Back from the dead

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“The nation of Israel are a wonderful witness to the Living God. Back from the long dead. But although as a nation they thrive, in God’s sight they are just lifeless bodies, waiting for the One who can bring life. The Lord Jesus Christ will return to save the nation in their darkest hour and in Him they will find abundant life.”

Whatever horror movies might depict; zombies staggering around, wall-eyed living dead, skeletons grinning evilly – we know that this is the stuff of make-believe. Life requires heartbeat, brain function, muscles and a multitude of complex interdependent systems to continue. Once a human being has been dead for any length of time, the recollection of what they once were – warm, living flesh and blood, able to move of their own accord, speak, listen and function as a living being – becomes increasingly difficult to visualise let alone become a reality.

So the question put to the Prophet Ezekiel, author of one of the longest prophecies of the Old Testament, is a strange one.
Confronted with a vision of dried, scattered bones strewn around a valley, Ezekiel is asked;

“Son of man, can these bones live?”     
(Ezekiel 37v3)

Had the question been posed by anyone else, Ezekiel would undoubtedly have replied; ‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ or words to that effect. The bones were not only very dry; they were dispersed all around the valley floor. Thousands of bones – it would take a team of forensic scientists years to assemble each skeleton together again and the end result would be no more alive.

But Ezekiel is asked the question by Almighty God for whom nothing is impossible. So Ezekiel elects to play safe:

 “O Lord GOD, You know.”

The rest of the vision is astonishing, terrifying even. Upon being commanded to speak to the bones, there is a great rattling and an unseen force drags the desiccated remains together, bone to bone until each is matched to its skeleton. Then the same force restores muscles, tissues, eyes, blood vessels, organs and skin to each so that now Ezekiel is looking upon a great army of dead men.

Like every prophecy in scripture, you cannot be slap-dash with the details. Look at what God said would happen:

“I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin… (verse 6)

Which is the point we have reached. Then it continues:

…and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”

A two stage process. The assembly of a chaotic disarray of bones into ordered but dead bodies is followed by the breath (or Spirit) of God energising and resurrecting them into a mighty army that stands upright.

As prophecies go, this one is strikingly clear. Its interpretation is found in the next few verses.

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, and we ourselves are cut off!’’ (verse 11)

Taking a very simple viewpoint of this whole episode we can say with confidence the following:

  • The vision relates to the nation of Israel.
  • It predicts that they will find themselves in a helpless and hopeless condition, scattered over a wide area with no prospect of being restored to nationhood.
  • But God will intervene in two stages – firstly to restore the nation of Israel to a semblance of life, then in a second stage to cause them to truly live and crucially to know:

‘that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.’ (verse 13)

Could there be a clearer sign for our day and age? In the course of eighty years the Jewish people have gone from being the ragged, emaciated survivors of the concentration camps to amongst the most advanced culture and nation on earth. Industry, expertise, ingenuity – these are the hallmarks of the collective nation called the State of Israel – a concept that for nineteen centuries was little more than a forlorn prayer on the lips of the faithful.

What does it mean, though, when God declares:

‘I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land’?

The answer is found on the lips of the greatest Jew of them all;

‘I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’ (John 10v10)

The nation of Israel are a wonderful witness to the Living God. Back from the long dead. But although as a nation they thrive, in God’s sight they are just lifeless bodies, waiting for the One who can bring life. The Lord Jesus Christ will return to save the nation in their darkest hour and in Him they will find abundant life.

An unseen force did this, just as it assembled the bones in the vision. A force that defies human logic, crushes all opposition and relentlessly achieves its aim. The force is God. As the LORD said to Jeremiah:

‘You are My witnesses,’ says the LORD. (Isaiah 43v10)

So it remains for Israel to truly live. Presently they exist, clinging on to their precious tract of land surrounded by fierce and implacable hatred. But God has decreed that one day they will recognise Jesus as their Messiah and live in peace and harmony with their Creator in the land that God promised to their first ancestor, Abraham.

‘Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,’ says the LORD. (verse 14)

Dead bones don’t come to life again. It is a ridiculous idea. But we are talking about the God who created the Universe. He can, and does what He likes. He can give you true life as well.

