Satan – The father of lies
In John 8:44 Jesus calls Satan “a liar and the father of lies” and it’s helpful to look around at our world to see where examples of his handiwork can be observed.
For example, a few months ago Gholam Reza Jalali, a General in the Iranian army, gave a speech before a conference in Teheran dedicated to addressing the prolonged drought plaguing that country in which he said that “Foreigners are suspected of intervening in the country’s climate…joint teams from Israel and one of our neighboring countries make clouds that are entering Iran” that don’t produce any rain, he continued, before adding that “In addition to that, we have the issue of ‘cloud-stealing’ and ‘snow-stealing.’”
It was funny, but it also wasn’t funny. Because after all the jokes and Facebook memes making fun of Jalali’s absurd statements, the question has to be asked, how is it possible to even have a rational engagement with a regime that acts in such a way? Although this speech was a pretty outrageous example of this kind of behavior, it was far from being an isolated incident.
Talk to any journalist covering the Middle East and they’ll tell you that one of the most difficult aspects of the job is covering the public statements by Iranian officials, because they so often consist of the most bizarre and outrageous falsehoods. Iranian officials, military officers and clerics lie, brazenly and unapologetically, demanding to have their ludicrously absurd and ridiculous statements accepted at face value and erupting in incandescent rage when a journalist or foreign diplomat dares to show even the slightest hint of incredulity.
That’s not all.
In many other countries in the region, conspiracy theories about ancient and recent Middle East history are taught in official state textbooks and widely believed. An example is that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City was not the real site of the first Temple built by King Solomon or the Second Temple built by Herod and visited by Jesus. The historic evidence that there was once two Jewish Temples on the spot where the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock currently stand, from archeological records to written accounts (including in the New Testament but also the historian Josephus Flavius) are all dismissed as part of a vast, all-encompassing anti-Moslem and anti-Arab conspiracy.
There are many similar issues. The worldview of a sizeable percentage of the people who live in the Middle East and North Africa is built on a foundation of lies and willing self-deception. It’s not politically correct to say so, but in my humble opinion this is probably the number one reason why nearly every aspect of governance and society in this part of the world is so corrupt and dysfunctional.
However, the worldview of a growing percentage of people who live in Western countries is also built on a foundation of lies and willing self-deception. An obvious example of this is the growing acceptance of the idea that an individual’s gender is not determined by biology but rather how they feel about the matter from one day, or even one hour, to the next. The medical and scientific community, which has long declared itself to be a group of people who only believe and ask others to believe things which are “fact-based” and “evidence-based” have largely endorsed this lunacy. This, again, explains so much of the growing dysfunctionalism in Western countries.
Well might the age-old question “has the world completely lost its mind” be asked.
But thank God we know what’s really going on, because the Bible tells us that as the time draws close for the End of the Age, Lucifer, the “father of lies” will know his time is short and will increase his efforts to lie, kill and destroy, using deception and lies as his primary instruments for this purpose.
So what can be done about this? How can Believers combat this phenomenon?
First of all, we must be grounded in the Truth of God’s Word ourselves, so that we can escape the deception that is underway. Then we must be in regular prayer with God and regular fellowship with other Believers who also pray and study His Word.
The example (aka “witness” or “testimony”) this will enable us to display may save many of our friends, family, neighbors and even our enemies from the trap set for all of us by “the father of lies.”
The WRONG thing to do is spend a lot of time arguing with people, especially on the internet. If you meet someone who believes a lie, especially if it’s a lie about Israel and/or the Church of Jesus Christ, and that lie makes them have an irrational hatred of Israel and/or the Church, there’s little that rational discourse, education etc. can do to help them. They are almost certainly in spiritual bondage to “the father of lies” and against such bondage arguments based on observable truth won’t help much.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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Love one another
When very young in high school some of my buddies and I would daily hit each other about as hard as we could in the shoulder, without a flinch. We only quit when the bruises became intolerable and unsightly. We never angered, and ended pretty sure of each other’s loyalty, and well prepared for the future. Now, more than fifty-five years later, we remain good friends, though often quite far apart on matters political, religious, and philosophical. And we continue striking in full force in debate over our conflicting views, and enduring insults with grace and some humor -never doubting loyalty or love.
But that describes a disappearing breed, I fear, replaced now by those who know not the wise Jefferson’s statement, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” Instead, peace and love is like a mirage, a mile-wide lake only an inch deep, evaporating at the first discomfiture of heat. Now, offence is taken at any disagreement, is unforgiven and leading to acrimony and revenge, inquisition, division and un-friending even family members, threats and even violence. Fear of retribution now ties the tongue of free speech and chokes off communication, or to fury unleashed in slander bursting the bounds of all decency.
Can we possibly return from sliding toward this precipice of danger and dissolution? Will wisdom rebound and prevail in the state of the union of America to remain that blessed ‘One Nation Under God’, and Israel the Chosen? Only Time will tell.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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An Open Letter to the Ministry of Interior
It seems to be time to seriously consider engaging in some much-needed damage control. As the sole arbiters of matters concerning life, death, birth, marriage and everything else connected to registry as a Jew and the accompanying status, benefits and privileges which follow, you have a massively great obligation to all Jewish-born individuals and their offspring who, by virtue of the Law of Return have the right to live in Israel and be counted among her people.
