The Bible and Voting – Part 10

The Bible and Voting – Part 10
Proverbs 14:34 • Dr. Andy Woods • September 11, 2016 • The Bible and Voting 2016


Andy Woods


September 11, 2016      The Bible and Voting, Part 10

Good morning everybody.  If we could take our Bibles and open them to the book of Jeremiah; you say Jeremiah, does anybody really preach out of Jeremiah anymore?  Well, we’ll make a few references to Jeremiah; Jeremiah 31:35-37. The title of our message this morning is The Bible and Voting, Part 10.  If you’re tired of parts you can call this Should Christians Support the Modern State of Israel, Part 2.  Maybe that’s more interesting than a part 10.

Of course I appreciate what Richard had to say about 9/11, which happened on this day back in 2001; three thousand Americans lost their lives simply by showing up to work.  And what’s even more tragic than that is some of the attacks that have happened in recent days have happened also on 9/11.  For example, the Benghazi attack happened on 9/11 so 9/11 is the time not just to look backward and memorialize, as important as that is, but it’s also to look into the present and, as the Bible says, we need to be in constant prayer for our leaders and rulers so they can fulfill their purpose of restraining evil in our world.

We have begun, or actually haven’t begun, we’re towards the end of it (believe it or not), I think we’re towards the end of it, a series of studies that really we started on Independence Day weekend on the whole issue of voting, not trying to corral people into one party or the other, or to promote one candidate or another, but rather to do this more or less as a topical Bible study because there are many, many things that the Bible talks about that we, as Christians, have the opportunity to vote on, not just in the present election cycle but in virtually every election.

And the question is, when we go to vote for anybody or anything are we thinking the way God thinks.  So we’ve looked at some economic issues, we’ve walked all the way through those, about ten of them we mentioned.  And then from there we moved into social issues; we tried to look at what the Bible has to say about key social issues of the day, like same sex marriage, like abortion, like euthanasia, things of that nature.  And I hope you have been pleasantly surprised how much the Bible speaks to these issues.

From there we moved into foreign affairs issues; we’ve talked about the attitude of God towards world governments.  We’ve talked about the attitude of God toward borders and their enforceability.  And last Sunday we began looking at an issue that (I’m very sad to say) very few people think about when they actually vote, and that’s our relationship towards the nation of Israel.  God, as we saw beginning last week has a lot to say about the nation of Israel.  In fact, I have been thinking a lot lately about the nation of Israel because I’ve been involved in a conference at West Houston Bible Church (which finishes this evening) involving the nation of Israel.  So if you have some time on your calendar and want to spend you Sunday night in an edifying way you might think about the conference tonight at West Houston Bible Church.  If I remember right we have a few flyers left on the name tag table.  I think it starts around 7:00 and tonight Yoram Ettinger is going to be speaking at West Houston Bible Church, who is a retired Israeli ambassador who is a wealth of information about Israel and the current struggle that Israel faces.

But in terms of our remarks about the nation of Israel you might recall last week we divided this up into three parts; we began looking at the divine purpose toward the nation of Israel.  When God called the nation of Israel into existence, in early Genesis, what was God’s purpose in it?  The purposes of God, in terms of redemption, are first revealed in the book of Genesis, chapter 3 and verse 15 where God says to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

And we saw that this is essentially the first presentation of the gospel found anywhere in the Bible.  We know from this passage that it has always been the plan and program of God to bring forth a very special Messiah who will deal a death blow to the devil, or the serpent, by crushing his head.  Of course, in the year 2016 we understand that that coming one is none other than Jesus Christ but you see, the great question is, what nation is God going to use to bring forth this Messiah.  God can’t use just any nation.  Why is that?  Because we saw at the tower of Babel that the tower of Babel universally contaminated every nation.  Why is that?  Because Genesis 11:1 says, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.”

So the sin that was taking place at the tower of Babel, we described it as the worship of a mother-child religious system.  That sin was exported into every nation that follows because all nations owe their lineage and their heritage to the tower of Babel.  It was at Babel that God began different ethnicities and languages and cultures.  And that’s why this idolatrous system can be found in every culture.

So the point is, God can’t use just any nation to bring forth His Messiah; He must, instead, begin a separate work, a separate nation, a separate project, a nation started after the tower of Babel universally contaminated the world.  And that’s the significance of the foundation of the nation of Israel that God began through a man named Abram in Genesis 12.  One of the key things to understand is the nation of Israel is the only nation in existence started by a special miracle of God.

Isaiah 43:1 says this, “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel.”  If you look at Isaiah 43:15 sometime it says the exact same thing.   [Isaiah 43:15, “I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”]  In fact, Isaiah 43:7 uses the same Hebrew verbs to describe creation itself in Genesis 1.  [Isaiah 43:7, “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”]

Israel is special as far as God is concerned because it is a special nation created by God; no other nation has such a distinct privilege. And this is why the Scripture is so careful in tracing the lineage from Adam and Eve, remember this Messiah, Genesis 3:15, is going to come from the lineage of Eve and it traces very carefully early Genesis from Adam and Eve right into Noah.  And Noah has three sons, and we learn in Genesis 9:26 that through the lineage of Shem this Messiah will come forth.  And so early Genesis traces Shem all the way to Terah, Terah being the father of Abraham, the man that God used to begin the Hebrew race.  [Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis   9:26, “He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.”]

