Israel vs. Palestine

by Reagan McClenny


Scripture: Gen 16:10-12 Oct 15, 2023

If you would, please take out your Bible and turn to the book of Genesis. First book of the Old Testament, the book of Genesis, the 16th chapter, and we'll read verses 10 through 12 here in just a moment. That's Genesis chapter 16, verses 10 through 12, will be the first passage that we'll read here in just a second.

I'm sure many of you, as I have been, have been following the events taking place between Israel and Palestine, led by the terrorist organization Hamas. And these events are horrible, despicable, ungodly, and most of the, or at least many of the images that have come out of that conflict that have been shared on social media and by journalists, the descriptions of the things that have taken place are too graphic for us to share, either on the screen or in some cases, Perhaps even in an audience like this.

This image is just one of the protests that have taken place in Gaza over recent days. And these events and the evil they represent should anger us. They should upset us, as we consider them. And any of you who have heard me preach before, you know that I can get pretty worked up in the pulpit. I can get pretty enthusiastic and passionate about the things that I believe the Bible teaches.

And so, if you're hearing me preach for the first time we're grateful that you're here. We're grateful you're visiting with us. And I'm telling you in advance, it's my goal tonight. not to get worked up to be relatively impassionate about the things that we talk about tonight, and instead give you information that will be helpful to you.

These things should upset us, but they should not, for those of us who know the Bible, come as a great surprise to us. Muslims themselves, including Muhammad in the writings of the Qur'an, believed that Muhammad was a descendant of Ishmael from the Bible. And if you're there in Genesis chapter 16, you probably remember this story of Abraham and his wife Sarai.

And how she did not have a child, as has been promised by God up to this point, and so she gives Abraham her handmaiden, Hagar. And from that relationship, where Sarah and Abraham, or Sarah and Abram at this point, are trying to help... God out. This child, Ishmael, is born to Hagar, the handmaiden. And, as soon as that happens, we could probably predict something like this.

Sarai is upset about that. She treats Hagar poorly because of it. And we see that Hagar runs away, and an angel of the Lord appears to her. And notice, begin reading with me in verse 8. And he, the angel of the Lord, said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going? She said, I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.

The angel of the Lord said to her, return to your mistress and submit yourself under her hand. Then the angel of the Lord said to her, I will multiply your descendants exceedingly so that they shall not be counted for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said to her, behold, you are with child. And you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction.

He shall be a wild man, his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she gives a name for God and the angel of the Lord that appears to her. And if we continue reading in chapter 17 and 21, the text says that a nation will come from Ishmael.

In chapter 25, we're given a short genealogy that goes into some of the descendants of Ishmael. And as we continue reading through our Bible, we see that there is conflict between the descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. and the descendants of Ishmael. And for 4, 000 years, since this time, there has been conflict between the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac.

Often... over and in this very land where we see these things taking place around us. These events, though to be expected, have led to many conversations with me. And I'm, I'm just curious, I've had a number of conversations with different people about these events and what's going on and their significance.

Just by a show of hands, who's had... A conversation, at least, about these events and the things that are taking place. So most of us in here have had a conversation about that. And so here's what I want to do tonight. I've, I've thought about a number of ways that we might address these things. And on a Sunday night we have a lot of our hardcore people who are here.

Who are concerned about these things and concerned about about what these things might mean in your conversations with other people. So here's what I want to do tonight. I just want to give you some tools in your toolbox as we consider these events, not just for ourselves. But for other people as well.

And we're going to have to go through these things really quickly. I'm hopeful to get through all the things that I have in my notes tonight. We may not be able to do that for sake of time. But we're going to go through these quickly. And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to put some things on the board for you note takers out there.

I'm going to go ahead and put points up at a block at a time instead of one by one so that you can get these things written down if you want to consider them in more detail later on. And we're going to go through them quickly, so, let's all hang on and see how we do and how many we get through.

So some tools in your toolbox as you consider these things that are taking place in our world, how you might understand them, and how you might talk about these things with other people. First of all, there are four things that we should desire. You say, what should our desire be out of this conflict, and what do we want to happen?

I think the first thing we might say is peace, and certainly that's the case. But let's see if we could be a little bit more specific as we think about these events. Four things we should all desire as Christians. Number one, our desire always, in all things, is for all people to be saved spiritually. That is our desire because that's God's desire.

