The Cross Before the Crown

War is looming on the horizon

Earlier this week a headline appeared in the Online Edition of Israel Today which said; “Netanyahu Says Israel Preparing for War With Gaza.” The article went on to say; “Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stark warning to the Palestinian Authority and to the international community during Sunday’s cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. The gist of his remarks was that Israel will not hesitate to launch a full-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip if the situation along the coastal enclave’s border continues to deteriorate. Over the past couple of weeks, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have encouraged an intensification of violent disturbances along the Strip’s security fence. Unlike similar demonstrations earlier in the year, those taking part are now hurling grenades and firebombs at Israeli soldiers and openly trying to breach the border. Netanyahu expects that the violence will only increase with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas threatening to cut all funding to the terrorist-ruled territory. Hamas and other Palestinian groups typically deflect criticism of their own shortcomings by instigating violence against Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “If the reality of civil distress in Gaza is diminished, that is desirable, but that is not certain to happen, and so we are preparing militarily — that is not an empty statement.”

The ‘Offence’ of the Cross

I was watching Billy Graham on YouTube tonight preaching back in 1958 on the subject “The Offence of the Cross” and in this great evangelistic message he focused on the cross of the Lord Jesus and what it meant for every person whether they are Jew or Gentile. He emphasized the fact that none of us can be saved and reconciled to God unless we come to the cross and allow the Lord Jesus to crucify our sinful and fleshly nature with its passions and desires. There at the foot of the cross we must repent and renounce our sin of unbelief in the Lord Jesus and all the sins that accompany this unbelief and by faith invite the Lord Jesus to be our personal saviour and Lord and become His bond slave for life. God has a cross for everyone of us who belive in the Lord Jesus to bear and we must be willing to bear it with the strength that God supplies in the blessed Holy Spirit.

Taking up the cross

As the Lord Jesus said; ” “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:34b-35) He invites us to come and to carry the cross with Him. Many readily embrace the signs, the miracles and the wonders of a Lord Jesus that is all light and love but very few embrace the offence of the cross, a subject in itself, but one that has challenged me personally in my walk with God and what this means for me as a bond servant of the Lord Jesus the Messiah. Even though Billy has changed his address and moved upstairs he is still speaking today as he did all those years ago in 1958.

God’s Righteousness

For a Jewish person to come to faith in their Messiah, our Lord Jesus, this would mean embracing the offence of the cross and rejecting their own works based righteousness and by faith receiving the righteousness that comes from God and is bestowed and imputed by faith alone in the Lord Jesus for salvation. (Romans 3:21-24, 26-28;10:1-13) It made me realise afresh, and in a deeper way, that before we take up the crown of eternal life we must first be willing to take up the cross of death to ourselves, to our plans and to our ambitions in life no matter what it costs. Once our will is laid down only then by faith can we take up God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for our life. (Romans 12:1-2)

Where God’s will and our will cross

Derek prince once said; “God’s will is where our will and God’s will cross!” This is not only true for all of us who have sinned and fallen short of God’s righteous standards and know it but also true for Israel as a nation in their current spiritually backslidden state. Peter preaching his message to his fellow Israelites said; “Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus, the Messiah, who has been appointed for you.” (Acts 3:19-20) Seasons of spiritual refreshing always come after repentance, not before it!

At the foot of the Old Rugged Cross

The reason Israel is experiencing all of these troubles and afflictions today is not only because Satan is trying to destroy them, which he is desperate to do because he knows that his time is now short, but because God is seeking to bring Israel as a nation back to the foot of that old rugged cross where their Passover lamb was slain for them and their sins fully atoned for through His blood. (1 Corinthians 5:7) (Ephesians 1:7) It is the place of crucifixion for all who want to die to sin and be resurrected to “that holiness without which no one shall see the LORD.” (Hebrews 12:14)

Victory assured!

