Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Jihadist Worldview: What's Behind the Mideast Brutality?

article by Scott Ashley

The brutality of the Islamic State and various terrorist organizations is shocking and horrifying—beheadings, suicide attacks, slaughter of prisoners and women forced into sexual slavery. What's really behind such barbarism? The truth may surprise you!

The headlines out of the Middle East recent months have been horrifying—American and British hostages beheaded, captured prisoners executed in the thousands, women forced or sold into a lifetime of sexual slavery, children brutally murdered and communities starved to death or murdered in cold blood for refusing to change their religion.
Much of the world is shocked by such brutality, and rightfully so. It seems incomprehensible to the Western mind.
What's driving such cruelty, a barbarism not seen in our lifetimes? If we are to understand, we need to cast off the blinders of political correctness and unflinchingly face the facts.
In reality, the answer is simple. Those who are behind these horrors share a common denominator. They are unapologetic in saying they are doing what they are told to do by their religion— Islam.
And while it is true that many Muslims are peaceful, and are equally horrified by these events, all we have to do is look at the words of the perpetrators of such atrocities to understand their motivations. They clearly and proudly state that they are doing what their religion tells them to do.

A religion of peace?
Ever since the horrific hijacked-airliner terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (with another jet apparently supposed to crash into the White House or U.S. Capitol building), Western leaders have gone out of their way to describe Islam as a religion of peace.
For example, just six days after those attacks that killed almost 3,000 Americans, then-President George W. Bush, speaking at the Islamic Center of Washington D.C., said: "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith . . . The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace" (emphasis added throughout).
In a speech to the United Nations on Sept. 24, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama stated: "The United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace.Muslims the world over aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to America and Islam, there is no us and them—there is only us, because millions of Muslim Americans are part of the fabric of our country. So we reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations."
In a speech on Sept. 3, 2014—ironically, the day after the Islamic State (IS) released a video showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff—U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry applauded Islam as a "peaceful religion based on the dignity of all human beings."  He then explained that "the real face of Islam is . . .one where Muslim communities are advocating for universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the most basic freedom to practice one's faith openly and freely."
On Sept. 24, following the brutal decapitation of British hostage David Haines, British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that his murderers "have nothing to do with the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace, a religion that inspires daily acts of kindness and generosity."

Who is a more reliable authority on Islam?
While these and other Western leaders repeatedly claim that Islam is a peaceful religion, we should also remind ourselves that those actively involved in committing these atrocities have spent their entire lifetimes immersed in Islamic belief and culture.
We should also note that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the declared caliph of the Islamic State, holds a doctorate in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad—distinguishing him as highly knowledgeable of Islamic law, history and culture. Unlike these Western leaders, he is thoroughly familiar with the beliefs of Islam and teachings of its holy book, the Quran.
As caliph—supreme ruler of the new Islamic nation carved out of Syria and Iraq—his determinations of what is allowable or forbidden is the law of the land. And as recent headlines have shown, Al-Baghdadi and his followers, like Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda before them, see no conflict between their tactics of murder and mayhem and their practice of Islam. In fact, they boast that what they do is the practice of Islam.
What, then, is the truth? Is Islam a religion of peace, as these politicians say, or is it something different? To understand the answer, we need to examine Islam's holy book, the Quran.

Islam—the supreme and only true religion
What are some of the teachings of the Quran that are leading to violence and bloodshed around the world?
The clear teaching of the Quran is that Islam is the supreme and only true religion, and that eventually the entire world will come under Islamic rule.
For example, Surah 61:9 states: "It is He [ Allah ] who has sent for His apostle [ Muhammad ] with guidance and the true faith [ Islam ] , so that he may exalt it above all religions, much as the idolaters may dislike it" (all quotes from the Dawood translation, 1999). In the Quran, "idolaters" refers to all who practice non-Islamic religion—including Christians and Jews.
In line with this belief in the supremacy of Islam, Surah 2:193 gives this clear command: "Fight against them until idolatry is no more and [ Allah's ] religion reigns supreme."Again, "idolatry" in the Quran refers to any religion other than Islam, which would include Christianity and Judaism and any other belief system. To those who follow this verse—and there are millions who do—if you don't worship Allah by the dictates of Muhammad, you are considered an idolater and therefore a legitimate target of this command. 
In the worldview of Islamic scholars and leaders, the world is divided into two spheres—the sphere or lands of dar al-Islam,meaning "the domain of Islam" (where Islam is dominant) and dar al-harb, meaning "the domain of war." A fundamental aspect of this worldview is that all non-Muslim lands must eventually be absorbed or conquered by Islam, preferably by peaceful conversion, but by force if necessary—thus they are "the domain of war." 
Another aspect of this that bears bringing out is that most of the Muslim world is united against Israel because it is considered an abomination for land that was once dar al-Islam, part of the land of Islam,to revert to dar al-harb, to fall back under control of the infidel (Christians or Jews).
This is a key reason why Muslims are so determined to bring the physical territory of Israel back under Muslim domination. Keep in mind that the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1964, three years before Israel captured the West Bank and Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War—so Muslim determination to "liberate" Israeli lands long predates Israel's control of these areas and extends to all of Israel, period.
This is why Muslim leaders openly boast of their desire to liberate the land "from the sea to the sea"— from the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, meaning no more Israel. This is why the founding documents of terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah openly call for the elimination of Israel.
Western governments, failing to understand this Muslim belief, regularly pressure Israel to negotiate with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for a peaceful solution. But in fact there is no peaceful solution when the negotiating partners believe with all their heart and soul that Israel's land belongs to them and that it must be ethnically cleansed of Jews—as stated repeatedly by Hamas and Palestinian Authority leaders.