So from Adam to Noah to Shem to Terah to Abraham we begin to learn about the special nature of the nation of Israel.  It is from this special nation that the Messiah is going to come forth.  And thus in Genesis 12, which follows Genesis 11, God begins to call this man, Abram, whose name would later be changed to Abraham, which means father of many nations, and He tells him to walk by faith and He says I’m going to take you to a land of promise that you know nothing about;  Abraham at that time being an idolater, as were all the peoples of the earth.  God is going to sanctify Abraham.  First He’s going to justify him, give him innocence before God by way of faith.  Then He’s going to begin the process of sanctification where He is going to separate him from what he knew, because God has a special work in store for the nation of Israel that will come forth from Abraham’s lineage.

It’s essentially the same thing God is doing in your life.  First He saves you as you trust in His Messiah, Jesus Christ, God the Son, and then He begins to sanctify you, He begins to pull us away from the worldly attachments and contamination that characterized our lives before we came to Christ because God has some kind of special purpose for you as well.  I’m not sure what your purpose is, I have a difficult time fitting into my own purpose, but He’s got a purpose for all of us and that’s why He is at work constantly in our lives, separating or sanctifying us.

That, in essence, is what he is doing here with Abram early on.  And in the process God gives to Abram certain promises.  He says, “And I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse” now notice this next clause, “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” [Genesis 12:3, “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”]

This is so critical towards understanding what God is doing with Israel; what His purpose always was.  It is to bless Israel, not for the sake of Israel alone, but He has blessed Israel to be a blessing, just like He blesses you, just like He blesses me.  He blesses us, not for us alone but He wants to use us in some strategic way to bless other people.   This is what God is doing with Abram.

So we learn that it’s from Israel that God is going to fulfill His redemptive program all the way back in Genesis 3:15 where it was first announced.  And consequently as we saw last week it’s true that every blessing that we have today, whether it be the Scripture, the Savior, or the coming kingdom which is on the horizon, is going to come into the world through the nation of Israel.  Had God not worked strategically through the Jewish people we would not have the patriarchs, the Law, the Prophets, the Messiah, the apostles, the biblical writers, the early church, the early church Christian martyrs, Paul the apostle, or a future kingdom.  He has blessed them to be a blessing.

And in the process of time, as God was dealing with Abram He actually moved from promise to covenant.  In Genesis 15 God enters into a covenant with the Jewish people.  The word “covenant” is used for the first time in Genesis 15:18 relative to the Jewish people. It says in Genesis 15:18, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, [“saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.”]  A covenant is like a contract, putting it in modern day vernacular.  God is binding Himself to act in a certain way to and through the Jewish people so that the human race can be blessed.

He promised them land, seed and blessing which is the foundation of Israel’s structure that God develops through other covenants that He makes with the Jewish people later on in biblical history.  And in the process He promises the nation of Israel real estate. In fact, this real estate is so literal that in Genesis 13:17 Abram was told to walk around the land that his people would one day possess.  [Genesis 13:17, “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”]

The dimensions of the land are very clearly articulated in the Scripture; it’s to begin at a place called the river of Egypt and it is to go all the way east to the river Euphrates, simply put, from modern day Egypt to modern day Iraq.  And as you can see from this chart Israel has never gained that territory in totality.  In fact, that darker area there is what the Joshua generation (as it is described for us in the book of Joshua) gained.  They only gained a very small fraction or a very small sliver of everything that God promised.  In fact, Israel today as a modern state has but a small sliver of everything that God has promised.  That’s what’s always amusing to me because people are always arguing today over the West Bank, which is Judea and Samaria.  Forget the West Bank, God’s going to give them the East Bank according to these prophecies.  We know that God cannot lie.  God has bound Himself to act in a certain way and we know that it’s just a matter of time once He establishes His Kingdom that these prophecies will come to pass.

This covenant is what we would call unconditional, meaning it doesn’t really rest on the performance of Abram or his descendants.  It rests completely on the faithfulness of God; it’s what we call an unconditional covenant, meaning it’s not based on human performance but the character of God.  And this is why I had you turn to the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31, verses 35-37.

This is what God says, “Thus says the LORD GOD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:  [36] If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.’ [37] Thus says the LORD, ‘If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.”

God says as long as the fixed order remains, the sun, the moon and the stars, Israel will always be a nation before Him, even when they’re out of their land, which they have been for 2,000 years, God promises to preserve them which He has.  So if you want to get rid of Israel you should not aim your rockets and your bombs at Israel, you should aim them at the sun, the moon and the stars because God has said as long as those remain Israel will always remain before Me.