Yet, for many who otherwise qualify as Jews, your personal prejudices, suspicions and unjustified fears have dominated your rulings, denying those who may not necessarily adhere to one brand of the Jewish religion or who may have, unfortunately, been born in what you consider to be the wrong country. This is both morally unconscionable and the highest level of betrayal to those who would have, without a doubt, suffered and been killed at other times in history for their bloodline.
Do you think that your refusals to allow all Jews of all stripes to live in their ancestral homeland embodies the sacred work with which you have been entrusted? Do you think that you are gaining respect and honor by others who have paid close attention to your arbitrary and discriminatory decisions which run counter to the laws which were established concerning true eligibility for citizenship and registry as a Jew?
How long will it be before non-Jewish lovers and supporters of the Zionist State discover your systematic “selection” lines and decide that they will no longer support, either with their presence or finances, a state which turns away its own simply because they are not deemed to be the right kind of Jews?
The Interior Ministry has been cited as ‘un-Jewing’ citizens through probes” and this is highly disturbing because it makes any Jewish citizen subject to suspicion and paranoia, if they have already received Israeli citizenship, but are suddenly reviewed in an attempt to have that status revoked simply because someone in the Ministry has found what they considered to be a strong case against them. This includes large swaths of the population such as all Ethiopian and Russian Jews, all Messianic Jews already living in the country, Jews by birth who may have been adopted by non-Jewish parents and that’s just the beginning.
If one’s religious affiliation continues to be the only acid-test of who is deemed to be a real Jew, then, perhaps, the non-observant, atheists and agnostics and others of a different persuasion may also be in jeopardy of losing their Jewish status. What about the Jewish gay community? What about Israelis who marry outside the faith? Let’s face it, pretty much everyone can be up for grabs.
Is this the kind of refuge and safe haven Israel was intended to be for her people? Is this the kind of state we are now becoming? Will Jews run the risk of being turned away from their shores as the world becomes an increasingly more dangerous place in which to live?
I, for one, do not believe that the vast majority of Israelis agree with this distortion of Israeli law which is being executed by a handful of orthodox zealots who have a lock on matters of life and death and the ultimate sword to wield against any of their people who don’t pass their smell test.
Only a few weeks have passed since Yom Kippur, the day in which we are all to do some inward soul searching in order to righteously evaluate how we relate to God and treat our fellow man. Those of you who work in the Interior Ministry and have this ultimate power need to take an extended moment to reflect upon the evils which you have chosen to perpetuate amongst your own – those who are your kin but with whose pedigrees you may find fault. You need to do it because others are closely watching, and because it falls into the category of acts of unrighteous judgment, but most of all, because it is the right thing to do.
Israel must be a home for all Jews, and maybe the one who expressed it best said was the new head of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog who said, “We need to do whatever we can to unify the Jewish people, make sure the Jewish people are not torn apart. “A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and it doesn’t matter what kippa he wears or does not wear and what stream he belongs to. We are one people.”
Chava Stein, the granddaughter of Jewish European immigrants to the U.S., made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. Married to an Israeli, they live in the center of the country.
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A new confederation plan?
Israeli Press is reporting on a new attempt of a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians–a “confederation plan” for the Palestinian areas of Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The original plan for confederation came from Yigal Allon after the 1967 war.
From 1948 to 1967, Jordan ruled the West Bank (including East Jerusalem and the Old City) and claimed sovereignty over it. They did not give the Palestinians of the West Bank Jordanian citizenship. Egypt ruled Gaza and did not give them citizenship. Jordan is ruled by an Arab clan known as the Hashemites, who are not considered Palestinians, though the majority population of Jordan is Palestinian.
Jordan was part of the original Palestine Mandate. In the League of Nations partition plan, Jordan was created and separated from the territory west of the Jordan that was still under the Balfour Declaration and affirmed as a homeland for the Jewish people. The U. N. in 1947 presented another partition plan giving the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and Gaza a state; and a state for the Jews on the rest of the Land. Israel accepted this plan and the Arab world rejected it. Then ensued the War of Independence that Israel won, but with the loss of the old city Jewish quarter in Jerusalem and the East Jerusalem Jewish areas including Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital.
The Allon Plan
The 1967 War gave Israel control of the whole area west of the Jordan. But now the famous demographic argument began. It states that for Israel to survive as a Jewish state it cannot incorporate the overwhelming number of Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza into Israel. This would create an Arab majority in democratic Israel. So well before the Oslo accords, and as a way to find peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Allon presented the first plan of separation from the West Bank Arabs. Allon was a famous general and political leader in the Labor party.
The Allon Plan included keeping for Israel the areas of East Jerusalem, especially those areas that were Jewish before the ’48 War, and then adding Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Secondly, it promoted Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and military outposts that both would be important for strategic depth and Israel’s security. The idea was to expand Israel and to see the Palestinians incorporated into Jordan.
