Israel at 70

On Wednesday, April I8th, Israel celebrated 70 years of statehood.
In 1948 the new state’s population was 872,000. Today there are over 6.6 million Jews living in Israel, just under half of world Jewry.
No other post-colonial state has remained a democracy whilst granting its people a developed world standard.
GDP per capita, Israel ($40,762) is twenty third out of 193 states-just behind France and the United Kingdom!
Israel, in 1948, was an exporter of avocados and oranges.
Today she is second only to Silicon Valley, California, in the technical sector.
Israel has the world’s highest quota of engineers.
Israel has the most powerful military capability in the Middle East.
The whole country has become a listening post, and a constant source of intelligence for Western States.
T-shirts sold in tourist shops bear the slogan ‘Don’t worry, America: Israel’s got your back’!

What has this got to do with the Bible, you may ask?

Well, the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, their prosperity, their reliance on their own ability and not on God is a sign that JESUS IS COMING BACK . This nation is a wake up call for all who would serve God to prepare for this momentous event.

He is coming back to be their King.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King coming to you … he shall speak peace to the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:9-10)

At his trial Jesus told Pilate, the Roman Governor of Israel, clearly that he was born to be King of Israel. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to him ‘Are you a king then? Jesus answered ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:36-37)

To Mary, the mother of Jesus, the angel Gabriel said: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God will give unto him the throne of His father (ancestor) David; And he will reign over the house of Jacob (the Jewish nation) for ever: and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”(Luke 1: 30-33)
The Jewish nation must be in Israel in order for this to happen. Jesus is a direct descendant of King David, who reigned in Jerusalem.

The return of the Jews is a sign of the times. God is at work among the nations. When Jesus reigns over the Jews in the Kingdom of God they will accept Jesus as their King. They will be a splendid example of godliness and, with the believers of all ages, will help bring about the time when “the earth will be filled with the glory of God.”

We must all get ready now to welcome King Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

(Quotes from The New King James Version.)

To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk.

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A Trip to Auschwitz

Hello readers,

This blog post is a little bit different to our usual. One of our members has recently travelled to Poland and visited Auschwitz Birkenau (the former Nazi Concentration camp) and has very kindly agreed to share their experience with us on the blog.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Auschwitz.

The first thing you are greeted with is the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign, being translated “Your labours will set you free.” This is a play on a verse in John 8v32 “Then you will know, the truth will set you free” where Jesus is explaining to the Jews that he will return to this earth one day to set them free from sin and death. The use of the verse for the sign was just one of the many mind games the Nazis played with the prisoners during this ordeal. As we know there was no freedom from this camp. The people being transported to Auschwitz had no idea where they were being taken or what horrors awaited them when they got there. (I will say ‘people’ throughout rather than specifically ‘the Jews’, because while the Jews were predominantly the targets of the Nazis, many others were taken to Auschwitz for “ethnic cleansing”, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, individuals with learning difficulties or physical deformities and so on.)
The sign is above the entrance to a compound, where the able men and women were made to work. Many didn’t survive the dreadful living conditions they were subjected to through starvation, sickness and exhaustion.

It is very hard to explain the emotions you feel as you walk around Auschwitz. There is a solemn silence, as everyone visiting is very respectful. There is a great deal of reflection about those who lost their lives there and you are surrounded by an overwhelming awareness of the abhorrent deeds carried out in this place.

After going around the Auschwitz camp we were then taken to Birkenau, a site separate from Auschwitz but part of the same camp.

Birkenau

As we walked down the tracks, we walked along what is described as the “Death Ramp”. Men, women and children lined up as they came out of the train carriages (the prisoners were taken to Auschwitz in over-crowded cattle trucks, not trains as we often think. From there, they were separated  into two groups:
1. those who were able to work
2. and those who served no purpose.

(A picture of one of the cattle trucks that were used for transportation. There would have been up to 200 people in that one carriage.)

Those who weren’t deemed suitable for work were taken straight to the gas chambers. At no point did they realise what was happening. They were simply told they needed de-lousing after their journey and had to take a shower to be decontaminated. This was another mind game, used by the Nazi guards to avoid hysterics or panic within the camp. We all know how this ended.

It is important to remember the monstrosities that took place here, to make sure that this never happens, to anyone, ever again.

Yet in spite of the majority of the people’s apathy at that awful time let us hold on to the hope which we have in the Lord God.
The fact that the Jews went through such persecution and still survived is an amazing sign of how there is truly a God and he is at work in our lives even now. For we are told in Exodus 6v7 “I will take you as my own people and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”

What other nation on earth has survived like the Jews?

For we know that God has said: “As surely as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the Glory of the Lord.”

We hope and pray that day may come quickly.

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Jerusalem!

In 1995 the United States Congress passed a law concerning the removal of the U.S Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The President has control of this law. It contains a waive provision “safety valve” that allows any President to delay the removal of the Embassy every six months because of security factors.

So from 1995 every US President has exercised this waiver, and thus delaying the re-siting of the US embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Most world powers do not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. During the seventy years of Israel’s history, the status of Jerusalem has been the central issue of contention!

