July 15, '11 8:12 AM
By Regner Capener
Good Morning, Good Morning!
There are a few folks who’ve suggested that I am a “Christian Zionist” – not understanding the term “Zionist.”The term “Zionism” really began in England a century or more ago referring to the intent and the (then) budding movement among members of the British government to see Israel restored to its God-covenanted homeland. But the term “Zionism” has far deeper roots than just the political or geographical concepts suggest. I’ll get back to this in a moment.
First of all, let me take a minute to explain some rules concerning Biblical prophecy.
As nearly any Hebrew scholar will tell you, there are not less than seven layers of interpretation to the Word of God. I won’t take the time today to lay out each of those layers, but suffice it to say that interpretation and understanding begins with the surface meaning of the words. Underneath the surface there are core meanings rooted in pictures that no single word or translation can possibly convey. In some instances, because the meanings have their roots in the Hebrew culture and thought processes, certain phrases tend to convey expressions that are totally lost in modern western thought.
Thus, attempts in our western society to interpret Scripture solely on the basis of our English translations (or Spanish, or German, or French, or whatever) of the Hebrew or Greek – those translations resulting in over-simplistic single words or phrases which fail to capture the essence of Hebrew thought – fail miserably, often leaving the reader with a poor interpretation of what the Holy Spirit is saying.
I have cited in the past, for example, my translation from the Song of Solomon which constitutes non-stop Hebrew metaphors from its opening passage to the very end of the Song. A recurring phrase which appears in the Song of Solomon (1:5), “I am black,” also appears in Jeremiah’s prophecy. It has nothing to do with the color of one’s skin. It is an expression of woe, of weariness, of spiritual exhaustion; and it is based in a fundamental understanding built into every single individual (whether they realize it or not) that because we are created in the image of God; that like Adam was, so are we in need of a counterpart – an “other self.”
The world has trivialized this into a search for “one’s soul-mate,” but the “soul-mate” concept misses completely the spiritual nature God invested in us and expressed in the Song of Solomon as “my sister, my spouse.”This phrase much more literally translates out of its metaphorical usage into “my counterpart, my other self,” – in other words, “my beloved!”
The expression, “I am black,” is rooted in the specific weariness that comes from a life-long and fruitless search for the husband or wife specifically designed by God to fulfill and complete you in such a way that you become a complete being. Eve completed Adam, but Adam also completed her. She was his beloved! He was her beloved!
When Jeremiah used this phrase, he was speaking on behalf of the Lord God, who was expressing His weariness in His search and crying out for the return of His beloved – that people whom He had created for Himself. They had left Him to bond with other gods and He was crying out through His prophets to return to Him.
When the Lord gave Della to me, He completed me. The “search” in my being for my counterpart (something which happens deep in one’s spirit, often well below any conscious level) ended with Della. She fulfills me, she completes me, she is what I am not, and I am what she is not. Together we are one: one whole being! She is a whole lot more than my “soul mate”: she is my counterpart, my other self, my beloved!
Anyway, I’ve said all that to say that to try and interpret prophetic utterances from Scripture based solely on the surface meaning is to completely miss the “hidden Manna” revealed in layer after layer after layer of the Word. None of these layers are exclusive to themselves, nor does any layer contradict or negate in any way the surface meaning.
I may be taking you around a 40-acre field in order to get to Psalm 83, but bear with me. This is a significant prophecy and it is important to lay proper foundations for understanding.
It is of prime importance to first remember that these prophecies – both Old and New Testaments – were given by Jews whose understanding was rooted in the seven-layers of God’s Word.
Secondly, let’s remember that they were (in nearly every instance) prophesying to a Jewish audience who knew exactly where they were coming from. Thus the prophecies were made specifically to the Jews. They were the first recipients of those prophecies and God was speaking directly to them, promising what He would do for them as a covenant-keeping God.