Jihad— holy war against non-believers
If Islam is to become the supreme and only true religion in the world as taught by the Quran, how is that goal to be accomplished? The answer is jihad or holy war. The Quran commands violence and conquest to spread Islam. It contains literally dozens of such commands, but we'll quote just a few:
Surah 9:5 states: "When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them."
Surah 9:73 reads: "Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate."
Surah 9:123 commands: "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that [Allah ] is with the righteous."
Harvard University professor of government Samuel Huntington, commenting on the disproportionate involvement of Muslims in warfare and terrorism around the globe, coined the phrase "the bloody borders of Islam" in his 1997 bookThe Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order.At that pre-9/11 time he had no idea how prophetic the phrase would be.
In the 2005 book Religion, Culture and International Conflict: A Conversation (Michael Cromartie, editor), Professor Huntington wrote: "While groups from all religions have engaged in various forms of violence and terrorism, the figures make it clear that in the past decade Muslims have been involved in far more of these activities than people of other religions . . .
If you look around the Muslim world you see that in the 1990s Muslims were fighting non-Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kashmir, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Middle East, Sudan, Nigeria, and other places. Muslims have been fighting one another also" (p. 5).
He went on to note that in the year 2000, 23 of the world's 32 armed conflicts involved Muslims. Similar numbers hold true today. A glance at a world map shows that nearly all of the world's wars are taking place around the edges of the Muslim world where Islam is pressing outward against non-Muslims. Whereas the Bible teaches us to love our neighbors (Leviticus:19:18Matthew:22:39), the Quran teaches Muslims to "make war on the infidels who dwell around you"— to fight your neighbor. 
It's also worth noting that many Muslims believe that the onlysure way to enter paradise (in their view of the afterlife) is to become a martyr fighting for Islam. They draw this belief from Surah 22:58: "As for those that have fled their homes in the cause of [Allah] and afterwards died or were slain, [Allah] will surely make a generous provision for them [in paradise]. [Allah] is the most munificent provider. He will surely admit them with a welcome that will please them. All-knowing is [Allah], and gracious."
In Islamic thinking, as soon as a martyr sheds his first drop of blood, he is guaranteed a place in paradise. And when he arrives, he has waiting for him 72 young, dark-eyed, beautiful virgins to be his perpetual companions in paradise. This is one reason so many young Muslim men are willing to die as suicide bombers—because they are guaranteed entry into paradise as soon as they blow themselves up, since they are dying in the cause of jihad.
The Quran also says that Allah will punish those who do not wage jihad as he commands. Surah 9:39 warns: "If you do not go to war, [ Allah ] will punish you sternly, and will replace you by other men." In other words, if you're a Muslim and don't wage jihad, you will be punished and Allah will choose someone else to fight in your place.

