The Iranian Pesident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has never in
the slightest way retracted his remarks that Israel should be
wiped off the map, and has actually enlarged upon them by
saying that although Israel remains as a constant threat it
was on the verge of being eliminated. Although he is the
most outspoken, those views are very much reflective of the
attitudes of the Muslim nations toward Israel. A major
underlying problem with the Iranian position is the ongoing
threat of their program of developing nuclear weapons of
mass destruction.

A somewhat more subtle but devastating attack on Israel is
the report concerning recent negotiations between Israel’s
Prime Minister Ehud Ohmert and the Palestinian Authority
Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. The report, now being both
strongly denied and affirmed, is that Israel is willing to cede
control of the Temple Mount to the joint control of Egypt,
Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

This is not an insignificant proposal involving a minor
piece of property in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount contains
some of Judaism’s holiest sites. Abraham named the place
Jehovah Jireh, the Mount of the Lord, when he was told by
the Angel to build an altar to sacrifice a ram rather than Isaac.
It was here that Solomon built the first temple in the 10th
century BC, and which was destroyed by the Babylonians
in 586. Upon that site King Herod built the second temple
in 516, to be destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, leaving
only the Western wall, now known as the Wailing Wall. And
it is to be the site of the third and final temple to be built
upon the coming of the Jewish Messiah.

The Temple Mount is also the location of one of Islam’s
holiest sites – the Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh
century to enclose the rock from which their prophet
Muhammad ascended to heaven to meet with Allah, and
then return to Mecca through Jerusalem.

The report involves the assertion of the Palestinians that
they will accept no final deal for peace with Israel that does
not include Israel’s giving up control of the Temple Mount.
Whether the contemporary opposition to Israel involves the
elimination threats of Ahmadinejad or the loss of control
demands of the Palestinians, there are promises and
covenants (pacts) with Israel, predating the present
attacks by thousands of years, which cannot be forgotten
or ignored.

They are made, of course, by the eternal, unchangeable God
of the universe and transcend any of the temporal, earthly
problems which Israel has faced through the years, or may
face in the days yet to come. They are so complex and involve
so much, that it is difficult to examine them even briefly.
"Now the Lord said unto Abraham ... I will make of thee
a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name
great, and thou shalt be a blessing." (Genesis 12:1-2)
"And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto
him, saying, Thus shall thou say to the house of Jacob, and
tell the children of Israel, ye have seen how I bare you on
eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore,
if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then
ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for
all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of
priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou
shalt speak unto the children of Israel." (Exodus 19: 3-6)
And concerning the land which He guaranteed unto Israel,
God was very specific: "In the same day the Lord made a
covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given
this land, from the river of Egypt, unto the great river, the
river Euphrates....And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land
which he sware to give unto their fathers, and they possessed
it and dwelt therein." (Genesis 15:18; Joshua 21:43)

As if to emphasize the nature of His covenant with the nation
Israel, God made this unequivocal statement in Genesis 12:3,
"I will bless them that bless thee and curse him that curseth
thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

And how has the nation Israel developed in current
years? It will be remembered that God promised to give them
a land . . . to make them a great nation . . . and to provide for
them blessing and redemption.

Consider that as the 100th smallest country in the world,
with less than 1% of the world’s population, Israel’s $100 billion
economy is larger than all of its immediate neighboring nations
combined. Israel has the highest percentage of home computers
in the world on a per capita basis. Their ratio of university degrees
to population is the highest in the world. 24% of the work force
hold university degrees, ranking third in the industrialized world
after only the US and Holland. Israel leads the world in the actual
number of scientists and technicians in the work force at 145 per
10,000 as compared with 85 in the US, 70 in Japan and less than
60 in Germany. The Israeli average living standard is the highest
in the Middle East, with an average per capita income above
$17,500, by comparison exceeding that of Great Britain. Their
accomplishments in life saving and diagnostic medical devices is
unparalleled. Relative to its population Israel is today the largest
immigrant absorbing nation on earth. In the field of agriculture,
throughout the Middle East date palm trees produce an average
of 38 pounds per year. In Israel the production averages 400
pounds per tree annually. And beyond all of these achievements
is an absolute position of world leadership in the development
of computer and related internet technology.