It’s interesting that God makes this statement through the prophet, Jeremiah just before one of the worst stages of discipline in Israel’s history.  God disciplines His children, “whom the LORD loves the LORD” what?  “chastens.”  They were doing incredible sins here, such as offering their own children into a fire to satisfy a god (little g) named Molech; they are going off into the seventy year deportation in the time of Jeremiah, just after the time of Jeremiah when this prophecy was given and God says although discipline is coming Israel will always exist before me because of the Abrahamic Covenant.

And consequently the book of Ezekiel, chapter 5 and verse 5 tells us that Israel is a nation that is living at the center of the nations.  [Ezekiel  5:5, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.”]  As we mentioned last time the Hebrew word translated “center” is literally the navel or the bellybutton which refers to the entire body.  This is the mind of God towards the chosen people.  They are the centerpiece of everything that He has done, is doing, and will do.

And in the process of time God knew that the devil himself, using fallen human beings, would routinely come against Israel because God has one plan, Satan wants this thwarted, so the Jewish people, their very lives would be in a precarious position.  So in the process God gave Abram, who later became Abraham, promises of protection, and this is what He said, “I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses  you I will curse.”  We saw last week how literally those promises are fulfilled when nations come against Israel.  God evaluates nations, like the United States, like Canada, like Mexico, like Europe, based on how they treat the chosen people. Zechariah 2:8, God says “he who touches you” the Jewish people, “touches the apple of His eye.”

[“For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.”]  But the opposite is true, the one who blesses you I will bless.  Last time I talked about something that very few Americans understand; in fact, when I shared this at the conference I spoke at last week there were Hebrews and Jewish people, people in Israel that had come to participate in this conference, most of them didn’t know about this either.  It was a letter to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, that George Washington wrote, August 18, 1790, after visiting that particular synagogue which is the first synagogue ever built in the United States of America.

George Washington wrote a very famous letter which has actually been recorded by various Supreme Court opinions and historians.  It may be the most significant letter of religious freedom that has ever been given to the Jewish people.  You might recall we read from that letter where George Washington says, “I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport…the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance… May the Children of the Stock of Abraham,” see, he’s addressing something here to the Jewish people, “May the Children of the Stock of Abraham who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

In fact, when you visit this synagogue, as I have done, they have it sort of set up, the original synagogue intact, a museum is set up off to the side that showcases this particular letter and what I believe is this: that God blessed America because George Washington, the actual federal head of America blessed the Jewish people.  He gave them a gift that they had never known before in the history of mankind.  Everywhere the Jewish people have gone they have been under constant persecution and attack.  And George Washington said it’s not going to be that way here in America; you’re going to dwell here in safety and  you’re going to worship God the way you want to worship God.  I believe that God made good on His promise, “I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse.”

So that takes us to part 3 which is what we barely started getting into last week, the proper perspective concerning Israel.  What should be the attitude of the average evangelical Bible-believing Christian as they look across the world and see that that tiny nation on the banks of the Mediterranean sea?  In fact, our attitude towards that nation and that people group speaks volumes in the mind of God concerning His decision to bless or curse America or any other nation.

The first is… we hinted at this briefly last week, attitude.  Take a look, if you could, at Romans 11 once more, and verse 17.  Paul, in Romans 11, begins to talk about a tree and he begins to talk about branches, natural branches that have been removed from the tree.  And then he begins to talk about wild olive branches that have been brought into the tree.  The tree, of course, would be the Abrahamic Covenant, the natural branches broken off would be the Jewish people who by and large as a group stand in unbelief today, having failed to receive Christ Jesus as their Messiah when He came 2,000 years ago.  Of course, there are Jewish converts in the church today but that is not the bulk of the Jewish people; they remain in unbelief. In fact, as  you look at Israel today they continue on in unbelief.

And yet these wild olive branches that have been grafted into the tree… who would that be?  That would be you, that would be me; we are those who have been brought into the nurturing sap of this tree and we’re called wild olive branches, actually we’re not even called olive branches, just wild branches, because we really don’t belong and we really don’t fit.  It’s an agricultural miracle for even something like this to happen, and yet God, because He loves us so much did something contrary to agricultural laws and brought us into a right relationship with Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, and we have salvation.

And in the process of explaining all of this Paul begins to critique the attitude of the unnatural branches towards the natural branches.  What is the attitude of the Gentiles, who are in faith, to the Jews who are not yet in faith?  And Paul writes this in Romans 11:17, “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, [18] do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.  [19] You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ [20] Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith.”  Watch this, “Do not be conceited, but fear;” [23] “And they also if they do not continue in unbelief will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again” and He is able to do so, He will graft them in again.  [24] For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree? “

It’s interesting to me that Paul says watch your method of Bible study very carefully; watch your method of interpretation very carefully.  He doesn’t say anything like that, he goes to attitude because the type of philosophy that you hold concerning the future of the nation of Israel has more to do with attitude; you adopt the right method of interpretation when you have the right attitude of humility.  And Paul makes a very simple point here; you natural branches, you Gentiles that are in faith, as you look at unbelieving Jews don’t be arrogant because you don’t support the root, the root supports you.

