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Conviction

11th November 2011, mgh

 

2) Strengthen Faith and be Convinced

In reality, although on a much lesser scale, we have very similar opportunities to strengthen our faith and to be convinced of the power and purpose of the Creator.


We have access to the Bible which reveals the role of the nation of Israel as the witness of Yahweh's plan with mankind and the earth. The continuing existence of Israel, despite all attempts to destroy the nation, is a most significant sign for us today. Like Daniel's three friends we have the written word which is available today to give a very detailed history of the nation of Israel. This is a faith building exercise to read of Israel's history and to see Israel's present dilemma. Like Daniel we have access to God in prayer.


In the Gospel of Luke there is a very significant verse that relates to modern Israel. For two thousand years the Jews survived in dispersion in many countries as was prophesied. In 1948 again as prophesied the Jewish state of Israel was established for refugees, following the Holocaust in WW2 and persecution as in Russia in the nineteenth century. But the most significant and visible sign for us today has been the return to Israel of the city of Jerusalem following the Six Day War when surrounding Arab nations again tried to destroy Israel. Palestine for centuries had been subject to invaders and the land had been left a desolation. The Jews after 1948 brought the land back to a fruitful land with hard work and dedication. Luke states:


And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)


Following this verse there is a prophecy that should alert us to our present day world situation.


And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21: 25-26)


It cannot be denied that there are many problems facing mankind today that seem impossible to solve. We see it nightly on the news and hear it daily on the radio. Nations are restless and governments are in disarray, the financial institutions are facing crises, many countries are debt ridden and others are faced with disasters such as earthquake and Tsunamis, floods and fires.


And in the midst of this there is the Palestinian desire to destroy Israel and establish a Palestinian state. There is conflict over Jerusalem. Read what Zechariah prophesied about Jerusalem over two thousand years ago.


Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. (Zechariah 12:2-3)


We are today witnessing almost all nations antagonistic towards Israel. Israel has few friends but ironically it is a peaceful democratic country, which has had Arabs and Jews within its borders living peacefully together for many years.


Like Daniel and his three fiends, we could say that we have written evidence and prophecy, and we have seen what can be regarded as the miraculous survival of the Jewish people referred to by Luke. We also have a world in turmoil.


In addition we have a world filled with violence and moral decline. The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy spoke of “the last days”, when there would be a Godless, pleasure loving and violent world.


This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (II Timothy 3:1-4)


The Apostle John describes the worldly aspects that we see all around us today.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (I John 2:16)


Again the written word is strongly supported by the evidence we can see every day worldwide. This is a process of faith building. We can read, we can see and this helps belief, a belief that the Creator is in control. If we can build up faith then we can accept and be convinced that Yahweh does have a purpose with the earth and mankind. He will be acknowledged as the Holy One and Creator. This will be done through the nation of Israel. Ezekiel explains it this way.


And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD. So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel. (Ezekiel 39:6-7)


Before this can be achieved there will be a judgement on the nations. There will be devastating earth movements that will shake this earth. This we have not yet seen, but we can read about it.

In Ezekiel 38 an invasion of the land of Israel is described. A large northern army will invade Israel and will be destroyed there. It will occur in the “latter days”. It is then that the nations will recognise Yahweh's power.

Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwells safely, shall thou not know it? And thou shall come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shall come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes...


Ezekiel continues and describes the “shaking” of the earth that occurs as a result of Yahweh's “wrath” with man's evil ways.


For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground. (Ezekiel 38:14-16, 19-20)


Zechariah states that at the time of this invasion of Israel, there will be an earthquake that will cause

the mount of Olives (to) cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley”. It will be such an upheaval that the topography of the land will be changed.


Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. (Zechariah 14:3-5)


The prophet Joel describes the shaking of the earth also.


Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:13-16)

Isaiah tells us that there will be peace and justice to follow but there will be a shaking of the earth first.


And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more...

And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he arises to shake terribly the earth. Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? (Isaiah 2:2-4, 17-22)


Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego displayed extraordinary faith based on strong foundations. The hope for the faithful is of a glorious future of peace and the earth returned to its original glory and beauty, free from the past ravages of man. There are guidelines if we read Yahweh's word and seek guidance through prayer, so that along the way we will see those things prophesied happening. This can strengthen our faith, so that we may be convinced that what has been written and promised will occur and Yahweh will be glorified in all the earth.



For more see To Seek His Face

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