Thursday, March 26, 2015

Israel: Does this small nation still matter?

When was the last time the news covered stories from Brazil, Vietnam, or South Africa? You probably don’t know. I know I don’t. What about hot spots like China, Ukraine, or Venezuela? You might hear them mentioned every week or two. One country, however, is in American news almost every day, despite being about 6,000 miles away – Israel.

Another place mentions Israel a lot – my Bible. In fact, my Bible uses the word Israel almost 3,000 times although some of them refer to Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham who is one of the nation’s founding fathers. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel after the two wrestled one night (Genesis 32:24-32). His many sons became the fathers of Israel’s twelve tribes.

So, Israel’s in the news and in the Bible. Why does that warrant a blog article? America and Israel have been key allies since Israel declared independence in 1948. President Truman was the first world leader to recognize Israel’s statehood on the world stage. From that point on, America and Israel have been key allies. However, that is changing. The Obama administration is distancing itself from this important middle-east relationship. I’m writing to share that I stand with Israel and why…

Why do I stand with Israel?

God’s blessing is on Israel
God blesses many individuals, but not many nations. I personally believe the hand of God’s blessing led to America’s prosperity over the last 200 years. Even that, however, may very well be due to our historical support and relationships with the Jewish people. Yes, our support for them goes back much further than 1948. I also believe that if we, as a nation, discontinue our support and friendship with God’s chosen people, then He will remove His blessing from us.

After all, Israel is the only nation of which God has said, “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3).

God’s treasure is Israel
Treasures are rare; I know I’ve never seen one. Yet God placed one treasure in this world – the Jewish people and the blessing that comes through them. God called Abraham’s descendants out of slavery in Egypt. A short distance into their journey, God was ready to take them to the next level. He was ready to make a covenant with them that would include the giving of His Law. In this covenant, God promised to separate them out as a holy nation as long as they obeyed Him. He told Moses to tell the people, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6 NIV).

God’s love is for Israel
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – God loves the world. He loves everyone in the world. He loved them enough that “He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). That love was ultimately expressed through God’s only Son, Jesus, who is also the son of Solomon, son of David, King of Israel. The queen of Sheba spoke words to Solomon which I believe are also prophetic of his descendant, King Jesus. “May Yahweh your God be praised! He delighted in you and put you on the throne of Israel, because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel. He has made you king to carry out justice and righteousness” (1 Kings 10:9).

God’s eye is on Israel
Many people groups from the Bible no longer exist. We don’t hear about the Perizzites, Agagites, Hittites, or Amalekites in the nightly news because they don’t exist. Other biblical people groups are still around such as the Persians (Iranians), Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Egyptians.

Israel holds a unique position, however. The Jews were scattered – disbursed among the nations in the late part of the first century AD. However, God promised the land of Israel to the Jewish people and He promised that a remnant would always remain, no matter how many times evil tried to exterminate them. So, despite their dispersion for nearly 2,000 years, the Jewish people aren’t destroyed as were the Hittites and Amalekites. They remain and God is bringing them back to their homeland en masse.

I’d encourage you to read all of Jeremiah 31 but let me share a few verses here, “Nations, hear the word of the Lord, and tell it among the far off coastlands! Say: The One who scattered Israel will gather him. He will watch over him as a shepherd guards his flock, for the Lord has ransomed Jacob and redeemed him from the power of one stronger than he” (Jeremiah 31:10-11).

God still has a plan for Israel
God’s plan since Adam has been the redemption of all mankind. It was never only about one people group. It’s for those who, like Abraham, believe God and God credits their belief to them as righteousness (Romans 4:3). From Abraham came Isaac who then had Jacob whom God renamed Israel. Through Israel’s son Judah came King David, King Solomon, and later, Jesus. Through Jesus, all nations are blessed and salvation has come to the whole world.

God still has a plan to redeem Israel. They haven’t fallen from grace so as to be unredeemable. Praise God, no one can fall so far that God can’t still reach them. “I ask, then, have they stumbled in order to fall? Absolutely not! On the contrary, by their stumbling, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling brings riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full number bring!” (Romans 11:11-12).

God’s attention may have shifted to the Gentile church for a while but soon it will shift back to Israel. Now, He calls them home physically to their land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River but soon He will call them home spiritually. “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at Me whom they pierced. … On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the residents of Jerusalem, to wash away sin and impurity. … They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are My people, and they will say: Yahweh is our God” (Zechariah 12:10, 13:1, 9).

I stand with God

God made all of these promises to the Jewish people. He promised to bless them and keep them as His treasured possession. He promised to love them and watch over them. He promised to not forsake them but to redeem them. He promised to take them as His people and to be their God.

I stand with Israel because I refuse to accept that God would go back on His promises. “God’s gracious gifts and calling are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). God’s spoken word can’t and won’t be broken. His promises don’t change. So, I stand with Israel. Why? Because I stand with God.

No comments:

Post a Comment