Israel is the key to all end-time prophecy.

Keep your eye on Jerusalem  

Dec 15

He Knows You 

If you’ll be kind enough to indulge me, I want to continue this week with the theme from last week. The subject I’d originally chosen can wait awhile. The feedback I got convinces me more than ever that we need to encourage each other.

Like you, I continue to hear stories that are beyond sad. I’m not going to dwell on stories like this, but you know how it is. Economic gloominess, outrageously exemplified by our incoming “leader,” Barack Obama (“the economy is going to get worse.” Merry Christmas!) has gripped folks like that horrible movie I saw last year, “The Mist.”

However — for the Christian, there is always a however — we will once again this week explore God’s provisions for His people. I have always felt there is a direct correlation between Bible prophecy, and the lives of individuals around the world.

I almost feel like this is the jump-off point. That my whole life has built to this moment, in which predictive prophecy is coming so sharply into focus that it doubles as a personal faith-builder.

If I can’t rely on my portfolio, or the government, or other human inventions…who can I turn to? I will turn to the God who has supernaturally proven Himself to me through His provision for the Jews.

Go with me now to a place you’ve heard about all your life.

In Bethlehem today, and in the surrounding Judean countryside, the air is clean. Dianna and I were there last year, on our own little pilgrimage to Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity. Driving over and around the hills that become progressively more bare as one heads south, toward the desert, we noticed just how much the whole place still looks like it did on that special night 2,000 years ago. Shepherds still tend flocks, Arab men travel on donkeys, and sheep and cattle graze on the hills.

Unlike liberal Christians and atheists like Richard Dawkins (what does he do for Christmas?), I believe Jesus was actually born in this place, that he grew up, began ministry, then fulfilled the prophecies by dying and being resurrected in Jerusalem. There was an actual, historical figure.

Bethlehem today, controlled by the Palestinian Authority, is still small and compact. Palestinian merchants virtually beg tourists to shop. Manger Square — a large plaza area — was not overly crowded.

Stooping to enter the small door in the Church of the Nativity, Dianna and I emerged into a huge room, sandwiched between rafters and floor mosaics that date from Byzantine times. There were quite a few scenes reminiscent of, say, a Catholic church: candles, icons, elaborate alcoves of rich artifacts.

Descending into a cramped space underneath the floor, we were surprised to find ourselves at the traditional place of Jesus’ birth. We quickly had our picture taken while an annoyed fellow tourist waited her turn.

At least for me, I think it’s important to know that these places actually exist. They are tangible.

Upon returning to the King David Hotel later that evening, we made plans to visit the Garden Tomb and Calvary the next day, which we did. That put an exclamation point on our visits to these holy sites.

My point? The Bible is not a collection of myths. It is a vibrant, full-color description of real people and places. It describes the place where Jesus was born, died, and rose again. The complete story, that gives breath to our faith.

It is this whole story that we all need now, more than ever. The comments that I hear from readers confirm this in a big way. Just this morning, I heard that a friend died of cancer; she was only diagnosed just before Thanksgiving! This is, sadly, a terrible time for many people.

But folks, this is where the rubber meets the road. We have heard about our faith, and heard about the last days all our lives. We have hoped for it, but let’s be honest: it still seemed far away, didn’t it?

If you can do nothing else positive this season, run your finger over the Holy Land maps in the back of your Bible. You might not get there in this life, but you can know that they are there. Jesus was born there, walked there, died there, and rose to life there. He is alive now. He promised that He would hold us close (Matthew 11:28). He promised us that He had already overcome this sorry world (John 16:33).

You can depend on that. Whatever your problems, I urge you to simply tell Jesus about them. It really is as simple as our old Sunday school faith, the faith of a child. We are all children, whether we pretend to be tough or not. We are children of the Most High God, and His tenderness is available to you this Christmas season.

My prayer is that you will be blessed and comforted.