First Timothy chapter 2 and verse 4, God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. And that includes people who are on both sides of this conflict. It is God's desire that they come to a knowledge of the truth and that should be our desire as well. And whatever means that is necessary in order for that to happen.

Number 2, our desire should be for God's righteous judgment to be carried out on those who sin against others in these circumstances. I'll just say terrible ways and refuse to repent for the things that they have done. Notice just a few passages from the book of Romans. If you'll turn to Romans chapter 2, our next three points, I all, I chose verses from the book of Romans just because they would go together relatively easily, and we'd be able to turn to them rather quickly.

But we could illustrate these points in a number of different places. As we think about God's righteous judgment, consider Romans chapter 2. Beginning in verse 4. Or do you despise the riches of God's goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

That's always God's desire. But what is the outcome for those who refuse to repent? But in accordance with your hardness and your impotent heart, you're treasuring up for yourself wrath and the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. That day is coming. who will render to each one according to his deeds eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality, but to those who are self seeking and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness, indignation, and wrath, tribulation, and anguish on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.

Glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good to the Jew first and also to the Greek, for there is no partiality with God. Now these verses are within a greater context of what, what Paul is trying to accomplish in the book of Romans. But it makes clear to us that God is going to be just in his judgment.

There is no partiality with God, whatever your background, whoever you are, whatever your nationality, all of those sorts of things, God will judge you. He will judge all of us based on our deeds. And that judgment is going to be righteous. And it is not wrong for us as Christians, though our desire is for people to be saved, and we should do everything in our power to try and bring them to that point where they come to a knowledge of the truth, it is not wrong to desire or even pray for the righteous judgment of God against evildoing.

When I was, well, September 11th, 2001, I was in high school at that time. And after the attacks on the World Trade Center, we were brought into the gymnasium. The high school was. And there were some folks there who desired for people to have a prayer that was led. And people knowing me, and I was grateful that my light had shone in this way, they asked me to lead a prayer.

And so I did. I led a prayer prayed for a number of different things, but included in that prayer, I prayed for God's righteous judgment against those who had carried out those attacks. And there were some who were surprised by that. But God is just, and God's justice is part of His holiness, part of His righteousness, part of His character.

And it is absolutely appropriate for us to have this desire. That justice be carried out if people refuse to repent. And even as we think about things from a physical standpoint. Number three, we should desire for righteous governments to bear the sword of God's justice on this earth. That is ideally the role of government or one of the primary roles of government that God has set up.

Turn to Romans chapter 13, if you would. Romans chapter 13. Again, we could illustrate this in other places, but this is a clear text found also in the book of Romans. Romans chapter 13 and verse 3. This is, again, the ideal. This is the way it's supposed to be. And we know that there are corrupt governments where this is not always the case, but this is the purpose and role of government.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he, that is, those who are in this authority, the governing authorities, he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain.

In other words, the government has authority delegated from God to mete out punishment, including those that would be capital in nature. For he is God's minister and avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. This is the government's role and that should be our desire. For these governments to be righteous and for them to meet out proper justice as God has seen fit in giving them this authority.

And then number four, our desire should be for God and His providence to use the occasion of this evil for good.

Now, obviously our desire should be for God to use it for good, as He sees fit, in whatever way in the world. But as it relates to us and our desire, we should desire, For those over whom we have some influence that these events might bring about some good in the lives of people. Turn to Romans chapter 8 and verse 28.

We know that God has this power. This is a specific promise to those who love God, to those who are Christians. But it just illustrates that God has the ability to bring about Some good even from things that are evil. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

And we've talked about this verse at length a number of times. It's not that all things are good. Sin is still sin. Evil is still evil. But God is so great that He is even able to use ungodly, evil things to bring about some spiritual good in the lives of others. And that should be our desire as we think about and consider these things.

So, once our desires are in the right place, now we can start thinking about the meaning of some of these events. And for many believers in Jesus that we're going to come in contact with, and here in East Texas there are many who believe in Jesus, These events take on greater significance and meaning because of a doctrine, I call it a false doctrine because I believe that it is, of pre millennialism.

