Josiah Hilton

Does Jesus Love the Temple?

Does Jesus Love the Temple? By Ben Hilton July 10th, 2020 18th, Tamuz 5780 This week marks the beginning of a three week period of mourning in the Jewish community over the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE. Even though this time of mourning has been common in the Jewish community ever since the Temple’s destruction, it is a really unique phenomenon if you think about it. What other people group mourns the loss of a building, no matter how central to their culture, for hundreds, much less thousands of years? Yet here we are, nearly two thousand years after the destruction of the second Temple, entering a period of national mourning once again. But what purpose does this mourning serve? Wouldn’t it be better to move on with life instead of dwelling in the past? Or is there something deeper here, something we have overlooked as Christians? You see, the Temple in Jerusalem isn’t just a building, it isn’t just a house for God, it is His home here on earth. Psalm 132:13 says, “For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; He has desired it for His home.” (NLT) I know this idea of a physical home for God can seem strange to us today as Christians with all of our theology and notions as to the character of God. But in reality, why is it strange? Why should God not have a home here on earth? God says in 2 Chronicles 6:16, “For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”  (NKJV) God says His eyes and heart will be on the Temple Mount perpetually, forever. I know this makes little sense when we view Scripture through the fogged up lenses of replacement theology, but what if we take off those lenses for a few minutes and look at God’s word for what it truly says? What if we actually approach what God says as a little child might? After all, this concept of a home for God makes perfect sense to children. God is our Father, and fathers have a house they want to spend time in with their children. Houses are important for families to find security, shelter, and unity. With that in consideration, perhaps we have over-complicated things. Matthew 18:3 says, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NKJV) I’m going to make a bold statement. Home, an actual physical home here on earth, is important to God. This is why when Jesus was lost in Jerusalem when 12 years old, “doing His Father’s business,” He was found in the Temple. This is why a very significant part of Jesus’ ministry and teaching was based in the Temple. This is why Jesus told His disciples He is preparing rooms for them in the Temple in John 14:2. This is why the disciples were continually in the Temple after Jesus’ ascension to heaven according to Luke 24:53. And this is why Jesus will be returning to the Temple when He comes again, according to many of the prophets. Jesus even cleared out the courts of the soon to be destroyed Temple according to all four of the gospels, and re-emphasized a prophecy that is still yet to be fulfilled: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations!” Mark 11:17 (NKJV) This isn’t complicated. God has a house, and He wants us to dwell with Him in it. He wants us to have a desire to be with Him, to love the things He loves. Isaiah 56:6-7 says, “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants–everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast to my covenant–even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” (NKJV) And in Revelation 3:12, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he shall go out no more.” (NKJV) So as these three weeks of mourning by the nation of Israel progress, I would encourage us as Christians to take the opportunity to look into our own hearts, to see if we feel sadness over the loss of God’s home here on earth, to see if we desire to see its rebuilding. On that note, I would like to invite you to check out a new book I recently completed called, Jesus Loves the Temple. The book addresses many of the concepts surrounding the Temple through the lens of the entirety of Scripture. It also addresses many of the common theological objections Christianity typically has with the idea. Buy now on Amazon. Or buy on our website here. All four gospels say about Jesus, “Zeal for the house consumed Him.” May the same be said for all of us as... Read MoreRead More

