One is made to wonder if the Middle East will ever experience lasting peace. The reasons for the many conflicts are difficult to understand accurately and completely. One thing is evident there seems to be a lack of interest in peace. Religious fervor takes center stage as the main player. With that comes uncompromising positions and intolerant attitudes towards others of different faiths. Currently the formation of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is creating fear beyond its geographic area. Many Western states are fearful that the extremist views being promoted will not stay in the Middle East. The concern is that extremism will be brought to their doorsteps by returning nationals bent on spreading their cause. That cause being the spread of Islam and subjugation to Sharia Law. Their violent and abhorrent behaviour has brought condemnation throughout the world. In reality ISIS resurrects a time gone by when Islam was spread through threat of death … Islam or the Sword. It doesn’t matter if you are a Muslim either if you don’t subscribe to their brand of faith. Moderate Sunnis and members of Shiite sect of Islam fall under their hateful intent. Israel and the Jews are in their gun sight.

This brings us to Hamas in the Gaza strip. Hamas is another Sunni group but supported by Shiite Iran that brooks no compromise with the Jews. Iran also supports the Hezbollah in Lebanon which is also labelled as terrorist organization. Hamas and Hezbollah are intent on destroying Israel. The recent conflict is the continuation of a war that began with Israel’s creation in 1948. Most Muslim Arabs have never accepted Israel nor their ancient claims to the land on which they now live. Therefore the ongoing war cannot lead to peace but only a cease fire and only if it doesn’t help the Jews. In Hamas’ case it’s merely a time to rebuild their depleted military strength. To live to fight another day. Peace for them is Palestine without Israel.

It is clear from the condemnation heard from certain countries and organizations concerning Israel’s disproportional responses to Hamas rockets, missiles, suicide bombings and kidnappings that they do not understand the conflict. It’s not about numbers. It’s about a nation struggling to stay alive.

It’s not the purpose of this article however to discuss or debate these contentions. Rather to impress upon the reader that these things are a prelude to greater and more catastrophic events. The current situation is extremely fluid and unstable. No one knows how everything will end even if it will ever end. However, God, who knows the end from the beginning, has revealed some details of events of the last days in His word, the Bible.

The Bible is all about Israel. Past, present and future. God reveals through certain prophets that Israel will be the center of a worldwide conflict that brings Divine intervention. The reader may be familiar with word “Armageddon”. It is an event which brings the current world order to an end and gives birth to a new era of peace under the reign of Christ. The sign that indicates we live at the end of the old order is the existence of Israel. As promised Israel has been restored after nearly 2000 years of being a non-entity. Amazingly few people appreciate the significance Israel’s revival. Without Israel other prophecies related to God’s purpose with the earth and men cannot be fulfilled. To learn more about what is soon to happen, I recommend taking a listen to the YouTube presentation below entitled Gaza Conflict – Prelude to Global Judgement.

 

 

Who are the Saints?

The Vatican has recently declared two former Popes as saints. What can we learn from the Bible about the concept of sainthood?

Yesterday, millions of people gathered together to hear Pope Francis declare former Popes John Paul II and John XXIII as new saints. As these two popes are enrolled among the list of Catholic saints, we wish to explain the Biblical concept of sainthood.

Seeing that the Bible was not originally written in English, it is useful to look into the definition of the original word. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “saint” means “sacred” or “holy.” This may not come as any great surprise, but it can give us a basis for our research.

In Lev 11:44 of the Bible we read of this concept of people who are sanctified and holy: “I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy.” If you take a quick look at verse 1 and 2 of this same chapter you will realize that this passage is talking about the entire nation of Israel in the Bible. Based on our definition of a saint as a holy one, it would indicate that the whole nation were to be saints. This concept is also brought forward to be applied to the early Christian believers in 1Pet 1:15-16 where we read: “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Based on these Bible verses, it would seem that this concept of holiness is being applied generally to the entire congregation of believers, and not to a separate class of believers. This is a key point, because, for the majority of the occurrences of the word “saint” in the Bible, it can be argued that it refers to the common believer who lives in accordance with God’s ways. If you are interested in pursuing this further, Vine’s Expository Dictionary and Unger’s Bible Dictionary argue similar points.

So what should we make of the veneration of these new saints by the Vatican? If Popes John II and John XXIII lived a holy life sanctified to God, then they were already saints in equal standing with the common believer alive today regardless of official statements from the Vatican.

 

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