(Continued from page 378)
Jehovah's Judgement vs. Allah's
We can learn more lessons from Deuteronomy. We note, also, that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the True God of the Bible - was so utterly serious about these matters that He warned Israel that the punishment He commanded them to inflict on the evil Canaanites would also be their punishment if they were seduced into following their evil ways (Deuteronomy 13:12-16):
12 "If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. 16 "Then you shall gather all its booty into the middle of its open square and burn the city and all its booty with fire as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God; and it shall be a ruin forever. It shall never be rebuilt.'
So we have given you ample reasons to understand how Israel was used by God and did not arbitrarily wipe out the Canaanites. The nations who occupied Canaan followed gods, goddesses, serpent worship, lewd fertility cults with prostitute priestesses, and nature religions. The evil of all of these religions is unmentionable. God held back judgment on them for many centuries and only released Israel from slavery specifically to wipe them out when He could no longer delay their just punishment.
Deuteronomy 13:15 orders the execution of any who ever led Israelites into the worship of these false demon-gods. Israel could not be allowed to be seduced into the very thing the Canaanites were being destroyed for following. Joshua 8:25 tells of the destruction of Ai, a Canaanite city, as commanded. In 1 Samuel 27:8, David slaughtered more Canaanites, being called to execute God's judgment upon them for their wickedness.
The destruction of the Midianites in Numbers 31 is an extension of this Deuteronomy teaching, for they were descendants of Abraham by Keturah, whom he married after Sarah's death. They were not Canaanites, nor were the children of Israel given their land, but they had sent their young women to seduce Israel's young men, whom they enticed into immorality and the worship of their gods. God executed this severe punishment to teach His people the seriousness of turning from Him to demonic deities.
Thus it becomes obvious that Muhammad would also have been found guilty of being a false prophet and causing the people to follow 'other gods' whom Israel 'had not known.' Thus he would have suffered the punishment of death - which is perfectly appropriate for an evil man who so regularly killed those who would not accept his false teaching and false 'god'!
The covenant God made with Israel is found in many passages, e.g.:
Exodus 34:10 Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. EX 34:15 "Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
God promised His angel would go before them and God Himself would destroy these evil nations:
Exodus 23:23 For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites: and I will cut them off.
Exodus 32:34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
Exodus 33:2 And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
Joshua 21:43 So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. 44 The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD handed all their enemies over to them. 45 Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Joshua 22:6 Then Joshua blessed them and sent them away, and they went to their homes. ... he blessed them, 8 saying, "Return to your homes with your great wealth - with large herds of livestock, with silver, gold, bronze and iron, and a great quantity of clothing - and divide with your brothers the plunder from your enemies." 9 So the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in Canaan to return to Gilead, their own land, which they had acquired in accordance with the command of the LORD through Moses.
Joshua 23:6 "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now. 9 "The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the LORD your God. 12 "But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you. ... 15 But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you."
We know that Israel fell into sin as their corrupt kings broke the covenant with God, e.g.:
1 Kings 14:22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than their fathers had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
Anyone trying to compare Islam's march across the world by the sword should try comparing God's punishment of Israel by the sword when He used their surrounding enemies as a scourge against them! Would Muslims accept that Allah might have been punishing them for over a century for 'playing the harlot' with the West and embracing un-Islamic standards and attitudes? It certainly seems to form a large part of the view of fundamentalist Muslims in their rants against the West.
God had warned the Israelites to stay separate and be holy and warned them of the contaminating influences of the pagan religions of the nations surrounding them. Because they sinned He used these surrounding nations, such as the Assyrians and the Babylonians, to chastise them so they would repent and once again seek His face, then He would deliver them again and return them to the Promised Land He had given them - Israel!
There are many telling prophecies and parables spelling out the way in which Israel repeatedly fell into idolatry and many were given in the prophet Ezekiel's day (Ezekiel 20ff.). God challenged her elders, who thought they could still seek His counsel as representatives of the exiles and Judah, with a question: Are you not rebelling like your fathers? Were they not defiling themselves - playing 'the harlot' with Canaan's detestable idols and offering their sons as sacrifices to idols (20:30-31)?:
Ezeziel 20:30 "Therefore say to the house of Israel: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Will you defile yourselves the way your fathers did and lust after their vile images? 31 When you offer your gifts - the sacrifice of your sons in the fire - you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will not let you inquire of me.
Contemporary Israel was as rebellious as her ancestors had been. So the Lord emphatically told them that He would not give an audience to anyone who disobeyed his ways yet said that they wanted to know his will. Because he loved her, God rejected Israel's desire to be like other idolatrous nations (v32). In doing so He carried the cycle of judgment and grace into Israel's future history. In his judgment He would rule over her now (v33); yet he would restore Judah at the end of the Babylonian captivity (v34). However, there would be a second dispersion of the Israelites in which God would judge Israel and bring the people "into the desert of the nations" as he had done during Israel's Egyptian sojourn (vv35-36).
