Christians without Roots: Dozens of newsletters and articles by Christians show up in my in basket every week. Lately I have noticed that these "Christian" information reports fall into two groups. One class of Christian newsletters carries no mention whatsoever of the current crisis in the Middle East. The other group of newsletters shows keenly awareness of the prophetic significance of recent events involving Israel. I expect this division reflects the fact that many people today have bought into faulty views of eschatology which assume that the church has replaced Israel in the plan of God. Not so! Our Christian faith is rooted in real history. We do not follow a mythical, existential Jesus. The real Jesus is Jewish, and He is the heir to the throne of David. The Jewish people are His own family and when He returns to Israel He will come as Kinsman Redeemer as well as Avenger of Blood, acting as righteous Judge on behalf of Israel as well as for all the nations. This same Jesus, as Lord of the church has invited us to share in Israel's final destiny. One of His biggest tasks just up ahead will be His personal judgment of all of His own people. Two thousand years ago the people of Israel foolishly sent Jesus to His death and had Pilate release the criminal Barabbas:
"Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' So Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say.' And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, 'Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?' But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly. Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?' For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, 'Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.' But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said to them, 'Which of the two do you want me to release to you?' They said, 'Barabbas! Pilate said to them, 'What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?' They all said to him, 'Let Him be crucified!' Then the governor said, 'Why, what evil has He done?' But they cried out all the more, saying, 'Let Him be crucified!' When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.' And all the people answered and said, '[May] His blood be on us and on our children.' Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified... (Matthew 27:11-26)
In the strongest possible language Jesus had warned the leadership of Israel the very week of His betrayal and crucifixion,
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'"(Matthew 23:29-39)
We can know Jesus Christ personally today because faithful eyewitnesses recorded what they saw and heard and passed it on to the next generation--often at the cost of their lives. Not only are we who follow Jesus connected to a whole train of historical events which are centered in and around Israel, our destiny is closely linked to that of the people of Israel. Our final home-going and Israel's time of "Final Redemption"--which is fast approaching--are inseparably linked. The Apostle Paul makes clear that we gentile believers who have placed our faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are grafted in to believing Israel:
"For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.' Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.
For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 'For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?' 'Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?' For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:13-36)
I have followed closely events in the Middle East for many years now. Last month's newsletter discussed the relationship of the church of Jesus Christ to the fast-approaching tribulation period and the final redemption of Israel. My latest essay concerns the Biblical description of what the Bible describes as Israel's "birth pangs." Israel is likened to a woman in the book of Revelation. The woman Israel suffered no particular labor pains when she brought forth the Messiah, Jesus, into the world nearly two thousand years. Instead, says the prophet Isaiah, Israel's real agonizing birthpangs would come at the Second Advent of her Messiah, not the First. In studying the topic of birth pangs associated with the end of the age, I realized that the Apostle Paul says that the Rapture and simultaneous resurrection of all the dead in Christ is closely associated with these final labor pains of Israel's approaching spiritual rebirth. Third, the unbelievers of the world are involved in the labor pains--because they will be banished from the presence of the Messiah forever when He returns to the Mount of Olives in power and glory (see 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10) For the full article please see "Israel's birth pangs," http://ldolphin.org/odino.html. Other articles related to Israel recently added to my web site include:
"The Confusion of the Middle East and God's People, by Yoseph Shulam, http://ldolphin.org/mecrisis.html,
"Islamic Claims and the Holy Land" (several recent related articles) http://ldolphin.org/islamclaims.html,
"The Struggle and Prognosis for Jerusalem" (Khouse) http://ldolphin.org/memissler.html,
the above mentioned, "There's a War On, Folks!" (The Church and the Tribulation) http://ldolphin.org/war-on.html,
an updated versions of "Who Owns Jerusalem?" http://ldolphin.org/psalm2.html,
and an article on the apostate religious movement of the end time, "Towards One World Religion" http://ldolphin.org/onereligion.html.
