Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Egypt - Man's Plans and God's Desires

The main-stream media has taken its eyes off Egypt in recent weeks. It is almost as if the elections completed in February and the seating of the new Egyptian parliament meant that the Egyptian story was over. Let me just bring you up to date on what is happening in the land of the pyramids and pharaohs.

We need to remember that, as a consequence of the Egyptian election process that stretched over nearly three months, the Egyptian parliament is now composed with a strong majority of radical Islamists - either from the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafist Al-Nour Party. On Monday, March 12, this parliament voted unanimously to support a document declaring Israel to be its number one enemy. The statement read, in part, "Egypt, after the revolution, will never be a friend of the Zionist entity, the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation." Then, this past Sunday, March 25, that same Egyptian parliament elected an Islamist-dominated panel to craft a new Egyptian constitution. This panel will be composed of 50 members from the parliament and 50 members appointed from the greater Egyptian community. Of the 50 members from the parliament, 39 are Islamists, a majority of those appointed from the community have strong Islamic interests. Do you believe that the new Egyptian constitution will be favorable to democratic reforms? Do you believe that Coptic Christians and other minority groups within Egypt will be represented in its creation? Do you believe that this new constitution will continue the viability of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace accords? Or do you believe that Sharia law will dominate the Egyptian legal and political landscape?

Now what makes this so interesting is that on March 22, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, announced that she was resuming the $1.3 billion annual military aid to Egypt which had been suspended over concerns for the violation of human rights within Egypt. Evidently the Secretary of State has not read of the persecution of the Coptic Christians in Egypt - of pastors being murdered and of churches being burned. Evidently she has not read of the false imprisonment of leaders of NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) within Egypt who voiced opposition to the government. And, evidently she was not aware of the Egyptian parliament's declaration that Israel is now their number one enemy. I wonder how much of that $1.3 billion military aid will be used for weapons and to train Egyptian soldiers for hostilities against Israel?

If you have been following these blogs over the past several years, you will remember that I have repeatedly stated that, outside of Israel, Egypt is the country to watch within the Middle East. I believe what happens in Egypt is a barometer of what is or will take place within other Middle Eastern nations. But, here is the encouraging news. Like Israel, Egypt will go through some very difficult times. God will yet come in judgment against Egypt and her allies. The prophecies in Isaiah 19 make this very clear. Egypt's economy will be judged (verses 5-10). Egypt's government will be judged (verses 11-15). But, if you read the rest of this chapter you will notice that God also has some incredible plans for Egypt. There will come a day when the name of God will be revered within the borders of Egypt. There will come a day when Egyptians will travel to Jerusalem to do what? To worship the God of Israel. In fact, they will be joined in worship by the Assyrians - those living in the modern nation of Iraq. Go proclaim that news today in both Cairo and Baghdad and see what kind of a reception you will get!

So, as I look at what is happening in Egypt in 2012, I must look at it in the light of what God is yet to do to that ancient nation. Egypt is still part of God's final plans for this age. And I strongly believe that no Islamist constitution or military plan will interfere with what the Almighty God desires to do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Of Egypt, Syria, Russia and War

Just read the headlines from an article on the CBN News Channel website. It really was not terribly surprising. The headlines read - "Egyptian Parliament: Break Ties with Israel." The article stated, "The Egyptian parliament voted unanimously Monday to support a document declaring Israel its number one enemy. The document, prepared by the Committee on Arab Affairs, calls for an across-the-board overhaul of Egypt's policies with the 'Zionist entity,' Egyptian Independent report. In addition to calling for the immediate deportation of Israeli Ambassador Yaakov Amitai and the recall of Egypt's ambassador to Israel, the statement demanded a total cessation of natural gas exports to Israel and activation of an Arab boycott against the 'Zionist entity' and all international companies that do business with Israel. Egypt after the revolution will never be a friend of the Zionist entity, the first enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation, the statement read."

