IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE? (March 2006)

 

An Open Letter to the American Christian...

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    We have a singular honor. One second only to the honor of walking with Christ himself for three years. We are looking the Second Coming in the face, and so many of us do not even see it. 

    We have tried here at 11TH hour to connect the dots and draw the picture as it is revealed by current events. It is a slow process. Frustratingly slow at times, but it is shaping up. Events in the Middle East are pushing us closer and closer to a world that will be clearly divided along ideological lines.

    Anti-Semitism is again on the rise and the Jews are beginning to feel the pressure. In places like France and Russia there have been limited physical attacks on Jews. There is already talk of them preparing to begin moving back to Israel. Look around you, anti-Semitism is not confined to Europe. You can find it here as well. I am not just talking about the Neo-Nazi or the Nation of Islam brand of foolishness. That type of Anti-Semitism is blatant and repugnant to any thinking person.  

    There is a more subtle form of Anti-Semitism that is equally alarming. There are Christian groups who believe that because the Jews crucified Christ, they have lost their place as Gods people. It’s called Replacement Theology. There is of course no truth behind this. Gods promise to Abraham was not conditional, look it up, see Gen 12: 1-3 and Gen 17: 1-8. They are his people, for ever, end of story. Not to mention this idea assumes that the crucifixion was a surprise to God. I guess they think God came back from a three day weekend to find a note on his desk and Jesus in the tomb. 

    The truth, of course is that God not only knew they would do this, it was part of the Plan of Salvation all along. Read Hebrews chapter 8, 9 and 10. Christ was the perfect sacrifice intended to replace the imperfect sacrifice that needed to be performed over and over again. Who else but a Jewish High Priest could have offered up this perfect sacrifice?  

 

Who brought Christ before Pilate?

     This is not meant to grant anyone a free pass. Those who were there that day, yelling “crucify him” at the top of their lungs, will have to answer for their actions. That will be between them and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remember that title and remember the relationship between Jew and believing Gentile as Paul explained it in Romans chapter 11.  

    For those who don’t like Replacement Theology, maybe you like Dual Covenant Theology . Televangelist John Hagee and Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg Have decided that Jews do not need to accept Christ in order to be saved, so there is no reason to bother bringing the truth of who Jesus was to them. Instead we should reinforce the error they made two thousand years ago and focus on worldly issues like land and protecting Israel form nations like Iran. Well of course Hagee believes that. It supports his idea that America is here to bring the world back to God, so Jesus can return. How much more Anti-Semitic can you get than to teach that Gods people don’t need their own Messiah. Jesus himself told the Jews in his day that the only way to the Father was through him. Was he lying to them? (In the interest of fairness. It should be noted that Hagee has denied any support of the Dual Covenant Theology; this has been brought to my attention within the last week. Of course this does not change the existence of the idea or it’s harmfulness.)

    Perhaps this stems from a failed understanding of the Plan of Salvation. A Hebrews sins were not forgiven by the blood of a lamb or a goat. That sacrifice was a stand in for the crucifixion. If they could be saved by the act of bringing a sacrifice to the Temple then that would amount to Salvation by Works, and we know that is not the case.  They, like us were not saved by works, but by faith. Like us their works were evidence of their faith. For them that evidence included performing the prescribed sacrifices. Our faith is in the Risen Messiah. Their faith was in the promise of the Coming Messiah. I would direct you to Hebrews chapter 11. Their faith was counted to them as righteousness.  

    Christ blood paid the price for all sin, past and present. How can anyone possibly be saved without faith in Christ?  I put forth these examples not to single anyone out, only to show that Anti-Semitism goes beyond throwing bottles at Jews and putting them in concentration camps. My hope is to stir up some self reflection.

 

WHAT IS OUR PART? 

    We as American Christians bear a great amount of responsibility for current events. Agreed, events are unfolding according to Gods plan, but Nebuchadnezzar served Gods plan as well. When he got too big for his britches God knocked him down a few pegs and he spent the next seven years baying at the moon and eating grass. Serving Gods plan does no get you a free pass. 

    We, more then any other nation are responsible for our leaders. We vote them in and when they do not follow through with campaign promises, we can vote them out. We have mechanisms to remove a sitting president if he breaks the law. We have newspapers that we are supposed to use to voice our opinion. We have claimed for a long time to be that shining city set on a hill, an example to the rest of the world and for a long time we were. The system has been slowly crumbling for decades. To say that the crumbling has accelerated in the last five years is an understatement.

    We now have a president who was elected in 2000 amid a lot of controversy, never before has an election been decided by the Supreme Court. There were rumblings about voting irregularities, missing or uncounted ballots and who can forget pregnant and hanging chads, well apparently the American people can.  When he turned his sights on Iraq, the American Christian sat quiet or worse, agreed as one Christian leader after another came forward and supported this move. Even after the invasion, as it became painfully obvious that the reasons we were given were lies. The Christian Right continued to run interference for the White House.  They continued to tell Christians it was their duty to support the government, twisting and perverting scripture to make their point. After all, they supported this guy because he used the name Jesus Christ during a televised debate. Backing up now would mean admitting that they might have been wrong.  

    In 2004 this same president rode the conservative Christian vote to victory like a conqueror on a white horse.  Since November of ’04 our Christian President has argued for the right to use torture. He has openly refused to operate within the frame work of the FISA legislation, and now he has stated that he would veto any legislation aimed at stopping the DP World deal. These are more than just the most recent highlights. I picked these because I believe they reveal a pattern. They show that our President is thumbing his nose at things that have in the past defined us as a nation. 