However, very recently, President Trump did not sign the waver provision. The U.S. now regards Jerusalem as the legitimate Capital of Israel. Why is this important to those who trust God’s Word, the Bible?

Jerusalem is to be the Capital of the nation of Israel, an Israel that acknowledges the Lord Jesus Christ as their King Messiah and King of the World when He returns.

Jesus said that Jerusalem is “… The city of the great King.” (Matt 5:35)

Peace and harmony amongst the nations will be experienced when Jesus reigns from that city. (Isaiah 2:1 to 5) Verse 3 “… For out of Zion shall go the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem 4.He shall judge between the nations … and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Godly worship, joy and a strong desire to serve God will be revealed in Jerusalem. (Zechariah 8)

Israel will be the joy of all nations! (Isaiah 60 – please read the whole chapter.)

However, before this wonderful time comes the Bible prophesies that Jerusalem would be a great source of trouble to the nations. The prophet Zechariah wrote: “Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burden-some stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12: 2-3, see also Joel 3.)

We are seeing today the anger expressed by many nations about Israel and Jerusalem. The invasion of Israel by many nations is clearly prophesied in the Bible. (See Ezekiel 38.)

However, Jesus will return in power to remove this invading force, and establish a glorious time of harmony and peace on this planet. We must watch events unfolding in Jerusalem and pray for the return of the Lord Jesus from heaven.

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Toilet discovered at 2,800-year-old shrine reveals Biblical tale of desecration of religious sites by King Hezekiah of Judah

Toilet discovered at 2,800-year-old shrine reveals Biblical tale of desecration of religious sites by King Hezekiah of Judah

  • The city gate at Tel Lachish in Israel has been found to have once contained a sacred shrine with two altars
  • Raised corners once decorated the altars have been cut and a toilet was installed in the corner of the shrine
  • Archaeologists believe this was a desecration as part of a religious crackdown on cults and idol worship
  • King Hezekiah is said in the Bible to have ‘removed the high places’ and ‘smashed the sacred stones’

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King Hezekiah instituted one of the most zealous religious crackdowns in the history of Judaism and saw the numerous cults in ancient Judah smashed to pieces.

Now evidence of the reforms implemented by King Hezekiah, which are described in the Old Testament, around 2,800 years ago have surfaced in a surprising form.

Archaeologists digging at the site of an ancient gate to the ruined city of Tel Lachish in Israel have uncovered the remains of a shrine that was desecrated during the purges in the 8th century BC. The discovery at Tel Lachish, however, is the first time that an archaeological find confirms this practice.
The Lachish city gate, as it is known, consists of six chambers which contain signs of city life at the time. In one of the chambers, however, is a shrine that once had walls covered with white plaster and two altars decorated with raised corners – known as horns.

These, however, appear to have had their tops deliberately cut off, a sign that there had been an attempt to end the spread of religious cults and centralise worship in Jerusalem  Putting a latrine at a holy site was considered to be sacrilege as it soiled a religious location that was to be respected. In the case of Jehu who destroyed the cult of Baal in Samaria the Bible states “And they demolished the pillar of Baal and demolished the house of Baal and made it a latrine to this day” (2 Kings 10:27).

Perhaps the greatest sign that the shrine had been the site of one of King Hezekiah’s crackdowns was the installation of the toilet within the inner sanctum of the shrine.

This stone with a hole cut through the centre would have been the ultimate desecration of the holy site. 38e07e1f00000578-3811712-tests_on_the_stone_toilet_pictured_and_the_ground_around_it_sugg-a-59_1475070670278

Sa’ar Ganor, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: ‘Steps to the gate-shrine in the form of a staircase ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed.

‘An opening was exposed in the corner of the room that led to the holy of holies.

‘To our great excitement, we found two four-horned altars and scores of ceramic finds consisting of lamps, bowls and stands in this room.

‘It is most interesting that the horns on the altar were intentionally truncated. That is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah.’ According to the narrative given in the Book of Kings in the Bible, King Hezekiah oversaw a widespread effort to abolish the religious cults and idol worship that had sprung up in Judah.

It states in II Kings 18:4: ‘He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles…’

Tests at the site showed that while the toilet stone appears to have been installed to desecrate the shrine, it was never actually used. Archaeologists instead believe it had been placed there symbolically and the inner sanctum of the shrine was sealed shut.

Dr Ganor said: ‘The size of the gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge we possess, whereby Lachish was a major city and the most important one after Jerusalem’.

‘According to the Biblical narrative, the cities’ gates were the place where ‘everything took place’.

‘The city elders, judges, governors, kings and officials – everyone would sit on benches in the city gate. These benches were found in our excavation.’

The ruins of the city gate today:

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A reconstruction of the city gate:

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A Trip To Israel

Hello readers,

This blog post is a little bit different to our usual. One of our members has recently travelled to Israel and has very kindly agreed to share their experience with us on the blog. Enjoy!

“It was a pleasure to visit Israel for two weeks in August this year. I was able to develop an understanding of the history, both modern and ancient, of a land which God calls ‘most glorious of all lands” (Ezekiel 20:6) We visited many places.

