Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Israel, Gaza, the Media - What Wrong with the Picture?

Well the cease-fire along the Gaza Strip did not last long. That was to be expected. After the boisterous comments of the Hamas leadership about their incredible victory over the barbarian Israelis, you knew they would soon test the waters once again. However, I found those boisterous comments rather ironic in that they came from men who had hunkered down below ground in shelters during the 3-week war. But they emerged from their holes praising their exploits. No sooner had the dust cleared from the collapsed tunnels than new ones were being dug. They now become the target of another Israeli attack helicopter or fighter jet.

And the world continues making Israel the most problematic nation on the face of the earth. Poverty in Gaza...blame the Israeli blockade. Collapsed buildings and destroyed homes in Gaza...blame Israel's disproportionate assault. Civilian deaths...blame those murderous Israelis; in fact, let's bring them before a War Crimes Tribunal. The liberal media bias and the anti-Israel United Nations cast their bewitching spell over so many.

Yet, what did Israel really do? In the past 7 years, over 8,000 rockets were launched from inside the Gaza Strip targeted for Israeli towns and settlements. That is four rockets every day for the past 7 years. Homes have been damaged. Schools have been destroyed. Farmer have had crops and livestock destroyed. Israelis, in such towns as Sderot and Ashkelon, learned to live with the "15-second rule" - meaning they had 15 seconds to get to a safe room from the time they heard the warning sirens. Israeli children attended classes in underground bomb shelters, their lives shrouded with fears. And this went on for 7 years. Israel did very little. But the world said nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Finally, Israel acted to defend its citizens. And the world reacted to protect the perpetrators of the violence, the Hamas leaders. Something is wrong with that picture, friends. Let's just suppose that a radical Mexican government decided it was going to send rockets everyday into El Paso, Texas. So, dozen of rockets every day threaten the lives and security of that Texas community. What would be our government's response? I hope we would take bold steps to destroy those who were firing the rockets. So, we can do it but not Israel; what a double standard we have developed.

I honestly believe that the people of Israel will need to take even more drastic steps against Hamas in Gaza. I believe that IDF troops will once again be heard marching down those dusty roads. I believe that even more Palestinian civilians will die having become human shields for Hamas terrorists. And I believe that the United Nations and other world powers will increase the rhetoric against Israel for its actions.

And I believe that the Bible describes and Israeli army victory over their Palestinian foes. But we will save that discussion for another blog.

Friends, Israel is just doing what most other nations would do to protect its own people. Our prayer should be that Hamas would surrender their arms. Then, and only then, perhaps peace might have a chance...but that I highly doubt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Unique Inaugural

Yesterday we witnessed an event unlike any other as Barack Obama became our nation's 44th President. Our nation has celebrated inaugurals before...some of them more memorable than others. What made yesterday's inaugural so unique was really two fold. First, and I won't dwell on this, Barack Obama is the first President from a minority race.

Second, and what I found to be most amazing, was the reaction of the world to his inauguration. From photos of dancing in the streets of Kenya to wild demonstrations in Japan, the world celebrated a new American President. This has not happened before in the annals of American history. But why all the fuss? Barack Obama is seen as the one person who can bring hope, not only to a nation, but to a world that is meandering on the seas of uncertainty. In many ways, Obama became more than the President of the United States, but also became the hoped for leader of the world. Can he bring peace to the Middle East? Many hope so! Can he resolve the financial markets around the world? Many hope so! Can he defuse the Iranian nuclear program? Many hope so!

Now what entered my mind as I viewed those world-wide celebrations was this: Will it be any different when the Antichrist steps forward upon the world stage? The Bible certainly seems to portray the Antichrist as a man who will give hope to a desperate world. He will offer them a peace that has only been dreamed of. And so the world will cast their hopes and dreams at his feet, along with their very lives.

As demonstrated yesterday, the world is ready for a man who can inspire them with his vision; who can "wow!" them with his oratory; and who can persuade them to make the personal sacrifices necessary to advance his agenda; all with the hope of a better future. Is Barack Obama the anticipated Antichrist? I don't believe he is...but he certainly will be used to prepare the way for that final leader who will dominate the world's stage until Jesus Christ comes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

A few years ago there was a certain phone company whose slogan was "can you hear me now?" As I remember the ads, they were not that outstanding, but I have never forgotten that slogan. A father lifts his voice in a frustrated conversation with his teen aged son and says, "Can you hear me now?" A mother, disgusted with the way her child is ignoring her pleas for obedience, cries out, "Can you hear me now?" Perhaps you have used those words, maybe without even thinking.

