Saturday, December 17, 2016

Center Of The World - God’s Timepiece

The central and most important point in the world was appointed long ago when God gave the Israelites the land known as Israel. All geographic points referred to in the bible are referenced using Jerusalem as the absolute center of God’s compass. It was here that He was destined to be born into man’s family in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It was here where He would offer himself up as the ultimate and final sacrifice for the sins of man, and it will be here where he returns triumphantly as the avenging Messiah and savior of the world. There is no other place in the universe that holds such importance for the future of mankind, which is why the enemies of God have forever sought to destroy it and all of it’s people. Israel has always been God’s timepiece, with distinct preordained moments set for certain biblical events which have long ago been decreed, it is steadily ticking until the stunning appearance of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords signals peace on earth and the end of mankind’s flawed rule. 

Down through the ages the land historically known as Israel has been trampled by the Armies of Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Greece and a number of other nations including the armies of the Roman Empire. Following the siege of Jerusalem in 63 BC, the Hasmonean Kingdom became a protectorate of Rome, and in 6 CE was organized as the Roman province of Judea. This was during the earliest years in the life of Jesus of Nazareth who later as an adult foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. 
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.” (Matthew 24:1-2)
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it; for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! For great distress shall be upon the earth and wrath upon this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all nations; and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21: 20-24)

One might wonder why this happened and what was the reason? The answer is twofold and is found in two of the following verses;  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 
(John1:1-5, 11-14)

He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.
The Jews had lost sight of the significance of the animal blood sacrifices in the temple throughout the years for the annual rolling back of their sins, they were looking instead for a Messianic avenger with a sword to deliver them from an oppressive Roman government. Having failed to recognize their Messiah, God used their  oppressor to destroy the temple and thus cause animal sacrifice to cease as it had become an abomination to God who had offered His only begotten son as the final sacrifice for the sins of mankind for all time, and sadly they rejected Him.

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 
Those Jews and gentiles who did acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah were persecuted unmercifully first by the Jews and then by Rome, they too became a part of diaspora, which was God’s plan to spread Christianity to the four corners of the earth.

The Jews had revolted against the Roman Empire in 66 AD during the period known as the first Jewish-Roman War which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD just as Jesus had prophesied. During the siege, the Romans destroyed the second Temple and most of Jerusalem. Jewish leaders and elite were exiled, killed or sold into slavery. In 132 AD, the Jews under Bar Kochba rebelled once more against the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who defeated the Jewish armies in 135 AD and Jewish independence was forever lost. As punishment Hadrian changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capotolina, turning it into a pagan city and banned the Jews from living there. The Romans engaged in mass executions and enslavement, and destroyed large numbers of Judean towns, forbidding Jews from settling in Jerusalem or its environs, there was no further Jewish government or overarching legal system thereafter in Judea; this effectively turned the expatriate Jews of the Diaspora into a permanently exiled people with no national homeland. Restrictions (taxation, discrimination, social exclusions) further alienated and marginalized remaining Jews in the Negev and Galilee that favored the settlement of culturally pagan Syro-Phoenicians and others. It was at this time that Judea became normatively known as Syria Palestina. A Roman policy was put in place to alienate Jews from the Land of Israel and Judea, ensuring that no Jewish temple, Jerusalem or state ever rose again. 

One might think that would have been the end of Israel, Jews have been persecuted and murdered in every corner of the world ever since, even the most murderous attempt to eradicate Jews from the face of the earth only served to put it into the hearts of a remnant to return to their promised land and begin anew. The Jewish word “Aliya” means the return of Jews back to their ancient land of Israel, from wherever they may be scattered. The Zionists of the late 19th Century formally created this concept, as they urged all Jews to pull up their roots and migrate back to their ancient land. Little by little, from the 1890's to the present time, Jews have migrated by the several millions to Israel, giving her great vitality and citizens of unique skills she could have attained in no other way. Of course, the greatest single motivation for this return was severe persecution against Jews in the lands in which they were residing. This is all according to God’s plan which has set the stage and is leading up to a grand finale when Jesus the Messiah returns triumphantly as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.