In other words, you would have nothing as a Gentile Christian if God had not strategically worked through the patriarch, Abraham and the Hebrew nation.  And if God can do an agricultural miracle and bring into the olive tree these strange branches that really don’t belong (us), how much easier is it for God to reach out and restore the natural branches.  If God has already done the greater miracle can’t He do the lesser miracle, in other words?  And in fact, when you continue to study Paul in Romans 11 you learn that’s exactly what God is going to do.

So we need to monitor very carefully our attitude towards the Jewish people.  I say that with a great deal of frustration because as I speak today at least one Christian denomination that I can think of is engaged in a formal economic boycott against the nation of Israel and Israeli products.  I can’t think of an activity that takes place in Christendom that is more outside the scope of what Paul is writing here in Romans 11.

And if you are in college or if you have children that are in college, let me tell you what they’re going to hear: they’re going to hear BDS.  What does that mean?  It stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.  What does all of that mean?  Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions is a political movement against the nation of Israel.  Well, you might remember South Africa, how the world community looked at South Africa and said that is what they called an apartheid, meaning racially segregationist, an apartheid state.  And what corrected that was the world community engaging in a boycott, divestment and sanctions effort against South Africa.  And so by using this identical language, boycott, divestment and sanctions, what they’re basically saying here is the nation of Israel is no different than South Africa.  And just as we boycotted to correct the racism in South Africa we need to boycott to correct the racism in the land of Israel today.

Well, why would people think that the nation of Israel is an apartheid state?  Well, they built a wall; wouldn’t you want a wall if people were lobbing missiles and bombs and things of that nature from the Gaza Strip, which by the way elected Hamas, into your territory?  Did you know that that wall has been successful in restraining 98% of potential terrorist activity?  This is not a matter of racism; this is a matter of common sense.

And by the way, what about this issue of Israel being an apartheid on equal par with South Africa?  Did you know that there are non-Jews, Arabs, that are welcome citizens in the land of Israel today?  Did you know that they have all of the participation and the economy and privileges to work and to support your family just like any Jew living in that land would have.  Did you know that there are non-Jews that have actually risen to places of political prominence in the land of Israel, like into the Knesset, like even into the Supreme Court.  Does that sound to you like an apartheid state?

You can’t take South Africa and put it on equal par with the nation of Israel, but you see, we’re involved in a propaganda campaign where the repetition of this expression, boycott, divestment and sanctions is repeated so frequently that they want us to make a mental connection to the apartheid state of South Africa.  And sadly some of the worst anti-Israel language comes to us from the Christian world.

In fact, I was reading one article very recently where an individual named Gary North, who is what we would call a replacement theologian, (a replacement theologian is simply the belief that Israel is finished as far as God is concerned and the church has taken Israel’s place).  Gary North has boasted that he has already in his computer a book, already written, for what?  For when Israel gets pushed into the Mediterranean Sea, or converted to Christ.  By the way, Gary, they are going to be converted to Christ, just not on your timetable.  So he’s got a book already prepared as a manuscript in his computer (this is a Christian) where he just can’t wait for the day when Israel is pushed into the Mediterranean Sea and the book is already to go out where it’s sort of an “I told you so!”  book.

That is a tragic thing, to think that way as a Christian.  Let’s play a little game; who said it?  You ready?  ““First, their synagogues should be set on fire…Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed…Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds…”   …Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews…Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury or charging interest on loans…”  “Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle, and let the earn their bread by the sweat of their noses…We ought to drive the rascally lazy bones out of our system…”  …Therefore away with them… To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden–the Jews.”

Now some of  you know the answer to this; this was not written by Adolf Hitler, although more than one historian that I’ve read has indicated that Hitler got many of these ideas from a German theologian who happened to live a few centuries earlier than Hitler, who planted seeds into its soil.  This individual is none other than someone that I have a great deal of respect and revere, one of my heroes; Martin Luther wrote those words.  [Martin Luther, Concerning the Jews and Their Lies, cited in Michael Brown’s Our Hands Are Stained with Blood, pp. 14-15.]

And people, it’s interesting as you listen to them everybody is trying to take Luther off the hook here.  Oh, he was old, he was grumpy, he spoke kind of rashly towards the end of his life.  You can find this tract easily on the internet for free, download it to your kindle, you can read it for yourself.  This is no small tract, this is an 80 page document.  You’ll notice the dot dot dot … that I kept putting in between phrases, that means an ellipsis, where parts of it, just for the sake of space have been removed.  He goes on page after page after page after page after page in an 80 page document talking about this tract entitled, The Jews and Their Lies.