Using terror in waging jihad
The Quran also commands using terror and cruelty in waging jihad. Surah 8:59-60 states: "Let not the unbelievers think that they will ever get away. They have not the power so to do. Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your command, so that you may strike terror into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them who are unknown to you but known to Allah." 
This is why the Sunni fighters of the Islamic State are so viciously cruel. Knowing this verse, they use terror to strike fear into their enemies to demoralize them and cause them to give up their will to fight. Those whom they capture—Shiites whom they consider apostates or non-Muslims—they brutally execute in accordance with what they read in their holy book.  
The Quran even mentions specific methods to sow terror, which the Islamic State fighters use. Surah 8:12 states: "[Allah] revealed his will to the angels, saying: 'I shall be with you. Give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!'" 
So what the Quran tells them to do, they do. When their holy book tells them to strike off heads, they do exactly that.
The civilized world has been horrified to see Islamic State fighters, like al-Qaeda fighters and Iraqi terror groups before them, brutally decapitate captive soldiers, as well as Western journalists and aid workers. Perhaps you have seen clips from some of the beheading videos shown on news reports or posted on the Internet. You may have wondered, as I did, what the Arabic-language shouting and chanting signified.
I already knew the meaning of the shouts of "Allahu Akbar"—"Allah is great" or, more properly, "Allah is greater" (than any who would oppose them). With a little research I learned the significance of the chanting often accompanying the shouts. The murderers are chanting verses like the one above telling them to behead infidels. They are simply quoting their scriptures in the Quran.
Yet Western leaders assure us, as President Obama did in a Nov. 16 White House statement after the beheading of American hostage Peter Kassig, that such acts "represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith . . ."
Another Surah that illustrates Allah's cruelty is Surah 5:34-35: "Those that make war against [Allah] and His apostle [Mohammad] and spread disorder in the land shall be slain orcrucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter."
Here Allah commands torture, crippling and maiming of prisoners. Crucifixion is a horrible form of torture and execution, and they practice it with relish. A brief search of the Internet will produce hundreds of photos showing Islamists carrying out and celebrating such practices.

Slavery and the Quran
What does the Quran teach about slavery? Although little is said about it in Western media, slavery remains alive and well in parts of the Muslim world. While the slave trade in the Americas during the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s has been rightfully condemned, the focus has largely been on the white slave owners and slave traders, with little said of the Arab Muslims who first enslaved Africans and sold them to whites.
This, too, was approved in the Quran. Surah 47:4 says: "When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly." Those who follow the Quran literally have long understood this to mean that when Muslims defeat their enemies, they are allowed to either kill them or enslave them.
According to early Muslim writings, Muhammad—who is viewed as the ideal man whom Muslims are to emulate—sold, traded and confiscated slaves, making himself a slave trader.
A particularly appalling aspect of recent Muslim conquests is women and girls being taken captive to be used as sexual slaves. This happened with the capture of Yazidi towns in northern Iraq by the Islamic State and the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by the Islamic Boko Haram movement in Nigeria. This, too, is specifically allowed in the Quran. Notice these verses:
Surah 23:1-6 says: "Blessed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, who avoid profane talk, and give alms to the destitute, who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them . . .)."
Surah 33:50 states: "We [that is, Allah speaking of himself in the plural] well know the duties We have imposed on the faithful concerning their wives and slave-girls. ( We grant you this privilege [satisfying their sexual desires with slave girls])so that none may blame you."
A Nov. 5, 2014, report by the International Business Timeswas headlined "Shocking: ISIS Official 'Slave' Price List Shows Yazidi, Christian Girls Aged '1 to 9' Being Sold for $172." The article went on to describe a price list for sexual slaves on an Islamist website: "In the name of Allah, most gracious and merciful. We have received news that the demand in women and cattle markets has sharply decreased and that will [affect] Islamic State revenues as well as the funding of the Mujaheddin [jihadist fighter] in the battlefield. We have made some changes. Below are the prices of Yazidi and Christian women."
At the same time a video posted online appeared to show Islamic State fighters at what one of them called "slave market day" while quoting Surah 23:1-6 (cited above). The men discuss prices for girls and women from $100-300 depending on the age and eye color—with green or blue eyes bringing a higher price.
An October online edition of Dabiq magazine (published by an Islamic State jihadist group) boasted after the capture of the Iraqi town of Sinjar that "the enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers." It then explained that "the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Shariah [Islamic law] amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations." Thus, as war booty, they were divided up and sold as pieces of property.

Turning a blind eye to the grim reality
The sad truth about the Middle East today is that we are seeing a revival of the original Islam Muhammad brought to the world in the seventh century.
Muhammad's new religion caught fire, fueled by power and plunder. The Islamic State is repeating Muhammad's early conquests—burning churches, looting monasteries, enslaving and forcibly converting the powerless, and callously executing those who stand up to them. It is vigorously enforcing sharia law—cutting off the hands of thieves, stoning adulterers and blasphemers, whipping criminals and banning anything that stands in the way of Islam.
In defiance of the major Western powers, it has brutally butchered American and British citizens, decapitating them and posting videos of the murders on the Internet for the world to see. The message is unmistakable: Allah is on their side, and they have nothing to fear from the major world powers.
Until Western leaders wake up from their willful blindness and face the grim reality of the jihadist worldview that is motivating the Islamic State as well as Hamas, Hezbollah and countless other groups and movements, that part of the world will remain a powder keg waiting to explode and take down much of modern civilization with it. And shockingly, Bible prophecy indicates that is the likely outcome to which events in that region are heading.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Promised Land: Would You Like to Live in It and Administer the World with Jesus?

