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O Jerusalem, Jeusalem

By Dave Breese

Undoubtedly you have watched the mounting bloodshed in the Holy Land with horror, as have we, and wondered where it all will end. Even now, things there are changing so quickly that we hesitate to comment upon them, knowing that by the time this letter reaches you, they are almost certain to have changed again.

Not since “the lightning war of 1967” has there been such carnage and flagrant hostility. At this writing, open war has not yet broken out between Israel and her neighbors. However, Israeli reserves have been called up in anticipation of a massive and sustained military action. Suicide bombings claim precious civilian lives virtually every day, with Israeli patience wearing thin and violent reprisals escalating. The Holy Land remains a smoldering powder keg, awaiting the spark that could ignite a regional, and perhaps even global, conflagration.

It is, however, most interesting that, when things heat up in Israel (as they are doing now), people turn to us with pointed questions as to what the Bible foretells about the future and how Israel will be involved. People seem to realize that the Middle East is where it all began, and it is where it’s all going to end.

But also of great concern is the question that is raised as to how we really feel about the nation of Israel. Some of our Arab friends feel we side automatically with the Israelis, giving them carte blanche to do whatever they want, not only with impunity, but also with our unconditional support. They claim that we love Israel indiscriminately and, perhaps, far too much.

On the other hand, there are those Jews who accuse us of not going far enough. Some even suggest that we hate the Jews—that we blame them for killing the Savior and for rejecting the Kingdom of Heaven.

The truth is, we do love the people of God—although we know that they are by no means perfect. And while the Bible is a record of the special nature of the nation of Israel, it also contains the account of Israel’s many mistakes and failures (and consequently, her discipline by God for those failures).

Looking at the strife that centers around Jerusalem and now threatens the security of the whole world, we think back upon the day nearly 2000 years ago when the voice of Jesus Christ was lifted at the Mount of Olives in a most plaintive cry. He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-38).

These are some of the most moving words that have been spoken in all of history. And were it not for the balance of the whole counsel of Scripture, one might be able to assume that God was forever finished with the people of Israel.

But thank God, that desolation is not to be forever. Rather, God will send upon Israel during the Tribulation, “the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).

Yes, the Bible teaches that Israel will be converted. “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1). That great conversion, however, will not come until the final years of that awful period of time called “The Great Tribulation.” For Israel, what a day that will be! It will also be a great day for the rest of the world, “For if the casting away of them (Israel) be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15).

The historical fact is that out of the rejection of Jesus by Israel came that greatest of all acts of murder, the death of Christ. Yet out of His death on the cross came the wonderful offer of full and free salvation, made to all the people of the world, not just the Jews. Out of that unspeakable tragedy came the most wonderful blessing the world has ever known. There is no doubt about it, all men everywhere are now invited, yes commanded, to change their mind about God and believe the Gospel of the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Remember that Israel will have a fountain of cleansing opened for it during the days of the Tribulation. Will a special fountain of cleansing be opened for the Gentiles as well? The answer is that a fountain of cleansing has already been opened. It flows with the shed blood of Jesus Christ from Calvary’s cross. Indeed, the hymn writer put it well in saying,

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
and sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
lose all their guilty stains.

God’s gracious offer of forgiveness and cleansing is extended to the whole world. All who believe in Jesus Christ are forgiven of every sin and made a member of the Church, which is His Body. Let us remember, however, that the offer of salvation by grace will not be forever. Soon the season of rescue will be o’er. Soon we will be taken to heaven in that marvelous event called the Rapture of the Church. At that point, the Church, the Body of Christ, is complete and the Gospel of the Grace of God will be replaced by the Tribulation message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Knowing this, we can easily picture Christ in these days, standing above the nations of the world and saying, “O Los Angeles! O New York! O London! O Paris! O Johannesburg! How often would I have gathered you!

The world is preoccupied with so many things, not the least of which is the threat of mushrooming war in the Middle East, that it still neglects the tender invitation of Christ. Soon, the door of grace will be closed and desolation will come upon the world. Soon, the Church will be taken and the days of the vengeance of God will break upon the world.

What then shall we do? We must warn the Gentile world that it must not make the same mistake that Israel did. Therefore, the message of the Church in our time should be one of invitation and also warning. Christ invites the world to believe in Him, but at the same time warns of devastating judgment soon to come. How soon? Sooner than ever before!

Do we love the Jews? Of course! The Bible says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6). It says of Israel “for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his (God’s) eye” (Zechariah 2:8).

The Bible is very clear that conditions around Jerusalem will continue to deteriorate until the end of the Church Age. Oh, there will be negotiations, treaties and promises of peace. But in the end, all that these efforts will produce will be “sudden destruction.” And it could well be that what we are seeing in Israel today is a sign that time is running out.

That’s why it’s so important for us to work together to take the saving message of the Gospel to the world while there is yet time. Many of those who still have electrical power in Israel and in the Palestinian territories can hear about Jesus each week via “The King Is Coming.” And it is your kind and generous support that makes it all possible.

Time may indeed be running out, and we have much yet to do before the Lord comes for His Church.

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