A memorial service was recently held for Pastor Gordon at the Cristo Vive church in Alicante, where a number of past colleagues spoke of his courage and great love for Christ Jesus, and just what an important role he had played in bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to the people of Spain, even during the times of Franco, when he often had to go into hiding from the Guardia Civil.
He was a great blessing to us all!
In my daily Bible reading I recently arrived at chapter 11 of the book of Romans where the Apostle Paul (although his calling was as the apostle to the gentiles) speaks of his desire for the salvation of his own people the Jews; let me quote the particular scriptural portion in question –
Did they (the Jews) stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the Apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
The Apostle then uses the olive tree, one of the symbols of Israel to reinforce his teaching -
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches are broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either – Romans 11: 11 to 21
God’s call is irrevocable –
As far as the gospel is concerned, they (the Jews) are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob etc.), For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Just as you were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you – Romans 11: 28 to 32
Although this has been a long Scriptural quote to begin an article, I cannot help but include, in part, Paul’s wonderful outburst as he meditates on what he has written –
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out - - For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen – Romans 11: 23 y 36
Although Israel, as a nation, rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ, handing him over to the Romans to be crucified, God has not cast them aside forever, but as brought them back to the land he promised to their ancestors; and they have yet an essential part to play in his eternal purposes.. We should also never forget that Paul, himself, and the Apostles, and the first thousands of converts to Christ were all Jews.
We must, as evangelical charismatic believers (The fastest growing religious group in the world), understand that our eternal future is closely tied in with the destiny of Israel. God has been with them and will be with them, and blessed are they who bless them – The most important city in the world is not Washington, Paris, London, Berlin or Moscow, it is Jerusalem, and has been, in God’s eyes since David defeated the Jebusites and conquered the fortress of Zion, making Jerusalem his capital; and God then gave King David a great and wonderful promise –
That night the word of the Lord came to (the prophet) Nathan, saying: “Go and tell my servant David, ‘‘this is what the Lord says:- - Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established forever “ - 2 Samuel 7: 4 y 5 & 16
And so it shall be through Jesus Christ our Lord, the great descendant of King David - On his robe and on his thigh is written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS - Revelation 19: 16
Jesus will reign eternally, not only over the earth, but over the whole of God’s creation, Alleluia! His robe symbolizes his authority and his thigh his power.
Jesus Christ, as a human being, was a Jew by race and although the nation failed in its mission, God did not fail, but fulfilled his promise to Abraham through Jesus Christ his Son..
Abraham and his wife Sarah were old and Sara was sterile. But God said to Abraham – “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him - "So shall your offspring be.” Abraham believed the Lord and he credited to him as righteousness - Genesis 15:5 & 6
And so, many centuries later, on a never to be forgotten night, a young virgin girl called Mary, descendant of King David, gave birth to a very special child and gave him the name Jesus. The angel Gabriel had told her –
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God" - Luke 1: 35
And Jesus fulfilled completely God’s promise to Abraham!
Through his life, death and resurrection he has raised up many millions ‘Sons of Abraham’ and is still raising them up world – wide at this very moment.
There are many Biblical promises concerning the return of the Jews to their land after their centuries long exile, and that the coming of the Lord and the rapture of the church, the great tribulation and the final break through to the millennium reign of Jesus Christ are all bound up with the reestablishment of Israel, as a nation in 1948 – the ‘window of opportunity’ at the United Nations was so narrow that it was, without doubt, a miracle of God.
Barbara Tuchman puts it this way –
Israel, “The only nation in the world that is governing itself in the same territory, with the same religion, and the same language as it did 3000 years ago.”
When the false prophet Balaam was hired to curse Israel, he blessed them instead, finishing his prophecy saying –
“May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed” – Numbers 24: 9
In Chapter 36 of the book of Ezekiel God speaks through his prophet telling, at length, of how Israel had often defiled their land by their idolatrous behaviour; and towards the end of the prophecy (I recommend that you read the whole Chapter)God says this –
I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, O house of Israel.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the Garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited. Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel and do this for them: I will make their people as numerous as sheep, as numerous as flocks for offerings at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts. So will the ruined cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord" – Ezekiel 36: 32 to 38
As evangelical Christians we should pray much for Israel that God will protect and bless them, but, that does not mean that Israel is beyond criticism, there is pride, racism and unbelief, and as regarding their Messiah Jesus Christ, there is a veil of unbelief over the eyes of the majority.
Mass conversions do take place world – wide, and I believe that this will happen to the Jews at the coming of the Lord.
The prophet Zechariah says this –
"I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they pierced, and 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 great – the land will mourn" – Zechariah 12: 10 to 12
But, even so, each person must believe for himself, salvation is personal. No – one, neither Jew nor Gentile, will be saved unless they personally repent, believe the gospel, and follow Jesus Christ for the rest of their life.
The apostle Peter declared in his great Pentecostal Sermon –
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom our God will call" – Acts 2: 38 & 39
He is calling you as you read this, and his call is to you as an individual and you must respond as an individual, and be saved. Jesus died on the cross to save you and rose again on the third day to give your eternal life!
Be blessed eternally!!!
Pastor Gordon Burgess