God has uniquely bound Himself to the people of Israel; therefore, Israel is the nation and land of controversy among the nations. Israel is the target of satanic opposition. Israel is the key prophetic timepiece in God’s redemptive plan.

From the moment Israel was delivered from Egypt and entered into the land of promise under Joshua, she has experienced one calamity after another. One invasion after another. One exile after another. Consider the plight of captive Israel.

  • Israel was held in bondage multiple times to the Philistines and Midianites during time of the Judges (circa 12th-11th Century B.C.)
  • Israel was conquered by the Assyrians and the Northern Kingdom was exiled in early 8th Century
  • The remnant of Israel — Judah — was conquered and carried off into Babylon, marking the exile of the Southern Kingdom in the late 6th Century B.C.
  • Haman and the Persian plot of ethnic genocide in Esther’s day in the late 4th Century
  • Cruel oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes IV in the days of the Maccabees, or 3rd Century B.C.
  • Roman conquest and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D, scattering the remnant of Israel to the four winds of the earth
  • Persecution during the Spanish Inquisition and Crusades
  • Jewish Pogroms in Russia
  • Holocaust of Nazi Germany during WW II

And so it will be in the last days at the end of the age — one final episode of Jacob’s trouble. One more invasion of the land. One more siege on Jerusalem. One last exile of Israel. One final diaspora to the nations. God has bound Himself to the people and the land of Israel, and the restoration of Israel will not fully be realized until the LORD Himself comes down from heaven in flaming fire and crushes His enemies and sits down on His glorious throne.

STRANGERS PASSING THROUGH

In more ways than one, Israel’s story is our story — God’s story. We all identify as strangers passing through — aliens in a foreign land not our own — wandering and waiting to go home. We all are spiritually born into bondage, under the powers of darkness in the heavenly places and held captive by sin and oppressed by a cruel master — the devil.

The God of Israel always intended to adopt the Gentiles into His convent family and incorporate people from every nation into the commonwealth of Israel. We too are brought near into covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. So that in the end — all Israel — will be saved, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female.

In that way, Israel not only represents the covenant people of God in the flesh and the physical promised land, but ultimately Israel represents the covenant people of God by faith and the eternal kingdom on earth as it now is under the Lordship of Christ in heaven.

God always had a bigger plan — a redemptive plan. The gospel of the Kingdom is that God has redeemed a people for His own possession from every tribe and nation under heaven — using Israel as the conduit of His blessing to the nations and then bringing exiles back into Israel to inherit the land and enjoy the covenant blessings forever.

Speaking of Abraham and the other great men and women of faith, the author of Hebrews says …

Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

[Hebrews 11:12-16]

The Time for Restoring All Things

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

[Acts 3:20-21]

Israel will be in exile until the King of Israel returns to set His people free once and for all. He is King over the whole earth, but His chosen portion, His allotted inheritance, is Israel. All people who trust in the God of Israel and in His Messiah King Jesus belong to Israel and have a permanent home in the promised land.

As we wait for the day when Jesus comes and restores the fortunes of Jacob and gathers His people to Himself and makes good on all of His promises, we wait patiently in hope, knowing that God’s people will never be fully at home as sojourners in a hostile world.

Hear, O nations, the word of the LORD,  and proclaim it in distant coastlands: 

“The One who scattered Israel will gather them and keep them as a shepherd keeps his flock. 11For the LORD has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the hand that had overpowered him. 12They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;  they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD—the grain, new wine, and oil, and the young of the flocks and herds.Their life will be like a well-watered garden, and never again will they languish.”

[Jeremiah 31:10-12]

Next time I will take a closer look at Israel as God’s redeemed.

GOD of Israel of GOD —Part 3 — Israel the Ethnic Group

All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt.6Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. 7But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

[Exodus 1:5-7]

Israel migrated into Egypt as a family, and as the LORD had promised Abraham, Israel multiplied greatly in Egypt for 400 years and became a distinct ethnic people group. Known as the children of Israel or the Hebrews, God’s covenant people prospered in Egypt until a wicked Pharaoh arose in power and subjugated Israel into slavery.

By the time of Moses and the Exodus, Israel had grown to 600,000 men plus women and children, which means that their numbers far exceeded one million at the end of their sojourn in Egypt [see Exodus 12:37-38]. It is just like God to work His perfect will and bless His people through adverse, even hopeless, circumstances. Consider what the LORD told Abraham some 400 years earlier.

Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions” … On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates”

[Exodus 15:13-14,18]

Little is known about Israel during this 400 year sojourn in Egypt. All that we are told from the Biblical record is that after Joseph and his generation died, a new king arose in Egypt who despised the Hebrews and initiated what would become a vicious cycle of suffering followed by divine deliverance. If there has been one common thread that has run continuously throughout Israel’s history, it is the thread of rebellion, oppression, and divine chastisement, leading to repentance and restoration.

Many times the ethnic people of Israel brought oppression and judgment upon themselves as the consequences of unbelief and rebellion against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Others times Israel was the exclusive target of satanic hostility and opposition, as the seed war of Genesis 3:15 developed and progressed in real time. As the chosen covenant people group of God, Israel was the conduit through which God had resolved to work His will and ultimately bring forth the Messiah to crush the head of the Serpent and bless all nations.

God’s Chosen Portion

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
9But the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage.

10He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye
.

[Deuteronomy 32:8-10]
Cross and Cutlass: Prophectic Signposts - Israel is still ...

After the flood the LORD came down to judge the rebellion at Babel led by Nimrod. In His divine judgment, the LORD confused the languages of mankind, creating natural barriers that would lead to the birth of the original 70 nations [see Genesis 10-11]. It was at this time that the LORD divided up the nations and their boundaries according to the number of the sons of God [see Deuteronomy 32:8-9], but the LORD reserved for Himself one people group — one ethnos — as His own allotted inheritance, namely Israel.

From that moment, the nations of the earth — or Gentiles — were considered profane and alienated from God and the commonwealth of Israel. Gentiles have been oppressed and deceived by the evil, heathen “gods” of the nations, who led them into gross immorality and idolatry. Israel, on the other hand, wold be set apart as holy unto the LORD — the Most High and God of gods.

This hard ethnic distinction runs throughout the Scriptures, until the mystery of God was revealed in Christ, who came to reclaim and redeem a people for God’s possession from all the nations of the earth and gather them into Israel. As Paul reminds us in Romans 9, “As indeed he says in Hosea, ‘Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved. And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God
.’” [Romans 9:25-26]

In Christ, the ethnic barrier was brought down and God united all people in Christ — not so that we all would lose our ethnic identity but rather so that we could all reflect the immense diversity of the kingdom and represent the manifold beauty of God’s saving grace.