Come and find out more:


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It looks like a problem that refuses to go away. What is it and why does it matter? Well, anti-semitism is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews, and if current allegations spread across the media are found to be true, they will be by no means unique. Indeed, anti-semitism has dogged the whole of mankind in one way or another for as long as there have been Jews.


The contribution of Jews to whichever country they have found themselves in has never been in doubt. Even their bitterest enemies grudgingly admit that they are a brilliant and ingenious race. Industrious, inventive and skilful, Jews have risen to the top of their social class wherever they have resided. Until, that is, the next pogrom or bout of persecution has toppled them to pariah status or forced them to run for their lives.

Logically, national governments would be better off harnessing the Jewish ability to do well and supply them with the resources to enrich their host nation. If pre-war Germany had utilised the brilliance of Jewish theoretical scientists like Max Born, Hitler could have had the Nuclear Bomb long before the Allies. Instead he chose to eradicate the same people, thus creating a rapid and disastrous brain-drain arguably at the point when they were most needed. Over 1500 scientists fled pre-war Germany to friendly countries like Britain where their research undoubtedly helped sway the balance of the war.

You only have to consider the nation of Israel. It has, not inaccurately, been described as the third superpower. It bristles with advanced technology, hosts research facilities from developed nations like America anxious to exploit its creative qualities.

There are more Nobel prize-winners from the Jewish race then from any other.

But this doesn’t answer the question: why do we see so much anti-semitism?

In the book of Deuteronomy ch8v18, God gives the Jewish people a clear warning:

And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

‘The power to get wealth’ a phrase with a neat summary. Wherever they have roamed and settled, they seem to have an uncanny knack of accruing money, so much so that when Shakespeare wrote the play; ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ the central villain, Shylock, a grasping, scheming money-lender was a caricature that audiences across Europe would have instantly recognised. It reinforced the perception that Jews and money, were as linked in people’s psyche as the combination of a horse and carriage.

And this ability to ‘get wealth’ perhaps causes resentment that can spill over into outright harm. A fifteenth century German woodcut depicts Jews accused of desecration of Christian relics. For this unproved offence they were burned alive.

And this became typical of countries the world over. It prompts another Biblical verse, again from the book of Deuteronomy, this time chapter 28v64-65 because the Jews were warned of what would happen if they failed to keep up their side of the covenant with God.

Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other…

…And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.

So why would we be interested in this on a bible centred website?

Put simply, the Jews are God’s witnesses. God himself says so in Isaiah 43v10. There are many aspects to this witness, but one could be that ‘Brilliant, and achieving far above any other race, punching above their weight both historically and globally’, they proclaim that God is working out His purpose in the earth. Another scripture declares bluntly that the sun is more likely not to rise in the morning, than the Jews perish from the earth. (Jeremiah 31v35-36)

But this witness carries a responsibility to God. The bible records that the Jewish race failed to keep their side of the agreement and so God has made them a wandering people; settling, prospering but then uprooted to wander again…  Until…

Jeremiah’s prophecy (chap 31v10) closes the story of the endless persecution.

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say,

‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock. 

Another aspect, and in many ways the most profound, of Israel as ‘God’s witnesses’ is Israel regathered as a nation, the Jews driven out of all the nations through which they wandered and drawn like iron filings to the magnet of their homeland (Isaiah 11v12) and the story is almost complete. But not quite.

The story of the wandering Jew is one that reverberates with heartache and sorrow. And the Bible tells us there is more to come. More international irrational hatred of God’s witnesses until it rises in concerted acts of fury to try one more time to wipe out the race. This and much more that the Bible urgently warns us about as our world races to the precipice and beyond.

So, whatever happens with this current focus on anti-semitism, be assured that we should not be in the least surprised. It is the witness of God, to events that will change the world forever, and ultimately herald a new age of peace and righteousness. The only distinction will be towards those who do not accept the rule of the ‘Prince of Peace’, that Jewish, son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will come in power to reign on this earth.