The Confusing Mixed Messages of Sovereignty in Israel

The Confusing Mixed Messages of Sovereignty in Israel By Luke Hilton July 3rd, 2020  ~ 11th, Tamuz, 5780 July 1st was a date many in Israel had their hopes pinned on. It was the first possible date, according to President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan, when Israel could advance the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Many expected an announcement from Prime Minister Netanyahu on this date. They were disappointed. Instead, there were several other events that happened on July 1st – all having to do with applying sovereignty, but not moving it forward.  Of course, this was only the first possible date that legislation could be advanced for sovereignty according to the American peace plan. If Israel wants to move forward with the plan, they have the next three months to advance legislation. In the meantime, there are all kinds of speculations flying around concerning what is actually going to happen.  In one surprising twist of events, Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s settlement minister and part of the US-Israel mapping team, stated on July 1st that Israel will not:  back a Palestinian state create isolated enclaves in Judea and Samaria freeze construction within any of the settlements This is a new development, and if true, would be a welcome announcement to those in the right wing camps. Hotevely said that when the issue of sovereignty is brought before the Knesset, it will be voted on separately from Trump’s peace plan. In an article with Israel National News, she is quoted as saying: “The Israeli government does not accept the Trump plan as part of the government decision. All that we have said is that we are prepared to call the Palestinians to negotiations on the basis of the plan, and based on the framework on the table….Right now, there is a gap between our position and that of the Americans, who are coming into a complicated election season.”  Ayelet Shaked, leader of the Yamina party, had a few different things to say regarding sovereignty when she visited the settlement of Har Bracha this week, also on July 1st. After participating in the inauguration of a new neighborhood in Har Bracha on Wednesday this week, Shaked had only strong support for this Jewish community. Speaking to Israel National News she said: “I am in Har Bracha, a strong community that should reach 26,000 residents, a large city in Israel, that is the goal.”  About sovereignty, she said: “The Trump plan freezes this community and that is why, as I said, the plan is not good. We hoped that it would be possible to accept the good, the application of sovereignty, without having to pay the bad. At the moment we know that everything is delayed. “The Israeli government has never recognized a Palestinian state and there is no need for this government to do so for the first time; that is why I say that I am in favor of applying sovereignty but in no way agreeing to dangerous precedents.” Meanwhile, a surprising show of support was shown at the Knesset on July 1st from some unlikely sources. Lawmakers from parliaments in twenty countries signed a statement in support of sovereignty in Israel’s heartland. These lawmakers are all part of the Israel Allies Caucus in their respective parliaments. The beginning of the letter reads: “We, the chairman of the Israel Allies Caucuses fully support our ally, the State of Israel, in her rights to apply sovereignty to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.” It goes on to say: “We affirm that the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria have been a key part of the biblical and ancestral homeland of the Jewish nation for centuries. “We know that Israel ensures free access for all religions to the important biblical sites in Judea and Samaria, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs in Hebron, the site of Jacob’s dream in Beit El, and the tabernacle’s resting place in Shiloh, among many other religious sites. “We believe that the application of sovereignty to these communities in Israel will not affect the Palestinian people negatively but rather bring the possibility for peace and prosperity closer to the region. Applying Israeli law to already existing Jewish communities in Israel can be part of a realistic regional peace plan which recognizes current realities.” The signers of this letter came from such countries as Slovakia, Romania, Italy, Netherlands, Wales and Finland, Madagascar, Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa, Mexico and Dominican Republic, Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia, and Suriname.  July 1st didn’t bring a declaration of sovereignty, but it did bring more light to the issue. On the one hand, Settlement Minister Tzipi Hotevely has stated that Israel is actively working on a sovereignty plan, but outside of the American plan. She was adamant that Israel will not create enclaves from any of the settlements, freeze construction in the settlements, or support the creation of a Palestinian state.  On the other hand, Ayelet Shaked, leader of the Yamina party, made statements pointing out the dangers that are detailed in the “Deal of the Century” while participating in a cornerstone laying ceremony for the construction of a new neighborhood in the community of Har Bracha.  In the meantime, we saw members of Parliament from European, African, and Latin American countries who signed a letter supporting Israel’s right to sovereignty in their biblical heartland.  What will ultimately happen? Only time will tell.  Continue praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and never align yourself with any compromises when it comes to the land of Israel.  Israel has a biblical right to apply sovereignty over the entire land of Israel, and we should never deviate from that position – it’s written in God’s... Read MoreRead More