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

[Ephesians 3:4-6]

Although Christ has brought down the dividing wall of hostility and redeemed people from every tribe and language and nation into His kingdom, that is not to say that God’s covenant promises to the ethnic people of Israel (aka the Jews) have become obsolete. God’s promises and purposes remain for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the “flesh,” which means that the ethnic distinction of Israel in these last days is on of the greatest prophetic phenomena of redemptive history.

The fact that an ethnic, national, and territorial Israel still exists today, some 3,500 years since the Exodus, is profound in and of itself. The fact that Israel remains at the center of the geopolitical and religious controversy of the Middle East is one of the most substantial prophetic signs of the last days.

In my next post, I will deal exclusively with Israel in captivity — God’s people in bondage.

GOD of Israel of GOD — Part 2 — Israel the Family

All the persons belonging to Jacob who came into Egypt, who were his own descendants, not including Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. 27And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Genesis 46:26-27

After Babel, God chose Abram from among the nations and entered into an everlasting covenant with him. God’s covenant involves a promise for a chosen family, a holy nation, a land, and ultimately a Son — a King — to bless all the families of the earth and save mankind. This covenant is predicated on and perpetuated by God’s grace and it is actuated and applied through our faith in Messiah and God’s holy word. As it is written, from first to last, the righteous shall live by faith.

God gave Abraham a miracle son of promise, Isaac — one of the first to typify the resurrection of Jesus Christ [see Genesis 22 the “AKEDAH“]. The LORD then extended His covenant to Isaac’s son, Jacob, changing his name to Israel. After initiating a covenant relationship with the patriarchs, the LORD God continued His redemptive work through Israel the family. By the time Jacob and His 12 sons sojourned to Egypt during the famine in the days of Joseph, they constituted a family — 70 persons in all.

So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.2And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” 3Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 4I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.

Genesis 46:1-4

Israel — the Family of God

The LORD is a personal God, a relational God. He is our Father, our Redeemer, our Comforter and Healer. He desires deep heartfelt devotion and covenant communion with His people. God has chosen a family for Himself to reflect His glory and nature to the world. From Adam to Noah — from the Garden to the flood — the LORD worked through the nuclear family to accomplish His purposes. As image bearers of the Creator and King of the universe, mankind has been purposed to be God’s kingdom representatives on the earth.

God’s covenant family always has consisted of loyal and believing sons and daughters and servants and saints, who desire to see God’s kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Even God — having revealed Himself through the infinitely complex dynamics of His own triune nature — eternally exists in perpetual love and communion as Father, Son and Spirit. The LORD is One as a unity — perfect in power and purpose and will, yet at the same time God is inherently diverse within Himself, existing in three distinct persons and expressing His manifold wisdom in all creation. Just as one family consists of many members, God consists of three distinct, yet united, personalities.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19

As I said, the Most Hight is a God of relationship. He is the Head of the household and the Father of the family. He has chosen to redeem for Himself a people for His own possession and that people will forever be known as Israel.

Israel — the Household of God

Message Series The House of God

Jacob was blessed with 12 sons and one daughter. The sons of Israel are the princes or tribal heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. The 12 sons of Israel represent God’s eternal family, and every believer in the God of Israel is automatically Incorporated into one of the 12 tribes. We see this reality expressed in the Heavenly Jerusalem that will come down to earth during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed.

Revelation 21:10-12

The Scriptures are replete with language depicting God’s covenant people as a household or family. His ultimate promise is to be our God and we HIs people.

And like any human family, Israel was to some degree both dysfunctional and disobedient, marred by scandal and moral failure. Jacob schemed his father-in-law Laban and acquired much of his wealth. Sibling rivalry often raged between Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel. When Jacob showed favoritism to Rachel’s son Joseph, the rest of his brothers betrayed him and sold him as a slave into Egypt. Even Judah was deceived by his own daughter-in-law, Tamar, and conceived an illegitimate child through her.

Needless to say, the family of Israel was far from perfect, which consistently reminded them of their need for a sinless Savior and righteous Redeemer. The sons of Israel needed an elder brother to restore them to the God of their fathers, and Israel looked forward in faith to the day Messiah would come. In the same way, God’s people today look back in faith upon the cross and empty tomb of Christ, and to all who receive Him and believe in His name God gives the right to be called the children of God.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ … For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:12-13, 18-20

It is Jesus Christ who came in the flesh to bring many sons to glory, leading us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers

Hebrews 2:9-12

Israel — the 12 Tribes of God

A tribe is a related group of people with a common ancestor. When Israel went down to Egypt as 70 persons in all, there were 12 tribes in one family. Think of it like an extended family with uncles and cousins and grandchildren and nephews. Israel is the tribe of the One True God, and Jesus Himself reminds us that the tribes of Israel have an eternal destiny in the kingdom of God and the regeneration of all things.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the regeneration of all things, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 19:28-29

From patriarch to family to the 12 tribes, Israel has always been God’s chosen people for His own possession out of all the nations of the earth. Next time I will expand my study of Israel to it’s season of captivity and it’s birth as God’s holy nation.

GOD of ISRAEL of GOD — Part 1 — Israel the Patriarch

Israel can be viewed as a masterful mosaic through a variety of lenses in the Biblical narrative. Historical, geographical, genealogical, covenantal, spiritual, geopolitical, peculiar, and prophetic to name a few. Israel is called the “son” of God [Exodus 4:21-23], and yet at the same time Israel is depicted as the beautiful bride who one day will be restored to her Beloved as a radiant and pure virgin prepared for the Bridegroom [Jeremiah 31 & Isaiah 62:1-5].

Genesis 32:22-28 BDC: Did Jacob wrestle with an angel or ...
Jacob wrestling with God

All of these analogies are essential to understanding the true identity of Israel, but before I dive into deeper waters, I would like to first take a look at Israel the patriarch — the man who was the first to be called by that name. I am speaking, of course, about Jacob. God sought out and initiated a relationship with Jacob — son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham — giving Jacob a new name and consequently a new identity, purpose, and destiny.

The God and Creator of the universe entered into space time and interrupted Jacob’s life in such a profound way that it will forever be tied to the spiritual roots and prophetic purposes of God’s holy people. So what happened when Jacob personally encountered God incarnate? He quickly realized that not only had God spared his life that day but also promised to bless and remain faithful to him and his descendants forever.

By grace Jacob was chosen of the Father to preserve a people for God’s own possession and subsequently become a blessing to rest of the world. By faith, Jacob was counted among the righteous, called a son of the Most High, and given a prophetic promise that he would prevail in the end.

Father Abraham and the Everlasting Covenant of Faith

And behold, the word of the LORD came to Abram: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”5And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

[Genesis 15:4-6]

Before we can look more closely at the patriarch Jacob, we need to back up two generations to his grandfather — Abraham. After the universal flood of Noah’s day and the supernatural rebellion at the Tower of Babel, the LORD God chose to reveal Himself personally to a Hebrew living in ancient Mesopotamia and establish an everlasting covenant with him. His name was Abram, later changed to Abraham — meaning the father of a great multitude [Genesis 17]. The covenant God initiated with Abraham would establish a new family of faith set apart for God’s redemptive purposes and glory.

