May 25, 2009

Israel’s Importance, Salvation’s Preeminence

By Terry James

Stage setting for fulfillment of Bible prophecy is in fast forward. It is easy for the Christian who views daily headlines through the prism of God’s prophetic Word to become all but totally immersed in the shock and awe of the prolific signals bursting hourly around us. As a matter of fact, because of the overwhelming signs of the times, one can become desensitized to some aspects of the end-times stage setting. For example, we’ve for so long been watching peace overtures in the Middle East – overtures with Israel smack in the center of the process — that even the most attentive watchman can forget just how profound is the matter.

Many of us watched Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his “shuttle diplomacy,” then secretaries of state under Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, and Bush 2 work for peace between Israel and her blood-vowed enemies. We have, in some cases, become numb to the astonishing fact that here we are, just where God’s prophetic Word says the end-times generation will be. Israel is at the center of fears that thermonuclear war might be triggered at any moment. The world of diplomacy is crying “peace and safety,” the very thing that will bring Antichrist to the forefront and destruction that will surely follow.

To reiterate, we’ve become so used to talk of war and peace stemming from the hatreds surrounding Israel that even we who “watch” can have a sometimes ho-hum attitude about these truly prophetic developments. This commentary, then, is meant for the edification of and exhortation to the Christian who is doing what Jesus told us to do:
“What I say unto one, I say unto all. Watch” (Mark 13:37).
As important as that order to be watchful given by our Lord is, another is even more important. We all – including yours truly — have on occasion been guilty of being so immersed in “watching” that we have taken our spiritual eyes, even if briefly, off of the supreme purpose of being here on this planet at this most exciting time in human history.

What is that purpose of preeminence? Jesus gave the marching orders in the following:
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Amen” (Matthew 28:18-19).
Jesus' words just before His ascension are recorded in the gospel of Mark as:
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Jesus’ words of instruction to His disciples were further recorded in the Gospel of Luke:
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
What is the gospel that Jesus ordered all who name His name down through the centuries to proclaim? Many of us have known from our childhood that gospel message in its most straightforward form, although the words we memorized might not have sunken in until later in life. It is found in the fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
We who are royal ambassadors in this foreign land called planet earth must never take our concentration off of the preeminent mission God has assigned each of us. We are to witness to the whole world of hell-bound people the message that Jesus Christ is the only Way, Truth, and Eternal Life, and that not one person ever goes to be with God the Father except through His Son, Jesus.

Eschatology, the study of end things, is most important, and, tragically, woefully ignored by most seminaries, pastors, and people in the pews of America. But, things to come, given us through God’s prophetic Word, must always surround the nucleus of the primary mission – getting the gospel to the whole world. Prophecy cannot be consummated, we are told by the Lord himself until the gospel has been preached into the whole world:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
There will be those who will want to argue that Jesus was talking about a different gospel. He wasn’t, and I’ll just leave it at that, without debate. Sowing the seed that Jesus alone saves the soul is our preeminent duty as we sojourn upon this fallen sphere.

John was told about the link of Bible prophecy to the all-important personage at the heart of the gospel message. The angel of God came to the old prophet, who went prostrate on his face before the angel:
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
Let us who call Jesus our Savior and Lord never stop watching Israel, the humanistic peace overtures that portend destruction, and all other signals of His any-moment coming for us in the Rapture. But, let us never stop witnessing to the redemption and reconciliation found only through the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. We want as many souls as possible to meet the Lord in the air at that rapturous event.