Throughout the Old Testament, the Jewish nation of Israel was God’s chosen people. Through Moses, God led the Israelites out of their 400 or so years of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land of Canaan (modern-day Israel and Palestine), the “land flowing with milk and honey“.
Yet, despite God’s favour, following the death of Solomon in around 930 B.C., Israel was split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. As well as fighting against each other for land, Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. This defeat resulted in the Ten Lost Tribes. They were then invaded by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. under King Nebuchadnezzar, in which the first temple was destroyed, and many Jews were taken captive.
During the following centuries, the rule of Israel was exchanged between the miscellany of groups.
- 538 B.C.– Persians under Cyrus the Great who allowed the captive Jewish people to return home
- 322 – The Hellenic Greeks under Alexander the Great
- 167 – Independence is granted to the Jews following the Maccabean Revolt
- 63 – Under Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great) the Romans conquer Israel
- 70 A.D.– The Second Temple is destroyed by the Romans
- 636-637 – The Arabs under Abu Ubaydah, of the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattab
- 969–1099The Fatimids (a major Isma‘ili Shi‘ite dynasty)
- 1071 – The Seljuk Turks take control of Jerusalem, proscribing entry to Christians
- 1099 – The Crusaders occupy Jerusalem under Godfrey of Bouillon
- 1187 – Under Saladin, the Egyptians capture Jerusalem, however, Jews were allowed entry
- 1260 -1516 – the Mamelukes, a military class of slaves who defeated the Crusaders in Palestine
- 1517 – The Ottoman Empire defeats the Mamelukes, and installs Islam. Sultan Süleyman, who would be known as “Süleyman the Magnificent” rebuilding Jerusalem in a distinctive Ottoman style
- 1920 – Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War in 1917, the British take control of Israel under the Palestine Mandate.
Peace through Jesus Christ
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, [you will also] appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now, you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all.
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.Colossians 3:1-14
In Colossians 3, believers are warned not to supplant the realities of Christ with trivialities of earthly ambitions, temporary titles or fleeting passions. Indeed, drifting away from Christlikeness into Christlessness turns our soul into something inconsequential: they’re already condemned (John 3:18).
In the beginning, it may appear to be simpler or more pleasurable to postpone or relegate time for prayer and disregard the Word of God. However, when we reject Jesus Christ, we reject the gifts of the Spirit. All that we’ll receive is a susceptibility to sin and eternal separation from God.
Don’t allow the receipt of trials and earthly sufferings to leave you dry and shrivelled up. God allows. Moreover, God designs such times as a counterbalance to the perfection of the New Creation. He wants us to go to Him when we hit hard times, to ask for His grace, guidance and relief. We see this over and again from Genesis to Revelation.
28Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30
So, do you want to receive guaranteed relief from all of your worries and concerns? Well, good news:
11“…For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:11-13
Here we see that the Lord Jesus Christ has given himself to us. However, this divine gift is proportional to how much we faithfully yearn for his refreshment in the wake of our repentance.
During the founding of the Christian Church, the apostle Peter clarifies this reality:
19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.Acts 3:19
You see, repentance is not merely feeling guilty of something, grovelling before God or punishing yourself in penance for sin. Repentance is embodied by faith in the grace offered by Jesus Christ. It’s the act of moving toward the Lord with our hearts open, hopeful and obedient. This is the attitude of Paul in Colossians 3:1–2,
Paul reminds us that every element of our lives is God’s Creation; every instance of love and joy we experience on earth is but a foretaste of what our resurrected lives will be like:
23The city [the New Jerusalem] does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.Revelation 21:23
Our admittance into this heaven on earth is priceless. Try as we may, none of us can live lives that are acceptable for admittance into God’s But, thanks to the mercy and grace of our Triune God, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the price has been paid in full.
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10