Now friends, we all knew that this statement was coming. After the fall of Egyptian President Mubarak in January 2011, and with the recently completed elections in Egypt that resulted in nearly 2/3 of the Egyptian parliament being controlled by either the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafist al-Nour party, this was to be expected. Just another furthering of the isolation of Israel.

Now one wonders what the Administration in Washington will do in response. Just days ago the decision was made to begin sending military aid to the Egyptian regime. Will that aid now be used against our strongest ally in the region? Will the Administration once again reconsider withdrawing that aid? This is starting to get very interesting.

Also, my friends, the status in Syria continues. Violence in that country is unabated. And the Russian government continues supplying weapons and military and economic aid to the Assad Regime in Damascus. And the ties with Iran are seemingly getting stronger. As Joel Rosenberg stated in his blog posted on March 20, it is almost as if Russia would like to have a Middle East war so that the price of oil would reach levels so that Putin could increase his military spending and reach his desire of having the Russians once again be the military power of the world. I would recommend his blog. You can find the article - "Evidence Grows That Israel Is Set for War, But What If Russia Intervenes?" - at

Aren't you glad you know the peace that only Jesus can bring? Aren't you glad to have a hope that the crises in the world can not take from you? Aren't you rejoicing in the wonderful news that you are a child of God? These are truly days for celebration - the King is coming! Yet they are truly days for diligence in laboring for that King. May we do it as until the Lord and do it well.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just Some Miscellaneous Thoughts on a Spring Day in Early March

Believe it or not Spring has actually arrived early here in the Twin Cities. Shirt-sleeves is almost unthinkable for the 14th of March, yet with temperatures into the 70's, shorts are commonly seen. This really was the year without a winter - or at least a winter as it has been known in recent years. Minimal snowfall. Moderate temperatures. Amazing! Of course the downside is that unless we can get some rainfall in the coming weeks, the drought that began last fall will continue. So, is the glass half-full or half-empty? Guess it depends upon with whom you talk, but I have liked not having to shovel snow or endure bitter temperatures. So, I am not complaining.

So where are we in the world today? Well, I guess it all depends upon which day of the week Greece is having a financial crisis. One can almost get dizzy watching this drama unfold. First there seems to be a resolution with the Greek government ordering severe austerity measures with the assurances of capital infusion from the European Central Bank. Then, the crisis reappears and world markets teeter once again. So, more severe austerity plans are put into place with even stronger assurances from the Central Bank. So now, at least for the moment, Greece has been taken out of the picture. Yet, you know that another financial crisis is just a few liabilities away from being the next crisis that threatens all of us.

The Middle East continues to be a very troubled place. This past week insurgents within the Gaza Strip launched dozens of rockets into Israel. Israeli warplanes responded quickly killing at least two major militant leaders. Of course that necessitated more rockets. The Egyptian government brokered a cease-fire which lasted about as long as a snowman on the Fourth of July. There was an interesting story on the website today that intimated that Iran is using this recent crisis to ascertain the Israeli resolve. I guess we could say that through Hamas, their proxy, they are trying to determine if the Israeli government really means what it says. Perhaps this might be the prelude to an even greater crisis on the horizon.

I know that many of you were in prayer last week when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was here in the States. His speech before the AIPAC convention was powerful. You can hear it by going to their website. It is under the heading of AIPAC Policy Conference. We need to keep praying for this man and for his administration that they know the wisdom of God. We also need to pray for our President.

I was reminded of Paul's words to Timothy: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Now you must remember that Nero was the Roman emperor as Paul was writing these words. We would hardly say that he was a man worthy of prayer. But Paul prayed for him. Did he agree with Nero's administrative practices? Absolutely not! But, nonetheless, Paul prayed for him. We may not agree with either the President or the Prime Minister's position, but we are still encouraged to pray for them. May we do this with diligence as unto the Lord. Perhaps if we prayed more and criticized less, God might accomplish greater things. Just a thought!