Religious Freedom in God’s House

Religious Freedom in God’s House By Ben Hilton Several weeks ago as the coronavirus was sweeping the world, something concerning was happening in regard to religious freedom in the United States. Governors had, in the name of protecting us from infection, ordered mass lockdowns and quarantines. This included the closing of many businesses deemed non-essential. Much of the criterion used to determine whether a business was essential or not remains a mystery. But what we do know is that churches didn’t make the cut in many places, meaning they were closed down at the order of the State. Even though most churches readily complied with the order, the idea of the State assuming this level of power over religious freedom can be concerning in many ways.    After some outcry, President Trump took up the baton, declaring houses of worship as “essential.” This was a declaration Christianity as a whole applauded, thankful for his courage in defending religious liberty for houses of worship.    There is a house of worship, however, where religious liberty is not applauded. In fact, Christianity as a whole has deemed it and condemned it to a state of being non-essential for most of history. I’m talking about a plateau on a little hill surrounded by several other hills. A place paved with smooth ancient stones, crowned with a shining golden dome, still echoing with prayers long forbidden.   I’m talking about the Temple Mount, of course, the place where God said in 2 Chronicles 7 He would place His eyes and heart forever. The place where His presence resided in power for hundreds of years and the only place He declared Himself zealous for in the Prophets, and where Jesus expressed His longing for it to become a House of Prayer for all nations! This place, the Home of God here on earth, is also where local Christians dumped their physical garbage for centuries, deeming it non-essential to our way of worship by all practical standards.    How have we become so disconnected from the very place God is zealous for, the House He created to have fellowship in with us? How have we become so disconnected from our Messiah who bore a tremendous zeal and love for His Father’s House?    When Jesus was left in Jerusalem as a twelve-year-old, His parents found Him in the Temple after a three-day search. When discussing His impending departure from earth with His disciples in John 15 Jesus told them He was going to prepare rooms for them in the Temple. When clearing out the impurities from the Temple’s courts Jesus’ disciples recognized that “Zeal for the House consumed Him.” And when Jesus prophesied about the Temple’s soon coming destruction, He wept.    After nearly 2,000 years of exile, the Jewish people have returned to the land of Israel. In 1967, the Temple Mount was returned to Israeli sovereignty, but not entirely. Jews are forbidden to pray or express any kind of open worship in the holiest location on earth. This is the place of God’s House, and I firmly believe it is time for us as Christians to start treating it as such. The time has come for us to stand up for our Father’s House, to deem it essential as a House of Worship. To call for it to become a house of prayer for all nations just as Jesus prophesied, to long for it with all of our hearts. Let freedom reign in God’s house. ... Read MoreRead More

