Israel – a contentious issue
Wherever you look, the topic of Israel is a contentious issue. Most people, all over the world, consider Israel to be a threat to global security and would probably like the state of Israel to vanish. Christadelphians do not hold any political views on this subject and are not engaged in or supporting any manmade political movements, however what we observe in the world around us and what we see in the plain teaching of the Bible is consistent, proving that God is in control of the kingdoms of men.
There are 3 ways in which Israel are God’s witnesses:
1. A witness to the existence of God Himself
2. A witness to the truth of the Bible, God’s word
3. A witness that Jesus Christ is going to return to the earth.
As we go through this subject we hope you will see that the above three statements are true.
Israel – God’s Witnesses
“For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers” Deuteronomy 7:6-8
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10
From the verses above we can see that God chose Israel, as a nation, to be a witness of His existence. Going back to Genesis we see God’s purpose has always been with this nation. Here is a promise made to Abraham – the father of the Jewish nation:
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
In the New Testament this very statement is called the gospel message. Paul explains that through faith in Jesus Christ and a belief in the gospel, we become heirs of the promises in Genesis – heirs of Abraham through faith. See below:
“And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed” Galatians 3:8
“…And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”. Galatians 3:29
So the message of Genesis 12 is very important to any Bible believer. Old and New Testament come together in a clear and distinct way. God made of Abraham a great nation and the purpose of this was so that eventually the whole world would be blessed. The benefit that is being offered to the whole world is the forgiveness of sin, through the descendant of Abraham, the promised seed, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:22 & John 1:29).
Although the Jewish nation did not accept the Messiah, Jesus Christ, they are still God’s people and they have a huge part to play in God’s future plan and purpose.
So then, Israel have been chosen by God.
Why have Israel had such a turbulent History?
The Bible teaches that Israel’s relationship with God is conditional. If they obey God they will be blessed but if they disobey they will be punished and scattered throughout the world. Consider these verses:
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” Deuteronomy 28:1-2
“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee… And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the LORD shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind:” Deuteronomy 28:15+63-65
So the consequence for disobeying God was to be a scattering across the face of the earth. The very fact that this happened is a sign that we can trust the Bible. Consider the ancient history:
740BC – Assyrian scattered 10 tribes
586BC – Babylon took Jerusalem into captivity
516BC – The Jews taken to Babylon return after 70 years
AD70 – Romans scatter Jews across the whole face of the earth and destory Jerusalem
So Israel were scattered because of their disobedience. However they still remain God’s people. The New Testament confirms that God still cares for His people and has not disowned them. Paul, speaking in his letter to the Romans says: “I say then hath God cast away his people? God forbid…..God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Romans 11: 1-2). The scattering of the Jews in AD70 was a punishment but God still has a purpose with His people and with Jerusalem. They rejected the Messiah who had warned them:
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh… And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Luke 21:20+24
Jesus prophesied of the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in AD70, now a fact of history. But he also stated that Jerusalem would be trodden down until “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”. So eventually Jerusalem was not to be trodden down by Gentiles (non Jews).
A Witness to the return of Christ
This prophecy was given to Zedekiah the last King of Israel:
“And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.” Ezekiel 21:25-27
The Kingdom of Israel therefore was to be overturned and would not be a Kingdom – until one would come whose right it was to be King over the Kingdom of Israel again. Zedekiah lost his throne and life to the Babylonians who captured Jerusalem. Israel has not had a King since – as the Bible predicted. Consider this promise from God to a previous King of Israel, King David:
“And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever” 2 Samuel 7:12-13
So a seed of David has been promised who will be King over an eternal Kingdom. Who is that seed or descendant? The Bible tells us it is Jesus Christ:
“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” Luke 1:31-33
The identity therefore of the “one whose right it is”, the “seed” who would reign forever over the re-established Kingdom of Israel, is Jesus Christ. The one who will return to save them in the final conflict.
The Bible teaches that the nation of Israel has a great part to play in the future Kingdom of God on the earth. It is linked to the gospel message itself and we would urge you to continue to study the Bible’s teachings on this topic.
The regathering of Israel
It’s amazing that the Bible teaches that there would be a partial restoration of Israel in unbelief of their God – this return would be the catalyst of the final conflict between the nations and Israel. It teaches that in the midst of this conflict Jesus Christ will return to rescue God’s people Israel.
In the book of Zechariah we have an amazing prophecy of the conflict between Israel and the nations. We read that Jerusalem will eventually become “a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” This is describing a future conflict. The details are very interesting to the Bible student.
“The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first” Zechariah 12:7
The term “Judah” in the Bible is a description of the Jews in the land of Israel. So at the point in time when the nations are all against Israel, the prophets tell us that there will be Jews in the land. We also learn here that those Jews will be saved first. In other words, the Jews in the land will be saved by God before the other Jews scattered around the globe.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Zechariah 12:9-10
The reference to the Jews of Jerusalem looking upon one who they pierced is clearly a prophecy of the Jews coming face to face with their Messiah. The Messiah who, as God’s representative, will have returned to the earth to destroy the nations who have come against Jerusalem. The Messiah who is the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This is the time of Israel’s conversion, when they, as a nation realize that they did indeed crucify God’s only begotten son. They will mourn.
An amazing prophecy. For it to happen however there has to be Jews in the land. Jews who do not at this time accept Messiah as being Jesus. Jews who will be attacked by the nations around. In our day we have seen that regathering of Jews.
Consider the more modern history:
1917 – Balfour Declaration written
1948 – State of Israel is officially born
Indeed, for Israel, there are some marvellous prophecies still to be realised. Zephaniah says: “…I will bring you again even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all the people of the earth when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.” (Zephaniah 3: 20)