Not long ago, under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, Israel began a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and certain settlements in the West Bank in yet another “land for peace” deal. There were images on the news of Israeli settlers being pulled forcibly from their homes by Israeli Forces. They felt betrayed by Sharon, who himself promised their safety in these very settlements. At the time Sharon called it a “bold move to end the stalemate in the peace process.”
It was a cutting edge plan because historically it has been accepted that there must be peace and security and then we’ll have a plan for borders and settlements. This plan was “bold” because it gave up land with out having a deal. The idea was that giving up this land would cause peace and security.
3 years later and so much has transpired. Sharon has since fallen ill and slipped into the grips of a coma, and Gaza has fallen and slipped into the grips of Hamas, a popular Islamist movement inside Palestine. Instead of the peace that was hoped for, what appears to have happened is Hamas got a closer shot at Israel with their rockets. (rockets that have no guidance system. They just shoot them randomly hoping that they hit something with no discrimination between military and civilian targets)
Like the Madrid Conference in 1991 and the Oslo Agreement in 1993, this one also has failed to bring peace. There have been official talks that have failed to produce peace such as the Israel-Syria talks in 1991, the Camp David talks in 2001, the Saudi Peace Plan in 2002 and the now infamous “Roadmap To Peace” put together by the European Union, Russia and the United States that our very own Condi spent a lot of time promoting.
None of these have brought peace. They have not brought peace because organizations like Hamas and countries like Iran don’t want peace. They want Israel gone.
SIDEBAR: It’s my personal opinion that this impossible feat is the very thing that Antichrist will use as leverage in becoming a world leader. It’s my opinion that he will bring a peace plan that actually seems to work to this impossible situation that has bruised the shins and egos of every American President since Carter. Whoever can do this would trump every other national leader who has tried and failed. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.
The coming days and weeks will no doubt bring suicide bombers in the cafes, restaurants, buses and other public places of Israel filled with civilians. It will no doubt include images on the evening news of the destruction brought about by Israeli airstrikes inside Gaza. There will be civilian casualties as well as military.
Some military analysts see this as a proxy war between moderate Arab regimes such as Egypt and hard line states such as Iran and Syria, which support and back Hamas. This most recent “truce” was brokered by a more moderate Egypt. Ending it like this could easily marginalize Abba’s Fatah movement and its Western and moderate Arab backers. Simply put it is good business for the hard liners to have a war.
With a nuclear armed Iran and Iraq that will no doubt fall into a state of disarray as President Obama pulls our troops out it’s anybodies guess how that will all play out. Israel has already privately sought the blessing of the Bush Administration in bombing Iran, a blessing that was not granted.
Now, I’m no Hal Lindsay or Jack Van Impe or Tim LaHaye, but as I look at the events unfolding on a global scale it would seem to me that the return of Christ is imminent. As I cross reference the Bible with the news on CNN there seems to be a lot of moving parts that have fallen perfectly into place setting up a stage upon which the final act will be played out.
So what to do in the meantime?
Psalm 122:6 records that we should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It’s somewhat apparent to me that this prayer will ultimately not be answered until the return of Jesus, He will set His foot on the mount of olives, split it in two changing the topography of Israel, and set up His Kingdom from Jerusalem. In the mean time we must pray.
In Matthew 25, Jesus unfolded the parable of the talents in the larger conversation with the Disciples about the signs of the end. It was a story of a “master” going away and leaving his possessions under someone else’s stewardship. What pray tell would it look like on a practical level of using those talents, that investment that the Master left for you and me?
He went on to use the metaphor of the sheep and the goats. It is inside of this vignette that we get the picture that serving the physical needs of “least of these” is high on the priority list for our Lord. I would suggest that using the gifts God has put in us in serving the “least of these” is the gold standard.
Right in the middle of Matthew 24 and 25, in the context of the “signs” of the end, Jesus brings this picture of feeding, clothing and visiting the least of these. I’m not suggesting that things like going to church aren’t important, but that’s not what Jesus chooses to use as the litmus test for the work that was done in our hearts at salvation. If the King has other questions for us on judgment day Jesus doesn’t bring them out in this picture.
Maybe this is why John and James who were both there for this teaching would later go on to emphasize caring for those in physical need in their epistles.
It’s important to consider that the parable of the talents uses money as a metaphor. A talent is an amount of money. I think it’s appropriate to apply it to the gifts that God gives us, but I also think it’s crucial to not forget that He’s talking about money. Especially when you look at it in the bigger picture and see what He’s saying about taking care of the “least of these”. Providing clothes, food and provision requires a financial commitment.
This money that we have whether it’s little or much is not our money. It’s Gods money entrusted to us until He returns. When you donate to an organization like Conduit you aren’t just giving your money, you’re investing money that was given to you by the Lord and earning a “profit” for Him upon His return.
And when He does return, like the guys in the parable of the talents that actually invested their gifts for the Master’s benefit, we will be greatly rewarded. I don’t know what the crowns and rewards will look like, I’d honestly be OK with the simple “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. (matt 25:21)