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

Israel – A Year of Anniversaries

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Have you ever wondered why Israel is in the News so often? Why there is always conflict in the middle east? Well, if you haven’t you should because the answer affects us all.

In the Bible we read that Israel are an important people in God’s plan so watching what is happening in that part of the world is also important to us. In Isaiah 43, God said to Israel “You are my witnesses…”, meaning that Israel are a witness to the existence of God. When we see things that the Bible has said about this nation coming true, we can have confidence and belief in God.

For example, this year marks the anniversaries of 2 extraordinary events, that relate to the establishment of the State of Israel.

• 7th June is the 50 year anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem (1967), during the ‘Six-Day War’.

• 2nd November is the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour declaration (1917)

The Balfour Declaration was a single paragraph in a letter from the UK Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community. In the letter, support was given for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, whilst committing to maintain the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.

For hundreds of years Israel were scattered across the world. The Balfour Declaration was a significant turning point and against all likelihood we had the start of them returning to the land of Israel. No other nation in history has been through similar experiences over such a timespan and survived – and yet here Israel are.

When you look at the events that led to the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, during the 6 day war, they are mind blowing. All human logic and reasoning says that Israel should have been utterly defeated and yet not just did they survive, they came out of it with even more territory than before. A truly miraculous outcome?

God said about Israel “Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you.” (Jeremiah 30v11) and “For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36v24)

There is no doubt that during this period and continuing to today, there are some terrible things being done by all sides involved. Sadly, such acts only bear witness to the hopelessness of human nature. Despite this troubling human side, the remarkable part is that what we see happening is exactly what God said would happen.

God willing, we plan to hold 2 public talks as part of these anniversaries. We do not take any political views or sides in any of these events so cannot offer anything on that but we would love to see you there to instead share how these events are a miraculous witness to the truth of the Bible and of God.

Our first presentation is titled “Jerusalem – City of Peace?”, to be held at 19:30 on Wednesday 7th June 2017 at Christadelphian Hall, Hill House Road, Downend. BS16 5RR.

New Blog

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Welcome to our new blog!

Whatever your own personal beliefs and perspective, we can probably all agree that there are some extraordinary things going on in the world around us. We think that when you look at some of these things from the perspective of God’s plan and purpose, as we read in the Bible, that they become even more remarkable.

We’d like to share some of these with you and hear what you think too. That is what this blog is all about. We plan to put up new posts at least every month, so please keep coming back to see what is new…