The Promised Land: Would You Like to Live in It and Administer the World with Jesus?

Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is being sure of what you
hope for. It is being convinced about the reality of what you do not see.”

The point of this article is to make clear to you the
content of Christian hope and your part in the future
history of the world. The future is often described foggily, vaguely and nebulously as the “consummation”! Or “the afterlife.” Or worse, it is portrayed as having disembodied life “in heaven” when you die. This is not the Christian hope, and conveys almost no Bible information about your future and the future of the world.

Thus faith is undermined. Notice that Paul said that faith and love are based on, rooted in hope (Col. 1:4-5).

Christians are to be certain and clear about “the reward of the inheritance” (Col. 3:24).

I believe that many Bible readers cannot define the
content of hope. The energy of the spirit in their lives is correspondingly diminished, since the mind of God and Jesus in regard to the destiny of the believer is thwarted.

Jesus speaks of the reward of the faithful as receiving “authority to rule the nations” (Rev. 2:26-28), and receiving “the morning star,” which perhaps refers to the glorified appearance of the resurrected faithful whose “faces will shine like the sun in its strength in their Father’s Kingdom,” as Jesus promised in Matthew 13:43, echoing the promise of resurrection life.

in Daniel 12:3, where the resurrected faithful will “shine like the stars and the brightness of the firmament.”

Here is a major Bible teaching. These promises are
based on the Abrahamic land promise (Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17, 28:4, etc.), which Abraham and all the faithful will receive and implement when they are raised from the dead at the return of Jesus (Luke 13:28; Matt. 8:11-12).

The history of the Jewish people, as is well known,
begins with Abraham in Genesis 12. God made a new
start (after 11 chapters of human disaster and sin) when he selected Abraham and his wife Sarah.

Abraham is also of the greatest possible significance to Christian believers in Jesus as the Messiah. Paul loved the story of Abraham, and he saw it as the great key to understanding the Gospel-message of faith in Jesus, in the Gospel as Jesus preached it — about the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43; Mark 1:14-15). So Abraham and his story and his faith-walk with the One God are the basis of the true Christian faith. Paul in his impassioned appeal to the Galatians declared, “the Gospel was preached ahead of time to Abraham” (Gal. 3:8). Christians have Abraham as their spiritual father and they are to “walk in the steps of our father Abraham,” “the believer” (Romans 4:12; Gal. 3:9). But are you hearing that Gospel as defined by what Abraham was invited to believe and do? (the “obedience of faith,” Romans 1:5; 16:26).

Is the fact that the Gospel was known to Abraham
clear to you from the sermons you are exposed to?

We should be constantly vigilant to ensure that we are being properly nourished, fed spiritually on the true Gospel.

Counterfeits are prevalent, and only an “analytical”
approach to what we hear will prevent our being taken in by a partial gospel, deprived of its vital energy (1 Thessalonians 2:13: “The Gospel-word is at work with energy in you”).

A depleted or “washed out” Gospel, emptied of vital
nutrients, is doing you harm. False ideas and teachings are poison to our spiritual life.

Paul calls Abraham the spiritual “father of the faithful” (Romans 4:16), the international true church, the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16; Philipians 3:3). That means that Abraham’s faith is the Christian faith in advance. “We are to be of “the faith of Abraham” (Romans 4:16). Paul puts this significant insight in these words: “The Gospel was preached ahead of time to Abraham” (Galatians 3:8). It follows logically that all who are seeking genuine faith in Jesus and his saving Gospel will be intent on understanding the Gospel as preached to Abraham.

You can remember the substance of the Gospel as
preached to Abraham like this (teach your children an
easy summary): Abraham was invited to give up his
natural and national ties, pull up stakes, obey God
unconditionally, and go in simple faith (Genesis 12:1-4). The results of his faith in the One God, his blessings, would be progeny, prosperity, and property — three “P’s.”

By progeny we mean a child to be born despite
indications to the contrary (Sarah was old), and
multitudes of spiritual children, descendants, drawn from all nations. The progeny would culminate in the one “promised” seed-descendant, who is Jesus Messiah (Galatians 3:16).

By prosperity we mean blessing not necessarily in
terms of finance (it may include this), but a successful,
obedient walk guided by God (“the obedience of faith,” Romans 1:5; 16:26). By property we mean the all important promise of Land/Earth. The land promise
refers to this planet earth, which will, at the return of
Jesus, be renewed and restored under the perfect
government of the Messiah Jesus (see Acts 1:6; 3:21;
Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:28-30, Revelations 5:10; Revelations 20, etc). All the prophets spoke of this amazing future for the world when Jesus and the saints are in charge (Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27).