Don’t leave the baby Jesus in the manger

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It’s that time of year when surely everyone, regardless of beliefs or background, can’t help but hear something of the birth of Jesus. This year, we challenge you to take a real look, to not leave the baby Jesus in the manger but to find out the real message and hope of the Bible.

The nativity scene is a central feature of much orthodox religious observance of Christmas. The shepherds clustered inside the rough stable around the baby Jesus asleep in the straw whilst Mary and Joseph look on adoringly. Little lambs and cows usually feature as do Wise Men bearing costly gifts and angels hovering above. Variations on this theme abound as it tries to depict every feature of the story of the nativity.

On the whole, apart from the obvious assumptions (for example, are we actually told that Jesus was sheltered in a stable, or that the Wise Men were three in number and that they showed up at the same time as the shepherds?) the nativity scene is a rather sugary but harmless visual aid to teach the reason for the season.

But there are other assumptions that can subtly undermine the message that lies behind the Saviour of the world beginning his life in such humble circumstances. For example, the assumption that Jesus was laid in the manger (which, by the way, could have been little more than a roadside feeding trough) because the poverty of his background meant that his parents could not afford anything else.
Look closely at what the Bible tells us:

‘So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.’ (Luke 2:7)

Because of the census taking place, large numbers of people were on the move and accommodation was limited. How did Joseph and Mary know that there was no room for them at the inn unless they had already established the fact? And why would they try for a room if they had no money with which to pay for it?

What relegated Mary to having to give birth possibly outdoors and bedding her child down in a manger was not that they had not the means to pay, but that there was no room in the hostel in Bethlehem. Obviously, after the crowds had moved on they would book into better accommodation.

Jesus was born in harsh conditions because of the failure of the townsfolk of Bethlehem to make room for his mother in her obvious condition of approaching childbirth. Whilst finance might have been difficult, (we know that the sacrifice they offered was the smallest possible) this would be expected when folk are displaced en masse from their home environment. But by the time the Wise Men from the East arrived, some eighteen months to two years later, the family were living in a house, so clearly, they had acquired some means to buy or rent.

Joseph was a carpenter – a skilled artisan whose abilities would be in regular demand. The family would not be poor.
What the conditions of Jesus’ birth really teach us is the vital question; ‘do we make room for him in our crowded and chaotic lives?’

This is a consideration that can really make a change where it matters – not in the world around us but in our hearts. Making room for Jesus is something that can affect the way we think and behave. In our frantic world, stopping to consider Jesus’s teaching and example can admit a sense of peace and security into our fragile existence because Jesus makes sense of life. Leading by personal example He famously explained;

‘He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life, for My sake, shall find it.’

Our world pressures us into finding a lifestyle that usually involves consuming mass-produced goods and services. We struggle to keep abreast of the constant demands on our time and resources, especially at this time of year. Unless we do so, we are pressured into thinking we are missing out.
Jesus counsels the opposite. By making room in our lives for Jesus, learning from His life, we find something more enduring and precious than anything life can offer. We find peace, serenity and above all purpose to life.

So, don’t leave that baby in the manger and move on with nothing more than a vague sense of what it might mean. Let next year introduce you to the Saviour of the world who alone can release you from the treadmill of life and go with you to a realisation of life far beyond you can imagine.

Jerusalem, whose capital?

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‘The land is mine, [says the LORD God] for you are strangers and sojourners with Me.’ (Leviticus 25v23)

With big anniversaries this year, we have talked a lot about Jerusalem in our blog, but here it is again, taking centre stage in the news headlines. The Bible gives us signs, referred to as ‘signs of the times’, that God is in control and bringing about his purpose with the earth, culminating in the return of his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to set up God’s Kingdom. What we see happening regarding Jerusalem and that part of the world is prophesied in the Bible, as the signs of Jesus’ soon return – it is time for everyone to take note!

Whatever motivated Donald Trump to make the announcement that, in the eyes of his administration, Jerusalem is to be recognised as the capital city of Israel, there can be no doubt it was a contentious decision.
Dismay and anger spread across the world in the aftermath of the US president’s statement that their embassy would relocate from Tel Aviv, where most diplomatic delegations are located, to the ancient city of Jerusalem. Outrage not only from hard-line enemies of the Jewish State but even amongst moderate world leaders. It is a polarising move.

