Thursday, January 31, 2013

Understanding Israel's Place in Prophecy - the Seed Promise


Even if you know nothing about Bible prophecies for the last days or how from the start God chose a specific nation to be His special people, you've heard much political attention given to Israel.  In his book, Rabbi Jonathan Bernis would argue this is because Israel has been and will be important in practically all events that fall on history's timeline from Genesis through Revelation.  Bernis, a Jew who has come to accept the Jesus of Nazareth as the Jewish Messiah, contends that everything about Israel's part in biblical events is traced back to Genesis 3:15, the Seed Promise.   In that verse, "God decreed the seed of the woman would ultimately crush Satan's head and bring about his destruction".  That promise depended on Abraham's seed, the line through which the Redeemer would eventually appear.  Satan's mission was to stop it before it happened.   Bernis believes that Satan's number one priority is to destroy that seed, even to this day and this is the basis and rationale of all anti-Semitism.   In the book, he explains why this promise is yet to be fully fulfilled.  He believes that Calvary was a "down payment", the "first installment" since the domain of Satan has not yet been brought to completion.  The promise will ultimately be fulfilled when Jesus returns as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in victory.  This two-part fulfillment is why Satan has worked so hard to destroy the Jewish people, even at times in the name of Christianity.   Bernis goes into detail, outlining specific prophecies and what is happening in Israel today that convinces him the end days are at hand as he sees these in fulfillment.  He spends the latter sections of the book encouraging the reader to reach out to their Jewish friends.  To do so, we must love them and make them jealous of the goodness of our God through our lives and personal stories.   If you understand the verse about blessings coming to those who bless Israel and curses to those who curse Israel, then it is easy to grasp how we should treat our Jewish friends with kindness and a love for them that cares about where they will spend eternity.  We will also want to pray for the nation and its people.  Bernis shares how we can do that.   Knowing that the people of Israel are not loved by God any more than you or I are but are uniquely special to Him, you'll want to learn more about their struggle, their pain, their abuse in history, and their place in prophecy.  I highly recommend this book for that reason alone.   The book was released on Jan 15, 2013 but my copy was a free advance courtesy of the publisher for review through www.netgalley.com.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Case for the Truth (a book review)

As a fan of television shows such as Bones, Cold Case and CSI I was quickly drawn in by the title of J. Warner Wallace’s new book "Cold-Case Christianity" and was certainly not disappointed.   Years from now, I expect this book to be referred to with the likes of Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”, Francis Shaeffer’s ”The God who is There” or C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”.

Wallace’s journey parallels Lewis’s in that he was once an avowed atheist arguing against the existence of the God they both would come to believe in and defend.  What makes Wallace’s perspective unique is his profession as detective, investigating cold cases and his experience in the courtroom.

Early in the book Wallace writes “even before examining the Gospels with the rigor we are going to apply…I recognized that they were consistent with what I would expect to see, given my experience as a detective.”  Wallace uses his investigative and courtroom experiences as examples and analogies in his arguments in defense of the authenticity of the Bible.  He counters opposing claims to biblical errors by citing historical (non-Christian) writers of the day, archeological finds and addresses the courtroom parallel of chain of custody and circumstantial evidence as convincing perspective.

About the claim from skeptics that the Gospels were written after the life of Christ as part of a conspiracy,  Wallace says the best way to counter this is to retrace the chain of custody to look for a mishandling of the evidence from point of ‘crime scene’ to first appearance in the ‘courtroom’.  After much meticulous detail, he could find none. 

Wallace contends that just as a defendant should be considered innocent until proven guilty, skeptics get it wrong when they claim that the burden for the proof of the Christian worldview belongs to Christians, adding that naturalism is the default position that need not be proved.   Wallace believes that if a declaration is being made which cannot be supported by evidence, it is only an attempt to destroy or distract, which if those same tactics used to try to disqualify the Gospels were used on other writings they would also disqualify non-biblical historical texts. 

After a fascinating read, Wallace’s passion which led him to write the book is clear.  His hope is that his skeptical friends would lay aside presuppositions long enough to consider the possibility of a substantive circumstantial case supporting the reliability of the gospel writers.  He also hopes that Christians will be more ready and able to make “a case for the truth.”  ...and that, I am.

Friday, January 18, 2013

video
Yep, that's me ... with the opportunity to speak at the local Weight Watchers and share my journey of losing 50 pounds.