It is the land promise which has, amazingly,
disappeared from contemporary presentations of the
Gospel! The land promise is a fundamental element in
the content of Christian hope. It was a basic proposition in the promises offered to Abraham — the Gospel (Galatians 3:8). Abraham’s willingness to believe the content of God’s promises to him won him the highly desirable approval of God. He was reckoned by God as being in right standing with God. This is sometimes called being “justified by faith” (Romans 4:3). What that means is that Abraham gained the approval of God, was reckoned by God to be right rather than wrong, pleasing to God, no
longer an enemy of God, no longer under the wrath of
God (see John 3:36). Believing in the biblical hope based on the land promise is crucial to your spiritual outlook.

Jesus said this: “Blessed are the meek; they are going to have the earth (or land) as their inheritance” (Matthew 5:5).

This is the property promise made to Abraham. Jesus was also the recipient of that promise (Galatians 3:16). Paul declared, “the promise to Abraham was that he would be heir of the world” (Romans 4:13). Heir of the world? Do you understand what this means for you as a follower of Jesus and of the faith of Abraham?

By a longstanding miracle of misunderstanding, the
word “earth” or “land” (Matthew 5:5) has been stolen from believers and replaced by a vague “heaven” when you die. The biblical goal is not “heaven when you die,” but the inheritance of the earth/land when you are resurrected from death at the future arrival of Jesus (the Parousia). If you survive until that time of Jesus’ arrival, then you will receive the gift of the land in that future (the “age to come”) which will begin when Jesus comes back. We repeat: Paul defined the promise to Abraham as: “The promise to Abraham that he would be heir of the world” (Romans 4:13).

Jesus (following Daniel 12:2) referred to this future
time as the age to come. It is the new age of world
history which will begin at the future return of Jesus (the Parousia). This will definitely not be “the end of time” or “the end of history.” It will be the new age of Jesus’ personal government with the saints on a renewed earth (Isaiah 65:17ff; 66:22; Daniel 7:18, 22, 27). It will be the era of world affairs in which the present chaos of war and international conflict and the mass of troubles which now afflict society will come to an end. The life to be gained at that time will be immortality, living forever, becoming indestructible. It is called in Scripture “the life of the age to come.” It is so defined in Daniel 12:2, a passage in which all believers should take delight: “Many of those who are currently sleeping in dust-land [that tells you what all the dead are currently doing, and where they are doing it] will awake to the life of the age to come.”

Some forty times this precious information comes into the NT as “eternal life,” properly translated as “the life of the age to come.” “Eternal life” is too vague and imprecise. “The life of the age to come,” i.e., life in the future Kingdom of God on earth, is the proper meaning of the original.

If you want to sound like Jesus and Paul and the
Bible, then drop the “heaven” language and speak with Jesus of “the life of the age to come,” or “the coming Kingdom of God.” True believers in Scripture “inherit the Kingdom” or, in equivalent words, “inherit the land/earth” (Matthew 5:5, Jesus quoting Psalm 37, where inheriting the land is repeated 6 times!). This takes us directly back to the promise made to  Abraham in Genesis 12, 13, 15 and 17; 22:15-18; 28:4, and many other passages. Paul phrased it like this: “the promise to Abraham that he would inherit the world” (Romans 4:13).

You might ask: How do we move from the promise of
the land in Genesis to the promise of the world? The
answer is easy. Psalm 2 and other passages had given assurance to the faithful that the Messiah would inherit not only the land but nothing less than a worldwide possession: “I will give you the nations to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Psalm 2:8). Psalm 2 is a brilliant summary of the whole Messianic plan for the world to come into submission to Jesus, the   Messiah, and God, the Father, who is the One God of Israel and of Jesus. He is the One God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (certainly not a triune God!).

Christians are co-heirs of the future Kingdom with
the Messiah (Romans 8:17), and they will inherit the same promises as does Jesus, based on the oath-bound covenants made with Abraham (Genesis 12, 13, 15, 17; 22:15-18; 28:4, etc) and David (2 Samuel 7; Ps. 72; 89).

Christian faith is also the faith of Abraham and response to the same promises as God made to him.
This is simply to say that if one claims, as Jesus did,
to be the promised Messiah (Matthew 16:16-18), you are claiming to be God’s unique human agent to succeed where Adam failed, and as the second Adam to rule the world from the throne of David in Israel.