But is it historically sound, to declare the ancient city of Jerusalem a candidate for the capital city of a modern state of Israel, bearing in mind the conflicting claims on the territory and the city itself? Thereby hangs a problem.

Historical claims abound. The city of Jerusalem, then named Jebus, has its roots in the early Canaanite peoples who inhabited the area of land. Rejoicing in many and varied tribal names such as Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and a host more, they were dispossessed by the fledgling Jewish nation recently freed from centuries of slavery in Egypt. God declared that He would give Israel the tenure of the land on certain conditions. In a chapter containing a list of forbidden carnal practices God tells the nation of Israel that the indigenous peoples of the land were being ejected from the land because of their abhorrent behaviour. (The expression used in Leviticus 18v28 is ‘vomited out’ which demonstrates graphically how disgusting God regarded their practices to be.)

So, an agreement was entered into. Israel were allowed freehold of the land on condition that they did not do the same things as those nations before them. Had they abided by this agreement and kept God’s laws then the land was theirs. However, they dismally failed to keep their part of the bargain and so the same measure was eventually served on them. Assyrian and Babylonian superpowers from the North and East attacked, degraded and finally destroyed the nation of Israel and the people were forced into exile. Their land, as they believed it to be, was left to run wild, its infrastructure fractured and its capital city, Jerusalem, broken down and overgrown.

That was, in essence, the problem. Israel forgot that the land belonged to God and was theirs on conditional loan. They thought they could do as they pleased with God’s land and suffered the consequences of their presumption.

The same pattern was to repeat itself over the next four centuries. The end of the second Jewish era was brought about by the Roman Empire in AD 70. Once more the Jews were exiled, this time far further afield and for considerably longer. The end of the second Jewish exile only really finished in 1948 and then in 1967 the Jewish armed forces recaptured Jerusalem marking a seminal moment in world history.

Jesus prophesied; ‘Jerusalem shall be trampled by the Gentiles UNTIL the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.’ (Luke 21v24)

With this thumbnail history, maybe the obvious answer is that Jerusalem is the indisputable capital of the Jewish nation? They are returning to a land they once owned, to a city declared to be the capital by no less than King David, one of the most charismatic and successful rulers of their nation. Surely this trumps all other more recent claims by virtue of longevity and Divine promise?
Not so. The land is, and will remain the rightful property of Almighty God and the city under His protection:

‘Like birds flying about, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending He will also deliver it, passing over He will preserve it.’ (Isaiah 31v5)

God has a special role for Jerusalem in His plan and purpose. Not as an erstwhile capital city of a secular Jewish state, or even divided amongst competing claims. No, God will preserve this place and city as a capital city of the entire world. He will use it as the first base for a global kingdom ruled over by His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s laws, disregarded by the Jews, held in contempt or largely ignored by the overwhelming majority of mankind will be taught from its streets. The world will be invited to learn a better standard of life that does not involve squabbling and greed.

‘For out of Zion [the hill on which Jerusalem is founded] the law shall go forth, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.’ (Micah 4v2)

Maybe in that day the incumbent President of the United States will recognise and submit to the authority of the new ruler of mankind. In place of ambassadorial and trade delegations a new kind of international interaction – men and women from all over the world will be summoned to the Capital to receive once again the ancient but still relevant instructions and laws given by God with which they are to be governed. The once battle-scarred walls and streets of this divided city will resound to a new sound, the sound of rejoicing and the sounds of peace and guaranteed safety.

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
Our feet have been standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together,
Where the tribes go up,
The tribes of the Lord,
To the Testimony of Israel,
To give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For thrones are set there for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.”
For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, “Peace be within you.”
Because of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek your good.
(Psalm 122)

Never again…

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I watched my friends go off to war
What do they keep on fighting for? (Billy Joel – ‘Leningrad’)

If only the act of solemn remembrance held each November 11th at the eleventh hour would secure a lasting cessation of hostilities on our planet.

If only the pledge; ‘never again’ would become more than just a forlorn hope.

