Proof of God: The Jewish People

The very best intellectual and tangible proof of the existence of God is the fact that there are Jewish people in the world today.

No people group in the history of the world has been more persecuted and hunted than the Jewish people. From being taken as slaves in Egypt, to the Babylonian captivity, through the numerous inquisitions, massacres and genocides in Europe (in just one year, 1096, 1/3 of the Jewish population was exterminated), to the Holocaust, the Jewish people have not only survived, but thrived. Despite all possible odds, Jewish children torn away from their parents during World War II went on to become some of the most influential people on the planet.

In 1948, Israel was established once again as a country. The land of Israel at that time was a desolate land, devoid of both vegetation and human population. Here’s what Mark Twain wrote just a few a decades earlier in Innocents Abroad: “… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds…a silent mournful expanse…a desolation…we never saw a human being on the whole route…hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

When the Jewish diaspora began to settle back in, commerce exploded, infrastructures were built, cities propsered, and Israel is now the third largest exporter of fruit in the world! In fact, the palestinians had no interest in that land until Jews started growing oranges the size of grapefruits. This is the Abrahamic blessing in action.

Also, Israel is relatively small, about the size of the state of Connecticut. It is completely surrounded by enemies (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) much larger than it who would love nothing more than to see the entire country erased. To put it in perspective, toss a matchstick into the middle of a football field. Israel is the matchstick and the green turf is its enemy. Yet despite all odds, they have been able to thwart off attack after attack. The Israeli victory in the Six-Day War is nothing short of miraculous. According to all the military analysts and pundits, it was to be a lopsided match. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) consisted of 275,000 troops, compared to the 456,000 soldiers of the combined Iraqi, Syrian, Jordanian and Egypt armies. Time and time again, God has protected Israel.

All of this is evidence of God fulfilling His word:

Deuteronomy 32:9-10:
For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.

Genesis 12:2-3:

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

-by Pastor Bojan Jancic

The Ten Lepers

In Luke 17, Jesus heals ten lepers. What happens after that is appalling, and Jesus was not shy about expressing his disappointment:

Luke 17:15-19: And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Jesus healed ten lepers, yet only one of them came back and said thank you. Furthermore, the only leper who came back and paid his respects to Jesus was a Samaritan. The Jews despised the Samaritans and saw them as unworthy of a relationship with God, yet all ten men were healed. But it was only this one man who was humble enough to return to Jesus, throw himself at His feet, and offer him thankful praise.

The final verse of this passage is intriguing. Jesus, speaking to man who has just been healed of his physical affliction, pronounces him ‘well’ again. Why would he do that? The only plausible answer is that there was something of greater value than physical healing that Jesus wanted this man to have. Jesus granted spiritual healing to this Samaritan man. He granted a personal and intimate relationship – a prize that is of more value than physical healing many times over – to this man because of his humble praise.

God has achieved many victories on your behalf.  Are you giving Him the glory and praise He deserves?

-by Pastor Mike White

The Crimson Worm

Jesus is a worm.

Psalm 22:6: “But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.”

The Hebrew word for worm here is tola’ath. This is the crimson worm that was very common to the region of old Israel and was used in the dyeing of garments to scarlet for the priesthood and the wealthy. It is somewhat round in shape and often mistaken for a berry. The life cycle of the tola’ath is just amazing.

When the crimson worm is prepared to reproduce offspring (which she does only once in her life) she attaches herself rigidly to a tree or a wooden fence post in such a way that she can never be removed without tearing her body completely apart. And when her young ones arrive, they feed upon the LIVING body of the mother – a decidedly painful sacrifice. Then, when the young are able to survive apart from the mother, she dies. As she dies, she exudes a crimson gel which not only stains the tree, but her young ones as well. Thus they are colored by the mother’s scarlet dye and remain so for the remainder of their lives. For the next three days the worm can be scraped from the tree and the crimson gel can be used to make a dye – the same dye used in the tabernacle, the priest’s belts, and by the upper class. On the fourth day, the uncollected gel is no longer crimson, but has turned into a white wax and is used to make shellac, a preservative of wood. Also, the crushed tola’ath has natural antibacterial properties and was used to make medicine to make the heart beat smoothly.

When Jesus said, “I am a worm” He was not saying, “I am a nobody.” He was saying, “I am a tola’ath. I will allow myself to be attached to a piece of wood. I will give my life for my children. I will bleed crimson and die so that they may live. My blood will cover them and take them from spiritual poverty to spiritual aristocracy. I will be crushed, but my blood will heal their hearts. My sacrifice will remove the dark stain of sin and forever preserve them, making them white as snow.

