Independence for Israel—"Out of All Their Troubles…"

When modern Israel was founded in 1948, the newly-formed nation faced an uncertain future. The eyes of the world were upon it. From the moment Israel’s declaration of independence was signed on May 14, the endeavor was beset by many troubles. War came swiftly—when the new country’s angry neighbors attacked. Seventy years later, what is the condition of the nation that so many threatened to “drive into the sea?”

Israel celebrates its independence today, in conjunction with another holiday memorializing the fallen soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force in the country’s conflicts—and there are many to remember. Most Jews in the Western world recognize Yom Ha’atzmaut, and linking it with Yom Harizikon is a significant reminder of the debt Israelis owe to their armed forces.

Both holidays follow the ancient—and biblical—Hebrew tradition of counting days from sundown to sundown, meaning that the 24-hour period for Yom Harizikon started on Tuesday evening at sundown and ended even as Yom Ha’atzmaut was beginning on Wednesday evening. (Holy days recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are counted the same way).

Israel, having endured much, does well to remember and dedicate national holidays to the sacrifices that have paved its way to success in the modern age. Many Americans have a penchant for their own national holidays commemorating the United States’ establishment and defense, but these Israeli holidays remind that they are far from alone. How especially poignant Israel’s memories must be, whose population today still includes those who lived through their nation’s birth and survival, seeing it with their own eyes and shaping it with their own hands.

It is interesting to note that American culture, in general, has been identified by some as “forgetful” regarding its past, as fewer Americans today are able to answer basic questions about the nation’s history. Much of United States history is marked by monumental internal as well as external trials—and with so much going on within its borders, it can indeed be easy for Americans to forget, and become so wrapped up in the present that even the recent past seems more like “ancient history.” Sadly, that exacts a price.

But it would seem that a young nation like Israel, balanced on a knife’s edge through much of its existence, would be even less able to afford such forgetfulness. Zionism’s history is long, and fraught with highs and lows. Modern Jews do well not to take the future for granted by forgetting the horrors of the past.

But what if there were a connection between Israel and the West that much of the entire world has forgotten? And what if the Holy Bible contained the key to understanding that connection, in prophecies that many find confusing? The United States, Great Britain and Israel today are allies, sharing much in common—including their devotion to the traditions of freedom and liberty they’ve fought hard to achieve and protect, and reflected in their independence and memorial days.

But their connection runs much deeper than that.

Genesis 48 and 49 record the ancient prophetic blessings the Hebrew patriarch Jacob pronounced on his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh: “God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked … Bless the lads; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:15–16). They were to become a great nation (Manasseh) and a great company of nations (Ephraim) (v. 19), while from Judah the “scepter would never depart” (Genesis 49:10) and a Savior would come (Micah 5:2).

The descendants of Jacob are scattered abroad, but their identities were once known. Learn of them—and how that knowledge will affect your life—today! Order the free booklet, The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy.

By celebrating recent history, the people of Israel commemorate the sacrifices and protection of their armed forces. With an eye on the momentous events behind these holidays, whose “religious character… is still in the process of formation, and is still subject to debate,” it is understandable why people would celebrate them. Hopefully they are observed not only with a sense of reflection on the past, but also on the overall plan and purpose God has for all of His people in the future. And it would behoove Israel to consider, as well, to seek a more profound and passionate relationship with celebrations and observances that are at the very root of their culture, yet far older than 70 years: the holy days of the Bible.

Will we remember the role God Himself has truly played in our protection, or will we continue to forget the most important requirements for our many blessings to continue? Will we show the character spoken of in Psalm 34, and cry out to God, who will deliver us from “all our troubles”? We pray so!

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"Buy" the Truth

The old saying “Truth is a rare commodity” seems truer today than ever before. Truth is always valuable and investing in this commodity is always wise—particularly as it becomes rarer.

Let’s face it: lies, deceits, falsehoods, misrepresentations, omissions and so-called “spin” are rampant. If we have even a modicum of experience, we have grown rightly skeptical of all claims, no matter the source, whether in print, on television or the Internet. Nothing, it seems, can be trusted to be factual or accurate. Everything is suspect. The world is full of liars.

