Friday, November 21, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: How Prophecy Speaks (Part 3 of 3)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Let's continue on with my message which was presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. We've been discussing how God talked to the prophets who in turn talked to the people. God used writing and oral and acting prophets. Now we'll cover people's lives and objects which functioned as symbolic prophecies.



Symbolic Prophecy

My favorite style of prophecy is symbolic prophecy. The Bible is full of symbolic prophecy. You will never love to read the Old Testament until you understand this point. If you know how to read the symbols in prophecy, you can find Jesus on almost every page. There are just so many symbols of Jesus in the Old Testament. There are even symbols in events. Every feast in the Jewish calendar is something that points to an agricultural event, to something in the past, to the giving of the Law, and to something in the future that will be fulfilled by the Messiah. Every event there is prophetic in nature.

There are also people in the Old Testament who are prophetic in nature. Their lives are symbolic prophecies.

One such person is Joseph. He is probably the greatest of all of the symbolic prophecies in the Old Testament. Joseph delivered a message from God to his kinsman, just as Jesus came to deliverer a message of God to the Jewish people.

What did Joseph's kinsman do? They rejected him, just like the Jews rejected Jesus. What else did they do to Joseph? They took him and put him into a pit and left him for dead. They tried to kill him. What did the Jewish people do? They killed Jesus along with the Gentiles and others, but they actually killed Jesus. Then what happened to Joseph? Along came a caravan that pulled him out in a symbolic resurrection, just as Jesus was really resurrected. Then what happened? Joseph went into a foreign country, just as Jesus went into a foreign country. He's gone to Heaven.

Then Joseph took a Gentile bride, just as Jesus is taking a Gentile bride right now. When He is finished taking His Gentile bride, Jesus will take the next step that Joseph did. Joseph revealed himself to his brethren and his brethren accepted him. Jesus will reveal Himself to His brethren and the Jews will look upon Him whom they pierced and they will weep and wale and mourn and they will receive Him as their Messiah.

All throughout the Old Testament there are these prophetic types. Take David for example. When David was anointed to be the king of all of Israel, Saul was still king. David became a king in waiting. Jesus is a King in waiting right now. Jesus came as our Savior. Right now He is our High Priest before God. But, when Jesus returns, He will be our king. He's the anointed King waiting just as David waited to come back and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Even inanimate objects are prophetic symbols. One of the most powerful is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was made out of wood, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be human. It was overlaid with gold, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be divine. It had three objects in it, and one of those objects was the Ten Commandments that were given to Moses. This was a symbol that the Messiah would perfectly fulfill the Law. There was a pot of manna, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be the Bread of Life. There was the rod of Aaron that budded, which was a symbol that the Messiah would be resurrected from the dead.

Over these objects was what was called the Mercy Seat. Once a year the High Priest would go in and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat to indicate that one day the Messiah would spill His blood to make it possible for the grace of God and mercy of God to cover the Law of God, which makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God. On the seat were two cherubim, one at each end with their wings spread over the Mercy Seat. Their wing tips were touching. That was where the Shekinah Glory of God dwelled in the Temple.

When you understand these symbols, it brings the Scriptures alive in a way that it never has before. It also helps you to understand some things in the New Testament that don't seem to be all that important. For instance, look at John 20. I will show you something very simple there that has a profound meaning.

John 20:11-12 reads, "Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping; and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain." This may seem like a simple historical statement. Mary sticks her head in the tomb, looks over to the burial chamber, and sees where the body of Jesus had been lying. There is an angel at each end. But, if you understand symbolic prophecy, you will understand that what Mary really saw when she looked into the tomb was the Mercy Seat where the blood had been spilled with a cherubim at each end. This was a symbol that the whole meaning of the Ark of the Covenant had been fulfilled in the life and death and burial of Jesus Christ.

We are told something very interesting in Jeremiah 3:16. It's speaking of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ.

"'Then it shall come to pass when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days [the Millennium]' says the Lord, 'that they will no more say "the ark of the covenant of the Lord." It shall not come to mind nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem should be called the Throne of Yahweh and all the nations shall be gathered to it in the name of Yahweh. To Jerusalem no more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts."

When the Millennial Temple is built, there will be no Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. It will be empty. It will not be needed because Jesus will be there. He is the absolute fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant as our Lord and Savior.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: How Prophecy Speaks (Part 2 of 3)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

Let's continue on with my message which was presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. We've been discussing how God talked to the prophets who in turn talked to the people. God used writing and oral prophets. Now we'll cover the acting prophets.