And that doctrine relates to eschatology, which is just the study of the end time. What's going to happen at the end of time? Pre millennialism says that we are living right now pre before a millennium. A thousand year reign where Jesus is going to come back to earth. and set up a physical kingdom. And there are many forms of this doctrine, so I'm painting with broad strokes.

If you're here this evening and you believe this, don't think that I'm trying to misrepresent this in any way. Just painting in broad strokes. Essentially, this doctrine teaches that Jesus, when he came to Earth, came to establish a physical kingdom. But the Jews rejected him and that kingdom. And thus, as an afterthought, We might call it a plan B.

God established the church in order to try and bridge the gap until the earthly kingdom of God could be established sometime in the future. And someday, and that day is, has often been predicted by people who believe in this doctrine, Christ will... Catch up the fateful of the church age, that's the age we're in now, both alive and dead in a mysterious secret rapture.

You've heard that term, no doubt. Followed by a seven year tribulation during which the Antichrist will reign. The Battle of Armageddon will take place at some point, usually believed to be at the end of those seven years and usually believed to be taking place in this physical land of Israel. This tribulation that has different purposes, depending on the specific belief of different groups, essentially cleanses the Earth for Christ to come again and fulfill His, what is currently unfulfilled, covenant with Abraham.

Establish a kingdom on Earth that will last for a thousand years. At that point, some believe that the Old Testament fateful, those who died during the tribulation, Those people will be raised also, and at the end of the thousand year reign, Satan will be loosed for a little while before he is punished in the final judgment.

And depending on which vein of this doctrine, it might include a second or third resurrection of the unfaithful dead to be judged. That was a really quick summation. I had to write all that down to try and keep that straight and go through it quickly. What's the problem with that? Well, there's a writer that I know personally that I really respect.

He is so bold as to put it this way. I am not so bold, except I'm going to read it and I think I do agree with this. If the premillennial theory is true, then the kingdom prophecies are made void. God's power is limited. Christ is not our priest and king. The church is a substitute, the kingdom is material and earthly, the New Testament writers were confused, and the plan and purpose of Christ's death is ignored.

Now that's a bold claim. What makes this so big of a deal? It makes it a big deal because primarily, now there are lots of reasons why this is a big deal. There are lots of things downstream from this false doctrine that lead us to some really poor places doctrinally. But I think maybe the biggest deal with this is that it distracts us from where our focus should be as Christians.

It distracts us into being worried. And there are so many right now in our world who wear the name of Christ, who say I'm a believer, I'm a Christian, who are, who are, who are very worried about the things that are going on right now. To worry about these physical things instead of being concerned with things of a spiritual nature.

So, very quickly, as we continue to add tools to our toolbox, here are three things we should know about the Kingdom of God. I've preached lessons in times past where I've gone to the passages where people say, this teaches that doctrine. What I'm going to do tonight instead is I just want to give you these three things that I believe show that this doctrine cannot be true.

Number one, the Bible teaches that Christ accomplished what he set out to do. That he set out to sacrifice himself on the cross by grace to establish the church. I believe the Bible teaches that was Christ's purpose. It was Christ's purpose all along. It was God's purpose from before the foundation of the world.

And this is the part of the doctrine that bothers me the most. To the point, I'll admit, there have been times where I question whether I even understand it correctly. And I've had long conversations with people who believe this to say, Do you really believe this? To believe that Bible believers accept that God and Christ were thwarted in what they intended to accomplish by Jewish unbelief so that God just had to, these are my words, make the church up on the fly.

What I wanted to do in establishing a physical kingdom, the Jews thwarted me. So I've got to figure out something else to do. And God's solution was to come up with the church. I want you to think for a moment. How many times did people want to crown Jesus king, but he refused? Over and over that happened in his ministry.

John chapter 6 and verse 15, if you want a reference of one of the times. How many times did Jesus foretell His death on the cross? How many passages in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus death on the cross, as was prophesied? I turn to Luke chapter 18, if you would, for just a moment. Luke chapter 18 and verse 31.

Again, we're just giving some representative examples. Luke chapter 18 and verse 31.

Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that were written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished, fulfilled, maybe your translation says. Does that sound like Christ is being thwarted in what he came to do? And what is it that he's going up to Jerusalem to do in order to fulfill that was written about in the prophets concerning the Son of Man?