Like all human marketplaces, this “marketplace for truth” also contains half-truths, scams and outright lies. We are all invited to “buy” from this dizzying array. But lies spoil rather quickly. Like a waxed piece of fruit, the outside looks nice, but it may be rotten underneath. Half-truths may last a little bit longer, but eventually reveal what is true and what is not. Only real truth survives.

Lies are at least as old as the Garden of Eden, where the serpent (Satan the Devil in disguise) lied to Eve when it told her that she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit. Alas, she bought the lie, and mankind has been eating that rotten fruit ever since. Adam and Eve together “bought” the idea that they could decide for themselves what is true and what is a lie. This is the essence of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan told Eve, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). In other words, Satan said, “YOU can decide what is right and wrong, what is ‘true’ and what is ‘false,’ for yourself. You don’t need God to tell you! Decide for yourself!” And he even accused GOD of being the liar one verse earlier, when he said “You will not surely die!” (v. 4)—a direct contradiction to God’s warning! (See Genesis 2:16–17.)

In this present age, a person does not need to be particularly astute to notice the partisan wrangling by leaders in many nations. Political parties present their own version of “the truth.” They strongly wrestle to convince the observer that one or the other is totally wrong, and that the other must be totally right! But both may be wrong, and in totally wrong attitudes!

More than ever before, competing “truths” are presented nearly instantaneously—and even live on TV or the Internet. We no longer have the time (or take the time, often enough) to weigh what we see, hear and read, and to “mull things over” or to critically analyze or test what is “fact.”

In this marketplace, the wisdom of old tells us, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). What wonderful advice! But the hard thing is, obviously, identifying the truth in this dizzying array of presentation of truth, half-truths and outright lies!

There is, ultimately, only ONE source of absolute truth. That source is God. Jesus said, “…Your word is truth” (John 17:17). That source can be verified. It can be tested and found to be rock solid. In fact, we are encouraged to “check it out”, as we are told, “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It can be proven! The original King James Version even uses the word where it says: “prove” all things!

The word of God, the Bible, declares the truth. Jesus declared the truth, claiming that He IS the truth (John 14:6), that He would give the “spirit of truth to guide us into all the truth” (John 16:13). If we become His disciples (followers), and hold to His teaching, we will “know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).

Truth is a precious commodity. If we seek Him—and seek to be taught by Him—He will send out His truth, teaching us to walk in it (Psalm 25:5, 42:3, 86:11). We will become “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).

Truth is, indeed, a very precious commodity. Buy it, and don’t sell it! To help you find the truth revealed in the Holy Scripture of God, access our many articles and booklets at the Tomorrow’s World website, all completely free of charge.

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Vinegar on Soda

As a child, I remember my first “lesson” in chemistry. Somewhere, I obtained a little plastic boat—it probably came in a box of cereal or Cracker Jacks—into which one could put baking soda and vinegar. The chemical reaction propelled the little boat. Little did I know that this chemical reaction is mentioned in the Bible.

You can do an Internet search and find over 16 million results for “vinegar on soda.” It is a basic lesson in chemistry. Vinegar is an acetic acid, and soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an alkaline. When you mix the two ingredients together, you get a chemical reaction forming carbonic acid, which decomposes into water and carbon dioxide gas. Many extol the uses and virtues of both vinegar and sodium bicarbonate. As a child, I was simply delighted that my little plastic boat was propelled by this chemical reaction.

The Bible uses many analogies, and some involve these substances. For instance, in Proverbs 10:26, it says: “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy man to those who send him.” Anyone who has tasted undiluted vinegar has experienced the unpleasant flavor of an acid, with a PH of around 3. Smoke in the eyes is also very unpleasant. And so, a lazy person who is sent to do a job, but who is completely unreliable, is also very irritating.

The Bible gives an analogy about vinegar on soda in Proverbs 25:20. “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” The International Standard Version translates it: “Taking your coat off when it’s cold or pouring vinegar on soda—that’s what singing songs does to a heavy heart.”