It seems that we all want to be heard. And it is getting increasingly more difficult to be heard through the din and noise of the world in which we live. Have you noticed how TV stations increase the volume when ads come on. It is almost as if they are saying to you, "Can you hear this message now?"

As I have been reading various articles and visiting websites devoted to end times events, I have come to the conclusion that God is asking the question, "Can you hear Me now?" Can you hear Me through the chaos of a wacky winter season? The Pacific Northwest has experienced a winter the likes of which it has not seen in decades. Minnesota is having one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Everywhere you turn, winter has reared its head with snow, ice, winds, and biting cold. God cries out, "Can you hear Me?" I am not sure if you know it or not, but there have been over 400 earthquakes in Yellowstone Park since Christmas. "Can you hear Me?"

The financial conditions of the world continue to deteriorate. Nations are piling up debt at enormous rates with little hope of ever seeing the black. There is a cry for a one-world financial system. "Can you hear Me now?" The conflict in the Middle East still rages. Iran threatens continuance of its nuclear ambitions instilling fear into the region and beyond. Radical Islam threatens any security around the world. The world cries out for a leader who will bring order and security. And God cries out within the noise and confusion, "Can you hear Me now?"

Sadly the answer is no! We are not listening. We don't want to listen. We are not looking for God. We don't want to be awakened from the comfortable slumber we are in. If we did indeed hear God's cry, "Can you hear Me now?", our response would be, "Don't rock our boats!"

I believe God's voice will continue getting stronger in the coming days. How we need to be more observant of what is happening around us. Each earthquake, every winter storm that is out of the norm, and every threat of war is God's cry to us to take heed. It truly is time for believers to wake up and to look up and to listen up. God has a lot to say.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Israel-Gaza at War

This is now the twelfth day of Operation Cast Lead, the military campaign of the Israeli army and air forces against Hamas militants within the Gaza Strip. The cause - continued rocket attacks by Hamas upon Israeli cities near the Gaza Strip. An average of 50 rockets a day were fired upon Sderot, Ashkelon, and as far away as Ashdod and Beersheba in the days since the cessation of the six-month cease-fire. Over a half million Israelis lived in constant fear as rockets hit schools, homes and businesses. The Israeli government kept warning Hamas that its patience was about exhausted and that a military action would occur. But the warning was ignored.

The purpose of this military incursion into Gaza is certainly not to re-establish Israeli control over this area. No, when Israel disengaged from Gaza in August of 2005, it left for good, hoping that a peaceful Palestinian government would be created whereby the two peoples could live in harmony. Israel is not interested in occupying the Gaza Strip. Its intended purpose is the destruction of the Hamas military machine and its governmental infrastructure. It would then be hoped that the Palestinian people, who have suffered so incredibly under the leadership of Hamas, would rise up and change governments. Only time will tell whether this intended purpose will be realized.

According to reports, the aerial assaults, along with the ground forces, have dealt a crippling blow to Hamas. Its leadership has been driven to underground locations. Many of its military leaders have been killed. Much of the infrastructure has been destroyed. Yet the rockets keep flying into Israel, one striking Ashdod even today.

News reports show the images of little children being carried into local Palestinian hospitals. According to some observers, a humanitarian crisis is nearing epic proportions within Gaza. But Gazans have been living in a humanitarian crisis since early 2006 when they chose Hamas as their governmental leaders. And why was Hamas elected? Was it because Hamas promised better humanitarian services? No! Was it because Hamas promised them better paying jobs and a better living? No! All Hamas promised was that it would drive Israel into the sea! And so the people have suffered.

There is are a couple biblical principles here that we should not forget. First, there are always consequences for our choices. The Palestinian people chose Hamas and its terrorist plans. Now they are suffering the consequences of that choice. Second, when a government leads in a wrong direction, the people also suffer. There were many within Judah who did not worship idols, but who were driven into captivity into Babylon just as were those who did worship idols. When God brings judgment upon America...and I believe He will do it soon...there will be many righteous people who will suffer alongside of those who have been ungodly and turned against God.

Israel is being pressured into a cease-fire. Personally, I hope it continues to refuse those offers and presses onward with its intend to show itself strong once again before its neighbors. I believe the Israeli leaders, both political and military, learned important lessons during the failed Second Lebanon War in 2006. Once again the IDF will have become one of the strongest military forces within the Middle East.