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In this Issue

The Israel of God

In Other News

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The Israel of God

Because the nation of Israel never completely fulfilled the prophetic predictions of Isaiah it leaves us in a dilemma, either God's word failed, or the prophet under divine inspiration had more than one people in view. As Christ is undoubtedly the Servant in chapter 53, so His offspring the Ecclesia those which have been wrongly been called Church 112 times is the true Israel referred to by Isaiah. They are the final instrument to fulfil His purpose in the earth. To this end He has pledged His word; ("I will build My Body of called out ones and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them."). And He gives to us His grace and power; ("I give you power over all the power of the enemy") to guarantee our success.

Let us look back one more time in hindsight at this parabolic people. In spite of all that they had suffered in exile, for the second time they failed to realize their destiny and begin to fulfil their great commission to the world. Instead under the reigning ecclesiastical class of Pharisee and Scribe they settled down to become a nation of legalistic bigots and straw splitting racists. So Jesus Christ came and assumed the responsibilities they had neglected and fulfilled them by the Gospel He preached; and the Body He formed. What He was and what He did, the whole nation ought to have been and done. The Apostle Paul fully understood this.

Acts 13:45-48. "But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. (Yes that's right blaspheming.) Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, it was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
People who don't read history stand in grave danger of repeating it.

Does God have a plan for the natural Jew? Most decidedly yes! Has He forsaken them? No He has not! Any Jew at any time may enter through the door Jesus Christ at any time in like manner to every believer. This however is not our consideration here, but let it suffice to say that He has not finished with them as a nation.

SUMMONED TO AN EXODUS

Isaiah 58:12 "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places, thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; thou shalt be called, the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in."
Isaiah 61:4. "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."

The desolations of many generations:
Sin is devastating in all its deadly forms. For the Jews in captivity the sins of their fathers over many generations weighed heavily upon them. They were not only bearing their own burden of sin, but the sin of a whole nation, who apart from a revival here and there under pitifully few kings and judges, had been in rebellion for hundreds of years.

The history of the church has followed a similar path. Its birth on the day of Pentecost was an exciting event as we read about it in the sacred record. It promised so much as it moved in wondrous power and conviction, and yet before the death of the last of the apostles tares sown by the enemy were beginning to manifest themselves in the church. By the third century the church and state had settled their differences. This was due to the fact that Emperor Constantine had accepted Christianity. From here on it was all-downhill. Priest craft practiced and prospered. Gradually an ecclesiastical hierarchy arose like a pyramid, with popes and cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests, mediating between God and men, holding through the confessional the power of life and death.
Approach to God in the most trivial matters of faith and morals could only be made through those who were appointed by the order of a carnal commandment. Indulgences and favours were freely sold. Many popes, cardinals, and bishops accrued to themselves fabulous wealth. Living in luxury they indulged in every excess at the expense of their flocks. In reaction to this new Religious Orders arose headed up by men and women who took vows of poverty swearing never to touch the gold of the sanctuary, but to live a simple life style as did their Lord and Saviour. Then the reformation broke out and God began the process of restoring all that had been lost through design neglect and ignorance.

OUR PERSONAL CAPTIVITY

On a personal level our lives in many cases started with such great hope and promise, and as we look back over the years for reasons that are all to plain, we find ourselves in captivity to wilful decisions made with little thought to their consequences.

It's the double captivity of our lives. I can remember so vividly my deliverance from my first captivity. Bound by Satan and sin God forgave me, set me free, and took me just as I was. It was an exodus of epic proportions. Perhaps your salvation was not as dramatic as mine was, or it may have been even more so. But what one of us doesn't look back on that wonderful event with a warm feeling in our spirit. The joy that filled our hearts enveloped us as we began our journey. Our lives completely turned around as we moved in a new direction, our hearts full of gratitude to our blessed Saviour. Then after many years we look back upon our lives at some of the decisions which we made that have come back to haunt us. Things that brought us much heartache and sorrow

Eccl 12:1. "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say; I have no pleasure in them."
It seems unfair that some of the most important decisions of our lives have to be made when we are young, naturally and spiritually, such as the choice of a life partner. Fifty years is a long time to live with one person, so you need to be sure you get God's choice. The career we choose will decide what we study and what we will be doing for a great portion if not all of our lives.

We are called upon to make these decisions when we lack the wisdom that only years can bring, and while we have so little or no experience. Though the question of our salvation may have been settled these are decisions of major importance that will affect our lives for years to come. Once they have been embarked upon there's no turning back. The decision was made, and the course of action that followed cannot be reversed, even God can't do that. We cannot turn back the clock.

The young man who for a moment of unbridled passion finds himself enveloped in circumstances that will exact their toll for years to come. As the ever broadening circles of a stone thrown into a pond reach far and wide, so also do the consequences of our actions. The hopes and aspirations of a dream to serve God are now left seemingly in tatters.

Living in secret sin and bound by a habit that you cannot seem to overcome. Carrying a secret close to your breast and every time it comes to mind you die a thousand deaths. The young woman who had an abortion, wondering if she should tell her future husband what she did? What will happen if he ever finds out? The dreaded fear of being caught out for what ever reason. The blinding, binding, terror, of concealed and unforsaken sin; the baby that you had to give away. You lie in bed at night wondering how she or he is, and what's become of your child.

