Issue 81 Autumn 2006
greetings in the name of the Lord. At this challenging time, it
is good to know that the purposes of God will not be thwarted, and that
He is faithful to His promises. We shall be holding another
‘Word of the Lord’ conference on 27 Jan 2007 at the Centre
for Christ at Bow. Details will be circulated at the end of
Our Great High Priest
No knockout means defeat
The King of the North
The prime meaning of Scripture
Sexual Orientation Order
A prayer God cannot answer
Our Great High Priest [KK]
God made a very good world [Gen 1:31]. Every day the media reminds us that something has gone wrong; innocent suffering, wicked men prospering, natural disasters, floods, earthquakes and accidents of all kinds. You may have your own views on what has gone wrong. The Bible says it's sin that disfigures everything; disobedience to or disregard of God's laws.
We are born sinners: as children of Adam we inherit his fallenness. 'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive' [1 Cor 15:22]
This article looks at what the Bible says about sin, then at what God has done to redeem the situation. There are 15 words in the OT and 25 in the NT that refer to sin in all its manifestations, its conception & act, its guilt & burden, the consequences & punishment of sin, offerings for & forgiveness of sin. But all can be grouped into three classes.
God's describes Himself in Exod 34:7 as 'forgiving iniquity, transgression & sin'. The same three words occur in David's confession in Psalm 51:1-2 'blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, & cleanse me from my sin'. In Lev 16:21-22 we have a reference to iniquities, transgressions, sins.
The essential meaning of the two words usually translated sin in both OT & NT mean 'to miss the mark'; to try & fail. They are the commonest words for sin in the bible. 'All have sinned' in the NT [ Rom 3:23] & 'there is not a righteous man on earth who does good & does not sin' in the OT [Eccles 7:10] both use this word. We are incapable of ourselves to keep God's commands.
This word implies unintentional & unintended sins. Three times in scripture [2 Chron 25:4; Deut 24:16; Ezek 18:20] God says we are all individually responsible in this area. We try to live right, but fail to do so.
The root meaning of the word translated iniquity is 'twistedness'; 'the restless activity of fallen human nature' [Bullinger] - I am not a sinner because I sinned; I sin because I am a sinner. I'm born that way. This is the generational aspect of sin. In Psalm 51:5 David says 'I was brought forth in iniquity & in sin my mother conceived me.' We can pass on good qualities, ability in learning, sport, music; but we can also transmit bad qualities, hasty temper, a spirit of anxiety, HIV, sexually transmitted disease. Exod 20:5 speaks of God as 'visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children..'
In both of the above areas, though we are guilty before God, there is a sense of 'I couldn't help it'. Whenever Brother Lawrence sinned he would say to the Lord 'I shall always be like this if you leave me to myself'.
The third set of words for sin are usually translated transgression, wickedness or lawlessness: the sense is active, wilful, deliberate rebellion against God.
The last century has seen some great villains who killed millions, Joseph Stalin in Russia, Adolf Hitler in Germany, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Idi Amin in Uganda, Saddam Hussein in Iraq - this is in direct violation of God's law. They acted as if God didn't exist. The violence we see in the world today comes mainly from the same source. Much of the human pride & arrogance of so-called clever people is deliberate transgression against God.
The OT was given us to teach us about God & His ways. He had a hard time with ancient Israel. On numerous times God had to confront Israel with its deliberate disregard for His law, both in the wilderness under Moses, then under Samuel when they wanted a king to reign over them, rejecting God as their king [1 Sam 8:19-22].
When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then murdered her husband to try to cover up his sin, these acts were done deliberately, knowing they were contrary to God's commands. David sinned deliberately. The prophets again & again speak against Israel's turning to other gods; Amos in 2:4 writes 'they have despised the law of the Lord, & have not kept His commandments.'
There is a wilfulness about the transgression words that is not necessarily there in the other two.
You may ask why did God allow sin in all its forms to pollute the world? The answer is seen in how God made the world. He created mankind to be a race of beings who would respond to Him in love, not because they had to but because they wanted to. God created a world in love as an expression of His own nature. He asks for a response of love from us.
This builds in one inevitable result; free-will. You can make a person do anything except love you. And if you give people the choice you must expect that some will say 'No - I want to go my own way.' The rebellion that marks much of life in the 21st Century is the result. You may agree with Martin Luther's observation on the world of his day; 'if I'd been God I'd have kicked the world to pieces centuries ago'. But our God is not vicious or malevolent. He reached down into our world to do something about the mess we were in.