Why did God judge Israel in this way? Israel would ultimately become a cleansed flock of the Lord through the new covenant. The process of cleansing would purge out sinners from Israel in that they would not return to the land of blessing when the Lord would ultimately restore his people to that land (cf. Daniel 12:10; Jeremiah 31:34). The future cycle of God's alternating judgment and grace would be similar to that displayed in the "first" wilderness wandering after Israel came forth from Egypt.
Once Israel was cleansed through the final judgment, God would make sure that she did not allow his holy name to be profaned among the nations again. God would accomplish this by bringing back all Israel of that day to worship on his holy mountain. There he would accept them and their sacrificial worship (vv40-41; cf. Ezekiel 40-48). The Israelites would see his faithfulness and come to know him ultimately through their restoration (v42). The Israelites would have a contrite heart that loathed their past sins (v43). They would come to see that God's grace had been poured out on them throughout the millennia, because the Lord refused to allow his holy name to be defiled (v44). God had continually dealt with them on the basis of his grace rather than on what they deserved. The same principle holds true today!
But, first, the continuing sin of the people resulted in the prophet Ezekiel being instructed to prophecy against Jerusalem, its sanctuaries, and all the land of Israel (which was then Judah), in a series of illuminating parables and prophetic illustrations, as in these verses (Ezekiel 21):
Ezekiel 21:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, set your face against Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel 3 and say to her: `This is what the LORD says: I am against you. I will draw my sword from its scabbard and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. 4 Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. 5 Then all people will know that I the LORD have drawn my sword from its scabbard; it will not return again.' 6 "Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. 7 And when they ask you, `Why are you groaning?' you shall say, `Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water.' It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD."
God would pour out his wrath on the sinner and the effects would cover the entire land from north to south. Each person would be touched by the sword of his fury (vv4-5). Both the righteous and the wicked would experience the land's devastation. Everyone would know that the Lord was the one who brought the judgment (v5). The effects of God's wrath on Judah would also be devastating. The people would lose strength. Ezekiel communicated these emotional responses to the people by groaning (v7) as one who was in emotional distress and in bitter anguish. When the exiles inquired as to the cause of his grief, he would tell them that he was a sign of the emotional distress they would have when God's judgment would come. At that time their hearts would melt, their spirits would faint, and their hands and knees would become weak like water (vv6-7). This would happen. This was not just a scare tactic. God declared that this judgment would "surely take place."
Ezekiel 21:8 The word of the LORD came to me: 9 "Son of man, prophesy and say, `This is what the Lord says: " `A sword, a sword, sharpened and polished - EZE 21:10 sharpened for the slaughter, polished to flash like lightning! " `Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my son Judah? The sword despises every such stick. EZE 21:11 " `The sword is appointed to be polished, to be grasped with the hand; it is sharpened and polished, made ready for the hand of the slayer. EZE 21:12 Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is against my people; it is against all the princes of Israel. They are thrown to the sword along with my people. Therefore beat your breast. EZE 21:13 " `Testing will surely come. And what if the scepter of Judah, which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign LORD.'
Ezekiel was instructed to sing a song (poem) about a sword, sharpened, polished, and ready for the slaughter, with the speed of lightning (vv9-10). The sword is pictured as ready to be taken by the hand of the slayer (v11 - who is identified as Nebuchadnezzar in vv18-23). Therefore, Ezekiel would weep and wail, for the Babylonian sword of judgment was against Judah, God's people, especially her leaders (v12a). Since the nation had failed the testing, the solemn question was whether Judah and her ruler ("the scepter," cf. v10) would continue to exist? Would God's judgment be final?
Ezekiel 21:14 "So then, son of man, prophesy and strike your hands together. Let the sword strike twice, even three times. It is a sword for slaughter - a sword for great slaughter, closing in on them from every side. EZE 21:15 So that hearts may melt and the fallen be many, I have stationed the sword for slaughter at all their gates. Oh! It is made to flash like lightning, it is grasped for slaughter. EZE 21:16 O sword, slash to the right, then to the left, wherever your blade is turned. EZE 21:17 I too will strike my hands together, and my wrath will subside. I the LORD have spoken."