Respected Bible scholar and theologian Dr. Bernard E. Northrup has very graciously allowed me to reprint two of his careful and detailed studies:
"The Promised of the Rapture," http://ldolphin.org/raptpromise.html,
and "Micah and the Long, Sad Days before Israel's Latter Days" http://ldolphin.org/longwait.html.
Don't miss reading "The Underlying Cause of the Arab-Israel Conflict, by Prof. Paul Eidelberg, http://ldolphin.org/underlying.html,
and, an editorial from a leading Hebrew newspaper in Jerusalem, "It's Time for Israelis to Learn Jesus was Jewish" (HA'ARETZ), http://ldolphin.org/yeshua.html
and finally a commentary by my Messianic friend Uri Marcus from Jerusalem, "Choosing the Chosen and Winnowing the Wheat," http://ldolphin.org/winnow.html.
New articles get posted at the top of my web site library page, in case you are get lost and only want to stay current on what I write. My web site does have a good search engine which I keep updated.
Everyday I sift through about two dozen newsletters and intelligence reports from Israel and from reliable foreign sources. My selected articles are available on a Newsgroup which you can subscribe to by simply clicking on the small eGroups box at the bottom of my web site Library page, http://ldolphin.org/asstbib.shtml. If this newsgroup proves to be too much reading for you, feel free to unsubscribe at any time. In case you haven't heard, the US media is heavily biased against Israel these days and unless you read news from foreign sources your views of current events in the Middle East are bound to become very skewed in the wrong direction.
Don't be "Left Behind!" It is not too late to catch up on Bible prophecy. Pick up the Bible and just start reading most anywhere in the Old Testament and you will see how relevant it all is for us in our day. Many prophecies in the Old Testament were shadows of things to come--they had one fulfillment in the near term when they were written, but the Lord had a more complete long-term fulfillment of many of these prophecies in mind as well. World events are now moving closer and closer to the picture given us by Israel's ancient prophets concerning the final bringing-in of the earthly rule of Israel's true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
As Chuck Missler likes to say,
"We are being plunged into a period of time about which the Bible says more than it does about any other period of time in history--including the time when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and climbed the mountains of Judea."
I fully agree!
Whose Side is God On? The ancient Middle Eastern family feuds, now taking place with renewed intensity, date back more than 4000 years. At the heart of these disputes are rights to lands and inheritances. They are at their roots religious disputes. At present, almost none of the disputants has a relationship with the true and living God--which means that, in the end, men will be found to be warring against God as well as against one another. (This comes out clearly in the Book of the Revelation). Israel is mostly a secular state with a small religious minority (10%?). Observant Jews do not, of course, acknowledge that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Israel's tiny Messianic community numbers only 10,000 or so. These followers of Jesus (Yeshua) are much beleaguered and constantly persecuted by their fellow Jews. Once a good number of the Arab peoples in the Middle East were Christians, but their number has dropped sharply. Islam contains to dominate the Arab communities.
A helpful new article on my web site, "Understanding Islam," written by a close friend of mine, is intended as a primer on Islam for Christians, (http://ldolphin.org/islamprimer.html) Since there are now many thousands of Muslims living in the U.S. it's important to be well-informed about their beliefs.
Although Jesus is Himself of Jewish blood and ancestry, He is the Savior of all who will believe in Him. God is not a "respecter of persons" He has many intimates but no favorites. Jesus became the substitutionary sacrifice on the cross which makes possible for anyone, anywhere to know God. So the Christian churches of the world should be presenting the message of the gospel to everyone without regard to their race, religion or family background. Evangelizing in Israel and in the Arab world calls for extraordinary skill, experience and courage--it is not for everyone. However we all can pray--and prayer tunes us in to what God is doing in the world and allows us to labor together with Him as He moves in His own sovereign ways. The Bible is clear that God has elected Israel to be saved. He has done this solely on the basis of grace apart from works or merit. (After all, this is how you and I came to know Him). (For an excellent message on this topic see "God's Faithfulness: Israel and the New Covenant," by Ray C. Stedman, http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/misc/isrnewcov.html).