The Acting Prophets

I then began to wonder if there was another category, and there is. It's one of my favorites.

Sometimes God spoke to the writing prophets and the oral prophets and said, "Stop speaking, stop writing, and start acting." He wanted to get people's attention and He knew that one way to get their attention was to have them start acting.

Isaiah —For example, God spoke to Isaiah one day and said basically, "Isaiah, nobody is paying attention to you, so here's what I want you to do. I want you to go barefoot and naked for three years." Isaiah was the first streaker! You're just standing there when all the sudden there goes Isaiah. The people said to him, "What is this?" Isaiah would reply, "This is a message from the Lord, and the message is, 'If you do not repent the whole nation is going to be stripped bare.'"

Ezekiel —The greatest of all the acting prophets was Ezekiel. I don't know if you ever noticed this or not, but when God called him to be a prophet God struck him dumb so Ezekiel couldn't speak. Until Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel was a prophet who prophesied by acting. God told him, "Go out and get a sand pile. I want you to play in a sand pile." And God said, "I want you to take the sand and I want you to make a little wall out of it. Then I want you to take twigs of a tree and I want you put little twigs all around this wall. When people come and say, 'What in the world are you doing playing in the sand pile?' You write on a tablet and you say to them, 'This wall represents the wall around Jerusalem. The twigs represent siege machines. If you don't repent God is going to send armies and they're going to come to this place and they're going to destroy it.'"

It was amazing the things God asked Ezekiel to do. On another occasion, God said, "Here's what I want you to do." Ezekiel must have had a lot of hair to be able to do this. God told him, "I want you to go to the city square today. I want you to cut off all your hair and put it on the ground in a big pile. Then I want you to take one-third of it and throw it up in the air and let it blow around. I want you to take one-third of it and burn it. Then take the last third and throw it up in the air and take a sword and chop at it."

I'm sure by then they called the guys from the funny farm to come get this crazy man!

When the people asked Ezekiel what his actions meant, he wrote down what it means, "If you do not repent, this city is going to fall. One-third of you will be destroyed by the fire, one-third of you will be destroyed by the sword, and one-third of you will be taken over the wall into captivity." He answered that over and over.

On one occasion the Lord spoke to Ezekiel and said, "Tomorrow morning you are going to find your wife dead. When you find her dead, I just want you to leave her there. I don't want you to prepare her body for burial. I want you to walk off, go into the city, and start doing your prophetic thing. When people come to you and say, "'Your wife is dead. We found her dead. Why are you out here doing this? Why aren't you attending to her?' then I want you to write on a tablet and I want you to tell people this. 'If they do not repent, this city is going to fall, and when it falls, it will fall so quickly and so decisively that the living will not be able to take care of the dead.'" That is just a few of the prophecies Ezekiel was asked to act out.

Jeremiah —Another prophet, Jeremiah, was told on one occasion take an ox yoke and wear it on his shoulders. When the people asked him what he was doing, he was to say, "It is the will of God for you to surrender and go into captivity." You can imagine that made him real popular! The people called him a traitor and threw him into a pit and almost murdered him because they didn't want to hear his message from God.

Hosea —I think the greatest actor, and the one who is going to get the Oscar when all the awards are handed out, is going to be Hosea. Can you believe Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute? He was the holiest man in all the land, and God commanded him to go marry a prostitute, which Hosea did. I heard someone say once that she must have been very beautiful, because he certainly was not attracted to her by her name. Her name was Gomer!

Hosea married Gomer and God then said, "Now go, preach the message. Preach the message of this marriage." Hosea went out and he preached all over the land. "You Jews are full of pride and arrogance. You think that God called you as His chosen people because you are better than everybody else. Let me tell you something. You are no better than anyone else in all the world. When God called you, you were like a child that had been born and thrown on the side of the road and was lying there in its blood and nobody wanted it. I didn't select you for your beauty. I didn't select you for your intelligence. I didn't select you for any of that. I selected you out of My grace. You need to put that arrogance aside and you need to repent."

You can imagine Hosea's message wasn't very popular. He was severely mistreated.

When Hosea returned home, what he finds out is that while he was out preaching his heart out and being persecuted that this wife to whom he had given his good name, his wealth and everything he had, had suddenly succumbed to her passions. She was actually back out on the auction block in the center of town auctioning herself off to the highest bidder. He was crushed.

Hosea cried out to God, "God, how could you allow this to happen, for my wife to return to prostitution?" And God said, "Go preach the message." The message was this. "I gave you my good name. I gave you blessing after blessing after blessing. And what did you do?" These are the actual words, "You spread your legs to the first person who came along. You are a harlot nation and you are a prostitute nation. You must repent. You are just like Hosea's wife." Hosea preached that message, and again, nobody liked it.

