Saturday, March 18, 2023

Jerusalem Shall Be Holy



Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

I cannot think of the Book of Genesis without thinking that it took less than two full chapters for man to fall into temptation, and the entire rest of 66 Books by 40 individual scribes to fix things in a promise of restoration. Mankind sure can make a mess of God’s handiwork, can’t we? I shudder to think of what the Lord thinks of transgenderism. We are not getting better; we are getting worse! Talk about your major reconstructions!

Yet our patient Lord is slow to anger and abundantly pardons. If you have checked Google-Earth lately, you already know how miniscule humans are, but like “army-ants” we sure are capable of a lot of damage.

Today’s third chapter of Joel would seem to be the end of His Chosen People. The Battle of Armageddon (Har’ Megiddo), aka, the Valley of Jehoshephat, looks bad for God’s people. The armies of the world are drawn in, gathered by God, and He pleads for His people. They have been scattered, the land divided up, and drawn lots for the slavery of the Jews, young boys to be used as harlots, and girls sold for a bottle of wine.

(While I apologize for the imagery, this is what the Lord is describing, not me. This is His Word!). If you are having trouble thinking that mankind could sink that low, then please think about Jeffery Epstein on steroids!

This is a chapter about total social breakdown, and Armageddon is in full swing, therefore the Church is already Raptured into Heaven to be with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came with us because His dwelling place is with men.

I Thessalonians 5:9 says that we are not appointed to wrath, and Armageddon is God’s wrath towards an unbelieving world and those left behind, after the Rapture. So then, without the Holy Spirit on the earth, all bets are off, and mankind sinks to their most base desires! There is nothing to hold him back from trying everything and anything. The visual is one of total chaos. And like King Solomon, only emptiness will be found.

“Give place unto wrath, for vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19
The commencement of God’s pay-back begins; eye for eye and tooth for tooth.
His punishment matches the crimes against His land and His people. THEN…
Restoration and hope… Joel 3:20, “Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation."



 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Cry Out To Jesus!

















Truth In A Nutshell
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Sit down with Pastor Bob Lawrenz as he shares an important word from scripture. These short episodes are straight to the point and very practical for your spiritual understanding and growth, to challenge you to walk closely with the Lord and Meditate on His Word.

We live in a world that suffers because of sin. However, God is still in control, and His purpose is stated in Romans: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” 

The remedy for the cause of sin is that we all be born of the Spirit.  We must humble ourselves before God, plead for His mercy.  We must recognize that we completely lost without Him.

Remember when Jesus said that He has overcome the world. This is the hope that we have in the midst of our trials and difficulties. We live in a dangerous and unpredictable world, yet we can still have joy because our souls are anchored in the Lord. 

Jesus is our hope and anchor who will keep us in the midst of storms. He is the one who is able to keep us steadfast and unmovable in spite of the tides of life. Don't look to the world for help, CRY OUT TO JESUS!




Saturday, March 11, 2023

Who Shall Bring Them Down




Bobservations' Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

Last week we looked at the prophecy of Joel 2 in our end-times series. We will take a detour for a week and come back to Joel chapter 3 next week. This detour will help provide context and history about the enemies of God and Israel who will be aligned with all the other enemies of God and Jesus Christ in the end-times and last days.

Today, we will be looking at Obadiah, the shortest Book of the Bible. Along with the other “Minor Prophets,” there is nothing minor about their content, nor their message. We find that Obadiah’s words provide evidence for a date some 90 years before Joel, or about 900 B.C.!

Internal evidence seems to indicate that Obadiah’s ministry was during the reign of Atheliah’s son Ahaziah. The northern tribes had set up their own King, Joram, who was the son of Ahab, who married Jezebel! (Ref. 2 Kings 8:16-26). Ahaziah was King over Judah (the southern tribes.) Turmoil followed, as Ahaziah was also the son-in-law of Ahab, and Ahaziah “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

Obadiah’s prophecy denounces the Edomites, descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau. The region in which they lived was south of the Dead Sea, east of the Jordan River rift. The area includes the cities of Petra and Bozrah, built up by the nomadic tribe of the Nabateans, who used the region to tax the trade routes through the Middle East. Petra is a notable city and is described by Obadiah. Though the Edomites inhabited the area, it was the Nabateans who drove them out, westward into the Negev Desert of southern Israel, and the region known as “Idumea.”