All the nations of the world will soon be drawn together in the Middle East for God's great Day of Judgment. Israel also will be judged--more severely than any other people in fact. God holds people accountable for the light they have received, and Israel has been given more by God than any other people. The Apostle Paul expresses his personal anguish over his countrymen this way:
"I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen." (Romans 9:1-5)
My Web Site Travail: Probably because I love Israel and am keenly interested in Bible prophecy, my web site library of 749 documents experienced a very large jump in traffic in September and again in October. In fact the volume of downloads from my web site in October jumped by nearly 30% over the previous month. My web site ISP charges for October were more than $700. As a result of this jump in costs, I started scrambling last week for a lower cost service provider. In the midst of my research on this item, my web site was accidentally shut down for nearly 36 hours on November 10 because of two false SPAM reports. The result of my being "off the air" was an immediate flood of email and several phone calls from friends who thought perhaps I had died and gone to heaven, taking my web site with me! Thankfully I am back on line now and will shortly have a dedicated server with plenty of disk space, and bandwidth, and fast connections--so there is now room for even more growth. On the subject of Spam (unwanted junk email)--which I receive every day in huge quantities--may I recommend you use Spam Cop (http://spamcop.net/) to fight this costly deluge of trash mail which wastes an increasingly larger fraction of our Internet resources every month. It is simple to copy and paste Spam messages in the Spam Cop window and Spam Cop will track and report illegal junk email for you.
Email and the Paraclete Forum: I have always believed in answering my own email. The New Testament does not recognize a separate clergy and laity and as James the brother of Jesus said, "those who teach will be judged with greater strictness." In the past two years God has wonderfully brought together a team of dear friends who enjoy answering email, researching questions, encouraging people and praying for a variety of needs. My overflow email goes to this team and we work closely together to be as helpful as we can when people write us. You may send us your question from our own web site, http://paracleteforum.org. We are archiving email discussions of interest (anonymously) since we do receive repeated inquiries on certain topics. Many hurting and troubled people write us and we are glad to reach out as Jude urges us to do at the close of his short epistle: "Convince some, who doubt, save others by snatching them out of the fire, on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment that is spotted by the flesh. Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you without blemish before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen."
Support your Local Church! Our Paraclete Forum email is a constant reminder to us of our deep need of one another in the Christian pilgrim-journey through this evil age. Not only are we all brothers and sisters in the family of the redeemed, we are members one of another and members of the Body of Christ. One hurting brother wrote me recently, "Do I absolutely have to go to Church? I have been a student of the word of God for quite some time and I used to belong to a building where supposedly the people there worshipped and loved the Lord. It turned out to be one of the worst experiences of my life. I found more of the enemy there than God. And after awhile one could feel the absence of any spirituality. So I guess my question is. If I don't ever step into another building for the rest of my life. Will I be saved? Or will I be condemned?"
I replied, "The true church is an organism not an organization. Can you live without a liver, or a pancreas or without ears, or a nose? Paul says clearly that the true church is the very body of Christ (with Christ as the Head). We are "members one of another" and we need each other--like it or not. As you will see in the letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation all local churches that are still Biblically sound have a small believing remnant (the "overcomers") whom the Lord encourages to hang in for the long term. If your local church no longer teaches the Bible and has departed from orthodoxy, then change churches. If there is no life left anywhere in your area, start a home fellowship. Lone Ranger Christians never do well, because God intends that we function in a family relationship with Him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our relationship with other real Christians is in reality as close and interdependent as the organs and systems of the human body, so that "if one member suffers all suffer and if one rejoices all rejoice." The devil is indeed very active in local churches--because that is where God is working in the world. Local churches are a mixture of unsaved people, weak and struggling Christians, and a small number of others who are solid in the faith. It is likely to get worse before the Rapture, but we Christians need one another and we need to meet together as often as we can. If Sunday morning at 11 o'clock does not help you grow, find a fellowship that works for you, or start one. God is solidly committed to local churches!"
Ray Stedman says,
"We must always keep in mind that we are members of the body of Christ. In the closing lines of Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul puts the issue of maturity into perspective, showing us that maturity is not a purely individual matter. It is a process that takes place within a network of relationships, within the context of 'the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly' (Ephesians 4:18).