Taking off your coat when it is cold is the exact opposite of what a person should do. You will be cold! Pouring vinegar on soda will make them both neutral (acids and bases cancel each other). So, the vinegar is no longer useful, and neither is the soda. Likewise, a grieving person with a heavy heart needs to grieve and mourn, and they have no use for someone trying to cheer them up by singing songs to them. As stated in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Or, in 1 Corinthians 12:26: “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it….” There is, indeed, “…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). A person who is mourning needs time to weep and mourn.

So, instead of singing songs and trying to cheer them up, general wisdom says to comfort those with a “heavy heart” by listening with compassion and patience, letting the grieving express their feelings, and not trying to tell them “how” to feel. Much as we would like, we can’t take away their emotional pains or sadness. We just need to “be there for them.”

And though some may even understand there is life and great potential after death, no matter what we go through, we are still human, and we suffer when we experience trials. But, there is also much we can do to help each other stay positive through them.

Each person differs to some degree in how they process a loss or endure some dire circumstance. We can simply ask them what we can do to be there for them and give support as they need it during a time of grief. Simply listening as they express their grief or performing some simple daily task they just cannot handle at the time are probably the best things we can do to help them get through the hardship and emotional pain they are suffering. That will be far more useful than singing songs to try and cheer them up—pouring vinegar on soda.

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The Benefits of Forgiveness

Everything we do has a cost. The cost may include money, time, physical or mental exertion, or a toll on our emotional health and well-being. Sometimes, the cost of our actions is imposed on people we love. Failing to forgive others exacts a tremendous cost.

If someone crashes into our automobile, there is not only a monetary cost for repairs, but also the costs of inconvenience, physical trauma, frustration and time exerted in making phone calls, filing insurance claims and obtaining police reports, etc.

There is also a cost for not forgiving another person who has wronged you. In fact, there are tremendous penalties imposed for failure to forgive another person. Forgiving another person can be a hard thing to do, perhaps even seemingly impossible. The person who has wronged us owes us a “debt.” Only the one “holding the note of debt” can choose to forgive it.

In psychology, forgiveness is a deliberate choice to let go of anger and resentment toward the individual who has caused you harm. Forgiveness is as if you forgave a debt.

Medical research conducted in hospitals and universities has discovered health benefits for forgiveness. These benefits include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, decreased stress, less depression and anxiety, improved sleep, less pain and increased psychological well-being. The one who forgives has greater peace of mind. Negativity is replaced with a positive mindset, healthier relationships and even a stronger immune system. These are tremendous physical benefits to the act of forgiving!

But those who hold a grudge, refusing to forgive, will suffer physical penalties for their anger, hatred, bitterness, depression and anxiety, all of which take a toll on their mental and physical well-being.

Those who study the world’s religions understand that one of the most important elements of Christianity is the forgiveness of sin that Jesus Christ has made possible through His crucifixion, endured for the benefit of mankind. His blood covers the penalty for the sins of believers, making possible our reconciliation with God, and extending to us the promise of eternal life.

But the interesting thing is that Jesus Christ requires us to forgive those who wrong us! In fact, it is essential that we do so in order for us to receive His forgiveness! In Luke 6, Jesus instructed His disciples to “…be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (vv. 36–37).

In Matthew 6, in what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “Model Prayer,” is Christ’s clear instruction: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (v. 12). After the prayer, Christ explains: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (vv. 14–15). Woah, that is serious! The consequence for not forgiving others is that we will not be forgiven by God, and without His forgiveness we are doomed to death. That is a heavy consequence!

One can research “famous” quotes about forgiveness and see that a few of them capture a glimpse of what it means to forgive, while others miss the mark entirely. For instance, one says that since the Bible says “forgive seventy times seven,” they are keeping a chart. Really?! That totally misses the object lesson! Another said to forgive your enemies because it really annoys them. That also misses the point.

All should read Christ’s parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. It concludes with the clear instruction that we are required to forgive “from the heart” if we are to receive our Father’s forgiveness (v. 35).

This is part of being a true Christian. Our booklet What Is a True Christian? is available free of charge, online or in print, here at Tomorrow’s World.

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