Verse 32, For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge him and kill him, and the third day he will rise again. This is one of the clearest instances of Jesus saying, this is what I came to do. This is what the prophets prophesied, and this is what's gonna happen when I go to Jerusalem.

This was the plan all along. If you have headings in your Bible, I've got a heading above this, this is added by men. But just in Luke's Gospel, you know what my heading says? Jesus, a third time, predicts His death and resurrection. This is at least the third time just in the Gospel of Luke, that Jesus says, this is what I came to do, this is what I'm going to do.

And when Peter, as we were studying about even this morning, as we were thinking about the transfiguration, and when Peter says to Jesus on one of the times when he says this is what's going to happen, Peter says, may it never be, that's not going to happen, and what does Jesus say to him? Well, you're right, Peter, I'm hopeful that the Jews are going to turn it around.

No, he says, get behind me, Satan. Why? For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men. You're looking at things from a physical perspective, Peter, and you need to be looking at them from a godly perspective. I got a little worked up there. I'll bring it back in a little bit. How clearly do we see that this was God's plan all along?

To sacrifice His Son on behalf of mankind, to establish the church, to establish His spiritual kingdom. Of which we are citizens. Paul is absolutely explicit on this point in the book of Ephesians. Turn to Ephesians chapter three and verse eight.

Ephesians chapter three

I. I'd like to read verses eight through 15. For the sake of time, let's just read. Verses 10 and 11. To the intent that now the manifold, multifaceted, the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church. To the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to, listen, the eternal purpose, which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That is not Paul looking forward to some kingdom that is going to be coming. This is saying he accomplished his eternal purpose by the church. And this was God's plan, and this was God's wisdom. that he accomplished through Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. Number two, the Bible teaches that Christ's kingdom is spiritual, not physical.

The nature of the kingdom is it is a spiritual kingdom, not a physical kingdom. And over and over and over, Jesus makes this point. Turn to John chapter 18. John chapter 18. If you would,

as Jesus stands before Pilate, and he is questioning him regarding being the king of the Jews. Again, a lot we could read here. Let's just read one verse, verse 36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews.

But now, my kingdom is not from here. And one of Jesus primary purposes in the Sermon on the Mount, in the parables, and so much of his teaching was to correct this misconception that the Jews had of a physical, earthly kingdom. It was a spiritual kingdom. A kingdom of heaven, a kingdom of God that He came to establish.

And upon the Lord's return, the earth will be destroyed, leaving no place to establish an earthly kingdom, whether in Israel, Jerusalem, or anywhere else. 2 Peter chapter 3 talks about that. And how often are we told in our Bibles to... To make warfare, but it's always talking about spiritual warfare. The weapons that we use to advance and preserve the Kingdom of Christ, those are spiritual weapons, not carnal weapons.

2 and 5 would be a passage that talks about that. And yet, how many wars have been fought? You think back to the Crusades, you think back to wars in more recent times between Christians, Jews, and Muslims over that piece of land around the world. And don't get me wrong, that piece of land is pretty incredible.

In better days, in more peaceful times, if you have the chance to go and see that piece of land, I encourage you to do so. It will open up things in your understanding of the Word of God. But Jesus says that that piece of land... has lost its significance as the center of our place of worship and connection with God.

We studied not too long ago about the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4. Turn back there if you would for just a moment. In John chapter 4,

Mount Ebal and Gerasim are there and she motions and says Our fathers, let's look there, what is that, verse, John chapter 20, Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship. And Jesus said to her, Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father.

And he says, Salvation is of the Jews. That's where God's plan is going to be worked out in order to bring about the Christ. Notice verse 23, But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father. In spirit and in truth for the Father is seeking such to worship him. It's not about the place, it's about the conduct of our heart as we seek to worship.

And so the Bible teaches us that Christ's kingdom is spiritual, not physical. It is not about that piece of land around the world. And number three, the Bible teaches us that Christ's kingdom has already been. From our reading this week in Mark chapter 9 and verse 1, Jesus said that there were some alive in the first century, the beginning of the first century, when He was alive, who would not see death until the kingdom comes.