A day is coming when Israel will be victorious over all of their enemies including Hamas, Hezbollah and over all who have come against them. This includes Gaza of course which Israel will fully occupy when they have been reconciled to God and fight under the war banner of the Messiah our Lord Jesus. We are told that “Judah will also fight at Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 14:14) As it is written of Israel; “But they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west” (Isaiah 11:14a) And again it is written; “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom. So I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour her strongholds.” (Amos 1:6-7) And yet again it is written; “For Gaza shall be deserted, and Ashkelon shall become a desolation; Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon, and Ekron shall be uprooted.” (Zephaniah 2:4)

The LORD does not change

Right now the same principality that was at work through the Philistines centuries ago is still at work through the PA and Hamas today as he seeks to wipe Israel off of the map, it is the same wicked spirit. Of course this will never happen! “The LORD will shield Jerusalem” and “Jerusalem will be secure!” The Philistines are long gone but God has a long memory and although He used the Philistines against Israel when his people turned away from Him He got rid of the Philistines once they had served His divine purposes. God has not changed since then. How He has acted in the past He will also act in the future. As He speaks of Himself through the prophet Malachi; “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6a)

Persecution permitted

God is permitting these acts of terror from Gaza even though they are instigated by Satan using Abbas and Co and Hamas. God is not permitting these afflictions to destroy Israel but to bring them to the foot of the cross to discover that it is the only place where they will find repentance, revival, restitution and resurrection. As the prophet Hosea writes concerning Israel’s spiritual revival in the last days; “Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His presence.” (Hosea 6:1-2) God must use applied pressure, as He has always done where Israel is concerned, to bring about Israel’s spiritual resurrection as a nation.

Israel’s salvation

The “bones and the sinews” have come together and the “rattling noise” of those dry bones coming together again and “the flesh and sinew” coming upon those bones in 1948 was heard and witnessed around the world and is still being witnessed today. However, there is still no “breath” or “the life” of the Holy Spirit in them as a nation. This is yet to come and it will! Once the LORD has them as a people prostrate before Him and helpless against their enemies and looking to the cross of the Messiah our Lord Jesus for their salvation from sin and from their enemies and from the hand of all who hate them, He will most certainly intervene once Israel has thoroughly repented and put their trust in the Lord Jesus for their salvation and reconciliation to God. Once they have embraced the cross it is only after that when they will receive the crown of life and victory assured and in that day indeed “Israel will possess their possession!”

Gaza’s fate is sealed

Gaza’s fate is sealed according to the Word of God, make no mistake about that and the ones who will bring about the demise of the PA and Hamas will be “the Right Arm of the LORD” being the Lord Jesus Himself, Israel’s God and Saviour, and He will use Israel to do it! Israel may currently launch a pre-emptive strike against Gaza but Hamas will not go away easily. However, when the Lord Jesus comes back and “all Israel is saved” the remnant of Israel will indeed swoop down upon the shoulders of the PA and Hamas. Gaza’s ‘wall’ will go up in flames and her strongholds will be thrown down never to rise again. “For Gaza shall be deserted, and Ashkelon shall become a desolation; Ashdod’s people shall be driven out at noon, and Ekron shall be uprooted.” That demon spirit that has had control over Gaza for hundreds of years will go down into the Abyss and take Hamas and the PA with him in that day when the sky is rolled back like a scroll and the Lord Jesus appears.

The Spirit of Grace and Supplication

God says concerning Israel; “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit (the Spirit) of grace and supplication. They will look on (to) Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.” (Zechariah 12:10-11) All that God is doing in Israel today is to bring about that reunion between the Lord Jesus Israel’s Messiah with his brethren in the flesh, a reunion typified in Joseph’s reconciliation with his wayward brothers.

The Cross Before the Crown

Whether we are Jewish or Gentile we can only be recociled to God for time and for eternity through coming in repentance and faith to the foot of that old rugged cross and laying down all of our our sins before God realizing, that there, and only there, God has opened for us a fountain for uncleanliness and sin and that to be saved we must be justified, forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. God will only meet us there. (Zechariah 13:1) Whether we are Jewish or Gentile, we must firstly embrace the cross before we receive the crown.