Another time upon returning home, Hosea saw his next door neighbor worshiping and kissing a golden idol. Hosea cries out, "Oh, my God, men kiss calves!" I think if he were in our nation today and he went all over America today, and he were to get up and preach, Hosea would say, "Oh, my God, men kiss calves. They kiss power. They kiss CD's in the bank. They kiss fame and fortune." But Hosea advises, "Kiss the Son. Put it all aside and fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ."

Hosea is a type of Christ in the Old Testament. He went down to that auction block, and in front of the entire city, he paid the price to buy his wife out of harlotry. Can you imagine that? There Hosea is stepping up and everyone's mocking him and laughing at him, and he begins to bid. The auctioneer raises the bid, and Hosea bids and bids until he's paid everything he has to buy his wife out of harlotry.

Gomer didn't deserve it. It was grace. The whole story of Hosea is about grace. By the grace of God Hosea bought his wife out of harlotry.

The story ends there. It doesn't tell us anything else, but it doesn't have to, because I guarantee you one thing. From that day on, this woman was faithful to him because she could not conceive of such grace that he would forgive her and forget her indiscretions and buy her out of harlotry.


In the third and last part of this sermon from the Holy Land presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, we'll discover the wonders of symbolic prophecy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: How Prophecy Speaks (Part 1 of 3)

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.

I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."

My next message was presented at one of the most emotionally moving places in all of Israel — the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. It is the Protestant world's traditional site for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. There we'll discover why the Garden Tomb is the most important and spiritually meaningful site in all the land of Israel.



Various Ways God Spoke to the Prophets

Part of the Garden Tomb complex is Skull Hill, which could very well mark the site of the Crucifixion. Today it overlooks an Arab bus station. The tomb itself, which dates back to the First Century, is adjacent to Skull Hill, just as described in the Gospels. The tomb is located in a beautiful garden — again, just as described in the Gospels. The guides never claim that it's the actual burial place. The point they make is that it meets all the scriptural conditions, and whether or not it is the actual site, we can be assured that wherever the tomb may be, IT IS EMPTY!

I was reading through the New Testament many years ago when I got to Hebrews 1. I was really looking forward to this chapter because this is one of my favorite scriptures in all the Bible. That's because it talks about the superiority of Jesus above the angels and Moses and everything else.

I love how it ends in verse 14 where it says that there are ministering angels who are ministering to those who are in the process of being saved. I have depended on those angels many times. I ask the Lord to post one at my house every time I leave on a trip to watch over my family. I ask Him to surround that airplane when flying over that big ocean to Israel. So, if you've never used the ministry of angels, I suggest you start doing so.

Look at what Hebrews 1:1 says, "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets..." I started to go to verse two and the Holy Spirit said, "Stop." I don't know if you've had those experiences. I'm sure you've had them if you read the Scriptures often. It's called rhema. Rhema is where the Holy Spirit speaks to you from the Scripture to give you a special message. You might read a verse 101 times and it never say anything to you, but the 102nd time it will jump off the page, grab you by the throat, and shake you until your teeth rattle, because you have a need in your life that never was there before that that Scripture is going to speak to you now. That's what happened to me that day.

So, I said, "Lord that passage is not even a full sentence." The Holy Spirit said, "Read it again." So, I read it again. "God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets."

I got to thinking. I'll go over to the Old Testament and take a look and see what are the various ways that God spoke through the prophets. It didn't take me long to make a list of the various ways. I'm sure you could, too.


The Writing Prophets

The very first thing that I thought of was the most obvious, and that's the writing prophets.

The Old Testament is full of writing prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, both Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. David in the psalms many times spoke prophetically. There are even prophecies in the histories that we have. So, I began to think about the writing prophets.

Then I began to think about how the passage says, "various ways, and various people." I got to thinking about the great variety of people from a king like David to a sophisticated, erudite, educated man like Isaiah and to a man like Amos who was a fig picker from Tekoa. There were brave men like Daniel and cowards like Jonah. There were all kinds of people that God used as His prophets. It depended upon whether their heart was searching for Him or not about whether He could use them.


The Oral Prophets

Then I began to think what was there besides the writing prophets? It occurred to me that the Bible is full of oral prophets as well. These were prophets who never wrote anything, but people wrote about them. Oral prophets were Elijah and Elisha who never wrote anything, but people wrote about them. The Old Testament is full of oral prophets.