Israel has achieved this level of accomplishments – of
which only a relative few have been mentioned here – while
engaged in ongoing conflicts with enemies whose often stated
intention is to remove Israel from the face of the earth. This
aspect of their life means that Israel has to pay more per capita
for their own protection than any other country in the world.

Without exception, God fulfilled His promises to Israel.
His covenant, His guarantee to give them a land, to make them a
great nation, to provide them with blessing and redemption, have
been fulfilled. President Ahmadinejad and the Muslim neighbors
Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and others, would be well advised to
note what God has done, and what He has yet promised to do, and
to remember God’s pledge: "I will bless them that bless thee, and
curse him that curseth thee." The vengeance of God is a sure
and awesome thing, spoken of in Deuteronomy 32:35, "To me
belongeth vengeance and recompense ..." and is repeated in
Romans 12:19, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."

An everlasting command and promise: "Pray for the peace
of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee." (Psalm 122:6)

Afterthoughts . . .

We will probably see this as a copy-cat crime by some of
our American actors. In New Zealand, British actor Ian McKellan
confirmed in a TV interview last week that he has in fact been
ripping anti-gay pages out of Bibles in hotel rooms where he has
stayed. "Yes, it’s true," he said, it’s Leviticus 18 22 that I object to,
or is it 22:18." The actor said he considers God’s condemnation
of homosexuality as being obscene and pornographic, and says he
removes it because it shouldn’t be there. Ian may not agree, but it
is absolutely certain that his opinion and childish pranks will not
change God’s views.

The Vatican’s new tourism venture began a couple of weeks
ago by offering low-cost, charter flight service to transport Roman
Catholic pilgrims to various holy sites. The first flight from Rome
to France used a small charter airline operated by the Italian Post
Office. An estimated 150,000 pilgrims will use the flights in the
first year of operation. Catholic sites in France, Poland Spain and
the Middle East are planned, with Mexico also on the future schedule.

Plans for a better public image of Islam. Leaders of Muslim
business and political life assembled in Kuala Lumpur last week
to study ways to change the public perception of Islam from one
of violence, poverty and ignorance to one of peace, prosperity
and recognized achievements. Susilo Yudhoyono, President of
the largest Muslim nation, set the tone of the con -
ference, "We must change their attitudes toward us from
something negative or indifferent – if not hostile – to some -
thing positive or enthusiastic."

This effort at the highest level is indicative of the determination
of Muslims to improve their international image and thus enhance
their goal of taking over more of the world’s nations.

Determination of this nature should not be ignored. We do so at
our own peril.

Can Christian believers practice homosexuality? This
has been an ongoing question for a long time and the debate is
not going to end in the immediate future. But Dr. Michael
Brown, a pastor in North Carolina is planning to hold a public
discussion on the subject later this month. His motivating
factor: he learned that some of the participants in a "gay
pride" parade in Charlotte professed to be Christian.

Pastor Brown’s position is that either his viewpoint or
their viewpoint may be wrong. His aim is to find which
is true.

We have lost another strong Conservative voice. Just a few
months ago, in mid-May, the Rev. Jerry Falwell died, and thus
was silenced the primary spokesperson for the Conservative
Evangelical position. His creation of the Moral Majority was
a decisive factor in strengthening the moral values of America.
Now the official retirement of Dr. D. James Kennedy has been
announced. Actually Dr. Kennedy preached his last sermon at
Christmas time last year.

His TV voice, his writings, his conferences on moral issues have
been teamed with Dr. Falwell for years. There are others who
will step forward to fill the shoes of these long time leaders, but
Falwell and Kennedy will be missed.

An everlasting command and promise: "Pray for the peace
of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee."
(Psalm 122:6)

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