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The Long Road Home

Teaching Letter

Hosea: Yesterday’s Answers for Today’s Questions

It seems that everyone is talking about it: newspapers, magazines, the Internet—everyone is focusing on the difficult times that are engulfing the world. {image_1}Suicide is dramatically on the rise worldwide, as people are overwhelmed with financial and moral issues that seem hopeless. As Bible believers, however, we know where to find answers to today’s most difficult questions. Through the ancient prophets, the same God who spoke to Abraham and Moses face to face is speaking to us today. Their messages, delivered millennia ago, are meant to be a guide book for those of us who are living today in what many are calling “the birth pangs of the Messiah.”

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The Lord Our Refuge

December 1, 2011

{image_1}2011 has been a year when the world has experienced great difficulties in many spheres—from natural disasters, to wars, to financial instability. World leaders are clearly confused in this time of instability, and even chaos, around the world. Natural disasters alone have been devastating.

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God’s Invitations

There is something very powerful about an invitation. Knowing that someone cares enough about us as individuals to desire our presence and, further, to seek us out and request our presence, can have a profound effect on how we view ourselves. As a matter of fact, there are few things that are as affirming as receiving a personal invitation to an important event.{image_1}

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Christian Stake in the Return to Zion

{image_1}Drive a stake into the dirt, and you claim some right to that real estate. Beyond a splintered spike, your stake is an “interest or share in an undertaking or enterprise” (Merriam-Webster). The Jewish people have an eternal and irrevocable stake in the land of Israel. Christians who explore their heritage discover that they too have a share in, and responsibility for, Zion. Former Israeli diplomat Michael Pragai insists, “Christians do have a stake in the Return. The restoration of the Jewish People to their homeland is part of a Christian understanding of God’s purpose in the world.” What accounts for this common interest in the Promised Land shared by Jews and Christians?

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The Bible: How New Testament Writers Understood and Used the Old Testament

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What value is there to understanding how New Testament writers understood, interpreted, and applied Old Testament (Tanach) texts? In many Christian circles, the Old Testament has been neglected or, worse, caused great harm and error to the Church and contributed to centuries of Christian anti-Semitism and Supersessionism (the teaching that the Church replaced Israel or the new covenant replaced God’s covenant with Israel). So, how were the apostles and New Testament writers shaped by the Old Testament, and how did they apply it to their writings? How does this impact our approach and response to the Scriptures?

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Attributes for Challenging Times

{image_1} In the book of Daniel there is a startling example of God communicating in a highly unusual way. Suddenly in the midst of a feast, a hand appears and begins writing on the wall. One morning as I was lying in bed, I had a similar experience. I can’t say if I had drifted back to sleep and was dreaming or if I had a mini-vision. I saw a hand writing on a whiteboard. Four words appeared: wisdom, courage, faithfulness, and love. Immediately, I sensed that it was a significant message for me and Bridges for Peace. Our board was meeting in Jerusalem that week, and as a board, we prayed into this message. We understood that we were going to need these attributes and prayed that God would strengthen us in these areas.

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Amalek

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The dictionary defines war as “a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state.” Of the 192 United Nations member states, all have been involved in such a conflict at one time or another. The UN further estimates that there are currently somewhere between 39 and 45 armed confrontations raging worldwide at any given moment. Of all of those conflicts, however, none seems to attract as much attention as those thrust upon the nation of Israel.

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When I AM says I Will

 {image_1}Along with over a billion people worldwide, I watched the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.{image_2} It was wonderful to see the way God was a central part of their very Christian wedding. At the crucial moment in the ceremony, I clearly heard William and then Catherine say “I will,” and upon hearing those words of covenant, they were pronounced husband and wife. We pray for their happiness and that their commitment to one another will last a lifetime just as they pledged “till death do us part.” Happily about half of all marriages do last a lifetime. The other half sadly ends in divorce. It seems that many people today have a problem with commitment. Their “I wills” aren’t always forever.

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Living the Book of Ezekiel

{image_1}A couple of years ago, I was invited to address a class that was studying the book of Ezekiel. I opened my talk by telling them that they were studying the book of Ezekiel, but in Israel, I was “living” the book of Ezekiel. How true this is for all of us living in these days! We are experiencing the events that Ezekiel prophesied over 2,500 years ago!

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The Scriptural Basis for Supporting Israel

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Does God have some special relationship with the Land and people of Israel? Well, the word “Israel” is mentioned more than 2,300 times in the Bible. How does that compare to other topics on God’s heart? Sin is mentioned 380 times. Love is mentioned 280 times. Actually, the only words I’ve found to be used more than Israel are the various names for God Himself. Maybe there is a clue about the passion of God’s heart in this frequency. I would suggest that He talks most about Himself because His first priority is for us to know Him and understand His heart toward us. Perhaps His frequent references to Israel reveal that His second priority is for us to know and understand His heart toward the Land and people He has chosen as His own.

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