Here’s the catch. Saying that they were the first recipients is not the same as saying they were the only recipients. The prophet Joel made a very specific prophecy which Peter quoted on the Day of Pentecost. Peter applied the prophecy to 17 nationalities or groups of people who heard their languages being spoken by newly Spirit-baptized men and women.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”(Joel 2:28-32)
When Peter was preaching to the multitudes on the Day of Pentecost – a multitude that included the aforementioned 17 nationalities (non-Jews) – he made the following amplification to Joel’s prophecy: “For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to and for as many as the Lord our God invites and bids to come to Himself.”(Acts 2:39 – Amplified Version)
The NLT puts it like this: “This promise is to you, and to your children, even to the Gentiles and to people far in the future—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
You see the specificity here, don’t you? The promise is made first to the Jews: then it is to the Gentiles (the nations of the earth).
One of the problems with modern translators and folks who’ve been programmed with traditional western thought is that they have somehow replaced the notion of these prophecies applying to the Jews with the idea that they only (or mostly) apply to the body of Christ. We sometimes refer to this as “replacement theology.”Prophecies that were meant first for the Jews somehow now don’t apply to the Jews in this theology.
A corollary doctrine is that of “cessationism.” This teaching relegates prophecies such as Peter’s prophecy in Acts 2:39 to the past. The idea is that such utterances “applied to the Jews and to the early church, but it died out with the apostles.”
This is why so many prophecies and so many scriptures often get taken out of context to prove some religious doctrine. The western mindset we’ve all grown up with really is an enemy to the Truth of God’s Word.It does its best to separate things out into some kind of logical order – logical, that is, by western thinking. End time doctrines, especially, suffer from this mindset. It’s why we have “pre-Trib, mid-Trib and post-Trib” doctrines concerning the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word is not taken as a whole message: it gets separated into “dispensations” and segments instead of seeing it as one single message from beginning to end.
The Word of God stands intact for all generations! It was true yesterday. It is true today. And it will be true tomorrow!
Getting back to “Zionism,” one needs to realize that Zion was originally the fortress that Shem built after the flood. It was the fortress and the hill that David re-captured from the Jebusites (after they had taken it over following Shem’s death) when he restored Jerusalem to the Israelites. It was the place where he erected his simple tabernacle consisting of a tent (with flaps open) and the Ark of the Covenant on display for all Israel to see. It was the place where he established the continuous ministry of praise and worship.
Zion represented the covenant of marriage that the Lord made with His people. In Psalm 2, David prophesies of the coming Messiah when he writes, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”This was not about him, although he ruled from Zion: it was about an everlasting covenant that God had made – one that would be exhibited through His people Israel, and made available to the whole earth.
Consider another of David’s prophecies – and Israel had not been carried away into captivity when he wrote this: “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”(Psalm 53:6)
Then there’s this one: “For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.”(Psalm 69:35-36)
There are something like 150 separate prophecies concerning Zion throughout the Old Testament which refer to the coming of the Messiah, the restoration of Israel as a nation, the unification of Jerusalem and the gathering together of all the tribes of Israel to their homeland after being scattered by the Lord.
Zionism really – at its heart – is the cry for the salvation and restoration of Israel according to the promises of God. So, to answer those who speak negatively about “Zionists” and “Christian Zionism,” I am in every respect a Zionist. I believe God’s Word. I believe that Israel is being – and MUST BE – restored according to the promises God has made to the Jews. God’s covenant with them was that He absolutely would restore them as a nation and as a people in the earth!
I am a “Christian Zionist” also because I believe in the multi-layered pictures contained in these prophecies. I believe in a completed and fulfilled Bride of Christ consisting of both Jews and Christians – the counterpart and “other self” of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not possible to separate Israel and the body of Christ – and yet, paradoxically, they are distinct. It is one of the unique aspects of the “hidden Manna” contained in the seven layers of the Word.
So why, then, this focus on modern Israel? Why is there such importance on the restoration of the Jewish homeland, the unification of Jerusalem, and the gathering together of the scattered tribes of Israel from throughout the world? What does that have to do with us as Christians and the body of Christ as a whole?
