Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

In the latest issue of Relevant magazine, Jesse Carey interviews the writer Chuck Klosterman.

In the interview, the pop culture author seems pretty sure that he has a handle on truth, at least in the way individuals view their truth.

At one point, he makes an interesting statement regarding faith:

“The central component of faith is the belief and the acceptance of something that inherently can’t be proven. It would obviously be very easy to be a religious person if it was easy to physically see God. Faith demands that there is an element of irrationality that you’re believing something that can’t be proven.”

Actually, some of the apostles saw Jesus with their own eyes and did not believe. So even Klosterman’s dogma is not entirely…true.

Yet his contention that God or, say, the Bible can’t be proven is not true, either. I’ve heard this many times over the years, but in fact, you can prove the existence of God.

I mean, the God of the Bible.

The Israeli community of Ariel, home to Israeli Jews.

The Israeli community of Ariel, home to Israeli Jews.

The great fly in the ointment for thinkers like Klosterman is the Bible’s predictive prophecy.

Take a remarkable prophecy from Genesis 49:10—

“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”

Shiloh, another name for Messiah, refers to Jesus Christ. And this specific prophecy was fulfilled in astonishing detail.

Judah, a son of Jacob, was designated as the one through whom the Messiah’s lineage would run. A succession of great leaders—Moses, Joshua, Samuel and others—were from various other tribes.

Yet 600 years after the prophecy, David, from the tribe of Judah, emerged and it was through his line that Jesus came much later.

The Bible is filled with many such examples of predictive prophecy.

But, you say, an anonymous scribe could have manipulated that language, or some other method might have been used to make it appear as a prophecy when in fact it was not. I’ve heard this, too.

Explain, then, the hundreds of prophecies looking ahead to a final ingathering of Jewish exiles into their homeland. Take any of them, from Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, etc., and explain the appearance of Jewish immigrants to Palestine, beginning in the 19th century? Today we have a sovereign nation, Israel, which fulfills those prophecies.

Chuck Klosterman and others like him are not always wrong. But they are always wrong when claiming that the existence of the Creator God cannot be proven.

Seeing prophecy fulfilled is seeing God physically.

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Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. (Ezekiel 47:6-10)

In the latter of chapters of Ezekiel, we find fascinating glimpses into a future that will be glorious not only in the hearts of men, but also in the physical world. If one believes these are future prophecies (as opposed to being metaphor, or past fulfillment), then chapter 47 is describing a flow of water from the Temple in Jerusalem, which will end up in the Dead Sea, to the south.

The Dead Sea is a popular tourist destination.

The Dead Sea is a popular tourist destination.

At present, Israeli agriculturalists are reclaiming the moonscape known as the Judean Hills. The famous Dead Sea (the lowest spot on Earth) is so-named because of the high concentration of minerals in the water, which prevents any living thing from, well, living there. The Sea is a popular tourist destination, since one can float without sinking. Across the water are the equally famous Mountains of Moab, in the modern nation of Jordan.

At the moment, it’s a bit difficult to imagine a “Dead Sea” teeming with fish and other creatures, but we are told it will be so. Patches of palm groves dot the shores now, but in the Millennium Kingdom, the entire area will be reclaimed by the Lord and be lush.

The shores of the Dead Sea are encrusted with salt.

The shores of the Dead Sea are encrusted with salt.

So what do you think? Is this a prophecy still future, or was it fulfilled at some point in the past? Or…is it metaphor?

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The Southern Baptists passed a resolution in support of Israel last week, during their annual convention. The resolution also condemned the BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) movement, aimed at hurting the Jewish state economically.

I’ve written a lot the last five years about the encroachment of the so-called Palestinian Narrative into American churches. No denomination/association has been unaffected by this coordinated effort, which uses high-level networks to peddle a story that makes Israel the villain in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Even at the SBC gathering in St. Louis, a Palestinian pastor (now living in Phoenix) stood to denounce the resolution. He used classic language that claims Israel is a brutal occupier. Reports are that there was significant applause for this pastor’s comments.

Look close and you'll see that the folks running this small-town grocery store love Zion.

Look close and you’ll see that the folks running this small-town grocery store love Zion.

I maintain that unless a serious effort is made to educate congregants across the United States about the realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict (what Benjamin Netanyahu has called “The Battle for Truth”), the next several generations will be flipped to the Palestinian side. With the tidal wave of social justice talk among Millennials, the Palestinian Narrative fits hand-in-glove.

Yet there remains a significant number of Americans who stand solidly with Israel, and they aren’t usually the most visible. AIPAC and others, and a variety of Christian organizations, solidly back Israel and hold conferences.

But it is the grassroots that will tell the tale. All across America, one finds the signs—and the signs of the times—that reflect America’s enduring love affair with the Jewish state.

May it always be so.

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The Southern Baptist Convention recently concluded its annual convention, electing a new president, Steve Gaines (of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis); he replaces Ronnie Floyd of Cross Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

Besides a resolve to denounce the Confederate flag, the convention made some news on the heels of the recent story involving a planned mosque in New Jersey.

Traditional Southern Baptists, those from the immediate past in particular, would be horrified that an SBC entity (in this case the Russell Moore-led Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) joined almost two dozen other groups in a lawsuit aimed at allowing a mosque to be built in Bernards Township, New Jersey. Moore has maintained that “religious liberty” must be the priority.

Russell Moore answering criticisms of his policies at the SBC convention.

Russell Moore answering criticisms of his policies at the SBC convention.

At the SBC convention, however, an attendee or two took to the microphones and questioned Moore about his defense of the New Jersey mosque. The scene then took a sad turn as Moore smugly dismissed the concerns. On some subsequent blogs, those few brave souls who took exception to an SBC entity helping build a mosque were mocked; one was even derided as perhaps being old (dementia?) and out of touch.

What is out of touch, however, is exactly what has happened: Moore is pushing through a fairly radical left-wing agenda to turn the Southern Baptist community into a “kinder, gentler” church.

The problem is, as the SBC continues to hemorrhage members (down 1.1 million since 2002, and 200,000 in the last two years led by Floyd), the world still will not tolerate even those positions Moore and his friends purport to resist, such as abortion.

In other words, “the world” won’t like you better because you come their way. It only makes them loathe you “more,” no pun intended.

The SBC leadership is scrambling for solutions to halt the exodus of members. Sadly, they are largely looking in the wrong places for those solutions. A return to biblical teaching, I believe, would do the trick. I don’t expect that to happen, as books like Jesus Calling and The Circle Maker pass for study materials today, in too many circles. They are infinitely poor substitutes for God’s Holy Word.

Prediction: the SBC slide will continue, culminating in cultural irrelevance.

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