I’m a preacher and a teacher, I know what it means to misspeak.  When you’re writing it’s a completely world because you are coolly and calmly and deliberately reflecting on your thoughts and  your sentence structure.  I have a great deal of respect for many of the contributions of Martin Luther but let me tell you something, Luther had a dark side, just like you have a dark side and I have a dark side, and he went back into the sin nature and started listening to the wrong voices.

And sadly this has become, to a very large extent, normal in mainline denominations, anti-Israel vitriol.  May God help us to understand this, may God help us to understand what Paul said in Romans 11 where we ought not to be arrogant towards the branches that have been broken off.  There’s a reason why unbelieving Jews really want very little to do with Christians or Christianity today; it has to do with our history.  A very fine book, quick read that I would recommend to you is the book by Michael Brown, we have it in our church library here, it’s simply titled Our Hands Are Stained with Blood.  It is a historical documentation of Christendom, the early Church Fathers, right through the past 2,000 years of the anti-Semitic sermons, the anti-Semitic writings, the anti-Semitic statements that we, as Christians, have made towards the Jewish people because we’ve lost sight of Paul’s command to us in Romans 11.

We ought to think very carefully about what our attitude is towards the Jewish people because that attitude dictates which side we are on in the angelic conflict.  Take your Bible, if  you could, and go to Revelation 12 for just a minute.  I want to pull back the veil and the curtain and I want to show you something from the spiritual world.  We all know from the Scripture that what is happening in the angelic world, the realm of demons and angels influences events in the physical world; just ask Job about that.  Job lost a great deal, you’ll remember, because of a conversation between God and Satan that Job knew nothing about.  David had a thought to number the troops of Israel because of a satanically planted idea into his mind.  Peter tried to talk Jesus out of going to the cross and Jesus said, “Get behind Me,” what? “Satan.”

See, as Christians we can articulate things and say things thinking they are our own unique ideas, not understanding where those ideas come from.  We’re warned in Ephesians 6:12 that “we wrestle not against” what? “flesh and blood, but against principalities” and rulers of this dark world.   [Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”]

Let me take you for just a minute into the mind of the devil; I’ve taken you into the mind of God and what God’s plan and program is for Israel but what about the devil’s plan?  Have you ever thought about that?  The Bible addresses this.  Revelation 12:1-9, it says, “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; [2] and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. [4] And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  [5] And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”

Notice the repetition of this term, “a sign” as John describes it.  In other words, we are seeing here great symbolic language at work, which is characteristic of the book of Revelation.  We run into three characters: number 1, a woman, clothed with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars.  Secondly, a dragon, and thirdly a son, s-o-n, to be distinguished from the sun, s-u-n, back in verse 1.

And people look at a vision like this and they just sort of throw up their hands but let’s remember something about  the book of Revelation; the book of Revelation comes from the noun apocalupsis which means the unveiling.  God has given us the book of Revelation to understand something.

And if you follow a few principles of Bible study technique you will see that it’s very understandable what God is revealing here.  He’s revealing the dark side, what Satan’s agenda is towards the Jewish people because the Son, S-o-n has to be Jesus.  Why is that? Because he’s going to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Psalm 2:9 says that.  [Psalm 2:9, “‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”]  Jesus is caught up to God in His throne in this vision; that’s the ascension, is it not?  Acts 1:9.  [Acts 1:9, “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”]

Then we run into a dragon.  The dragon is very easy to figure out because verse 9, which we didn’t read, tells you that the dragon is who?  The devil.  [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”]

But what about verse 1, this woman, “clothed with the sun, and the moon” and the twelve stars” and I can’t tell you how many theologians I know of look at that and say that’s the church.  Let me tell you something, this woman is about to give birth to Jesus; the church never gave birth to Jesus.  Jesus gave birth to the church; it can’t be the church.  So who is it?

Well, you have to understand Joseph’s dream, all the way back in the book of Genesis because this vision was given to Joseph. Look at what he says here, he got this vision when he was about 17 years old, “Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, ‘Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun” sound familiar?  “and the moon and eleven stars” Joseph being the twelfth star, “were bowing down to me.”  [Genesis 37:9]  The vision of what would happen about 13 years later in Joseph’s life where he would be elevated to the second in command in Egypt and his brothers would come to Egypt from Canaan to receive help for famine, grain in the midst of famine.

And Joseph kind of liked this vision so he says hey dad, let me tell you about it.  [10] “He related it to his father” that would be Jacob,” and to his brothers,” isn’t this great, you guys are all going to bow down to me.  How do you think they took that? “He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him,” now in the process of the rebuke the imagery is deciphered for us.  “…his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have had?  Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually bow down ourselves down before you to the ground? “

So the sun, s-u-n, is Jacob, the moon is Mrs. Jacob, the eleven stars are Joseph’s brothers, the twelfth star would be Joseph himself.  You know these twelve stars, they represent Jacob’s dozen because Jacob had twelve descendants, did he not?  And through those twelve descendants came the twelve tribes of Israel.  Who is this woman “clothed with the son, and the moon and the twelve stars”? therefore in the book of Revelation she is none other than the nation of Israel.