The core problem of world politics is revealed in Obadiah’s 10th verse, 1:10. This single chapter book provides reasons for God’s displeasure and gives us insights into the continuous upheaval in World politics, particularly in the Middle East.

The Bible contains the written record of the land purchase where Jerusalem sits; the ascension of David to his throne; and the written record of Jesus as a descendent of King David.

Upon Jesus return to Earth, He will rightly take the throne of His Royal Ancestor, David, and reign over the whole Earth.

“The heavens are Yours, the Earth also is Yours, the world and all of its fullness” (lyrics from a worship song).

Today's Audio Message
Obadiah 1:1-21 - "Who Shall Bring Them Down"

Summary/Notes: 

In last week’s message, Pastor Bob taught the prophecy of Joel from chapter 2 in our end-times series. Today, we are taking a little bit of a detour to shortest book of the Old Testament, Obadiah, but what a brilliant prophetic gem. Next week we will come back to Joel chapter 3.

By studying Obadiah, Pastor Bob will help provide the context and the history about the enemies of God and Israel, and according to scripture these will be the same enemy nations who will be aligned against Israel and God in the end-times and the last days.

Here we read a harsh declaration by a prophet named Obadiah against someone named Edom (means red). But just who is Obadiah and who is Edom whom he preaches against?

The name “Obadiah” means “servant of God.”


The Edomites were the descendents of Esau (who is Edom), a proud, bitter, and resentful people, ever seeking an opportunity to harm Jacob’s  (who is Israel) descendents.  We could say the antagonism between the two nations began when “the children struggled within her,” Gen. 25:22. 

Israel, the offspring of Jacob, who stood in the line of God’s blessing, was opposed by the offspring of Jacob’s brother Esau—the Edomites.  The interrelationship between Esau and Jacob, that is, between Edom and Israel, serves as an illustration on at least two levels.
  • First: the persecution and hatred of the descendents of Jacob by the descendants of Esau resulting in the downfall of Edom in history past.
  • Second: the persecution and hatred of Israel by the Gentile nations of the world in their ongoing opposition to God’s will resulting in the judgment of the Gentile nations at the time of the end.
Through the combing of sin by Esau, Jacob, and their mother Rebecca, the line of promise from Isaac fell to Jacob. Esau’s sin was that he lightly esteemed his birthright and sold it to his brother for some lentil stew (Gen. 25:34). Rebecca’s and Jacob’s sin was the deception of Isaac which resulted in him giving his blessing to Jacob, the younger, rather than Esau, the elder (Gen. 27).

When Esau discovered that the blessing had gone to Jacob, he urged his father Isaac to rectify the situation. Yet Isaac-recognizing the hand of God in all that had transpired-said:  "Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?" He went on to say, “By thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.” - Genesis 27:37-40

From that point on, Esau hated His brother. After Isaac dies, Esau threatens to kill Jacob.  Esau turns from God and his family and goes to Mt. Seir.  Jacob flees to his uncle Laban in Haran. It is there that Jacob marries Leah and Rachel who, along with their maids, give birth to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Obadiah’s words go out against Edom. The Edomites were a force to be reckoned with as they were rugged, fierce warriors who made their home in the cleft of the rocks. Spiritually, they were indifferent to God, full of pride because of their earthly wisdom, political alliances and even how their city was made of rock. All of these things were called out where judgment was promised to come.

God influences the nations to rise up against Edom (vs 2), and in consequence the nations despise Edom's military strength.  Edom is deserted by friends and allies, neither wisdom, nor courage of soldiers will save them.   Edom will be humiliated in spite of her seeming impregnable position “in the clefts of the rock,” a stronghold called “Petra,” (a rock) and easily defended through the protection of high cliffs. 
Israel will take flight to Petra during the second half of the tribulation period.

Edom's downfall is their pride, similar to that of Lucifer (Isaiah 14). God hates a prideful heart, especially one that thinks they are untouchable, divine and all powerful. Pride, arrogance and vindictiveness (never missed an opportunity to torment Israel when they were unable to defend themselves), these were Edom's sins.