In One Accord in One Place

In One Accord in One Place by Luke Hilton  Many Christians are familiar with the feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot as it is more commonly known in Israel. Many of you have probably celebrated a Passover seder before as well, and are appreciative of the beautiful significance that it brought to your faith. Many, however, are not as familiar with the feast of Shavuot. Interestingly though, Christianity does have a counterpart in Pentecost.  In Judaism, Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. To many, it is known as the marriage ceremony, when the children of Israel formed a relationship with their Creator and received His instructions for their lives. The Torah gives us no specific dates to celebrate Shavuot as it is meant to be exactly fifty days after Passover. During this fifty-day period, each family counts the “Omer,” which culminates in the feast of Shavuot.  In the New Testament, we see this fifty-day period as very significant. Yeshua died and rose again at Passover. He then appeared to more than 500 people over the next forty days. During that time, He taught them about His Kingdom. When He finally ascended to His Father, He had one last piece of instruction for His disciples:  “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:4-6) Yeshua told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Promise of the Father, which they would receive not many days from then. The disciples knew that Shavuot was only ten days away. They would have had great expectation that the promise that Yeshua gave them would arrive at the culmination of the counting of the omer, at Shavuot! We see this story played out exactly in the next chapter in Acts. I’d like to retell it, with brief interludes to also paint for you what happens in modern-day Jerusalem at Shavuot.  After Yeshua left them, the disciples returned to Jerusalem in great anticipation to finish counting down the remaining days until Shavuot. Their excitement was even greater than years previous, as they were in anticipation of a special gift this year.  Like all of the other Jews in Jerusalem, the disciples would have spent the night of Shavuot in prayer and Torah study, probably banding together in the upper room.  The beginning of Shavuot is marked by a special service in the synagogues, a festive meal usually consisting of dairy foods, and then the Torah studies begin. All night long, the Jewish people will engage in Torah study, listening to their favorite rabbis and discussing and learning from one another. The book of Ruth is also read and studied. All night long they stay awake. Some of them will wander from synagogue to synagogue, or house to house, joining different studies all throughout the night.  About an hour before sunrise, however, the studies wrap up and thousands of people from all over Jerusalem begin making their way to the Western Wall. Quietly, in the darkness, the streets of Jerusalem begin to be filled with people, all of them headed in one direction. The closer one gets to the Old City, the bigger the crowds grow. All of them pack into the Western Wall plaza and stand facing the Temple Mount, where they quietly wait. In the beginning of Acts 2, we read that the disciples were all in one accord, in one place. Most assume that they are still in the upper room. However, just a few verses later, we read that the Jews of Jerusalem were astonished to hear them speaking in their own languages. After Peter’s sermon to the people who were gathered there, 3,000 people were added to the disciples’ number. That means that there were thousands and thousands who witnessed the Holy Spirit fall on the disciples and heard Peter’s presentation of the Gospel! The hint as to what happened is in the beginning of Acts 2 and in the traditions of the Jewish people. We read in verse 1 that they were in “one place.” In Hebrew this is hamakom, a term used all throughout Scripture to refer to the Temple.  Let’s go back to the Western Wall  in modern Jerusalem. Just as the sun peeks over the horizon, someone gives a signal and the morning prayers begin. Each sect or group of Jews prays together with their leader. Even though the thousands who are praying are not in perfect unison, everyone is praying together, facing the Temple Mount. The experience is incredible.  Suddenly, the original Shavuot when the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples makes sense! After spending all night in the upper room in prayer and study, they would have joined the rest of Jerusalem in making their way to the Temple just before dawn. As faithful Jews who adhered to the traditions of their time, they would have joined in the morning prayers, probably finishing with the “Our Father” that Yeshua taught them. This was a common practice for rabbis of the day to give their disciples a unique prayer to add to the end of the daily prayers.  On this Shavuot, however, an amazing thing happened. In what must have been reminiscent of the original Shavuot, when God appeared in great splendor and glory to the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, a great wind shook the Temple. Tongues of fire appeared on the heads of the disciples, and suddenly they were speaking in the languages of all those who were present. The rest of the story we know The question is, could it be that the giving of the Holy Spirit was dependent on the disciples being in one accord and being in one place? Yeshua did tell them specifically to stay in Jerusalem. We read very clearly: “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. (Acts 2:1) Being in one accord does seem key to the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. What if, however, the second key is to be in alignment with “the Place” – the Temple? We know with near certainty that the disciples were in the Temple when the Holy Spirit fell on them during that Pentecost Day nearly 2,000 years ago.  What if, instead of allowing more than 40,000 denominations to divide Christianity, we returned to the original place where the disciples were in one accord? What if we aligned with Zion? Even if you can’t physically be in Jerusalem this year, you can still face Jerusalem as Shavuot begins tonight.  We encourage you to join with other believers tonight, and make sure you are aligned in one accord with Jerusalem and God’s Kingdom. Chag Shavuot sameach! (Happy feast of... Read MoreRead More

What Percentage of the Heartland Will the Deal of the Century Give Up? (Article)

