Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
A Brief History of the Land since 1917
This blog is a three part series on the State of Israel, the land, etc. The first two blogs are historical and meant to be presented in a way that anyone, objectively, could agree with them.
To read part one click here.
In the late 1800s, partly due to growing Ottoman weakness and partly due to a rise in Christian (either for Dispensational reasons or anti-semitism) and Jewish Zionism (that a people need a place, Theodore Hertzl) in Europe, more Jews began to emigrate to the Ottoman Empire. In 1917 about 20% of Palestine was Jewish.
In 1917 the British liberated Palestine during WWI. They had promised the Arabs who helped them defeat the Ottoman’s independence. However, in 1916 the British and French secretly agreed to split the land in the Sykes-Picot Agreement. Palestine became British. In 1917 Lord Balfour published the Balfour Declaration, which favoured the creation of “a national home for the Jewish people.”
Under British rule more and more Jews immigrated to British Palestine, the British being very sympathetic to Zionism.
Prior to WWII, many Arabs increasingly came into armed conflict with the Jewish settlers and the British. When the British tarried in agreeing to a Jewish state some Jews likewise targeted the British.
In 1939 the world’s attention shifted to WWII; issues simmered, while Jewish immigration increased because of Nazism. Post-WWII the British abdicated responsibility for the tensions to the newly formed United Nations and the world was sympathetic to a home for the Jews because of the Holocaust. In 1947 the UN passed Resolution 181, calling for the partitioning of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. The Arabs rejected it. As soon as Israel declared independence in May 1948, neighbouring Arab states immediately attacked Israel. The result was that young State of Israel won a surprising victory and increased its territory and some 700,000 Arabs were displaced. (They were also told to leave until the state had been defeated and they could return). Egypt occupies Gaza and Jordan the West Bank. (The Palestinian flag dates to 1964). Some 650,000 Jewish refugees also fled from their Arab countries, where they'd lived for years, to seek peace in Israel.
Under the Israeli constitution Jewish and Arab citizens, Muslims and Christians, have full equality.
While it is not true the land was barren and disused under the Arabs (as the British had said) the Israelis did much to improve the land.
In June 1967 came the Six-Day War when Israel was attacked on all sides by Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The Arabs were defeated, resulting in Israel occupying the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, Gaza and West Bank. Following the war several Arab nations issued the “Three Noes” or the Khartoum Resolution: no peace, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations.
In September 1972 11 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics by the [Palestinian] group Black September.
In October 1974 the Yom Kippur War erupted as Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack, with heavy casualties on both sides. Egypt fared better than Syria, who lost more of the Golan Heights.
In September 1978 the Camp David Accords see Israel return Sinai in return for peace.
In 1987 the first intifada, or Palestinian uprising, erupts leading to ongoing deaths.
In 1993 the Oslo Accords set out a peace process between Israel and the Palestinian authority. Unresolved issues include Israeli settlements in West Bank and the status of Jerusalem. In 1994 Jordan and Israel sign a peace deal.
In 1995 Israeli PM is assassinated by a Jewish shooter who opposed the Oslo Accords.
In 2000, after Ariel Sharon (later PM) visited the Temple Mount, the second intifada erupted leaving many dead on both sides. Following this conflict Israel builds the West Bank barrier.
In 2005 Israel gives Gaza. However, in 2006 Hamas, a terrorist group backed by Iran with the aim of exterminating Israel, is elected.
In 2006 Israel fought a war with Hezbollah (an Iranian backed militia in Lebanon). Flare ups have continued.
In 2008 Israel attacks Hamas in Gaza. Since this time there are often flare ups of violence.
Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank.
In total Israel offered the PLO peace five times and five times the PLO rejected it. This is often because of an unwillingness to recognize Israel.
In 2017 the USA recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Israel has been normalizing relations with many Arab nations.
Several things may be observed:
5. European= 191
*The Jews have been the longest culture and religion to be in the land; though Christians and Muslims have considerable claims too.
5. It must be remembered Israel is not an exclusively Jewish state. It tolerates other religions and some 20% of Israelis are Arab.
6. Palestinian, like Israeli, are NEW terms. Prior to the 20th Century there were no Palestinians or Israelis, simply Arabs, Jews, etc, living in an artificially created land named Palestine.
You might benefit from:
A three part series on the land/state of Israel and what Christians should make of it.
The news of the recent Israel-Hamas war has put the region, and its complex civil and religious questions, back into the international spotlight again. What should a Christian response be? While this three part blog will give a basic overview it’s interest is primarily theological and not social or political. It must be stated, this is a complex issue and many have devoted their entire lives to its study. However, we can ascertain some basics.
A Brief History of the Land to 1917
The Canaanites are the earliest known residents of the Levant; the region at the crossroads of two continents. They were descended from Ham who was the father of the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites and Arabs (Gen 10:6, 19). Because of Ham’s sin (and perhaps foreseeing Canaan’s evil), Noah cursed Canaan.
c. 2166 BC. God promised Abraham the land of Canaan (“the Promised Land”) as part of his wider promise (Gen 12, 15, 17). Abraham, however, died only owning a grave in Canaan.
