Preaching Notes 18th February, 2011 – Barna Research, the Bible and Current Events

Feb 19, 2011 No Comments by


A few weeks ago major events swept through the Arab world, The demise of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak rocked the nation and the Middle East.

I found this Scripture particularly interesting.

“I will provoke civil strife in Egypt, brothers will fight with each other, as will neighbors, cities and kingdoms. The Egyptians will panic and I will confuse their strategy. They will seek guidance guidance from the idols and from the spirits of the dead, from the pits they conjure up underworld spirits and from the magicians.” (Isaiah 19: 2-3)

Political analysts and media opportunists have offered a variety of possible outcomes for the upheaval.

Isaiah gave a most enlightening perspective.

“The Lord will strike Egypt, striking and then healing them. They will turn to the Lord and he will listen to their prayers and heal them.” (Isaiah 19: 22)

Chaos and instability which rocks the world today, contrasts with the security to be found in the Lord. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and those who find their comfort in the status quo will be shaken to their boots in the months and years to come.

Those of us who are Zionists have felt the rejection and even the disdain of those Christian leaders and churches that are steeped in what is called Replacement Theology, which is the belief that the church has replaced Israel in the Lord’s affections and in His plan.

As I watch world events today, I find no reason to believe that Genesis 12: 3 means anything less today than it did 2000 years ago.

God spoke these words to Israel. “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12: 3)

I want to share with you, statistics you might not hear from any pulpit, any time soon.

Barna Research is one of the most prestigious and reliable survey groups in America today and they have published the following survey results which deal with American pastors and their allegiance to a biblical worldview.

Barna reveals that overall in the U.S.A. 51 percent of pastors have a biblical worldview. Does it shock you that almost half of the pastors preaching and teaching today, get their themes and worldview slant from something other than the Bible.

That is a catastrophe!

Further the research reveals 44 percent of pastors from charismatic or Pentecostal churches are committed to a biblical worldview.

Only 28 percent of pastors in mainline and liberal churches adhere to a biblical worldview.

It is not as though the Lord is shocked or taken by surprise at these developments.

Check out these prophetic Scriptures.

“Many shepherds have ruined My vineyard, They have trampled down My field; They have made My pleasant field a desolate wilderness.” (Jeremiah 12:10)

‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing.” (Ezekiel 13: 3)

Then there is this telling exhortation from Paul to Timothy.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” (2 Timothy 4: 2,3)

The Barna Research results reminded me of this. “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD.’ (Jeremiah 23: 1)

Proverbs 5: 24 warns that people will ‘die for lack of instruction.’

Think Like Jesus

Among born-again adults in America, Barna Research reports:

a) Six out of ten follow a set of specific principles they believe-in, that serve as behavioral guidelines.

b) Two out of ten born-again adults do whatever feels right or comfortable in a given situation.

c) One out of ten born-again individuals do whatever they believe will make the most people happy or will create the least amount of conflict with others.

d) About one out of ten believers make their moral choices on the basis of whatever they think will produce the most personally beneficial outcome, whatever they believe their family or friends would expect them to do, or whatever they think other people would do in the same situation.

When these survey statistics are put together the report found: “among all born-again adults about one-quarter make their moral and ethical choices based on the Bible.”

From that survey George Barna’s concludes:
“….that three out of four born-again Christians overlook the Bible as their shaping worldview influence.”

The world is in spiraling chaos today and without a thorough knowledge of the Bible many people will be shaken, fearful and even terrified.

Isaiah looked forward to a time when Egypt, along with Assyria (today’s Iraq and other parts of the Middle East), would become a blessing in the whole world.

Is. 19:19-25 In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.
“Thus the LORD will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the LORD and perform it.
“The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them.
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
I”n that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is aEgypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, an Israel My inheritance.”

This Isaiah event is yet to come.

There are events happening today that should get our attention and cause us to pray.

24th International Islamic Unity Conference

The 24th International Islamic Unity Conference will be held in Tehran from Feb 19-to-21, Secretary General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence is Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri. He said the goals of the conference is to make Muslims of all denominations, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, about the culture of proximity, pursuing an united stance on issues including Islamic Sharia, and reviewing the challenges facing the world of Islam.