Now when you go back to Revelation 12 and you look at verses 13 and 14 and then verses 15 and 16 what you’ll discover is the dragon (who’s the dragon? The devil) he is in the second half of the tribulation period trying to destroy the woman.  And great imagery is used to depict this although God steps in and supernaturally protects the woman.  It’s in Revelation 12 that the following descriptors are used to describe Satan’s animosity towards the woman, or Israel.  Wrath, persecution, the desire to sweep her away, enraged, war; this is the mind of Satan towards the Jews, specifically the Jewish people, specifically the Jewish nation because they are the nation through whom God would bless the world. Satan says this is my world, I’m not going to sit by and let this people group bring forth the Scripture, the Messiah and the kingdom, I’m not going to let them bring forth the kingdom, that’s for sure because once the kingdom comes Satan says to himself my days are finished, so what I’m going to do is work in the second half of the Tribulation period preemptively to destroy the nation of Israel.

People look at the holocaust and say how could something like that have ever happened in history?  The level of barbarism and cruelty?  In fact, Dachau, I’ve actually stood and walked in that very area where the Jews were told by the furor or his henchmen to lead the trains, the boxcars that they were in, and to run into this diabolical area to receive a shower and as they ran into these places to supposedly receive a shower, as they were panting having been running, of course water doesn’t come out of the nozzle, poisonous gas does and six million Jews, think about that, lost their lives.

And we look at something like this and we say how could this have happened in history?  Here’s how it can happen; it’s satanically energized.  It doesn’t come from logic or rationality; there is no logical explanation for this other than it’s part of the angelic conflict.  It relates to something Jesus says at the end of Matthew 23.  After condemning the unbelief of first century Israel Jesus says in Matthew 23:39, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He’s making a statement there to the Jewish people, He says at the very end of these verses, “you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!”]   I’m not coming back for you, I am not going to rescue you until you acknowledge Me as the Messiah.  Satan says to himself, well, we’ll just see if that ever happens; we will kill, through demonic power, every Jew on planet earth and if there’s no Jews left to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, the Second Coming will never happen.  And the world will go on and on and on and on under my grasp.

See, you begin to put some things together and you begin to understand the irrational hatred for the Jewish people.  How is it that you even have a movement today that denied the holocaust ever happened?  The former leader of Iran is a holocaust denier.  How can you be a holocaust denier when I myself have been to the holocaust museum, what’s called the Yad Vashem, where it’s a historical record of the six million people that lost their lives, the Jews.   What sort of logical rationality, particularly a world leader, would deny the holocaust?  Answer: it’s not motivated by logic.  This is a spiritual issue; we are getting into what the Scripture would term the angelic conflict.

What side do you want to be on in this angelic conflict.  Have you ever thought about that?  As we hear about BDS what side of the conflict are they on, God’s or the Devil’s.  As we stand up for Israel what side of the conflict do we want to be on?  God’s or the devil’s?  It doesn’t seem to me like there’s a lot of leeway here.  You can be a saved person (as Peter was) and lend your mouth (as Luther did) to the plans of the wicked one.  I have that potential, so do you.  Or I can get into the Scripture, figure out what God thinks, figure out what the devil thinks and align myself accordingly, because let me just tell you something as clearly as I know how to say it:  Beloved: your attitude toward the Jewish people, the theology that you adopt, whether Israel has a future as the Scripture says or not, who you vote for, or don’t vote for, allows you to align in the angelic war.  We don’t think of the issue that way, do we?  Yet God says this is extremely important.

Which leads me to another point; Israel’s apostate condition.  How can you, some of you may be thinking, stand up in a Protestant church behind a pulpit and advocate for the nation of Israel when the nation of Israel is in unbelief?  They won’t receive Christ at the present time.  How can you be a…what some of  you might think, a cheerleader for Israel?  How can you support an apostate nation in other words?  Here’s my answer:  They may be apostate today but that’s not their future.  They’re coming to Christ, a remnant of them anyway.  How do I know that?  Because I take Bible prophecy… what?  Literally!  That’s the whole name of the game.  You take the prophecies literally or come up with some excuse as to why they’re not literal.

In fact, if I were to put you in a time capsule and transport you backwards to the first two centuries of the church you would hear sermons exactly like what I’m preaching.  Justin Martyr, a very early church father, says it this way: “But I and every other completely orthodox Christian feel certain that there will be a resurrection of the flesh, followed by a thousand years in the rebuilt, embellished, and enlarged city of Jerusalem as was announced by the prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the others.”  [Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 80]

Now people say well, wait a minute, Andy, you can’t make this stuff a test of orthodoxy; I mean, orthodoxy really relates to the big items, right?  Like Trinity, virgin birth, deity of Christ.  Look at what Justin Martyr says here, “I and every other completely orthodox Christian,” he made it a test of orthodoxy, not me.  Everybody that loves Jesus and loves the Bible for the first two centuries of the church loves the Jews because we understand that God is going to fulfill His plan and program through the Jews.