One time I tried making a list of all the old oral prophets and I was just overwhelmed because many of them are not even named. Instead, they are referred to as "the old prophet" or "the young prophet" or something like that.

One of my favorites is the prophet Micaiah which many people haven't heard of. There was a time when Ahab and Jehoshaphat — an ungodly and a godly king — were going to go out to battle together against a common enemy. Jehoshaphat said to the effect, "Before I go into battle, I always have the prophets come and tell us whether we should go or not." But, Ahab said, "Ah, you know the prophets. I don't care anything about the prophets. I've got 400 of them and all they ever do is come to tell me what I want to hear. There's only one who will tell me what I don't want to hear, and I don't like him." Jehoshaphat said, "Okay, let's get him." He was Micaiah.

Micaiah came and revealed something that was very amazing. He said, "I saw the Lord in His throne room." Very few people were ever given that opportunity. Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up. Micaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up. He said, "I say to you, if you go to battle tomorrow, you are going to be defeated." Ahab turned to Jehoshaphat and said, "See, I told you he always tells me things I don't want to hear."

The New Testament also has oral prophets. Philip had four daughters who were prophets. Agabus confronted Paul at the end of his third missionary journey and wrapped a rope around him and said, "Don't go to Jerusalem. If you do you will end up in bondage." But, Paul said, "I'm going anyway."

The greatest prophet who ever lived of course was John the Baptist. He too was an oral prophet. Jesus Himself was an oral prophet, except when you get to the end of the Bible where He dictates seven letters to seven churches where He actually wrote the Scripture.

So, we've got the writing prophets and we've got the oral prophets.


In the second part of this sermon from the Holy Land presented at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, we'll get to know the acting prophets.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: Rescue at Entebbe

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.

I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."

My next message was presented at the Herzl Cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. There we'll hear a story of incredible bravery about how God's hand empowers the Israeli Defense Forces.



Prophecy of Israel's Military Power

One of the most interesting and yet somber places in all of Israel is the Herzl Cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. It is Israel's equivalent to the United States' Arlington National Cemetery. It's a place that pilgrimage groups rarely visit, but it's a place I always make a point to visit.

I want to focus on one grave in particular at the Herzl Cemetery. You'll find it has a big wreath on it because this is the grave of the brother of the current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The grave is his oldest brother's grave, that of Yoni Netanyahu.

Yoni Netanyahu

I want to tell you the story of this man, and I'll begin by reading a prophecy. This prophecy is taken from Zechariah 12 and it begins in verse 6 where it talks about the end times and the things that are going to happen in the land of Israel. The passage says, "In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a fire pan in the woodpile and like a fiery torch in the sheaves. They shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place in Jerusalem."

And then in verse 8 it reads, "In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. The one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."

One of the prophecies about Israel in the end times is that the nation will become a great military power. That's a prophecy that's been fulfilled in our day and time. It's hard to believe because we are talking about a nation the size of New Jersey, and yet it's always ranked as one of the top 15 military powers in the world, and probably number one in the effective use of its military power. We've seen many examples of it's military power. Just look at the 1967 War or the Yom Kippur War. Miraculous things have happened then!


The Rescue at Entebbe

I want to tell you about one of the military miracles that has to do with this man, Yoni Netanyahu.

Yoni was born in New York City in 1946 while his father was serving as a Professor of History at Cornell University. He was the eldest of three sons. He joined the IDF in 1964 when he was only 18 years old and volunteered for the Paratroopers Brigade where he excelled. Yoni was given command of a paratrooper company which he led into battle in the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six Day War. He was only 20 years old.

After the war, Yoni married and he and his wife moved to the United States at the urging of his father, again who was a professor. He next attended Harvard University, but Yoni didn't like the scholarly life, so he left Harvard after a year and then decided to come back to Israel. He had a military spirit about him. That's all he wanted was to be in the military.

In the early 70's, Yoni joined the Israeli Special Forces and led raids on terrorist groups and their leaders. During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, when he was only 27 years old, he commanded the Special Forces unit against Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. He earned the Medal of Distinguished Service which is the third highest medal given in the Israeli military. He then volunteered to serve as a tank commander and was given command of the tank forces in the Golan Heights.

In June of 1975, Yoni left the armored core and returned to the Special Forces as a unit commander. Hardly had he returned when we come to the greatest event in his life. In 1976, an Air France airliner took off from Tel Aviv loaded with people en route to Paris, France. The airliner stopped in Athens to pick up passengers and let others off. When it stopped in Athens four terrorists got on the plane. After it had taken off, the terrorists took over the plane and diverted it to Northern Africa where it was refueled. Then they took the plane to Entebbe, Uganda. All of this was prearranged by Idi Amin who was a conspirator in this plan. He knew the terrorists were going to abduct the planeload of passengers and he was fully cooperating in it.