The whole plan of salvation for us and the world is based on the bedrock promises to Abraham, as well as the later promises made to David (2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17). If we do not understand this, we fail to grasp the biblical plot and plan from start to finish. In popular thinking the false prospect of “heaven at death” has dramatically diverted Bible readers from the heart of the biblical story. Faith has been weakened and obscured. God’s and Jesus’ vision for the world and the earth is for international peace and
disarmament and the cessation of all war (Isaiah 2:2-4).

The Bible is an essentially simple document, to be
read in the light of the fact that language is meant to be understood and not explained away! The Hebraic
concepts (Jesus was a Jew!) are “concrete” and real,”
not vague and philosophical. But churches began soon after NT times to “vaporize” that clear language,
dissolving easy concepts like “Kingdom” and “throne.”
Instead of a territorial meaning for “earth” and “land,” a so-called “spiritual” meaning (it sounded appealing!) was attached to them. The word “spiritual” can be most misleading if it results in losing the plain meaning of words. When Jesus promised (as had been promised to Abraham) that the earth/land was to be the reward of the faithful (Matthew 5:5, quoting Psalm 37), he really meant it! It is for us to believe Jesus as Gospel!

Much Bible study and preaching constantly leaves
out those sayings of Jesus which add a realistic, clear
meaning to the future. Matthew 19:28 would be a classic example. Have a look at the text index of many books on the Bible, and you will be surprised to see no comment on Matthew 19:28. In that passage,
a fascinating question was put by Peter to Jesus.

Peter’s question was very genuine, reasonable and clear: “What are we going to get as a result of our wholehearted following of you and your Messianic mission?” “What can we expect as our reward?”

The answer was as direct and clear as the question:
“Let me tell you, on the highest authority,” Jesus said, “in the future rebirth of the world, you who have followed me will be sitting on twelve thrones to govern the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matthew 25:31 clarifies the easy fact that the future age would be inaugurated by the future arrival of Jesus in glory and power. This is exactly the meaning of our request in the Lord’s prayer that “Your Kingdom may come; Your will be done on earth.”

Another much under publicized passage is Acts 1:6-7.
We learn first that Jesus had spent nearly 6 weeks
instructing and lecturing his students (disciples) on the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). This information prompted the most reasonable and informed question: “Lord,” they asked, “is it now time for you to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”

Some commentary, not understanding the Christian
Gospel, nor the teaching of Jesus, has disparaged the
disciples’ question as ill-informed and too “political”!

This however disparages the teacher, Jesus, as well as his students. Jesus did not rebuke them for any
misunderstanding! He did not doubt that the future will
see the restoration of national Israel and their return, in faith (not now, when Israel has not accepted their
Messiah). Jesus merely said that the time periods which had to elapse before that grand event were not known.

Indeed, we still do not know the chronological periods
involved. In Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 (based
on Daniel) Jesus did however lay out a clear sequence of events: Abomination of Desolation, Great Tribulation, cosmic signs, which will precede his single future arrival (Parousia). There is no pre-tribulation coming of Jesus.

Jesus will come back once, after the time of the future
Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-29; Daniel 12:1).
John Calvin was so upset by Jesus’ disciples’ question in Acts 1:6 that he protested that there are more errors than words in that verse! The error was of
course Calvin’s who did not understand the nature of the land/earth promises made to Abraham and to Jesus! To expect a renewed earth and a renewed political arrangement with Jesus and the resurrected apostles in charge was precisely what the Christian Gospel had foreseen, following the prophets of the OT and Jesus’ confirmation of the promises made to the patriarchs.

Romans 15:8 declares explicitly that Jesus came to
confirm the promises made to Abraham! Land, prosperity and many spiritual descendants, culminating in the Messiah.

“Heaven” at death was never promised to believers,
but to listen to popular Christian language or a funeral
sermon, one is impressed with the constantly repeated reference to “heaven” as the Christian reward. Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:28-30, which promise a new government on earth with Jesus as President and King — the covenanted outcome of the Christian hope — get no mention!

Luther in his commentary on Romans simply leaves
out the words in Romans 4:13 which state that Abraham “would be heir of the world”! This meant losing the central and precious truth that the land, earth and world are the inheritance promised as the destiny of believers! It meant leaving out the land/Kingdom promise which is the basis of the Gospel. Yes, the sacrificial death of Jesus was maintained, but that is not the whole Gospel!

What was lost was the momentous statement of
Jeremiah 27:5: “With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please.” Indeed as Psalm 115:16 states, “God has given the earth to man.”

This is the basis of Christian destiny and hope. So much for the confusing and diverting language about “heaven,” and as Billy Graham wrote, “polishing rainbows and preparing heavenly dishes.”

