Senator and historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus (54-117 AD) once commented on political transitions in the Roman Empire: “Dum hac totius orbis mutatione fortuna imperii transit” (“With worldwide convulsion the Imperial power was changing hands”). The recent changeover of political power in the USA might not be global in scope, but the world’s scoop-hungry media has whipped up this national news into tsunami-like dimensions.
Bitter acrimony has infected American social media more quickly than the Stuxnet virus. Public debate is now characterized by rancor and downright nastiness. Disagreements over human sexuality, political affiliation or religious perspectives quickly degenerate into crude language, harsh attacks and coarse behavior. And this conduct has become normalized in all the polarized communities concerned, including among those who confess Yeshua as Messiah.
The Bible certainly speaks clearly to the above-noted religious, political and social issues. But this e-letter approaches the matter from a different angle.
Cold and wicked wind
Messiah Yeshua was sitting on top of the Mount of Olives one day, when His disciples asked Him to explain what signs would characterize the End of the Age (Matthew 24:3). Yeshua’s words were uttered in Hebrew and directed to Jews who believed in Him. He was speaking into the heart of His beloved Jewish nation (Matthew 23:37). He described events which would happen to the Jewish people in their own land of Israel. Some things would take place across the valley on the Temple Mount. Other sons and daughters of Jacob would flee to the hills of Judah or into the Judean desert.
One of the characteristics of the End of the Age, Yeshua prophesied, would involve international hatred of believers in general and of Jewish believers in particular (verse 9). Because of Last Days increasing persecution and violent attacks against followers of Yeshua, “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (verse 10). Messiah sadly comment that “because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:11).
Believers in the First Century AD were acquainted with a similar dynamic. Yeshua warned the believers in Sardis, “Wake up and strengthen the things that remain” (Revelation 3:3).
Winning arguments and losing the war
When people’s hearts get hardened their speech gets coarse. A famous Rabbi (Judah HaNasi) once said that, in the time just before the coming of Messiah, “the face of that generation would be like the face of a dog.” Another agreed and added: “In the generation when the Son of David comes, the young will insult their elders” (both in TB Sanhedrin 97a).
The spiritual enemy of our souls is interested in turning “five members in one household” against each other (Luke 12:49-53; Matthew 10:21-22) as Micah’s prophecy forewarned (Micah 7:5-6). Let’s remember that arrogance and argumentativeness are not tools of the kingdom.
- “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:16-18)
- “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:1-3)
The enemy’s strategy involves releasing enmity and striving among all men and women. His goal is to divide and conquer. At this point hatred and rebellion are spreading like wildfire. Angry marchers are giving birth in the spirit to riots and disturbance.
- The challenge before intercessors – ask God to hold back evil and to restore sanity before even greater darkness would be unleashed
Keeping perspective during tornado season
Isaiah was commissioned to bring a prophetic message to his Jewish people, though he was warned that his ministry would have nearly zero impact in short-term results (Isaiah 6:9-13). It is difficult to stand one’s ground when the kings of this world (or a majority of their followers) bluster and blow with all their might (like the Big Bad Wolf in the children’s story The Three Little Pigs). The prophet warns us that we need to get serious about our spiritual training and endurance if we are to represent God’s perspective to a rebellious world (Jeremiah 12:5).
The famous ‘Flying Scotsman’ Eric Liddell was a British Olympian and evangelist made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire. One powerful scene is Liddell’s sermon on Isaiah 40, where he declares God’s sovereignty over the fading glory of the nations.
- “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales. Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust . . . All the nations are as nothing before Him. They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless” (Isaiah 40:15-17).
- “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers . . It is He who reduces rulers to nothing, who make the judges of the earth meaningless. Scarcely have they been planted, scarcely have they been sown, scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth but He merely blows on them and they wither and the storm carries them away like stubble” (Isaiah 40:22-24).
In the Middle East no merchant in the outdoor market pays attention to the weight of a drop of water on the side of his wooden bucket. Neither will he be concerned about how much a speck of dust weighs on his scales. It’s totally insignificant. In the same way the Lord God of Israel declares that superpower machinations are insignificant to Him. He is in no way frightened or stampeded by opposition to His plans.
He is the only great God. And He commands His followers to take no rest and to give Him no rest until He makes Israel great again.
- “On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen. All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind YHVH, take no rest for yourselves and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-8).
Kingdoms rise, kingdoms fall
Amos clues us in on a divine strategy. God will judge and even bring down powerful nations but He will never do that to the Jewish people: “Behold, the eyes of YHVH God are on the sinful kingdom and I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the House of Jacob” (Amos 9:8).
Jeremiah adds an important coda: “O Jacob My servant do not fear, declares YHVH, for I am with you. For I shall make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you, yet I shall not make a full end of you” (Jeremiah 46:28).
The Mighty One of Israel “has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their throne, and has exalted those who were humble . . . He has given help to Israel His servant in remembrance of His covenant faithfulness, as He spoke to our Fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1:49-55).
Shaking the shakeable
In Haggai 2:6 the prophet speaks of a day when the God of Jacob will shake all foundations on earth and in the heavens – spiritual, political and social. Hebrew 12:25-28 tells us that He is doing this in order that only the unshakeable things may remain.
As the Western world is shaken, who is on the Lord’s side (Exodus 32:26)? God is shaking the whole world and He is shaking Israel (Amos 9:9). He is shaking Israel in order to bring her into the fullness of her calling. And He is shaking the nations in order that they would cry out to the God of Israel in repentance and ask God to make the Jewish people ‘a torch that is burning’ (Isaiah 62:7).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for the leaders of the nations to receive divine revelation regarding Israel and then to obey God’s Word
- Pray for believers in the West to turn away from wickedness of speech and be purified and refined like gold and silver
- Pray for the protection, strengthening, revelation and salvation of the Jewish people, and that they may lean on Him who can keep them from all evil and all destruction
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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