Ezekiel clapped his hands in approval of the judgment but with scorn and contempt for the iniquity that had precipitated God's wrath (v14a; cf. Ezekiel 6:11; 22:13; 25:6; Numbers 24:10; 2 Kings 11:12; Job 27:23; Psalm 47:1; Isaiah 55:12). By this act Ezekiel demonstrated the Lord's attitude of justice toward Judah's sin and encouraged the sword's greater effectiveness. The intensity of the judgment was emphasized by the doubling and tripling of the sword; it became three times more effective than it normally would be. Two and three swords were not present; rather, the sword's swiftness and intensity manifested in God's wrath produced two to three times the normal slaughter. The sword totally encompassed the people; their hearts melted, and many fell in their gates in the lightning fast invasion (vv14-15). Ultimately it was as if the sword was in God's hand (v11; cf. vv15, 17) and the judgment was comprehensive (cf. vv4-5, 7, 47). The song (poem) builds to a climax. The sword's devastation covered the entire country from right (or south) to left (or north), a play on words depicting the sharpening of the sword blade back and forth as well as the comprehensiveness of the judgment from north to south (v16). The Lord gave his approval by clapping. But he also declared that his wrath would cease when this, judgment was complete (v17).
Ezekiel 21:18 The word of the LORD came to me: 19 "Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost where the road branches off to the city. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver.
The prophetic "sword song" was integrated and reinforced by symbolic action. Ezekiel drew a map, perhaps in the dirt or on a brick, on which he made a road from Babylonia toward Canaan. He placed a signpost in the road where it forked, one branch leading toward Rabbath-Ammon, the capital of Ammon, and the other branch descending to Jerusalem (vv18-20). Damascus was the normal junction where the road divided. The king of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar, was shown standing at the fork in the road, using all manner of magic and divination in order to determine which nation he should attack first (v21). Shaking arrows inscribed with personal or place names (belomancy) was a form of casting lots. Each arrow was marked with a name, the arrows placed in the quiver, the quiver whirled about, and the first arrow to fall out was the gods' decision. Household idols were intimately related to ancestral inheritance. Perhaps also they were consulted as mediums, representatives for their forefathers, who were supposed to give guidance (necromancy). The liver, considered the seat of the life in such cultures, was commonly examined with a decision of divination being determined from its colour or markings (hepatoscopy). Nebuchadnezzar used all three means of divination with the same result. Though God did not condone divination in any form, he was the sovereign God who controlled all things. He could control these pagan practices to accomplish his will (cf. Jeremiah 27:6).
Ezekiel 21:22 Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works. 23 It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.
The unanimous decision of this divining was to pursue the path to Jerusalem (v22) and to lay siege to that city (cf. 4:2). The inhabitants of Judah responded in unbelief. They were convinced that this was false divination and continued to place confidence in their covenant treaties with Nebuchadnezzar ("sworn allegiance," v23) - although Judah had already broken her agreements with Nebuchadnezzar and would certainly be placing unfounded confidence in such treaties. We know from Scripture and the archaeological record that Nebuchadnezzar ("he"; v23) would bring Judah's iniquity to remembrance when, as God's instrument of wrath, he destroyed the nation.
Ezekiel 21:24 "Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: `Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do - because you have done this, you will be taken captive. 25 " `O profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, 26 this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. 27 A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to him I will give it.'
This message was concluded with a judicial sentence. Since Judah's sins had become manifest (v24), Jerusalem would be seized; and the wicked prince of Israel, Zedekiah, would be cut off in this time of final ('climax') punishment (v25 - which we know occurred in 586 B.C.). The removal of the priesthood and the kingship from Judah were pictured, respectively, in the removal of the high priest's turban (cf. Exodus 28:4, 37, 39; 29:6; 39:28, 31; Leviticus 8:9; 16:4) and the king's crown (v26). These would not be rightly worn again till "he comes to whom it rightfully belongs" (v27), a definite reference to Genesis 49:10:
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until He comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is His.
This is also a reference to the king-priest Messiah, Jesus (cf. Hebrews 5-7). Ezekiel used this reference with its Messianic overtones to stress also in this context that the kingship (and priesthood) would be removed in judgment but returned ultimately in the Messiah's coming in accord with Genesis 49:10. God's judgment would be so complete that everything would be upside down socially ("the low will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low"). The threefold repetition of "ruin" (v27) stresses the intensity of God's wrath and its destruction administered by Babylonia.
Ezekiel 21:28 "And you, son of man, prophesy and say, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says about the Ammonites and their insults: " `A sword, a sword, drawn for the slaughter, polished to consume and to flash like lightning! EZE 21:29 Despite false visions concerning you and lying divinations about you, it will be laid on the necks of the wicked who are to be slain, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax. EZE 21:30 Return the sword to its scabbard. In the place where you were created, in the land of your ancestry, I will judge you. EZE 21:31 I will pour out my wrath upon you and breathe out my fiery anger against you; I will hand you over to brutal men, men skilled in destruction. EZE 21:32 You will be fuel for the fire, your blood will be shed in your land, you will be remembered no more; for I the LORD have spoken.'"