God came to do something about it in His Son, & He prepared the way by a system of sacrifices which would culminate in the One perfect sacrifice. In ancient Israel, for individual sins, you brought an animal, confessed your sins over it then you killed it as representative for your sin [Lev 4:1-4]. This sacrifice was for unintentional sins: sins committed without intending to.
The annual Day of Atonement takes place ten days after Rosh Hoshanah:
it is the day of national forgiveness, the only day on which fasting was commanded in the law.
The programme of sacrifices for Yom Kippur was very elaborate, & is detailed in Lev 16. We note here a major point of difference between the High Priest & Jesus; he had first to offer for his own sin [Lev 16:11]. Look through Lev 16 you will get some idea of the great significance & solemnity of Yom Kippur.
But all scripture speaks of Jesus either directly or in a figure. The whole programme of OT sacrifices pointed to the Great High Priest. The differences are very clear and marked in the book of Hebrews.
The Aaronic High Priest
Jesus the Great High Priest
Throughout the Jewish world the Feast of Yom Kippur was celebrated a few weeks ago. It is the holiest & most solemn day of the Jewish year. It is followed five days later by the most joyful festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles, when they celebrate God's deliverance from slavery & bondage in Egypt. This is the season of the year when Jesus was born, so it is appropriate that we join with our Jewish brethren, & celebrate our deliverance from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus.
No knockout means defeat [PW]
The above was the heading of an article in the October edition of Israel Today. The article continued, “Israel did not win the war in Lebanon. At least that’s the popular view among Israelis.” From the time of David Ben Gurion one of the principles of Israel’s defence strategy, on which her continued existence depends, has been a clear-cut Israeli victory must come quickly because of economic and diplomatic limitations.
The government and army has been accused by those serving in Lebanon of indecisiveness manifesting itself in inaction, in not carrying out operational plans and cancelling missions, leading to prolonged stays in hostile territory without an operational purpose. Former General Yitzhak Ben Israel stated, “For the first time in the history of the Israeli State we failed to prove that peace negotiations pay more than violence.” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared the outcome of the war a “great victory”. Arab media now regards Nasrallah as the most popular figure in the Arab world. According to London based newspaper Al-Quds al Arabi, “Nasrallah’s Katyusha rockets destroyed the myth of the invincible Israeli army.” Two days after the end of hostility Syrian President Bashar Assad in a speech to the nation said. “The diplomatic strategy of peace and negotiations is no longer the only way to regain the Golan Heights, but also armed resistance, just as Hassan Nassrallah recently showed us,”
I believe that this summer could prove to be the watershed in the destiny of Israel. For more than 50 years we have seen the evidence of God’s protection over Israel. Several times when she should have been swept into the sea by invading armies, she survived. Lance Lambert and others have documented remarkable testimonies giving evidence of God’s intervention in the nation’s time of need. God loves Israel and longs for her to return to him, but she will not. The nation and its leaders have placed confidence in their superior military strength. They look to their weapons to defend them. Weapons may be necessary but a nation’s real security is in the Lord.
Sins which separate
"Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people, whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.” Hosea 6:11 –7:2
Israel is a sinful nation. Her special relationship to the Lord cannot hide her sin. The sins of Israel may have been different at the time of Hosea but the heart of God is the same. The evidence of the last 58 years is that God wants to bless her, but if she places her trust elsewhere she will be humbled. As I wrote in the last issue I do not believe that Israel’s continuing survival is assured. We must not preach peace, peace if there is no peace; rather cry out to the Lord that He will send an Elijah to turn many hearts that they may be spared the great and terrible day of the Lord.
We must also urgently pray for Israel’s continuing security: she is probably in greater danger today than ever. The war with Hezbollah is on hold but not concluded and Syria is looking increasingly threatening. The main threat comes from Iran where President Ahmadinejad continues to make bellicose speeches regarding Israel’s destruction. The international community fears that behind Iran’s nuclear programme is the determination to acquire nuclear weapons. I suspect that President Ahmadinejad recognises that Iran is some years away from creating an effective nuclear bomb. His language is designed to goad Israel into making a pre-emptive strike the consequences of which are unthinkable. Israel’s leaders recognise the predicament. There is little hope that the international community will be able to resolve the crisis with Iran: Israel cannot assume that Ahmadinejad is not serious about Iran's intentions. A pre-emptive strike by Israel may be the only option. It seems inevitable that a strike against Iran would provoke an all out regional war with the high likelihood of rapidly becoming a global war. Israel’s survival would be in doubt. Israel’s leaders need great wisdom at this time.
