Monthly Archives: October, 2017

What God Says About Israel in the Last Days

“For thus says the Lord God: behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on ya day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.” ~ Ezekiel 34:11-13

What God Says About Israel | William Cody BatemanEvery time there is a conflict in or around Israel, many see it as a sign of the quickly approaching end times. The problem with this is that we may eventually tire of the conflict in Israel, so much so that we will not recognize when true, prophetically significant events occur. Conflict in Israel is not necessarily a sign of the end times.

Conflict in Israel has been a reality whenever Israel has existed as a nation. Whether it was the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, or Romans, the nation of Israel has always been persecuted by its neighbors. Why is this? According to the Bible, it is because God has a special plan for the nation of Israel, and Satan wants to defeat that plan. Satanically influenced hatred of Israel—and especially Israel’s God—is the reason Israel’s neighbors have always wanted to see Israel destroyed. Whether it is Sennacherib, king of Assyria; Haman, official of Persia; Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany; or Rouhani, President of Iran, attempts to completely destroy Israel will always fail. The persecutors of Israel will come and go, but the persecution will remain until the second coming of Christ. As a result, conflict in Israel is not a reliable indicator of the soon arrival of the end times.

However, the Bible does say there will be terrible conflict in Israel during the end times. That is why the time period is known as the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, and the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Here is what the Bible says about Israel in the end times:

There will be a mass return of Jews to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 43:6; Ezekiel 34:11-13; 36:24; 37:1-14).

The Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant of “peace” with Israel (Isaiah 28:18; Daniel 9:27).

The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1).

The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and worldwide persecution of Israel will result (Daniel 9:27; 12:1, 11; Zechariah 11:16; Matthew 24:15, 21; Revelation 12:13). Israel will be invaded (Ezekiel chapters 38-39).

Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered (Jeremiah 33:8; Ezekiel 11:17; Romans 11:26).

There is much turmoil in Israel today. Israel is persecuted, surrounded by enemies—Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. But this hatred and persecution of Israel is only a hint of what will happen in the end times (Matthew 24:15-21). The latest round of persecution began when Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948. Many Bible prophecy scholars believed the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967 was the “beginning of the end.” Could what is taking place in Israel today indicate that the end is near? Yes. Does it necessarily mean the end is near? No. Jesus Himself said it best, “Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:4-6).

What God Says About Wisdom and Knowledge

What God Says About Wisdom and Knowledge | William Cody BatemanWisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise.

Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5 states, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

What God Says About War

“Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.” ~ I Samuel 15:18

What God Says About War | William Cody BatemanMany people make the mistake of reading what the Bible says in Exodus 20:13, “You shall not kill,” and then seeking to apply this command to war. However, the Hebrew word literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice; murder.” God often ordered the Israelites to go to war with other nations (1 Samuel 15:3; Joshua 4:13). God ordered the death penalty for numerous crimes (Exodus 21:12, 15; 22:19; Leviticus 20:11). So, God is not against killing in all circumstances, but only murder.

War is never a good thing, but sometimes it is a necessary thing. In a world filled with sinful people (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Sometimes the only way to keep sinful people from doing great harm to the innocent is by going to war.

In the Old Testament, God ordered the Israelites to “take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites” (Numbers 31:2). Deuteronomy 20:16-17 declares, “However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them…as the LORD your God has commanded you.”

Obviously God is not against all war. Jesus is always in perfect agreement with the Father (John 10:30), so we cannot argue that war was only God’s will in the Old Testament. God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17).

Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent. Revelation 19:11-21 describes the ultimate war with Christ, the conquering commander who judges and makes war “with justice” (v. 11). It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory. The birds will eat the flesh of all those who oppose Him (v. 17-18). He has no compassion upon His enemies, whom He will conquer completely and consign to a “fiery lake of burning sulfur” (v. 20).

It is an error to say that God never supports a war. Jesus is not a pacifist. In a world filled with evil people, sometimes war is necessary to prevent even greater evil. If Hitler had not been defeated by World War II, how many more millions would have been killed? If the American Civil War had not been fought, how much longer would African-Americans have had to suffer as slaves?

War is a terrible thing. Some wars are more “just” than others, but war is always the result of sin (Romans 3:10-18). At the same time, Ecclesiastes 3:8 declares, “There is…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” In a world filled with sin, hatred, and evil (Romans 3:10-18), war is inevitable. Christians should not desire war, but neither are Christians to oppose the government God has placed in authority over them (Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:17). The most important thing we can be doing in a time of war is to be praying for godly wisdom for our leaders, praying for the safety of our military, praying for quick resolution to conflicts, and praying for a minimum of casualties among civilians on both sides (Philippians 4:6-7).

What God Says About “White Lies”

What God Says About "White Lies" | William Cody BatemanWe know lying is a sin (Leviticus 19:11; Proverbs 12:22). But what about those “little white lies” that involve an ever-so-slight stretching of the truth? Do the small lies matter, or are they harmless? What if telling the truth might hurt someone?

Lying is defined as “making an untrue statement with the intent to deceive.” A white lie is an untrue statement, but it is usually considered unimportant because it does not cover up a serious wrongdoing. A white lie is deceptive, but it may also be polite or diplomatic at the same time. It could be a “tactful” lie told to keep the peace in a relationship; it could be a “helpful” lie to ostensibly benefit someone else; it could be a “minor” lie to make oneself look better in some area.

Some white lies are common: lying about one’s age, for example, or the size of the fish that got away. We live in a society that conditions us to lie by telling us that, in many situations, lies are justified. The secretary “covers” for the boss who doesn’t want to be disturbed; the salesman exaggerates the qualities of his product; the job applicant pads his résumé. The reasoning is, as long as no one is hurt or the result is good, little lies are fine.

It is true that some sins bring about worse consequences than others. And it is true that telling a white lie will not have the same serious effect as, say, murdering someone. But all sins are equally offensive to God (Romans 6:23a), and there are good reasons to avoid telling white lies.

First, the belief that a white lie is “helpful” is rooted in the idea that the end justifies the means. If the lie results in a perceived “good,” then the lie was justified. However, God’s condemnation of lying in Proverbs 6:16–19 contains no exception clause. Also, who defines the “good” that results from the lie? A salesman telling white lies may sell his product—a “good” thing for him—but what about the customer who was taken advantage of?

Telling a white lie to be “tactful” or to spare someone’s feelings is also a foolish thing to do. A person who consistently lies to make people feel good will eventually be seen for what he is: a liar. Those who traffic in white lies will damage their credibility.

White lies have a way of propagating themselves. Telling more lies to cover up the original lie is standard procedure, and the lies get progressively less “white.” Trying to remember what lies were told to what person also complicates relationships and makes further lying even more likely.

Telling a white lie to benefit oneself is nothing but selfishness. When our words are motivated by the pride of life, we are falling into temptation (1 John 2:16).

Little white lies are often told to preserve the peace, as if telling the truth would in some way destroy peace. Yet the Bible presents truth and peace as existing together: “Love truth and peace” (Zechariah 8:19). Tellers of white lies believe they are speaking lies out of “love”; however, the Bible tells us to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Sometimes telling the truth is not easy; in fact, it can be downright unpleasant. But we are called to be truth-tellers. Being truthful is precious to God (Proverbs 12:22); it demonstrates the fear of Lord. Furthermore, to tell the truth is not a suggestion, it is a command (Psalm 15:2; Zechariah 8:16; Ephesians 4:25). Being truthful flies in the face of Satan, the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Being truthful honors the Lord, who is the “God of truth” (Psalm 31:5, ISV).

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