If only the current generation of war widows and orphaned children could be the last to suffer the loss of loved ones in violent struggle.

If only servicemen and women could be relieved of their grim duty of fighting for the defence of their countries and families.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them, and by this time next year armed conflict will have lengthened the wretched roll calls of the names of the fallen.

Is this it? Is humanity trapped in an endless cycle of strife? Will the wreaths of poppies serve as just another witness to our remorse or is there hope of a permanent cessation of hostilities?

First the bad news – under human rule, no. The Bible supplies the reason why:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. (James 4v1-2)

At the root of most human aggression is a desire to seize what does not belong. Supremacy, land, wealth, natural resources and the like. Sometimes these motives are cloaked in ideology or religious dogma but the underlying cause of conflict is depressingly consistent.

Caught between the intents of politicians and those waging war are the real victims – the civilian populations forced to flee for their lives as once again human barbarity reveals itself in its unfettered ugliness.

As James in his letter observes in the next chapter:

You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. (James 5v6)

But now for the good news – it will end. Just as the Bible tells us the stark reason for aggression, so it tells us the remedy. In fact God’s remedy for the evil that mankind inflicts upon the world is found in almost every place you could turn to, but as we have quoted James’ letter twice, let him answer again:

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5v7-8)

A farmer waits patiently for harvest time. He cannot hurry the crops – they will ripen when they are ready. He looks after them, because they are valuable to him.

Harvest is a scriptural metaphor for judgment. God has set a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by His Son Jesus Christ. That day will come and with it the absolute end of human rule with all its associated warfare and waste of life and limb. Jesus will set up a kingdom to rule this earth with Jerusalem as its capital and men and women chosen from all ages of human history to participate in the government of it.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2v2-4)

Notice that the devices of destruction will be transformed into implements of food production. The ruinous expenditure of weapons of conflict will cease and the wealth diverted to feeding the hungry and downtrodden.

Interested? Jesus is still recruiting men and women like you for his kingdom. If you accept this offer, the promise of ‘never again’ could be yours.

Bertrand Russell on World Government

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In 1961, Bertrand Russell penned a treatise entitled ‘Has man a future?’, in which he asserted that the world needs central rule. What has that got to do with us now? Well, in essence Russell is right, although the real answer is very different to what he put forward. The Bible holds out just such a prospect of central, world government, an everlasting reign of righteousness and peace.

Whilst Philosophers rarely achieve global recognition, the name of Bertrand Russell is an exception. Mathematician and essayist, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 and his book ‘Unpopular Essays’ demonstrate the grim direction his thoughts took on, amongst other things, the possible future of mankind.

Set against the backdrop of the nuclear arms race between America and Soviet Russia, in 1961 Russell penned a treatise entitled ‘Has man a future?’ In it he anticipated three potential scenarios:

1. The end of human life, perhaps of all life on our planet.
2. A reversion to barbarism after a catastrophic diminution of the population of the globe.
3. A unification of the world under a single government, possessing a monopoly of all the major weapons of war.

To quote Russell: “The third possibility, that of the establishment of a single government for the whole world, might be realized in various ways: by the victory of the United States in the next world war, or by the victory of the U.S.S.R., or, theoretically, by agreement. Or — and I think this is the most hopeful of the issues that are in any degree probable — by an alliance of the nations that desire an international government, becoming, in the end, so strong that Russia would no longer dare to stand out. This might conceivably be achieved without another world war, but it would require courageous and imaginative statesmanship in a number of countries.”

To try to give the gist of a fairly lengthy treatise from one quote is neither fair nor advisable; it would give the impression that Russell was naïve in his dream of a world government capable of reconciling its members’ ideological differences and able to enforce a system of government on the rest of the planet in order to avoid the alternative of nuclear catastrophe. Russell campaigned tirelessly for Nuclear disarmament but was realistic enough to appreciate the improbability that such a government could be established.