Well, March Madness begins this week. By now your brackets have been filled out. Come Sunday evening most of us will just sit back and watch as our teams will have fallen by the wayside. Nonetheless, enjoy some great basketball. By the way...Go ISU Cyclones!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The World Today as It Approaches the Purim Celebration

Today, March 7, is celebrated in Israel as the Fast of Esther. It commemorates the three-day fast that Esther and Mordecai observed prior to Esther's going into see King Xerxes (Esther 4:15). Tonight Jews will gather in their synagogues for the reading of the Esther Scroll. Tomorrow and Friday will be the celebration of Purim, a feast that has its initiation in the book of Esther (Esther 9:18-28). It is the celebration of God's deliverance of Israel from the hateful ambitions of Haman to have all Jews destroyed. We read in Esther 3:5-6, "When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned who Mordecai's people were, he scorned the idea of killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, the Jews, throughout the whole kingdom of Xerxes." But, as we know, God worked through Mordecai, Esther, and even King Xerxes to bring about a great victory for Israel, thus sparing His people from annihilation.

I found it very significant that when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had his meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office this past Monday, that the Prime Minister gave our President an elaborately decorated scroll of the Book of Esther. I believe it was more than just a gesture of good-will. I believe it was a symbolic gift. It was as if the Prime Minister was saying, "President Obama, I want you to read this story. Here an evil leader, living in the ancient country of Persia, sought to annihilate the people of God, the Jews. But, God intervened and the Jews defended themselves against this annihilation and the enemy was destroyed. President Obama, today there is another leader in this same country, Iran, who has threatened the annihilation of the people of God from the face of the earth. This time he has the added threat of using nuclear weapons. But, President Obama, I want you to know that with the intervention of God, the people of Israel will be victorious." When I shared this with a group this week, someone asked me, "Do you think President Obama will read the scroll?" I don't know if he will, but his eyes would be opened if he did.

How was President Obama's speech received this past Sunday at the AIPAC conference. AIPAC stands for American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, being the largest American-Jewish coalition in this country. I have read most of President Obama's remarks. And I have some strong reservations about his sincerity. Friends, here is the critical problem. The world knows the steps that Iran is taking toward creating a nuclear weapons capability. Right now the United States and Europe have taken the initiative to develop economic sanctions that hopefully will force Iran to stop its nuclear weapons ambitions. The United States has indicated to Israel that there is a "red-line" that, when crossed by Iran, will cause the United States to respond appropriately. Israel has also identified a "red-line" but it is not the same as the one described the United States. Israel knows what its military is capable of doing and what its limitations are. By his speech President Obama was asking the Israeli people to trust him that he would respond appropriately when the time came. The dilemma for the Israeli leadership is whether they trust this Administration to act as they say they will.

I have also read most of the speech Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered to the same AIPAC group on Monday. It was a powerful speech outlining the reasons why Israel must do what is in its best interests whether the world agrees with it or not. Against the backdrop are the remembrances of the Holocaust and of those words, "Never again." Israel views the threat from Iran as being very real. For them, time is running out.

One final note, this past Sunday Vladimir Putin was elected as President of Russia. The election was not even close. Putin had served as Russia's president from 2000-2008, but according to Russian Constitution was prohibited from serving a third term. The first to send congratulatory remarks was President Ahmadinejad from Iran. Surprised? Look for the ties between Iran and Russia to only strengthen in the coming months. Just more indications that the stage is being set for the Ezekiel 38-39 War.

So, what should we do as believers? First, we are to remember that God is still sovereignly in control of all that is happening. It may seem like chaos to us, but it is not that to God. Second, we need to keep praying for Israel and for peace to come to Jerusalem. That is our biblical admonition. Third, we are to be more diligent in our witness to others, to help them to understand their need for Christ as Savior, to help them to know that the end is getting very close. Finally, we are to keep looking heavenward because our Redemption soon draws near.