“Some 250 personalities from 57 countries including Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan, India, Azerbaijan Republic, Libya, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, England, Australia, US, Germany, France, Iraq, China and Tajikistan will participate in the conference,” he added.
It is the passionate ambition of the Iranian leaders to initiate a Muslim unity which will work towards affirming a new Caliphate (Kingdom)

Ayatollah Khamenie and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believe in the imminent return of the 12th Imam (al Mahdi). They are known as Twelfthers – believers in the 12th Imam).
According to their belief al Mahdi will come and restore peace to the world by causing everyone to submit to his rule and authority. Ayatollah Khamenie claims he talks with al Mahdi. Ahmadinejad opens every speech by honoring him and calling for his soon return.
They fervently believe he will return at a time of chaos and so, causing such an upheaval they conclude, may hasten the timing.
Arab Unrest
There are major events taking place throughout the Arab world today. These very visible street protests are aimed at tyrants who have ruled without opposition.
It is interesting to consider these nations and note their attitude to the Jewish people.

ALGERIA

Algeria’s Jewish population can be traced back about 2,600 years, to when the First Temple was destroyed. After Algeria achieved independence from France in 1962, most of the country’s 130,000 Jews – who had long suffered from local anti-Semitism – emigrated to France.
By the 1990’s, most of the remaining Jews had emigrated.
In 1994, the rebel Armed Islamic Group declared war on all non-Muslims in the country. The Algiers synagogue was abandoned that year and later became a mosque.
Slightly more than 200 Jews remain today in Algeria, mostly in Algiers.

BAHRAIN

This small island kingdom (population 1.25 million) has been ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family for nearly two centuries, since 1820.
After World War II, riots were focused against the middle-class Jewish community. By 1948, most of Bahrain Jewry abandoned its properties and evacuated to Bombay, India and later to Israel and the United Kingdom.
As of 2008, 37 Jews remained in the country; In 2008, King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa called on the Jews who emigrated to return.

EGYPT

In 1956, the Egyptian government issued a proclamation stating that “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state” and threatened them with expulsion.
As a result, half of Egypt’s 50,000 Jews left, and 1,000 were imprisoned.
After the 1967 war, nearly all Egyptian Jewish men aged 17-60 were either thrown out of the country or incarcerated and tortured.
Fewer than 100 Jews remain in Egypt today.

IRAN

Jews in Iran, formerly known as Persia, date back 4,000 years. In 1948, the population numbered close to 150,000, and at the time of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the number was 80,000. From then on, Jewish emigration increased dramatically.
Estimates of today’s population range from 20,000 to 35,000.
Iran’s Jewish community, the largest among Muslim countries, is officially recognized as a religious minority group and as such is allocated one seat in the Iranian Parliament.
Tehran has 11 functioning synagogues.

IRAQ

Iraqi Jewry dates back at least 2,600 years, and numbered around 120,000 in 1948.
Nearly all the Jews left because of persecution following Israel’s War of Independence, and today fewer than 100 Jews remain.

TUNISIA
In 1941, Tunisia was home to roughly 100,000 Jews, and a year later became the only Arab country to come under direct Nazi occupation during World War II.
The Nazis forced Jews to wear the yellow Star of David, confiscated property, and sent some 5,700 Jews to forced labor camps, where 150 died in the camps or the bombings.
In the 1950’s, anti-Semitism and other forms of persecution led to the departure of tens of thousands of Jews; each person was allowed to leave with approximately $5 of their own money.
As of now, 700 Jews live in the city of Tunis and 1,000 on the island of Djerba.

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

Jews, by definition, do not live in the PA-controlled areas.
This past December, Abbas said, “We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”
Months earlier, he even said that he would not agree to a single Jewish soldier in a NATO peacekeeping force in the region, but later backtracked.

JORDAN
Islamist voices are coming to the fore in Jordan; the country’s new Justice Minister has praised the murderer of seven Israeli girls and called for his release from prison.
The lethal attack occurred on the Israeli-Jordanian border in 1997.