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.
9But the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage
.

[Deuteronomy 32:8-9]

Abraham is also called the father of faith, having believed God’s word and rested in God’s unfailing promise not only to give him a son — Isaac — but also to provide the Savior of the world through one of his descendants so that all the nations of the earth were to be blessed in Christ.

Beginning with Abraham, the LORD began to reveal Himself in faithfulness through a particular family, both spiritually and genealogically — ensuring that His covenant promises would be transferred and perpetuated throughout all generations. Next the LORD confirmed His covenant exclusively with Abraham’s son , Isaac [Genesis 17:15-21], and later with his grandson, Jacob [Genesis 28:10-17].

These are the patriarchs of Israel — the founding fathers of faith so to speak. From then on, the LORD God would identify Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, further distinguishing Himself as the Most High God and Creator of the Universe — supremely greater than all the other gods of the nations.

Consider the moment the LORD revealed Himself to Jacob and reaffirmed His covenant with him and his descendants forever.

And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed15Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

[Genesis 28:12-15]
Depiction of Jacob’s Ladder

Israel — God Prevails

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”

[Genesis 32:24-28]

Although the LORD had blessed Jacob at Bethel through a night vision, Jacob’s life forever would be changed at Peniel. Here Jacob would wrestle with God incarnate and talk to Him face to face — otherwise known as a Christophany in Scripture. By demonstrating faith in the LORD, Jacob would receive a new name — Israel — which gives insight into his destiny.

Israel can literally mean “striving with God” or “God prevails.” Both are appropriate for the primary focus must always remain on God, who ultimately prevails and perseveres and remains steadfast and faithful to the end. Likewise, the message in the name “Israel” is that all who believe in the God of Israel will overcome in the end. Israel means to persevere with God and to overcome. Israel means to prevail with God, not independently of God nor arrogantly over God.

As we will see, understanding Israel’s origin and meaning play a significant part in discovering Israel’s identity and destiny. This promise of overcoming with God was not for Jacob alone but for every individual who puts his/her faith in the God of Israel and His Messiah — Jesus Christ.

When we read the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation, Jesus gives unique promises to those who overcome, such as access to the tree of life and authority over the nations. Jesus is speaking of those who persevere with God and remain faithful to the end. In other words, Jesus is giving a promise to … Israel, as all who overcome in faith belong to Israel. It could not get any clearer according to the Apostle John.

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

[1 John 5:4-5]

Chosen to Bless the World

God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him.

[Genesis 35:9-13]

Like all acts of divine election, Jacob was chosen by God for a specific service and not at the exclusion of the rest of the world but rather for the benefit and blessing of the nations. Jacob was by no means without fault, having been a trickster and schemer from birth, yet by faith Jacob would enter into covenant relationship with the LORD and would become the father of 12 sons, who would become the 12 tribes of Israel.

As the father of this family of faith, Israel would bless his sons before he died [Genesis 49], and in his blessing would be God’s promise to bring the true Son of Israel through the tribe of Judah into the world to save mankind to the uttermost. Jacob also pronounced a profound blessing on Joseph’s two sons.

And Israel blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

[Genesis 48:15-16]

Like Jacob, all who believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, are justified by faith and incorporated into the family of Israel — the household of God. Jesus is the great Overcomer — having conquered sin on the cross and death through His resurrection. It is in Christ alone that we realize our destiny as Israel — prevailing with God.

Those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection37But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”

[Luke 20:35-38]

God of Israel of God — Introduction

They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen

[Romans 9:4-5]

Israel.

Who or what is Israel?

Is it an ancient kingdom or merely a place on the map? Is it a peculiar people chosen by God, or something more? Are the Jews to be understood as the same as Israel or distinct? Has the church replaced Israel and inherited all her covenant promises, or does God have a different plan for Israel altogether?

One thing is sure. Israel is at the very heart of holy Scripture and represents one of the most essential threads that runs through God’s great story of redemption, and yet for most Jews and Gentiles alike — Israel remains a mystery. Even within the “ekklesia,” there are as many different views about Israel as there are denominations. To be such a primary component of God’s story, Israel may be the most misunderstood and confused concept in all of the Bible.

I have been following Jesus Christ for over 25 years — serving as a pastor/teacher in the local church for over a decade — and yet I am only beginning to get a handle on the Biblical identity of Israel. For the very first time in my life, I believe I am starting to understand God’s definition of Israel and furthermore how it pertains to my own spiritual identity.

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

[Galatians 6:15-16]

For years I have read my Bible like there are two sets of rules and two distinct identities for two completely different groups of people — Israel (Jews) and the church (mostly Gentiles). Some go as far as drawing a hard line between the God of Israel as revealed in the Hebrew Scriptures and the God of the church as revealed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

But nothing could be further from the truth. While there are clear nuances and complex theological concepts revealed in Scripture, no such distinction exists. Unfortunately, this false dichotomy has caused unnecessary confusion and created an identity crisis in the church. We have forgotten our roots and consequently have lost our way. Israel is the key in finding our way back to the full revelation of Jesus Christ and the eternal purposes of God.

There is one God and one Savior — Jesus Christ — who has come to redeem for Himself one people from all mankind through one Spirit, and Israel has always been in the heart of God as the very apple of His eye.

But the LORD’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted heritage. He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye
.

[Deuteronomy 32:9-10]

It is as though I have discovered a trove of lost treasure in the word of God, and this discovery has brought God’s word to life like never before. Just to give you a flavor of what I am talking about, consider the following Biblical truths.

The God of Israel entered into covenant with the people of Israel and promised the kingdom of Israel in the land of Israel. Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel who came to redeem people from all nations into the commonwealth of Israel. All who believe in the Messiah of Israel are now members in the household of Israel, enjoying the blessed privileges of Israel, having inherited all the covenant promises of Israel in Christ.

Furthermore, when Jesus Christ returns to earth, He will reign as the King of Israel from the capital city of Israel — Jerusalem — ruling over the 12 tribes of Israel and allotting the promised land of Israel to all who believe. In the coming Kingdom of Israel, all of God’s people will observe the Sabbath and the feasts of the LORD as princes and priests of Israel.

As you can see, Israel is not only foundational to our past but also significantly essential to understanding our spiritual identity and our ultimate destiny.

Over the next several weeks, I will begin unpacking this ambitious task of identifying Israel from a Biblical worldview, and I will begin with Israel the person — the patriarch Jacob.