Edom is judged for her opposition to God’s chosen nation: Israel.  She, of all nations, should have known better-being the descendent of Esau the twin brother of Jacob and who had first-hand knowledge of the promises bestowed upon Jacob-who is Israel-by God.

God rules in this world and He turns the course of nations and history as he pleases. If this were not so, he could not promise Judah that he would cut off Edom and establish Jacob.

The coming judgment of the nations of the world in relation to their rejection of God and their treatment of God’s chosen nation Israel. The mistake which Edom made in refusing to acknowledge God’s choosing of Israel is to be repeated on the stage of world history, but ultimately by the Gentile nations of the end time.

As we continue to move forward in history toward the Second Coming of Christ, it is critical for Christians to understand this issue concerning the treatment of the nation of Israel in God’s eyes.

Obadiah 1:15-18 speaks to Edom – both in the time of Obadiah and in the future Day of the Lord.  It speaks to all the Nations – in the future Day of the Lord, and to the House of Jacob, house of Joseph = the descendents of the man Jacob, Israel, the Jewish nation. Obadiah compares Edom’s interaction with Israel with the interaction of the Gentile nations in their treatment of Israel prior to the Day of the Lord.


Israel will be vindicated (vs. 17-18).  Edom, "your deeds shall return on your own head." Edom and the nations of the world will drink the cup of God's wrath.

Finally, Obadiah reveals the sequence of events associated with the arrival of God's Kingdom on earth.
  • a) Day of the Lord? Gentile nations judged as Edom.
  • b) Triumph of the Jews over their enemies.
  • c) Final restoration of Israel to her land.
  • d) Establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth.
Who shall bring them down?  God will.







Saturday, March 4, 2023

Blow The Trumpet in Zion!”








Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

The prophecy of Joel in the Book that bears his name is surely hand-in-glove with the end-times studies we embarked on several weeks ago. As with most of God’s prophecies, there is the near fulfillment, and a yet future fulfillment of His Word. The near, or soon fulfillment is in place to let the nation of Israel know that the prophet speaking is a true prophet. The secondary, or future fulfillment is to let the Church and the whole world know that the God of Israel is truly God, and that Jesus His Son has been given full authority over all things (Colossians 1:12-19).

There are parts of both the near, and the future in this chapter, as we shall see. It’s a fitting time to review His teachings on the end-times because so much that we read and hear in the media is exactly what the Lord wants us to see as prophetic fulfillment, encouraging His people to turn to Him. We read in the New Testament that the Lord does not want His believers to be ignorant, so these prophecies are vitally important, especially as we see their fulfillment for the second time.

The words of God’s prophecies are not vague, but quite the opposite. They are direct and clear to those in whom His Spirit lives. If we have placed our trust in Jesus Christ and trust also in His Word, then we shall know what God has spoken to His people since the beginning, and we shall know what He is saying to us today.

For believers, God’s prophecies represent the worst of times, and the best of times: the worst of times because there is so much iniquity and unbelief in our world today, and believers know what awaits those that reject our Lord Jesus. It is the best of times because believers know what awaits us. It is the fulfillment of His glorious promises, and an eternal inheritance for us.

This bitter-sweetness is often difficult because we can see friends and family that embrace this world, knowing all the while that they might well miss a glorious future in heaven. BUT! Take heart dear ones, it is not up to us to save anyone. We are told to share what we know of Jesus and His promises, that’s all. It is the work of Christ and His Holy Spirit to make believers of them. It is up to Him to bring all whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life into a glorious future with Him!
“I (Paul) have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”  1 Corinthians 3:6

Sunday's Audio Teaching
Joel 2:1-32 - "Blow The Trumpet In Zion!"

Summary/Notes

The book of Joel gives some of the most striking and specific details in all of Scripture about the day of the Lord—days cloaked in darkness, armies that conquer like consuming fire, and the moon turning to blood. Rooted in such vibrant and physical imagery, this time of ultimate judgment, still future for us today (2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10), makes clear the seriousness of God’s judgment on sin.

The day of the Lord, which is a reference not to a single day only but to a period of judgment and restoration, consists of three basic features: The judgment of God's people; The judgment of foreign nations; The purification and restoration of God's people through intense suffering (Joel 2:1-11; 2:28-32; 3:1-16).