Sadly for Russell, who died in 1970, no sign of international amity was forthcoming. The original two superpower standoff has been complicated by more nation states with opposing ideologies joining the nuclear club. When the weapons by which national disputes were decided were mere bows and arrows the prospect of the end of mankind was not even worth considering. But with the thermonuclear, biological and chemical arsenals now ranged across the globe, it now seems a distinct possibility. Especially as some ideologies seem to care little if they perish themselves in pursuit of power.

To any clear thinking individual, Russell’s vision of a world government would make their blood run cold. ‘Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Who, in their right mind would hand absolute power (and absolute weapons) over to hegemony of disputatious and self-interested men and women? Russell’s vision of unity to avoid catastrophe should be consigned to the bin.

Or should it?

In essence Russell is right in his assertion that the world needs central rule. Mankind is too prone to squabbling over resources and principles to achieve any lasting stability. The Bible holds out just such a prospect of central, world government. Quoting from the prophecy of Jeremiah:

‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, [or descendant] a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteous Saviour.’ (Jer 23:5-6 NIV)

This is just one of a number of Divine promises that the world will be ruled centrally from Jerusalem by a man chosen by God Himself and assisted by a multitude of like-minded followers. This will not be a democracy where the government has to appeal to the people for a popular mandate. On the other hand neither will it be a corrupt or self-interested tyranny; the absolute Ruler, Jesus Christ, has already ably demonstrated to mankind his credentials for power. They are, as stated; “a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”

So what would make this King any better than Russell’s conception of world government? Psalm 72 gives us some clues:

‘For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight.’ (Psalm 72:12-14)

‘So,’ the cynic might cry, ‘a spineless Socialist! He won’t last long!’ Except that this King who takes pity on the outcasts will have a different approach to those who might seek to defy him:

‘Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.’ (Psalm 2:8-11)

A fuller picture of God’s King emerges; totally committed to the cause of the poor and oppressed, but at the same time fully equipped to crush any opposition to His Government. Furthermore his rule will not be cut short by illness or death, for Jesus is the first man to be raised from the dead to immortality. The Kingdom of God will expand to fill the whole earth.

Isn’t this just as pie-in-the-sky as Russell’s vision? Far from it. Returning to our first Bible quote;

‘In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.’

Herein is the sign that God is in earnest. The return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland and subsequent conflict that it causes is the token that God will soon intervene in human affairs before we destroy ourselves.

And if that doesn’t whet your appetite to find out more, have a look at the promise contained in these words:

‘They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.’ (Isaiah 11:9)

It’s a wonderful world…?

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I see trees of green, red roses too


I see them bloom for me and you




As human beings we have learned to cope. We can dissociate ourselves from the nasty things; the cruel men and women, the serial killers, terrorism, the images of violence and horror that bombard us daily from the media. We can croon along to Louis Armstrong’s signature song of a wonderful world and disregard, if only for a few minutes, the obvious evidence that our world is far from wonderful.

But now and then, the consequences of our behaviour force us out of our complacent cocoon. Can we adjust to a warmer planet? Where will we put all these refugees? What sort of world will our children inherit? Will nuclear war really happen and could humanity survive it? And perhaps, most importantly of all, how did we get to this point?

This last question can be addressed in two possible ways; the first using the widely accepted explanation that our world and the life upon it is a product of natural forces operating over an unimaginable span of time and hence a wonderful freak of nature. Or the second explanation that our world is the workmanship of a purposeful and deeply intelligent being who, for convenience sake, we will call God.

If you are firmly of the former persuasion, then the rest of this article will be of little use to you. But maybe you are so impressed by the wonder of the world that you cannot assign it to the working of random chance. Perhaps you see design in those trees and flowers, those myriad living creatures that swarm in almost every square inch of the earth’s surface. You feel this is too wonderful to be an accident.

If this is your conclusion you might, in all fairness, ask; ‘if God made the world, has He failed? Surely this is not what He intended?’

Louis’ song gives us a helping hand: The colours of the rainbow so pretty in the sky…

This takes us back to a time recorded in the Bible when the world was in a very similar state. Here is how the pre-flood world is described in Genesis;

The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. Gen 6v5-6 (NIV)

The solution was drastic;

So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” Gen 6v7 (NIV)

But Noah and his family pleased God so He instructed them how they should be saved from judgement. A huge boat was built and it floated over the colossal floods that wiped out the rest of mankind.