What happens in and with Israel is a direct prophetic correlation to what God is doing in the earth! It is a picture of the in-gathering together, the great harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ taking place around the earth even as we speak. It is the fulfilling of Paul’s prophecy in Ephesians 1:18-19: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (NASB)
Israel, the Jews AND the Gentiles (nations of the earth) represent His inheritance! That inheritance is so multi-faceted and multi-layered as to defy description.
That (finally! Whewww!!) brings us to the prophetic Word of Asaph in Psalm 83.
He begins with a cry to the Lord to execute judgment on His enemies! Notice that Asaph does not refer to them as the enemies of Israel: these are God’s enemies – and that is an important distinction. The Holy Spirit is interceding through Asaph in a prophetic word of an event to come.
Do you remember what Isaiah prophesied towards the end of his years?“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.”(Isaiah 65:24-25)
So Asaph is preparing the stage in the realm of the Spirit long before this event is to unfold.Take a quick look at Romans 8:26-27: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
So it is the Holy Spirit who is praying/prophesying through Asaph who couldn’t possibly know in the natural the events to unfold or know how to pray for something he has never seen or conceived. And Asaph accordingly, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, is making intercession for God’s people according to the will of God! I cannot overemphasize the importance of this.
And how do the enemies of the Lord take counsel against Him and conspire against the Almighty?“They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.”
This is a time-honored practice of Satan and is one of his classic military tactics against God.He has no way to counter God Himself in person so he comes against God’s people – and especially those who’ve been chosen by Him – whether it be Israel or believers today.
We’ve already talked about the ten nations in the previous Coffee Break, but for the sake of review, here they are again: (1) Edom [Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq], (2) The Ishmaelites [the Sinai to Iraq], (3) Moab [Lebanon, Syria, Jordan], (4) The Hagarites [Jordan to the Sinai], (5) Gebal [Lebanon], (6) Ammon [Jordan – the Palestinians], (7) Amalek [The Sinai, western Saudi Arabia], (8) The Philistines [Gaza, the Palestinians], (9) Tyre [Lebanon, southwestern Syria], and (10) Assur (Asshur - Assyria) [Syria, southern Turkey, northern Iraq].
We have here a description of a confederacy aligned against Israel the likes of which has never happened in history. We all know what happened when Jordan, Syria and Egypt (then known as the UAE) came against Israel with their combined firepower and military might in June of 1967.It was a sweeping victory for Israel that went down in the annals of military history, and it was another example of God’s miraculous defense of a very tiny nation whose existence has never left the center of His love and focus.
And it is that love of God for His people upon which Asaph leans in his prophetic prayer. He sees a time in history when the ten aforementioned nations or tribes assemble themselves together with a unified purpose: Israel’s annihilation and extermination from the earth. That time is not yet, but we are quickly approaching it.
Iraq has no interest in Israel at the moment. The government of Iraq is focused entirely on reentering the world community and rejoining the world economy as a sovereign nation without the restraints and sanctions it has suffered since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991.That doesn’t mean that Iraq couldn’t or won’t join other Arab nations in the years ahead in their hatred of the Jews. Jews are not currently welcome in Iraq, and there is much persecution of Christians ongoing there despite (or maybe because of) a huge move of the Holy Spirit taking place among the Iraqis.
Secondly, Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel and King Abdullah has no immediate interest in abrogating that treaty. He lacks both the will and the military might to be of much assistance in a conspiracy, as much as he might like to participate. However, the current turmoil in Jordan and the reshaping of Jordanian politics and its government in the next two years could radically alter things.
Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza and Saudi Arabia are no friends of Israel, and Ahmadinejad’s threats from Iran could well force things in Iraq and Jordan to unravel more quickly than the current scenes there suggest. The upheavals in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are priming those nations and people in such a way as to portend Asaph’s prophecy.
That brings us to the way Asaph prayed against the enemies of the Lord. There’s simply too much to share to add to today’s Coffee Break, so let’s save that for one more in the next few days.
As Christians we have a mandate from the Lord to bless Israel. Those who bless Israel are blessed and become a blessing themselves. God’s promise to Abraham was, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Blessings on you!
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