This is a sounding of the alarm... A WARNING, and a call to repentance. Joel is prophesying of the devastation to the land of Israel as armies from other nations came against them, but also to the future as he foretells of the day of the Lord, which is a reference to God's wrath being poured out upon this world, and unbelieving Israel. The description is detailed and frightening. This would be a horrific chapter if it were not for the promise of hope.

Besides being a time of judgment, it will also be a time of salvation as God will deliver the remnant of Israel, fulfilling His promise that “all of Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26), forgiving their sins and restoring His chosen people to the land He promised to Abraham (Isaiah 10:27Jeremiah 30:19-31, 40; Micah 4Zechariah 13). The final outcome of the day of the Lord will be that “And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.” (Isaiah 2:17). The ultimate or final fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the day of the Lord will come at the end of history when God, with wondrous power, will punish evil and fulfill all His promises.

Once again, God gives fair warning but also calls the people to repent and return to Him. 

The Lord is still jealous for His people and His land, and we can be sure that He will keep His covenant with Israel.

The coming Day of the Lord of which Joel speaks is not to be feared by believers, but it should be feared by the nations who are the enemies of God, and the enemies of His people.

The chapter ends with Joels reminder of God's promises, and that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. (Joel 2:32)








Saturday, February 25, 2023

I Am Against Thee, O Gog



Bobservations Column
Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As with the previous chapter, today’s opens with a clear statement: “I am against thee, O Gog.” It gives Gog, and his country Magog a clear warning. And when we read this line, it’s impossible to not know who is speak, and to whom these words are directed.

In Exodus 3, Moses is speaking with God, and asks God, who shall I say to has sent me to the Israelites when they ask, what is Thy name? God responded and said, “I AM THAT I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me to you.” (Genesis 3:13,14)

In a rough translation, it means “the self-existent One.” But here in Ezekiel 38 and 39, God speaks to Gog, the chief leader of Magog, and says, “I AM against thee, O Gog.” Quite literally, Jehovah God has drawn a line in the sand, and established the battle lines against a powerful world leader, and his country.

Gog is described as Chief Prince of Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal (Tubolsk), both cities of modern-day Russia. In verse 2 of this chapter, we are told that Gog’s attack shall come from the north parts, and if there is any doubt, please check a map, for Moscow is due north of Jerusalem, nearly on the same Meridian.

This 39th Chapter of Ezekiel is among the most graphic depictions of war and its aftermath, and from the “symptoms,” and clean-up operation described, we can conclude it is likely to be a nuclear war with wide-spread radiation.

With Israel being the focus of Bible prophecy, we can understand that this is the day-of-the-Lord, the great battle of Armageddon, in the Valley of Megiddo, Israel. The horrors of this chapter are unsettling, but the true Christian needs to be comforted in the knowledge that we shall not see it, nor experience it. Only the doubters, the nay-sayers, and the non-believers with go through these events. Yet God shall be glorified, and His name will be known; and the ones who know it and Him will become the Tribulation Saints, those that are saved through the Great Tribulation.

Believers that were on the Earth prior to the beginning of these events are those that have escaped the wrath of God, and find themselves suddenly in heaven with the Lord. We are saved from the Great Tribulation.
“For God hath not appointed us wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:9

Today's Audio Message:
Ezekiel 39:1-29 - "I Am Against Thee, O Gog"

Summary Notes:

In last week's study of the Gog and Magog invasion that the Bible predicts an end-time alliance between Russia, Iran and Turkey (along with other countries) that will come against Israel in the last days leading up to the return of Jesus. As they cover the land like a storm it will look like a sure-thing win for the invading forces- that is until God steps in!

From our study we know that God will not allow this invading force to prevail but will supernaturally wipe them out on the mountains of Israel in an event that will literally leave an unbelieving world gasping! It will, the Bible says, be an event that will be used by God to make His name known again to both Israel and the nations of the world.

In Ezekiel 39:21–29, the Lord states His plan for the nations and for the future of His ancient, beloved Israel:
"And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them."(v. 21).This word comes directly on the heels of God’s promised destruction of Israel’s enemy, Gog of the land of Magog. The Lord draws a figurative line in the sand and states clearly and concisely that He is serving notice on the nations of the world that they can expect to see judgment from His hand and His glory in their midst.
As one of the more pivotal End Times events, the invasion into Israel by Gog and its allies is important to understand as we study eschatology and look for signs of the latter days within our current, geopolitical climate. As we examined Ezekiel 38 last week, today we will begin our study in chapter 39 verse-by-verse, as we drill down to understand the major players, the key elements, and why God is orchestrating this significant event.