The other route that Nebuchadnezzar could have taken at the fork in the road was the road to Ammon. Since Ammon would mock and mistreat Judah in her collapse before Babylonia, Ezekiel sang the same "sword song" to Ammon (v28). The Ammonites had seen empty visions and used lying divination that would lead them to fall on Judah, "on the necks of the wicked who are to be slain," at their time of punishment for iniquity (v29). God, however, stayed Ammon's terrorizing of Judah by calling for the sword to be placed back into the sheath (v30a) and would judge Ammon by the sword in their own land (v30b; cf. 25:1-7), where he would pour out indignation on them with the fire of his wrath, delivering them to men skilled in destruction who would devour them (vv31-32). This judgment on Ammon was not forgotten just because Babylonia chose to attack Jerusalem first. It was certain! The time element of this judgment was not certain, though it seemed related to the judgment soon to be executed by Babylonia (cf. Ezekiel 25:1-7). Ammon would be remembered no more.
This is another firm warning to all the Islamic nations who attack Israel today - God will remember how, like Ammon, they gloat over every death and misfortune that occurs in Israel and will punish those who do not turn in repentance to the true Messiah, Jesus, before His judgement comes swiftly!
God uses unbelievers to accomplish His purposes and can even overrule their pagan methods of making decisions by methods such as divination (vv. 18-23; cf. Proverbs 16:33: 'The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD'). God's people did not obey the declared will of God, but the pagan nations obeyed God without even knowing it. What a paradox!
Despite all these captivities and punishments, Israel's existence today, and the re-gathering of the Jews from all parts of the world, is another irrefutable proof that the Holy Bible is the true Word of God. God scattered them throughout the whole world and then re-gathered them again from all nations back to their original land in fulfilment of His promises in the far past, until our present, for He said:
"I will gather you from ALL the nations, and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive." (Jeremiah 29:14)
The Muslim nations surrounding Israel have been trying to destroy her since she announced statehood in May 1948. She was not only surrounded by enemy nations that were dedicated to her destruction but was also faced with an entrenched enemy within her own territory. To her discredit, England had done everything in her power to arm the Muslims and to disarm the Jews. Immediately upon announcing her statehood the fledging nation was attacked by the surrounding Muslim nations and forced to defend herself against well-supplied Arab armies. The Jews had few soldiers, few arms, and little food. They were outnumbered and outgunned by large odds and sometimes beat large tin cans as the guns were fired (shades of Judges 7 and the trumpets and pitchers of Gideon's army!). One well fortified part of Jerusalem was captured with 7 guns and 30 tin cans (William Hull, The Fall and Rise of Israel)! When it's God's time for something to happen, that thing will happen and all the forces of earth and hell cannot stop it. The fledgling nation was victorious over her enemies then, and has been victorious time and again over the past 60 years. She is back in her land according to Bible prophecy. Yet she remains spiritually dead. In Ezekiel 37 the prophet was shown a valley full of bones and instructed to preach to them. First the bones came together and were covered with flesh, "but there was no breath in them" (Ezekiel 37:8). The prophet preached again and "the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army" (Ezekiel 37:10). The rest of this chapter explains how this describes the restoration of Israel to her land and the establishment of the Davidic kingdom in the end times. The prophecy teaches us that Israel's restoration occurs in two parts. First, the nation that was scattered to the ends of the earth and seemingly dead and forever cut off comes back together, but in a spiritually dead condition, which is what they are today. Next, God breathes life into them and they live. This will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation when God will convert the remnant of Israel and restore them to the place of blessing. They will repent of their disobedience to God's Word and will receive the Messiah that they had rejected (Zechariah 12-14), and Christ will establish the kingdom promised to David (Isaiah 9:6-7). Before all of this happens, though, Israel will be deceived by the Anti-christ and will believe his lying peace program (1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). He will come riding on a white horse as a man of peace, but his "peace" will result in the greatest trouble this world has ever experienced (Revelation 6). Islam can huff and puff all it wants, for they are not going to destroy Israel. Many brilliant and powerful men have been trying to do that for 2,000 years and it simply is not a possibility, because behind that little nation of Israel is Almighty God! When God is finished with His chastisement of Israel, she will sit in glory at the centre of the kingdom of God on earth.
We know from the Bible that the Jews are God's chosen people to give light to the whole world, including those nations who hate them, for God made them a blessing to the world when He said to Abraham:
"I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:2)
(Continued on page 380)