Need to know which way to go? Check out God’s roadmap.
A while I had the urge to take out one of our many photo albums that my late wife Katya had so efficiently put together. The one I picked up was marked pre-1983. It began with pictures of me and two other friends at the age of 16 baking apple pies. It moved on from there to pictures of my college years, when I met Katya and the year we lived in San Francisco. There were photos of our life on the farm in Mt Airy, Maryland, baby pictures of our daughter Leora and then our son Isaac. There were pictures of us gathering with family members, celebrating holidays and other places we visited and lived.
While each photo was a slice of our lives that brought back the memories and emotions associated with it, the thing that impressed me the most was how easy it was to observe the overall flow of life as the years went by. Though each photo was a piece of reality, it also was a bit unreal because life and time do not stand still. While we may capture a frame of it on a piece of paper, the next instant things are different. I believe that to the best of our ability we are to appreciate and use wisely every moment that God gives to us. However, it is important to remember that we are on a journey ever moving forward towards eternity.
Certainly there are dramatic defining moments along the way. Choices we make have far-reaching consequences. However, it is a potential trap to think that any given moment is the whole thing, the final word. This is quite clear looking back from 40+ years. The physical changes we can see, the clothing and hairstyles are all dramatic visual reminders that nothing stays the same. Babies grow up, get married and have their own babies. People grow old and die. While some families grow stronger, others fall apart. And time moves on. But the march of time is not random. There is a glorious destiny that the Almighty has set for the universe and its inhabitants that is the goal of the advancing years. Along the way we are all given the opportunity to get on board and go with (and become part of) the program of God, or we can choose to reject it at our own peril.
The Bible is Israel’s family photo album
These principles apply not only to individuals, but also to nations and especially to the nation of Israel that was chosen for a pivotal role. Like my family album, Israel also has a family album, the Bible. But along with the “pictures” there are the prophetic promises. These are the guarantees that the Lord will accomplish what He set out to do with this people. To take any one period of time and make that the gauge of the final outcome is a precarious practice. The receiving of the Torah at Sinai was a time of great potential as the people said to the Lord, “All that the Lord has said, we will do.” (Exodus 19:8) But they didn’t and instead rebelled and went their own way. The monarchy under Solomon began with the construction of the Temple and the promise of great things. Sadly, Solomon himself did not remain faithful and after his death the nation was torn in two. The examples are limitless. Times when it looked great and ended in disaster and times when it seemed there was no hope left and God’s grace and mercy came through and demonstrated that there was still a glorious future. This is demonstrated not only in the Bible but also in the history books that follow it up to the newspapers of our day. Many were convinced that when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70CE and multitudes were dispersed in the aftermath, that was it for Israel. Yet God preserved us through centuries and surprised many with the return and restoration that began 150 years ago.
In the short 70 years since the birth of the modern state of Israel we have swung back and forth from triumph to tragedy. As a young nation we have made more progress in many areas than others who have been around for centuries. Yet we have frequently been plagued by scandals and the collapse of various governments both on the left and right. The conflict seems to grow more each day between the religious and secular populations. Terrorism and the belligerence of neighbouring countries have been with us since the beginning. To add to this there have been numerous attempts by others outside to resolve the conflicts and hatred that have existed for centuries.
Weaknesses and wishful thinking
Looking back we can see much more clearly the weaknesses and wishful thinking that were so much a part of the programs that were foisted upon us. Whether by UN resolutions or the shuttle diplomacy of numerous international politicians whose own houses were not in order, we were told what we must do to make things better. More often than not the outcome was a mess. Today after the failure of the Oslo agreements and nearly twenty years of murder and mayhem we are still being told what to do to fix the problem. Pressure from our friends (and those who are not such good friends) was applied so that we would embrace the scheme known as the “Roadmap”, which was basically a rehash of its failed predecessors.
It is not the end of the world or the end of Israel
There is no doubt that the peace process and the continued state or threatened state of war with our neighbours near and not so near should be a matter of concern and a matter for prayer. However, it is not the end of the world or the end of Israel. No plan of man in the past has ever been and none shall ever be. It is not a roadmap per se that we are opposed to. It is anything that would exalt itself against the purposes of God by seeking to substitute its own wisdom above the expressed will of God. The Lord is the one who has established us as a people and nation. He will finish what He has begun. Our job is to bring good news to Zion, declaring that He is alive and well. (Isaiah 40:9) The nations are but a drop in a bucket, a grain of dust on the scales. (Isaiah 40:15) We have no need to fear or panic as events unfold before us. We stand boldly for Messiah Yeshua as God’s king whom He has installed on His holy mountain in Jerusalem. (Psalm 2:6) We don’t need to go twenty, forty or a hundred years in the future to look back and see the big picture. It is available to us now. The eternal word reveals the eternal plans – a holy and redeemed people of Israel living in the land of Israel, serving the Messiah of Israel. And from there, blessings will flow out to the whole world.