Broken vows; becoming unequally yoked with an unbeliever, continually crying to yourself "if only I had listened to God and my parents." Whether all or none of the above has been our problem, what wouldn't any of us give to be able to turn back the clock and change decisions we did make that have caused us so much pain. But it's too late now, you can't change what took place, not even God can do that. Christians whose marriages have failed the first time and simply go on repeating the same mistake for the second and third time. With each successive marriage the chances of success are greatly reduced.

A professional Christian counsellor recently told me that 80% of all the Christian women she had counselled over many years who had been married twice or more told her, that had they followed the teachings of the Bible they would never have left their first husband. The basic problem has always been our determination to go our own way.

Proverbs 1:31. "We have eaten the fruit of going our own way."
It eventually always leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.
Isaiah 42:24.
"Who gave Jacob for a spoil and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law."
God may hand us over for a season, but He never gives us completely up to our enemies. The God, who gave us into the hand of the enemy, is the God who will most assuredly deliver us from the hand of the enemy when we turn to Him. He gave Job over, but only for a short season, He never gave him up. When Israel had served their seventy years sentence in exile they were legally free to return. Our wonderful Saviour has served our sentence. Time we should have served He has served for us, and He wants us to come home right now, this minute, to righteousness and peace.

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

Psalms 79:9-13.
"Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say where is their God? Let him be known among the heathen in our sight by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die."
"Forgive me Lord." Three most powerful little words.
Psalms 102:16-22.
"When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people who shall be created shall praise the Lord. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord."
Changed character is caught, not bought or taught. You catch it by contact.

Eternal life is not something we earn, it is something we accept.
If it is by self-effort, then it is self-salvation, and the end is self-righteousness. One must come into contact with the Saviour to get it. Transformation then is not an attainment, but an obtainment. Religion is man's search for God; the gospel is God's search for man. There are many religions, but only one gospel.

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

Isaiah 40:1-2.
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."
Is there no answer to my pain you may cry? Is there no help, or must I live out the rest of my days in pain and sorrow.
Your life can change no matter how hopeless it may seem.
Wherever the stinging nettle is found the dock leaf is close at hand. The antidote, the counteracting remedy, is never far from where the pain is. The same Jesus that came to seek and save the lost also came to bind up the broken hearted, to heal, and to set the captive free. He is the cure for all our ills, and is ever near, closer than we usually imagine. Though we may not see Him, what is better still is that He sees us. Yes dear one there is Hope, you can come home and find righteousness and peace, yes you can, and you can come now, just as you are. Life becomes barely tolerable when we bitterly resent things as an unwanted intrusion into our lives. We can never be at peace with ourselves and those around us when all we are is resentful of our situation.
Don't let your failures make you despondent. The world is not against you. God hasn't abandoned you, He understands you completely and better still He loves you. Self-pity is a dead end street that ends in loneliness and rejection. You will drive all your friends away and become an angry, lonely person. You can't keep reacting to life's problems by always getting mad. If you do you'll turn into a bitter, resentful, awful kind of a person. Don't develop this kind of attitude, it only makes you miserable to live with and be around. Righteousness, joy, and peace are not unattainable goals.

 

The present is not your destiny:
Time and again the Lord is seen wooing and encouraging the exiles to come home. Urging them to depart from Babylon and return to Jerusalem. But the poor captives can't stop feeling sorry for themselves saying that their circumstances are absolutely impossible.

The curse of depression:
"But Zion said the Lord has forsaken me, my God has forgotten me.” To which the Lord replies, "Can a woman forget her child, and not have compassion on the son of her own womb? Yes she may, yet I will not forget you. Behold I have engraved you upon the palms of my hands, you are continually before me."

Romans 8: 1. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit, for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The chapter commences with "no condemnation" and ends with "no separation." There are many unanswered questions in the Bible but in this chapter we are left in no doubt about two things.
Firstly there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ.
Secondly Paul declares that there is nothing in heaven or earth, or under the earth, that can separate us from the love of God. Still not satisfied the captive asks in Isaiah 49:24-25. "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?” To which the Lord replies, "Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered, for I will contend with them that contend with you."

It sounds too good to be true, I don't deserve it, please don't build up my hopes, and I've tried so often to escape, to find an answer and found nothing or nobody to help. I guess I will just have to bear my cross; I know I'm guilty, and I deserve what's happened.

Let me commend the Saviour to you. He took divine initiative and became like us that we might become like Him. He saves you from the penalty of sin and from the stinging memory of the guilt. It's buried in the sea of His forgetfulness. And if He has forgotten it, then we must forget it too. It's a sin against the forgiveness of God to keep dragging up memories of what God has blotted out of His.

To receive forgiveness you must confess, and when God forgives you, you must forgive yourself. A great many receive forgiveness from God and then fail to give it to themselves. They keep lashing themselves for what they have done, hoping to pay God back by their own suffering. Don't try to make atonement for what has already been atoned for.

 
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Shaun Kearney
en engape!