    Stop and think about it for a minute. Did you ever in your lifetime think you would hear a sitting President argue for the right to torture prisoners? Haven’t we always claimed to be better than that?  Isn’t one of the reasons we are in Iraq is to show them a better way? I submit to you, if you are going to go to war on the grounds that you are better than the other guy, don’t you think you should actually be BETTER than them?? 

    On the wire tapping issue, there is no reason to skirt the FISA courts. As I understand it they almost never deny a warrant and they allow for retroactive warrants in the event that the government felt it just couldn’t wait. The NSA could have taken the time to get warrants for every tap; Bush just decided that being President means you don’t have to play by the rules. There was another President who felt the same way about wire taps. His name was Nixon. He is the reason we have FISA courts today. 

    The DP World deal is the real kicker. While everyone is so wrapped up in the security issues, they are missing the real threat. I would hate to agree with the White House, but they are right, there really is no security issue here. Security would be handled the same regardless of who is running a terminal at any given port. WE handle security at OUR ports. They would still be OUR ports and WE would still be running security. The security issue is a shinny object.  

    The real issue is that our President could care less that the people in this nation do not want this deal to go through. When the people and their elected representatives are all saying the same thing, when they are all yelling NO, don’t you think the President should listen? Bush is turning his back on our values, ignoring laws written to restrict his authority and protect our rights and turning a deaf ear to the people he works for.  Are you still making excuses for him? Are you still blaming it on the intelligence? Do you still think he is just getting bad advice?

 

LEAVING COMFORT ZONE YET?

    Surely some of you must have felt a little apprehensive last August as Israel closed in on the starting date for withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. I know I did. I wondered if Sharon would go through with it. Of course he did, what else could he do with the US State Department breathing down his neck. Make no mistake. There may be three other bodies that make up the Quartet (The US, the EU, the UN and Russia) but it is the US that has the most influence over Israel.  

    I was surprised how calmly (relatively speaking) the withdrawal went. There was some resistance but in the end it didn’t amount to much. On the 23RD of August 2005 the last Jew left the Gaza Strip, and somewhere out in the Atlantic near the Bahamas a tropical depression formed that would later become Hurricane Katrina.

    There were many people that came forward and claimed that Katrina was a judgment from God. They gave all kinds of reasons from homosexuality to abortion. I believe it was a judgment, but as far as the reason, I simply ask you to look at the timing.  I’ve been asked why not send a hurricane to DC if this was a judgment for our involvement in the withdrawal. I’ll admit this is a good question. I think the answer to that question is that God is not interested in saving our nation. The US is just one of many nations that will disappear from the face of the Earth. I believe that God is interested in the people that make up this nation. Katrina appears to be an attempt to speak to the people, to begin trying to open their eyes and make them look at what is going on. You have to admit, the timing is significant. Not to mention that the administrations response to the hurricane laid bare the failings of DHS and their inability to do anything for the population in the event of an emergency. 

    God seemed to be speaking to our people on two levels. On the spiritual level the tie in to events in Israel is unmistakable. To those who are not looking at the spiritual side, the government’s inability to do what a government is supposed to do for its people was glaringly obvious. Just in case you are unsure of the Katrina-Israel connection:  On February 1ST of this year acting PM Olmert ordered the removal of 2000 settlers from the West Bank settlement of Amona. This time it wasn’t calm, it was swift and it was violent.  The following day on the 2ND there was a tornado reported in New Orleans.  It blew through the Louis Armstrong International Airport and the Lakeview area, one of the areas hardest hit by Katrina. It blew down homes, damaged roofs and knocked down power lines. 

    Why single out the US for this kind of a wakeup call? First I think it would be a mistake to say we have been singled out. The rest of the world is dealing with its own problems from road side bombs to extreme cold temperatures. But I do think that we have a different burden to carry.  No other nation is claiming to be a Christian nation. No other nation has decided to go out into the rest of the world and spread our brand of freedom and democracy throughout the Middle East, regardless of what the Middle East thinks of that idea. No other nation has co-opted and corrupted Christian values and believes in order to justify it actions.

    Exodus 20:7  Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

We have surely taken the Lords name in vain. 

    Unfortunately Israeli suffering at the hands of the US State Dept. is not limited to the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.  Much of the blame for the disaster that was the recent Palestinian elections can be laid at our feet.  As predicted, once the Gaza Strip had been cleared, Hamaas and other groups claimed they had been successful in pushing Israel out of the Strip through the use of violence. It also allowed weapons and militants to pour into the area unabated.  

    We pressured Sharon not to interfere with the elections as he had done in the past by restricting campaigning and voting in East Jerusalem and other mixed areas. We didn’t put enough pressure on Abbas to disarm Hamaas or at least keep them out of the election until they denounced their stated goal of destroying Israel.  The Bush Administration completely missed this and the corner it has painted Israel into is our fault. 

The question now is. What do we do about it?

    I have never had much use for picket signs or demonstrations. They never seem to produce anything except more strife. As Christians we have to seriously reconsider our place in this world.  I know we have said this in varying ways before, but it stands repeating.  Governments come and go. All have worked to further Gods plan from King David to Hitler in one way or the other. Soon the rock that was cut out without human hands will come and smash the feet and toes made from iron and clay.  Every man made government will be gone, none will stand. 

    We must be clear in our minds about where we stand. We must be willing to make it known if and when people ask. Either with words or actions or just simply remaining silent we must not make excuses for wrongs that have been committed, or be seen to condone them.  Anyone who has read Revelation knows Christians will have to break from government. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the US or any other nation is the exception to the rule. They will all turn on us or be removed by the Lord before they get the chance. Like it or not choosing to serve the Lord will be choosing not to serve a country.

    Joshua 24:15  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 

 

In Christ, E. D. Smith

 

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