So, the terrorists took the plane to Entebbe and there they got all the people off the plane and put them into an abandoned airport. Entebbe had just opened a new airport, and so they put all of their hostages all in the old abandoned airport. Then, after a few days, the terrorists demanded the release of 40 Palestinians and 13 other terrorists who were being held in various countries.

The terrorists released the non-Jews, which was about 85 of the 285 passengers. They also offered to let the crew of 12 go, but the crew members declared they wouldn't leave their passengers behind. They refused to go home and so stayed with the Jews. The terrorists then threatened to kill all the Jews if their demands were not met.

Israel agreed to negotiate with the captors to the astonishment of many people. The reason the Israeli officials were negotiating with the terrorists was because they were delaying for time. While they were negotiating they began to consider their options.

One of the options that the Israeli officials considered was beyond anybody's imagination. They were considering sending a rescue crew to Entebbe, Uganda to rescue the Jewish hostages. That was an eight hour flight one way!

The Israelis had three advantages. First, they were able to interview the released passengers and find out how many terrorists there were, which was a total of eight. They found out where the people had been put and how they were being kept. And so, they were able to get a lot of insider information.

Secondly, and this is unbelievable, an Israeli construction company was the one who built the old airport. This Israeli construction company had all the plans for the old airport. When Yoni was appointed to be the leader of the group, he took hay bales and put them on the ground and outlined the entire airport so that they could practice attacking the airport and know exactly how it was laid out, even every room.

The third advantage Israel had was that nobody under the sun, including any Israeli, ever thought of the possibility of a raid because it was simply too far away to reach.

Well, the raid did happen, and Yoni was the one who led it. On July 3, 1976, the rescue team left Tel Aviv for Uganda. They flew for eight hours at 100 feet, trying to invade all of the radar. They finally arrived at midnight on July 4, 1976, when we were celebrating American history, that's when they arrived in Entebbe. The rescue team had four C-130 Hercules aircraft. Those planes carried the assault force, with Yoni and the medical and communication crews. They also carried a military unit whose sole purpose was to secure the perimeter of the airport. There was also another military unit whose only purpose was to destroy all the MiG Fighters on the ground at the airport so nobody could pursue them. And, there was also a crew that could refuel their planes once they landed in Uganda.

The first airplane carried Yoni's assault group. What they had done is they had gone all over Israel looking for a very old black Mercedes like the one Idi Amin always traveled in. They took two Land Rovers which always accompanied him, too, and they filled the Land Rovers with soldiers. They filled the black Mercedes with Yoni and his assault crew. Before the plane even stopped at the end of the runway, they rolled out and started driving towards the abandoned airport.

Unfortunately, Yoni's assault group didn't know that the week before Idi Amin had bought a white Mercedes, so as they approached the airport in a black Mercedes, the guards knew right away that it wasn't Idi Amin. They stepped out onto the road and told the Mercedes to halt. When they did so, one of the Israeli soldiers shot both of the guards with a pistol that had a silencer and killed one, but missed the second. As they drove by the guard who hadn't died, he picked up his automatic weapon and started firing, which then alerted the people in the airport. Yoni then yelled, "We've got to get in there. We've got to go now!" His team started running towards the airport as fast as they could.

The results of the raid are literally amazing. Let me give them to you here precisely. The entire raid took only 53 minutes. All the hijackers were killed. Some 30 Ugandan soldiers were killed and 11 Uganda MiG's were destroyed on the ground. Also, three hostages were killed, because when Yoni and his men rushed in, they immediately began yelling in Hebrew, "On the floor! On the floor! Do not stand up." But, some of the hostages got confused and stood up and everybody who stood was shot. Also, only one Israeli soldier was killed in the entire raid, and that sadly was Yoni Netanyahu. At 30 years old, he died as the leader of the raid.

Later the next day, Idi Amin rushed to the area where all this happened. He was so enraged at what had happened that when he found out that one of the passengers, a 75 year old woman who had been taken to a hospital nearby, he ordered his soldiers to go and drag her out into the hospital yard and shoot her point blank, and they did. So, in total four hostages were lost.