But oh how things changed in the fourth century beginning with a school of thought down south in Alexandria, Egypt, where the great allegorizers of Bible prophecy came to the forefront, Origen, Augustine, others, and they began to say things like this: Away with this fable of a thousand years; God is through with the Jew and we, as the church, have supplanted the nation of Israel.  But that begs the question, doesn’t it?  How can you support an unbelieving nation?

Can I ask you a simple question?  What do you have to be before you can be a believer?  You have to be a what?  An unbeliever, don’t you?  Let me ask you a question: were you an unbeliever before you became a believer?  Well of course you were.  Was God not at work in your life before you came to Christ?  Of course He was; the Spirit of God was at work, John 16:7-11 tells us that.

[John 16:7-11, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. [8] When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: [9] about sin, because people do not believe in me; [10] about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; [11] and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.”]

Why can’t that be true of the Jewish nation?  Have you ever studied the order of these prophecies given by Ezekiel and others, where God is going to gather them from all lands and bring them into their own land?  That’s a physical regathering; that’s stage 1.  Then, oh, that’s sequential, THEN I will pour clean water on you and you will be clean; the clean water is later defined as the Holy Spirit.  Do you see a pattern here?  They’re restored physically, I would argue we’re seeing that happen today, and then God is going to eventually restore them spiritually.  Have you ever studied the valley of the dry bones?  The very next chapter of Ezekiel, where Ezekiel looks out in this valley and he sees bones scattered everywhere and he begins to see the bones assemble themselves to form a human skeleton and then muscles and flesh and sinews develop on this skeleton to form a person.  But what does it say in Ezekiel 37:8?  That there was no breath in them.  [Ezekiel 37:8, “And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them.”]

“So I prophesied again as He commanded me, and the breath came into them and they came to life….  [Ezekiel 37:10, “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.”]  The skeleton comes together in the form of a corpse, that’s the physical regathering of Israel in unbelief, and then they are revived spiritually.  This is part of a process that God is at work doing, that’s how I can support unbelieving nations; they’re unbelieving today but that may not be the case tomorrow.  That prophecy tells me it won’t be the case tomorrow.

I was sitting one time in an amillennial church and the pastor was preaching out of Ezekiel 37 and he said these bones represent the church on the day of Pentecost.  And you’d be proud of me, I kept my mouth shut.  I kept saying to myself read verse 11, which says as clearly as it can be said, “these bones are the house of Israel.”  What happened at Pentecost was wonderful but you only had three thousand out of over a million Jews saved on Pentecost; in fact, the nation of Israel after the day of Pentecost, about forty years later, went off into divine discipline.  What happened on the day of Pentecost is such small picking’s compared to the future for Israel.

Zechariah 12:10 says, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace” can I ask you a simple question?  Where are the inhabitants, Jews, just before the Spirit of God comes upon them?  What does the text say?  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem,” they’re in Jerusalem.  What are they doing in Jerusalem?  God has put them there, they’re just waiting for the Spirit to fall.

J. Vernon McGee, great Bible teacher, for years has said what is happening in Israel today is not necessarily a work of God because the Spirit hasn’t come yet. J. Vernon McGee in his early ministry said that and my friend, David Hocking got together with him in his house and the two of them were playing pool and this subject came up and David Hocking asked J. Vernon McGee a very simple question: According to Zechariah 12:10 where are they before the Spirit of God comes? And J. Vernon McGee looked at his Bible and saw that it was in the house of “the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”  And J. Vernon McGee, the way David Hocking described this scene as he began to kind of flap his suspenders like he was thinking, and from that point on J. Vernon McGee switched his view that what is happening in Israel today is just as much a work of God as it is the second work where the Spirit of God comes upon the Jewish people.

John Walvoord, the great prophecy teacher, says this:  “Of the many peculiar phenomena which characterize the present generation, few events can claim equal significance as far as Biblical prophecy is concerned with that of the return of Israel to their land. It constitutes a preparation for the end of the age, the setting for the coming of the Lord for His church, and the fulfillment of Israel’s prophetic destiny.”

This is not some oddball strange doctrine that I’m teaching; John Walvoord himself, on page 26 of his book, Israel in Prophecy, says the state of Israel is prophetically significant.  In fact, the current return of the Jews in unbelief is but preparation for what is to come.

I so appreciate the work of Randall Price, who we’ve had here as a speaker, in delineating the two regatherings, Israel’s present regathering, which he calls the first regathering, and then the second permanent regathering.  In the present regathering, largely having begun in 1948 Israel returns to part of the land.  We’re seeing that happen today.  In the second regathering she’ll return to all of the land.  Today she’s coming back in unbelief; later she comes back in faith.  In the first regathering she’s restored to the land only; in the second regathering she’s restored to the land and the Lord.  The current regathering sets the stage for discipline of the tribulation; but oh, that second regathering, when Israel is in faith, sets the stage for blessing or the Millennial Kingdom.