And Jesus established His kingdom It was established in Acts chapter 2, and first century Christians enjoyed citizenship in that kingdom. Turn to Colossians chapter 1 and verse 12. Colossians chapter 1 and verse 12.

Notice verses 12 and 13.

Giving thanks to God the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. And he has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. So you think about a conveyor belt that moves, we have been conveyed into The kingdom of the Son of His love.

Now, how could we possibly be conveyed or transferred into the kingdom of the Son of His love if that kingdom has not come? We can only be in that kingdom if the kingdom is here, if it has been established. Revelation chapter 1 and verse 9 talks about that. Philippians chapter 3 and verse 20 says that we are citizens.

of this kingdom. We are citizens of heaven. Not that we will be, but that we are. So, what about the day of the Lord? What about His coming? That people often relate to these sorts of things that we find in the Middle East. Well, let's have one passage that we read together. Turn to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5.

1 Thessalonians chapter 5. Again, we will have to go through this quickly. And I'll tell you, if you have any further questions, you'd like to discuss this further, I'm willing and available to do so.

But I'm just giving you some tools for your toolbox. So, chapter 5, verses 1 through 11 is what we'll read together. But this flows from the end of chapter 4. And chapter 4 dealt with comforting brethren concerning those Christians who had fallen asleep, who had died before the Lord's coming. And there were some, many, perhaps, in the church in Thessalonica who thought, Jesus is going to come any day.

And so they were quitting their jobs and doing all sorts of things they shouldn't have been doing because they were anticipating this kind of imminent coming. And what the Apostle Paul says is you need to get back to work. You don't need to worry about those who have fallen asleep. You find comfort knowing that Jesus is going to come again.

But those who have fallen asleep will meet Him in the air. And so in chapter 4 and verse 18, he says, Therefore, comfort one another with these words. Now drop down to chapter 5 and verse 11. Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another just as you are also doing. So chapter 4, 13 through 18 is comfort concerning Christians who have fallen asleep.

Chapter 5, verses 1 through 10 is edification. This is building up to tell you This is what's happening when the Lord comes again. So read with me, beginning in verse 1. But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

For when they say peace and safety, then suddenly destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not So the times and the seasons. So these different times. When is the Lord going to come? How long until the Lord comes again? When will it happen? What will be going on around that time?

How can we predict it? All of those questions that people love to ask. Paul says, you don't need to worry about all of those questions. That's not times and seasons. That's not where you should be focused. Verse 4, But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief. It shouldn't surprise you.

Now this is in contrast to those people who will not escape. You're going to be able to escape destruction and ruin because you're ready, you're not overtaken, you're not surprised. And Paul's emphasis is not on figuring out when this day is going to occur, but being ready for it whenever it does.

Therefore, verse 6, let us not sleep as others do, let us watch, let us be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, whether we're alive or dead when Jesus comes again, we should live together with Him.

And so we comfort and edify one another with these words. Edification means building up. We are building one another up to say, this is where our focus should be. Our focus should be on being ready whenever Jesus comes, because He is going to come at a time we do not expect. The day of the Lord will come suddenly, unexpectedly, without advance warning, and it will end at great loss for those who are caught unprepared, just like a thief in the night.

So, soberly use the spiritual weapons of faith, hope, and love to be ready for that day. That image is so powerful, a thief in the night. I know this is East Texas. There are times when we don't lock our doors. I say our doors, right? Nobody should look up my address at this point, right? Raise your hand in here if you lock your doors at night, if you lock your doors at night.

Now, why, why do you do that? You do that to protect yourself against those who might come in at that time. And so, every night I go through. Brooklyn, make sure that I do this. Make, make sure that I do this every night. You know, are all the doors locked? Are all the windows locked? Well, I don't check all the windows every night because they're, they stay locked.

But I do check the doors every night. So every night I might be ready. I might be ready if someone were to come and try and break in. But I don't know when that's going to happen. The thief doesn't text me ahead of time and say, Be ready tonight, it's coming. And I don't mean to make fun, but that's the image.

The image of our focus should be on being ready. Jesus comes again. Watch and be ready. Notice the very similar metaphor that's being used in Matthew chapter 24. We also see the same metaphor in 2 Peter chapter 3, and that is written specifically to Christians, and it's coming as a thief in the night. In Matthew Peter chapter 3, Notice verses 42 through 44.