The official book about the raid called, The Raid at Entebbe, was written by an Israeli Jew, and it ends amazingly with a quote from the New Testament. The book quotes John 15:13 which says, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends"

This was an amazing raid and it's one of the most incredible military performances in modern day history. It's also a fulfillment of the prophecy that in the end times the Israeli Armed Forces will be like a fire among sheaves of wood and like David against Goliath.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: David's Passion for God

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.

I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."

My next message was presented at the famous oasis of Ein Gedi at the Dead Sea. There we'll learn of something amazing that King David did which demonstrated he had a true heart for God.



Oasis in the Desert

The famous oasis of Ein Gedi is located in a canyon along the rim of the Dead Sea. The mud in the Dead Sea is full of sulfur, so it has medicinal qualities, but it makes the water undrinkable. It is really not possible to swim in the Sea either because it is too buoyant. All you can do is float. So, when people come to the Dead Sea, they need fresh water. They'll find water coming from an oasis located about a mile further up the canyon. This is one of the few oasis out at the Dead Sea. It has been there forever, and it's a place where David used to come and hide from King Saul. David had a lot of hideouts in the desert, and Ein Gedi was one of them.

When you're in a place like Ein Gedi, all you can think about is water, because if you don't have water you will not exist very long out in the Dead Sea area. I remember a number of years ago there was a very, very famous Episcopal bishop who came over to Israel and he came down into the Judean Wilderness. He decided to go out and walk around, and he got lost. They found his body a couple weeks later. He had simply just died from heat exhaustion. It can happen very quickly if you don't have water. So, when you are in the Dead Sea area, you think about water all the time.

When you read David's psalms, I hope you will remember Ein Gedi. Take for example Psalm 63. Here David in the superscription of the psalm says, "A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah." That is the Dead Sea area. Look at what David says, "O God, you are my God; early I will seek you. My soul thirsts for you as in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water." That's David's passion for God! His passion for God is the same as a man in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water who is passionately desiring and yearning for water. He says, "Because your loving kindness is better than life my lips shall praise you. Thus I will bless you while I live. I will lift up my hands in your name."

Another example is to be found in Psalm 42. There we have a psalm of the sons of Korah who were trained by David. In Psalm 42 we have this comment, "As a deer pants for water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for you, O God. I thirst for the living God." All throughout the Scriptures you find these allusions to thirst, because in this land water is everything.


The Heart of David

I want to share with you a story from the life of David that really has impacted my life over the years. The story is told twice in the Scriptures. It is told once in 2 Samuel, and it is told again in the Chronicles. It's the story about David hiding out in the wilderness when Saul was trying to kill him.

David was hiding at one of his hideouts, though not in Ein Gedi at that time. The hideout referenced was closer to Bethlehem. David was at his hideout and he was there with his mighty warriors. This was actually after he had become king, but it was early in his kingship, and the Philistines had come and just flat run him out of Bethlehem. As you know, David's original headquarters was in Bethlehem before he moved it to Jerusalem because the Philistines had run him out. So, David was a king with very little power at that time and he was hiding out there in the wilderness.

David and his soldiers were sitting around a campfire one night and suddenly David makes an offhand comment which went something like, "You know what I would like right now more than anything else in the world? A taste of the water from my hometown of Bethlehem." He stretched and yawned and crawled back up into a cave and went to sleep.

Those men who loved him with their lives said, "If that is what David wants, that's what David is going to get." That night, three of those men spent the entire night traveling back to Bethlehem, sneaking through the Philistine lines at the risk of their own lives. They got a bucket of water out of the well at Bethlehem. Then they snuck it back through the Philistine lines and walked all the way back to David's camp.

Have you ever carried five gallons of gasoline? It's heavy. Water can be very heavy, too.

David's men carried the bucket of water all the way back. Just in my mind's eye, I can see that they put that bucket of water right in front of David's cave, then the three of them sat down and grinned like Cheshire cats waiting for him to come out. I can imagine him coming out that morning and stretching and looking out over the Dead Sea, and then looking down and seeing that bucket of water and seeing those three guys sitting there grinning.

David asked, "What's this?" And they said, "David, you said last night what you wanted most in all the world was a bucket of the water of Bethlehem. Well, here it is." David replied, "Do you mean you went all the way to Bethlehem and you snuck through the Philistine lines at the risk of your own lives to get this bucket ow water?" They exclaimed, "That's right, David, because we love you. We wanted to honor you."

Just like that, David did something that must have just astounded them all. Without even thinking, he just reached down and picked up the bucket of water and said, "This water is too valuable for me to drink it. There is only one thing that can be done with it. It must be given to God as a sacrifice." And David poured the water out on the ground.