"Paul here says that one of the factors that encourages growth in maturity is to allow other Christians to minister to you. The parts of the body are designed to meet one another's needs--they are joined and knit together. The apostle actually coins a word to express the mutual ministry of members of the body to each other. The word for 'joined' is made up of three Greek words: one is the root from which we get our English word 'harmony,' another is the word 'with,' and the third is the word for 'choosing.' The richly complex idea Paul conveys to us by this one compound word is this:
"God's design for the church is that Christians should relate to one another honestly yet lovingly. As they carry out this mutual 'truthing-in-love' ministry, the result will be that choices and decisions will be made with harmony throughout the church. The end result of that church harmony will be that the church will be a witness to the world, and that clear witness will attract people, increase the numbers of the body, and strengthen the body spiritually.
"All of this tremendous meaning is embodied in that one three-part word! Of course, this concept is easier said than done! It takes a Spirit-led blend of courage and compassion to speak the truth in love. It takes a willingness to accept others, forgive others, forbear with others, and compromising on secondary issues so that our primary issues our unity, our love, and our witness--may never be compromised.
"The other people in the body of Christ are God's chosen instruments. Do not reject God's instruments! He knows what you need better than you do. You are where you are because that is where God wants you. He put you with the Christians around you because they are the kind you need and you are the kind they need. They may be rather prickly and thorny and hard to live with--and they may think of you in cactus-like terms as well! But they are what you need at the present time, and you are what they need.
"So don't struggle with the place in which God has put you. Accept it, welcome it, and seek to relate in honest love to the other Christians around you. As each member of the body accepts his or her role in the body, and seeks to carry out that role, ministering to the rest of the body in truth and love, then the body will grow more healthy. Each member of the body will be doing what he or she was meant to do and equipped to do. As gifts are used and love is expressed throughout the body, a marvelous harmony will emerge--a harmony which leads to maturity throughout the body, and which produces a witness that will draw thousands more men and women out of their darkness and into the church.
"Yes, there will be pain at times. But through the pain will come growth. As you go on, remember that day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, the Spirit of God is working a miracle. Individual Christians are growing into the maturity of Jesus Christ. The whole body together is manifesting in an increasing way the wholesome, balanced, well-adjusted manhood and stature of Jesus Christ.
"Our goal, and the goal of the church, must be the same as that of God, as expressed by Paul in Ephesians 4: The goal is maturity. (Ray C. Stedman, Body Life)
Other News: My current Discovery Center teaching series at my home church, Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, California, has proven to be unusually rich and exciting. We are studying the lives of the Patriarchs from Abraham to Moses, Genesis 12-50. Audio tapes of the classes are on my web site in my RealAudio library, http://ldolphin.org/audio.html.
My main long-term men's group, the Wednesday Brothers of Thunder, is completing Proverbs and our Saturday college study is now in Second Californians (Corinthians).
Contributions: I pay for my web site out of my own pocket and I have no organizational backing or regular funding apart from my own Social Security check and Retirement plan. I am most grateful for any and all financial help in support of my ministry. Your gifts (tax deductible) should be sent to Peninsula Bible Church, 3505 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, California 94306. Please mark your contribution for Lambert Dolphin's ministry. Thank you very much!
Our Israel and Jordan study tour, with Glenn Miller--originally scheduled for October 19 through November 2--has been postponed until March 2001. We all hope the Middle East will be sufficiently quiet by then so that travelers will feel not only safe but comfortable the whole trip. If you wish to join us in March please send an email to Dawn McDaniel (email@example.com ). My co-host for this tour, Glenn Miller, is a wonderful apologist and Bible scholar. Glenn's Christian Think Tank web site (http://www.christian-thinktank.com/) will keep you occupied for many hours of profitable study and investigation. Tour Information: http://ldolphin.org/tour
Sincerely, Lambert Dolphin.
November 13, 2000. Web Archive for these newsletters: http://ldolphin.org/news/