Glory Days: Q&A with Max Lucado

“Glory Days” is Max Lucado’s newest work and follows Israel’s move from the wilderness into the Promised Land. Using the book of Joshua, Lucado shows the successful leadership of Joshua and how we can apply the Israelite’s wilderness journey to help us enter our own Promised Land and the glory days God has for us now.

Q: First off, tell us what you mean by "glory days."

It’s a reference to the Glory Days of Israel. On the time line of your Bible, it’s a seven year era that glistens between the difficult days of Exodus and the dark age of the judges. Moses had just died, and the Hebrews were beginning their fifth decade as Bedouin in the badlands. And sometime around 1400 BC, God spoke, Joshua listened, and the Glory Days began. The Jordan River opened up. The Jericho walls fell down. The sun stood still, and the kings of Canaan were forced into early retirement. Evil was booted and hope rebooted. By the end of the campaign, the homeless wanderers became hope-filled homesteaders. A nation of shepherds began to quarry a future out of the Canaanite hills. They built farms, villages, and vineyards. The accomplishments were massive. 

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Why Israel?

I have often wondered why the world is so fixated on Israel. I get why most Christians like Israel. This is the Holy Land, the setting for the biblical narrative. This is the place where Jesus was born and lived and died and came back to life. Jesus ascended to heaven from Jerusalem, Israel’s 3,000-year-old capital. He will return to the same spot at some time in the future.

That’s the Christian story, which explains Christian interest. But what about the other five billion people on the planet? They don’t care about the biblical narrative and the life of Jesus. So what is it about this slender slice of land—you could fit seven Israels into my home state of California—that attracts such attention, such controversy, and such historical hatred?

Recently my wife and I traveled to Israel for the first time as part of an organized tour. We visited many important sites—Caesarea, the Sea of Galilee, Masada, and Jerusalem were highlights—and we heard dozens of lectures by local guides as well as our own tour experts.

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A History of Israel's Struggle: Part 2

Previously I wrote on how the nation of Israel received its name, what the name means, and its theological implications.  Jacob was named Israel by the angel who wrestled him, who many believe is the preincarnate Christ.  The name Israel means, he struggles with God.  I then provided a macro view of how the nation of Israel split apart into two different kingdoms, their exile to Babylon, and their return.  The Israelite’s who survived the Babylonian invasion and were exiled off to Iraq, became known as the remnant. (2 Chron. 36:20; Jer. 25:11)

In 539 B.C, a year after Persia’s overthrow of the Babylonian Empire, Cyrus the ruler of Persia, decreed the Israelites who were under Babylonian captivity were free to return to their homeland.  This is all in keeping with the words of the prophet Isaiah who prophesied 200 years before Cyrus’ decree that God himself would raise up Cyrus to bring about God’s purposes of bringing the remnant back to their homeland. (Isa. 44: 28, Isa. 45:1-5)

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Israel's Struggle: A Historical Perspective Pt. 1

Genesis 32:28 records Jacob, the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, having his name changed to Israel.  Why?  The text tells us it is, “because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”  What a prophetic word, with a promise. 

The context of the passage shows us that it was Jacob who wrestled the angel and won, but the message from the angel and name Israel takes on much more theological significance than we may typically think.  To understand this more it will be helpful to take a macro view of the Israelites heritage through the Old Testament.  

Moses and Elijah are two Old Testament heroes of the faith who were worn out by the lack of faith and depravity possessed by God’s chosen people.  In 1 Kings 19:10 Elijah communicates his plight to the Lord of how the Israelites have rejected God’s covenant (Mosaic) and put the prophets to death.  Elijah saw himself as next in line the line of fire and was wondering where hope for Israel was to be found.  God replied that he had reserved seven thousand in Israel. (1 Kings 19:18) 

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For Israel: 1

Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 13:14-15 (NIV)

The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and north and south, east and west.  All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

Genesis 15:18-20 (NIV)

 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates-the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

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Willing to wrestle with God

I spend three or four afternoons a week this time of year coaching a local high school golf team. The following words emerge from a part of that work and the community of adults who explore Jesus together with me every other week at an area country club. At the core of this piece is the one thing God has been impressing on me most deeply since the day I officiated a funeral this winter for the father of one of my players: that we must keep wrestling with Him.

 

THE NAME OF GOD'S PEOPLE

The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28, NIV)

I’ve been working with a player whose short game has no variety.

Palestine: 1,300 Israel: 13

Did you hear about the Christian School that fired its coach because his team won a game, 100 to 0? Christian school basketball does not often make it in the New York Times. Covenant Christian School, a private Christian school in Texas, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its Jan. 13 victory over Dallas Academy. "It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition," said the statement, signed by the school’s Headmaster and the School’s Board Chair, Todd Doshier.

Hmmmm. In the same paper, I was shocked to note the outcome of another conflict with a score that is far worse: 1,300 to 13. Imagine a “conflict” in which the deaths are 130 to 1. What would we call that? A massacre? Are we talking about Darfur? The Russian/Chechen conflict? Tiananmen Square in China? No, we are talking about the tragedy of 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead in the most recent version of regime- change military actions. This act includes documented systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, including film of burning chunks of phosphorous from Israeli missiles in a Palestinian school. Every death is a tragedy, but such a crazy disparity points to something different than war.  Did you know that a UN poll recently found that nearly 90% of Palestinians want peace with Israel? That monitors of Palestinian elections (greatly encouraged by the US) found them fair and the outcome untainted?

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