C. 1446/or 1260. Moses and then Joshua led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. The nations there were so godless and so evil God used Israel to bring judgement on them.
C. 1051 BC. Saul/David formed the Israelite monarchy. It later split between the northern Kingdom (Israel) and the southern Kingdom (Judah). In 725 BC Israel was taken into exile by the Assyrians, their land resettled with other peoples who mixed with the Israelite lower classes (the Samaritans). In 586 BC Judah was taken into exile by the Babylonians. Likewise, many others came to dwell in the land with the lower class Jews.
Under the Persians they were permitted to return to Judea and be semi-autonomous.
Though many Jews returned to Judea many remained abroad to build their lives across the Ancient Near East. This is called the Diaspora or dispersion.
The Persians were conquered by the Greeks. The Jews rebelled against the Greeks and formed the Maccabean Kingdom (167–63 BC).
In 63 BC the Romans intervened in the Maccabean civil war and came to incorporate Judea as a province within the Empire.
4 BC–30/33 AD. The time of Jesus.
During this time a tense relationship existed between the Romans and the Jews until the Temple was destroyed in AD 70 and the Jews were finally expelled from the land in AD 139; leaving only a small number. The Romans re-named Judea Palestinia, after the Jews old Phoenician enemies the Philistines, as a slight against them. This resulted in a second Jewish dispersion.
As Christianity grew Palestine had a minority of Jews and a majority of, primarily, Roman/Greek Christians.
*Islam is founded by Mohammed. Jerusalem is claimed as a holy site.
In 636 the new Muslim Arabs conquered Palestine. It became part of a Calaphate that existed until the Crusades (1100–1291) when it was controlled by European Christians. Christians saw it as the “holy land” because of holy events, saints, etc. After its fall to the Arabs there always remained a minority of Jews and Christians.
A group of Muslims called the Mamluks then occupied Palestine until conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1516. Palestine would be part of the Ottoman Empire for the next 400 years.
To be continued...
The Unknown Minister is an accurate depiction of the roles a pioneer Baptist minister fulfilled in Ontario. One important scene at the centre is that of pastoral visitation. The first Baptist minister in this area, Rev. Alexander Stewart, walked many miles (in all sorts of weather) visiting cabins and families, etc, to catechize (teach), administer ordinances, encourage, etc. Though much has changed in the world in which we minister, this ought to remain a constant principle.
Click here toHowever, for as much as I’ve striven to be a visiting pastor/elder this is not the experience of many members. I met a man last year who was new to the church. He had been a Christian for years and attended a solid Baptist church. NEVER in all his Christian life had a pastor/elder ever visited his home! I was shocked and saddened.
In Acts 20 Paul sets his ministry before the Ephesian elders as an example to follow. Chiefly, how he “lived among you” (v. 18), teaching from “house to house” (v. 20) and caring “for the church of God” (v. 28). Elder/overseers/shepherds must be amongst the flock, being an example, knowing and setting a vision, feeding and caring for the flock.
While I seek to incorporate this into my ministry I confess many things impede it. There is the steady stream of teaching and necessary meetings, phone calls, etc. Those other related duties or emergency counselling sessions (themselves a form of visitation). There is also the strain of meeting with new members, baptismal candidates, etc. Still, despite the various pressures that would eat away at my time I try to visit at least 2 people/families a week (or in a medium sized church every person/family about twice a year). We also host a Life Group and other fellowship opportunities. I encourage the other elders to regularly contact our members and adherents.
However, visitation (or fellowship) isn’t only an elders responsibility. Hospitality is a Christian virtue and practice. Upon their conversions both Lydia and the Philippian jailer both were hospitable to the brothers. And think of how often Jesus visited and dined with people. While some may have the gift of hospitality, the Bible calls all believers to be hospitable. When was the last time you visited or had someone from the church to your home? (maybe even an elder?).
Mt 5:3- The First Beatitude
What did Paul mean when he wrote to the Galatians about the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2)?
For starters he was contrasting it with the Law of Moses, which because of the New Covenant, was no longer binding (Gal 3:15–29; 1 Cor 9:20). We never were saved by the Law (as many Jews had confused) but anticipating the Messiah, just as today one is justified through retroactive faith in Him. Was he or the Christian without a moral compass then if the Law of Moses had been fulfilled—certainly not (i.e. Gal 5:18 is not saying we can do whatever we’d like). Because the Mosaic Covenant is no more, how then shall we live?
In the Bible “law” can mean a number of things (which can make it confusing). It can mean: The Bible, God’s commands, the Mosaic Covenant or Law of Moses or the moral law.
