Beliefnet
Is it the End of the World?

I was in my little local, quaint post office earlier today. It’s made of brick and has gorgeous maple trees out front. During Christmas, they set-out a red metal mailbox marked “North Pole.” Been that way forever. A lot of my friends have spent their entire working careers there.

A story I just read, though, claims that the U.S. Postal Service may go “belly up” early next year. With losses of $11 billion this year, and the ol’ checkbook almost out of money, things look dire. Of the Service’s 635,000 employees, perhaps 220,000 of them would lose their jobs by 2015, anyway…provided the doors are still open.

We wonder how our world got this way, don’t we? I have a stack of booklets written by a local postmaster, who served a small rural community eons ago—beginning in the 1930’s. How quaint his recollections are today! Taking mail on horseback. Visiting at the counter with customers who were really friends and family. Fred was a real character.

I wonder if those days are soon gone. Like many of you, I’m a creature of habit, of routine. I love routine. I wish I could live my life if it would include periodic trips to the post office, especially at Christmas when I could put in a letter to Santa.

But what do we do when the old ways die? The familiar? What do we do when our world is turned upside-down and nothing makes sense anymore? One day you’re going to the post office like you’ve done since A.D. 46, and the next minute an earthquake threatens to make Japan extinct. Or Greece can’t pay its bills, and your local banker says that might end up affecting you and me.

I have two pieces of advice, unsolicited—already noted. In order of importance:

•Take a walk outside if you can. The terrors that we face as adults, moving through this strange new world, well, they don’t seem nearly so formidable if we breathe fresh air. The Bible says that God gives us even the breathe in our bodies; we should be grateful for that.

I am a firm believer now in the power of positive thinking, albeit not the Peale/Schuller kind, necessarily. Rather, at the end of the day, when everything else we could rely on has burned away, there are simple realities and blessings we can enjoy and milk for all they’re worth. A walk through the trees and meadows, or even down a small-town sidewalk can reinvigorate us. I highly recommend it. And, remember, if you are facing bankruptcy or health problems, so are many others. At least you’re not alone.

•The second (and most important) bit of advice is to call on the name of the Lord. This is what we learn that the ancients did, from the Bible. He always heard them in their distress.

As I like to say, God will hear anyone: a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, even an atheist. Part of the biblical story is that He has mercy on us, the sometimes-pitiful creatures that are made in His image—spirit.

If you can, try these things. And, if you can again, let me know how it goes for you, will you?

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There are several amazing prophecies in the Bible’s book of Zechariah. At the very end of the book, we see a scenario in which the nations of the world come against “Jerusalem.”

Why?

I submit that this occurs for one reason: the Jews control the Holy City, today.

For thousands of years, no one came against Jerusalem. It was just there. In 1949, though, the Israelis took control of the western side of the city. Nineteen years later, they took the Old City.

The world has hated them ever since.

When people ask me what I think the trigger or catalyst will be for the Bible’s stated consummation of history, I answer that it will be the status of Jerusalem. Zechariah recorded that the nations of the world would want it. Israel has it.

Whether you believe in Bible prophecy or not, you must admit—if you know history at all—that the positioning of Israel, in the context of the international community’s wishes (Palestine!), is quite striking.

It is something, I would suggest, for the individual to meditate on, for sure.

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On our recent trip to Israel, Jonathan took note of a hilarious oddity we saw as we emerged from the shopping bazaars of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Fastened overhead was a sign that one might hardly take notice of in, say, Mobile, Alabama. The nod to Dixie is something we are familiar with, those of us who live in the South.

Yet anomalies like this—numerous in our world—pale in comparison to the state of Israel itself. For many, this “resurrection” of an ancient people, the Jews, is a coincidence (as I’ve read in a popular study Bible).

It certainly is not a coincidence, but it is an oddity. Israel is an anomaly in our world, and our suffering world can actually find a ray of hope if they look to the Jewish state, which, by historical standards, should not exist.

But the prophets spoke of a return. There is never going to be a return of Babylon. Or the Aztecs.

This anomaly on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean is at the end of the day a marvelous display of God’s power and provision, directly through the fulfillment of predictive prophecy.

Think about that.

Dixie-land in the Promised Land

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For a long time, there has been a controversy in the Christian world about Jews, and their place in God’s economy. While I think His obvious love for them is plainly eternal and has never been revoked, there are many in the Church today (particularly in America) who embrace what has been called “Replacement Theology.”

This idea basically states that because the ancient Jews rejected God and followed after foreign gods, He transferred His famous Old Testament blessings and promises from them to…the Church.

Too many even believe that the OT itself is now outdated and irrelevant; whole denominations give it minimal if any study. Oddly, one organization famous for passing out copies of the Bible, excludes almost all the OT.

In the run-up to Hitler, the German Church severely curtailed the teaching and study of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures. This was a key puzzle piece for the Austrian corporal, as he put into practice his grotesque plans for the Jewish people.

Yet in the Old Testament itself are numerous prophecies that attest to the fact that God Himself has never forsaken the Jews, and never will.

In Jeremiah 51:5, He declares:

“For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the Lord of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”

In one fell swoop, God is telling us that Replacement Theology is false. He acknowledges that the ancient Jews allowed sin in the land, and then He also quite clearly states that that corporate sin was not enough to revoke His unconditional covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15).

God loves all people. All means all. Included in that list is the nation He has brought back in our time. The Jews—Israel—are under the watchful care of the One who created them.

God’s love for the Jewish people—which I enjoy watching—is sure and permanent.

Try replacing that.

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