The King of the North [PW]
Daniel chapter 2: 36 to 45, contains the well known interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. The dream describes the succeeding empires of the world as a statue. Babylon, over which Nebuchadnezzar ruled, would be followed by a series of empires. Often this is interpreted as four empires ending with the Roman Empire as the fourth. The feet of iron and clay are seen as a deterioration of the fourth empire. An alternative interpretation, which I believe more likely to be correct, is that the feet of iron and clay represent a fifth empire. Note if you use the NIV the ‘finally’ at the beginning of verse 40 is an unwarranted translator’s interpretation. There is no ‘finally’ in the Hebrew. Bullinger points out that 'the fourth' is an ordinal number not a cardinal one. It does not say 'four & no more'. The
fifth is revealed in vv 41-43. Also the earlier description of the statue v 31 – 33 divides it into five distinct parts.
Five empires fit with the seven kingdoms of Revelation 17: 10 in which Rome is the sixth king to be followed by a seventh then an eighth, which is a revival of one of the former empires. Islam is the empire which followed Rome to control the Holy Land: it is an empire that although perceived as being moribund at the start of the 20th century is now reviving.
A divided empire
It was not just President Bush and Tony Blair who condemned Hezbollah for their attack on Israel this summer. Politicians and clerics from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan also condemned their actions. This condemnation was not a sign of support for Israel but arose from a concern over the growing influence of Iran and Syria. Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, a Saudi cleric, whose ideas inspired Osama bin Laden, issued a fatwa condemning Hezbollah. Hezbollah, which translates “the party of Allah”, is he said “the party of the devil”. Al-Hawali called on Muslims not to pray for Hezbollah. The Wahabi doctrine prominent in Saudi Arabia regards Shiite Moslems as heretics. Another Saudi cleric agreed, “It is not acceptable to support this rejectionist party (Hezbollah) and one should not fall under its command or pray for its victory”. The above is a reminder of the iron and clay character of Islam, at times united as when condemning the Danish Cartoons or the recent comments by the Pope, but at other times divided as we witness daily in the attacks by one community on the other in Iraq.
It is in the context of Islam that I have come to understand a prophecy that used to puzzle me, the identity of the King of the South (Daniel 11: 40) who challenges the King of the North at the end time. I accept a conventional interpretation of Daniel 11. From verse 3 to 35 it deals with the empire of Alexander the Great and its division into four separate kingdoms. The chapter focuses on two of these kingdoms, the dynasty founded by Ptolemy in Egypt, which is referred to as the king of the South and the dynasty founded by Seleucid in Syria/Babylon referred to as the king of the North. Verses 21 to 35 describe Antiochus Epiphanes, the cruel descendant of Selucid who most see as a prototype of the Antichrist. It is not difficult to relate the events described in verses 3 to 35 to history. The lesson for us is that if the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled in such literal detail then the second part from verses 36 to the end of chapter 12 will also be fulfilled literally.
The king (of the North) in verse 36 is described in similar terms to the little horn of Daniel 7: 25, the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2: 4 and the beast of Revelation 13. Therefore we identify him as the Antichrist who will appear at the end of the age. But the Antichrist according to Revelation 13: 4 is invincible. Who is it who dares to come against him?
If Islam is to be the final fulfilment of the Antichrist’s kingdom the solution becomes both simple and literal. As we have seen above Islam is divided; the two major divisions being Sunni and Shiite. Sunni Islam has its spiritual centre in Cairo, Egypt while historically the spiritual centre for Shiite Islam was Baghdad. Baghdad is located only a few miles north of the site of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon. The book that I have been promoting, ‘Antichrist – Islam’s awaited Messiah’, puts forward the view that the Antichrist will arise out of Shiite Islam. If so the description ‘king of the North’ is a description which fits literally in the context of Daniel 11. Isaiah 14 refers to the Antichrist as the king of Babylon, he is also referred to as the king of Assyria. The king of the South would describe a leader of Sunni Islam coming out of Egypt. It is not difficult to foresee a time when a Shiite leader arises who advances the cause of Islam throughout the world. With his success he will gain the allegiance of all Muslims both Shiite and Sunni. There is a longing throughout Islam for the return of the days of the Caliph to unite Muslims and bring the world into submission to Allah.
