Joel C. Rosenberg tweeted this morning, @JoelCRosenberg, “Air raid sirens sounded in Jerusalem. All clear now. Missile hit near Bethlehem. No casualties reported. Keep praying. #PillarOfDefense”
“Michael Lawrence, @IsraelSpeaker, reacted this way, “This afternoon’s long-range Hamas missile fell near Bethlehem, holy town for the Christian world. Why is this allowed?”
I didn’t think my spiritual pain could worsen when I’d read the other day that Hamas launched a rocket at Jerusalem but it did when I’d read that the little town of Bethlehem was hit. I admit I began to cry. I honestly don’t know why it hit me so hard.
There are many protests and clashes going on in Bethlehem right now, too. Jerusalem Post reports-
W. Bank: Palestinians protest, clash with IDF troops
“More anti-Israel protests erupted in the West Bank Tuesday as Palestinians took to the streets and clashed with IDF troops. The worst clashes took place in Bethlehem and Hebron, where IDF soldiers used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse stone-throwers.”
As we approach the season of our Holy Savior’s birth in that tiny village, we always envision this kind of peaceful scene–
Phillips Brooks wrote the lyrics to O Little Town of Bethlehem. He described his horseback journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, where he assisted with the midnight service on Christmas Eve, 1865:
“I remember standing in the old church in Bethlehem, close to the spot where Jesus was born, when the whole church was ringing hour after hour with splendid hymns of praise to God, how again and again it seemed as if I could hear voices I knew well, telling each other of the Wonderful Night of the Savior’s birth.”
And we never envision this kind of violent scene-
|Palestinian youths throw stones at Israeli security forces
Friday in a West Bank village near Bethlehem. source
On Twitter, a Stephanie Bond wrote “Oh little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee riot!” And she posted this photo —
As for the present clashes between Israel and Gaza, there are rumors flying around that change every minute. There is a cease-fire about to be announced. There is no cease fire. Israel does not want a cease-fire. Gaza does not want a cease fire. They are under pressure to accept a cease fire…and on and on it goes. Credible news outlets like CNN, Reuters, JPost and others on Twitter tweet all the above and sometimes at the same time. All I can say for sure is that things are changing by the minute.
The only thing that does not change is Christ’s love for His people- all people, for now. The IDF soldiers, the Muslim rock throwers and the Christians in the little town of Bethlehem. This is the time of Grace. Soon it will be the time of wrath, where there is no grace.
Micah 5:2 spoke of Bethlehem where the savior would be born. We associate the swaddling babe with that city and rightly so. But the same Micah reminds us just a few verses later that Jesus
“in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance on the nations that did not obey.” (Micah 5:15)
Acts 17:30-31 reminds us of that fact-
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
In Revelation 6 we read that the souls of the slain cry for vengeance upon the earth.
“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” ” (Revelation 6:9-10)
MacArthur explains this thirst for vengeance, and it is not what it seems–
“These prayers are not personal vendettas, they’re not thirst for personal revenge. Their holy desire is for the end of iniquity. Their holy desire is for the destruction of Satan. Their holy desire is for the devastation of Antichrist and the false prophet and all who followed him. Iniquity has reached its height in the slaughter, how long until You avenge our blood on…then this phrase, “Those who dwell on the earth?” … Now as we look at Revelation chapter 6 tonight, we are going to come face to face with God’s vengeance. The time of grace is really coming to its end.”
For all those who think that the grace will continue to those who dwell on the earth forever, you’re wrong. I do not know how long our Holy Savior will patiently endure the attacks at Jerusalem and on the people of the apple of His eye. Appeal to Him now while grace is still here. (Isaiah 55:6). Be His recipient of it now!
Here, the Vienna Boys Choir sings O Little Town of Bethlehem. It is grace, grace, grace Who came to us wrapped in flesh to save the world and those who dwell in it. I cry today because they bomb it and throw stones at it and spit on it. How long, O Lord? The Lord uses Zechariah to remind them and us that His patience will not remain forever–
“For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye: “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the Lord. And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 2:8-13)
Such glorious promises! But Zechariah ends the verse with this:
“Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”
And what a day that will be!! A day of wrath and not of grace. Therefore “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15b)
They begin singing at 1:33.