What the Bible Says about the Rebirth of Israel

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 

[Matthew 24:32-34]

For nearly 1,900 years, the land of Israel was a desolate place, devoid of life and cursed to the core. Roman legions laid siege to Jerusalem and burned down the Temple in A.D. 70, and then almost 70 years later (135 A.D.) the entire city of Jerusalem was plowed over and salted by the Romans following the disastrous revolt of the false messiah Simon bar Kochba.

Like the prophets before Him, Jesus Himself prophesied concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. The Babylonians were the first to lay siege to Jerusalem and exile the Jews in 586 B.C., and Jesus warned the leaders of Israel that a similar judgment would come upon them as well for rejecting Him at the time of His visitation.

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.

[Luke 19:41-44]

After Jesus was rejected by men and cut off for the sins of the world (Daniel 9:26), His prophecy came true and both Jerusalem and the land of Israel was left desolate for nearly 1,900 years.

In 1867, famous author Mark Twain took a private tour of the holy land and was astonished by its condition. Consider how Twain described the sheer desolation of the entire land of Israel at that time.

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Samuel Clemens — aka Mark Twain

 A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

[Mark Twain — Innocents Abroad — 1867]

However, when one visits Israel today, it is a rich and fertile land, inhabited by nearly 10 million citizens and teeming with life.

Something obviously happened between Mark Twain’s notorious visit and what we see in the modern state of Israel today?

Jesus told us about that too, and it has everything to do with God’s prophetic clock and the lesson of the fig tree.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

The Mystery of Israel the Fig Tree | An End-Time Sign
Fig Tree in Israel

As the ministry of Jesus was coming to a close and His appointment with the cross was drawing near, our Lord used a powerful object lesson from nature to teach us about God’s prophetic clock concerning the nation of Israel.

As Jesus and His disciples were making their way to Jerusalem just prior to Passover, they came upon a fig tree, and Jesus took advantage of this opportunity to teach His disciples about the judgment of Israel and ultimately about the rebirth of the nation in connection to His return.

The fig tree was used in the Hebrew Scriptures as an illustration of God’s favor and blessing over Israel. In Solomon’s day when the Kingdom of Israel was at the zenith of peace, the fig tree was a symbol of prosperity (1 Kings 4:25). The prophet Hosea likewise associated the fig tree with Israel’s birth as a nation coming out of Egypt.

Like grapes in the wilderness,
I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
in its first season,
I saw your fathers
.
But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved
.

[Hosea 9:10]

When Jesus came upon this fig tree outside of Jerusalem, He found it to be fruitless and pronounced a curse on the tree. The tree leaves immediately withered, eventually down to the very roots (see Mark 11:20). The object lesson, of course, was that the national leadership of Israel — represented by the fig tree — was faithless and therefore fruitless at the time that their Messiah had arrived. Because of their unbelief and subsequent rejection of Jesus as Messiah, God brought a curse on the nation and the land of Israel. The fig tree served as a symbol of God’s judgment.

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

[Matthew 21:18-19]

Jesus wept over Jerusalem one last time and made a sobering promise to the people of Israel. They would not see His face again until they experienced a national repentance and recognized their grievous sin of rejecting God’s one and only Son.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38See, your house is left to you desolate. 39For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

[Matthew 23:37-39]

Once again, this curse became a reality after the Roman legions left Jerusalem desolate and scattered the Jews to the four winds of the earth. Just as the fig tree withered and died, the land of Israel was left desolate for generations. By all accounts, Israel was never to be a nation again and the Jews would never again return to the land.

Yet God never breaks a promise.

Summer is Near

Immediately after weeping over Jerusalem, Jesus began to teach His disciples about the signs of the end of the age and of His 2nd coming. Tucked right in the middle of His famous teaching on the Mount of Olives, Jesus used the fig tree once again as an illustration for the future rebirth of Israel. Calling attention to the same fig tree He just finished cursing, Jesus made a profound promise.

He prophesied that the same fig tree that had withered and died will one day come back to life and produce fruit again. The illustration could not be more clear. Although Israel would be desolate and fruitless for a season, God had not fully rejected His people. The fig tree — Israel — would come to life in the future. Furthermore, Jesus connected this amazing rebirth of Israel with the unique generation that would live to see His return.

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 

[Matthew 24:32-34]

As God would have it — in the wake of arguably the worst time of suffering the Jewish people have ever experienced (the Holocaust) — the nation of Israel was reborn against all odds. In May of 1948, the United Nations narrowly passed a resolution to officially recognize Israel as a sovereign nation again. The Jews were able to return to their homeland for the first time in over 18 centuries, and the fig tree began to put forth leaves of life.

After defending their land from at least three hostile enemy invasions (1948, 1967, 1973), Israel stands today as a living testimony of God’s faithfulness and as an undeniable witness to the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. The rebirth of the state of Israel remains as one of the most unexpected prophetic fulfillments in human history.

Was Israel Under Existential Threat in June 1967?
Israeli Soldiers on the Temple Mount after the 6-Day War of 1967

A Return in Unbelief

Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

[Romans 11:25]

Countless Biblical prophesies describe the Day when Messiah will return to gather all His people — Jew and Gentile — and restore the fortunes of Israel and establish the Kingdom of Israel on the earth (Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 30-33, Zephaniah 2, Ezekiel 39). This final gathering is connected to the deliverance on the Day of the LORD when Messiah comes to crush the antichrist and his armies.

Other passages clearly speak of a national turning of Israel and the Jewish people in faith after enduring the horrors of the coming great tribulation. Out of the fires of affliction Israel will cry out in faith to Jesus and finally acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior and a remnant will be saved (Joel 2:30-32, Hosea 5:15-6:3, Zechariah 12:10-12).

The lesson of the fig tree, however, is not describing this final gathering and restoration of Israel at the end of the age, but rather it is a prophesy about the nation of Israel being gathered back to the land primarily in unbelief. The overwhelming majority of Jewish people today are either secular — holding no “religious” beliefs — or orthodox, yet only a remnant of Jewish people embrace Jesus as Messiah today. Most still are in a hardened state of unbelief toward Jesus as Lord.

The fig tree prophecy, however, was essential because without the Jews first returning to the land and Israel becoming a nation again, God’s prophetic word could not be fulfilled. Let me explain.

Passages like Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 12-14, Luke 21, Matthew 24 and Revelation 16-19 depict the final battle for Jerusalem and the coming of Messiah to crush the Beast and his armies that have invaded Israel and laid siege to Jerusalem. Up until 1948, there was no state of Israel and Jerusalem certainly was nothing to fight about, yet once Israel returned to the land and reclaimed Jerusalem in 1967, everything changed!

For the first time since A.D. 70 these prophecies now have the potential for being fulfilled because Israel is a primary player on the world stage and the center of controversy for the entire world. Jesus was trying to tell us that when Israel was back in the land — the fig tree was just beginning to bud — and the generation that sees Israel in the land again can expect His return to be very near — even at the very gates!