Isaiah 1:18: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord,’Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.’”

-by Pastor Bojan Jancic

Restoring Double

Zechariah 9:11-12: “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.”

God tells us that whenever we return to Him, because of the blood covenant that exists between us and Him in the person of Jesus Christ, He will restore double to us. What does this mean?

Jesus died for you on the Cross.  Yes, even you.  When He died, a twofold transformation took place in your relationship with God.

First, all your sins were forgiven.  No matter who you are or what you’ve done, the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross washed you white as snow.  You have a clean slate.

Second, the perfect and righteous record of Jesus Christ Himself was attributed to you.  Not only have your sins been forgiven, but the reward that Jesus deserves for living a perfect, sinless life now belongs to you.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, God not only restores us to the person we would have been if we had lived a sinless life; He also promotes us to the position of righteousness that was earned by His Son on the Cross.

Even today, God will restore double to you.

-by Pastor Mike White

Conquering the Fear of Death

Have you ever thought about death?  Have you ever thought about eternity?  Have you every thought so long and hard about either (or both) of those subjects that you get a nice, big knot in the pit of your stomach, your heart starts to race and your breath gets short because you just can’t understand it?  Phew…I’m glad to know I’m not the only one.

Death is scary.  There is no getting around it.  Yet the Bible tells us, very explicitly, that we are not to fear it.  In fact, we are to rejoice in death, a life event on which Paul reflects in his letter to the Philippians:

Philippians 1:21-24: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.”

Paul minces no words here.  If given the choice between staying on the Earth and departing – dying – to be with Jesus, he would choose death.  In fact, he looks upon his departure from the Earth so favorably that he says death is far better than to ‘remain in the flesh,’ or stay alive.  Paul did not fear death; he looked forward to it.  So then why do we fear it?

Enoch is another man who looked forward to death.  Enoch was an Old Testament prophet who, with great persistence, sought after the Will of God.  Enoch is unique because he is one of very few Bible characters who was translated – lifted straight from Earth and into Heaven without ‘dying.’  His ‘death’ is glossed over in Genesis 5:24: “…And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him,” and further explained by the author of Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:5: “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

Smith Wigglesworth explains the circumstances of Enoch’s escape from death beautifully in one of his sermons:

“Enoch walked with God. That must have been all those years as he was penetrating, and going through, and laying hold, and believing and seeing and getting into such close cooperation and touch with God that things moved on earth and he began to move toward heaven. At last it was not possible for him to stop any longer. Oh, Hallelujah!” (www.smithwigglesworth.com/sermons/ftp1.htm).

Enoch strived to see the things of Heaven come to Earth.  He spent such time and effort reaching for the things of Heaven that God plucked him up and gathered him into his bosom.  God will do the same with us when we die.  If Enoch was not afraid, then we shouldn’t be either!

Paul and Enoch had complete faith that the eternal life that follows death is far better than anything we could ever imagine.  Anything you have learned to love on this Earth – nice meals, fancy cars, the company of loved ones – is but a shadow of everything that we, those who believe in Jesus Christ, are destined to experience in Heaven.

We are meant to look forward to death.  The Bible describes heaven as a place crafted out of pure gold, where there is no need for a sun or a moon because the glory of God Himself illuminates everything (Revelation 21:18-23).  Jesus Christ Himself tells all those who call Him Lord and Savior that He will personally prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-3).  Why, then, do we fear something that Jesus Christ has already conquered (Hebrews 2:14-15)?

We have to make a conscious choice every time the fear of death rears its ugly head.  We can choose fear, or we can choose peace.  The Bible talks about a peace that surpasses all understanding:

Philippians 4:7: “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I believe this passage is often misinterpreted.  This text is not talking about a peace that is so peaceful that we just won’t be able to understand it.  The text is talking about a peace that is better than understanding.  The text is explaining the choice that all of us must make whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation.  We can choose peace, or we can choose to try and understand everything that is happening around us.  The text also explains that choosing peace always surpasses (is always better than) choosing understanding.

Trying to understand death will only result in fear.  My prayer is that all of us, every day, would choose to let God handle the deep thinking.  Paul and Enoch chose peace, and they faced death not with fear and trembling, but with eager anticipation.  Let us choose peace.

by Pastor Mike White

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