When Noah and his family emerged from the Ark they stepped out onto a world that was washed clean of much the same unpleasant things we are experiencing now. They looked up and saw that God had placed a sign in the sky:

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Gen 9v13 (NIV)

The rainbow, ‘so pretty in the sky,’ is a reminder that God will not destroy the earth again. It is, by extension a promise that He will not allow human beings to do so either.

The Bible is not always an easy book to read. It takes time and perseverance, but it is God’s way of communicating His ultimate objective to mankind. Around us the chaos and suffering might lead us to conclude that God has lost control. The truth is that we are experiencing the final consequences of human thinking. To Bible readers it is clear that we are unfit for purpose and we need divine assistance.

The way this help has been given is through God’s Son of whom we read:

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. Colossians 1:22 (NIV)

To conclude, mankind has taken the sparkle off this wonderful world. Long ago God told us that we would do so because we do not have the wisdom to care for Planet Earth. But the evil and cruel things we take for granted will be scrubbed away when Jesus Christ returns to save mankind from his own foolishness.

Few things in life are truly free. But the hope of the gospel is. And if you respond to this message, one day you might be able to look at a renewed world, truly beautiful and murmur the closing lines of the song to yourself:

Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world.

National Book Lover’s day

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National Book Lover’s day

9th August is National Book Lover’s Day, so we thought we’d take a moment to remind ourselves just how remarkable the Bible is. The fact that this extraordinary book can be read in our own language is evidence that God works through men and women so that we can comprehend His plan.

Even in these days of streaming media, instant messaging and online searching, for many people a book has a peculiar fascination. The tactility of the paper, the feeling of turning a page to access more of the story and the gentle way in which the information is paid out slowly over many chapters – all these and many other factors contribute to the enduring appeal of the printed page.

In the English-speaking world, we have great advantages. The modern English tongue, as well as shamelessly borrowing words and phrases from many other languages around the world was formed for the greater part by a battle that raged across the continent. A battle over which many conscientious and scholarly people lost their lives.

The battle was over how accessible the Bible should be made to the common people.

At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the Scriptures were in the sole possession of the elite and powerful and handled by educated scribes. They were hand-copied in the Latin tongue on expensive sheets made from treated calf-skins and this alone made them prohibitively expensive. An ordinary man or woman would never be able to afford a copy of the Bible, even if they were allowed to, and so their exposure to the Word of God was second-hand and heavily censored.

But things were changing. Paper production became cheaper, travel relatively easier; printing presses were able to produce books in substantial print runs. Suddenly large portions of the Bible translated into common languages were furtively changing hands at trade fairs to be smuggled across Europe. England was quite late to this party – reformers were treated harshly and church and state cooperated to ensure that the Bible remained firmly locked away in seminaries and universities.

However a few names stand out – names of men who argued passionately the case for the Bible to be translated into the English language amongst them men such as John Wycliffe who early on rendered the Latin Vulgate Bible into English in 1384. Others include William Tyndale who used his brilliant grasp of languages to translate vast portions of the New and Old testaments into English using the original Greek and Hebrew texts which were freer from translational bias and errors.

By the time the dust had settled, decades after William Tyndale had been strangled and burnt at Vilvoorde in Belgium for defying the religious authorities, the Bible that emerged from this conflict was a masterpiece. It sparkled with rich phrases, beautifully explained concepts such as grace and brotherly love and above all a metre and measure that made it eminently readable – especially out loud as it was appointed to be.

The Bible is a book like no other. It is not a bedtime read, neither is it lightweight. The storyline begins with a challenge to God’s authority from which the appalling consequences drive a wedge between mankind and their Creator. But all along a character is being described, drawn out of the shadows, seen in a glimpse here and an oblique reference there. The character is that of Jesus Christ the Saviour who, without compromising God’s purity, bridges the chasm that opened up between the human race and God so that by the finish we have come full circle – man restored to harmony with God.

The fact that this extraordinary book can be read in our own language is evidence that God works through men and women so that we can comprehend His plan written in the most beautiful prose and poetry.