That was the kind of man David was. He had a passion for God like no one else. In the Scriptures it says he was a man after God's own heart. He did things like this all the time just spontaneously.

When David became king of all of Israel, the first thing he said was, "I will not sleep in a bed until the Ark of the Covenant has a proper resting place. I will sleep on the ground as the King of Israel until the Ark has a proper resting place." He then went to Kiriath-Jearim and got the Ark and he danced before it all the way to Jerusalem. David was dancing in his underwear! He had taken off his outer robes. As he came to Jerusalem dancing before the Ark, Scriptures say his wife was astonished and embarrassed. She reprimanded him. But he said to the effect, "Honey, you ain't seen nothing yet!" She was struck barren by God because she had the audacity to criticize his worship.

Yes, David was a sinner and he committed murder and he lied. He was just a human being like all of us. But, he had this overwhelming passion for God, and when he sinned, he always came back to God in repentance and cried out that God would forgive him. David is presented as a model for us as a man after God's own heart.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: Valley of the Dry Bones

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.

I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."

My next message was presented at the incredible fortress of Masada at the Dead Sea. There we will discover a valley of dry bones that came back to life.



Valley of the Dry Bones

The Dead Sea area is one of the most fascinating places in all of Israel. It is the site of King Herod's incredible fortress of Masada, and it is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. It is a barren and arid place and the lowest point on planet earth, and yet it is the site of the most famous oasis mentioned in the Bible.

The incredible fortress of Masada was built by King Herod on top of one of the tall mountains that line the Dead Sea. When one overlooks the Dead Sea, they'll see it has almost completely evaporated. It's evaporating at the rate of three feet a year. It still has a long way to go because it is very, very deep. The southern end is very shallow and almost completely evaporated. The reason for that is because very little water ever reaches the Dead Sea anymore. When the rains come in the winter and the Sea of Galilee fills up and starts flowing down the Jordan, Israel and Jordan are pulling irrigation water out of both sides of the river. Finally, when the river water gets to the Dead Sea, there's just not any water left, unless it is in flood conditions. So, the Dead Sea has been pretty much evaporated.

Masada is the location where the Zealots retreated to and where the Roman army surrounded the place and kept it under siege for over two years before finally being able to conquer it. It's amazing to think of Roman soldiers living out in the hot wilderness with all of their armor on, but that's what they did. The Zealots would look down at the Roman soldiers and laugh and throw things at them. The Zealots even had a swimming pool up at the top where they would go swimming and make fun of the Romans. This obviously just enraged the Romans and made them more determined to conquer them.

When Masada was rediscovered in the 19th Century, before the archaeologists actually began all of their excavations, one of the things they discovered in the synagogue itself was a part of the Scriptures that had been left opened to Ezekiel 37. That chapter records the vision that was given to Ezekiel of the Valley of the Dry Bones. He was taken out into a big valley filled with dry bones. The Lord said, "Prophesy and preach to these bones." I've been in a few congregations that felt like I was preaching to the Valley of the Dry Bones! You been there Brother?

Anyway, Ezekiel started preaching and those dry bones started moving. They started coming together and stood up. The prophet had no idea what was going on! Let's start reading with Ezekiel 37:11.

"Then He said to me, 'Son of man these bones are the whole house of Israel; they indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost we ourselves are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God, behold, O my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I'm the Lord when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up from your graves. And I will pour out my spirit in you and you shall live and I will place you into your own land. Then you shall know that I the Lord have spoken it and performed it says the Lord."

One of the first things that grabs me here is the Bible says that God would bring the Jews back into their own land — not somebody else's land — into their own land. One of the greatest political arguments made by detractors today is that the people of Israel have come back and they are occupying someone else's land, but God says they are in their own land. They were even in their own land the day the Romans were at Masada, but the Romans didn't like them being here. They wanted to thoroughly conquer them. The Romans wanted to conquer everything. They are a reminder of a Scripture to me, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." This also reminds me of something else God promised to anybody who picked on His children, where in Joel 3 it says that God will retaliate.

Verse 12 says, "O, my people, I will open up your graves and cause you to come up from your graves and bring you into the land of Israel." This is not speaking of the land of Canaan or the land of Palestine, but the land of Israel. What did the Jews decide to call this land when they established their nation again? Israel. That's prophecy being fulfilled right before our very eyes!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sermons From the Holy Land: A Bright Future for Jerusalem

Dr. David R. ReaganWatch MP3 PDFBy

I have been to Israel 45 times, and every time my spiritual life has been enriched. I recently took a video cameraman with me and had him shoot on the fly as I led a pilgrimage group through the land. We began in Tel Aviv, and went from there to Tiberias in the north, and then back to Jerusalem.