Jordan’s Response to the Allon Plan
For many years it was hoped that Jordan–under King Hussein–might accept such a plan, since he claimed the West Bank for Jordan. But he was not then open to the territorial compromise that the Allon plan envisioned. Then eventually he renounced all rights to the West Bank. Why? Because he has his own demographic problem. In Jordan many Palestinians do not have full rights and could rise up and overthrow the Jordanian rulers, the minority Hashemites.
The Oslo accords did not explicitly call for a Palestinian state, and some say that Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin–who signed the Oslo accords–did not envision a Palestinian State. But in the years following Oslo, the negotiations quickly went in that direction, and the Palestinians were twice offered a state by Prime Minister Barak and Prime Minister Olmert. However, when Gaza broke from the Palestinian Authority and was taken over by Hamas, any realistic prospect for a two-state solution was killed, in spite of the continued talk that seems to still favor this idea. I have written that I think Gaza should be linked to Egypt and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank in confederation with Jordan. But Jordan refuses this plan due to their fear of too many Palestinians being under their rule.
Yet there is an assumption, a root, which makes a solution impossible. It is that all people need to have full citizenship in a nation state. Where is that written in the tablets of ethical norms? Why couldn’t Palestinians have autonomy as a territory, elect their own domestic government, have Jordanian passports, and have an economy tied to Jordan and Israel? The wrong assumption keeps us from progress. So this looks like a return to Allon’s plan in part. In this plan the Jewish settlements of the West Bank are preserved; and building in the Jewish areas would be legal, but not so for Jewish settlements in the defined Palestinian autonomous zones.
Is this the Trump plan? No one knows…yet. Is it possible? Unlikely since the Palestinian rejection of Israel is a religious based rejection. In all of this, we need to keep in mind that though we want the Palestinians to be treated well and with justice, macro cosmic justice on this issue begins with the affirmation that this Land is promised to the Jewish people. God is sovereign and can allocate lands as He decides. Can there be a temporary solution without this recognition? Yes, but never a permanent one without finally submitting to the will of God.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, October 3, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
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We can’t hide – Commentary on Parashat Beresheet (In The Beginning)
D’VARIM (GENESIS) 1:1–6:8
Here we are, back at the beginning of the yearly Scripture reading! This is such a familiar Scripture to most of us, but there are always fresh insights from the LORD as His Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). As I was reflecting on this week’s portion, Beresheet, I had some thoughts that I want to share with you and I hope you will be encouraged in your walk today:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.
Genesis 3:1–12 (emphasis mine)
There are a few points that I want to highlight in the verses above:
- Temptation is not sin. Oftentimes, we get confused between the temptation and the actual act of sin. We live in a day and age where temptations are all around us, and the reality is that we can’t really control their presence. However, what we can control is what we do with those temptations; do we entertain them and allow them to become sin in our lives?
As we can learn from the story above, the temptation was whether or not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. The temptation to eat was not an actual sin. But the temptation to eat quickly turned into sin because Adam & Eve were easily overcome by it. We need to learn how to deal with the temptation in our lives, and not allow it to overcome us so that it becomes sin. We have everything we need in Messiah to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must also learn how to keep every thought captive, submitting it to Him, and to daily train our minds in the ways of the LORD rather than the ways of the world (2 Corinthians 10:5).
- The first religion is found in this account. What do I mean by this? Well, religion is man’s attempt to reach God, by doing things that seem right in our eyes. God says one thing, but we interpret it differently. God told them not to eat of the tree, but Eve said it was forbidden to eat and touch the fruit. We tend to complicate things, don’t we? We think we can do it in our own strength, and we put a heavy yoke on ourselves in order to please God. Our own set of rules often becomes the reason why we fail to do that which God has asked of us. Let’s keep it simple and follow His way, not our own idea of it.
- God knows everything; we can’t run away or hide from Him. Shame is one of the enemy’s greatest strongholds in our lives. Once we sin against God, we tend to hide instead of bringing it to the light of confession. The moment that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, they saw that they were naked, and they hid. The reality is, my dear brothers and sisters, that God knows everything in our lives! He sees everything that is done in secret and in darkness — nothing is hidden from Him. The GREAT NEWS, however, is that Yeshua died in order to redeem us from everything that is done in darkness. We should not be ashamed nor hide, but rather bring everything to the light, and expect the atonement that He gave to each of us. This is true freedom that only Messiah can bring.
- Human nature is to run from taking responsibility and blame others — even God. When God asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”, Adam’s immediate reaction was to blame Eve: “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
Instead of taking responsibility for his own wrong actions, Adam blamed Eve for causing him to sin, even going so far as to blame God for giving him the woman that caused him to sin. But aren’t we like this, too? Instead of taking responsibility for our own actions, it’s so easy to blame everyone around us, and sadly, even our Creator. The truth is that our shame and pride blind us from seeing the reality.
So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
When temptation comes, we can call upon Him to help us not to act upon it so that it becomes sin. But when we do sin, we need to take responsibility and bring that sin to the light instead of making it worse by blaming God and others, giving all kinds of excuses. One of the greatest things about our faith in Yeshua is that, because we have relationship with God and the Holy Spirit, we are free to obey God, not because we are obligated to (religion), but because we get to (relationship).
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.