Now, in Matthew 24, he talks some about the destruction of Jerusalem, some in my judgment, some about this final day of the Lord. Verse 42, Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. So we, even Christians, do not know the hour that he's coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour

Knowing that we would be out of time at this point, I've given you one passage to read on your own as well, Matthew 24 and 25. Again, the beginning of Matthew 24, in my judgment, is dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem. And verse 36, But of that day no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

And I believe then he deals with the final judgment day. And what we see there in Matthew chapter 24 are four accounts. Some people say four parables in Matthew 24 and 25. The fateful and evil servants, the wise and foolish virgins, the parable of the talents, and the judgment scene of the sheep and the goats.

And as you read through these on your own, I want you to think about these four common elements, these four aspects that are in all four of those accounts. There is a command given. We have a responsibility from God to live our lives in a certain way. There is time given to obey or disobey what God has given us to do.

In all of these accounts, there is a reckoning. A reckoning where that time runs out and the reckoning is always unexpected at a time we do not expect. And after the reckoning, there is a judgment where there is a dividing. A dividing for reward or punishment where all are held accountable for their actions.

And in all of these... Stories, parables that Jesus tells. It's about being ready whenever He comes. Not looking at some signs and seasons to say, I'm gonna figure it out so that I'll know just at the right time when I can make my life right. No, it's about making your life right now. So that you can be ready for Him whenever your life ends or whenever Christ comes again.

Okay, bring this lesson kind of to a conclusion now. What should we be doing with these tools, with this information? Can I suggest four things that we should be doing? One more passage, turn to 1 Timothy chapter 2, 1 Timothy chapter 2. The first thing that we should all be doing is praying. And maybe sometimes that is, that is a step that we miss.

But it is the first step in the process of anything that we consider along these lines. 1 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 1. Therefore I exhort, first of all, Paul says, the first thing you ought to be doing, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, specifically, all people, specifically, verse 2, for kings and all who are in authority.

And that includes those who are in authority over in Israel and Palestine, Palestine. for what purpose? That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. For what purpose? Verse 4, bringing it full circle to the first, second verse that we looked at.

Who desires all people, all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. We should be praying. We should be praying for peace. We should be praying for justice. And ultimately that prayer is related to the reality that we want all people to be saved. To have the opportunity to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

Secondly, we as Christians should not be worrying about these things. That's another lesson for another time, but the scriptures are many in our New Testament that tell us as Christians that these physical things should not be what consumes us, should not be the things that cause us to worry. Number three, we should be getting ready for Christ's coming.

And number four, we should be looking for opportunities to proclaim the gospel, or perhaps to teach the gospel more accurately to those who do not understand what the scriptures are communicating. And where are we trying to direct people in all of this? I've given this a lot of thought with the conversations I've had over the last couple of weeks since these things began.

And I think there are three questions we should be pointing people toward. Where was the focus of Jesus? We're so concerned about these things, many people are. But where was the focus of Jesus? On the physical or on the spiritual? Related to that, where is our focus? Is our focus on the spiritual? On the worship we should be offering?

On the lives we should be living? On the hope that we have? Or is our focus on the physical, manifested in all sorts of different ways, including worry about the things that are happening around the world? And then maybe this is the most important question of all, for the conversations that we have and for the lesson tonight.

Am I ready? Are you ready for Christ and His coming? We do not know the day. We do not know the hour. We know it will be as a thief in the night. We were having a conversation at lunch about this. I said, you know, maybe during the Super Bowl, when everybody's distracted by something else, that almost guarantees it will not be during the Super Bowl, because I've made that prediction now, right?

But it will come at a time we do not expect. And so the question is, am I ready? Am I ready right now? If He were to come in this moment, would I be ready for that coming? And if you're not sure about that question, it is the most important question you can answer. To know that you are right with God, to know that you are saved, and know that you can stand before Him with boldness and confidence whenever He comes.

And so if you're not yet in Christ, won't you be baptized into Him so that you might rise to walk in newness of life? And if you're already a Christian and you realize you've not been living your life prepared for Jesus to come again, If there's any way we can help you in making those preparations, won't you come now while together we stand and while we sing.