From one of the giants of OT commentary, Delitzsch:
“The land throughout Psalm 37 is the promised
possession, the land of Yahweh’s presence, which has not merely a glorious past, but also a future rich in promises; and will finally more perfectly than under
Joshua become the inheritance of the true Israel…This promise also runs in the mouth of the Preacher on the Mount (Matthew 5:5), following exactly Psalm 37:11.

Meekness, which is content with God and renounces all earthly stays, will at length become the inheritor of the land, yes, of the earth.”1 Paul makes a staggeringly significant statement in Romans 4:13. He speaks of “the promise to Abraham that he would be heir of the world.” This is the Gospel hope on which the NT is based. Jews at the time of Jesus knew well that the promise to Abraham and his seed involved inheriting the whole world! The book of Wisdom (44:21), reflecting the Bible, has this to say: “God
assured Abraham by an oath that He would cause them to inherit from sea to sea.” Jewish commentary on Exodus 14:31 notes that “you find that our father Abraham became heir of this and the coming world simply by merit of the faith by which he believed the LORD, as it is written: ‘He believed the LORD and He counted it to him for righteousness’” (Mekilta, 40b).
Paul agreed, and as a Christian preacher of the Gospel makes the land/world promise to Abraham (Romans 4:13) the center of Christian hope, just as Jesus had with his celebrated citation of Psalm 37:11: “Blessed are the meek; they will have the land/earth as their inheritance.”

Psalm 2:8-9 records the promise of God to the Messiah: “Ask of me. I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter.” The same promise is applied by Jesus in Revelation 2:26-27 to the saints — a very far cry from harp-strumming activity in heaven!

The Abrahamic, Messianic promise of the land of
Canaan was thus extended to the whole world. Micah 5:2 announced the coming of the Messiah as “ruler over Israel,” and “his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:4). This information is repeated in the Gospel of the Kingdom, so that the land promise to Abraham becomes the Kingdom of God promise in Christianity and the Christian Gospel.

Jesus promises this reward to the saints at Thyatira, provided that they hold fast “until I come”: “I will give you authority over the nations, and you will shepherd them with a rod of iron, as vessels of clay are broken in pieces, the same authority which I received from God” (Revelation 2:25-27). Here Jesus and the saints are co-heirs of the land/Kingdom/world as promised also to Abraham (Romans 4:13).

Abraham is listed among all the other heroes of faith
in Hebrews 11. That chapter lists the property promise of inheritance of “the land of the promise” and then the promise of a seed, Christ, and the promise of the resurrection of Jesus as typified in the “resurrection” (figuratively) of Isaac from death (Heb. 11:17-19).

Hebrews 11:8-10 informs us that Abraham lived in the
land of the promise (the promised land) as an alien and along with all the other faithful never received the
promises but died, “not having received them” (Hebrews 11:13, 39). This means of course that only by future resurrection will the heroes of the faith inherit the amazing promises which God had made to them.

As one commentator notes: “Abraham’s trust in the
promise of Genesis. 15 called down the divine blessing on Abraham, that he would have a son and descendants as innumerable as the stars. The words have for Paul in Romans 4:13 Messianic overtones; the promise was that through one of these descendants, the whole earth would be blessed, and through him Abraham’s true seed [note that true Christians are now the seed of Abraham (Galatians
3:29)] would inherit worldwide dominion [this is the
inheritance of the Kingdom promised in the NT].”2

The key to our subject is that “if you are a Christian,
you are Abraham’s seed and heir to the promise made to Abraham that he would inherit the world” (combining Galatians 3:29 and Romans 4:13). But how much of this is put to potential converts today?

Hasn’t the Gospel been shrunk to a message only about personal forgiveness?

The story of Abraham began when the God of Israel
told him to leave his homeland, promising Abraham and his descendants a new home in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12). This is the land now known as Israel, named after Abraham's grandson, whose natural descendants are the Jewish people. The land is often referred to as the promised land because of God’s repeated promise (Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 17:8) to give the land to the descendants (“seed”) of Abraham and to Abraham himself. Acts 7:5: “God did not give Abraham a square foot of the land, but He promised to give it to Abraham and to his seed after him.”

The essence of the Christian faith is encapsulated in
this verse: “Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD
counted him as righteous because of his faith” (Genesis15:6, NLT). Do you have that faith? What if the promises made to Abraham are not put before the potential convert? Would he/she then not be invited into the faith with inadequate information? Would this not amount to a form of deception, if belief in one of the promises to Abraham — progeny, property and prosperity — was omitted from invitations to salvation by faith?