If we are interpreting the words of Jesus correctly, He says that the generation to see all these things take place — including the rebirth of Israel in 1948 — will not pass away until all is fulfilled and He returns in power and great glory to take vengeance on the wicked and redeem His people, reclaiming His rightful place once and for all!

Many have attempted to determine what is meant by a “generation,” claiming it could 100 years or even 70 years, but one thing is certain. The coming of Jesus is near. Even so Lord Jesus, come!

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He will reign wisely as King and will administer justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is His name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

[Jeremiah 23:5-6]

2021 What to Watch For — Vaccine Passports — One Step Closer to Tyranny

COMING SOON - VACCINE PASSPORTS WILL DETERMINE WHERE YOU ...

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

[Psalm 111:10]

The division in American society in real and palpable, and while I believe both mainstream and social media outlets thrive by stoking the fires of social unrest, it doesn’t take much to turn one group of people against another.

Whether real or perceived, however, American culture seems to be continually on edge because of white vs. black, blue vs. red, straight vs. gay, young vs. old, cops vs. chaos, male vs. female, “science” vs. religion. You get my point.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the wake of Covid-19 has created even more confusion and therefore division in our culture. We all have had to evaluate and navigate this unprecedented social crisis to the best of our ability, yet unfortunately it hasn’t been without consequence. Now the nation is further divided over healthcare, and it appears that the “new normal” is giving many people, including myself, cause for great concern.

Now the narrative has shifted to mask vs. no mask, open vs. closed, freedom vs. “safety,” vaccine vs. no vaccine, fear vs. reason, civil liberty vs. government overreach. And the list goes on.

As all career politicians know fully well, never waste a crisis. Politicians also know the power of fear and will always use it to their advantage. And unless you want to live in a state of delusion and believe that the majority of men in general — and politicians in particular — are altruistic and seek the benefit of others, then maybe it’s time to wake up and recognize that God-given liberty as we know it in America is on the verge of permanently being taken.

The socialists in control of America are taking a page right out of the old Nazi playbook to begin creating two classes of citizens in order to incentivize blind submission and marginalize everyone else. How are they doing this?

For starters, by implementing vaccine passports.

THE FACTS

The Biden administration clearly has announced its plans to initiate a vaccine passport program in America that will force citizens to show proof of vaccination before returning to “normal” activities in society, such as boarding a plane, entering public venues, restaurants, sporting events, schools, or potentially even the office at work. These vaccine passports are processed on a smartphone app by scanning a digital QR code.

Several other countries, such as Israel, already have implemented such a program and the state of New York launched its vaccination passport system — Excelsior — just last week. The White House has said that it is working with companies in the private sector who will require said passport in order to resume business, and therefore a national, uniform vaccine passport is in order.

Of course, nothing could go wrong here.

Regardless of whether you are pro or anti-vaccine, this should terrify you as an American citizen. Americans have always had the choice to be vaccinated or not. That is not the debate. Even parents who were skeptical about vaccination protocols in the public school system have always had the option to homeschool their children.

The proposed vaccine passport program, however, is an entirely different issue altogether. By attempting to enforce vaccine passports for Americans to be able to operate in society, the government is creating two-classes of citizens by rewarding “good behavior” and marginalizing everyone else. In effect, the government is attempting to mandate vaccines without actually saying they are mandating vaccines.

Just consider what Dr. Leana Wen said just last week on CNN. It is a lengthy quote but worth reading because it summarizes how the left-wing, socialist mind works. Basically, let’s take away people’s God-given rights and freedoms in the name of a “crisis,” and then they will be grateful to the government when getting back just a taste of freedom.

We need to make it clear to them that the vaccine is the ticket back to pre-pandemic life. And the window to do that is really narrowing. You were mentioning about how all these states are reopening. They’re reopening at 100%. And we have a very narrow window to tie reopening policy to vaccination status. Because otherwise, if everything is reopened, then what’s the carrot going to be? How are we going to incentivize people to actually get the vaccine? So that’s why I think the CDC and Biden administration needs to come out a lot bolder and say, “If you are vaccinated, you can do all these things. Here are all these freedoms you have.” Because otherwise, people are going to go out and enjoy these freedoms anyway.

[see article here]

Surely I don’t have to translate. Dr. Leana speaks for the CDC, the World Health Organization, the World Economic Forum, and countless other power-hungry organizations that want to mandate vaccines or at least make life impossible for those who elect against vaccination. These people are deranged and truly believe that average citizens are too stupid to make individual decisions for themselves — such as personal healthcare. No, we apparently are too ignorant to exercise individual freedom so we need big Pharma and big government to tell us what to do, where to go and how to live.

Dr. Noami Wolf, on the other hand, recognizes the seriousness of this trend toward tyranny.

I am not overstating this. I can’t say it forcefully enough. This is literally the end of human liberty in the west if this plan unfolds as planned. Vaccine passports sound like a fine thing if you don’t understand what these platforms can do … It’s not about the vaccine. It’s not about the virus. It’s about your data. And once this rolls out you don’t have a choice about being part of the system. What people have to understand is that any other functionality can be loaded onto that platform with no problem at all. What that means is that it can be merged with your Paypal account, with your digital currency, Microsoft is already talking about merging it with payment plans. Your networks can be sucked up. It geolocates you wherever you go. Your credit history can be included. All of your medical history can be included.

[Dr. Naomi Wolf — Fox Interview — March 28, 2021]
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Both England and Israel are calling their digital vaccine passport the “Green Pass,” while IBM and the World Economic Forum are calling it CommonPass. In the end, the goal is to create a global, digital ID system that can track and trace all human movement and activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — not to mention streamlining all health, financial, and personal data. The digital ID system is being promoted as a necessary convenience in our ever advancing technological world, yet it wreaks of global tyranny and dystopian oppression.

Clearly the powers that be in America would love to create a two-tiered society in order to exercise total control of one group while socially oppress the other. Thankfully, we are seeing some states push back, which yet gives me hope that America is not yet given over fully to tyranny.

GOOD NEWS

So far at least four states have passed legislation or executive orders that officially ban the gross overreach of vaccination passports. The elected officials in Florida, Utah, Texas and Idaho acknowledge the dangerous and slippery slope created by health passports and are leading the way in protecting their citizens. Hopefully we will see more states follow suit and act accordingly.

Until then, I encourage everyone to consider the drastic and unnecessary consequences that will come with mandatory vaccinations or vaccine passports. Again, this has nothing to do with whether or not you have decided to be vaccinated for Covid-19 or not. This is a much bigger issue — a civil liberties issue and a human rights issue.

Representative Pete Sessions (R-Texas) made sense when he said, “Vaccine credentials would be a complete government overstep. Individuals in America have a personal responsibility for their health.”