Future prophecy frequently has both a near and far fulfillment in view, and it is the Bible student’s responsibility to rightly divide or cut straight these prophecies.

These future events take place after the Church has been raptured (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

And we are reminded of the great comfort and protection that God has for those who have put their faith in Him.  "Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (verse 18).

Here Paul is speaking of the rapture of the Church. The term “rapture” comes from the Greek word harpaz┼Ź, meaning to seize, carry off by force, to snatch out or away.

The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is a glorious event that all true believers should be longing for.

There is coming a time when the world, all that we know, will be on the verge of total collapse. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:22 that if those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, not this world, and not the people in it.

Ezekiel 39, though written more than a couple of millennials ago, is written for all of us today.  As we read the headlines or watch the news, we are seeing the birth pangs of the coming events foretold in scripture. The rise of the Gog of Magog alliance is a major sign of the end times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Russia – the predominant nation and her leader “Gog” – is directly to Israel’s far north. As we see today, God has already drawn the Russian forces, along with Turkey and Iran (the other two major players in this invasion), into Syria, which is directly on Israel’s northern border, seemingly ready to initiate this invasion, which is detailed in Ezekiel 38.

God will cause confusion among the invading horde: these invading forces will be devastated “upon the open field” in and around Israel’s mountains.

Many in the generally secular nation of Israel will recognize that God’s hand of protection – as well as the weapons God’s sovereignty had supplied to them to beat back this invading horde – was with them mightily in defeating the enemy.

God “will not let” Israel “pollute” His “holy Name any more” and many will at least acknowledge the God of their fathers. But they will not have received, up to this point, Yeshua as their Messiah. This is not to say that the nation’s overall state of affairs will change. Their government and laws will remain secular and progressive, but many in the community will at least recognize God’s provision and think of the LORD God differently than they had before.

This will be the first step to bringing God’s people back to Himself in His Son, with the final step, of course, being the Great Tribulation.

In addition, the heathen will certainly “know the [God of Israel] is the LORD” because, once again, Israel defeats her foes against all odds.

The Israelis, after turning back and destroying the invading armies, will take the spoil of what’s left from those who intended to spoil them (Ezekiel 38:12-13).

It is very interesting that the travelers or passengers will be stopped, blocked, or obstructed (different translations) from this area and not be able to pass over. This seems to be temporary due to the burial process, or it might be because of some kind of fallout to “cleanse the land” – it’s hard to tell...  seven months to bury the dead.

The Valley of Hamon-Gog - literally means “Valley of the multitudes of Gog, the place where all of Israel buries the five-sixths of the army of Gog and Magog that are struck down by God.

The name of the city SHALL BE Hamonah - The name of the city in the valley of Hamon-Gog near which Ezekiel 39:16 says that the forces of God will be defeated after their attack on Israel.

(Verses 17-20) The Lord not only caused this massive sacrifice, but will use the unclean birds of the air to cleanse the land.

Throughout Israel’s history, over and over again, the Lord uses the enemies of Israel to bring judgment on Israel, to get them to wake up, to repent and return to Him. Then the Lord destroys their enemies, because they are His enemies.

Why? “So the house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God from that day and forward.” (vs22)

Here, from Ezekiel 39:17-29, the prophecy jumps forward seven-plus years into the future to the Lord’s Second Coming.

Verse 25: “Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob.” Jacob, or Israel, will not be in captivity during and immediately following the Gog/Magog invasion, but will be in captivity during the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) in the Great Tribulation (the last three and one-half years of the seven-year Tribulation).

The Lord states: “Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 39:29). 

In Zechariah 12:9-14 - Scripture tells us that at the Lord’s Second Coming they will realize the One whom they have pierced, this is their Messiah, and they will mourn.

Joel 2 speaks of the invasion of Israel. Compare it to Ezekiel 38-39.

God’s prophetic Word is speaking to every generation. A word of warning, a call to repentance, and turning back to the Lord.











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