Most acknowledge that the second regathering will be a work of God.  May I just say something to you; the first regathering is just as much a work of God as the second regathering.  How do I know that?  I know that by just asking you a very simple question: how many Amalekites do you know?  Think about it.  Amalekites are in the Bible along with the Jebusites, and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the out of sights, and the electric lights and the mosquito bites and the termites, I mean, they’re all in the Bible right next to Israel.  What happened to the Amalekites?  Sociologists tell us that with a couple of generations a nation removed from its land loses its cultural identity.  They simply assimilate into the whole culture and they lose their distinctiveness as a people group.

Do you not think it somewhat odd that the nation of Israel, beginning in A.D. 70 was outside of their land, not for a generation or two but for 2,000 years and then comes back into the exact same land that they were evicted from with their religion intact, their culture intact, and their language, the Hebrew language intact.  When you are looking at a Jewish person you are looking at a miracle of God.  And people today say man, I wish God would do miracles today.  When you look at a tiny nation in the Middle East with a Hebrew flag flying and the Jerusalem Post written in Hebrew you are looking at a miracle.  It’s so plain and it’s so tragic that Americans don’t recognize it, politicians don’t recognize it and God help us, even members of the Christian church don’t see it for what it is.

This is how I can support an unbelieving nation, because they’re not always going to be unbelieving and I understand what the devil is trying to do, and I understand what God is trying to do.  Now the question usually is this:  Well, Andy, do you support everything Israel does?  I mean, if Israel started nuclear war tomorrow would you support that blindly?  And the answer is no, I don’t support every little thing Israel does because Israel is an imperfect nation just like the United States; I don’t support everything the United States does either.  And by the way, God didn’t support everything Israel did, just read your Old Testament, read Isaiah, you’ll see it pretty clearly, Jeremiah, Ezekiel.  But I support the right of self-defense; I support the right of existence of a nation.  I can still see, even though they’re in unbelief the divine program of God unfolding.

And thus I largely think the way the Apostle Paul thinks in Romans 11:28-29.  Look at what Paul says speaking of the Jewish nation, “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake,” go through the book of Acts and you will see the biggest opponents of Paul’s gospel of grace was unbelieving Jews.  Paul, in city after city after city, was thrown out of the synagogue, a Jewish gathering place and he bore fruit amongst the Gentiles.  Paul spent time in prison and having false charges brought against him because of unbelieving Jews.  Nobody is more qualified to address this subject than Paul.  “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake but  from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers;”

I don’t agree with Israel’s rejection of Christ but I know this much about my Bible, that they are beloved.  Who are the fathers?  The patriarchs, particularly Abraham, the one who received by God the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant.  Why is that?  Verse 29, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”  Irrevocable is a legal term from contract law, it has to do with this idea that once an offer is made and certain conditions are met the offer can’t be pulled back.  God has said something regarding the nation of Israel which can never be withdrawn because of the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant.  That’s why God Himself said as long as the fixed order is in existence Israel will always remain a nation before Me.  And it’s just a matter of time before God makes good on the rest of His promises.

Our attitude towards Israel, Romans 11; part of the angelic conflict, Revelation 12; Israel’s apostate condition, Ezekiel 36 and 37.  Time has escaped me and we’ll look at some practical reasons to support the nation of Israel next week.

Aren’t you glad that God is a God that keeps His promises?  When I look at the Jews in the Middle East I don’t get angry, I rejoice because God keeps His promises to an unfaithful people.  You know whose hope that fulfills?  Mine, because if God is going to keep His Word to Israel He’s going to keep His Word to me and to you.  And the answer is, have you ever entered into the promises of God just like Abraham entered into the Abrahamic Covenant?  Have you entered into those promises, which we call the gospel?  The gospel is good news, it is a gift from God that you receive by way of faith. It’s the same type of arrangement that Abraham had nationally, in a sense, with the Jewish people.  And once you have received the gospel by way of faith you are secure because that’s the nature of God.  God can’t what?   He can’t lie.  So our exhortation to you here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to receive the blessings of the gospel which is simply this, Jesus died on a cross 2,000 years ago and paid a penalty for every sin you’ve ever committed.  And by receiving that as a gift you enter into a relationship with God; your sins are forgiven, you have the hope of glory and what you have in Him can never withdrawn or taken away.

If the Spirit of God is convicting some of you to receive this gift our exhortation here at Sugar Land Bible Church is to receive, by faith, what Jesus has done.  It’s something you can do right now where you’re seated; it’s not something you have to walk an aisle to do, raise hand to do, join a church to do, give money to do, it’s a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you respond by faith, just the way Abraham did, trust in what God has done.  If it’s something that you need more explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.

Shall we pray.  Father, we are grateful for Your hand in history and Your faithfulness over time in spite of great attack and opposition.  Help us to begin to think and orient our thoughts correctly towards a very serious issue in Your Word.  Help us to vote accordingly and adopt theology accordingly because we want to think the way you think in these things.  We lift these things up in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said….