As long as I have the freedom to make informed decisions about my personal health and about what goes into my body, then I at least can trust who is making that decision. But the minute I give up that freedom and allow other people to make those decisions for me, then my God-given rights will be lost.

The Bible tells me that all men are sinful and the human heart is deceitful. History tells me that government leaders cannot be trusted to act for anyone but themselves. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If we don’t stand up against these initial steps of tyranny then we have no one to blame but ourselves when our freedom is stripped away.

Choose wisely my friends.

What the Bible Says about the Resurrection

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
27whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

[Job 19:25-27]

As I ponder the unsearchable depths of God’s mercy and love displayed on the cross of Christ this Good Friday, I also want to reflect on the immeasurable power of His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the central event in history that validates the truth of the gospel and the divine nature of God’s Son.

Only Jesus has demonstrated power over the grave and declared victory once and for all over death. He stands alone and is without equal, and He alone is able to give eternal life to all who believe in Him [Romans 6:23, John 11:25-26].

No human in history has been able to beat death, and therefore Jesus in His resurrection power is the only hope for all mankind.

Volumes have been written on the ramifications of the resurrection, so I am not sure if I can add much to what has already been said. Having said that, here are a few thoughts on what the Bible says about the resurrection.

The Resurrection is an Expectation in the Old Testament

Many may be surprised to discover that before the New Testament witness about the incarnation of the Messiah — Jesus Christ — the resurrection was deeply established in the Hebrew Scriptures — or Old Testament. As in the opening passage above from Job, the expectation of a final resurrection of the body is not merely a New Testament idea. The patriarchs and the prophets understood that God’s grand plan of redemption would culminate at the end of this present age with the renewal of all things in the age to come.

Hebrews tells us that Abraham offered up Isaac in faith, believing that God would raise his beloved son from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all prophesied about the day of resurrection, and more importantly about the coming Redeemer who would raise and gather God’s people in the end.

Consider just a few of those prophetic passages that we discover in the Old Testament.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

[Isaiah 26:19]

Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

[Ezekiel 37:12-14]

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

[Daniel 12:3-4]

As you can see, the resurrection is not a New Testament idea, but it did take the first advent of Christ to bring it into an entirely new perspective.

Jesus is the Firstfruits of Resurrection

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

[1 Corinthians 15:20]
Golden wheat field and a beautiful summer sunset Wallpaper ...

The death of Jesus Christ on the cross can only be validated in light of His resurrection. Jesus was raised for our justification, proving that His sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to the Father and sufficient to save sinners. Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins [1 Cor. 15:17].

Beyond that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s demonstration of power over death that provides the blessed assurance and eternal hope that we too will live in Christ. Jesus makes the most definitive declaration about Himself in John’s gospel.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?

[John 11:25-26]

God has declared a Day when He has promised to redeem all of creation, including our physical bodies [see Romans 8:18-24]. Until that Day, all who believe in Christ receive the promised Holy Spirit as a deposit to guarantee our future resurrection. Jesus is the firstfruits, and all who believe in Him will be raised up on the last day as part of God’s great harvest!

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

[Romans 8:11]

The Resurrection of the Righteous will Occur on the Last Day

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

[John 6:40]
The Resurrection of Public Blockchains - CoinDesk

From Job to Daniel to Jesus to Paul, the testimony of the Biblical prophets is in absolute agreement. The resurrection of God’s people takes place at the end of this age on the last day when Jesus returns in power and great glory. The 2nd Coming of Christ is the Day of resurrection [see 1 Cor. 15:21-26]. It is the Day of God’s final gathering of His people. It is the harvest of the righteous to inherit the Kingdom [see Matthew 13:36-43].

The resurrection is the most critical and distinguishable element and identifying marker in Scripture that determines the timing of the return of Christ to earth, the rapture of the church, the recompense for evil, and the restoration of all things. The Bible is clear. The resurrection of the righteous takes place on the last day of this present age.

But each will be resurrected in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

[1 Corinthians 15:23-24]

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the coming kingdom of God. In other words, it is impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom in mortal flesh. No one can dwell in God’s holy presence on earth without first receiving a glorified, immortal body, and no one will receive their resurrected body until Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 

[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]

It will be at that moment — when we receive our immortal, glorified bodies — that we finally will be conformed to the image of Christ and His likeness forever! Until that Day, we rest in the finished work of Christ upon the cross for us, and we rejoice in the hope of the future glory that will be revealed in us when Jesus returns!

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

[Romans 8:19, 23]

Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus! Come!

Types and Shadows — The Passover

Before there comes upon you
the burning anger of the LORD,
before there comes upon you
the day of the anger of the LORD.
Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
who do his just commands;
seek righteousness; seek humility;
perhaps you may be hidden
on the day of the anger of the LORD
.

[Zephaniah 2:2-3]

Today at twilight, the 14th of Nissan, Passover begins. Passover arguably is the most sacred of holy convocations among the people of Israel. The feast was established between the God and people of Israel to be observed throughout all generations and forevermore. It is the climatic moment of redemptive history when the Creator and King of the universe supernaturally broke out on the earth and entered the natural realm with awesome displays of power and supreme sovereignty.

The essence of Passover, however, is found not only in the power of God but also in His provision and grace. The heart of Passover is found in the blood of the lamb. Israel was covered (atonement) and redeemed by the blood of the spotless male Lamb — saved from the angel of death who would passover those who trusted God and obeyed His word.

Passover is that moment when the children of Israel were saved by God’s grace, through faith. By believing God’s Message and Messenger, Israel was delivered from the bondage of Pharaoh and from the power of the gods of Egypt. Having been baptized through the Red Sea, Israel emerged as a chosen race, a holy nation, and a people of God’s own possession.

The prophetic typology and spiritual realties of the Passover are immense and I have written a few posts on the subject here if you would like to dig deeper.

PASSOVER AND THE PROPHETIC

Today I would like to focus on the future fulfillment of Passover through the lenses of the end of the age and the age to come. The prophetic patterns of God are unmistakable. What’s been done will be done again. Every type and shadow of redemptive history will recapitulate and culminate in the last days. I do believe the Scriptures portray the glorious return of Christ and the final redemption of the righteous as a greater Second Exodus.

For example, the Scriptures portray a believing remnant God’s people who experience a greater Exodus in the last days, when the greater Moses — Jesus — will return to destroy the greater Pharaoh — Antichrist — and supernaturally deliver His people from the bondage of the Beast and from the angel of death — Abaddon?

Is it possible that the LORD will part the sea again or supernaturally provide for His people in the wilderness with manna from heaven and water from a rock? Is it possible that the LORD will supernaturally protect many of His people through the great tribulation — covering and sheltering them from the judgements that are coming upon the earth — just as Israel was sheltered and protected in the midst of Egypt while the LORD poured out the plagues?