Some have suggested antinomianism (there is no law) while others have opted for the other extreme of legalism (try to be saved by keeping the law). In the middle there are those who no longer see the Law of Moses as binding (Calvin- it is useful for wisdom) and those who see only those laws reinforced in the New Testament as binding (but some obviously sinful practices found in the OT are not found in the NT, like necromancy). Others see the moral law found in the Law of Moses still binding.
Enter the Law of Christ, or the royal law (Ja 2:8).
In 1 Cor 9:21b Paul said, “not being outside of the law of God but under the law of Christ.” Though the Law of Moses is no more that does not mean the New Covenant believer (Jew or Gentile) is left without a guide to pleasing God through obedient and right living.
Christ is the King (or Lord). The King has a law. His law is binding on His citizens and non-citizens, though only His citizens fully seek to keep it with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are some elements to this law that are unique to this Covenant (e.g. baptism), however, most of it is an encapsulation of the moral law.
Classically, Christians have understood the tri-partite (threefold) division of the Law of Moses: ceremonial (pointed to and fulfilled in Christ and useful in understanding the Gospel), legal (again, fulfilled in Christ, useful for wisdom and principles for civil governments—like Western society) and the moral law, which is universally binding on all people in all times. Christ fulfilled the whole law, ceremonially, legally and morally, and yet the moral law remains.
We get a sense of this before and after the Law of Moses. In Gen 26:5 it says, “Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes and my laws”—in other words the moral law. In Galatians Paul upholds the second half of the Great Commandment (Gal 5:14a), itself a summation of the 10 Commandments, which the New Testament cites in its entirety.
The Law of Christ are those commands unique to the New Covenant + the moral law.
May we seek to be obedient to the Law of Christ for our good and Christ’s glory.
To read more about the moral law see the 1689 Baptist Confession ch.19 and the New Hampshire Baptist Confession 1833.12.
The Lord’s Day (LD) is one of the most vital means of grace the Lord has given to His people. A Lord’s Day well spent is therefore essential for spiritual vitality. To this end, and also to learn how a pastor spends the LD, allow me to share how I spend the LD.
Firstly, my week looks forward to the LD and each week begins with the LD. This is the major rhythm in my life, not because I’m a pastor but because I’m a Christian.
Essential to a profitable LD is preparing for the LD by planning your week. I very seldom try to plan much of anything for a Saturday night. I want to make sure I’m well rested to spend the day well. (This includes sermon preparation, which I generally have completed during the week. Only occasionally am I writing vs. reviewing a sermon on Saturday night. I always appreciate God’s people’s prayers for me on this night).
I wake grateful that the Lord has given a day of rest and worship and family. I look forward to the morning and evening worship services that will prove an integral part in spending the LD well, of our corporate worship and discipleship. There is nothing planned for the day apart from rest, worship and family. No shopping (online or otherwise), no special events, no projects, no recreational activities, no travel, etc. The Lord’s Day is His appointment with me and so I give the day wholly to the Lord; it is His. While I do seek to usually take Monday as a day off for projects, family or writing the LD is my/the Sabbath. My service is part of my worship.
I’m usually up before anyone else in my home on the LD. After a time of general prayer I review my message and pray for the services and the day. We have breakfast and do my son’s devotional and then get ready to go to church. I try to make this as hassle free as possible so going to church doesn’t become a stressful affair.
As a pastoral family we’re normally there early (often first to arrive and last to leave). I don’t count the very act of being at church on the LD as contributing to ‘my week’s work’—I’m a Christian first, I’d be there anyway. However, I do try to take the extra time into consideration of my wider week’s ministry. After getting any last minute things ready (missing music pages, anything for the sermon) and helping ‘open things up’ those involved in the morning service meet together for prayer. We then fellowship and welcome people to the service (As we don’t presently have greeters I try to do this). One sacrifice in the service, since I often assist with the leading of singing is that I’m not able to help parent in the pew like other fathers. After the service I usually greet people and hopefully engage in relevant ministry conversations.
On the way home we usually take a short scenic drive and then have a light lunch. Occasionally we’ll have guest speakers or members/visitors over for a meal, though my wife’s health doesn’t always allow for this. In the afternoon there will quite likely be a nap, some p.m. sermon review, reading a Christian book, taking some quiet time to pray, a short family walk, etc.
We often will have a small snack before heading off the evening service. This service is the true highlight of my week. I love beginning the week on the Lord’s Day in worship but I love crowning the day with the p.m. service. With minimal set up we look forward to an informal service. After the service we have refreshments, which is a great time to catch up with people and speak about the things of the Lord.
After the p.m. service, which has been part of my life now for a decade, we return home for a tradition of crackers, cheese and jelly. Following this we call some family members to check in. Then we retire for the evening with a story, a devotional reading and a reading from the Bible followed by prayers. After a busy yet restful day we all seek to get a good night’s sleep.
Many ask how I can do as much as I do. The simple answer is by seeking to spend the LD well. I still have room to grow in spending the day well and hope you will likewise contemplate how you will grow in spending a profitable Lord’s Day.
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