I'll continue to share some of the sermons I presented from that trip with you. As I do so, I think you'll come to understand why a person once wrote, "A pilgrimage to the Holy Land converts the Bible from black and white into Technicolor."

My next message was presented in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. There we will discover what the Prophet Zechariah revealed about the future of Jerusalem.



History of the Jewish Quarter

The Old City of Jerusalem is one of the most fascinating places on planet earth. It is a place of great spiritual significance to Christians. It is where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. And, it is where He is going to return to rule over all the world.

Walking through the Old City of Jerusalem will make one understand why one of the most popular t-shirts found in the Old City is one that says, "I walked my feet off in Jerusalem." On a typical tour of Jerusalem, I will start at the Mount of Olives then come down to the Kidron Valley. Then I'll walked from the Old City at the Lion's Gate all the way across to the Jaffa Gate. After coming back to Mount Zion, I lead our group through the Zion Gate and into the Jewish Quarter.

People who travel on our tours will see each quarter except for the Armenian Quarter. The Armenian's are very reclusive, which is why they've built a wall all around their buildings and churches. They don't want anybody interfering with them, so there's nothing to see there.

Quite the opposite, the Jewish Quarter is amazing. It's all brand-spanking new compared to the other parts of the city. The reason for this is that in 1948 and '49 there was fierce fighting there to control the Jewish part of the Old City, and the Jews lost it. The Jordanian forces conquered all of the Old City in the war of '48 and '49 and then they came in and systematically destroyed the Jewish Quarter. They destroyed all the houses and blew up the synagogues. One of the greatest Jewish synagogues that once stood in the Jewish Quarter was blow up. There are historical videos of all of this happening.

In 1967, the Jews reconquered the city of Jerusalem and started to rebuild, but before they began rebuilding someone said, "Let's dig first." The whole rebuilding of the Jewish Quarter was held up by archaeologists who came in and did archaeological digs all over the area. Every one of the buildings there today are built over archaeological excavations. In many of them you can go down into the basement and see all these amazing archaeological excavations. That's why the city looks so new, because it was built not too long ago. The Jews even rebuilt their great synagogue.

Right in the center of the Jewish Quarter is a major plaza that I love to come to and just sit and eat lunch and watch all the people dance. You wouldn't see that going on the eve of the Sabbath. On the Sabbath eve all of the Jewish Quarter closes down around 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon. The shops don't even wait until the Sabbath starts. That way everything is closed in time for the Sabbath. But, on a regular day, you could come to the square and sit and watch people playing musical instruments. Even the rabbis join in dancing in the streets and it's really wonderful to watch as they join hands and dance and sing.


The Millennial Future of Jerusalem

The dancing always reminds me of a glorious passage found in the book of Zechariah chapter 8. Now remember, the Prophet Zechariah was already written after the Jews came back from Babylonian captivity, therefore Zechariah is talking about something that's going to happen in the future. Listen how he describes what Jerusalem is going to be like.

"Again the word of the Lord of host came to me saying, Thus says the Lord of host, 'I am zealous for Zion with a great zeal with great fervor I am zealous for her.' Thus says the Lord, 'I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of truth, the mountain of the Lord of host, the holy mountain.' Thus says the Lord of host, 'Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys, and girls playing in the streets.' Thus says the Lord of host, 'Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east, from the land of the west; I will bring them back, and they will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, they shall be My people and I will be their God in truth and in righteousness.' It shall come to pass that just as you were accursed among the nations, oh, house of Judah and house of Israe,l so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not fear let your hands be strong for thus says the Lord of host, 'Just as I determine to punish you when your fathers provoked me to wrath.' Says the Lord of host, 'And I would not relent, so again in those final days I am determined to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah do not fear.'"

Zechariah then ends with these words, "Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of host in Jerusalem and to pray before the Lord." And then the last verse which is absolutely incredible, "Thus says the Lord of host, 'In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man and say, 'Let me go with you for we have heard that God is with you.'"

That prophecy will not be fulfilled until the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ. But, just think about it, we live in a world today where the Jew is despised, hated, cursed and hunted down and killed. But, in the day of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the glory of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalem to all the world. What radiance there will be in the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ!

We are told that the nations will send representatives each year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. So great will be the blessings flowing from Jerusalem through the Jewish people to all the world that when one Jew walks by, ten Gentiles will grab his robe and say, "Let us walk with you because we know that God is with you." The world is going to be turned upside down in its attitude toward the Jewish people.