According to scripture there will come a time when this leader will demand worship. To worship either a man or image is anathema to Muslims. A prime objection they have to Christianity is the belief that we worship a man. It is probable that this demand of worship will provoke a rebellion. Many Muslims will realise that they have been deceived. At that time Sunni Islam will become the rallying point for this rebellion. Unprepared and ill equipped, they will be crushed by an Antichrist who by now has gained the support of many other nations not worried by such scruples. Pray that when this day comes many Muslims will in their disillusionment turn to Christ.
The prime meaning of Scripture [PW]
In a sermon on Ezekiel 37, C. H. Spurgeon described the various ways in which preachers have applied this passage. Some use it to describe the resurrection, others the revival of a decayed church. It can also be used to describe the restoration of dead souls to spiritual life or to comfort people passing through spiritually barren times. Spurgeon wrote, “Though it is right and lawful to take a passage in its widest possible meaning, yet I hold it to be treason to God’s word to neglect its primary meaning. The preacher of God’s truth should not give up the Holy Spirit’s meaning; he should take care that he does not even put it in the background. The first meaning of a text, the Spirit’s meaning, is that which should be brought out first, and the rest may fairly spring out of it, yet the first sense should have chief place.” In the context of Ezekiel 37, he went on to preach that there will be a political restoration of the Jews to their own land followed by spiritual restoration which he understood to be the prime meaning of this passage.
These thoughts came to mind recently when listening to a man that I respect as a Christian leader. He preached on Joel 3 using it as a call to engage in spiritual warfare. Undoubtedly his points were valid but spiritual warfare is not the primary meaning of the passage, which speaks very clearly of the time when Israel is restored to her land and finally redeemed by her Saviour. This leader is one among many who believe that Israel will be progressively restored to faith in God. Her enemies will be confounded and Islam will collapse leaving the way open for a mighty work of the Holy Spirit among both Jew and Arab. As stated last time I find such views difficult to reconcile with my own understanding of Scripture regarding the future of Israel.
If we are to come to the correct understanding of any scripture, particularly the prophetic passages, we must focus on the prime meaning - the prime meaning being the simple and obvious meaning. There will still be different interpretations. There are many prophetic passages in which the prime meaning is not obvious: it is only as events unfold that the true meaning will become clear. This I believe to be the deliberate intention of the Holy Spirit in order to ensure that we keep looking to Him for understanding and not to our own intellect. There are also many passages where the meaning is both simple and clear. They are there to prevent us from being led astray. By focusing on the prime meaning much of the confusion over prophetic interpretation would be cleared up.
Antichrist – Islam’s awaited Messiah.
Joel Richardson has asked that if you have read the book and found it helpful, you place a review on Amazon.co.uk. It is very easy to submit a review by visiting the web page for the book. Amazon in the USA has now rated Antichrist – Islam’s awaited Messiah as one of its best selling books on Islam. I keep a stock of the books in so it is still available if you have not read it yet. If you would like a copy please send a cheque for £6.50 including post and packing made out to Philip Wren.
Sexual Orientation Order
Hopefully most readers have been made aware through other ministries of yet another attempt to undermine Christian values. This order due to be given consent by Parliament in the near future will make it illegal to refuse to offer goods or services to homosexuals. There are many ways in which these regulations could compromise Christian ministries and businesses. Due to volume of letters written by Christians complaining about the implications of these regulations they have been sent back for review. It is important to make our view made known now as the Regulations will not be debated in Parliament. For more information contact the Lawyers Christian Fellowship.
Contact Details are as follows:
Christian Concern for our Nation
PO Box 655
web site: www.christianconcernforournation.co.uk.
Phone: 07712 591164,
Fax: 0870 706 1617
A prayer God cannot answer [KK]
I was thrilled to be able recently to sit at the feet of Colin Urquhart and be reminded of teaching which I first heard in the 80's. Using scriptures like Eph 1:3 'He has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms'; Rom 8:17 'heirs of God & joint-heirs with Christ'; and 2 Pet 1:3 'His divine power has given us everything we need for life & godliness', he pointed out that all these promises are in the past tense. We should not ask God for what He has already given. He cannot give us more than He has already given us in Jesus. Having given us everything in Jesus, 'how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things' [Rom 8:32].
|Trumpet Sounds is sent free to all who request it: we leave it to the Lord to supply our needs.|