Jewish history in what is now Jordan goes back to Biblical times, when Moses granted permission to two and a half tribes to live there after taking part in the war for the Land of Israel.
Over the centuries, the Jewish population dwindled to nothing.
In the 1930’s, leading residents of what was then Transjordan requested that Jews move in to help revive the economy – but the British, who ruled the area, did not want more Jewish-Arab problems, and passed legislation banning Jews from living there.
After the Kingdom of Jordan was created, it ratified this law in 1954, declaring that any person may become a citizen unless he is a Jew (or if a special council approves his request and he has fulfilled other conditions).
Jordan has no Jewish community at present.


LIBYA

In 1931, 21,000 Jews lived in Libya – 4% of the total population – under generally good conditions.
In the late 1930s, the Fascist Italian regime began passing anti-Semitic laws, and in 1942 – when 44 synagogues were operative in Tripoli – German troops occupied the Jewish quarter of Benghazi and deported more than 2,000 Jews to labor camps across the desert, where more than a fifth of them perished.
After World War II, anti-Jewish violence and murderous pogroms caused many Jews to leave the country, principally for Israel, and under Gaddafi’s rule, the situation deteriorated so badly that only 20 Jews remained by 1974.
In 2003, the last Jew of Libya, 80-year-old Rina Debach, left the country.

MOROCCO

Before the founding of Israel in 1948, there were over 250,000 Jews in the country, but only 3,000 – 7,000 remain today, mostly in Casablanca.
In June 1948, 44 Jews were killed in anti-Semitic riots, and large-scale emigration to Israel began.
Between 1961 and 1964, more than 80,000 Moroccan Jews emigrated to Israel; by 1967, only 60,000 Jews remained, and four years later, this number was 35,000.
Today, the State of Israel is home to nearly 1,000,000 Jews of Moroccan decent, around 15% of the nation’s total population.


SYRIA

Large Jewish communities existed in Aleppo, Damascus, and Qamishli for centuries.
About 100 years ago, a large percentage of Syrian Jews emigrated to the U.S., Central and South America and Israel.
Anti-Jewish feeling reached a climax in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and some 5,000 Jews left in the 1940’s for what became Israel.
The Aleppo pogrom of December 1947, a pogrom in Aleppo – the third in 100 years – left many dead, hundreds wounded, and the community devastated.
Another pogrom in Damascus in 1949 left 12 Jews dead.
In 1992, the few thousand remaining Jews were permitted to leave Syria, as long as they did not head for Israel.
The few remaining Jews in Syria live in Damascus.


YEMEN

Between June 1949 and September 1950, 49,000 Yemenite Jews – the overwhelming majority of the country’s Jewish population – was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet.
Only a few dozen mostly elderly Jews remain in Yemen.
Amidst the Arab demands for the restitution of Arab refugees from the 1948 war, it is largely forgotten that around that time, more than 870,000 Jews lived in the various Arab countries. In many cases, they were persecuted politically and physically, and their property was confiscated; some 600,000 Jews found refuge in the State of Israel. Their material claims for their lost assets have never been seriously considered.
(The nation by nation notes was obtained from Arutz Sheva, Israel – www.israelnationalnews.com)
I’ll leave you to ponder those details.
It is not necessary to say to you, we are living in extremely volatile and sensitive times.
My heartfelt prayer is that we will all seek to find truth in the Bible and void the ear-tickling counterfeits so prevalent today.

For those of you who take your joy and encouragement from the Lord consider these inspirational and uplifting words.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He braised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” (Psalm 46: 1-7)

Ron's Rave

About the author

Ron Ross worked as the first Sports Editor at WINTV. In Wollongong he ran The Hamburger Hut an outreach and discipleship program for youth. He served with Youth With a Mission in Hawaii, Philippines and Australia. He was senior pastor of the Noosa Baptist Church, Queensland for 9 years. With a heart for Israel Ron was appointed national director of Bridges for Peace, Australia. At the invitation of the BFP International Board he moved to Jerusalem and worked in the BFP Jerusalem headquarters for five years. Back in Australia he is now the Middle East correspondent for United Christian Broadcasters and travels regularly preaching and teaching.
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