What Percentage of the Heartland Will the Deal of the Century Give Away? Israeli elections finish in near stalemate with a slight advantage for Blue and White Naftali Bennet publishes alleged map for the deal of the century that gives away 90% of Judea and Samaria   With near final results (99.8%) from Tuesday’s elections, it appears to be a near stalemate between the left and right wing parties.  Blue and White: 33 Likud: 31 Joint Arab List: 13 Shas: 9 United Torah Judaism: 8 Yisrael Beytenu: 8 Yamina: 7 Labor-Gesher: 6 Democratic Union: 5 Altogether, the left-wing bloc stands at 57 seats (assuming the Arab list joins) and the right-wing bloc at 55. To form a coalition, one needs a minimum of 61 seats.  What does this mean for the immediate future of Israel, and the biblical heartland? In short, it’s hard to say yet. This week’s elections seem to be a near copy of the April elections, which is not very good news since Avigdor Lieberman refused to sit in Netanyahu’s government, and he very well could do the same again. This, of course, is assuming that Netanyahu has the chance to form a government this go around, which is questionable, since Blue and White headed by Benny Gantz received two more seats than Likud.  Avigdor Lieberman has already stated emphatically that he will not sit in a coalition government with Likud unless the draft law is passed, and unless public transportation is allowed to operate on Shabbat. The draft law would force all Israeli citizens to serve in the IDF, a move which would likely turn away the Ultra-Orthodox parties from sitting in the coalition.  On the other hand, Lieberman has also stated that he will in no way sit in a coalition with Benny Gantz if the Joint Arab List is included, which makes things difficult since they are now the third largest party in Israel.  Altogether, things do not look good for Gantz or Netanyahu to form a coalition. Two options seem to be at the forefront of discussions: 1) form a unity government with Likud and Blue and White, or 2) the right gets lays aside their differences and comes together to form a coalition. The only other option is to go to elections for a third time, which would likely happen in February 2020. Let’s talk about Yamina, which makes up several of the most conservative parties in Israel, and came together as a technical bloc with Ayelet Shaked at their head to try and garner more votes. Unifying did not seem to work in their favor however, because they only ended up with seven seats.  In what appeared to be a dramatic political stunt by Naftali Bennet, Yamina published a map just days before the election showing what they claimed the Deal of the Century would entail for Judea and Samaria.  As you can see below, according to Bennet’s map, the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area would be annexed, as promised by Netanyahu. Ninety percent of the rest of Judea and Samaria would be made into a Palestinian State, with most of the current settlements being annexed into Israel, and only connected to each other and Israel proper by roads.  One does not need to be an expert on Israel to know that this would be suicide for the Jewish state. Can you imagine driving on a road that is surrounded on all sides by a Palestinian state? Enough Jews are murdered as it is, and I do not say that lightly.  I will not elaborate more here on the dangers of what this alleged map along with a peace deal could do for Israel. We will have no way of knowing whether it is accurate until the actual peace plan is released, perhaps in the coming weeks. A local resident of Har Bracha however, has said that he thinks the map is an accurate depiction.  Here is the real danger. With Blue and White headed by Benny Gantz receiving the largest number of seats in the elections, the chance that he may be tasked with forming the next government is very real. Let’s lay out a possible scenario out very clearly:  Benny Gantz forms a left wing government coalition. The Deal of the Century is released immediately after Israel’s new Knesset is formed. The peace plan calls for Israel to give up land, settlements, and evacuate Jewish settlers from Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian state is formed in the land that Israel gives up. While Likud called Naftali Bennet’s map fake news, we can almost certainly say that President Trump’s peace plan will call for some concessions in the biblical heartland. The only question is how much. He referenced multiple times in speeches over the last several years that since Israel received the American’s recognition of their capital in Jerusalem, they would need to be prepared to give up something in favor of the Palestinians.  Even if the plan does not call for Israel to give up 90% of Judea and Samaria, what percentage would be acceptable? 10, 20 or 40%? Maybe only 40,000 Jews would be forced to leave their homes? Even one Jewish home being destroyed and one Jewish family being evacuated is one too much.  I can already hear those saying, “But the Palestinians will not accept a deal that allows Israel to keep any settlements! They’ve proven that over the last 30 years”.  What if President Trump, in a move that would be characteristic of his bold personality, bypasses the Palestinian Authority? What if the U.S. Administration partners with France, Saudi Arabia, and/or the United Nations, and forces a Palestinian State in the biblical heartland?  What will our response be as Zionist... Read MoreRead More