Ashkelon, where Samson went to kill thirty Philistines for their garments, after they had tricked him, into revealing the answer to the riddle he had set by threatening his wife with death if she did not get the answer for them.(Judges 14:14-20) ;

Ashdod Philistine Cultural Museum which gives a context to the David and Goliath account, and to the endless struggle which Israel had with the surrounding people until the Babylonian captivity;

Masada where the Jews took refuge after fleeing Jerusalem after revolting against the Roman conquest of their land Jesus foretells the conquest in Matt 24:32-35.(Israel is symbolised as a fig tree).

The Mount of Olives Jerusalem where King David wept as he fled from Jerusalem when Absalom rebelled against his father (2 Samuel 15:30)

The Temple Mount Jerusalem where archaeologist Dr Leen Ritmeyer has found evidence of the First Temple Period platform from which Ezra spoke to the people who ‘sat in the open square before the house of God, trembling because of this matter and because of the heavy rain’ Ezra 10 (The children of Israel had been unfaithful by taking foreign wives after returning from the Babylonian exile)

The Jordan Valley where John baptised Jesus (Mark 1: 1-8) and where the Children of Israel crossed over when entering the land (Joshua 3)

Ein Harod, where Gideon separated the 300 men who were to go to war from those who were to go home (Judges 7)

Mount Carmel where Elijah met more than 850 false prophets of Baal and .all the people .to prove that the Lord is God.(1 Kings 18:20-40).

Independence Hall Tel Aviv where the modern state of Israel was confirmed by the UN vote in 1948. This was the fulfilment of Bible Prophecy which foretells the return of the Jews to the land of Israel.

Seeing such places as Shechem helps me to understand the different choices the Children of Israel had to make; did they want the blessing by obeying God or the curses because of disobedience, Mt Gerazim or Mt Ebal – the symbolic act described in Deut 27. Shechem, translated as Shoulder, lies between these two mountains emphasising that there is a great gulf between God’s blessings and His cursing, between choosing good and choosing evil.

Shechem

Beersheba, a town in the far south in Israel, a city whose ruins are excavated and preserved well enough for tourists to see the ouline of the city and some of the rooms clearly. It reminds one of how, in the latter period of the judges, the prophet Samuel’s sons Joel and Abijah “were judges” in Beer-sheba but that they “turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes and perverted justice”,

(1 Sam 8:6). This led the people of Israel to demand a king.

BeerSheba

The well in Beer-Sheba, 26 metres deep, reminds me of the fact that this was the foundation name of the city, the name chosen after Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant between them where “two of them took an oath”.(Genesis 21:22-31)

BeerSheba Well

Another interesting location was Perath. In Jeremiah 13:4, the prophet is told to go to this location, normally translated ‘Euphrates’, though it is actually more likely to be a location not too far from Jerusalem. This was misunderstood by commentators until recently.  

Perath                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

These sorts of things help me to understand the ‘beautiful land’ which God talks about and the relevance of it to my understanding of God, His Scriptures and the prophecies they contain for the future of our world.”

*To find out more about the Christadelphians in Ammanford, their faith and how you can be a part of it, please visit our website: www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk

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Faith

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even because of the lack of evidence. Faith is not allowed to justify by argument.”

Excerpt taken from a speech by Prof Dawkins (1992), entitled Lions 10, Christians nil

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Faith in God is derived by reading, understanding and believing the Bible’s message. The apostle Paul wrote: “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of God”. (Romans 10:17)

Let us put this Biblical faith to the test, particularly the Old Testament. God has a purpose with the Jewish people. They have been dispersed throughout the world, as the Bible says (Deuteronomy 28:64-68) because of their waywardness. However, God promised and we are witnesses to the fact that they have returned to Israel, in fulfilment of Bible Prophecy. The prophet Ezekiel writes: “Thus says the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the people from the nations among which they have gone and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all …” (Ezekiel 37:21,22)

Since 1948 the Jews have returned to their land and are now a prominent nation in the earth. We are seeing part of the above prophecy being fulfilled. Other prophecies indicated the following events happening just before the return of Jesus to the earth. For example:

  •  Jews in control of Jerusalem (Joel 3:1)
  • Jerusalem -source of international trouble (Zechariah  12:1 , 2)
  • Jewish nation prosperous (Ezekiel 38:12 ,13)
  • Arab nations and others trying to destroy Israel( Ezekiel 38:1, -12).

Remember, the Old Testament was written before Jesus was born!

I can get on a plane to Israel, journey to Jerusalem and note the hatred towards the Jews by some Arabs and see the prosperity of Israel. All these events prerecorded in a book which was written before the birth of Jesus!

These details are just a few of many that could be presented.

Shortly Jesus will be back to establish the Kingdom of God. What a shock for Dr Dawkins!

Will it be a shock for you? We all need to be getting ready for this world shattering event!

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*Quotes from the ESV

To find out more about our hope and how you can become a part of it, visit our website:www.ammanfordchristadelphians.co.uk. Our next public meeting will be held at 2.30pm on Sunday, in our hall, Foundry Road, Ammanford. All are welcome to attend!

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