DEFINING THE EPICENTER
What do we mean by using the term “epicenter”? It is a geological term. But I think it aptly describes the Scriptural place of Jerusalem, Israel and the Middle East.
- Ezekiel 5:5 – “Thus says the Lord God, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.”
- Ezekiel 38:8,12 – “[I]n the latter days, you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely all of them….at the center of the world.”
- Acts 1:8 – The Lord Jesus Christ said to His disciples, “[Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
- Revelation 21:2 – “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
The Bible is clear:
- Israel and its capital, Jerusalem, is the geographic center of the world from God’s perspective.
- Jerusalem is the birthplace of the Church, and thus the spiritual center of the world.
- Jerusalem is also the last city ever mentioned in the Bible, and the focal point of all human attention as we approach the end of history.
This is why the eyes of the nations are increasingly riveted on Israel and her neighbors, the epicenter of the momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future.
WATCHMEN ON THE WALL
Please turn in your Bibles to Ezekiel 33:1-6.
“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, “If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.”’”
Two important questions emerge from this passage:
- Will you and I be watchmen on the wall able and willing to see the threats rising, or will we turn a blind eye?
- In light of such rising threats, will you and I act with love and honor and compassion and courage, or will we keep silent?
Since the last Epicenter Conference last summer, I’ve taken two trips that moved me deeply. Last November, I traveled with several pastors to Poland to visit the death camps in Auschwitz. A few weeks ago, Lynn and I took our boys to visit the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. I went to these places to remember what happens when people ignore emerging threats and don’t take decisive action.
To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.
We didn’t understand the threat posed by Adolf Hitler and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s, and we were blindsided by the invasion of Europe and the death camps of the Holocaust.
We didn’t understand the threat posed by Imperial Japan in 1941, and we were blindsided by the attack at Pearl Harbor.
We didn’t understand the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in 2001, and we were blindsided by the attacks of September 11th.
Today, too many in governments around the world – and too many in the Church – either don’t see the evil rising in Iran, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and throughout the epicenter, or refuse to take action.
Tragically, the Arab Spring has been a catastrophic failure. All hope of the rise of free nations with free elections and free economies and freedom of speech and worship have been dashed. What are rising instead are dangerous Radical Islamic regimes that will oppress millions of people and foment violence and war.
The key is that God is sovereign. He is holy. He is moving powerfully. He is remembering the Jews and Palestinians that are poor and needy….and living in harm’s way….and in need of the prayers and encouragement and equipping of Christians from all over the world.
The Lord is raising up a movement of Christ-followers around the world – including many of you – who are committed to loving Israelis, because Jesus loves Israelis….and loving Palestinians because Jesus loves Palestinians….and loving Arabs and Persians throughout the epicenter because of Christ’s love for them.
This is how the Body of Christ is supposed to work – those who have praying, caring, serving those in need, and doing so in the name of Jesus Christ with unconditional love….and unwavering support.
We are to be watchmen on the walls. When we see threats, we need to warn people. We need to stand up and speak out. We need to act in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Christians may have very little geopolitical influence, but we are not powerless.
We can pray. We can preach the Word. We can proclaim the Gospel. We can encourage and equip our brothers and sisters in the epicenter. We can show Christ’s love and compassion to all in the epicenter.
Jesus commands us: Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. And love one another.
Diplomacy is, ultimately, about relationships. Obama and Netanyahu don’t really have one. And that’s created an odd and unwelcome rivalry among allies — a testy liberal-vs.-conservative chess match that mirrors Obama’s contest with Mitt Romney, who has known Netanyahu for years.“There is a lack of rapport between these two men — they don’t like each other very much. Plus, there are serious differences between our interests and Israel’s own security interests,” said former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who was present for several of Obama’s nine face-to-face meetings with Netanyahu.But this isn’t just about policy. It’s personal. On the day Netanyahu threw down the Iran gauntlet, someone close to the hawkish, MIT-educated prime minister let it leak that Obama had declined a face-to-face meeting at next month’s United Nations General Assembly in New York to hash things out. The chatter, later denied by the White House, was that Obama said he would be too busy, and one of those unbreakable commitments was with David Letterman.
Barack Obama invited Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi to meet with him in New York next week.
But, not Netanyahu.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lectured Barack Obama in the Oval Office on the dangers facing the Jews back in May 2011.
But… Barack Obama won’t meet with Israeli leader Netanyahu over Iran row.
He’s going to be campaigning and on Letterman.
The White House has rejected a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet President Barack Obama in the United States this month, an Israeli official said on Tuesday, after a row erupted between the allies over Iran’s nuclear programme.
An Israeli official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Netanyahu’s aides had asked for a meeting when he visits the United Nations this month, and “the White House has got back to us and said it appears a meeting is not possible. It said that the president’s schedule will not permit that”.
Netanyahu has met with Obama on all the Israeli leader’s U.S. trips since 2009.
Earlier today President Muhammad Morsi promised to sue the US filmmakers who produced a movie that insulted the prophet Mohammad.
UPDATE: Barack Obama told NBC tonight “I don’t think that we would consider (Egypt) an ally.”
Scott-the top of my head is spinning! I'm watching Rock Central and for the most part so far they are telling the truth about the m.b. what happened etc. I am astonished!!!!!!!!!!!
Maybe our prayers are working. Oh thank you Jesus! Thank you, thank you!
My head has been spinning a LOT lately.....I am exhausted....REALLY exhausted! (Not discouraged, just tired!)
Please come soon Lord!!!!!
I agree with you Mike! I can't settle down...my spirit is dancing inside of me! I will be meeting my heavenly father soon!!
I believe that to be true Annie.....I have tended to not think it to be as obvious as Feast of Trumpets, but it does always make me more aware.....
The difference is this year is all that is going on in this world....
If nothing else, this coming Feast holiday makes us all think, meditate, and focus on out Lord, and the Feast days that ARE there for us to celebrate, respect, and consider the purpose they are their for, from our Father in Heaven.....
Looking forward to meeting you all soon.....or later, if it be the will of God....
I am feeling like all of you, Mike,Annie,Ally. Annie you really described how I feel lately. My Spirit is also dancing inside of me. At times I almost cannot contain my joy. I feel giddy. I feel Jesus is so close.
I was not aware that some of you keep the Holy Days outlined in the bible. I keep them alone because I don't have anyone else to keep them with.
Douglas, keep them!!!! You are keeping them with Messiah!
Most Messianic Jews like to keep the Holy Days out of respect to their Jewish heritage. Some Gentiles also enjoy keeping them out of respect for the Jews. As these were a part of the now defunct Mosaic Law, it is no longer a requirement. We are free to keep them and we are free not to keep them. What isn’t allowed is each group must not be scornful against the other. :)
Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.
6. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.
Thank you for this very good explanation and use of Romans 14:5, E.I.
What a blessing to read of one's use of God's Word in proper context!
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