Is it possible that King Jesus will lead His innumerable host from heaven and earth on a triumphant procession from Sinai to Zion?

Not only is it possible, it is Biblical. The Passover provides a prophetic glimpse into the supernatural events that will occur on a global scale at the end of the age before the Great Day of the LORD.

WE ARE SEALED BY THE BLOOD AND SAVED FROM THE DESTROYER

Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. 4They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads … They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit. His name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon the Destroyer.

[Revelation 9:3-4, 11]
sketches: The Passover

God’s judgments during the great tribulation will parallel the plagues of Egypt, only on a global scale. While many faithful witnesses are destined to suffer persecution, captivity, and even death at the hands of the Beast, there will be a considerable remnant who is supernaturally protected from the Beast and preserved through the plagues of death coming upon the earth.

In the 4th Seal of Revelation, we are told that the angel of Death rides across a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” [Revelation 6:8]. This is otherwise known as the Destroying Angel — or the Destroyer — the evil entity that leaves a wake of destruction and desolation when unleashed upon mankind.

The Destroyer is the same angel unleashed upon Egypt on the night of the first Passover, and he soon will be unleashed again upon the whole earth. Only those covered by the blood of the Lamb will be spared.

For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

[Exodus 12:23]

The Destroyer will come up out of the Abyss — or Hades — during the trumpet judgments and lead a supernatural demonic horde to plague the earth and eventually kill 1/3 of mankind [Rev. 9:13-19]. Notice in Revelation 9, however, at the blowing of the 5th & 6th Trumpets, only those who do not have the “seal of God on their foreheads” suffer torment and death from the Destroyer.

Those who are covered by the blood of the Lamb and sealed with the Holy Spirit will be supernaturally protected once again from the plagues and the Destroyer. [see also Ezekiel 9]

A REMNANT WILL BE PROTECTED IN THE WILDERNESS FOR 1260 DAYS

The woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

[Revelation 12:6]

After the LORD delivered Israel from Egypt through the Passover, He then led her on a wilderness journey in the desert and supernaturally nourished and protected her. Scripture tells us that this epic drama will unfold one again during the great tribulation, and I believe it will be witnessed on a global scale. As the devil launches an all-out assault against God’s people — Jew and Gentile alike — the LORD will intervene in a supernatural way to preserve a faithful remnant.

It is during this final wilderness journey that we can expect to see God reproduce many of the same miracles He worked during the Exodus. Manna from heaven. Water from the rock. Opening the earth. Even parting the sea.

But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth17Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

[Revelation 12:14-17]

The prophet Ezekiel tells us that there is yet another future wilderness journey that will eclipse even the Exodus from Egypt.

As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you34I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. 35And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face36As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord GOD.

[Ezekiel 20:33-36]

WE ARE SAVED FROM THE COMING WRATH OF GOD

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.

20Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by
.
21For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity
,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain.

[Isaiah 26:19-21]
Pin on TILL EVERYONE KNOWS
The Passover Blood resembles the cross of Christ

The death of every firstborn in Egypt at the hand of the Destroyer was severe enough, but God’s decisive display of wrath against Pharaoh ultimately would drown the evil king and his army in the depths of the sea. When Israel emerged on the other side, her deliverance was complete, and the entire assembly shouted in victory and sang songs of deliverance to the LORD!

While God has used water in the past to carry out His judgments, His final return to earth will be in the form of an all-consuming fire. [see 2 Peter 3]

Just as Israel was saved and protected from God’s wrath against Egypt during Passover, so it will be on the Day of the LORD. Not only will believers receive their resurrected, immortal bodies at the end of the age when Christ returns to earth, but also God will direct His wrath exclusively on the ungodly and the wicked inhabitants of the earth.

Even the Bowl judgments in Revelation 16 — which culminate with the return of Jesus to earth — are reserved exclusively for the Beast, his kingdom, and those who have taken the mark of the Beast. The point is that God is quite capable of preserving His people through judgment and protecting us from His wrath while on the earth, just as He did through Passover and the Exodus.

The prophet Zephaniah says that the humble and righteous will be “hidden” from the wrath of the LORD on that great Day [Zephaniah 2:3], and Isaiah uses Passover language about God’s people entering their “chambers” and shutting their doors behind them until His fury has passed by.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.

[Isaiah 42:1-4]

WE WILL OBSERVE PASSOVER IN THE AGE TO COME

The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 

[Exodus 12:13-14]
United In THE WORD: The MILLENNIAL TEMPLE is a SYMBOL of ...
Artist rendering of Millennial Temple

Every Gentile believer who places faith in the Messiah of Israel — Jesus Christ — immediately is grafted in to Israel and receives a new national identity. We are adopted into the family of the God of Israel, granted citizenship in the Kingdom of Israel, incorporated into of the commonwealth of Israel, and commissioned as servants of the King of Israel.

Israel always has represented the unified people in covenant with the One True God from all nations throughout all time. When a stranger and sojourner came in faith and joined himself to the God and people of Israel, he was recognized and treated as a native born. Many Egyptians joined the company of Israel during the Exodus, and many more Gentiles became participants in the kingdom by faith — Rahab, Ruth etc… — and submitted to the laws and customs of Israel.

All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.

[Exodus 12:47-49]

Since the Day of Pentecost, untold millions of Gentiles from the “nations” now believe in the God of Israel and His Messiah Jesus, which means that the church did not replace Israel but rather has been grafted into the true Israel of God. Unfortunately, the church has mostly abandoned her religious heritage and forgotten her Hebrew roots.

Furthermore, when Christ returns to establish the Kingdom of Israel on earth, we will most definitely follow the laws of Israel and celebrate the feasts of the LORD that He gave to Israel. We will observe Passover in the Millennial Kingdom of Israel [see Ezekiel 45:21], as the people of Israel, giving glory to the God of Israel, and praising the Lamb who was slain from the Lion of the Tribe of Judah — Israel’s King.

Each of us will belong to one of the 12 tribes of Israel and inherit the land allotted to our tribe. Every year we will called up to Jerusalem to worship during the appointed Feasts of the LORD. We will forever commemorate the Passover in the Kingdom in the same way we observe the Lord’s Supper — in remembrance of the Great God and Redeemer of Israel who is mighty to save to the uttermost.

As the sons and daughters of Israel, we will forever rejoice in the Lamb and observe Passover for all generations.

My question is then, why don’t we faithfully keep it now?

I would strongly encourage every believer in Jesus Christ to discover new ways to keep Passover in this age, especially considering we will be keeping it in the age to come!

Maranatha!

What the Bible Says about Healing

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

[John 9:1-3]
God's Healing Hands - Saint Edward Parish Family

Is God still in the healing business? Is God still able to work miracles of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing? Of course He can. God is omnipotent and limitless in power. It’s not a question of if God heals, but how He heals and to what end. How can we know when we have truly witnessed the hand of God and not just a natural phenomenon?