Dr. Rice, a learned American writer who had been
trained in a postmillennial view but gave it up for
pre-millennialism, was aware of the veil which much
preaching draws over the central truth of the coming
Kingdom of God on earth: “Preachers and Bible teachers have fallen into an evil way of spiritualizing the word of God, explaining away the promises and making the Bible mean what it does not say. In many editions of the Bible, men have defiled the Gospel message with their opinions which explain away the literal meaning of the inspired Book…When God prophesies good to Jerusalem or to Mount Zion, or predicts the future of Mount Zion, many ‘learned’ teachers say that God did not mean what He said, but referred to ‘heaven.’ They are wrong [and here he comes on strong!], utterly, foolishly presumptuously
wrong! The Bible says what it means and means what it says. God has an eternal plan connected with the city of Jerusalem in Palestine, which is so plainly foretold that honest Bible students must accept it.

Mount Zion is the south-west hill of Jerusalem, the older and higher part of the city; it is often called the city of David. The term Mount Zion is often used also for the whole city of Jerusalem.”3
The fundamental truth about Christian hope and
destiny is well described by James Dunn’s comments on Romans 4:13: “Paul understands all who believe to be the seed of Abraham…The idea of inheritance was a fundamental part of Jewish [now Christian!] understanding of their covenant relationship with God,
above all, indeed almost exclusively, in connection with the land — the land of Canaan, theirs by right of
inheritance as promised to Abraham…Already before
Paul the concept of land had been broadened out from Canaan to embrace the whole earth (Sir. 44:21; Jubilees 17:3; 22:14; 32:19; I Enoch 5:7; Ezra 6:59: ‘the world to come’; II Apoc. Baruch 14:13; 51:3). Romans 4:13 is a good example of the extent to which Paul’s own thinking reflects ideas which were widespread in other strands of Jewish theology [which are also Christian theology, or ought to be!], cp. Matthew 5:5; Hebrews 1:2. Paul takes up the enlarged form of the promise…The blessing promised to Abraham and his seed (including the nations) is the
restoration of God’s created order, of Man to his Adamic status as steward of the rest of God’s creation…Not least of importance in the concept of son-ship is that it links into the theme of  inheritance…The importance of the inheritance theme is twofold. As will quickly become clear, it carries a clear implication of the ‘not yet.’

Believers are now heirs who have not yet entered into
their full inheritance…Central to Jewish self understanding was the conviction that Israel was the
Lord’s inheritance, the people chosen out of all the
nations of the earth to be His own (Deuteronomy 32:9).

“Integral to that national faith was the conviction that
God had given Israel the inheritance of Palestine, the
promised land. It is this axiom which Paul evokes and
applies to the new Christian movement as a whole,
Gentiles as well as Jews. They are the heirs of God;
Israel’s special relationship with God has been extended to all who are in Christ. And the promise of the land has been transformed into the promise of the Kingdom; the thought of Christian inheritance as inheritance of the Kingdom was evidently well enough established in the churches known to Paul [it was the Gospel!], so that he had no need to be more explicit…That inheritance of the Kingdom…is something still awaited by believers…Paul cuts to the heart of his people’s covenant faith. Paul had no doubt the Gospel he proclaimed was a continuation
and fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham.”4
“Abraham’s faith was the same as the justifying faith of Christians.”5

 Christians therefore are heirs to the land, the earth or the world! Inheritance of “heaven” is nowhere promised to believers!

World history culminates in a world government to
be in the hands of Jesus and the saints on a renewed
earth! Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27 and a mass of verses
describe this happy future offered by the Christian
Gospel. A gigantic diversion and obscuring of hope
occurred when churches began to speak of “heaven” and harp-playing in a location far from the earth. This foggy concept took over the thinking of church members. They became unsympathetic through mis-education to the passionate and engaging hope offered by the Bible.

Do reread and ponder Paul’s amazing description of
salvation through “the faith of Abraham” in Romans 4
and Galatians 3. You will find there the key to intelligent Bible study. Abraham is not some distant Jewish figure unrelated to Christian faith. For 100 years (Abraham was called at 75 and died at 175) God worked with Abraham and his family. He models for us a lifetime of faithful obedience to God’s promises, and Jesus is the one to whom and of whom the promises were given. Without this basis in “Abrahamic faith” the NT is detached from its roots in the Hebrew Bible. The promise given to Abraham “that he would be heir of the world” (Romans
4:13) was repeated by Jesus when he offered the meek the land (Matthew 5:5). The time is coming when the saints “take over the Kingdom” (Daniel 7:22) and with Jesus bring about the peaceful conditions for which we all long!

In Scripture the promise of Jesus (Matthew 5:5) that the faithful will inherit the earth was plain and clear!

Today the word “earth/land” has ceased to have its real meaning in the minds of many. Today no one misunderstands that the winner of the race at the Olympics gets the gold medal; he does not get a free trip to Disneyland!