The Bible – the ‘Book.’ For any other work of literature it would be an arrogant claim. But why not read and judge for yourself if it deserves this accolade?

The Kingdom of God on Earth

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The words of the Lord’s prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples are very well known but have you ever stopped to think what they mean?

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6v10)

Jesus is teaching us that God has a plan and purpose with this earth. He created it for a reason, it all points to his future Kingdom and importantly, this is something that will happen on the earth.

Find out more in our ‘visual story’ below or use the following link to see it in a separate larger window. The Kingdom of God on Earth


Jerusalem – City of Peace?

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Still not sure about the relevance of Israel? Still just think it is another country, just one with a lot of problems? Well…

In our last blog, ‘Israel – A Year of Anniversaries’, we wanted to highlight that there is a bit more to it than just that. We are running a two-talk series to mark two significant anniversaries coming up for Israel, with the first titled “Jerusalem – City of Peace?”, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem on June 7th. All are warmly invited to join us for this at 7.30pm but to get you ready, we thought it might help to set the scene…

This anniversary takes us back to what has become known as the Six Day War because it lasted for six days from June 5th – 10th 1967.

On paper, it is a war that Israel should not have won.

A BBC article quotes the President of Egypt, Abdel Nasser, on 27 May 1967, who declared: “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight.”

In May 1967 Egypt had instructed the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) to leave the Sinai Desert and then mobilized its forces along the Israeli border. Syria and Jordan, too, moved into a state of alert and announced that they would not sit by idly if Israel attacked Egypt. Israel were outnumbered, outgunned and surrounded.

It is even more remarkable because of the speed and scale of the victory.

By the end of the first day, half the Egyptian Air Force had been destroyed, without even taking off, and most of the Royal Jordanian Air Force and Syrian Air Force has also been wiped out.

In only six days Israel tripled the area under its control, seizing Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the south, the Golan Heights from Syria in the north, West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.

For the Bible student, it is momentous because Jerusalem, divided since 1948, was re-unified under the control of Israel for the first time since the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.
So what?

We are watching for the time when Jesus will return to this earth to set up God’s Kingdom and the Bible gives us signs of when that is going to happen. A big sign is that Israel will be back in the land and that Jerusalem will be a “burdensome stone”.

“…in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces…” Zechariah 12v3

This is the  great irony – the result of the reunification of Jerusalem, is that it has never been more divided! The rift and conflict between Israel and Arab nations was intensified and 50 years on, that has only got worse. You only need to read and watch the news each day to see how burdensome Jerusalem has become with the affects rippling through world affairs.

It’s also why some of the events of this war are so interesting. Forget the human politics, we don’t get involved in that, but from our understanding of the Bible Israel needed to win – they will be in the land when Jesus returns. Now look at a few examples of what happened during those 6 days:

A critical part of the victory was gaining aerial superiority. Jordanian radar picked up the Israeli attack but the Egyptians, having changed radio frequencies the day before, were unable to receive the warning!

Directives from Egyptian leaders were incoherent and disorganized, and at times, non-existent. Israeli ground troops advanced in Sinai to find that, for no apparent reason, Egyptian forces had abandoned bases and destroyed or left their equipment. Similarly, later in the Golan heights against Syria.

Sound familiar? “Then Saul and all the people who were with him assembled, and they went to the battle; and indeed every man’s sword was against his neighbor, and there was very great confusion.” 1 Samuel 14v20

Political pressure was mounting from leading nations for Israel to accept a ceasefire proposed by King Hussein of Jordan. However, at the last minute, the ceasefire fell through due to the unwillingness of King Hussein to comply with the terms of the ceasefire he initiated!

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Proverbs 21v1. Verses like this remind us that ultimately it is God that is in control, not men and women.

We can see God’s hand at work as he continues to progress his plan and purpose with this earth, culminating in the return of Jesus to set up his Kingdom. We know from the Bible, that there will be more trouble to come for Jerusalem but eventually it will be God’s City of Peace at the centre of his Kingdom.

“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, …and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem… nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isaiah 2v3-4