Unfortunately, the authenticity of the church and the credibility of the gospel has been compromised and corrupted by countless imposters posing as “faith healers,” grossly abusing and perverting this “gift” for their own filthy greed and financial gain. What’s worse, however, is that the faith of untold millions has been destroyed by their heretical exploits. These false teachers will meet a swift destruction on that Day for the damage they have done.

They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing.

[2 Peter 2:14-15]

Despite all of this, the Bible clearly recognizes the legitimate work of divine healing. Many of God’s most faithful witnesses and prophets were validated in their message through the demonstration of miraculous signs and wonders. Of course our Lord Jesus came with healing in His hands, showing His authority over creation, reversing the curse, and providing a foretaste of the age to come.

Although supernatural healing is not always God’s immediate or even regular response to our human condition, God is more than capable to heal the sick when He so chooses to do so. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, which means that God certainly can and does heal the sick today, yet it remains reserved for God to know why He is willing to heal some and not others.

So if God still is in the healing business, then how are we to understand divine healing?

What does the Bible say about healing?

Divine Healing is Immediate

And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 

[Luke 13:11-13]

Typically when God chooses to supernaturally heal someone, He doesn’t waste any time. It’s not like gradually getting your strength back from a broken bone or slowly beating cancer through rounds of chemo and radiation. Although we are grateful for the gifts of modern medicine and the advancements in technology that have afforded a better quality of life, we must recognize the difference between natural “healing” and supernatural healing.

Whether spiritual, mental, emotional or physical, when God chooses to heal us it is immediate. It is the difference of being out of your mind one minute tormented by a demon, and completely at peace and sane the next minute, sitting at the feet of Jesus. It is being blind from birth, and all at once being able to see after being touched by the hand of God.

Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid36And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed.

[Luke 8:35-36]

Divine Healing is Irrefutable

As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 

[Matthew 9:32-33]

When God heals the sick, not only is it immediate, but it is irrefutable — indisputable. That’s not to say there won’t always be scoffers and skeptics who already have their minds made up. It’s unlikely you will believing in miracles if you don’t allow God and the supernatural in your worldview.

Yet for the overwhelming majority who witness a true miracle, there is a collective amazement and unwavering recognition of the power of God. When Jesus raised Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter, there was no debate, no room for doubt. When the dead live and the blind see, we have witnessed the divine and transcended the laws of nature.

Divine Healing is Irreversible

He went on from there and entered their synagogue. 10And a man was there with a withered hand … Then Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other

[Matthew 12:9-10, 13]

When Jesus or the Apostles healed the lame or raised the dead, it always was irreversible. Divine healing isn’t temporary or partial. It is permanent. It’s not like getting better for a little while and then suffering a relapse. It’s not like the man with a shriveled hand later saw his hand draw up again.

No! When God heals, He heals completely. We should be very careful to attribute anything less to God. Now on a side note * — I understand that God theoretically could legitimately heal someone of cancer, for example, in a way that defies nature, but then later the cancer could come back or another ailment altogether. The point is that we must raise the standard of validation to what the Bible says and not man.

Divine Healing Validates God’s Messengers

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.

[Luke 7:19, 22]

Moses was God’s chosen servant and faithful witness, and to validate his message, God sent Moses to Egypt working amazing signs and wonders. So it was with Elijah and Elisha, and of course with Jesus and the Apostles of the early church.

Because the sign gifts of healing, tongues, and miracles are not God’s ordinary mode of operation, we must understand that the primary purpose of these gifts serve to validate God’s messengers and ultimately promote the good news of God’s salvation.

If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

[John 10:37-38]

Spiritual regeneration and redemption remain to be man’s greatest need. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. Jesus came preaching the good news of the kingdom to the poor and His miracles authenticated His message. The greatest miracle is the salvation of the sinner, so God uses physical healing to stir the heart of man and awaken him to his spiritual need for God.

For it is the healing of the heart mind and soul that matters most for now. Our identity in Christ determines our destiny of everlasting life and seals us spiritually for the day of redemption — when God regenerates the entire universe.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

[Mark 2:9-11]

Divine Healing is for the Glory of God

So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

[John 11:3-4]

Every supernatural act of healing is for the good of man but more so for the glory of God. Any manifestation of healing that is performed or perceived must be to the praise of Almighty God — the Healer. Anything less attempts to elevate the gift above the Giver or the servant above the Master.

The most important distinction, however, is to understand that God is worthy of all honor and glory and praise whether He chooses to heal or not. God’s worth is not contingent upon what He can do for us but rather upon who He is in His very nature and essence. God is holy and just and true and good. God will forever be glorified whether He is willing to heal or not.

In so choosing to heal, however, God shows mercy to undeserving sinners and has compassion upon whom He will.

Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.
18For he wounds, but he binds up;
he shatters, but his hands heal

[Job 5:17-18]

Divine Healing is a Foretaste of Resurrection and the Coming Kingdom

Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to Jesus, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” …

Jesus said, “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

[Matthew 12:22-23,28]

Jesus Christ came waging war on the spiritual forces of darkness and through His death and resurrection, Jesus paid our ransom and has redeemed sinners from the power of death and delivered us from the evil one. Jesus is conquering the kingdom of darkness with every sinner that is saved and brought into God’s kingdom.

Our immediate spiritual salvation, however, is only a partial promise of God’s greater work of redemption. For Jesus will return to establish His kingdom on earth and redeem the created world once and for all, including the glorious resurrection of our physical bodies. Every miracle is a foretaste of that Day when everything is made new and Jesus wipes away every tear from our eyes.

Even Lazarus — once raised — had to die again, yet like all of God’s children, he awaits the final and future resurrection on the last day when Jesus comes again in all His power and great glory [see John 11:24-28]. It is always with this final restoration and recreation in mind that we must keep our hope steadfast in the promises of God.

Our hope is the coming kingdom. Our Blessed Hope is King Jesus Himself who is coming to give life to these mortal bodies and clothe His children in light and immortality.

Perhaps no one conveyed this reality better than Paul.

22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

[Romans 8:22-23]

God most definitely is our only Hope and Healer, and although He can and still chooses to heal according to His will and purposes, there is only one way to validate a true divine healing. We must know what the Bible says and must always measure miraculous manifestations by what already has been revealed in Scripture. God’s word must be the ultimate authority and standard and anyone claiming true divine healing must pass the test. If not, then I would be very reluctant to attribute that work to God.

True miraculous healing will be immediate, indisputable, and irreversible. Divine healing will validate the messengers of God, point us to the Son of God, authenticate the gospel of God, lead to the glory of God, and serve as a foretaste of the Kingdom of God.

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

[James 5:14-16]